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paths straight. These are the steps by which the penitent turns from darkness unto light, and from disobedience to the wisdom of the just. To such a penitent, as he lies prostrate in the dust of his humiliation, may every messenger of Christ say, “ Now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” To such a penitent, as he walks in darkness, and sorrow, and fear, that voice which speaks in the Gospel says, “ Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” To such a penitent may every minister of the Gospel address—with truth, and with safety to the penitent—those cheering words, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ : believe only, and thou shalt be saved.'
In reading this brief, but pregnant and pathetic appeal, “Why persecutest thou me?” it is difficult to say in what point of view it is most deeply interesting: what word in it is most solemnly and tenderly emphatic. Whether we should most admire the infinite patience and condescension of that Glorious Being, who, sheathing the sword of righteous vengeance, holds parley, and pleads with the prostrate persecutor, “Why persecutest thou me?"-or the awfully criminal point of view in which it presents a course of life which had not, previously, elicited a single reproof from conscience, but which now exhibits its subject as arrayed against-at issue with Omnipotence, “Why persecutest thou me?”-or the gentle and tender appeal, which we have already considered, to the conscience and the heart, “Why persecutest thou me?"—or the intimate, the intense sympathy with his persecuted people which it expresses, " Why persecutest thou me ?” Let us remember, that when our Lord uttered this pathetic appeal, the cloud had passed away which dimmed “the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person." As regarded his atoning sacrifice, in all its toils and sorrows and sufferings, Emmanuel had already proclaimed upon the cross, “ It is finished !” At the sepulchre he had cast off for ever the shroud of his humiliation, and resumed his robes of native glory, and re-ascended that throne of essential Deity, where martyred Stephen proclaimed to persecuting Saul, that he beheld him standing, as if just risen to receive his murdered saint. Yet from this throne of glory, whence flow rivers of pleasure for evermore, we see him come down, as the cry of sorrow ascended upon the wings of prayer, and in deep sympathy with the sufferings of his people exclaim, “Why persecutest thou me ?”
In what an awful point of view does this sympathy of Christ with his persecuted people present the persecutor ! What tremendous judgments must it not draw upon him! It tells, that he who touches the people of Christ, touches the apple of his eye; and that it were better for a man that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast into the depths of the sea,
than that he should offend one of these little ones which believe in Christ. And, on the other hand, what consolation and support, under any trial, should it not afford to his persecuted disciples. Their Almighty Friend is ever present, and ever tenderly feeling for them. “We have not,” they may say, “an High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." We have proof, too, that his exaltation to his original glory has not obliterated his memory of human sufferings, or extinguished his sympathy with the sufferer. No, “He suffered being tempted, that he might be able to succour them which are tempted.' He stands as the refiner by the furnace, with attentive eye, and will allow
the dross only to be consumed : not a single particle of the precious ore shall perish. He has suffered his people to be cast into the furnace, and has permitted the process of their trial there, that the precious may be separated from the vile ; and waits only until this valued deposit, purified by the fire, reflects unbroken, as a bright and spotless mirror, his own image ; which, with responding attitude and expression, seems rising to meet him, while he bends over it with deep-and, as the process advances to its completion, with deeper, and more ten. der-interest.
Nor is Christ's sympathy with his people in their sufferings only, but also in their joys. He has proclaimed a reward to their benefactors infinite as the punishment to their persecutors. He has constituted his people here on earth the recipients of those grateful acknowledgments due to him for the bounties of his providence; and proclaimed, as among the laws which will regulate his future judgment, “ Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
J. M. H.
STRICTURES ON THE QUARTERLY REVIEWER'S CRITIQUE
ON THE LIFE OF WILBERFORCE.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It was formerly customary to publish in your periodical a " Review of reviews,” a custom which I regret has been discontinued; for it had a wholesome effect, by occasionally subjecting those often severe and always self-elected censors, to the same ordeal which they applied so rigidly to others. I was led to make this remark, by reading the review of the Life of Wilberforce in the Quarterly Review, in which, as it appeared to me, undue severity was exercised towards the editors; and frequently an apparently bitter spirit was evinced towards the subject of that memoir, which might have been thought impossible to be entertained towards one who could no longer be influenced by praise or censure, and whose gentle disposition and kind and conciliating deportment could never intentionally have given offence.
In almost the first sentence of the Review, we find one of those inuendoes by which blame is insinuated, and an unfavourable impression conveyed, without sufficient distinctness to enable the reader to judge how far it is deserved. Speaking of Mr. Wilberforce's Diary, it is said that it was written, “when he could find a vacant momentnay sometimes when the moments were not vacant, and might have been better employed." There is no intimation as to the time which was thus misemployed, nor as to the duties which were neglected, in order to write those very short notes in his diary ; and, as far as my recollection goes, the life does not state at what time the diary was written, so as to enable the Reviewer justly to apply this censure.
The next complaint is with respect to the publication of those confidential papers, and which is certainly a debateable question ; but it is one to which the editors must answer to their own consciences. I cannot doubt they thought they had sufficient reason for this publication ; but at all events the public cannot regret to know the private thoughts and reflections of such a man as Wilberforce. It must be an advantage to be able to benefit by his experience, and it is interesting to those who knew, more or less, some of those persons who were actors in that busy scene; and had heard and seen many more, to have them brought before them again in private society. Το younger readers, it is probable there may be too much of these memoranda; for they must have less curiosity with respect to the private life of those they only know historically. But while censuring the Reviewer on some points, I cannot pass by the following reflections, without expressing the satisfaction I experienced in their perusal. Speaking of the publication of the other private document, the Journal, he says:
“ The evil of the abuse may be great, but still greater is the good which may be produced by the practical example of a high religious influence predominating over all human passions in men eminent for talents, station, and brilliancy in society, or for activity and intelligence in the business of the world. It is of vast importance to convince the ordinary run of mankind, that the poor in spirit need not therefore be poor in any of the objects of worldly consideration."
There are many more such remarks well worthy of perusal, especially those on the publication of the prayers and meditations of Dr. Johnson. It is gratifying to find that such thoughts had place with a man of the world – for such I venture to pronounce the Reviewerwho was also perhaps formerly much engaged in politics, and, even more than Mr. Wilberforce, immersed in worldly business; but it is with proportionable regret I find them followed by censures
on this part of the work ; not on account of the matter to which an objection is named, which possibly is open to the Reviewer's complaint—that is, the allowing ascetic meditations and worldly business to appear in juxta position ;—but because his strictures are expressed in an unkind spirit, which almost precludes a reader partial to Mr. Wilberforce from fully estimating their force. It is very possible to agree with the Reviewer in thinking there is too much of these memoranda ; but I cannot admit that there is a great deal of what he is pleased to call “ twaddle "—at least if I am able to apply anything like a definite meaning to that "slang " term. Mr. Wilberforce's private reflections, on one occasion at least, so openly express his feelings, which seem to have been at the moment much excited by deep religious reflections, that I was surprised, if I did not regret, that the passage was published ; but I see nothing in that passage, or on any other occasion, which deserves the degrading epithet of “twaddle.'
In reference to a remark made by the biographers, that when Wil. berforce quitted Hull no great pains had been taken with his religious principles, the Reviewer says: “Meaning, no doubt, that he had not been initiated into the peculiar tenets he afterwards professed.” If the writer had fully considered what were Mr. Wilberforce's peculiar tenets; or had he known the religious opinions attributed, and, I believe, not without reason, to his sons ; he would not have hazarded this remark. The aunt with whom Mr. Wilberforce afterwards resided, and from whom he received his first religious opinions, was a rigid Calvinist; and no doubt the Reviewer considers his peculiar opinions, if they were peculiar, to have been of that character; but they were not such. When in after life Mr. Wilberforce saw it imputed to him in print, that he was a Calvinist, he wrote in the margin of the book, “False.” It is mentioned in the Life, that his mother was a woman of great excellence, but not possessed at this time of those views of the spiritual nature of religion, which she adopted in after life. “She was," said Wilberforce himself, “what I should call an CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 14.
Archbishop Tillotson Christian.” The Reviewer adds, we know not what views of religion any Christian could take, which could be described as of an unspiritual nature.” Now the editors did not say that her views were of an unspiritual nature, but simply that her views were not the same, as to the spiritual nature of religion, which she adopted in after life. But that is not all; the Reviewer is very severe in his censure on Mr. Wilberforce as satirical and pharisaical in designating his parent as an “Archbishop Tillotson Christian.” This remark seems extraordinary in one, if I am not mistaken, of the extensive information of the Reviewer, who I believe to be so well informed on historical subjects, that I hardly venture to suggest that he has forgotten a portion of Burnet's Own Times, where he describes the divines then called “Latitudinarian ; ” and if I mistake not, speaks of Tillotson as one of the most distinguished of that body. At that time, there were the High Church divines of the school of Laud, represented by Sancroft, Ken, Bull, Dodwell, Hickes, Kettlewell, and others; and those who would now be designated as Evangelical divines, but who had not then attained, that I recollect, any particular designation ; such were Hall, Beveridge, perhaps Burnet himself, and a few others; and the Latitudinarian divines, who filled the most prominent places in the Church, from the Revolution till a very late period. Mr. Wilberforce did not therefore intend to be satirical, and was not disrespectful, when he designated his mother's opinions, in his early life, as those of an Archbishop Tillotson Christian. If he had called them“ latitudinarian," he would have been more liable to be misunderstood, but would have had historical authority.
In reference to the devotional Journal, after admitting the propriety of publishing his devotional exercises on important occasions—such as his slave-trade labours, and his book on Christianity—the Reviewer asks:
“ Is it not giving a view of religious duties, too scrupulous and too likely to be a stumbling block to the less wary ; to exhibit such a man as Mr. Wilberforce, as suffering for 40 years under panic terrors and hysterical remorse ; sometimes for nothing at all, sometimes for fulfilling the most innocent duties of his station ; a suffering, moreover, to so little purpose or profit, as to be at the end of forty years of such severe discipline, little more satisfied with his spiritual condition, than he was at the outset?”
I am not disposed to contend for the propriety of publishing every thing which is extracted from the Journal, but I do not recollect any reflection which can be said to be properly designated as panic terrors, or hysterical remorse ; indeed Mr. Wilberforce does not appear for a moment to have doubted that the merits of his Saviour would be effectual for his salvation, and he could confidently plead them in satisfaction of the numerous short comings on his own part, of which he complained. Without a very large portion of these extracts, his character would have been imperfectly understood; and even with them he has been much mistaken by the Reviewer. His case seems to have been similar to that of many other good men, who, while their spiritual characters decidedly improved, from that very improve. ment, became so much more aware of what God requires from man, by being able better to appreciate his excellence, and the spiritual character of the Divine law. Again : though they advanced in holiness and goodness, and were aware of it, Christian perfection appeared still further removed from them ; but they entertained neither“ panic terrors" nor“ hysterical remorse on this account; the only effect it had, was to induce them to follow the example of the apostle, St. Paul ; and“ forgetting the things which were behind, to stretch forth to those that were before.” Mr. Wilberforce knew that it was not by his own works or deserving" he could “ be accounted righteous before God," and therefore he did not measure his title to salvation, when he made these reflections ; but he also knew that God works on the fruits of faith, and that a holy man becomes more and more meet for the inheritance which has been procured for him, and therefore he sought for greater evidence in this respect ; but still reflection could not but bring him to say, like the Publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Upon occasion of Mr. Wilberforce expressing thankfulness to a gracious Providence for protecting him, during a journey of 350 miles without accident, the Reviewer makes a distinction between God's bounty and protection during our whole existence, and a special providence on such an occasion, which I cannot but think quite untenable ; first, as it seems to be grounded on the occasion being “trivial,” an objection which is as unphilosophical as it is unscriptural; for to Omnipotence nothing can be great, consequently nothing can be trivial; to Almighty power all is equally easy; and the salvation of an empire, which is but a spot in one of the hundred millions of worlds with which creation abounds, is as trivial as the protection of an individual. Again : we cannot know how the Divine Mind has connected the preservation of an individual with the most important events; and how that is connected again with his personal prayers, so as to make one the consequence of the other. Our limited faculties and short experience make it impossible always to know what is cause and effect; except, indeed, that God having been pleased to say, “Ask and you shall have, seek and you shall find ;” our prayers and God's answer follow each other as cause and effect, without limitation to what, to our finite conception, is great in preference to what we consider trivial; and as to there having been no danger on the particular occasion, we know not what danger we incur at any time, and “ travelling by land or water” has always been considered by pious men as a fit occasion of prayer and thankfulness.
But it is necessary to go back to an earlier part of the review, to notice a most uncandid criticism. Mr. Wilberforce's advice to a a friend entering the House of Commons is :
“Attend to business, and do not seek occasions of display. If you have a turn for speaking, the proper time will come. Let speaking take care of itself. I never go out of the way to speak, but make myself acquainted with the business ; and then, if the debate passes my door, I step out and join it."
Upon which the Reviewer remarks : “He does not inculcate consideration either of the importance, or the right or wrong of the subject; he even deprecates previous preparation.'
In what part of the extract made by the Reviewer, and which I have quoted at large, does Mr. Wilberforce deprecate preparation ? Is it by advising that his friend should make himself acquainted with the business? Suppose the question to be the war with France; is it possible he could make himself acquainted with the business before the House, and not have made the best preparation to speak on that matter and when he advises the new member to attend to business, how could he be said not to inculcate consideration either of the importance or of the right or wrong of the subject ?
The bitterest passage in the whole review, is occasioned by a