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solved, and its happy solution will depend much upon a disposition, religiously pursued, among the higher classes, to elevate their inferiors. However elevated their own position, there is some round of the social ladder, on which they must meet their brethren who are lower down. This is a matter of imperious necessity. By proper efforts, they who possess the wit and the learning, the elegance and the refinement, the influence and the power, of society, may cause the point, where they shall shake hands with those who are deprived of their advantages, to be much higher, than if that affair be left entirely to the choice of the latter. To them, it ought not, of course, to be left. But what is said, is, that they will assert the privilege of choosing where the level shall be, unless there be a good-natured compromise between the opposing social forces. By such compromise, the tendency to essential equality of condition, which is impressed upon mankind like a law of their nature, will not only be promoted, but also, at the same time, be wisely modified and intelligently directed.
It is in vain for the refined, the polished, and the enlightened, to spurn this sentiment. As to its particular application in given instances, they will indeed be the best judges. The general principle is all that is here maintained, viz., that they who have light and knowledge, and are bountifully favored with the richest gifts of Heaven, are called upon, by the equalizing tendencies of society, to shed a kindly and silent influence upon those below them. Imparting of their mental and moral riches, is the duty to which they are summoned. And it is an employment of the highest dignity. To encourage them in it, they have the example of the noblest minds and most exalted characters that ever adorned our race.
Before concluding this article, it may be proper to say something respecting the spirit in which the book before us is written. This we are happy to pronounce, in the highest degree, liberal, unprejudiced, philosophical and just. Though a foreigner, educated under the influence of institutions the farthest removed from our own, to all appearance he became thoroughly Americanized in his feelings the moment his feet touched our shores. From that time, through the whole progress of his observations, there is discernible no peevish caprice of temper at seeing the operation of new social principles, though their practical exhibitions were sometimes calculated to call forth severe animadversion, had he been disposed to indulge a captious disposition. Nor are there to be found any traces of narrowmindedness, nor ebullitions of national antipathies, nor the discussion of a mere partisan to some particular class of political principles. He sinks every thing of this kind in the simple desire of knowing the exact truth, and contemplates social and political phenomena on this side of the Atlantic, with a spirit as purely philosophical, as can be conceived. Hence there is no expression that can hurt the feelings of the most sensitive American. To be sure, there were some things brought under his notice, which he could not tolerate, and about the nature and tendencies of which, he felt obliged to utter his sentiments in a plain. spoken manner. But when he thus launches an arrow at us, it is never barbed. The spirit with which he rebukes is devoid of all causticity. If he reasons upon a social or political evil, the ratiocination is pursued with a clearsighted regard to great and acknowledged principles, and the conclusions arrived at are in a temper so calm, that the reader, accustomed to the warmth and ardor that characterizes political writers generally, feels conscious of commuuing with a mind matchlessly disciplined, and superlatively trained to the established laws of investigation. And when you add to this, the evidence that gains upon you at every page, of the writer's political information,observations being sometimes thrown off in a single sentence or two, which must have required years of reading to get the condensed knowledge that they evince, there springs up in our bosom a confidence in the author which few works in this book-making age are able to inspire.
It must have been perceived, that, in following closely the plan marked out in the opening of this article, we have deprived ourselves of the opportunity which a different scheme of thought would have afforded us, of entering at large into the discussion of the great principles that are embraced in the work of Tocqueville. Should we deem it advisable, therefore, we shall have it in our power to resume the subject at a future period, without danger of touching upon the present discussion, or incurring the charge of repetition. It would be, for example, a fertile topic, to examine how far he is to be believed, in the
withet not our tenter these invitinal governm devoted lass of ultrave spoken Wom the rathering
alarming tendencies which he discovers in the jostling together of our state and national governments. But we shall not now enter these inviting fields of inquiry.
Let not our readers infer, from the rather laudatory air with which we have spoken of democracy, that we belong to the class of ultra-liberalists, or that our pages are to be devoted to promote that extreme of freedom which borders upon licentiousness. It is our resolute determination to steer clear of all ultraism, hoth in politics and religion. And thus, in the progress of free principles, we are ready to admit that we see great evils rising to view. Of these none can be more deeply aware than ourselves. But we feel disposed to set them down, either as ills to be expected in a formative state of society, whatever be its form of government, or as illustrations of the great compensatory law of providence, by which God "sets one thing over against another.” In spite, however, of all these drawbacks, we are heartily disposed to'range ourselves under the banner of freedom, and maintain, to the extent of our feeble ability, the cause of the people.
1. Aids to Preaching and Hearing. By Thomas H. SKINNER. New
York. John S. Taylor. 12mo. pp. 305. 1839.
Too many of our popular writers imagine that the public good requires them to write much. We could wish that the very next book from the press might be a strong and earnest plea to authors, under the motto, 'Let your books, as well as your words, be few. Such counsel would be alike profitable to the author, the publisher, and the reader.
We confess that this train of thought, which we have very frequently indulged, has been revived in our mind by the examination of the work before us. We regard it as inferior in merit to the admirable production, from the same author, noticed in our last number. Some parts of it are truly excellent; some, rather too common-place; and some, we fear, of doubtful expediency. It would seem, from the manner of discussion, as well as from the choice of topics, that most of the detached pieces which make up this work, were, in their original form, lectures to a class of divinity students.
The first is on “Mental Discipline,” in which there is much to approve, little to condemn, and something to admire. The writer's historical remarks are generally too sweeping, and not a few points of interest and importance, though ably discussed, are pressed rather too far. The following is an example. “ Moved by his Spirit, I cry after knowledge; I seek for her as silver, and search for her as bid treasures. Aud I shall gain, if I faint not, the object of my desires; I shall find myself in possession of a better and still better mind; I shall be constantly acquiring a more and more perfect use of my powers; I shall be increasing in my ability to think, to analyze, to reason, to discourse."(!) Is it so? Is that “ better mind,” which the Holy Spirit makes one crave and seek after as silver, an “ability to think, to analyze, to reason, to discourse?” Are philosopby and science the objects of that knowledge? Is there any thing peculiarly religious in mental discipline, more than in any other lawful pursuit? May not the Cbristian merchant as truly say, “ Moved by his Spirit, I cry after gain?" If there be any distinction made, it must be on the ground, that a scientific inind is better prepared for heaven, than the mind of a plain, honest, business man. Such a doctrine is often implied in our enlightened works on education, but it is not so much as hinted at in the Bible. We would crave mental discipline and knowledge not less than others, but on very different principles from these.
In the author's discourse or treatise on the “Studies of a Preacher," which follows next in order, there are the same excellences and defects as in tbe first. He rightly assigns the first rank to “The study of the Bible ;" but in discussing this topic, presents nothing that is not already familiar to most readers. In regard to systematic theology, to which he gives the second place, his remarks are very sound and judicious. We can present but a brief extract:
“ It should be one of the leading objects of a preacher's life to enlarge, as much as possible, bis acquaintance with divine truth, in its systematic relations and affinities. Though a complete system of doctrines is no where presented, in Scripture, in one digested view, yet the truths of inspiration do pertain to a system, and like truths in the natural world, admit of classification. That any one has ever made or will ever make a perfect arrangement of these truths, I do not affirm, and do not believe. They are parts of a system, vast as the universe, and extending from eternity to eternity; and they are so sundered, interspersed, and intervolved into one another, as they lie every where in Scripture, that it is doubtless beyond the power of man to set them together exactly in their proper places, and in perfectly systematic order. Nor can the damage be estimated, which these truths have suffered in statement and exhibition, by attempts at systematizing them, not conducted with a just sense of the sacredness and difficulty of that work. Still, the relation which the truths of revelation sustain towards each other, as component parts of a system, are to some extent clearly perceptible by us, and the process of classifying them, must no more be abandoned, than an endeavor to acquire the true knowledge of them. They are truly undlerstood, no further than they are seen in their systematic affinities and bearings. In divinity, as well as in law and physics, to obtain true knowledge is not to obtain bare historical information, but correct and enlarged views of the connection of things with one another, and their mutual, various, and interminable relations and tendencies.
“ It is incumbent on preachers, as their great business with mankind, to explain, defend, and enforce revealed truth; but power to do this depends essentially on a systematic knowledge of that truth; or a knowledge of it as interconnected and mutually related in its various departments and ramifications. It is most manifest, that no one can set forth any part of truth symmetrically, precisely defined, and in fitting color and costume, any further than he has understood and digested it in its systematic relations to other truth. He who pretends to go further with his explanations or descriptions, than he has gone in systematic understanding, advances in the dark, and knows not whereof be affirms, and whither his random assertions tend. Either we should not attempt to impart solid instruction from the pulpit, or we should constantly study to make ourselves thoroughly systematic theologians.”
Thus far, we heartily agree with the author, in regard to the landmarks which he has set in the field of the preacher's studies. But when he finishes his outline, by subjoining the History of Theological Opinion, Anthropology, and Public Speaking, we hardly know how to express our surprise. He would make ecclesiastical history mainly subservient to "dogmatic history." In our view, a preacher needs to be acquainted with all the great practical lessons suggested by the experience of the church for eighteen centuries. This is something more than the history of theological opinions, or than such a sketch of church history as shall be merely subservient to that. This is the very point where we, Americans, are sadly deficient. Our historical training, instead of being narrowed ilown to our author's standard, ought to be made far more extensive and thorough. The study of church history ought to be preceded by a philosophical acquaintance with civil history, the bistory of mental and moral philosophy, and of general literature, as distinct branches. It should embrace notbing less than a comprehensive and philosophic view of the Christian religion, as a matter of experiment and observation, tracing out the effects of its various kinds and degrees of influence upon the world, and the reaction of the world upon the church. This knowledge is necessary, in order to give scope and expansion to ordinary pulpit discourses. Doctrinal preaching, without such a practical basis, is very liable to degenerate into mere logical discussions, or an exhibition of ingevious thoughts. The disciplined, intellectual few may be gratified and profited; but plain, sensible, business men, will betray symptoms of uneasiness and want.
As to our author's “ Anthropology," we should know better what to say, if we knew exactly what he means. Does he allude to a science that is, or to one that ought to be? Does it include mental and moral philosophy, or is it a third coördinate branch, equivalent VOL. IV. —NO. XIV,