Page images

It is the privilege, however, of eminently great and good men to enlighten and instruct future ages. The effusions of piety and genius are immortal. They are the best legacy which posterity can receive; and to this it has a claim. The religious public may now be congratulated that, after a solicitous expectation of four years, it receives a valuable portion of the works of Dr. Tappan. It is comprised in two volumes: one, consisting of sermons on important subjects; the other, of lectures on Jewish antiquities, delivered at the university. Of the former, we shall now attempt

a brief review.

The volume is introduced by a biographical sketch of the Author; and a sermon preached at his funeral, by Dr. HOLMES. The tribute here paid to departed worth is affectionate, yet discriminating and just. The picture, though beautiful, had an original. As a man and a Christian, as a preacher, a pastor, a professor of theology, and a patriot, Dr. Tappan was all which these pages describe.

The following are the titles of the sermons which compose this volume :

"Sermon I. On Christian Zeal. II. On Brotherly Reproof. III. On Secret Faults and Presumptuous Sins. IV. On the Love of God. V. On the Love of our Neighbour. VI. On Christian Charity. VII. On Christian Charity. VIII. On the Vices of the Tongue. IX. The Character of a Wise Man. X. On the Pleasures of Religion. XI. The Want of a practical Regard to religious Truth, the Cause of dangerous speculative Errors. XII. Naaman the Leper. XIII. On the Love of the World. XIV. On the Divine Preference of Mercy to Sacrifice. XV. On Christian Vol. III. No. 8,


Hope. XVI. The Christian Pattern. XVII. and XVIII. Religious Joy explained and recommended. XIX. On Prayer. XX. The Spirit, Employment, and Design, of the Christian Ministry. XXI. The Benefits and Advantages of worshipping God. of Affliction. XXII. On the Duty XXIII. On Forgiveness. XXIV. On the Connexion between denying the Son and denying the Father. XXV. Religion the one Thing needful."

These sermons must be acknowledged to possess great merit. In a style and manner equally calculated to instruct, lineate the most important docconvince, and persuade, they detrines and duties of our holy religion. They place full in the of the gospel, which, however reader's view, those peculiarities offensive to human pride and perverseness, are the real glory the scheme, the grand foundation of a sinner's hope, virtue. Yet these doctrines are and the soul of all true piety and exhibited in so rational a light, that it must be difficult for the most ingenious caviller to form a specious objection against them.


The author is particularly hapPy in illustrating the connexion and harmony of natural and revealed religion.

We observe with pleasure that, in these discourses, truth is delineated in its own lovely features, displayed in its most mild and benignant aspects, and defended only by its appropriate weapons : weapons: And while clearly presented to the understanding, it is powerfully pressed on the conscience and the heart. Every principle, every passion of the soul, is forcibly addressed. Every spring of action is skilfully touched.

These sermons abound with a species of instruction in which modern discourses are not unfrequently deficient. They accurately and thoroughly unfold the distinguishing nature of religion. They not only display with precision its genuine characteristics, expressions, and evidences, but clearly mark what is opposite, and vigilantly detect the infinite variety of methods in which it is counterfeited. The recesses of the human heart are laid open, its windings developed, and its various deceits exposed. The mask is plucked from hypocrisy, and every false hope is undermined. Sinners of every class, the moral and profane, the enthusiast and formalist, the secure and convinced, are addressed in language alarming and pungent, yet affectionate and alluring: While the balm of heavenly consolation is gently distilled into the soul of the doubting, desponding Christian.

at some

Dr. T.'s style is his own. Varying with its subject, it is at sometimes concise, at others, remarkably copious; times, plain and unadorned; at others, rich even to luxuriance. Through an extreme ramification of thought, his sentences are sometimes too complicate for the less accurate or attentive reader. But, generally, his prominent characteristics are energy and perspicuity. He is much conversant with those metaphorical forms of expression which, as a great critic remarks, give us two ideas for one-conveying the meaning more luminously, and generally with a perception of delight.

It were easy to illustrate the foregoing remarks by a variety

But our

of apposite quotations. selections must be few and brief.

In the sermon on the "love of our neighbour," we meet with the following just and accurate observations.

"It is obvious to remark, that there are many things, which wear some appearance of love to mankind, which yet fall essentially short of the spirit of the duty before us. There is an instinctive and painful sympathy awakened by the sight of a fellow creature in distress, which engages our immediate efforts for his relief.

There is a strong natural affection towards our kindred, especially towards our tender offspring. There is a characteristic sweetness and goodness of temper, which forms an early and constitutional feature in hu

man characters. There is also an artificial politeness and generosity, the product of civilization and refinement, or at best of merely rational and philosophical considerations. There is likewise a warm affection to others, which grows out of a likeness or union of sentiment and disposition, of party or country, or which is nourished by the enjoyment or the hope of their partial friendship, and benefi cence to us; not to add, that there is sometimes an affected display of kindness and munificence to individuals, or of noble patriotic zeal for the public, which is prompted by merely vain or selfish motives, and sometimes by views very base and iniquitous. It is evident, at first sight, that neither of these apparent inthem combined, fulfil the extensive stances of benevolence, nor all of precept in the text."

In the sermon on the first three petitions of the Lord's prayer, we have a short, but animated description of millennial purity and bliss.

"How transcendent must be the

prosperity of that holy community, which obeys the laws, and enjoys the protection of this glorious Sovereign! What a golden age of the world must that be, in which his benign govern

ment shall immediately embrace the whole brotherhood of man! Figure to yourselves, my hearers, the divine religion of Jesus enthroned in the hearts, in the families, and in all the societies of mankind! What an ag gregate of private and public happiness is the immediate result! Behold each individual emancipated from the vile and destructive tyranny of sin and Satan, and restored to inward freedom, purity, and joy! See every family possessing that domestic harmony and bliss, which flows from mutual love and fidelity among its several members, and from the constant, delightful experience of the divine benediction upon their common cares, endearments, and satisfactions! Behold every civil society enjoying that public liberty and defence, prosperity and greatness, internal and external peace, which naturally arise from the universal prevalence of private and social virtue among its various members and rulers! See the benevolent principles of Christianity cementing them all into one harmonious body, and devoting their several functions, their united affections and efforts to the general welfare! See each member loving his neighbour as himself, cheerfully losing private interest in the public good, steadily practising those personal, patriotic, and divine virtues, which nourish and perfect human society, and at once zealously promoting, and delightfully enjoying, the virtuous and happy state of every fellow member, and of the community at large!"

The following remarks occur in an ordination sermon, preach ed on Ephes. iii. 8, 9, 10. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, &c.

"As the spirit, expressed in the text, characterizes every penitent believer, so it eminently suits the pro

fession of a Christian minister. His official studies and religious address. es constantly place before him the awful presence and majesty, the infinite holiness and grace of God, the wonderful condescension and sacrifice of Christ, the dependent and wretched condition of apostate man, the du

ty and importance of humble repentance and thankful praise on the part of redeemed sinners, and his own peculiar obligations to divine mercy for making him not only a partaker, but a public herald of the gospel salvation. Can we wonder, that these combined ideas roused in the bosom of Paul the most humble and grateful emotions? Ought they not to produce similar effects on every minister? Can a man, who is a stranger to these sentiments and affections, be qualified to enforce them on others? Can he skilfully and tenderly administer that spiritual medicine, the necessity and value of which he does not perceive, whose healing and comforting efficacy he has never felt? Can he suitably lead the devotions of Christians, who has never imbibed the gospel spirit; whose heart has never been tuned to the harmony of Christian love and praise? In short, the soul of a minister must be cast in the humble mould of Christianity, before he can relish and faithfully perform the condescending and self-denying duties of his office; before he can readily become all things to all men, and even take pleasure in instructing, reproving, or comforting the weakest and lowest forms of hu

man nature. On the altar of Christian humility he must sacrifice that fondness for human applause, mental luxury, or worldly emolument; that pride of literary, ministerial, or moral eminence; that unfeeling or haughty neglect of the common people, which superior station, knowledge, and fame, assisted by human frailty or corruption, are apt to inspire. To subdue these evils, and to nourish pastor must early and deeply imbibe the opposite virtues, the Christian the self-abasing, yet ennobling views presented in our text."

The last sermon in the volume (the last which the author' preached) contains a striking description of the misery of the irreligious.

"Without religion the soul cannot enjoy peace, and of course the man cannot be happy. For happiness or misery flows not so much from exte. rior circumstances, as from the inter

nal state of the mind. Now a rational mind, which feels no love to its infinite Creator and Benefactor, no delight in the Supreme Good, no confidence in the favour of Him, on whom its eternal fate depends, must be inwardly poor and wretched, though surrounded with all the sources of earthly felicity. Such a creature must feel himself in an unnatural, distempered, and therefore painful

condition. He must feel the torture of desires unsatisfied, of faculties prostituted, of hopes disappointed; of passions at once contradictory, clamorous, and unbounded; he must, whenever he soberly reflects, endure the anguish and terror, inflicted by an upbraiding conscience and a frowning God. His only refuge from this anguish is in thoughtless dissipation, or in a rapid succession of worldly pursuits and indulgences. But this refuge forsakes him in the gloomy intervals of solitude, of external danger and distress, and especially on the bed of death. The honest and great teacher, death, gives new light and activity to his reflecting powers; it brings into lively view his God dishonoured and incensed, his Redeemer insulted, his soul neglected and ruined, his fellow men, and even his dearest friends, corrupted, and perhaps destroyed by his criminal example, principles, or unfaithfulness. To complete this picture of wo, the hand of death separates him forever from those worldly objects, to which all his affections, habits and pleasures were attached. At the same time it excludes him from the beatific presence of that Being, who only could make him happy; or rather his own confirmed depravity renders him incaple of sharing in the pure and refined enjoyments of the invisible world, and of course subjects him to extreme and hopeless misery,"

In the course of the volume, some inaccuracies occur; but they are not numerous; nor is it needful to particularise them. In a posthumous work they will be readily overlooked.

The world is full of sermons. Yet so much is there of the original and impressive in the volume

before us, that we doubt not it has already engaged its share of the public attention. Nor are we less confident, that the more it is known, the more it will be prized by readers of sentiment and taste, and especially by the cordial friends of evangelical truth and vital piety.

Essays in a Series of Letters to a Friend on the following Subjects. 1. On a Man's writing Memoirs of himself. 2. On Decision of Character. 3. On the Application of the Epithet Romantic. 4. On some of the Causes by which evangelical Religion has been rendered less acceptable to persons of cultivated Taste. By John Foster. 2 vols. in one. 12mo. First American from third London Edition. Hartford. (Con.) Lincoln & Gleason.

THESE Essays, though occupying, on an average, half a volume each, appear in the form of Letters. For this the Author has offered the best apology in his Preface, where he tells us that they were real Letters, written to a friend. To the man, who reads the work, however, no apology will be necessary. If he has the emotions, which we have felt, the embodied thoughts will so wholly engross his attention, that he will hardly think of their dress; much less will he find time to examine the fashion of it, and still less to point out its defects.

The first Essay, “On a man's writing Memoirs of himself," is a striking proof, that a subject, apparently old, and, at first glance, connected with those which are decidedly so, can, in

the hands of a man, who understands his business, lose in a moment its threadbare dulness, and excite a lively and eager attention. The rats sexvtov of antiquity has hardly escaped a single moralist, (and who is not a moralist) since the days of Solon; yet here it will be seen standing in a posture and with a dignity, which Solon never knew, and which the well meant enthusiasm of his followers hardly contrived to realize.

Our Author, in recommending this plan to his friend, does not intend that he should prosecute it with the view of publishing the Memoirs; neither is it his design, that he should collect those facts and events of his life, which might have befallen any other man, as well as himself. On the contrary, they are to be mere Annals of his Mind, a delineation of the most prominent of those circumstances, which have made him what he is. The motives, which he suggests to prompt him to this task, are these The gratification of a laudable curiosity of knowing the past life and feelings of one in whom he cannot but be concerned-of himself: The discovery of the manner, in which he has thought and acted, and by what he has been influenced, in the few moments which have elapsed, since he commenced an infinite duration: And, above all, the sight of a faint miniature of the character, he will probably sustain, through all the follow ing ages of time.

This task, he acknowledges, will be difficult, because we neither mark what our feelings indicate, nor remember what they are. Occasionally,

however, past scenes flash on the mind with a vivid, but unaccountable effulgence, and enable us to seize on their minutest circumstances with the distinctness of vision. Places and things too, by association, will raise to life thoughts and feelings long since forgotten, especially feelings of guilt.

"No local associations," says Mr. guilt. It may here be observed, that F. "are so impressive as those of as each one has his own separate remembrances, giving to some places an aspect and a significance which he unknown number of pleasing, or alone can perceive, there must be an mournful, or dreadful associations, spread over the scenes inhabited or visited by men. We pass without any awakened consciousness by the where there is something to excite bridge, or the wood, or the house, the most painful or frightful ideas in

the next man that shall come that
way, or possibly the companion that
How much
walks along with us.
there is in a thousand spots of the
earth, that is invisible and silent to
all but the conscious individual.

I hear a voice you cannot hear;
I see a hand you cannot see.”

Our lives, thus reviewed, will appear to have been a course of education, formed by instruction, company, books, and the influence of the world. The first emotion will be regret at the small influence of instruction. Yet, though small, it will be seen to have been real, and in a few instances unaccountably great. These of course should be recorded. Our companions, too, in every period of life, will be found to have helped us to a great part of what we are; especially a few individuals among them. These of course we must judge, and often, when we would not, condemn. Among our books

« PreviousContinue »