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Art. VIII. Discourses suited to the Dispensation of the Lord's Supper. By John Brown, Minister of the Associate Congregation, Biggar. 12mo. Edinburgh, 1816.
HRISTIANITY is equally distinguished for the plainness, purity, and value of its moral precepts, and for the simplicity, dignity, and excellehce of its positive institutes. It is not easy to determine whether the former has been more obscured and distorted by sophistry and self-interest, or the latter degraded and corrupted by ignorance and superstition. Wę We cannot read the New Testament with attention and impartiality, without perceiving how far the great mass of professing Christians, in all countries, and through a long series of ages, have departed from that system of Divine truth, which its sacred pages so luminously display. For proof of this assertion, we need only refer to the records of ecclesiastical history, or glance at the state of the world around us. No religious rite has been more grossly misunderstood and perverted, than that ordinance which was designed to be a solemn and instructive memorial of the Saviour, and of his sufferings; that ordinance which
clothes spiritual principle with visible form, and repeats to the senses, what the Scriptures had previously addressed to the 'conscience and to the heart.' The devotees of Rome fancy it to be full of mystery, and their absurd doctrine of transubstantiation, offers an insult to reason and common sense. Even among Protestants, some have made it a political test, a door of admission to civil offices, and others have recourse to it in their dying hour, as an easy expedient to procure pardon and absolution of sin and peace of conscience, and consider it as a sure passport to heaven. Every judicious attempt to rescue so important and solemn an institution from flagrant abuse, and direct it to the valuable purpose for which it was originally appointed, merits commendation.
In the volume before us, Mr. Brown has furnished some discourses and addresses, adapted to excite and promote a spirit of piety among those who feel it a duty and a privilege to hold communion with their fellow Christians at the sacramental supper of the Lord. In the arrangement and composition of the whole work, a regard has been paid to the manner in which this ordinance is dispensed in the Scottish Presbyterian churches; to promote a fervid yet rational devotion in their members, when engaged in this service, is avowedly its primary object. At the same time, as there will be found nothing sectarian either in its sentiments or in its spirit, the Author has reason to hope that it will be of general use and interest, as a view of Christian doctrine and duty in reference to this ordinance. We have seen few works on the subject, in a compressed and cheap
form, which are so replete with evangelical truth, and which contain so many pertinent applications of Scripture, and powerful appeals to the best feelings and affections of the heart. The language exhibits some slight inaccuracies, and a redundance of epithets, but the style is on the whole easy, flowing, and perspicuous, well adapted to the matter, and to the solemn occasion for which it is designed. We can warmly recommend these Sacramental Discourses to pious Christians of every denomination, and hope that the Author, from
the success attending the present volume, will have reason to ! conclude that he has not lived and laboured in vain.
We give i one short extract from an exhortation delivered after the sa. cramental supper, as a fair specimen of the work.
• In fine, let Christian joy be the habitual temper of your mind : Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous; and again I say rejoice. Be joyful in iribulation, and triumph in death. You have abundant ground of rational satisfaction and holy joy. To be habitually gloomy, is in. gratitude to your benefactor : it is an implied declaration, that after all he has done for you, he has not done enough to make you happy.
The apparent unhappiness of some good men, has done incalculable · mischief to the cause of religion ; and on the other hand, nothing
tends more directly to recommend Christianity to all, but especially the young, than proving by our conduct, that we feel its yoke to be easy, and its burden to be light ; that wisdom's ways are pleasant ways, and that all her paths are peace. Is it your desire then, Chris. tian brethren, thus habitually to remember Christ in faith, and love, and reverence, and penitence, and joy? Then in the first place, study deeply the character and history of Jesus as detailed by the evangelical historians ; and in the second place, as these holy tem
pers are by no means the natural growth of the human heart, be | frequent and fervent in your supplications to the throne of grace, for
the Holy Spirit whom God has promised to all that ask him, and who is the sole source of all mural good in created natures.'
Art. IX. An Inquiry into some of the most curious and interesting Sub
jects of History, Antiquity, and Science : with an Appendix, contain. ing the earliest Information of the most remarkable Cities of ancient and modern Times. By Thomas Moir, Member of the College of
Justice, Edinburgh. 12mo. pp. 274. Price 4s. 1817. AMONG the curious and interesting subjects embraced in this
Inquiry, will be found, a tolerably aipple account of the numerous religious houses which existed in this country before the Reformation, including a detailed statement of their rental; a discussion concerning the Julian year, new style, a:.d the Solar and Lunar Cycles; an account of the origin of the post renowned military orders, and titles of civil dignity; together with a fund of miscellaneous information, relating to ecclesiastical antiquities. The work is divided into fifty-seven chapters, each Vol. X. N.S.
relating to a separate subject. It is a great defect in the volume, that there is no index to its multifarious contents. We take a specimen almost at random.
The Origin of the Title of Sheriff, and Titles of Honour amongst the Saxons in England and other Countries, comprehending all Titles
now in use.
The titles of honour amongst our Saxon ancestors wereetheling, prince of the blood; chancellor, assistant to the king in giving judgments; alderman, or ealderman, (not earlderman, as Rapin Thoyras writes this word in his first edition) governor or viceroy. It is derived from the word ald, or old, like senator in Latin. Provinces, cities, and sometimes wapentakes, had their aldermen to govern them, determine law-suits, judge criminals, &c. This office gave place to the title of earl, which was merely Danish, and introduced by Canute. Sheriff, or she reeve, was the deputy of the alderman, chosen by him, sat judge in some courts, and saw sentence executed; hence he was called vice-comes. Heartoghan signified, among our Saxon ancestors, generals of armies, or dukes. Hengist, in the Saxon Chronicle, is heartogh. Such were the dukes appointed by Constantine the Great, to command the forces in the different provinces of the Roman Empire. These titles began to become hereditary with the office or command annexed, under Pepin and Charlemagne, and grew more frequent, by the successors of these princes granting many hereditary fiefs to noblemen, to which they annexed titular dignities. Fiefs were an establishment of the Lombards, from whom the Emperors of Germany and the Kings of France borrowed this custom, and with it the feudal laws, of which no mention is found in the Roman code. Titles began frequently to become merely honorary about the time of Etho I, in Germany.
Reeve, among the English Saxons, was a Steward. The bishop's reeve was the bishop's steward for secular affairs, attending in his court. Thanes, i. e. servants, were officers of the crown whom the king recompensed with land, sometimes to descend to their posterity, but always to be held of him with some obligation of service, homage, or acknowledgment. There were other lords of lands, and vassals, who enjoyed the title of thanes, and were distinguished from the king's thanes. The ealdermen and dukes were all king's thanes, and all others who held lands of the king by knight's service in chief, and were immediate great tenants of the king's estates. These were the greater thanes, and were succeeded by the barons, which title was brought in by the Normans, and is rarely found before the Conquest. Mass Thanes were those who held lands in fee of the church. Middle thanes were such as held very small estates of the king, or parcels of lands of the king's greater thanes. They were called by the Normans vavassors, and their lauds vavassories. They who held lands of these were thanes of the lowest class, and did not rank as gentlemen. All thanes disposed of the lands which they held, (and which were called block land, to their heirs,) but with the obligations due to those of whom they were held. Ceorle (whence our word churl) was a countryman or artisan, who was a freeman. These Ceorles, who held lands in leases, were called sockmen, and their lands sock
land, of which they could not dispose, being barely tenants. Those Ceorles who acquired possession of five hides of land, with a large house, court, and bell, to call together their servants, were raised to the rank of thanes of the lowest class. An hide of land was as much as one plough could till. The villians or slaves, in the country, who were labourers bound to the service of particular persons, were all capable of possessing money in property, consequently were not strictly slaves, in the sense of the Roman law.
Witan, or wites, (i. e. wisemen,) were the magistrates and lawyers. Burgh witten signified the magistrates of cities. Some shires, or counties, are mentioned before King Alfred; and Asserius speaks of earls, or counts, of Somerset and Devonshire, in the reign of Ethelwolph. But Alfred first divided the whole kingdom into shires, the shires into tithings, lathes, or wapentakes, the tithings into hundreds, and the hundreds into tenths. Each division had a court, subordinate to those that were superior, the highest in each shire being the shire-gemot, or folk-mote, which was held twice a year, and in which the bishop, or his deputy, and the ealderman, or his vice gerent the sheriff, presided. See Seldon on the Titles of Honour; Spelman's Glossary, ed. noviss. : Squires on the Government of the English Saxons; Dr. William Howell, in his learned General History, t. v. p. 273, &c.
Nota. The titles of earle and hersen were first given by Ifwar Widfame, King of Sweden, to two ministers of state, in 824; on which see many Remarks of Olof Delin, in his excellent new history of Sweden, c. v. t. i. p. 334.'
Mr. Moir's judgement as an original writer is not equal to his industry as a collector. In chapter xxix, he gravely informs his readers, that the celibacy of the Clergy, though merely an ec'clesiastical law, is perfectly conformable to the spirit of the gospel, and doubtless derived from the Apostles.' The gentle reader must pardon in so amusing a medley, the occurrence of a few antiquarian absurdities.
Art. X. Curiosities of Literature. In Three Volumes. 8vo. Vol. III. pp. 483. London. 1817.
MORE than twenty years have, we believe, elapsed, since the first publication of the former two volumes of this amusing compilation of literary anecdotes, which, on their attaining a sixth edition, have received the addition of a third. The Author, at once an antiquary and a virtuoso, ranks foremost in point of liveliness of style and assiduity of research, among the anec'dotical' tribe of literati who are benevolent enough to drudge through tomes of ponderous dulness, and to ransack book-stails and whole libraries, disturbers of the book-worm, in order to furnish the literary lounger with a volume full of entertaining 'curiosities.' The compilation was originally suggested by the works of his friends Seward and Pettit Andrews; but Mr. D'
Israeli was led to direct his explorations principally to literary history, his design being to stimulate the literary curiosity of those who, with a taste for its tranquil pursuits, are impeded in their ac'quirements,' and to meet the wants of that numerous class of readers, who, from their occupations, or their indolence, require to obtain the materials for thinking, by the easiest and readiest means.' Such collections are not without classical precedent. The Greeks,' we are told, were not without them; and the Romans loved them under the title of Varia Eruditio, and 'the Orientalists more than either, were passionately fond of
these agreeable collections.' Among our own countrymen, indeed, Lord Bacon himself did not disdain to publish a collection of anecdotes new and old,' made for his recreation
amongst more serious studies.' With such authorities, Mr. D'Israeli has little to fear from the learned who might affect to contemn his labours. Besides, the Journalist ought not,' as he remarks, to throw every thing into the crucible.' We agree with him, and willingly acknowledge, what he modestly proposes as a defence of such works as these, that more might be alleged in favour of them, than can be urged against them.' Our present business is only with this third volume, although to many of our readers extracts from the first two, would, it is probable, still possess in an equal degree the charm of novelty. We cannot pretend, however, to institute a minute examination into the miscellaneous contents even of this supplemental volume, but must be allowed to make our selections and our remarks in the same desultory manner as that in which the compilation was framed.
The section on Literary Anecdotes' would not unaptly have opened the Volume: it contains some good remarks in vindication of their value, as constituting the very essence of biography, when the writer knows how to discover the particulars which characterize the man. We have some curious specimens of absurd minuteness in the biographers of eminent persons; but it is certainly safer,' our Author remarks, for some writers to give us all they know, than to try at the power of rejection.'
The most interesting portions of the volume consist of illustrations of our domestic history. The repugnance of Queen Elizabeth to enter upon marriage is placed in a light favourable indeed to her strength of character, but utterly irreconcileable with her allowing her ministers to pledge her royal word, as
often as they found necessary, for her resolution to marry,' unless that conduct is to be regarded as a piece of most consummate duplicity. We know not how foreign authors' should have got at a secret so successfully concealed at home.
The anecdotes of the unfortunate Chidiock Titchbourne, who was involved in the conspiracy of his friend Anthony Babington