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freely to you of my own experience, and one fact I am more and more convinced of—it is in the use of special means that we are to expeet and hope for blessings. I have found that I am more or less interested in religious truth, as I am more or less constant in private devotion. This has been my own experience, and I have purchased it dearly too, as many mis-spent days and hours will one day testify. I have now come to the resolution to devote one hour in the morning to private devotion, and if my affections are languid and cold, still I persevere in the use of means. Whenever I feel myself at a distance from God, and my thoughts chained to earth, it is when I put off the season of private devotion to a more convenient time, and thus it slips by. O my dear Sarah, if I could only feel sure you would make it a matter, with conscience, to devote some considerable time every morning of your life to private devotion, and if you would endeavor to consider yourself alone with God, I should indeed feel some hope that God was about to answer the unworthy prayers of your own affectionate sister, and of your departed parents.
“Let this season be stated, and let it not depend on the convenience of the moment. Consider it is an engagement to which other things must give way---as of minor importance. Employ the time in self-examination, and prayer to God. I will tell you just how I find it useful to do in my own case. I endeavor to consider myself as immediately in the presence of that God whose eyes are as a flame of fire, who cannot be deceived by appearances, and who will not be moeked.
“ After having called in my wandering thoughts, I read a small portion of the word of God in course, never more than one chapter, and sometimes only part of one; I read every verse attentively, sometimes twice, and endeavor to arrive at the precise meaning of the inspired writer. I then try to find out what use this part of the oracles of God may be to me particularly; and having finished reading, I shut up the book, and recall what I remember of the chapter to my mind, so as to make sure that I have been really attending to it; and often, very often, I find in this examination that my thoughts have been wandering while engaged in reading.
“I then examine my heart and conduct during the past day and the morning previous, and for this purpose have
written down a few questions which I oblige myself to answer directly without any evasion. Thus, having some little insight into my spiritual necessities, I beseech the Father of mercies to look in the face of his Anointed, and for his sake alone to grant me spiritual favors, to keep me entirely devoted to him.
“ And then, my dear sister, you are not forgotten, and I think I have sometimes felt the Spirit of God sweetly witnessing with my spirit, that my prayers are heard, and that in God's own good time they will be answered.
“ After this I generally commit to memory from two to six verses of the Bible, and recall them to mind in the course of the day, hoping that by this means the Scripture may dwell in me richly in all wisdom.
6 The remainder of the hour I occupy in reading a few pages of a religious work; and although I have not much time for
his, it amounts to something in the course of the week. I have read, in this way,
“ Brainerd's Life,” “ Mrs. Graham's Memoirs ;” and I am now reading “ Dwight's Theology." I endeavour, directly after dinner, again to retire for a few moments.
“ I have written you freely and unreservedly my plans and feelings, and I do it with confidence, that you will prudently keep this letter from being left lying about where it may be seen; for although I do not think it is wrong to let a sister know these things, because they may be useful to her, yet I should shrink with pain at the idea of others reading them. Not because I am ashamed of the service of God; no, I trust I am enabled to glory in it, but because it might appear to others as a display, an ostentation ; and nothing can be farther from the spirit of true devotion than this.
“ I used at first to find a difficulty in arranging things so as to have an hour undisturbed ; and to obviate this I endeavor to rise an hour earlier than I would have otherwise cause to do.
“ In your reply to this letter tell me seriously what you think of this plan. If it appears a good one to you; and, if not, what you think better. If you do approve of it, let me know whether you think it advisable to adopt it as your own; and write me freely what means you consider is best adapted to keep us near to God. I feel so deeply interested in this subject that I know not how to stop."
HEAR BOTH SIDES. We like sometimes to be disappointed. When we fear evil, and find good, we are not so wedded to our own opinion as to regret being in the wrong. This is our case at present with reference to a little work now before us, to which allusion has been more than once made in our last volume—“ The British Controrersialist."
Whilst we hail with pleasure every attempt to stir the public mind, we watch with no little jealousy the direction in which it is likely to lead it, and the spirit in which its tutorship is undertaken. In the present instance both appear to be good. Sectarianism, Popery, the Results of Machinery, Poetry and Legislation, Mesmerism, Cromwell, Vegetarianism, and other matters equally interesting, find advocates and opponents in the half-yearly volume before us. Truth is always important; and the subjects referred to have the additional recommendation of being all, more or less practical.
The first, which however is not very broadly or acutely handled, has long appeared to us to be the great question of the age. The time is surely come for the fusion of the thousand and one sects which have hitherto disgraced Christianity, into one; and we should like to see just such a movement in the religious communities of all nations, as that which, in the social and political world, has convened the Great Exhibition of Industry. But we much fear that, if the several contributions were to be sent in good will, they would be very small indeed. The subject, however, is too grave an one to be lightly treated.
We have, ourselves, had some little experience in debating societies, and have generally found that much time is wasted for want of correct definitions at the outset. Johnson's Dictionary is a better logician than our own opinion, after all. Thus, in the very question, “Is Sectarianism Christian ? an evident contradiction would have been discovered had a lexicon been consulted in the first instance. A sect is “ a body of men following some particular master," necessarily fallible, and often egregiously wrong; whilst the language of Christianity is, “ One is your Master, even Christ.”
* January to June 1851. 12mo. pp. 240.
Houlston and Stoneman,
“ Now this I say,” is the reproving language of its Great Author_" that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided ? was Paul crucified for you ? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul ?" Yet in the work before us, the point is argued, not only as still an open question, but under the impression that sectarianism is mere “ difference of opinion !”
The papers on Mesmerism are very interesting, though to our minds, far from conclusive, as they do not explain away many things which we are bound by the laws of evidence to receive as facts. Some ingenuity is shewn in suggesting probable modes of deception ; but such tricks touch but very few cases, and those the least important. Far be it from us to sanction the belief in such quackery as Mesmerism, which is abundantly refuted by the fact, that its strongest advocates and shrewdest professors can make no direct pecuniary use of it. A clairvoyant, who can see every thing in a man's house hundreds of miles distant, tell the fate of Captain Franklin in the polar seas, or obtain instantaneous intelligence of events occurring in India or Australasia, could have no difficulty in so ordering his speculations, as to make his fortune by a single stroke. Information obtained only one hour in advance of the public, would enable him to go to the Stock Exchange, penniless, in the morning, and retire a millionaire before night. And yet he professes to tell you what is doing at a distance which, reduced to time, would amount to days, weeks, and even months! Like the philosophers of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, who offered the secret of “ multiplication," or making gold, for a moderate consideration, the clairvoyant is convicted by the self-contradicting nature of his proposals. Nevertheless, there are some surprising and inexplicable things in Mesmerism demanding our belief, till the reasons for rejecting them come up to the requirements of the case.
That we have not overstated the question seems clear, from the first negative article in the pamphlet before us. Through Clairvoyance," it is asserted, "the geography of the globe may be improved; the northern passage discovered ; and the astronomer assisted in his stellar speculations, beyond the possibility
of mere telescopic discoveries.” Extremely likely! Then we would earnestly recommend the ingenuous, unsophisticated, disinterested clairvoyant, at once to make the possible, certain. All these discoveries are saleable; and the second has not only had liberal buyers for many years, but a princely price attached. Win these rewards, and the world will be converted to Mesmerism in less than a twelvemonth.
A CLOSE QUESTION. A pious minister of respectable talents, now in the Methodist connexion, was previously a preacher among the Universalists. The incident which led him seriously to examine the grounds of that doctrine is striking and singular. He was amusing his little son by telling him the story of the “Children in the wood.” The boy asked, "What became of the children ?"
They went to heaven," replied the father. 66 What became of the wicked old uncle ?" “ He went to heaven too.” “ Then wont he kill them again, father ?" said the boy.
Enquiries and Correspondence.
ANSWERS TO ENQUIRIES. 1 and 22.—Psalm xvi. 10: Matt. xvi. 28: Luke xxi. 24. DEAR SIR, -Allow me to forward a note upon each of the above passages. As your correspondent must suppose, to treat them fully would demand far more space than you have to spare; a brief summary of results is all that can be given : the process by which they are secured must be omitted.
Psalm xvi. 10. The papists maintain generally, and perhaps a few protestants, that this verse teaches the doctrine of Christ's descent into hell ; i. e. the place of torment. This opinion is strengthened by the expression in the Creed—“ He descended into hell.” The great mass of protestants understand both this verse and