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Madagascar: Its Mission And Its MABrnts. London: John Snow.pp. 117.
This volume contains an outline of the very remarkable events which have occurred in connexion with the Mission of the London Missionary Society to Madagascar—its commencement—the favour accorded to it by King Radama I.—the efforts used by his widow Queen Kanavalona to prevent the progress of the gospel—the sufferings endured by the native Christians through twenty-six long years of severe persecution, and the deliverance of those who had survived, on her death and the accession of her son Radama II. The narrative is encircled with many incidenta, which give much interest to it, although that interest is necessarily of a painful character. The following however is of a more cheerful kind. It refers to a visit paid by Mr. Ellis to the Island during the late Queen's reign.
"One evening, while at Tamatave, two men called at Mr. Ellis's house. On being admitted, they told him that, having heard that he had brought the Bible to their land, they had come a long way in order to get a copy. As they were strangers to him, he thought that possibly they might be spies, and that, if he complied with their request, he might be banished from the island. He told them therefore, that he could not give them what they wanted then, but that they might call upon him again on the following morning. In the meantime, he made inquiries about them from some of the Christians of the place, and learned that they were excellent men, and members of a family that feared the Lord greatly; that they lived at the capital, and having come down about a hundred and fifty miles towards the coast on business, and having there heard that Mr. Ellis was at Tamatave with the Word of God, they resolved to travel more than a hundred miles further, in the hope that they might secure this treasure for themselves. Of course, Mr. EUis was delighted to hear such a report of these worthy men, and was ready, when they called again on the following morning, to give them what they wanted. Before doing this, however, he learned from thein that their family was large, and scattered, but that all of the members of it were Christians. When asked whether they had the Scriptures, they told Mr. Ellis that they had seen them, and heard them, but that all they possessed were 'some of the words of David,' which, however, did not belong to themselves alone, but to the whole family. He further ascertained that this sacred fragment was scut from one to another, and that each, after keeping it for a time, passed it on, until it had been read by all. Mr. Ellis then inquired whether they had these 'words of David' with them. This was a question which they seemed unwilling to answer; but at length they confessed that they had. Mr. Ellis having asked to see the book, they looked at ono another, and appeared as if they knew not what to do. At length one of them thrust his hand deep into his bosom, and from beneath the folds of bis laraba he drew forth a parcel, This he very slowly and carefully opened. One piece of cloth after another was gentlv removed, when at length there appeared a few leaves of the Book of Psalms, which the good man cautiously handed to Mr. Ellis. Though it was evident that the greatest care had been taken of them, their dingy colour, their worn edges, and other marks of frequent use, showed plainly enough how much thev had been read. We can only fancy the feelings with which our friond looked upon these few soiled and well-worn leaves, revealing as they did the deep love which these Christians feel for God's Word, and the diligence with which thev keep and use it. Desiring to possess these precious fragments," Mr. Ellis asked the men whether they had not seen other words of David besides those which they now produced, and also the words of Jesus, and of Paul, of Peter, and of John ?' Yes,' they replied, ' they had seen and heard them, but they had them not.' 'Well, then,' said Mr. Ellis, holding out the tattered leaves, 'if you will give me these few words of David, I will give you all his words, and I will give you besides, the words of Jesus, and of John, and of Paul, and of Peter.' Upon this he handed to them a copy of the New Testament and the Psalms, bound together, and said, ' You shall have all these if you will give me this' The men were at first amazed. Then they compared the Psalms they had with those
in the book, and having satisfied themselves that all their own words of David were in it, with many moro, and that beside these there were other Scriptures which they greatly desired, light beamed in their faces, they took Mr. Ellis at his word, gave him those leaves of the Book of Psalms which had so long yielded them comfort, seized the volume he offered in exchange, bid him farewell, and hastily left tho house. In the course of the day he inquired after them, wishing to speak to them again, when the Christians at Tamatavo told him that, as soon as they left his house, they set out upon their long journey to the capital, doubtless 'rejoicing as one that fiudeth great spoil.' "—pp. 83—85.
We have also inserted in a previous pago (213) an extract, shewing the interest the children take in the instruction given them. This book, though small, is a valuable addition to our missionary literature, and should find a place in all school libraries. It has several pictorial illustrations.
Daniel's Vision Of The Four Beasts. Illustrated with Six Engravings. London: H> J. Tresidder. Price Sixpence.
This is an attempt to elucidate the vision of the Four Beasts, contained in the seventh chapter of Daniel, by pictorial illustrations. We doubt the propriety of thus endeavouring to present to the eye figurative representations which are intended to convey important truths to the understanding. They will be better understood without such aid.
The author has prefixed to the engravings an explanatory page of letterpress, in which, like most writers on prophecy, he' has no hesitation in giving dates. "This vision commenced COO B.C., and will end A.D. 3231." This last date is prudently placed at a sufficiently distant period. Some writers have not been so prudent in this respect.
Hints On Scriptuiie Reading And Study. London: J. Nisbet d- Co. pp. 00.
A small but very useful work, consisting of five chapters; the first containing Introductory Hints, and the four succeeding ones referring to Devotional Reading — Inferences—Parallel Passages—Systematic Study. We select, from the Introductory Hints the following general rules of interpretation.
"1. The most simple is the most genuine meaning. "2. The Literal stands before tho Figurative sense.
"3. The Scriptures are to be taken in their widest signification when they arc not limited by the Holy Spirit, especially in the descriptions given of the gracious blessings of the Gospel.
"4. A less portion of Holy Writ must be interpreted agreeably to a larger, and one single passage is not to be explained in contrariety to many others, but consistently with them.
"5. The Analogy of Faith, i. e. the proportions which the doctrines of the Bible bear to each other, must be used with caution. The harmony of the Gospel system of truth must not be marred by mere human opinions." pp. 10,11.
"What Hath God Wbouqht?" or, Tlie Ameliorated Condition of the World in Answer to Three Years' Prayer. By Benjamin Scott, Esq., F.B.A.S., Chamberlain of London. London: Morgan <t Chase, pp. 16. Price Threepence.
This tract contains an address delivered at the opening service in the week of prayer, 1868. It narrates the circumstances under which the observance of a week of special prayer—which has now existed for three successive years—originated, and invites attention to the remarkable events which have been witnessed during that period, such as—the opening of China; the emancipation of the Russian serfs; the toleration extended to Protestants in the Austrian dominions; the establishment of civil and religious liberty in Italy; the advances towards the emancipation of the slaves in America; the wonderful progress of religion in Madagascar; the revival of religion in Jamaica; and the general disposition to hear -the Gospel preached, so that not only are the naves of our cathedrals resorted to, but "seven theatres, three large music halls, and a public bath, are filled with attentive listeners every Lord's-day evening in London alone."—p. 13.
Mr. Scott comes to the conclusion, that
"There has not been, in any three years, such progress made in exalting what is depressed, and bringing low what is exalted, and in making rough places plain and crooked places straight, in 1 preparing in the desert a highway for our God,' as has been effected during the last three years. I affirm, moreover, that no such progress has been made in any thirty years; and I will even add, after a very careful survey of history, that I believe there has been no such progress effected in the course of any three hundred years."—p. 15.
And he asks—
"With these facts before us, is not God the hearer and the answerer of prayer ?—the rewarder of such as diligently seek Him ?"—p. 15.
On Education And The Duties Of Civil Life. By James Mott. London: A. W. Bennett, pp. 112. Price One Shilling.
This is a reprint of an American book which does not contain anything to deserve such a distinction. It consists of two parts: the first, Observations on Education, addressed to Parents; the second, Observations on the Duties of Civil Life, addressed to Children. It does not appear right to include both these in one volume. The observations are judicious, and the advice given is well suited to the parties addressed, but the style of writing is very imperfect. Nor can we speak favourably of the religious sentiments introduced towards the close. The following are specimens:—
"The foundation of pure religion is the fear and love of God, demonstrated by good works." p. 104.
"To arrive at the saving knowledge of it, consult the Scriptures more than the systems of men. But attend still more to that divine principle in your own hearts which the apostle to the Gentiles terms the ' grace of God.'" "It is this grace, manifestation of the Spirit, or as it is also called in Scripture. 'light' 'Spirit of God,' 'Christ within,' &c, that shews mankind right and wrong, checks them in their way to evil, &c." p. 106.
Our readers will think this a very imperfect, if not erroneous definition of the religion of the Now Testament.
Grandmamma's Conversations On The Bible. By a Clergyman's Wife. Ten Parts. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, & Hunt. Price One Penny each.
These ten parts embrace the history contained in the Book of Genesis. There is nothing remarkable in these conversations, and had we seen them in manuscript, we should hardly have recommended their publication. But their circulation cannot but be beneficial in spreading Scripture knowledge.
In reading the first part, we perceive that the firmament is defined as "the clear blue sky above us, where we see the bright stars shining so beautifully." Is it not rather the atmosphere surrounding our earth?
In part 4, on the Life of Abraham, we aro told that "Circumcision continued until the time of our Saviour, when baptism took the place of it under the Gospel." We are not aware of any Scriptural authority for this statement.
These matters may, perhaps, receive attention in re-printing the tracts.
The Separating Flood. A Sermon occasioned by the death of Mrs. Mary Linn Eldridge. By the Rev. O. Rogers. Brixton: Edmonds, pp. 47. This is an excellent Sermon upon the words of Joshua to the Israelites, when they were about to pass through Jordan to the Promised Land, "Ye have not passed this way heretofore." We notice it because it contains a memorial of a lady who was the daughter of the Kev. Henry Heap, of Trinity Chapel, Brixton, and the wife of the Rev. Samuel Eldridge, his successor, and a zealous Sunday school teacher, so far as her circumstances permitted. With the assistance of two or three young friends, she commenced the Sunday school at that place, on May 20th, 1838. When her father removed to-West Street Chapel, Brighton, she took her share in the labours of the school attached to that place. When she became the wife of Mr. Eldridge, and returned to Brixton, she conducted a Bible class for young women in the vestry of the chapel, and evidence has since been given that these labours were not without fruit unto God. The welfare of the Girls' British School lay near her heart. Domestic cares prevented her at length from active co-operation, but never destroyed her affectionate sympathy in all that had any bearing on the interests of the young. Just before the commencement of her fatal illness, finding that home claims were less pressing and numerous, she had proposed the formation of a Bible class for young women, which should meet at her home on Sabbath afternoons; but God was pleased to frustrate her intentions by severe illness, which terminated in her death, on November loth, 1802, in her 40th jear. As a specimen of the sermon, we quote the following extract:—
"If our faith carrv us through the afflictions of life, it will carry us through the sorrows of death. If it carry us through the fears of fife, it will carry us through the fears of death. If through the dark clouds of life, it will carry us through the darkest cloud of death. If it enable us to conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil while we live, it will enable us to conquer them when we die. Do we mean to say that our faith is not more tried in death than in life? Wo say more;—that faith docs more for us while we live than when we die. The first act of faith by which, after long and painful struggles with self righteousness and with sins, we enter into Christ as our rest, is far greater than that by which wo pass to our rest iu heaven. The flood of temptation, of iniquity, of Divine wrath, through which we then pass, are far more terrible than the stream of death. The change is much greater: for by the former wc pass from the world into the church of Christ on the earth; and by the other from the church below to the church above. In the one from being without Christ, to being in Him; in the other from being in Him, to being with Him. The church above and below are one; but between the world and the church a great gulf is fixed. We may pass from the world into the church of Christ on the earth; but we must pass from the church on earth to the church in l eaven. We do maintain, therefore, that the faith which carries us through floods of convictions, temptations, and affliction, in this life, will easily carry us through the river of death. To live for Christ may even require more faith than to die for Him. Certainly, to live unto the Lord, and to die unto the Lord, are acts of the same faith. Tell me that a man had faith to live in Christ, and I am satisfied that he had faith to die in Him. Tell me that his faith conquered every foe in life, and I feel assured it could subdue the last enemy, which is death. Let us only be assured that our friends had faith in Christ to live, and we need not doubt but they had faith in him to die. If their faith triumphed over many afflictions in life, it would gain an easy triumph in death. They had nothing to do, like Israel on the brink of Jordan, even when it overflowed, its banks, but to go forward."—pp. 17—19.
There is appended to Mr. Rogers' sermon and biographical notice of the deceased, a sermon preached^on the same occasion by the Rev. T. A. Fieldwick.
The Two Apprentices. By the Bev. J. T. Ban. London: S. W Partridge, pp. 80.
A brief [narrative of the different roads through life trodden by two yonths, with misery at the end of one, and happiness at the other's termination. There is nothing in the tale which raises it above Hie level of the great number of similar ones which already exist.
A Chat With The Boys On New Year's Eve. By Old Merry. London • Jackson, Walford, and Hodder. pp. 50.
A very lively and profitable chat. It was especially suitable for last New Year's Eve, but will be interesting and useful on the eve of any day. It is beautifully printed, and will form a most acceptable present to well educated boys.
Mary Markland, The Cottagers Daughter: a Narrative founded on facts. By the Bev. Geo. Fowler. London: J. Kitbet <t Co. pp. 127.
Mary Markland, the child of parents who were ignorant of religious truth, had been brought under its influence, and becomes the means of spiritual good to them. For some time she lived a useful and happy life, but. unhappih/, consented to marry an irreligious young man, the consequence of which was great injury to her own soul, and the entire destruction of her domestic happiness. The tale, which has all the appearance of truth, teaches a lesson which cannot be too frequently or too earnestly impressed, on the minds of our young people,—that in the selection of a companion for life, religious character should be the first consideration.