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In extended and elaborate reviews we shall present our readers with the substance of many of the leading publications which from time to time issue from the American and European presses, accompanied with such criticisms and remarks as their character shall demand; and in critical notices shall give our views of the general character of many others. By these means we hope to render much assistance to our readers in ordering books which they may wish to procure, as well as to afford them the means of obtaining the information contained in many others, which they may not have the means or desire to purchase.
For further particulars as to the plan of the work, and our editorial course, we would refer the reader to the prospectus published by the Agents, to our editorial in the July number, and to the present number, which is offerd as a specimen.
Such a publication is deemed especially important at the present time. Theology is liable to suffer from the extremes which characterize the age. Adventurous speculation, reckless skepticism, and tame credulity enter largely into the spirit of the times. The grossest errors of the dark ages, together with every species of novelty, find a ready reception even among minds claiming the advantages of a high state of cultivation. And is this any time for the Methodist press to sleep, or to be partial and tame in its instruments of attack and defense ? Surely not.
If there were ever a time when the true Wesleyan theology, in its clearness, simplicity, and power, required all the means of diffusiveness and extension which can be commanded, the present is that time. A medium for a thorough and full discussion of such topics in theology as have been buried in the mists of false philosophy or unbridled dogmatism is now with us absolutely necessary. And shall the Methodist Episcopal Church prove recreant in such an emergency? Indeed, she cannot. She will fortify every point, and fully equip herself for the important part she is destined to act in the great conflict now in progress between the simple, unsophisticated doctrines of the gospel, and a theology merely speculative on the one hand, or purely dogmatical on the other.
The institutions and government of the church must have due attention. Various questions which many may have supposed long since settled, relating to ecclesiastical polity, are still mooted, and the principles which they involve are to be contested over and
over again. Hence the necessity of being always prepared to defend and explain our own peculiar institutions at length when need requires.
The missionary, sabbath school, and temperance cause, as also our schools and colleges, will come in for a share of our sympathies and co-operation.
Experiments in science are daily bringing to light the secrets of nature, and so enlarging the sphere of human contemplation and enjoyment. It is of immense importance that all branches of the community should keep pace with the progress of scientific discovery, at least so far as the useful arts are affected by this means. It shall be our object to keep our readers sufficiently advised upon this subject.
We hope to pluck now and then a flower from ancient and modern literature, for the gratification of our readers. But those whose morbid appetites can only be satisfied with the creations of a disordered imagination can have little to hope from our labors, or those of our correspondents. The Review will deal in sober realities. And though all due pains will be taken to gratify a welldisciplined taste, its great object will be to make its readers wiser and better.
For the encouragement of our readers we will just say, that, from the light which already shines upon our way, we can have no doubt of complete success in our efforts to procure good materials. We have the pledges of several of the best writers in the country that they will render us their aid. All that now seems necessary is an adequate list of subscribers, and to this important element of success we trust our agents will help us without delay. If motives are necessary to secure the co-operation of the preachers, surely it will be sufficient to remind them, that by assisting in the circulation of the Quarterly they will not only, in the same proportion, diffuse useful knowledge, but will aid the most worthy objects of the solicitudes of the church,—the superannuated preachers, and the widows and orphans of those who have fallen in the field of labor.
In conclusion we beg to say, that, feeling as we do our utter insufficiency for the arduous and responsible duties devolving upon us, we most earnestly ask the prayers of the whole church, that the Father of all our mercies may direct and succeed our humble efforts to promote his glory and the best interests of mankind.
Art. II.— The Lives of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, drawn from
the Writings of the early Christian Fathers, and embracing the New Testament History. Illustrated with ample Notes, historical, topographical, and exegetical: with References to Authorities, containing a large amount of valuable matter; now first translated into English from various Ancient and Modern Languages; besides numerous Original Views and Explanations. With numerous Engravings. New-Haven : Published by Young & UhLHORN-pp. 650.
The apostles of Jesus Christ were altogether a peculiar class of men. Without those attractions which draw upon the great and mighty men of the earth the gaze and admiration of wondering multitudes, the place they occupied, and the high spiritual office they filled, present them on the page of history in a light far more interesting and important than that in which the most renowned of this world's sages and noblemen appear. In the faithful mirror of impartial biography how do Cesar and his minions appear in contrast with Christ and his apostles? or Herod Agrippa compare with " James, the brother of John,” whom "he killed with the sword?” or the high priest and his persecuting council with Peter, whose imprisonment they procured, and the devout disciples whose prayers prevailed with God for his deliverance ? or Felix and the second Agrippa with Paul, whose inspired eloquence caused the one to tremble, and the other to confess himself “almost” persuaded “to be a Christian ?" In a word, in what other class of men, whose names have been deemed worthy on any account to be handed down to succeeding generations, do we see so much to admire, so much which may be rendered subservient to the best interests of society in general, and the spiritual edification of the pious in particular?
Few subjects, it will readily be admitted, afford a wider scope for amplification than the lives of the apostles. The simple narrative of their labors is indeed contained in a narrow compass in the original record. This is a peculiarity of the inspired writings. To multiply incidents beyond what was necessary to render the canon complete, or to swell the account by inferences and reflections, appears to have been no part of the work of the Spirit in revealing
But the inspired data is sufficiently ample, even in this department, to suggest to the mind of the pious author trains
truth to man.
of pertinent reflections and observations which may be wrought into an extended dissertation equally instructive and edifying to his Christian readers. Such a work is the Portrait of St. Paul, written by the late pious vicar of Madeley, Rev. John William de la Fletchere. This admirable production is published at the Methodist Book Room, in New-York, and widely circulated through the medium of that most efficient channel. No well disposed Christian or Christian minister can peruse it with prayerful attention without receiving much spiritual benefit from it. He will leave it a better Christian ; and, if a minister, a more apostolical and successful laborer in the vineyard of his Lord. We live in a day when the multiplication of such works is much needed. The swarms of novels and romances which are daily issuing from the press, to corrupt the taste and vitiate the morals of the youth of our country, are a standing reproach to us as a professedly Christian nation. It is a source of deep and painful regret to the truly pious of all denominations, and loudly calls on every friend of our common Christianity to exert his utmost efforts to counteract the pernicious influence of this diffusive and insidious moral poison, by substituting a more healthy aliment for the mind. Who that is capable of forming any just estimate of the demoralizing tendency of such productions as are here alluded to, can help deploring that their authors should be eulogized, and their names identified with the nation's literature as its chief supporters and most brilliant ornaments ? But such is the fact; and until talent and literature, eloquence and authorship, shall be consecrated to the cause of true piety, this stigma will probably remain a standing reproach to both our intelligence and our moral taste as a Christian community.
On opening the volume before us, and glancing over the title page and a few lines setting forth the “plan and scope of the work,” we felt a degree of pleasure arising from a secret hope that it might be one of those truly devotional productions of a pious heart and an enlightened understanding, which the circumstances of the times so imperiously require. It did appear to us that whoever would, at this time, select the lives and labors of the apostles as a theme for a book of more than six hundred royal octavo pages, must have a heart in some measure imbued with the apostolic spirit, and would, in all probability, amplify his subject in such a way as to produce a most salutary impression upon the moral
and religious feelings of his readers. It was such a delusive hope
Unlike the author of the Portrait of St. Paul, who in the very first paragraph of his book calls the reader's attention to the early piety of the apostle, and thenceforward keeps it fixed in contemplation of the eminent traits of character developed throughout the whole course of his devoted life, the writer of the volume before us occupies some thirty or forty pages in describing the civil state of " the world in the apostolic age,” before he comes to the main object of his work. This may be admissible as an introduction, though it too evidently indicates that the writer's mind was not so deeply imbued with the spirit of his subject as could be desired to insure a profitable discussion of it. Of this we have still farther evidence in the manner of his connecting the political sway of the Roman emperor with the advent of the meek and lowly Saviour. This is certainly novel in some respects, and extremely questionable in others. Who, for example, is prepared to hear Julius Cesar proclaimed as “ Christ's forerunner ?” Such, indeed, was John the Baptist, an honor most fitly conferred upon him as a devoted prophet of the Most High. Julius Cesar was neither his rival nor his associate ; and it is difficult to conceive for what purpose, other than to exhibit the eccentricity of the author's mind, (of which there is abundant evidence throughout his work,) the appellation