Графични страници
PDF файл

giving due credit. We simply mean to say that a work which is only in part based on independent research, while it may in certain points be more useful, cannot be to the most thoughtful minds so awakening and deeply impressive as the work of one who has himself delved in the mine. This is true, however well the former may have studied and assimilated the materials furnished by preceding writers. It is a copy, in better colors perhaps, of a master-piece, compared with the less finished but grander original.

We have received the first volume of an elaborate history, by Rev. Dr. Abel Stevens, of the religious movement called Methodism, which began with Whitfield and Wesley, in the Church of England, and after a time was organized into a separate denomination. A history of that movement which has exerted, and is still exerting, so powerful an influence upon all denominations of Christians, cannot fail to be interesting and profitable. Dr. Stevens is one of the ablest writers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in this country. He regards this religious movement as general, and designs to write its history as such, until it was reduced into sectarian organizations, and then follow it into those organizations. Pursuing this plan, he brings down the narrative in the present volume to the death of Whitfield, a period after which Calvinistic Methodism "loses its prominence, and the history of the movement becomes distinct ly Wesleyan." He promises, in a second volume, a completion of the history of British Methodism, and in two additional volumes, the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in this country. This arrangement will have the advantage of giving the English part of the history, and the history of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, each in a distinct and independent form. His task, the author says, "will terminate at the centenuary celebration of Methodism in 1839a period prior to the sectional disputes which have divided the Methodist Episcopal Church, and which are yet too recent for a satisfactory judgment from history." Dr. Stevens has certainly made a very interesting volume; and so far as we can judge, from a hasty examination, he has written in a liberal spirit. We reserve our full judgment on this point till other volumes are issued, when we hope to give to this important history the more careful and thorough notice which it deserves.

*The History of the Religious Movement of the Eighteenth Century, called Methodism, considered in its different denominational forms, and its relations to British and American Protestantism. By ABEL STEVENS, LL. D. Volume I. From the origin of Methodism to the death of Whitfield. Sixth Thousand. New York: Carlton & Porter.

[ocr errors]


Rev. George W. Perkins died a little more than two years since, in the midst of life, at the age of fifty-two. His health for many years had been good. His fatal illness was brief. He had been but two years and two months in his new sphere of labor, as pastor of the First Congrega. tional Church in Chicago. In that sphere, as well as in his former spheres of duty, he had been eminently successful. He was very efficient not only in the duties of his pastoral office, but in sharing with others the editing of a religious newspaper, in establishing a new Theological Seminary for the Congregational churches of the West, and in various public and philanthropic labors. His death, therefore, seemed very mysterious except in one view. Such events are necessary to establish in the convictions of men that great truth of God's providence, the uncertainty of life for all, of whatever age, position, or usefulness. We rejoice to see that a volume of his sermons bas been published, prefaced by a brief memoir.* It is a handsomo volume, three hundred and thirty-one pages of which are occupied by sermons, and forty.two by the memoir. It is embellished by an excellent likeness, which gives the best expression of Mr. Perkins's face, as it appeared in animated conversation.

The memoir, by all who knew him well, will be pronounced unusually just. It traces bis course in outline froin his graduation at Yale College, in 1824, through a partial course of study for the profession of law, through his theological course at New Haven and Andover, and through bis pastoral life of nearly ten years at Montreal, of fourteen years in West Meriden, C., and of two years in Chicago, Illinois. A few summary sentences we will quote. They are, in our judgment, eminently true. " Mr. Perkins's peculiarities may be told in a few words. He was a man of well balanced and well cultivated mind and character, of sturdy, yet, on the whole, harmonious development. His strong points were, a powerful understanding, industry that never tired, conscience that never slept over a duty. He was earnest, practical, systematic, efficient; manly in all bis bearing. One could not see bim even for a short time, without being reminded of those strong men who laid the foundations of English liberty, who cut down the forests and planted the institutions of New England. His discourses were characterized by lucid statements, forcible argument, illustrations that were generally striking and always apt, appeals that were powerful, and sometimes (when the occasion re



* Sermons. By G. W. PERKINS. With a Memoir. New York: A. D. F. Randolph. 1859.

quired) eloquent. Some of his unwritten addresses were his ablest intellectual efforts. In conversation, he always left the impression of his strength. Higher than his sermons or his conversation, were his pastoral and philanthropic labors. Over all, higher than his writings or achievements, rose the man."

Mr. Perkins took a public position as a decided abolitionist at a period when such a position cost something. Speaking of this period, his biographer says: "For the next ten or twelve years he was a very unpopular man. But he worked resolutely on, sometimes with hope of seeing better days, and sometimes without; at times in doubt as to some detail of duty, but never halting in his general course. He was called 'rash,' 'unsafe,' head-strong,' 'a man of one idea,'' a firebrand ;' but the more he was misunderstood and misrepresented, the more were the ster. ling qualities of his character developed. Few if any, of his best friends, even those who, throughout the long years of his unpopularity, approved and cheered his manly faithfulness, would say that his words were always chosen with exact prudence, that every step was marked with entire wisdom. But this admission implies more praise than censure. He who is never too severe, is commonly too tame. * *Repeatedly he stood up, almost alone, before the frowning dignitaries of his sect, the men of wisdom, and station, and wealth, and told them plainly the errors and short-comings of the church; but year after year he was voted down. He lived to see some of these adverse decisions triumphantly reversed. As a pastor, no man surpassed, scarcely any one equalled him. He lived in and for his people. The amount of labor he bestowed upon them was astonishing. His idea of pastoral duty was far from completed by friendly calls and religious conversation. His eye and heart went out over all the interests and wants of those within his reach. The school, the library, the reading-room. the book club, the lecture, entered into the plan of his pastoral labors. * * * To the schools around him he devoted so much time and energy, that those who saw him only in that one department of duty might conclude that schools were his hobby, and that other duties had to be neglected for this. Many who saw or heard of him at anti-slavery meetings, whither he went when nobody else would go, formed and expressed the conclusion that he was eaten up with abolition.' But out of the hundreds of ministers who thus thought, or spoke, or wrote, not one was more comprehensive in views or labors." We say what we know, when we say this is true. We have often heard it said to those who expressed such judgments of Mr. Perkins as those re





ferred to above, “Let those ministers only, who in their own parishes do their Lord's work better than George Perkins, throw stones at him; and you will find that not a stone will be thrown."

The sermons in this volume are twenty-two in number. Few of them represent his preaching fully; for, as is said in the preface," the close of his sermons was usually extemporaneous, and hence as written, they sometimes appear incomplete." We should characterize them much as his preaching is characterized in a paragraph which we have quoted from the memoir. They are clear, pertinent, pungent, animated, and unusually abundant in apt illustration. The most complete and elaborate perhaps in the volume, and the most characteristic, is that which he gave at the commencement of his ministry in Chicago, entitled “Gospel Preaching." Of this we should like to give an account, but we have not room. He sets forth with great clearness and convincing power the fundamental law of pulpit duty-"to preach the great truths of religion, (both doctrines and precepts,) making Christ the central point, and apply these truths to the circumstances and relations now existing." And he exposes in all its naked perversity, fallacy, fatuity, and cowardice, the subterfuge by which some men in these days would escape, and the authoritative maxim by which they would compel others to neglect, the plain but obvious duty of applying the doctrines and precepts of the Bible to existing popular and powerful sins, in the abused phrase, " Preach the gospel.This voluine, the preface informs us, was prepared chiefly for Mr. Perkins's friends, and the people of his three parishes. But it may well be commended to all who like good preaching, or who love to contemplate the life and labors of an able, devoted, and courageous friend of man and servant of God.

Dr. Wayland, whose books the reading community of all denominations are always glad to see, and with good reason, has modified his volume of “University Sermons," published in 1849, and sent it forth in a new form, with the title, “Salvation by Christ.”* The original volume consisted of twenty-one sermons.

To constitute the new volume, two of these, on “ The recent revolutions in Europe,” have been omitted, and six have been added, on topics more in accordance with the new title, viz: Conversion-Imitators of God,-Grieving the Spirit,—The Benevolence of the Gospel,—Character of Balaam,—Vera

* Salvation by Christ. A Series of Discourses on some of the most important doctrines of the Gospel. By Francis WAYLAND. Boston: Gould & Lincoln, 69 Washington street.

city. The former volume was a very valuable one. The new one is still more valuable, having been by these changes better adapted to the present state of revived religious feeling in the country. The series of sermons accords well with the title, beginning with two on theoretical and practical atheism, then proceeding with five on the moral character and fall of man, and the impossibility of justification by works, two on preparation for the advent of the Messiah, two on the work of the Messiah, two on justification by faith and conversion, two on the church, and the remainder chiefly on topics of religious practice.

Such a series of subjects—subjects comprehending vital Christianitydiscussed with Dr. Wayland's well known perspicuity, felicity, and power, make a volume well worthy of a wide circulation.


We are gratified to see that Rev. Dr. James W. Alexander of New York, bas given a volume of sermons* to the press. They are a selection from such as he has recently preached in the regular course of his ministry; and none of them, with perhaps a single exception, belong to the class of Occasional Discourses. They are twenty in number, and the subjects are of a miscellaneous character. The general character of Dr. Alexander's pulpit instructions is too well known to make any extended criticism of this collection necessary.

The sermons are all earnest, plain, dignified presentations of gospel truths, and are written with more than ordinary good taste and literary ability. The external appearance of the volume is most creditable to Mr. Scribner.

The revival of 1858 bas brought forth several timely works, and none more so than “ The Power of Prayer."t In this book Dr. Prime has given the account of the origin and progress of the Fulton Street (New York) business men's noon-day prayer meeting, as it illustrates the power of divine grace in answer to prayer, and incidentally remarkable instances of the same work in other parts of the country. The closing chapter, by Rev. Dr. Plummer, on "Prayer, shown to be efficacious," is highly instructive.

* Discourses on common Topics of Christian Faith and Practice. By James W. ALEXANDER, D. D. New York: Charles Scribner. 1858. 8vo. pp. 463.

+ The Power of Prayer, illustrated in the wonderful displays of divine grace, at the Fulton Street and other meetings in New York and elsewhere, in 1857 and 1858. By SAMUEL IRENÆUS PRIME. Fifth edition, New York : Charles Scrib



« ПредишнаНапред »