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"It sometimes happens that yon observe a pause in the conrersation. This pause continues. Surprised at the universal silence now prevailing, you look round and find all the members in the room apparently thoughtful. The history of the circumstance is this: In the course of the conversation, the mind of some one of the persons present, has been either so overcome with the weight or importance of it, or so overcome by inward suggestions on other subjects, as to have given himself up to meditation, or to passive obedience to impressions upon his mind. This person is soon discovered by the rest, on account of his peculiar silence and gravity. From this moment the Quakers in company cease to converse. They become habitually silent, and continue so, both old and young, to give the apparently meditating person an opportunity of pursuing uninterruptedly the train of his own thoughts. Perhaps in the course of his meditations, the subject that impressed his mind, gradually dies away, and expires in silence. In this case you find him resuming his natural position, and returning to cenversation with the company as before. It sometimes happens however, that in the midst of his meditations, he feels an impulse to communicate to those present the subject of his thoughts, and breaks forth, seriously explaining, exhorting, and advising, as the nature of it permits and suggests. When he has finished his observations, the company remain silent for a short time; after which they converse again as before.
•* Such a pause, whenever it occurs in the company of the Quakers, may be considered as a devotional act. For the subject which occasions it, is always of a serious or religious nature. The workings in the mind of the meditating person are considered either as the offspring of a solemn reflection upon that subject, suddenly, and almost involuntarily, as it were produced by duty, or as the immediate offspring of the agency of the Spirit. And an habitual silence is as much the consequence as if the persons had been at a place of worship."
This appears to be the very essence of the Quietism, broached by Molines, and refined by the celebrated visionary Antoinette de Bourignon.
Mr. Clarkson next introduces us to the tables of the Quakers, and here again, true to his office, as an advocate and apologist, he vindicates the silence observed by them, before and after meals. We might have passed over this chapter, had not the author most unaccountably traced the origin of saying grace to the "Greeks in the heroic ages, who thought it unlawful to eat till they had first offered part of their provision to the gods."
But did our Saviour then copy these Greeks when "he took the five loaves and two fishes, and looking up to hca
U 2' vCn ven, he blessed [or gave thanks] and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to thetnultitude?"
It appears by Mr. Clarkson's statement that sometimes the silence is broken by one of the company, who "gives utterance to his religious feelings" But if no such impression is felt, no hing is said. Here again is the very quintessence of enthusiasm; in looking for inspiration to utter a common thanksgiving on an ordinary occasion. The tendency of this delusion is to dismiss the duty of prayer and praise altogether; and lor any thing that appears to the contrary in these three volumes, there is actually no such thing as family worship at all among the Quakers.
The maniages and funerals of the Quakers are minutely described, and their inflexible rule of disowning any of their society who marry out of the community, is defended with more sophistry than argument. But as we do not think it worth while to enter into a consideration of those peculiar customs which merely affect the Quakers themselves, and for which it would be unjust to pais any censure upon them, we shall follow Mr. Clarkson no farther at present. Our principal concern with him and the Quakers is on the subject of religion, to which he has now brought us, and which in our next number we propose to discuss with calmness and candour.
Eight Lectures On The Occurrences or The Passion Week, delivered in the Parish Church of All Saints, Southampton, in the Mornings 0} Palm Sunday and Good Friday, and in the Evenings oj that Week, and of Eajltr Bay. By Richard Manx, D. D. Rector of the Parish. Rivingtons, pp. 190, i2mo. 3 s. 6 d.
WE have perused with peculiar satisfaction these excellent Lectures. Dr. Mant has offered to the public what has been long desired; "Some assistance in their Devout Meditations on the momentous Transactions of the Great and Holy Week, the solemnity of which it must be the earnest desire of erery clargyman to prelerve." Dr. Main's good intention is obvious, the manner in which be has fulfilled such intention, it is our province to consider.
"As my design," he says, " in collecting these Lectures, had a more immediate regard to my own parishioners in particular, and then to the inhabitants of the town of Southampton in general, without any idea of their being ever sent to the press, in order to facilitate the work I had undertaken, I not only adopted the thoughts, but borrowed the expressions, and even incorporated whole passages from the several authors which lay before me, rather solicitous to prepare an useful, than aspiring to produce an original work."
The occasion which gave rise to these Lectures wag this; "At the latter end of the week before the Passion Week, in the year 1802, a hand-bill was circulated, that on the following Monday evening, the public rooms ■would be opened for a particular exhibition, as specified therein; the impropriety of which was immediately represented, in a letter signed by the clergy of the town, and addressed to the mayor, who gave orders that there should be no such exhibition in the Passion Week."
The first Lecture opens with a reference to this circumstance, and displays the holy zeal and indignant mind of the worthy author at the abominable attempt. He then passes to the solemnity of the Passion Week, and shews the extreme impropriety of indulging in amusements, however harmless at other seasons.
"I will not argue," he proceeds, "on the innocence or sinfulness of such gratifications, I will even suppose them to be indifferent; but let it be remembered, that whatever may in some cases, be lawful, is not at all times expedient: and that such amusements are not at this season expedient, will, I apprehend, appear to him, who shall consider the reasonableness of at least a temporary suspension of them. For when we reflect in what manner our Lord and Saviour passed this week, what he underwent for our sakes, the many insults and injuries which he suffered, his bitter agony in the garden, which was followed by the treachery of one of his chosen disciples, who betrayed him into the hands of his enemies, then by the desertion and flight of the rest, who had declared their resolution not long before, to remain sted'faslly with him, even in the utmost extremity of danger, and last of all by a positive and peremptory denial of him, thrice rerepeated, by one who had promised, that he would rather die with, than forsake him.—When we farther consider, that all these heart-rending sorrows, were heaped upon him day after day throughout- the week, till they were terminated only by his most painful and ignominious death.—When we moreover over and especially take into the account, that all this was endured for our sakes, we cannot surely think it unreasonable to be required to lay aside, for one week only, those gratifications which at other seasons it may be lawful moderately to enjoy. Agreeable to this were the opinions of the primitive Christians respecting this great and holy week, and of our pious fore-fathers of later ages, both of whom judged that a most religious attention was due to the interesting and important events which we now commemorate." p. 7.
Again. "JEariy in this discourse I observed two sorts of persons ; one consisting of those who through a necessary attention to their business, and to supply the wants of their families, could not possibly spare time to join in the additional service of each day in the week; and who could not after the fatigues of the day, sit down to private meditation; ignorant how to proceed, or too weary to attempt it of themselves. The other sort were those who acknowledged the necessity, and practised the duty of both public and private devotion, but could not think it necessary to give up their innocent diversions entirely, and to forego their evening parties; and who could not but wish that some place of public entertainment might be open, to which they might as at other times resort
** Both these may, I apprehend, be accommodated. The industrious tradesman and labourer shall, at the close of the day, have an instructor to assist them in the meditations, which they cannot themselves command ; and the other sort shall find a house of public resort thrown open, in which they shall have an opportunity of spending an hour, perhaps somewhat more, every evening in the week, in a manner which may in the end, I trust, afford them as much satisfaction as if they had spent it at a card table, in a ball room, or at the theatre." p. 14.
Such is the excellence which pervades every part of this little volume. The remaining lectures repeat, according to their several titles, the Occurrences of the Pajfion Week, and are all entitled to the serious perusal, and devout reflections of every sincere christian. They contain so much good fense, conveyed in such a strain of piety, that every reader will, we believe, after perusing them, be both wiser and better. The references to, and quotations from, some very valuable authors, proper indeed to be made, need however no apology. The whole book is stamped with excellence.
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BEGIN, my soul, th' exalted lay,
Lo! heaven and earth, and seas and Ikies,
Ye fields of light, celestial plains, ,.
Ye scenes divinely fair 1
And breath'd the fluid air.
Ye angels, catch the thrilling found J
His boundless mercy sing;
And touch the sweetest string.
Join, ye loud spheres, the vocal choir;
The mighty chorus aid 1
And praise him in the shade.
Thou, heav'n of heav'ns, his vast abode;
Who call'd yon worlds from night;
And nature sprung to light.