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"The infirmities of old age increasing upon him, he ardently longed to depart and be with Christ. A constant cough, and pain in his side, checked his great activity, caused occasional dejection of mind, and seemed at times to shake his faith and fortitude. He now and then complained of a declension of his love to the Lord Jesus; and once, while meditating on that text, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love,' he exclaimed, Ah! I too have left my first love!' A few days before his end, being visited by one of the missionaries, he said, 'I ought to have done more, and loved and served my Saviour better: yet I firmly trust that he will receive me in mercy, for I come to him as a poor sinner, having nothing to plead but his grace and righteousness through his blood.' His children and several of his grandchildren having assembled round his bed, he addressed them in the following very solemn and impressive
"I rejoice exceedingly, my dearly beloved children, to see you once more together before my departure; for I believe that my Lord and Saviour will soon come and take your father home to himself. You know, dear children, what my chief concern has been respecting you, as long as I was with you; how frequently 'I have exhorted you not to neglect the day of grace, but to surrender yourselves with soul and body to your Redeemer, and to follow him faithfully. Sometimes I have dealt strictly with you, in matters which I believed would bring harm to your souls, and grieve the Spirit of God; and I have exerted my parental authority to prevent mischief: but it was all done out of love to you. However, it may have happened that I have sometimes been too severe. If this has been the case, I beg you, my dear children, to forgive me; oh forgive your poor dying father.'
"Here he was obliged to stop, most of the children weeping and sobbing aloud. At last one of his daughters recovered herself, and said, 'We, dear father, we alone have cause to ask forgiveness, for we have often made your life heavy, and have been disobedient children.' The rest joined in the same confession. The father then continued: 'Well, my dear children, if all of you have forgiven me, then attend to my last wish and dying request. Love one another! Do not suffer any quarrels and disputes to arise among you after my decease. No, my children,' raising his voice, 'love one another cordially: let each strive to shew proofs of love to his brother or sister. Nor suffer yourselves to be tempted by any thing to become proud, for by that you may even miss of your soul's salvation; but pray our Saviour to grant you lowly minds and humble hearts. If you follow this advice of your father, my joy will be complete, when I shall once see you all again in eternal bliss, and be able to say to our Saviour; Here, Lord, is thy poor unworthy Cornelius, and the children whom thou hast given me. I am sure our Saviour will not forsake you; but I beseech you do not forsake him.' He fell gently asleep in Jesus on the 29th of November, 1801, being, according to his own account, eighty-four years of age."
For the Christian Observer.
SEE A CHRISTIAN DIE.
ANGELS, as ye wing your way
Come, and see a Christian die.
Ye who tempt the heirs of glory,
Ye who mock at revelation,
Come, and see a Christian die.
Come, and wonder;
Come, and see a Christian die.
Kinsmen, do ye love your friend?
Come, and welcome;
Come, and wonder;
Come, and see a Christian die.
Teach us, Saviour, how to die.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. (Continued from p. 503).
1. Strictures on Death-bed Scenes.
2. Observations on the same, in a Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. 3. Stanley's Letter to the Bishop of Bristol.
4. The Record Newspaper.
It would be performing an important service, if any person, who has leisure and ability for the task, would read through the whole of the works upon the list of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and set forth in a brief form the good and evil of the series, so as to reduce to a few leading principles the great points in which they are defective or erroneous. We hear from time to time of a discussion respecting some particular publication, which ends in its being withdrawn, restored, or modified, as the circumstances may happen; and then the matter blows over till another exceptionable publication is discovered, and a new controversy arises; and the Society only emerges from one difficulty to plunge into another. There must be something wrong in the constitution or proceedings of an institution, to cause this frequently recurring disturbance of equilibrium ; and it were well if its members would, with mutual candour and brotherly kindness, seek out and repair the weak points of their citadel. It was announced several years since, that a revision of the whole Catalogue was in progress, with a view to such alterations and corrections as should appear requisite. The Report for 1825 said that" the Society would gladly avail itself of the best new tracts which might be submitted to its choice; especially of such short and plain expositions of Christian doctrine and duty as might appear calculated to arrest the attention and to reach the hearts and understandings of a busy and inquisitive age." At the beginning of the year 1829, the laborious task of revising the books and tracts on the permanent Catalogue was nearly completed, and a new classification of them prepared, from which it appeared that there was a great want of short and plain tracts. With a view to meet this exigency, the Standing Committee was empowered to recommend and receive recommendations, subject to the decision of a General Meeting. This arduous duty was pursued by the Committee with great diligence, and the Report of 1829 stated that "the Society will not desist from its undertaking, until it has provided a stock of books from which members of the Established Church CHRIST. OBSERV. No, 381. 4 A
may supply themselves with all that is necessary or useful for the promotion of Christian knowledge."
We have premised these particulars with a view to shew that the Society is not insensible of its high responsibilities, or unwilling to exert its best efforts to rise to the full level of them; and what has been effected during the last five years affords most favourable indications of hopeful progress in that important undertaking. If any person will take the pains to compare the present list with the list ten years since, he will find both valuable additions and judicious omissions: among the last of which, we are bound to add, are some of those publications which have justly given offence on much the same ground as Dr. Warton's Death-bed Scenes-such, for example, as Sikes's Dialogues.
Still the question recurs, Is the revision adequate? To which we must add the important question, Is the frame-work of the Society so constituted as to offer a fair probability that improper admissions will not henceforth occur ? To the last question may be adduced, as a two-edged answer, the circumstance that Dr. Warton's work was admitted since the general revision, but that it has also been subsequently withdrawn: so that in this case the bane and antidote are both before us; and from the altered circumstances of the Society there is ground to hope that no work will in future gain possession either of the temporary or the permanent list without careful scrutiny.
But then returns the other question, Was the revision adequate? We reply, Most certainly not; nay, far, very far from it. We could point out a considerable number of books and tracts, retained since the revision, which are grossly erroneous in doctrine, and by no means calculated to promote Christian knowledge. Should it eventually be requisite, we will not shrink from following up this declaration by ample proof; but in the mean time we will select what may be considered a fair average specimen of the style and spirit of the Society's tracts, both in matters of doctrine and practice. We take, then, a tract entitled "A Dialogue between a Churchman and a Methodist, by the Right Reverend Robert Gray, D. D. Lord Bishop of Bristol." A publication from so high a quarter, which has been long on the Society's list, has passed the ordeal of the revision, and has gone through numerous editions, is assuredly no unfair or unfavourable specimen of the Society's labours. We ought to add, that in selecting this particular tract from many others in our view equally exceptionable, we have not done so invidiously, but because the matter of it comes before us in our ordinary capacity as reviewers, in consequence of a recent pamphlet by a Mr. Stanley, a Methodist preacher, addressed to the Right Reverend Prelate, on the subject of this tractate. After perusing Mr. Stanley's animadversions, we thought it but justice to examine his Lordship's tract for ourselves; and we must say in truth, and with great sorrow, that, much as we disapprove of the style adopted by Mr. Stanley towards his Lordship, and diametrically as we dissent from his views of our Apostolical Church, the tract on which he comments is justly open to censure, and is not a little calculated to draw forth such a rebuke as it has met with. We were anxious thus to set ourselves right with his Lordship, with the Society, and with our own readers, by shewing that we have not gone out of our way to find fault with this particular publication, when there are others, probably, more exceptionable; but that we have been led to it in consequence of the notice it has attracted by some of the parties animadverted upon in its pages, and from our finding it well calculated to elucidate the average quality of the Christian Knowledge tracts. The highly respectable character of Bishop Gray will be the best guarantee, that, in freely remarking upon his Lordship's widely-circulated pages, we cannot possibly intend
any thing personally disrespectful: on the contrary, we should be disposed to receive with great respect any thing that bore his Lordship's name; and we can only account for the errors of this tract by remembering that it was written many years ago, and is, perhaps, almost forgotten by the author; though, as our copy is dated as recently as 1831, and is entitled "" New Edition," it appears to continue in unchecked circulation by the Society. The tract, in its full title, is as follows: "A Dialogue between a Churchman and a Methodist; in which the Grounds of Communion and Separation are fully examined, and the principal Points of Difference fairly discussed; with a Reference to Scripture."-This title is indistinct and unhappy. "Communion" with what? “ separation" from what? "points of difference" between whom? What is meant by "a reference to Scripture?" Does the writer mean one particular reference only? or does he mean in general-" with reference "-without the article? We might also ask, whether it is not assuming too much to say that the important points alluded to are fully examined," in a short popular tract; and as to their being "fairly discussed," that is a matter better left to the judgment of the reader, than asserted upon a title-page by the author. Mr. Stanley certainly, for one, considers that the examination and discussion are neither "full" nor "fair;" and though we are far from coinciding in all Mr. Stanley's statements, we think he is correct in this conclusion.
There is another ambiguity in the title-page, in the use of the word Methodist; which is not antithetical, in whatever sense it may be used, to the word Churchman. A dialogue between a Churchman and a Dissenter would have been more pointed. But it is clear that the author means to refer to the followers of Mr. Wesley, both from the general purport of his dialogue, and because neither his Lordship nor the Society could condescend to use the word Methodist in that popular sense in which it is often employed by vulgar minds, to stigmatize all religion, whether among the Dissenters or in the Church. But then, taking the word Methodist in its specific sense, never surely was a tract more singularly inapposite to its object. Let us examine its structure. It opens as follows:
"Churchman. Well, neighbour, whither are you going so early this morning? "Methodist. I am going to hear the Gospel preached.
"Church. To hear the Gospel preached! why church will not begin these two hours.
"Meth. That I know very well; but I don't go to church to hear the Gospel preached.
"Church. No! Why where else should you go? You do not frequent the Methodist meetings, I hope, and take all for Gospel that is delivered by the wild preachers who hold forth there. Your father and grandfather went to their parish church, and were taught by their pastor to live like good Christians; to shew forth the Gospel in their lives as well as by their lips. I fear that you will not get a better light from your new teachers.
"Meth. You may call them wild if you please; but I am sure that they have got the word, and have convinced me that I am in the right way to be saved, though I was once a lost sinner.
"Church. Don't be too sure of all this: if your preachers had got the word, as you call it, they would instruct you not to make schisms and divisions in the congregation; and they would also teach you not to be too confident in your own security, but to reflect that there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.'
"Meth. They make no schisms and divisions in the congregation, but teach us union and harmony and peace." pp. 3, 4.
Now we must say that this is not worthy of his Lordship or the Society. The Churchman's reply, "To hear the Gospel preached! why church does not begin these two hours," if intended to be smart and witty, is a sad failure; and if a real mistake of the good Churchman, who actually did not know what the Methodist meant, it makes him too ignorant an opponent to be worth contending with. Then, again, there is not a word of argument
in the passage. The Churchman is indeed pleased to say that the Methodist preachers are "wild;" but the Methodists will say, that this is begging the question, and that a Bishop is not so likely to know what their preachers teach as themselves. Nor is there any argument in the application of the text, "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man," since the Methodist might have retorted it upon the Churchman. Such arguments are what is called in vulgar language "a good set down;" but they beg the question, and prove nothing. And this is a fault that is very common in the Christian Knowledge and many other controversial tracts: they virtually take for granted the matter in dispute: they urge assertions for proofs: they argue with a lordly air, and not with reciprocity; and hence they are not calculated to convince an opponent. It is easy to say to a Methodist or a Dissenter, " 'Consider how great is the sin of leaving a pure and Apostolical church-a church established upon scriptural principles-in order to addict yourself to schism, and to hear wild preachers hold forth at a conventicle.' But the Methodist or Dissenter does not quail under such an argument, because he does not admit its conclusiveness: he does not believe one proposition, and scarcely one word or epithet, of the whole sentence. The purity, apostolicity, scriptural sanction, schism, wildness, and so forth, must all be proved point by point, or the whole argument fails. Such statements take for granted what the writer honestly believes, but what his opponent does not concede; and the latter is very apt to think himself not fairly dealt with by assumptions which place him below the level of his adversary.
Then, again, what argument is there in telling the Methodist that he ought to go to his parish church because his father and grandfather went there? The Methodist might reply, That we are not to follow a multitude to do evil; that we are to give up even father and mother for Christ; and that, if the argument avail any thing, the Churchman ought to frequent Mass, because his ancestors did so. He might also wax a little indignant at the insinuation that his preacher did not teach men to shew forth the Gospel in their lives, as well as with their lips; and might challenge the Christian Knowledge Society to prove that the great mass of the Methodists are not as virtuously disposed as their Church neighbours at the beer-shop or on the village green.
There is also another grievous impropriety in the above brief extract— namely, that of putting what is called "cant," or "slang," into the lips of a theological opponent. We never heard that the Methodists employ the phrase "got the word," which the Bishop of Bristol twice uses in order to overwhelm them with ridicule; and even if any of them do so, it is beneath his Lordship and the venerable Society to stoop to pick up the uncouth or elliptical religious phrases of devout persons in humble life, to raise a prejudice against them. There is nothing that renders controversy more galling and less convincing, than a sneer; and if we wished to confirm a Methodist in his Methodism, and to make him hate the Church of England, we would set him to read tracts couched in this very style. The tracts of a religious society ought to be utterly free from irritating matter, and to speak the truth in the meekness of wisdom, and with love unfeigned; both which forbid raising a laugh by imitating an opponent's phraseology.
The above remarks have forced themselves upon us in reference to the first few sentences of the tract; but to go through the whole with the same detail would be wearisome and unnecessary. Our further observations will be quite cursory, but sufficiently applicable to the general argument. In the next sentence after the passage above quoted we read:
"Forgetting that Christ prayed for those whom the Father had given him, that