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NOTICES OF BOOKS.
THE FOUNDATION, CHARACTER, AND SECURITY of the CHRIS.
TIAN CHURCH: a Sermon, preached before the General Synod, at Monaghan, 8c. By the Rev. JAMES MORGAN, Belfast. Pub. lished by request. M'Comb, Belfast. P. p. 48.
The reform that has taken place in the Synod of Ulster, we rejoice to observe, is becoming every year more and more visible. Evidences of its progress in the career of improvement are, of late, crowding upon us from various quarters. And perhaps not the least satisfactory and convincing of these "signs of the times," is furnished by the above discourse, which was delivered at the opening of the recent meeting of Synod and which, we are glad to find, has been published at the request of many of the brethren. The altered circumstances of the church are scarcely any where so observable as in the topics which this excellent sermon discusses, and in the approbation with which they were received. It was a most appropri. ate and seasonable address, and it will not be less so in its printed form. We listened to its delivery with much gratification and delight, and have now read it with increased admiration. It is written in a very perspicuous style; and is as instructive in its matter, as it is luminous in the arrrangement of its topics and the manner of their exposition. Its circulation among the Presbyterian Mi. nisters, Elders, and people of Ulster, will, we trust, by the blessing of the Great Head of the church, be attended by the most beneficial effects, in directing their attention to the characteristics of the Christian church, and urging them forward, according to their several offices and oppor. tunities, in the work of its spiritual renovation. We need scarcely add, that we cordially and most earnestly recom. mend it to the notice of our readers of every communion, but especially to those of our own church: we take it for granted, that neither Minister nor Elder therein will be so indifferent to the welfare of our Zion and the right discharge of his duties, as to neglect providing himself with a copy of this instructive sermon. As a specimen of the style of the discourse, we subjoin the prefatory remarks.
“The Presbyterian Church in this country, so far as we are connected with it, bas arrived at the most critical period of its history, in these latter times. The Synod of Ulster, within a few years," has undergone im. portant changes; and, if I mistake not, changes still more important are yet to be undergone. Our church entered on the labours of Christ's vineyard, in this kingdom, with great zeal-she prosecuted them long with unabated ardour-her God crowned them with almost unprecedented success and our Jerusalem became “a, praise" in the land. But prosperity is not easily borne. In process of time she left her first love, she became a backslider from God, and too long did she seem determined to run into final apostacy. She had been an undaunted witness for the truth, but she knowingly permitted error to take shelter under her name; she had maintained inviolate the discipline of Christ's kingdom, but the bar. riers between the church and the world she allowed, to a great extent, to be taken down; she had burned with zeal for the Lord of Hosts and the extension of the Gospel, but the missionary spirit departed from her, and she became indifferent to the evangelization of the land ; she had been distinguished for a high tone of morals, but many evil practices crept in and met not with a severe répulse. This low state of the church has prevailed throughout a considerable part of the last century; but we are now blessed to see a revival. For some years there bas been a growing spirit of impatience with long tolerated errors and abuses. Látely, a vigorous effort has been made to cast off a heavy weight that pressed down the moral and spiritual energy of the body; effective measures have been taken to restore the church to purity in doctrine and discipline; and there seemis generally to prevail a spirit of readiness to obey the com. mand of God by the prophet Jeremiah, “Stand ye in the ways, and see. and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein." To all this there is abundant evidence in the discussions that have already taken place, and the notices of important measures found upon your books. Our church is therefore in a situation the most critical and eventful. She has been roused from her léthargy, and what she may do is a deep concern to her enemies and friends, she has been moved, and what direction she may eventually take, we are anxiously solicitous to know; she has taken the attitude of a reformer, and her acts will determine the destiny, of thousands yet unborn. Should her councils be wise and her measures effective, she will become once more “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;" but should she take a false step, her hopes may be disappointed, and her ruin begun. May God, in his mercy, enable her to remember and plead his promises with faith : Acknowledge me in all thy ways, and I will direct thy steps”—“ Lo, I am with you always"_“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
We cannot with hold the following admirable remarks on the opposition that exists between the church and the world, and the spirit in which that opposition ought to be encountered and sustained by the Christian :
* In proportion as the church is faithful to its principles, and the world governed by its own spirit, the variance will be the more marked and de. cided. Hence, in an age of lukewarmness, the church and the world may seem to coalesce, and both yielding something, they may dwell to: gether in peace. But let the church be roused to zeal, and immediately the world resents it. And the consequence has been, what all may have observed, that religion and irreligion keep pace with one another; for as the church is determined to advance its principles, so. Satan is resolved to maintain his dominion. In America, where unheard-of efforts are pose made to extend religion, missionaries of infidelity are openly maintained and sent forth to sow their poisonous seed through the cities, towns, and villages of the new world. In our own country the opposition to religion is exactly keeping pace with its revival. The people of God have been called to bear some share of the world's reproach. And efforts are making for the propagation of error, which would not have been made, bad it not been provoked by the faithfulness of the church. For it is not in the dature of error to make any strenuous efforts to propagate itself, until it is roused to do so merely out of opposition to the truth. But surely it is unnecessary that the present audience should be encouraged against being disheartened by these things. If you attempt to make this church a faithful witness for Christ, lay your account with being calumniated as persecutors. If you endeavour to keep it unspotted from the world, exs pect to be abused as bigots. If you set yourselves to promote the fellow. ship of its members, you must bear the reproach of fanatics. And if you address yourselves vigorously to the work of missions, you must be willing to be accounted visionaries. It has been so from the beginning, and why should we expect it to be otherwise now? Nor wonder if you are called persecutors, under the name of charity--if you are abused as bigots, un; der the guise of liberality--if you are called fanatics, in the name of wis. dom--and if you are stigmatized as visionaries, in the garb of modera. tion. Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and his deadliest blows are dealt out against religion, in her own sacred name. All this is to be.cxpected. And we should be careful, not so much to avoid it, as to meet it in the right manner and
spirit-a spirit of sincere commissera. tion for those who are employed in so ruinous a work, of earnest prayer for them, seeing they know not what they do, and of untired devotedness to their service, that while they say all manner of evil against us, falsely, we may endeavour to do them good. In a word, let the church remember the word of God, "he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit"-"all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall saffer persecution."
PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL IN POLYNESIA. - Waugh & Innes,
Edinburgh, 1831, P. p. 360, 18mo. 38. 6d.
We are again called to the pleasing task of noticing another of those works on missions with which the press is now teeming. The missionary work is so steadily advancing, both in its sustained interest at home, and in its successful results abroad, and is so happily leavening the mass of society, that even our literature is beginning to feel its influence and own its power. It is one of the striking features of the present age, that the progress of the Gospel in even the most remote regions of the globe, is attract: ing such general attention and creating such an avidity for information, that the ordinary vehicles of intelligence, such as monthly chronicles, missionary registers, quarterly extracts, &c.' are now insufficient to meet the demand; and that a topic which, half a century ago, did not call forth a single volume, should now be in possession of so extended and varied a portion of our literature. We have now, missionary voyages and missionary travels, some of them of surpassing interest. We have missionary poems and hymns-histories of missions from the bulky volume to the humble tract-biographies of missionaries, both male and female-abundant accumulations of missionary ser.. mons-dissertations on missions, either in the way of ex. plaining, recommending, or vindicating the enterprise, taking the shape sometimes of inquiries into its progress, and at other times, of hints for its advancement. And we have plenty of both detailed and summary accounts of the propagation of the Gospel, either in connexion with particular
societies, or in specific quarters of the globe. The various publications to which this one topic has given rise, would, indeed, of themselves form no insignificant library; and large as such a collection would be at the present day, it would be every year in the course of augmentation, until that delightful promise, in which all these and kindred works originate, shall be fulfilled, and "the knowledge of the Lord cover the earth, as the waters cover
We lately recommended to our readers a publication on this subject, detailing the progress of the Gospel un. der the auspices of the "Moravians in Greenland." We have now before us a sister-volume, detailing the progress of the same mighty instrument for the regeneration of the world, under the direction of the London Missionary So. ciety, in an opposite region of the earth the South Sea Islands. This neat little work forms the first of a quarterly series of “Historical, Biographical, and Miscellaneous Works connected with the Iìlustration of Christianity," which those enterprising publishers, Messrs. Waugh and Innes, have undertaken to lay before the public. It presents us with a promising specimen of the style and cha. rácter of this projected series of religious publications, and we trust they will meet with a liberal support. The volume before us details, with considerable minuteness, and, at the same time, in a clear and lively manner, the progress of the Gospel and its glorious triumph over idolatry, in the three groups of islands, known by the name of the Georgian, Society, and Harvey Islands, forming the southern portion of what is now called POLYNESIA
In the introductory chapter we have a very interesting account of the moral and physical state of these islands, prior to their reception of the Gospel. Our attention is next directed to the first missionary voyage to this quarter of the globe, in the celebrated ship, Duff, Captain Wilson, performed in the year 1797. The successive difficulties and discouragements under which the early missionaries laboured, are faithfully recorded; until we are at length conducted to that most memorable epoch, in the year 1817--the public abolition of idolatry, and the general reception of Christianity, when, to use the words of the writer before us,~." in the space of one year, the whole system of idolatry by which these lovely islands had been debased and polluted from the earliest times, fell prostrate before the glorious Gospel of the cross of Christ, and that, through the instrumentality of men who boasted no high, literary attainments—who were not gifted with what is styled genius, and were not deeply versed in the philosophy of the schools;—but humble men who, possessing that best of all endowments, good common sense, joined with native intrepidity and patient perseverance, were actuated solely by a love to the Saviour and a love to the perishing souls of their fellow-sinners.”
As a specimen of the style of the work, we subjoin the account that is given in the commencement of the sixth chapter, of the new cares, anxieties, and duties of these faithful and devoted men, whilst the islanders were in a state of transition from savage to civilized life.
“Exquisitely delightful as the feelings of the missionaries proved, on witnessing what great things God had done by the mighty working of his power, their cares and anxieties increased in proportion. They experienced somewhat of that intensity of interest in the conduct of their young converts, which the apostle of the Gentiles so strongly expresses, when he says, -'Now, we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.' But this was not the only burden they were called to sustain. Society required to be entirely new modelled. Heathenism and its abominations were so interwoven with the whole structure, that no simple alteration of shape in the web would suit it to the circumstances: the warp and the woof required to be separated, and an entire new fabric produced. The relative duties of parents and children, of husbands and wives, of governors and governed, before utterly unknown, and now first attended to, required not only to be inculcated but regulated by the missionaries, whose advice became as necessary in the arrangement of civil intercourse, as in the important concerns of the spiritual life. Heretofore, woman was the degraded subject of a debasing superstition, which allowed her not to approach the precincts of its temples or the food sanctified by its sacrifices, -the inferior minister to the grosser pleasures of her lord, with whom she was for.