« ZurückWeiter »
that had previously appeared on that subject. It would seem, moreover, as though in ecclesiastical architecture the builders of the feudal age were little, if indeed at all, inferior to ours. We inust not, therefore, speak of the men of those times as utterly rude and ignorant. But the great peculiarity of the art and science of that day was, that it was confined almost exclusively to the clergy. The great architects were all ecclesiastics. Scarcely anyone knew how either to read or write but the clergy. King Henry I. was an exception, and therefore, as George will remember, he was surnamed Beauclerc, or fine scholar. It is well known that in courts of law those who could claim what is terned benefits of clergy' were let off more easily than others. In order, then, that it might be ascertained whether a delinquent could law. fully put in this claim, a book was handed to him. If he could read, it was allowed he had proved himself to be one of the clergy. Our common nomenclature still bears testimony to the fact that in former times the art of writing was confined to the clergy, the term clerk, literally clergyman,' having become equivalent to 'penman.'
(Our friend James went on to talk of Books, or rather of Manuscripts, and to compare the epistolary correspondence of the past with the present, &c., &c,; but that we may not exclude from the pages of the Magazine more edifying and important matter, here we pause in our report for the present, intending to finish either next month or as soon as ever our readers tell us they are tired.)
THE GREAT REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN THE UNITED
Most of our readers, ere this, have heard something of the very extraordinary revival of religion now witnessed in the United States. It begun in the city of New York in the time of deep commercial depression, but all other cities and states of the north, as Boston, Albany, Philadelphia, Portland, &c., &c., have experienced its gracious visitation. It seems to belong to the Evangelical depominations, but there is nothing sectarian in its character. From Iowa to Maine, letters are full of accounts of great numbers awakened, humbled, praying, and finding mercy. Meetings for prayer are held every day in many places, and great moral and practical results have been already realized.
We are unable, for want of space, to enter into detail, but it will be in. teresting to our readers to peruse the following extracts from very well-considered articles in the Morning Star, in reference to the revival itself, its extent, and features :
“ Never before, probably, in the history of this country, has there been so general a revival of religion, as the one now in progress.
It is the ab. sorbing subject in city, village, and country, and among all classes and conditions. It has come quietly, without any signal note of preparation; it is attended with no great excitement; but it holds the earnest attention of all. Meetings are multiplied in churches and elsewhere at all hours. Preaching, prayer, exhortation, singing, engage the earnest interest of the crowded assemblies. Not only the religious but also the secular press devotes a large part of its columns to the details of the work, and even the telegraph sends on lightning wings the joyful message round
It is a
Who can say
• Well, it is a work greatly needed. For many years Zion has languished, the churches have been dwindling; some have oracularly announced that no more sinners would be converted; others have profanely asserted that christianity is a failure; wickedness has increased, new forms of error arisen, worldliness and selfishness prevailed to the most fearful extent, and the prospect was constantly growing darker. But when the darkness had become very thick, and the hopes of the strongest were failing, all at once the showers of mercy, and not the bolts of judgment, descend upon us; the times of refreshing have come from the presence of the Lord. work greatly needed, as religion always is. What would have been the consequence had the previous state of things continued much longer, we need not inquire, since God has graciously granted to make the time of our extremity His opportunity.
" It is a good work. God is in it. There can be no doubt of this. It was got up by no contrivance or machinery of man. None but God knows what means he has employed, or how long he has been employing them to produce this result. It brings the complacent moralist from his self elevation to a lowly seat of penitence; it lifts the debauched sailor, and the drunken sinner from the horrible pit and miry clay, and plants their feet on the rock of ages. The number of hopeful conversions is beyond all computation. Almost a nation in multitude is born in a day.
“ This work may be the beginning of a new era in the history of religion. God has promised to make a short work in the earth.
but this is the commencement of a work that shall increase in power and extent, until it shall pervade the world? Why should it not be ? Mankind have experienced six thousand years of the reign of sin, and near two thousand of the operations of grace since the advent of the Saviour.
“One feature of the present revival is, its very deep solemnity and continued
progress, amid tears and earnest prayers, and yet with a deep stillness and quiet subdued power, as of the Holy Spirit's overshadowing presence. There is no doubt deep excitement, but so far as statements are given on this point, its expression is heartfelt, subdued, and solemn, rather than noisy and impulsive. Many of the meetings in New York and other places are very large, sometimes two or three thousand, sometimes three rooms, one above the other in the same building, are filled by hundreds at the evening and noon-day prayer meetings; and yet with all this interest and attendance, with the rejoicings of hundreds of converts and the anxious interest of scores of inquirers, the Holy Spirit is subduing human hearts at the Cross in such a manner that all is solemn, deeply solemn, prayers, exhortations, singing; giving an assurance that the Spirit of God is doing a great work, and a hope that the reformation will continue to progress a long time.
“ Another feature of the revival is, the very active and leading part that lay brethren take in the meetings and efforts for the conversion of the impenitent. We do not mean that preachers and pastors are doing less, but that the membership are doing more than in any previous revival. Business men have this winter had more leisure, and thus are devoting it to religious labours at present, in meetings and out, yond what has even been known before. Frequently these large prayer meetings are conducted by lay brethren; and they have visited from house to house, and conversed personally from shop to shop, from store to store. Ministers have preached and preached solemnly, but no less, brethren and sisters have prayed and exhorted, and converts have related what God has done for their souls, and urged the impenitent to seek religion. These social and personal efforts. this working of the membership to such an extent, especially with the older denominations, is unprecedented, and is a most remarkable feature in the present great revival. This is as it should be. It is better that all christians strive to save sinners by personal efforts directly, than to leave it to the ministers, thinking to labour in the Lord's vineyard by proxy.
“ It is characteristic of all revivals that the converts, when they have in. dulged the christian's hope, should be interested for others, and at once become labourers. This feature is a marked one in the present awakening, Converts are decided and faithful. They seek out others, and bring them under the influence of the gospel and into the prayer meetings, converse with them, and pray for them. And we perceive also that converts move along to walk in the gospel ordinances; hundreds of churches are receiving large accessions to their numbers. The older members should not ex. cuse themselves from all or any efforts in and out of meetings ; but it is always well that the converts should at once become earnest workers in the vineyard, as from their experiences others may be led to take a similar
“ And never before has a revival been apparently freer from any sectarian manifestations. Many of the prayer meetings, on week days and evenings, are appointed and attended without any regard to denominations-union meetings, where nothing sectarian would be tolerated. Indeed we do not express all that we meant to, the present revival seems to be so completely filled with the Holy Spirit, as to be above any idea of particular and ex, clusive denomination up-building. Sinners are in earnest to seek God, and christians are baptized with the spirit of the gospel, and long to see precious souls born into the kingdom. And it seems too that the work is spreading among all denominations, beyond a former precedent; not only among the denominations which have usually approved of special revival efforts ; but some conversions are reported among Unitarians and Universalists, and the Episcopalians in some instances are opening their churches to extra meetings, and are sharing in this grace of God. So may the glorious work extend until it shall be felt among all the denominations and in all places, and a living and soul-saving christianity permeate all departments of business, and all classes of society.
“ While this great revival is increasing in compass and power in this country, we see it stated to be commencing in England, and especially in London. May be that God is bringing good out of evil, at least causing a glorious revival of religion to be experienced as extensively as the financial revulsion has been felt during the preceding months. In the leisure that has been had in worldly matters, worldly men have been turning their attention to the higher interests of the spiritual riches. God has awakened men from the uncertainty of worldly gains to seek the durable riches and righteousness of the kingdom of Heaven.
Such are the features of this great revival as reported by eye-witnesses. Even the secular and the sceptical papers devote a considerable space to reports upon it; and all admit the manifestation to be most powerful and extraordinary. May its good effects be lasting !
JAPAN OPENED. Compiled chiefly from the narrative of the American Expedition
to Japan in the years 1852-3-4. 12mo, cloth. pp. 296. London: Religious
Tract Society. Who knows anything about Japan? In what mind are there any but the vaguest ideas about its people? What adventurous foot from the profane west ever dared to desecrate that adytum of the Pacific ? What hand will rend asunder the veil that hides the Japanese from the rest of the world ? These are questions at once suggesting themselves to most readers on hearing the title of this book--"Japan Opened.” When we have said that Japan comprises some three or four islands, lying between the parallels 310 and 46° north latitude, off the Asiatic continent, indeed along-side the northern part of China, and that these islands are known from the maps as Kioosioo, Sikokf, Niphon, and Yesso; that the Japanese are very ingenious, very industrious, to their own people very polite, and to the rest of the world very unsociable; and that the phlegmatic Dutch are permitted to make a yearly visit to the capital; we have said all that most people, if asked these questions, would have to say. It is mainly the fault of the Japanese themselves that we western people do not know them better. They are reserved and shy; and, like a certain animal, shrink, on being approached, into their shells. Every man living on their sea-border is a policeman, with this addition, that he is as keen-eyed and jealous as a eunuch guard at the gate of a seraglio. Sail near his coast, and he puts off in his crazy craft to warn you that there is no admission. Step on shore, and he jabbers and gesticulates at you with all the quick, sharp clatter of a wild monkey. Make as though you intend going into the country, at once his eye fills with rheum, his voice chokes with suppressed emotion, and his knees bend to ask you to spare him that indignity. Once get in, and he will follow you like a spy. Messengers are sent before you to keep the people in doors, and out of the way, and a score informers are dogging at your heels to chronicle your actions with a painful exactness, that a Louis Napoleon might envy. This is no exaggeration. The book before us is full of such details, as vexatious to the bold Americans who bore them, as they are laughable to us.
Since Marco Polo told the people of Europe, in the thirteenth century, that gold was more plentiful in Japan than any country of the world, and princes used it for the roofs of their palaces and the furniture of their saloons, travellers have brought news home to Europe not as startling, but quite as likely to whet our curiosity. All have, however, supported the Venetian in his account of the mineral riches of these islands. The first European who visited Japan was Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, the Portuguese discoverer. This was in 1542. But few years elapsed before swarms of Romish priests followed in his wake. Like the locusts of Joel, they threatened to eat up every green thing. Many people were won over by their teaching; but as their converts multiplied, these blind leaders of the blind declined shamefully in life and practice. Dreams of ambition now began to float before the lazy and libidinous monks. They plotted against the crown. They sought to overthrow the native sovereign. Their plot was discovered—themselves and all the Portuguese banished for ever from Japan —and the native converts given up to a cruel and merciless persecution.
The Dutch were the next to gain admission. They did deeds over which humanity must blush, that the amity between themselves and the Japanese might not be broken. The only reward they secured for their perfidy was a miserable island called Dezima, in the port of Nagaski, in which for the last 200 years they have been cooped up, incessantly surrounded by spies, and prisoners in their own dwellings. Adams, the Englishman, was the medium through whom both the Dutch, and afterwards the English, were first introduced to the Japan
The pedantic James I. made a treaty with the prince of Firando in 1613, and concessions superior to those recently wrung from the present emperor by the Americans were then freely granted to the English by that prince. The
East India Company, after ten years' residence, gave up their factory at Firando, and (don't be incredulous, reader,) “ left with an unstained reputation.”—(p. 23.) An embassage from Charles II. was refused admission to the court of Japan. He had married the princess of Braganza, a Portuguese; and the Dutch did not fail to make known to the Japanese this union of the English monarch with their oldest and bitterest foes. More than a century passed before the English made another attempt, but that and others since have all proved futile. Catherine of Russia was anxious to gain a footing in Japan: but Laxman's mission, like many more, proved a complete failure. Alexander sent Resanoff: but the Japanese remained true to their ancient policy. The Russian Ambassador was overwhelmed with ceaseless petty mortifications, under the appearance of great personal politeness. Subsequently the Russians seized the southern portion of the Kurile islands, belonging to Japan, bleak, barren spots, but invaluable to the Russians for their position. Not intimidated by the repulses of other nations, the Americans have recently sought to break through the barriers of Japanese selfisolation. The first vessel, sent in 1831, was treated with contempt, when it was found that she was a merchantman and unarmed. The second expedition, consisting of two vessels, went fifteen years afterwards. The Commodore Biddle sailed into the bay of Jeddo, remained some ten days, but accomplished nothing. The answer of the emperor to the application for licence to trade, was laconic :-“No trade can be allowed with any foreign nation except Holland.” In 1849 a third expedition was sent, this time to demand sixteen American seamen who had been wrecked on one of the Japan islands. The men were only released after a little blustering and menace. The account of the fourth expedition it is the purpose of the volume before us to epitomize. Commodore Perry, with twelve vessels, including large steam ships, four sloops of war, and three armed store-ships, was commissioned in 1852, by President Filimore, to proceed to Japan. His main object was avowedly fourfold—to secure the friendship of the emperor, to obtain a treaty of commerce for five years, if not more, to secure coaling and victualling stations for the American whalers, and to obtain a guarantee of protection to his shipwrecked fellow-countrymen. With what delays the Japanese sought to weary out the Commodore ; their pertinacity in referring him to Dezima as the only place where intercourse with foreigners could be held, when he was quietly at anchor in the bay of Yeddo; with the tact of the Americans, and the quiet unflinching firmness of their leader-his exactitude in all his transactions, and scrupulous fidelity to his word—how one barrier after another gave way before the silent power of an indomitable will until he had pushed his flag ship forward within sight of the capital-overawed the Japanese court--and at length, with great reluctance, gained nearly all that he sought—with all this the reader may grow familiar from the volume before us. We must content ourselves by referring to some of the manners and customs of the Japanese, which this expedition afforded the Americans the means of observing.
First, a word or two about the ladies. They have odd notions of beauty, like the Africans. They don't file the teeth to increase their personal attractions. Nor do they knock out the front ones, that they may “look like oxen;" but, what is worse, they blacken them! With a corrosive compound, the least drop of which leaves a purple livid spot on the flesh, they dye and rot their teeth. And yet not all. It is the privilege of wives only, or of maidens betrothed. They likewise paint--who shall say how thick? The bing, or rouge, will not produce the dearly-prized deep violet colour except coat after coat be lavishly given. But where is it used? On the cheek? No: on the lips. The ladies are bare footed and bare headed, and show, according to the Americans, no great taste in dress. “A night gown, secured by a band round the waist,” would hardly look graceful cn a short Japanese lady, and stout withal.
The women are better treated than in China. Polygamy is unknown. The wife is the companion of her husband, and not the slave. Some ladies are skilled in the accomplishments peculiar to their sex, and others are well versed in Japanese literature. They are fond of tea-parties and social