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critics who have contributed to the stock of general literature, we do not assert; though there are a few such of whom we should not be ashamed to speak. But that we have never wanted for writers who have been able to write creditably and usefully, and that our denoininational literature has kept pace with the progress of the denomination, is what we maintain ; and, that we have always had authors who would not suffer by a comparison with those of other denominations of Christians. In these remarks we refer to the Methodists generally, embracing those in both Europe and America.

Numbers one and two, at the head of this article, embrace the publications of our Book Room in this country, and though a perfect analysis of them is not at this time intended, we wish to notice some general features which they present.

The Sunday-School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church is but an infant institution. We have in the Report an account of two interesting anniversaries, and portions of the correspondence with the society. The latter shows in a clear and strong light the destitution of certain sections of our work, as to the means of successfully prosecuting the business of Sunday-school instruction. The "applications for aid” are constantly becoming more numerous and pressing. The receipts of the treasury have, as yet, been comparatively small; but it is to be hoped that the facts and arguments set forth in the Report will have a lendency to awaken an interest upon the subject, and to call forth something like adequate efforts to supply our destitute schools with books.

The catalogue of Sunday-school books shows a considerable advance in the number and variety of our Sunday-School publications, thirty-nine new books having been added to the list under the management of our present diligent and enterprising editor. We think this department will soon fully meet the wants of our growing Sunday-school interest throughout the country.

The catalogue of tracts shows that we have a tolerable supply of this kind of cheap literature. The number of tracts, and the variety of topics of which they treat, are respectable, and will continue to increase. These tracts, bound, constitute a choice family library which every Methodist family would do well to possess.

A classification and synopsis of the catalogue are given as follows:

“We are prepared to furnish our tracts, in packages, according to the classification, at the following prices, each package being neatly enveloped in a cover, upon which

the numbers and titles of the several tracts are printed :

a

I. Miscellaneous Tracts, 664 pp., in two packages, 22 cents each.
II. Tracts Awakening and Inviting, 296 pp., 20 cents.
III. Tracts on Christian Graces and Duties, 348 pp., 23 cents.
IV. Doctrinal and Controversial :

1 Divinity of Christ and Character of God,
A2 Election, Reprobation, and Perseverance, 453 pp., 30 cts.

3 Baptism and Lord's Supper,
(4 Church Organization,
B5 Popular Errors,

440
PP.,

30 cts.
(6 Repentance, Faith, and Holiness,
V. Narratives, 642 pp., in two packages, 21 cents each.
VI. Temptations and Vices, 236 pp., 15 cents.
VII. The Sabbath and Sunday Schools, 92 pp., 6 cents.
VIII. Advice and Duties, 264 pp., 17 cents.
IX-X. On the Circulation of Tracts and on Education, 78 pp., 5 cts.
XI. For Seamen, 76 pp., 5 cents.
XII. On Missions, 76 pp., 5 cents.
XIII. On Infidelity, 112 pp., 7 cents.
XIV. Ten choice Sermons of Mr. Wesley, 152 pp., 10 cents.

A complete set of our tracts, amounting to nearly four thousand pages, either put up in numerical order, or distributed in packages, as above, will be furnished for $2.50. They may also be had, neatly bound in volumes, at $5.25.”Fifth Annual Report of S. S. Urion of the M. E. Church, p. 37.

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The general catalogue is mostly theological and miscellaneous. Our exegetical works are ample and of acknowledged merit; though there seem to be strong indications of a call for a popular commentary somewhat of the class of Barnes' Notes. Such a work, ably and faithfully executed, would, doubtless, meet with a ready sale. We need also a small work upon Biblical exegesis for candidates for the ministry. As for didactic, polemical, pastoral, and practical divinity, our catalogue is exceedingly rich. A condensed system of theology for the use of candidates for the ministry seems to be a desideratum.

As for history we have something of that character; but we want a good history of the church. Our biographical department is well furnished. And if we may refer to the works of our authors which are published at other establishments, and constitute a portion of the general literature of the country, we can speak of “Travels in,” « Observations upon,” and “Sketches of,” foreign

, countries, which would be creditable to any denomination. We only regret that the works of Fisk, Olin, Durbin, and Kidder, could not have been issued at our own press. But such is the commission allowed by order of the General Conference, and which the agents have no power to modify, that authors have not the encouragement at our establishment that they meet with elsewhere. This we most deeply regret, and hope, for the credit of the establishment, if for no other reason, the next General Conference may take the matter into serious consideration, and if possible apply the appropriate remedy.

As to periodical literature, we have, perhaps, all the publications which are necessary. Besides the Christian Advocate and Journal of New York, and the Western Christian Advocate of Cincinnati, we have several local weekly papers, ably edited and well sustained. The Quarterly Review is, we are happy to say, increasing its patronage, an evidence that it is both needed and appreciated. The Ladies' Repository, published at Cincinnati, is a monthly magazine ably edited and well sustained. The SundaySchool Advocate, according to the Report, now has a circulation of "fifty thousand copies, having increased forty thousand within the last eight months ;" a sure evidence of its adaptation and usefulness. And the Missionary Advocate, a vehicle for missionary intelligence, is widely circulated and eagerly read by the lovers of the missionary cause throughout the land.

With this hasty sketch of the materials with which our literature is made up, and the departments it supplies, we shall proceed to the accomplishment of our principal object in this paper; and that is, to urge the importance of the circulation and reading of our excellent books. In doing this we shall first present some views upon reading in general.

The greatest provision which God has made for the illumination and expansion of the human mind, is reading. All we can learn by conversation and observation is comparatively little. Many important subjects can only be understood imperfectly, and many others cannot be understood at all, except through the medium of books. And how ample is this instrumentality of human improvement! It brings us into contact with the wisdom of all countries and of all past ages--through it we are able to listen to the instruction of philosophers, prophets, apostles, and of God himself, upon the most important topics. We hold communion not only with Socrates and Plato, Luther and Melancthon, Wesley and Fletcher, but with Paul, James, John, and even with Him who spake as never man spake. How we may best profit by this wonderful provision, is a question of no ordinary moment; and to its solution we propose in this article to direct a few remarks.

1. Our reading should be select.

There is much useless and injurious matter written and published, as well as that which is good and profitable. Consequently, it is a dictate of common prudence to strive to separate the precious from the vile.

In doing this, we should, first, discard all those writings which are either useless or injurious. None will question the necessity of this course in relation to the latter class. Bad books, like other "evil communications, corrupt good manners.” Contact with error and corruption, in the form of written discourse, is more dangerous than in any other form. Evil, stereotyped, as it is more permanent, so it is more potent, than when it takes the fugitive form of conversation or example. Hence, if considerations of safety require that we should shun bad society, much more do these considerations require that we should shun—even thrust from us with pious horror-all bad books.

But there are those who, though they fully concede all this, still plead for reading which is designed merely to amuse. We will admit that relaxation from severe toil of body and mind is necessary to the health of each—that severe study, long protracted, exhausts the energies of both the intellectual and physical systems. Mental and bodily relaxation is consequently a duty as much as a privilege. But we maintain that it is possible to turn even our moments of necessary relaxation to good account—to make them tributary to our mental and moral improvement. A want of proper discretion in this matter often results in the aggravation of evils we are striving to cure. As there are forms of bodily relaxation which enervate the physical system, and disqualify it for vigorous and effective labor, so there are modes of mental relaxation which unhinge the mind, and render it incompetent to all healthy functions.

So far as mere amusement is concerned, it may well be doubted whether we have time for it. If life is longer than is necessary for the accomplishment of its great ends, then may we squander away the surplus after having finished all we have to do. There is reading which is both amusing and improving. A sound discretion, and a proper sense of our accountability to God for the improvement of our precious time, will always direct us to this when we find it necessary to swing off from that severe mental and physical toil which, when long protracted, injuriously affects the nervous system. But we cannot give the least license to what is popularly called "light reading." Much of this is not only useless, but positively injurious. We refer particularly to the popular novels of the day.

We cannot occupy space to present our views at large upon this topic. After all we have heard said in favor of works of fiction, we must say, as a class, we protest against them. They unduly excite the sensibilities, and give them a preponderance over the reasoning faculties. With the young, especially, the imagination needs to be curbed and disciplined. The excitement of fiction is too great for the susceptibility and ardor of the youthful mind, and its continued action results in a morbid sensibility. It is useless to urge here that there are many works of fiction which are of good moral tendency. It is the habits of thought and feeling which fiction begels which constitute the great mischief. No one in a sound condition of the moral faculties will plead for the profane and licentious productions of some of our popular novel-writers. They only plead for the better sort of novels-religious novels-or such at least as impart lessons of moral instruction.* And to this position in the

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* Mrs. Sigourney says: “Works of imagination usually predominate in the libraries of young ladies. To condemn them in a mass, as has been sometimes done, is hardly just. Some of them are the productions of the finest minds, and abound with the purest sentiments. Yet discrimination, with regard to them, is exceedingly important, and such discrimination as a novice cannot exercise. The young should therefore ask guidance of an experienced and cultivated mind, and devote to this class of reading only a moderate portion of time, as to a recreation. Frequent and long indulgence in it creates disgust at the patient acquisition of solid learning, as compound and poignant dishes destroy a relish for plain and healthful food. It forms habits of desultory thought, and uproots mental discipline. It makes it an object not to read and remember, but to read and be amused. So the fanciful palate is pleased, and the imagination pampered, while the hungering judgment, to borrow Cowper's simile, looks up and is not fed.' Among works of this description, those which are denominated novels of deep and stirring interest are calculated to heighten in the young mind those powers which need no excitement. In the language of Mrs. Hannah More,

• They add fresh strength to what before was strong.' Habits of excursive fancy, and illusive views of life, are not salutary in their influence on those whose business it is to reason, and to act; to bear, and to forbear. If such works ever exercise a beneficial tendency, it must be in the season of age, when torpor is stealing over the faculties, when the feelings need quickening by touching the nerve of early and tender association, and memory would sink into lethargy, were she not awakened by the heart. They can no longer mislead the traveler when his journey is accomplished. He can compare their highly-colored delineations with the sober truth of life's 'thricetold tale,' and be safely entertained. Yet there is no need for the young to exhaust the cordials of age. It is wiser to be busied in furnishing a full storehouse for that approaching winter, where the errors of seed-time cannot be corrected, nor the sloth of harvest repaired; when the mind, in its weariness, is too feeble to dig, and in its poverty, to "beg will be ashamed.'”—Letters to Young Ladies.

Here is a general dissuasive against novel-reading. The cases in which it is allowed are, to the young, as a mere “recreation;" and then, only "under

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