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unhappy man may say, 'I have called for the minister of religion ; I have had prayers ; I regret the negligent life I have led, and I trust God will have mercy on me.' Oh ! how possible is it for a man, with this thin veil of a transient ceremony, to disguise from himself the mighty and solemn realities of spiritual truth, and a spiritual retribution. How possible is it for him to feel, like the Catholic on receiving the ceremony of extreme unction, that he is now prepared, or, at least, better prepared to die! In the offices of religion he loses the spirit of it; he loses that conviction, so well put into the mouth of a dying person, O my friends, reality-reality is dealing with me now!' He does not feel that reality is dealing with him; or he feels it the less, because ceremony is dealing with bim.
And it is, sir, because this factitious regard to the offices of religion cloaks and keeps out of sight the reality, that I have taken pains, at so much length, to descant upon it. Sabbaths and ordinances, rites and ceremonies, sermons and prayers, and vows and professions, outwardly made, are merely aids to religion. The moment they become evidences, instead of aids, the moment they advance one step towards occupying the place of religion itsell, they begin to push religion out of men's minds, and to substitute barren formalities and vain hopes. In whatever degree they make a man more satisfied and easy, while sinful, in that degree do they strike fatally at the very root of piety and virtue. Religion is reality. How often must we say this, and how long will it be, before it is fully felt! Religion is not a form of words, nor a sound of prayers, nor a profession, nor a costume, nor a manner, nor a countenance. It is deep reality. It is principle; it is feeling; it is purpose; it is habit; it is act. It is tenderness in the conscience; it is goodness in the heart; it is daily virtue in the lise; it is constant, growing, heavenly devotion in the soul. It is the living energy, and the glorious, the ineffable hope of every good man.
A word or two in close, Mr Editor, and I will relieve the patience of your readers. If I have repeated thoughts in this letter, which have been formerly stated, and I have taken no scrupulous care to avoid it, I have only to say, that the subject demands line upon line, and precept upon precept. If any reader shall find in the foregoing discussion, remarks that do not apply to him, let him remember that there are other minds besides his own. If the observations, here made, have nothing to do with him, he has nothing to do with the observations; they will find those, I am confident, with whom they have something to do. Above all, let no one suppose, that I undervalue the office of the sacred ministry. It is an instrument, I fully believe, whose power is as yet but slightly developed. Let it be stript of factitious aids, and its real power will be more apparent and more felt. It has been, in past times, but “a naked and marrowless skeleton,' compared with the embodied and living vigor, which, I trust, it will yet put forth.
"REMEMBER NOW THY CREATOR IN THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH.'
O HAPPY creature! on whose brow
The light of youth is shed,
In glowing beauty spread
Around that golden light,
With hues so softly bright;
Upon 'enchanted ground,'
Ten thousand foes surround.
Upon thy path they lower-
'To save thee from their power.
Must soon be dimmed with tears,
Must come in coming years—
To pierce the cloudy screen,
Thou dost exulting tread,
'The silence of the dead.
But if from youth thy spirit's love
Hath to thy God been given,
The radiant gates of heaven.
Art. IV.--Sermons on Various Subjects. By William Pa
LEY, D. D. Originally published by Rev. Edmund Paley, A. M., in 1825. First American Edition. Boston. Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins. 1827. 8vo. pp. 438.
The value of the services, which gifted minds render to the world, is not to be estimated solely by their splendor. While we look with admiration on the mighty efforts of inventive genius, or the prodigies of intellectual strength, by which mankind have been sent forward, as it were, centuries at once on the path of improvement, we are bound to welcome with gratitude and respect, the labors of those who have given wisdom and sound instruction a currency in society, and have made them the household possessions of man. In this latter class, the writings of Dr Paley claim an eminent place. No name on the catalogue of English theologians, probably, enjoys a larger share of judicious popular favor, than his. We speak of him as a popular writer, in the best sense ; for there is a kind of reputation frequently designated by that term, in which he has no share. It depends on the free use of coarseness and flippancy; on calling into action a blind, false excitement ; on smart witticisms, and turns of thought remarkable for nothing but their strangeness, and on that confident show of superficial reasoning, which affords just light enough to enable men to go wrong, and no more. The popular cast of Paley's writings arises from the simple, perspicuous, and sometimes homely manner, in which he presents to the mind just reasoning, genuine wisdom, and strong good sense. He may be considered as belonging, with respect to his modes of thinking and of exhibiting a subject, to the same general class with our illustrious countryman, Franklin. One, whose memory will long be among our most cherished possessions, has aptly described him as the theologian who makes truth intelligible
to the humblest.'* This merit he certainly has, at the same time that he is a favorite with the strongest minds; with those who read to excite their own thoughts to action, no less than with those who read to fill their minds with the thoughts of others.
Of such a man it is to be wished that a better biography might be furnished, than has yet appeared. Meadley's Memoir, which is perhaps on the whole the best, is not such as the worth of the subject demands. As a narrative it is well executed; but it fails to convey a finished impression of the character which it undertakes to exhibit, and is besides quite too much encumbered with unnecessary statements of the contents of Paley's writings. The biography by Chalmers, which is said to have been intended to counteract the views given in Meadley's work, we have had no opportunity to examine; but it would seem, from the notices taken of it, to have been written too much in the spirit and for the purposes of party. The Memoir, prefixed by Lynam to his edition of our author's works, is judicious, but too brief to be satisfactory. In the Life of Dr Paley by his son, Edmund Paley, we have been not a little disappointed. From the relation in which the writer stood to the subject of his biographical sketch, and from the advantages which that relation might be supposed to afford him, we had expected more than we have found. He has added little to what was already before the public, with the exception of a few interesting letters from different hands, and some curious details respecting the papers and manuscript books of his father. Perhaps, however, it would be unreasonable to look for more. The style of the work frequently becomes exceedingly heavy and wearisome; and the biography can lay claim to very little, if any, of that amiable interest, which filial respect might have been expected to spread over the story and the remarks.
The qualities of Dr Paley's social and private character were doubtless of the most bland and interesting kind. The same plainness and easy familiarity, which appear so attractively upon his pages, seem to have pervaded his life. His virtues, like his intellectual greatness, were tranquil and unpretending, mingled together in his character quietly and in just proportions, and not standing awry, like those of many good people, and presenting sharp and troublesome corners to all who come in contact with them. His wisdom was kind and urbane, winning upon the heart while it enriched the mind. His intercourse with oth
* Mr Buckminster, to whose exertions, among other services to the cause of religion and literature not soon to be forgotten, we owe the American edition of Paley's Works.
ers was full of good affections, and not unfrequently enlivened by that facetiousness, which has sometimes exposed him to the charge of levity, or want of fixed and elevated principle, from those who cannot prevail upon themselves to make any allowance for the humorous carelessness of conversation. He had none of the stiff, unaccommodating, formal character, which so often mars the influence even of piety and good sense ; nothing to forbid that facility of access, by which thoughts and feelings are conveyed, in all their original freshness and reality, to other minds. His benign cast of temper spread itself over even his philosophical speculations. In the fine chapter on the Divine benevolence, for instance, in the Moral Philosophy, he observes; • There is always a bright spot in the prospect, upon which the eye rests; a single example perhaps, by which each man finds himself more convinced, than by all others put together. I
my own part, to see the benevolence of the Deity more clearly in the pleasures of very young children, than in anything in the world. Such an instance would liave been selected, probably, only by one, in whom the best feelings of the heart were habitually united with the operations of a sound and clear intellect.
We, however, are chiefly concerned with Paley, as one of the moral and religious instructers of mankind; as one of those who have discharged well the high vocation of doing much to make the world wiser and better, as an able advocate of Christianity, and of just views of its truths and principles. We do not mean that he is to be classed with those preeminent men of our race, who have been the first to proinulgate the great truths that outlive kingdoms and forms of polity and modes of speculation,
and become imperishable landmarks of the progress of mind. · Nor were his mental habits such as to lead him to those grand
and exalted views, which kindle the imagination into a fine glow, while they stir the thoughts powerfully, and which always present truth in a cluster of rich and exciting associations. Moral sublimity was not his province ; nor could he invest the forms of thought in the beautiful drapery that gives to rigid philosophy the attractions of poetry. He was of the Socratic, rather than of the Platonic school; for it was his delight to bring truth home to men's business and bosoms. He never transports us to regions, where fancy and reason are blended to form a splendid result, but leads us in a plain path where we can always tell how far we have travelled, and whither we are going. If he is not to be ranked with the greatest divines of his church, with men like Usher, Stillingfleet, and Warburton, yet he deserves