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Recorded on the sacred page,
That tale descends from age to age,
As with a glorious light illumes.
The story of thy ancient race,
In some parts of the country, (Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, for example,) the raven's nest is protected by a superstition which attributes to the prophet's bird a sacred character. The nests of five species of bird are indeed held sacred by our village urchins, where the saws and legends of the olden time are not quite forgotten or exploded by the march of intellect, viz. those of the robin, the wren, the swift, the swallow, and the raven. The reason may be gathered from the following homely couplets.
· The robins and the wrens
Are God Almighty's scholars.' We have never heard the reason that protects the raven's nest conveyed in rhyme ; but we obtained the explanation from a female octogenarian, who, in questioning her grandson why he abstained from climbing a tree after a raven's nest, had expressed her fear that it was only because he was afraid of the old bird. “No, Grandmother,' said the boy ; 'it is because them be the • birds as fed Elijah.' 'I be very glad, child,' was the old lady's reply, that you can give me the right reason.
We must not indulge ourselves or our readers with any further extracts; or we should be tempted to transcribe some very pleasing stanzas on the Fern-owl (Caprimulgus Europaus),-sacred to the memory of the amiable Naturalist of Selborne, the first writer who accurately noted the peculiarities of this singular bird, whose note has been aptly compared to the clattering of castanets. It is a bird of passage, arriving in England about the end of May, and quitting it about the middle of August. It is of the size of a cuckoo, for which bird it has sometimes been mistaken. Mr. Slaney does not mention it.
These specimens will afford sufficient means of judging of the merit and interest of the volumes to which we have invited the attention of our readers; and we must close this desultory, but, we hope, not uninteresting article, with strongly urging upon all our younger readers the cultivation of an intimate acquaintance with our fellow-bipeds of the feathered race, both sojourners and visiters, of which about seventy different species rank as British birds. The rich ornithology of England may well claim to be enumerated among the natural advantages and attractions of this favoured island. Yet, among our educated classes, how large a proportion have no other idea associated with a bird, than that of its being a thing to be shot at ! The very word, bird, means only, with them, winged game. The lark that sings at heaven's gate, is regarded only as furnishing a dish for the epicure. Under the general and degrading name of small birds, hard-billed birds who devour grain, and soft-billed birds who destroy gnats, are indiscriminately and ignorantly confounded; and from the mischievous habits of one or two little marauders, Mr. Slaney remarks, a general war of extermination is often carried on against the feathered race. Yet, a very slight knowledge of their structure and habits, would exempt from destruction almost all the warblers that delight us with their song. And what page of the open book of Nature is not worthy of admiring and devout study!
plinisters the reason they are mes que
Art. VI. Evening Exercises for the Closet : for every Day in the
Year. By William Jay. 2 Vols. 8vo. pp. xxxvi. 1094. Price
1l. ls. London, 1832. T'HE peculiar acceptance which the venerable Author's “Morn
ing Exercises for the Closet” have met with, the many testimonies of their usefulness he has received, and the various applications addressed to him by private individuals and Christian Ministers to send forth a companion work for the Evening,--are given as the reasons which have induced him to publish this second Series; and they are reasons which render any extended or critical notice of these volumes quite superfluous. Mr. Jay's style is particularly adapted to short meditations of a devout character. The simplicity and occasional felicity of expression, the very mannerism, savouring of the pithiness of our older divines, the familiar mode of illustration, and the rich vein of experimental wisdom that form the prominent characteristics of his writings, are all displayed to the greatest advantage in these Closet Ex. ercises.' 'Mr. Jay knows his forte, and never attempts any thing out of his proper line: he has consequently been able to maintain an undiminished and solid popularity. Usefulness has been his great aim ; and while, as an expositor, he is prone to spiritualize, and is more inclined to be mystical than critical, still, his drift is always practical. He never deals in abstractions. To use his own expression, he does not set before us Christianity, but
the Christian; and religion, in his pages, is not a creed, but a life. This is the cardinal excellence of his writings, and he needs envy no higher fame.
The present volumes are introduced with a long dedicatory epistle to William Wilberforce, Esq., in which Mr. Jay takes occasion to express his sentiments upon many topics connected with the present state of the religious world. Some of his remarks afford à tempting occasion for discussion, but we do not happen to be disposed, just now, to launch into dissertation. We shall therefore proceed to lay before our readers a specimen of these Exercises ; and waving all criticism, cordially commend both the work itself, and the practice it is designed and adapted to promote, to every devout reader.
- June 30.-" The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness.” — ISAIAH Xxxviii. 9.
- Many persons are afraid of their trials. It would be wiser to fear their mercies. They are in more danger from their friends than from their enemies; from their comforts than from their crosses; from their health than from their sickness. They often desire our prayers when they come into affliction : but they need them most when they are coming out of it; and are returning into scenes of danger and temptation again.
Wicked and worldly men are only anxious to escape from their troubles. But it ought to be our concern to inquire whether we “ come forth as gold ”—whether we are brought nearer to God, or are left farther from him, by the things we suffer. Constantine the Great said, “I marvel that many of my subjects, since they became Christians, are worse than they were when they were Pagans." Young speaks of some as "worse for mending ”, and “washed to fouler stains”. And it is lamentable to think how many, instead of being improved by their recovery from disease, are injured by it. They poured out a prayer when God's chastening hand was upon them, and confessed, and resolved, and vowed unto the Lord; but when he relieved and released them, they turned again to folly. Many think we are severe in our reflections on death-bed changes; and wonder that we think such conversions can never be entirely satisfactory to the subjects of them, or their surviving friends. Yet of how many ministers have we inquired, all of whom have affirmed, that they never knew such converts, when recovered, living according to their promises; yet had they died they would have entertained a firm hope concerning many of them. And it is probable funeral sermons would have been preached for some of them and how would others have been chronicled in the magazines ! Even Jacob forgot the vow his soul made when he was in trouble, till God said unto him, “ Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.” Then, and not before, did the backslider say, “Let us arise, and go up to Beth-el ; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered
me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went."
• Hezekiah did better upon his recovery. He wrote a song, and had it sung in the temple-service. He might indeed, for this purpose, have availed himself of one of David's songs; and we read that he appointed persons to sing the songs of his illustrious ancestor in the worship of God. But he composed one himself on this occasion, not from vanity, but from sentiments of piety. He wrote it in particular for three purposes.
First, to show the importance of the blessing he had experienced. Read his language, and you will find how much he valued life. This to some may seem strange. To a good man, is it not gain to die? When a voyager is entering the desired haven, is he so glad and grateful for a wind that blows him back again to sea ? The fear of death is as much a natural principle as hunger or thirst. Every good man, though always in a state to die, is not in a frame to die. He may not have the light of God's countenance, or the assurance of hope. He may be also influenced by relative considerations. This was the case with Hezekiah. He might have feared for the succession ; for he had no offspring at this time: Manasseh was only twelve years old at his death, and therefore could not have been born till three years after his father's recovery. The enemy was also at the gates of the capital. He had also begun a glorious reformation, and wished to see it carried on. Even Paul, though he knew that to depart and to be with Christ was far better, yet was more than willing to abide in the flesh, for the advantage of the Philippians and others.
Secondly, to excite his gratitude. Hence he so vividly recalls all his painful and gloomy feelings in his late danger, that he might be the more affected with the goodness of his deliverer and benefactorread the whole chapter-Do as he did. Dwell upon every thing that can give a relish, and add an impression to the blessing you have received; and be ye thankful—and employ your tongues, your pens, your lives, in praise of the God of your mercies. Did the heathen upon their recovery hang up tablets of acknowledgements in the house of their gods? Have Papists built churches and altars to their patronsaints? And will you do nothing for the Lord your healer? Yet so it often is ! The physician is cheerfully rewarded; the attendants are paid for their trouble; friends are thanked for their obliging inquiries
only one Being is overlooked-He who gave the physician his skill ; He who rendered the means effectual; He who inspired the inquiring friends with all their tenderness.
. Thirdly, to insure a sense of his obligation in future. The Jews soon forgot the works of the Lord, and the wonders He had shown them. And we are very liable to the same evil. But we should say, with David, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”; and avail ourselves of every assistance that can enable us to recover and preserve the feelings we had at the time when the Lord appeared for us. Thus the Jews established the feast of Purim upon their deliverance from the plot of Haman. Thus Samuel raised a stone after his victory, and called it Ebenezer. Joseph named his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, to remind him of the contrast between his former and present condition. And thus Hezekiah would compose this writing, that he might compare himself with its sentiments, months and years after; and that it might be a pledge of his dedication to God; and a witness against him if his love should ever wax · cold
And how was it with him? Can I proceed? So far all is well. · He is wise, humble, grateful, resolved. But, alas ! how shall we say it? “ After this Hezekiah rendered not according to the benefit done him ; for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath came upon him and upon all Judah." Lord, what is man! Who is beyond the danger of falling while in this world? On what can we safely rely? He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. And he is not much better that trusts in his own grace. It is not our grace, but his grace that is sufficient for us. Let us therefore be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Let us not insult over others when they err in doctrine or in practice; but tremble for ourselves, and pray, Lord, hold thou me up, and I shall be safe. Blessed is the man that feareth always.'
Vol. I. pp. 523_6.
Art. VII.-1. Thesaurus Linguæ Latince Compendarius. Ains
worth's Latin Dictionary, reprinted from the folio Edition of MDCCLII. With numerous Additions, Emendations, and Improvements. By the Rev. B. W. Beatson, A.M., Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge. Revised and corrected by William Ellis, Esq. A.M. of King's College, Aberdeen Imperial 8vo,
pp. xx. 1104, 122, 82. London, 1830. 2. A Complete Concordance to the Old and New Testament: or a Dic
tionary and Alphabetical Index to the Bible. In two parts. To which is added, a Concordance to the Apocrypha. With a Compendium of the Bible, and a brief Account of its History and Excellence. By Alexander Cruden, M.A. With a Sketch of the Life and Character of the Author. By William Youngman.
Imperial 8vo, pp. xiv. 720. London, 1831. 3. Theology explained and defended, in a Series of Sermons. By
Timothy Dwight, S.T.D. LL.D., late President of Yale College. With a Memoir of the Life of the Author. Complete in one Volume. Imperial 8vo, pp. xxxvi. 856. Price 11. 45. Glasgow,
1831. Ir scarcely falls within our province to notice mere reprints; but these publications have specific claims to our attention. This new edition of the folio Ainsworth in the more convenient form of large octavo, could not fail to be highly acceptable to all Latin students ; but the value of the publication is exceedingly enhanced by the nume
VOL. VIII. N.S.