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Common-life Seiimons. By J. Erskine Clirke, M.A., Vicar of St, Michael's, Derby, and Editor of the Parish Magazine. London: Morgan. 12mo.,pp. vi. 212.
Twenty sermons on homely, every-day subjects, axo contained in this volume, suggesting exhortations on the varied topics of every-day life. "The children playing in the streets of the city," "The lads of the parish," "Young men and maidens," "The mothers and sisters," " The parents," and "The whole family in heaven," are the titles of the first six of these lively and instructive addresses. Among the remaining topics, we have "The gospel of the body," a sermon against injuring the health of the body, defiling, or neglecting it. "Some temptations of trade," a sermon against the trade practices of those who will be rich. "Over-dress," "Bargain-diiviug," and "Causes of raggedness," the topics discussed in which will be easily imagined, without our extracting pithy, pointed, pregnant paragraphs. Such paragraphs abound in tho volume. Wo have seldom read sermons wliich we can more conscientiously and heartily commend.
A Glance At The Universe. By Nicholas Odgers, Stithians, Cornwall. London: U. J. Tresidder, limo. pp. 130.
This is a devout and suggestive glance at the univorse, ranged under fourteen topics, "designed to assist young persons to form a comprehensive idea of the universe as a whole." It will be useful to others than the miners' children, whom chiefly the worthy author must have to instruct. A few sentences will give an idea of what the book is.
"Look at a particle of dust—the smallest we can conceive! In that speck of dust there may exist more suns, stars, and planets, than our eyes behold in the heavens over us. And upon tliem may exist inhabitants, surpassing far in strength and mind the most intellectual of all earthly men. And who knows but that thousands of years are spent by them in studying the works of God—in grasping their relations, and the laws which govern them, and in discovering and tracing heaven's wisdom and power in their creation and preservation!"
Mr. Odgers, whatever attention he would awaken to the magnificent and the grand, does not overlook the minute, towards which, indeed, his tastes seem specially to incline, and, perhaps, too closely.
Lire Unfolding; a Poem for the Young. By Elizabeth Ann Campbell. Part 8. Thr Hope Of The World. London: Wertheim & Co.pp. 96.
We reviewed the 1st Part of this poem in our number for March last year, and did not give any encouragement to the publication of Part 4. That, however, we have not seen, but Part ;t confirms our impression, that while the authoress seems to have a pretty correct knowledge of scripture facts and history, she mistakes her forte when she sets about presenting these facts in poetic dress. Her verses have neither the smoothness of rhythm, the liveliness of fancy, nor the fervour of poetry.
Bird Murder; or Qood Words for poor Birds. A Tract for the Timet. By a Country Clergyman. London: Wertheim <t Co.pp. 81. square 12mo.
Gardeners and farmers, spare the birds! is the burden of these pages— and a very good burden too. The cherries, currants, and gooseberries, which during a few weeks the birds may devour, are as nothing when compared with what would have been prevented from coming to perfection, but for the services they render in feeding upon the grubs and insects, which are by very far the deadlier enemies to our fields and gardens.
"The blackbird is the most inveterate plunderer of fruit, but at other seasons he does very great good by feeding on caterpillars, grubs, worms, &c. &c. The thrush, though unable to resist the temptation of ripe fruit, surely earns an occasional meal, in return for the thousands of slugs and snails he devours throughout the year."
In a similar manner the author pleads for the starling and Hie rook. He would have the wholesale destruction of birds prevented; sparrow clubs discouraged in every way possible; bird catchers forbidden to ply their skill; birds' nests let alone; the value of birds to man well-studied ; and head money, often paid out of the church-rate, for birds killed, protested against, and withheld. Spare the birds, our author says, and we say it too: and that even in the interest of our ripe and fragrant garden fruits, as well as in that of our abundant and smiling corn fields.
Watchwords For The Chcrch Militant. By Newman Hall, LL.B. "Watch and Pray." London: James Nisbet <t Co. pp. 04. Price Three-pence.
This is another of that series of small books by which Mr. Hall has increased his usefulness beyond the sphere of the living voice. In exhorting Christians to watch against" the world " he adverts powerfully to the care necessary in reference to the ungodly trorld—the worldliness of fashion— the worldliness of pleasure—worldliness in business—the uorldliness of wealth.
The following extract will evince how judiciously this seasonable exhortation is framed:—
"The divine life in the human soul is one of exertion and dependence. Both are essential, and they are intimately associated. We cannot work effectually without Divine help, nor is this ever given but as a stimulus to self-help. The same law prevails in daily life. We can do nothing for ourselves without God, and He will do nothing for us without our co-operation up to the limit of our ability. We plough and sow, but He maintains our life, and Bends the rain and the sunshine. Both His working and our own are necessary to secure the harvest. So we ' work out our own salvation, for it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do.' We must give 'diligence to make our calling and election sure,' but 'by grace we are saved, not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.' We ' can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us,' but 'without him we can do nothing.' We err when we unduly exalt human effort, we also err when we exclusively direct attention to the need of Divine grace. The Bible exhibits both phases of truth with impartial distinctness, reminding us now of the necessity of effort—* Watch I' now of our, dependence upon Divine grace— 'Pray;' and often blending both admonitions—' Watch and pray, that vc enter not into temptation.'" pp. 5, 6.
Notes On The Gospels, Critical and Explanatory. By Melancthon W. Jacobus, Professor of Biblical Literature in the Western Theological Seminary, Alleghany City, Pennsylvania. Matthew. Edinburgh: William Oliphant d Co. London: Hamilton d Co. 1862.
That the stamp of public approval has been set upon the work before us, is evinced by the fact that it is reprinted from the thirty-third American edition. We can cordially endorse the opinion thus practically expressed; the notes are terse, plain, suggestive, and convey within a limited compass the results of extensive learning and research. In addition to illustrations and explanations of the text drawn from Eastern life and the lands of the the Bible, the practical and doctrinal portions are really valuable and instructive. The usefulness of the commentary is greatly enhanced by a harmony of the Gospels which is added, and wliich, being interwoven with the text, is made of especial value by being placed where it applies, and bringing to view the additional records of the other three Evangelists in the act of examining one.
To teachers and superintendents it will be exceedingly useful in facilitating their study of the Word of God, and their preparation for the work of the Sunday school.
Labour Among The Navvies. By Tltomas Sayers. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt. pp. 160.
Mr. Sayers appears to have been a very devoted labourer among the navvies; and, judging from the manner in which he discharges his duties, most admirably adapted for the work. This sphere of labour was the Lum valley, in the county of Westmoreland. Some interesting details are given of the social habits and kindly sympathies of the navvies, as manifested towards each other when in distress. Conversations with them are recorded; and every Christian employed in endeavouring to bring religious truth home to the conscience, will admire the shrewdness and yet faithfulness and solemnity with which this missionary takes the weapon, as it were, out of the hand of his opponent and uses it against him. Many useful lessons are drawn from these narratives, especially intended for the unconverted, and the false hopes to which many cling are fully exposed.
We believe this to be a book calculated to be very useful.
Pearls or Thought Strung In Rhyme; or, Hymns and Songs in snuill uords. By MissSedgwick. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, d Hunt. pp. 30.
We are not advocates of the attempt to fill thirty pages either of rhyme or prose with monosyllables. The restraint put upon the writer is so evident, as to produce a painful feeling in the reader. In this case certainly the result is not successful, and there are many poetical collections we should put into the hands of children in preference to this.
To tht Officers and Ttachen of Sunday Schools.
Bretuken,—In my last I vontured to call your attention to the evil attending Excursion trips, believing that it far exceeds any good which may result therefrom. In this paper my object is to speak of anniversary services, and, if possible, contribute something towards the discontinuance of what appears to many to be very objectionable: forming another link in the chain of hindrance to the extension of good, by clogging the wheels of the chariots of peace. An anniversary is always an interesting occasion, and when properly conducted beneficial; but when it partakes of the exhibition, many think its usefulness is more than counteracted, and how can it he otherwise in the present state of the human mind, seeing love of show and dress makes up a great part of our being in an unregenerated state?
The parts I object to are, placing the children in front of the congregation, and recitations. In the former, you may observo any fantastic dress and position. Often white caps are ordered to bo worn; so that what with white caps, short-sleeve dresses, necklaces, and crinoline, the Sunday school presents a sight worthy of some ludicrous performance, more than a congregation of children training for
heaven. In the large town of B ,
at one of the most respectable chapels, I witnessed this only a few months since, and it is still a common practice throughout England. Then come the recitations, which are at best so dovoid of elocution, in most cases, as to become a burlesque. For my own part, I have never derived any benefit from it, nor did any of my school-fellows. If well said, pride was engendered ; and if
badly done, the lad was dispirited, and injured in mind and body. If we go to the spiritual teaching desired by these displays, we shall find little or no result What lad has ever been converted by them, or who has been led to Christ by the recital of some tale, or hymn, or anything usually introduced on these occasions? From beginning to end; yes, from the time the preparation commences, to the end of the anniversary, the whole is one system of emulation and contention, with a total disregard by the children of religion. Nothing being thought of but the eventful day when, with gaudy dresses, and voices tuned, they have to appear before the congregation.
Surely it is high time to alter this state of tilings. I am bound to respect the opinion of many excellent men who advocate those yearly demonstrations. At the same time, with my forty years' experience in Sunday schools, having visited most of the principal schools throughout England, and having been for many years interested in Ragged schools, and Kefuge homes, I must differ from thorn, at the same time hoping that the difference of opinion may not alter friendship. But, if there is a question on this matter, why do we not at once abandon it? No doubt when such displays were introduced, there was great objection to these institutions, though nothing will qualify an evil; but now opinion is very much reversed, for, from the noble to the peasant, all are with us in influence and money; and that little despised school at Gloucester, has, by God's blessing, grown into one of the greatest and most glorious institutions of our highly favoured land.
Now, there is still an idea In the minds of many, that to do away with these manifestations, is to have smaller collec
tionB, but it is a fallacy. People begin to allot money, and the subscriptions are proofs of the deep-seated benevolence in the hearts of each congregation, showing ns clearly that the preacher has only to present a legitimate object, and the aid requested is forthcoming. One thing is certain, Christ has promised to be with us, [and all things needful shall be given out of his fulness. Sammy Hicks always said, that everything belonged to his Lord, and that he had only to go and ask him in a proper manner, and the answer came.
The Eev. K. Hall, in speaking of similar meetings, said, "We want more prayer and less show, my brother; that is our success." We endorse it, and would write it on our hearts, so that He who said, " Feed my lambs," should see our tears and hear our groanings, for their eternal welfare. Brethren, let us seriously consider this question with an unprejudiced mind. He who cannot reason is a fool, he who does not reason is a coward; but he who can and will reason, is a man. Such I trust are all Sunday school teachers. Consider the consequence of one wrong step, and don't let us for one moment continue an error because our fathers did so. 'Who can tell how much good has been lost by those unnecessary appendages, or how much has been prevented, to say nothing of direct evil, which probably does arise from them?
It is high time for us to awake, seeing that the children are in danger of being carried away down the stream of infi
to state positively; but there is no doubt, that these two subjects, and these two alone, constitute the work of the Sunday school. We may talk of systems, of classes, of maps, of excursion trips, and I know not what else, but the great end we seek is not answered, until the souls of the children are purified by the blood of Christ, and they become accredited members of an evangelical church.
The result unfortunately falls very short of what ought to be effected by the mighty agency at work, having the blessed influence of God's Holy Spirit, which he has promised to give his followers. Why have we not early conversions by thousands, as well as ones? Surely there is some evil in our midst. We let our scholars slip through our hands by some ill-timed means, and unfortunate circumstance, at the age when the church is opening her arms to receive them, and then, forsooth, we often think lightly of our ministers, if they are not successful in rescuing those whom we have by our errors let slip through our hands.
CATECHISMS AND SCRIPTURE. Sut—In these days of controversy I and unbelief, Sunday school teachers have no trifling duty to perform. If our youth are to be champions in " contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," their hearts must be disciplined now; the armour must be put on now, and " the sword of ■ J the Spirit which is the word of God," delity and immorality. Twelve millions must be grasped and unsheathed in the of infidel publications, issued every year, prime of youth.
must do something towards contaminat- It is true, there are many of whom ing the youth; and this is not all. The we have to complain in the language of present age is one in which the human the Apostle, "when for the time ye mind, in its most wretched form, muni- ought to be teachers, ye have need that fesU itself. No doubt we arc doing a one teaoh you again, which bo the first great work, but how much more we principles of the oracles of God, and are should do, were we to adhere simply to become such as have need of milk, and informing the mind upon the lost condi- not of strong meat." But this is not tion of man, and upon the glorious re- always the fault of the learner, someJem pt ion by Christ, I should not like times tho teacher may share the blame.