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Review of Books.
SUNDAY AFTERNOONS AT HOME. By the
Author of “ Christ our Example,” &c.-Seeleys.
To say that a great desideratum is here well supplied, would be saying far too little : it is a book of extraordinary merit and beauty. The style, precisely that by which the young are most surely attracted : short, pithy sentences, full of meaning ; animated though serious; and frequently deepening into a pathos really touching. The first of these essays would tempt any reader of ordinary feeling to go on; and though a very brilliant, it is still a fair sample of the whole book. We have read all that has been written by this accomplished authoress; and much both of instruction and gratification have we found in her pages : but in our estimation this volume, both in its design and in its execution, is the flower of the whole bouquet. No family can
Jack the most pleasing, most profitable employment for the “Sunday afternoon” reading hours of their young people, while they have this volume on their table.
THE CONVICT SHIP; a narrative of the results of
scriptural instruction and moral discipline as these appeared on board the “ Earl Grey," during the voyage to Tasmania : with brief notices of individual prisoners. By Colin Arnott Browning, M.D., Surgeon, R. N. Author of " England's Exiles," &c.Smith, Elder and Co.
It is overpowering to think on the nature, the extent, and the brilliancy of the “ crown of rejoicing” that awaits the author of these books in the great day, if, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he shall enabled so to persevere as he has begun. Of all the missionary works ever undertaken by uninspired men we do regard this as the most distinguished; and the teacher is one whom God hath raised up, and set apart, and sent forth, without the intervening hand of map. He goes to a far distant land, through all the perils of the stormy deep,-and who are they whom he goes to instruct ? Even his countrymen, his neighbours, those who have lived under the same government and laws, and have, nominally, enjoyed the same privileges with himself, but who, for their crimes are cast forth from society, “ fast bound in misery and iron,” and looked on as the rejected scum of the earth. We take up a newspaper, glance at the trial of some foul criminal, and shuddering at
A FRIENDLY LETTER ANSWERED.
We have received a very earnest and persuasive letter from a correspondent wbo gives no pame, or clue by which to find her; who announces herself a member of the Roman Catholic community, and urgently calls on us to join it also ; adducing the examples of Mr. Spenser, Miss Agnew, and others. She also charges us with unjust severity, in treating of her religion ; and, indeed, with “bearing false witness against our neighbour;" at the same time enumerating several books that she wishes us to read for instruction in what she conceives to be the true faith. All this is couched in language that evidently flows from a heart unfeignedly desirous of advancing God's glory, and benefitting the soul of a fellow-creature ; and instead of a brief " notice to correspondents,” which she seems to request, we must devote a page or two to her letter, the sisterly kindness of which really awoke a most grateful feeling, and calls for our sincere and affectionate thanks; which we thus offer; most earnestly beseeching the Lord, that the prayers which she puts up for us may be returned manyfold in blessings to herself; more especially in that richest of all blessings, the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free.
The view that we take of the Romish system, the deep anxiety that we feel for every soul held in its bondage, and for every soul in danger of being in
volved in it, results from the very process recommended and pressed upon us by our unknown friend. More than twenty years ago, we were united in a work of charity with a most interesting nun; and in the progress of that work, the instruction of a poor little deaf and dumb girl, we frequently visited the convent. The Nun was one who had been, like Miss Agnew and others, led to forsake the Protestant faith, and she was even far more anxious tban our correspondent can be to draw one whom she dearly and personally loved to follow her. Acting, avowedly under the direction of a very learned priest, she selected for our perasal the most convincing books that could be pointed out which we honestly and attentively read ; never opening a page of controversy on the other side, but bringing every doctrine, every argument, every assertion to the one sure test of all-the Holy Scriptures. On our knees before God, who has so distinctly promised that to all who ask wisdom of Him it shall be liberally given, we sought to be led into all truth; most firmly resolved to follow whatsoever was according to the revelation made of the Divine will in the Divine word. Thus, and thus only, we became acquainted with the depths which before we had not known; and seeing the religion of Rome as it is depicted by its own most wary controversialists, and as it was evidenced in the daily walk of its professors, we still resolved not to form a judgment from these of the system itself. We procured, and carefully studied, the authenticated laws of that body-its creeds ; the decrees of councils; and, finally, the books used at its devotional services.
Could our new friend desire a more candid inves
the relation of his hardened deportment, perhaps, rejoice that we are not condemned to have our path crossed by one so depraved, so lost. Lost, that be may be found! This noble, this honoured, this beloved disciple of Him who came to seek and to save that which was lost, takes up the position of a medical officer on board the Convict Ship, and—but let those who love the Lord read the narrative, and pray for grace, each in bis or ber own little sphere, to go and do likewise. No one need fear to place the volume in the hands even of children: there is not a word in it to shock the most fastidious delicacy; Severe indisposition has prevented our missionary brother from even re-writing his original notes ; but they needed it not.
Our readers might help in this blessed work by assisting to supply books of real, serious, solid instruction, to be placed at Dr. Browning's disposal : they may help by praying for the distant, scattered flock, who are left in the midst of snares and sorrows on the penal settlements; and by asking fresh supplies of bodily strength, and of abounding grace from the Lord whom he serves.
The description of the thunder storm at sea, with its consequences, is of most thrilling interest : and the little memoirs, and letters, of awakened convicts are beautiful. All the good seed gladly received may not abide to the bringing forth of solid fruit: but let Dr. Browning bear this in mind, that, not according to the measure of perseverance in the individuals thus taught, but according as he has soWED, even so shall He reap when the Lord of the harvest comes to claim his own. Man may judge us by the success of our efforts ; God looks at the efforts themselves.