Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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the tradesman may be united with the Christian,
and how a man may be busy for both worlds. The
Life of Pearce, by Fuller, is an excellent work.
Martyn\i Memoirs is the most interesting piece of
bicM^phy published in modem times. Dorant's
Life and Remains of his Son are singularly in-

Should you wish to read on doc^nal theology, I
strongly recommend Dwight's system. On the evi-
dences of (^ristianUyy Bishop Watson's Apology, in
reply to Paine: likewise, Bogue's Essay, Chalmers'
Historical Evidences, the masterly work of Paley,
and Campbell on Miracles, a work which meets the
subtleties of Hume.

On ckwreh history, I recommend Bnmefs History
of the Reformation ; Campbell, for his admirable
descrijption of the rise, progress, and spirit of pope>
ry ; Mosbeim, for his account of the errors ana cor-
Tuptioiis of the Church ; ana Milner, for his anxiety
to trace true piety, wherever it is to be found, amidst
the prevailing ignorance and vice of the times. He
is, however, too credulous, and not so impartial in

• I recommend to the young a diligent and serious
perusal of Bickersteth*^ Help to the reading of the
Scriptures; a very valuable treatise.

his treatment of the questions which bear on dis-
sent, as the dignity and candor of an historian re-
quire. Jones's History of the Waldeiises is a very
mterestin^ work.

Secondly, the other division of books includes all ,
the varied classes, which relate to the affairs of this

Enjoying, as Britons, the advantages of a politic
eal constitution, which is the work of ages, and the
admiration of the world, vou should acquaint your-
selves with its theory, ana fot* this purpose mav read
Custance's short work, De Lblme^s more elaborate
and philosophical production, and the first volume
of Blackstone's Commentaries, together with a more
modem work of Lord John Russel's.

Toung men should acquaint themselves with the
principles of k-ade and commerce, and of course
should be acquainted with Adam Smith's " Wealth
of Nations."

History is a class of reading in which you ought
to be at nome ; and as Britons, it would De to yout
deep disgrace to be ignorant of the details of your
own country. In this department you ought not to
be satisfied with mere fiacts, and names, and dates,
but should read with an eye which discriminates
and mark5 the changes which events introduce into
the manners, laws, liberties, and governments of na-
tions. History" is <«>mething more than a mere
chronicle of facts; and our knowledge of its details
should be such as enables us to trace the pr^:ress of
society, and the march of improvement. The his-
tory of Goldsmith should prepare you for the larger
ana popular work of Hume. The beautiftalsimpli-
city of Hume's composition, together with his phi-
losophical mode of analyzing character, and tracing
events, renders his work peculiarly fkscinating;
but unnappily, Hume was a confirmed infidel, and
must be read with a mind ever upon its guard
against the poison which he has infused into his
narrative; and his views on the great onestion of
civil liberty were not the most liberal When you
read this author, remember that although you are
drinking a pleasant draught from a goblet of bur-
nished gold, there is poison in the cup : happilv, the
deleterious infbsion floats upon the surface, and may
be therefore easily detected. An English history,
in which there shall be the most sacred regard to
the prmciplesof pure morality, evangelical religion,
and rational liberty, is still a desideratum in the
literature of our country.*

The ancient history of Rollin, eloquent, pure, and
moral, should be read by every young person. Gold-
smithes Greece should prepare for the masterly work
of Mitford; and his Rome, for the gorgeous pro-
duction of Gibbon. Unhappily, the same remark
will apply to this latter writer, as to his contempo-
raiy Hume: he was an infidel, though in a more
covert way tbaa thb Scotch historian. If you have

* Some interesting and valuable books, entitled
** Studies in History," have been published by the
Rev. S. Morrel, theological tutor m the dissenting
academy at Wymondley. His moral reflections are
rather too long, and too much detached from the
history. Hume has so incorporated his infidelity
with his history, that it is impossible to read the one
without the other. In this way a moral and reli-
gious history should be wtitten. To use a simile
borrowed from weaving, the religion and the narra-
tive should, like the warp and the woof, be wrought
into each other. Where they are entirely detached,
yoimg people find the thread of the history too much
broken, and leave the comment to follow the text.
Mr. Lingard, a Roman Catholic author, is now
publishing a very well written history of En^and,
in which his views and feelings, as a Cath<^c, are,
however, sufficiently prominent.

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leisure and indinatioii to peruse Roman histocj.
Orener^ who was a pupil of Roilin, has supplied
the means, in his "Lives of the Emperors ^^^ and
Hooke, also, in his Roman History, which is car-
ried down to the death of Octavius. Robertson's
historical works are eminently entitled to attention,
especially his " Charles the Fifth," the introduc-
tory YOlnme of which contains a view of the pro-
gress of society in Europe, ih)m the subversion of
Uie Roman eminre to the beginning of the sixteenth
century ; and also presents a masterly survey of the
gradations by which the social institutions of anti-
quity have passed through the barbarism of the dark
ages, into all that characterizes the state of modem
Europe. Bishop Bumef s History of his own Times,
ought to be perused as the work of an author who
wrote the narrative of events which he wimessed,
who^e veraciQr can be trusted, if not his discriminm-

In the department of English camposUum^ Addi-
son tnd Johnson, though moral writers, in the unuU
acceptation of the term, are not alway? correct in
their principles, if indeed the New Testament is the
standard or moral sentiments. It is desirable to
cultivate a good laste^ and an elegant stvk of com-
position : and for this purpose, the productions of
these two celebrated writers may be read, together
widi Burke on the Sublime, Alison on Taste, Blair's
Lectures, and Campbell on Rhetoric

Potify is a bewitching, and if not of a strictly
moral character, a dangerous species of writing. 1
by no means condemn it, for this would betray a
GoUuc destitution of taste, as well as an ignorance
of some of the first principles of our nature. The
ear ib tuned to enjoy the melody of numbers, and the
imagination formed to delight in the creations of
fancy. But still it must be recollected, that the ima-
gination is amongst the inferior faculties of mind,
and that the gratification of the senses is amongst
the lowest ends of a rational existence : only a limU-
€d perusal of poetrv is therefore to be allowed ; such
an mdulgence in this mental luxury and recreation,
as wiU not unfit the mind, or deprive it of opportu-
nity for severer and more usdful pursuits. We
should use poetry as we do those pleasing objects
of nature, fiom which it derives its most lovely
images ; not as the regions of our constant abode,
but as the scenes ofouroccasioQal resort Although
the present age can boast the noble productions of
such men as Scott, Southey, Campbell, and Words-
worth, whose poems every person of real taste will
rdul, yet I recommend the more halnkuU perusal of
fi^WBcer and Milton among the ancients, and Cow-
per and Montgomery among the modems : the two
first for their genius, and the others for their piety.*

The whole wide range of Nahiral History and
ExperimtnUU PkOosopky^ presents a scene of inte-

* As for Byron, possessing^ as he does, the very
ioul of poetrv, beyond all his contemporaries, his
exquisite pathos^ and peerless beautv can make no
atonement for his vices, and should nave no power
to reconcile us to his works. He is indeed, as he
has been styled, the master of a Satanic school : in-
fidelity and immorality are the lessons which all his
pages teach ; and nearly all his characters embody
and enforce. Never tiefore did these dispositions
receive sudi patronage from the poetic muse. Never
was genius seen more closely allied to vice, than in
the productions of this pq>ttlar, but dangerous writer.
His works are enough to corrupt the morals of a na-
tion, and seem indeed^ to have been written for this
dreadful purpose. He stands like a volcano in the
worid of letters, mnd and magcstic, dark, lowering,
and fiery ; whin every new work is but another
eruption of lava upon the interests beneath. He
teems to have been stirred up by the evil spirit to

resting research, through which author^ of the first
respectability stand always ready to conduct you,
unfolding at ei

every step some new proof of the exist-
ence, and some fresh display of the wisdi^m. power,
and goodness of the great First Cause. The sub-
lime wonders of astronomy elevate the mind, and
throw open an almost infinite field of contemplatioQ
and astonishment Chjrmistry, by its combinations,
affinities, and repulsions ; by its principles as a the-
ory, and the unlimited practical uses of these prin-
ciples, is an endless career of pleasing and useful
study. Optics, pneumatics, electricity, with all their
attendant sciences, have been treated of by writers,
whose productions assist us to explore the wonder-
ful works of God : while botany shows that the weed
we trample under our feet^ no less than the mighty
orb which rolls through illimitable q>ace, obeys the
laws, assumes the place, and accommodates itself
to the order appointed by its Creator.

As to that class of books denominated n^Mfs, I
join with every other moral and religious writer in
condemning, as the vilest trash, the greater part of
the productions, which, under this name, have car-
ried a turbid stream of vice over the morab of man-
Idnd. Thejr corrupt the taste, pollute the heart de-
base the mind, immoralize tne conduct They
throw prostrate the understanding, sensualize the
afiectioos, enervate the will, and bring all the high
faculties of the soul into subjection to an imagina-
tion which they have first made wild, insane, and
imcontrollable. They furnish no ideas, and gene-
rate a morbid, sickly sentimentalism, instead of a
just and lovely sensibility. A wise man should de-

Sise them, and a eood man should abhor them. —
f late years they nave, it is true, undergone a con-
siderable reformatioiL The present ExraioaoDf akt
FAVORrrs of the literary world, has indeed displaced,
and sent into oblivion, a thousand miserable scrib-
blers of love stories, wno still however fling back at
him, as they retire, the ancient taunt, *< Art thou too
become as one of us 1" His works discover prodi-
gious talent, astonishing information, and a power
ofdelineating character truly wonderral. But what
is their merit beyond a power to amuse 1 Who
ever wrote so much for so little real usefulness ? —
They are still, in part, works of fiction, and in mea-
sure, exert the same unfriendly infiuence on the
public mind and taste as other works of fiction da

As to religiaus navels, they are rarely worth your
attention. I should be sorry to see this species oi
writing become the general reading of the rdigions
public. Symptoms of a craving appetite for this
species of mental food have been very apparent of
late. These are far more likely to lead young per-
sons of pious education to read other kinds of novels,
than thev are to attract the readers of the latter to
<pious tales. They have already, in many cases,

attempt, by his fascinating poems,' that mischief,
which tne wit of Voltaire, the subtieties of Hume,
and the popular ribaldries of Paine, had, in vain,
endeavored to achieve.

At length the indignation of heavefi seems to have
been roiied, and to have soorehed with its lightning
the winn of his lofhr, but impious genius ; inas-
much as nis later productions evince a singular des-
titution of that talent by which the earlier effusions
of his muse were characterized. One can scarcely
suppose it possible, that even ie could read the last
cantos of his most licentious work, without secretlv
exclaiming, under a consciousness of their inferiori-
ty, «< How am I fallen! I"

If young people would not be cursed by the infi-
delity ana immorality wmch lurk in his pages, let
them beware how they touch his volumes, as mud&
as they would to embrace a beautiftal form infected
with the plague.

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Ibnned a tasta for works of fictioD, which is grati-
Mng itself with far more exceptionable productions.
Thej have beeome the harbingers in some fieunilies
of works which, till tkey entered, woald have been
fi>riudden to pass the threshold.

It is rerj evident that the taste of the present age
ia strongly inclined for works of fictioii. I am not
imacqaainted with the arguments bjr which sach
productions are joslified, nor am I by any means
prepared to pronounce a sweeping sentence of con-
demnatioii npon them. Genius is elicited and ohe-
rished by writing them ; and taste is fiirmed, cor-
rected, and gratified by reading them. Provided
they are totally free from all nnscriptoral sentiments
and anti-christian tendency, they lorm a recreation
for the mind, and keep it from amusements of a
worse character. I am also aware that they may
be, and have been, made the vehicle of moch in-
stmction. Johnson tells ns that this, amongst many
odierarts of instruction, has been invented, that the
reluctance against truth might be overcome; and
as physie is given to children in confections, prth
cepb nave been hidden under a thousand appear-
ances, that mankind may be bribed by a pleasure to
escape destruction. In his beautifril allegory of
TnUk, Falmhoed, and PicUont he represents Truth
as so repeatedly foiled in her contests with False-
hood, tmU in the anger of disappointment, she peti-
tions JufiUr to be e&Ued back to her native skies,
and leave mankind to the disorder and misery which
diey deserved, by submitting willingly to tne usur-
pation of her antagonist Instead or granting her
request, he recommended her to consult the Muses
by what methods she mi|dit obtain an easier recep-
tion, and reisn without the toil of incessant war. —
It was then discovered, that she obstructed her own
progress, by the seventy of her aspect and the so-
lenmity of ner dictates; and that men would never
wilUn^y admit her, till they ceased to fear her;
since, by giving themselves up to JF^iUtkood, they
seldom made any sacrifice of their ease 9t pleasure,
because she took the state that was most engaging,
and always suffered herself to be dressed and paint-
ed by Desire. The Muses wove in the loom of
PaUoi a loose and changeable robe, like that in
which Pabekood cu)tivated her admirers ; with this
they invested TVnU, and named her FieUim. She
now went out again to conquer with more success ;
for whan she demanded entrance of the Possums,
they often mistook her for F\Usekood^ and delivereo
up th^ charge ; but when she had once taken pos-
sesaon, she was soon disrobed by IZmsm, and shone
out^ in her original form, with native effulgence and
resistless beauty.

This is plausible ; but will not history and biogra^
phjr answer aU the ends of fiction, unattended with
m injurious effects 1 Here all is life, variety', and
interest. Here is every thin^ to amuse, to recreate.
Here the finest moral lessons are inculcated in the
detail of facts. Here are passions, motives, actions,
all (brming the most exquisite delineations of cha»
m^r, set nome upon the heart with the aid of the
powerful conviction that these are fkets. 1 am sure
that none can have attended to the more secret and
subtle operations of their own minds, without per^
eeiving that a display of virtue or vice, embodied
in a /o^, has inconceivably mora power over the
mind^ thm the same character exhibited hjr the most
extraordinary genius in a fiction. While reading
the latter, we may have been deeply affiscted, we
may have glowed with anger at tne sight of vice,
melted with pity at the dk^Hay of misery, or soared
in rapture at the exhibition of excellence ; but when
the book is laid down, and the mind recovers from
the illusion, does not the recollection, that all tUs
was tlie creation of imagination, exert li cold and
chilling influence upon the heart, and go fiir toefiace

almost every iavorable impression, till, by a kind of
revenge for the control which B.fitiion has had over
us, we determined to forsfet all we have felt % We
cannot do this in rising from a fMct,

Fiction is generalljr overwrought. It is vice in
caricature, or virtue in enamel : the former is fre-
quently too bad to be dreaded as likely to happen to
us : the latter too hi|:h to be an object of expectation.
All the attendant cireumstances are too artificially
contrived. There is little that is like it in real life.
Our passions are too much excited, our hopes are
too much raised : and when we come from this ideal
world into the every day scenes of ordinary life,
we feel a sense of dumess, because every thing looks
tame and common-place. The effect of such works
is great for the time, but it is not a usefrQ effect : it
is uke the influence of ardent i^irits, which fits men
for desperate adventures, but not for the more steady
and sober effi>rtB of ordinary enterprise.

Observe then, although I do not totally condemn
oft works of fiction, for then I should censure. the
practice of Him who spake as never man spake,
whose parables were fictitious representations: yet
I advise a sparing and cautious perusal of thepa,
whether written in poetry or prose. History, bio-
graphy, travels, accounts of the manners and customa
of nations, will answer all the ends of fiction ; they
will amuse, and they will in the most easy and pleas-
ing way instruct They will exhibit to us every
possible view of human nature, and every conceiva-
ble variety of character. They will introduce us to
a real world, and exhibit to us the fiulings and the
excellences of men of like passions with ourselves I
and who, according to the complexion of their cha*
racter. may be regarded as beacons to warn us, or
the polar star to guide us.

Aigpun, and again, I say. cultivate my children, a
taste for the acquisition or knowledge : thirst after
information, as the miser does after wealth ; treasure
up ideas with the same eagerness as he does pieces
of gold. Let it not be said, that for you the great-
est of human beings have lived, and the most
flendid of human minds have written in vain.—
ou live in a world of books, and they contain
worlds of thought Devote all the time that can
be lawftilly qpared from business to reading. Lose
not an hour. Ever have some fovorite author at
hand, to the perusal of whose productions the hours
and half hours, which would otherwise be wasted,
might be devoted. Time is precious. Its fttigments,
like those of diamonds, are too valuable to be lost
Let no day pass without your attempting to gain
some new idea. Your first object of existence, as I
have already stated, should be the salvation of your
soul : the next, the benefit of your feUow-creatures;
and then comes the improvement of your mind.*


AND aicaiAnowt

Fr is a trite remark, that the inind« like a bow, will
lose its power by bong always strained ; and that
occasional relaxation from the cares of business, is
necessary to preserve the vigor and elasticity of the
hnman acuities. Allowing this to be true, it be-
comes a question, in what way recreation may be

* 1 most earnestly recommend to all yotmit per-
sons the perusal of Mr. H. F. Burder's Treatise on
Bfental Culture ; then the well known work of Dr.
Watts, "On the improvement of the Mindj*' and
if they are disposed to pursue the subject, Dugald
Stewart's elegant and valuable work on Mental

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lawlbUjr sought ; or, in other words, what kind of
amnsemeiit may be innocently resorted to. Here
two rules may be laid down.

1. AU recreations are improper, which have an
in^wriotu infinenu upon the moral andreligious cha-
racter. This is an axiom. No reasoning is neces-
sary to support it ; no eloquence is requisite to ilitis-
trate it: none bat an atheist can oppose it.

S. All recreations are improper, which, by their
nature, have a tendency to dissipate the mind, and
wn^ it for the pursuits of Imsiness; or which en-
croach too mack on the time demanded for oar ne-
cessary occupations. This rule is as intelligible
and as just as the former.

These two directions, the propriety of which all
must admit, will be quite sufficient to guide us in
the choioei of amusements.

FoRBt, there are some diversions, which, by lead-
ing us to injUet padn prodace crueUy of duposition,

A reloctance to occasion misery e?en to an insect,
is not a mere decoration of the character, which we
are left at liberty to wear or to neglect; but it is a
disposition which we are commanded, as matter of
dufy to cherish. It is not mere sensibility, but a
necessary part of virtue. It is impossible to inflict
pain, and connect the idea of gratification with
such an act, without experiencing some d^ree of
mental obduration. We are not surprised that he
who, whfle a boy, amused himself in killing flies,
should, when he became a sovereign, exhibit the
character of a cruel and remorseless tyrant. To
find pleasure in setting brutes to worry and devour
each other, is a disposition truly diabolical; and
the man who can find delight in dog-fightiu)^, cock-
fighting, bull-baiting, is qaite prepared to imitate
those -Cannibals who, in the popular insarrections
and massacres of the Frencn Kevolution, sported
with the mangled carcasses and palpitating limbs
of their mardered victims, and dragged them about
with their teeth in the gardens of the Tuilleries.

Horse-racingy in Addition to the cruelty with which
it is attended, is generally a means of aioembling
on the course, all the gamesters, swindlers, and
Mack-legs in the neighborhood, and is the cause of
much drunkenness, debauchery, and ruin.

All Jield'Snorts, of every kind, are^ in mv view,
condemned by the laws of humanity. Shooting,
coursing, hunting, anglin^^, are all cruel. What
agony is inflicted in hookmg a worm or a fish : in
maiming a bird : in chasin§^ and worrying a hare :
and to find sport in doing this, is inhuman and un-
christian. To say that these animals are given for
food, and must be killed, is not a reply to my argu-
ment. I am not contending against killing them,
or eating them, but against the act of killing them
for sport. The infiicUon of death, under any cir-
cumstances, and upon any creature, however insig-
nificant in the scale of creation, is too serious a
matter to be a source of amusement. No two terms
can be more incongruous than death and sport It
seems perfectljr monstrous, that after havmg sub-
iected tne irrational creation to the terrors of disso-
lution by his guilt, man should experience pleasure
in executing the sentence. Death is the enemy
even of brutes ; and the irrational creation manifest
symptoms of instinctive horror at his approach;
and to fiitid delight in throwing the shuddermg vic-
tim to the devourer, is shocking. I would extend
these remarks to all animals, and say, that it is un-
lawful to find sport in killing such as are noxious.
Wolves, bears, serpents, are to be extirpated, because
their continuance endangers human life ; but to find
pleasure in the act of killing even these, has a hard-
ening tendencv on the human heart.

Secondly, Some amusements tend to cheridi
sef/bh and avaricious feelings, and at the same time
to produce that j^amA^tfi^ taste^ which tends to the

utter ruin of both the temporal and eternal inierests
of mankind. Billiards, cards, dice, have this ten-
dency ; and indeed, all other games that are played
for money. Tiie object of the player in these games
is to get money, by a hasty process. What arts of
fraud and deception are often resorted to, in order
to avoid the loss and shame of defeat, and secure
the g[ame and honor of success. What anger and
ill-will are often produced in the mind of the un-
successfal partv. Even the rules of decorum, ob-
served in polisned society, are not sufficient, in mauy
cases, to restrain the passionate invective, and the
profime oiith. I may nere most confidently appeal

Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 56 of 121)