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Brief Literary Notices.
those of the former,-measures wherein, also, the majority are equally agreed? There are other nuisances besides the accumulation of filth in our streets, which the great mass of the nation may lawfully condemn, and by means of the authorized executive remove. Perhaps the one is as imperative as the other; both, of course, being effected under the constant witness and direction of the people, from whom authority is rightfully derived. Moreover, it must not be forgotten, that to corroborate private virtue is one of the prime objects and advantages of public laws. The best as well as the worst of us needs this species of protection. Only by this assistance is society tolerable, or even possible; we can only defend ourselves from each other by consenting to some positive restraint upon ourselves.
These few remarks will receive ample illustration, by a reference to one great public ordinance,-that, namely, which asserts and secures the perpetuity of the marriage contract. This is confessedly a restriction of individual liberty: directly personal in its character, it is immensely important in its results. Let it be granted, also, that there are hardships under this as under every great act of public legislation. Yet-omitting for the time all reference to divine authority-who shall say that a nation has no right to confirm the fickle virtue of its members, to provide a fitting basis of social order, to secure a higher kind and a larger amount of general order and individual happiness, by the enforcement of this uniform decree? It is not only the virtuous and the good who are thankful for such a law; but all who have any relic or desire of goodness, or recognise the utility and loveliness of virtue,-all who desire to see humanity distinguished from the lower creatures, and exercising its diviner faculties with due advantage, and in their proper sphere. Now, the tendency of Baron Humboldt's argument is to remove matrimony out of the sphere of Government, to make it a matter for private regulation, subject only to the dictates of individual opinion or caprice. "I should not be deterred," says the author, "from the adoption of this principle by the fear that all family relations might be disturbed, or their manifestations in general impeded; for, although such an apprehension might be justified by considerations of particular circumstances and localities, it could not be fairly entertained, in an inquiry into the nature of men and states in general. For experience frequently convinces us, that just where law has imposed no fetters, morality most surely binds: the idea of external coercion is one entirely foreign to an institution which, like matrimony, reposes only on inclination and an inward sense of duty; and the results of such coercive institutions do not at all correspond to the designs in which they originate." Surely all men of sober, impartial judgment will be at issue with the author of these sentiments; and nothing but that tenacious fondness for a plausible and preconcerted theory, which is characteristic of our German neighbours, could have blinded the eyes of so intelligent a philosopher to the overwhelming evidence of history and daily facts. The theory he propounds is, in some measure, useful as well as specious, and we may hope to approximate thereto, as the world shall sensibly improve; but we must beware of paying too expensive or too dan
gerous a compliment to human nature. What is chiefly needed in public legislation, as well as in private life-what has, indeed, largely contributed to the consolidation and happiness of this great empireis that moral wisdom which temporarily commutes the demand of absolute perfection for its practicable steps, and consents even to a compromise between the full enjoyment and the sullen repudiation of liberty itself.
Christianity, Theoretical and Practical. By William Kirkus,
Ir. is works like these-not seldom, but with comparative frequency, imparted to the world-which serve to remind us of the superiority and riches of our Christian literature. The theory of our religion is so perfect and profound as to exercise and develope the highest and most comprehensive reason of our nature; yet so beautiful and so various as to impart a strange interest and fascination to the humblest epitome of its commanding truths. Whilst the cleverest of our sceptics is not able, with all the aids of an advanced eclecticism, to devise a theory of religion which can hold together during even an hour's perusal, it is competent to any Minister of the Gospel of Christ to avail himself of a system matchless for authority, consistency, and power, a system not more replete with consolations than irresistible in its proofs, and not more mighty in its appeals than invincible in its numberless defences.
In the great body of Christian apologists Mr. Kirkus may take an honourable place. His work ably confutes some of the characteristic errors of the day: it is written, for the most part, with very evident ability, and in a pure and masculine style. The author shows a fine appreciation of the beauties and harmonies of "theoretical Christianity."
With these words of approval we should have been glad to stop; but our commendation of this volume must be qualified by exceptions of a serious character. Much less justice is here done to practical, than to theoretical, Christianity. A single instance of defective and erroneous treatment may suffice to put the reader on his guard, in the perusal of this generally sound and thoughtful volume. "There are many," says Mr. Kirkus, "who seem constantly in expectation of some supernatural and unaccountable feeling which they call 'assurance,' 'the witness of the Spirit,' 'getting salvation,' and the like. Such expectations are founded on mistaken views of the word of God. There is a true 'assurance,' one which always accompanies the simple belief of the record which God has given of His Son: a man examining his own heart, finding that, in his sin and helplessness, he is wholly depending upon Christ for salvation, and taking God at His word, will be assured' that there is no more condemnation for ' him." We submit that this reliance upon a logical inference is something very different from a scriptural assurance, indeed, is evidently no assurance "at all. But Mr. Kirkus shall speak further for himself,
Brief Literary Notices.
and let us know how far he is qualified to preach upon one of the most important doctrines of the Gospel. That we do him no injustice in describing his assurance as the effect of logic rather than of faith, is very evident from the following sentence: "A mere flutter or palpitation of the heart, a deliciousness of unthinking reverie, an inexplicable, unaccountable something, is mistaken for that witness of the Spirit with our spirits, that we are the children of God,' which is to be found only in the word of God." To be found only in the word of God? what can this mean? As a truth, it is certainly announced there; but as a fact, it is surely to be looked for in the believer's heart. The merest common sense demands this evident distinction. It is the witness of Spirit with spirit, and not the written and formal absolution of a multitude on the condition of their "simple belief in the record." Though Mr. Kirkus has quoted the very words of Scripture, which would seem to leave him no chance of evasion, he puts the doctrine of this personal witness wholly by, and concludes in language which we transcribe with equal astonishment and grief; "Even in the word the Spirit bears no witness to the sonship of a separate individual, John or James, Martha or Mary, but to the sonship of all and singular who possess certain characteristics, who, in short, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." If our author can so write, we hardly know whether his incompetency to enforce religion, or to teach theology, be most apparent.
Of the "Outlines of Theology," by Mr. Clark, we have only one volume before us, and must, therefore, defer saying more than that it is written in a worthy simplicity of style, and sufficiently illustrates the remark with which this brief notice commenced.
Diary in Turkish and Greek Waters. By the Right Hon. the Earl of Carlisle. Second Edition. London: Longman and Co.
LORD CARLISLE's genial disposition and generous tone of judging of mankind render him a delightful travelling companion. He wandered through the classic scenes of Greece and Asia Minor, at a time when our fleets were engaged in the preliminary operations of the war, and was conveyed from place to place by the friendly offices of the Commanders of various Queen's ships. In consequence of these facilities, he not only saw the natural beauties and historic scenes of the East to great advantage, but is now enabled to present his readers with a view of active professional duty, in connexion with a panorama of exceeding interest. The Piræus, Athens, the Cape of Sunium, "Chio's rocky isle," the Troad, and other scenes illustrious in story, are mingled with the doings of the present time. History, at its two extremities, is thus seen at a glance, and a double interest conferred upon the sunny waters and bold coasts of the Egean Sea. classical readers some of the descriptions introduced will have much interest, though we think the classical element appears too prominently for a popular volume of travels. Elaborate disquisitions upon the site of Troy and the Fountain of Arethusa are not every man's reading; and those chiefly concerned resort to other sources of information. In speaking of the war, whose earlier nautical movements are
here incidentally described, though his Lordship is as patriotic as might be expected, we trace some misgivings, which arise from the adoption of certain views of prophecy now greatly in vogue in some circles.
As a specimen of the style and matter of the volume, we give a description of a walk in Athens :-"The King's new palace is a most staring, ugly, browless-looking building. It is a blessed transition to the ruins of antiquity. We passed in succession Hadrian's Arch, the Temple of the Olympian Jupiter, the Fountain of Callirhoe, the bed of the Ilissus, the choragic monument of Lysicrates, the site of the Theatre of Bacchus, the Portico of the Furies, the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, the Areopagus, the Temple of Theseus; reserving the Parthenon for ampler leisure, and a brighter, though it could not easily be a softer, sky. I have threaded all these pregnant names together, as the object of the day was rather to make a general survey, than a more special study of separate beauties and glories. What is admirable and wonderful, is the harmonious blending of every detached feature with each other, with the solemn mountains, the lucid atmosphere, the eternal sea, all wearing the same unchanged aspect as when the ships of Xerxes were shivered on that Colian Cape beneath; as when the slope of the Acropolis was covered with its Athenian audience to listen under this open sky to Eschylus and Sophocles, to the Agamemnon or the Edipus; as when St. Paul stood on the topmost stone of yon Hill of Mars, and, while summit above and plain below bristled with idols, proclaimed, with the words of a power to which not even Pericles could ever have attained, the counsel of the true God. Let me just remark, that even the impressive declaration of the Apostle, that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands,' may seem to grow in effect when we remember that the buildings to which he must have almost inevitably pointed at that very moment, were the most perfect that the hands of man have ever reared, and must have comprised the Theseum below, and the Parthenon above, him. It seems to have been well that art and man's device' should be reduced to their proper level, on the very spot of their highest development and glory."
The Mediterranean : a Memoir, Physical, Historical, and Nautical. By Rear-Admiral W. H. Smyth. London: J. W. Parker. 1854.
THE Mediterranean skirts the whole south of Europe; it washes the shores of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and (including the Black Sea, which all geographers have considered to be a part of the Mediterranean system) Russia in Europe. Asia touches it on the west by the Caucasian provinces, by the coasts of Asia Minor to Aleppo, and, from that point to Egypt, by the coasts of Syria and Palestine. Africa, on the north, is entirely bounded by the Mediterranean, as Europe on the south. The different civilized nations which have in turn fixed the attention of mankind, have almost exclusively inhabited its shores. When we travel in thought around the borders of this beautiful basin, historic names present themselves in crowds. Greece, Italy, Carthage, Syria, Arabia, and Judea! Such are some of the names that present themselves to the imagination.
Brief Literary Notices.
Captain (now Admiral) Smyth, who has employed the greater part of a lifetime in determining the principal points of the charts of the Mediterranean, conceived the happy idea of collecting under this title all that his own labours, and those of his predecessors and colleagues, have brought to light respecting this vast basin; every thing relating to its productions and the commerce of the surrounding nations. He describes, also, the climate, prevailing winds, and the healthy or unhealthy atmospheric influences found in each locality; and he gives illustrations of all the principles he establishes. He draws his materials in turn from history and science. The west wind, which chiefly prevails in these latitudes, the mistral, the sirocco, the tramontane, the etesian winds, &c., take their places in a plan well conceived, and rich in numberless details. Side by side with facts drawn from the biblical period, or the age of Homer, stand observations dating from the Anglo-French war at the beginning of this century, and explorations still more recent, carried on by himself and by French mariners engaged on the hydrography of this sea.
To give an idea of the work, we will mention the five important parts of which it consists. The first refers to the productions, the commerce, and the industrial pursuits of the different countries bordering upon the Mediterranean, from the Straits of Gibraltar to the extremity of the Sea of Azof.
The second part refers to the sea itself, considered as a highway of communication, and as subject to the general physical laws of the globe or of meteorology; and comprehends temperature, currents, freshets, system of rivers, evaporation, and all that relates to the colonies of fishes and other living beings which inhabit this sea, and enrich the surrounding countries. The depth of waters, the appearance of rivers, and the effects of ancient and modern volcanoes are also described in due detail.
In the third part he places questions relating to prevailing winds, the seasons, and climatology, with all the phenomena of the atmosphere, such as tempests, rain, and electric hurricanes.
The fourth part contains the history of the geographical researches upon which the existing charts of the Mediterranean have been constructed, from ancient times to the present day. The author's own share in these researches is described with becoming modesty, and ample justice is rendered to others.
The fifth part is principally technical; it treats of longitudes and geographical positions, and is followed by some valuable tables, with symbols pointing out anchorages, harbours, rocks, submarine dangers, &c., &c.
The above outline will show that many most interesting problems are embraced within the scope of Admiral Smyth's work, which possesses a genuine value, and is worth a thousand mere compilations.
Le Rédempteur. Discours par Edmond de Pressensé, Pasteur. In-8vo. Paris: Meyrueis. 1854.
THE author of this volume, one of the Pastors of the Independent congregation in Paris, has been for some years engaged upon a very important work. He purposes examining the various doctrines which