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all that is vast and wonderful is thine, thou dost care for all things that thou hast made; and not even a sparrow falleth to the ground without thy will. Thou hast invited man, sinful man, who disobeyeth and forgetteth thee, to draw near unto thee, to pour out his soul before thee in sorrow for sin : and, like a tender father, who pitieth his children, thou dost pity and pardon him, when he repenteth of the evil which he hath done. O Lord! I would partake of thy grace. I acknowledge with shame that I have displeased thee. I have done that which I ought not to have done, and have left undone that which I ought to have done. I have followed my own evil inclinations, rather than thy will. Thou hast said, 'Give me thy heart; but I have given my heart too much to the things of the world, and have not cherished holy desires and heavenly hopes. O Lord! teach me thy way; teach me to please thee better, and to devote myself to thy service. May I contemplate thy attributes, till I strive in some measure to be perfect as thou art perfect. May I be a faithful follower of the Captain of our salvation : may I submit myself to his guidance, that I may pass safely and peacefully through the storms of sorrow, the snares of sin, and the dark valley of the shadow of death. Though his form is no more seen on earth, may the voice of exhortation, of encouragement, and of love, which still addresseth our hearts in his holy gospel, never cease to be my instructer in thy will, till the end of all things, when I shall appear before thee. O may I find mercy in that awful hour, and be permitted, through thy grace, to join those virtuous and happy spirits, who for ever dwell with thee.
“Merciful Father! accept of my humble thanksgivings for the blessings which have marked the day which is past; and may thy goodness protect me during the hours of darkness. May I lie down, and sleep, and wake in peace, because thou sustainest' me; and may my first thoughts be devoted unto thee, my guardian and almighty Friend !
“ Bestow thy blessing, I beseech thee, on all thy children of mankind. Do thou reclaim the wicked, comfort the afflicted, and permit all to rejoice in the light of thy gospel.
"I ask all in the name, and as the disciple, of thy Son, Jesus Christ, through whom I would ascribe unto thee all glory, honor, and praise, for ever. Amen.” — pp. 63 – 65.
The essay at the end of this little volume, entitled “A Guide to the Study of the Scriptures,” enforces the necessity of studying the contemporaneous history of the Bible, the customs and opinions of the Jews, the climate and productions of Palestine, &c. in order to a proper understanding of the Bible itself. It also insists that the character of Christianity is to be learned, and its spirit imbibed, inore from the life and acts, than from the precepts of its Founder. These opinions are doubtless sound, and are now more generally received than they were formerly. They are heard, not unfrequently, from our own pulpits, and are proclaimed from our presses; and yet they may be overstated. We, certainly, would be among the last to depreciate sacred criticism and biblical lore; but we would not exalt them at the expense
of that saving knowledge which it is in the power of the Bible to impart to its most unlearned readers, – to those who have studied no archæologies, consulted no commentaries. And we are afraid that Miss Martineau has not sufficiently guarded herself in this particular, when she says, in the commencement of her essay, Many children learn out of the Bible from day to day; their parents listen from week to week to what is read or expounded in places of worship; and the aged are often seen poring over the holy book in the intervals of their daily employments, and heard to repeat favorite passages out of it when eye-sight fails, or during sleepless portions of the night. Yet among all these there may be little real knowledge of the volume so much studied.” Now we bold, that there is a heart-knowledge of the Bible, a knowledge of the simplest, yet sublimest, holiest, and most important portion of its contents, which is always open to the serious, searching, and honest affections, which is to be learnt only by the affections, and without which all critical knowledge, valuable, exceedingly valuable as it is in its place, is nothing, absolutely nothing. We do not speak without some experience. We have not been exempt from affliction. We have known something of the trials of sickness. We can say with feeling, that at such periods of sorrow, when our flesh was failing, and our spirit was bowed down, the sweet words and trusting piety of one of the Psalms, in almost any translation, or the affectionate devotion and immortal promise breathing in our Saviour's last discourses and prayers with his disciples, have afforded us strength and consolation which no critical aids could have increased. It was of little consequence to us, at those times, how the Jews wore their phylacteries, or sat at their meals, or built their tombs. These were subjects which did not enter our minds. We only knew that we had listened to words which were better than
any other words; that we had heard a voice from heaven, and were comforted. We felt that there was something in THE BOOK, which was to be found in no other book; something which distinguished it from other books; something independent, and requiring not the aid of adventitious learning. We sympathized anew in the spirit of those well-known verses ;
“A man of subtle reasoning, asked
A peasant, if he knew
That proved his Bible true.
Had never reached his ear,
And only answered, ' Here!'" After all, we believe that we are not, in reality, at issue with Miss Martineau, and that she would heartily agree to all that we have said. The omission or alteration of one or two such passages in her essay as that which we have quoted, which we must consider as unguarded, would take away the ground of the above remarks. We bave spoken what we have spoken, freely, because we regard Miss Martineau as so near perfection, that we wish to see her perfect. To say the truth, there is no writer of the present day, in whose literary progress we entertain a warmer interest. She is continually before our view, commanding our constant admiration. And gifted as are the female writers of Great Britain, now living, when we reflect upon the number and variety of her writings, their ability, their practical purpose, and their religious spirit, we confess for her a superior respect, and are ready to place her at their head.
ART. IV. - The Christian's Rule of Marriage. An Essay
by HOWARD Malcom, A. M. Boston. James Loring. 1834. 16mo.
MR. Malcom has been led by his interpretation of certain passages of Scripture, and by other reasons, to deny the propriety of a sort of marriages of frequent occurrence in this community, and to refuse to officiate as a clergyman in solemnizing them. His determination on this point, was announced for the first time, we believe, in the following note, originally addressed to the parties immediately interested, and some time afterwards published in the newspapers.
“ Boston, Nov. 9, 1833. “Dear Sir :- You will do me the justice to believe me, when I assure you, that it is a grief to me that I must disoblige persons I greatly respect, and whose kindnesses I would repay by every means in my power, and at the same time draw censure upon myself from the many persons who will think me wrong. Towards yourself and Miss I entertain no other sentiments than those of affectionate respect, and shall be ready in all my life to render either of you the least or largest services in my power. My refusal to officiate at your nuptials arises from no other reason than a conscientious inability to unite an apparent and professing Christian to one who apparently and by profession is not a Christian. “Very respectfully,
(Signed) HOWARD Malcom."
As the number of those who openly profess infidelity is not large, and as professing infidels are not likely to be persons for whom a Christian minister would “entertain no other sentiments than those of affectionate respect,” we presumed that Mr. Malcom meant, in this note, by one who apparently, and by profession, is not a Christian,” one who is not a church-member. We supposed, until the book before us appeared, that he had conscientious scruples, which forbade his officiating at intermarriages between members of his congregation merely, whatever might be their character, and members of his church. Now, it seems, he lays down “the great rule, by which Christians are to be governed,” in terms somewhat different: to wit, “ That believers are not at liberty to contract marriage with unbelievers.” This, in one respect, certainly, is better, inasmuch as it makes his scruples refer to the real belief of the parties, and not to their professions merely, or church-membership. Perhaps Mr. Malcom would not allow, that there are or can be in believers out of the visible church. However this
However this may be, his "great rule,” as now stated, does not assert, in words, that both the parties, or neither, must be church-members; but only, that
both the parties, or neither, must be believers. Still the question turns, it will be perceived, not on the expediency or necessity of congenial tempers and tastes, nor on requisitions of character, as that term is commonly understood, but on the matter of belief only; the officiating clergyman being judge, it would seem, of what is implied in such belief.
We feel little or no apprehension in regard to the influence or spread of this doctrine. Nevertheless, as it has been advanced by a gentleman holding a respectable position in the religious and literary world, and as it is advocated and acted on by him as a matter of conscience and religious principle, it seems to call for some notice. “ These marriages,” he says, “are either right or wrong; and sacred teachers are bound to find out and publish the truth in the case, according to their ability, or be guilty of negligence.”
The Old Testament, as it seems to us, contains nothing, properly applicable, either on the ground of authority or analogical reasoning, to the question at issue. Mr. Malcom quoles, it is true, the following inculcation in Deuteronomy, vii. 2-4, or rather, we are sorry to say, misquotes it, wholly omitting the italicized clauses. “And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee, thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: neither shalt thou make marriages with them ; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly."
“ This,” he adds, was not merely a prohibition to marry Canaanites, who had been doomed to destruction, but it extended to all heathen. Even in the days of Ezra, all such marriages were regarded as utterly sinful, though formed with Moabites, Ammonites, Egyptians, and other heathen, in whose lineage were none of the nations of Canaan.” — p. 8.
If Mr. Malcom will look again at this prohibition,” he will find, that, like the similar statute, Exodus xxxiv. 16, it is limited to the “ Canaanites, who had been doomed to destruction," and does not extend “to all heathen." By consulting the statute, Deuteronomy, xxi. 10-14, he will also find, that liberty is there expressly given to the Hebrews, to