« PreviousContinue »
not be the fault of our literature, but of our disposition. It will be because we have no heart to improve the price put into our hands to get wisdom. Let us learn by the examples around us. Let us not sleep in the midst of so many fellow Christians who are wide awake.
3. Another reason which should stimulate us to increased exertions in reading, is the multiplication and destructive influence of errors and heresies in the land.
The most extravagant and ruinous doctrines are propagated with a zeal which puts to shame the most earnest and truth-loving of our evangelical churches. And as truth in all its forms and phases has its literature, so has error. And why, if error has its apostles and martyrs, should it not also have its literature ? Rome in some circumstances has condemned the press, but now in this country, where her votaries will read something, she is hard at work to provide reading which may not be tainted with heretical pravity. Where Bibles are so thickly strewn that “the faithful" cannot avoid them, the Douay Bible, always accompanied with notes, is permitted. And where people will think and must reason, “the Catholic faith” is argued, and plausible, but most sophistical, apologetic productions are circulated in abundance. These are calculated as they are often, we fear, designed-to deceive the simple. And the influence they sometimes have over those who are not read in the controversy is really lamentable. The unblushing confidence with which the Jesuitical defenders of Rome assert their heresies, takes some minds by surprise. They are subdued by the fiery eyes of the lion, and surrender without a struggle.
Puseyism is Romanism under a new guise. Its arrogant assumptions of ministerial power, church exclusiveness, and sacramental grace, are the very essence of Popery. And these dogmas are boldly and industriously propagated in books and periodicals, numerous and various.
We need scarcely mention Millerism, Mormonism, and other similar offshoots of fanaticism, all of which have their various publications.
It must be obvious that from these sources the “unlearned and unstable" will be constantly exposed to ruinous deception. They are the individuals who fall an easy prey to the different forms of error. It is not always the true policy to suppose that novel and strange conceits are so absurd that they will deceive nobody, and so leave them to themselves. Honest and good people are often strangely beguiled from the simplicity of the gospel, and utterly and irrecoverably ruined before their shepherds are aware of the mischief.
What is to be done under all these perils, but to increase the action of the machinery which is to produce the means of knowledge, and to scatter those means plentifully among the people ? The safety and efficiency of Protestantism consist in the diffusion of her literature. Her principles bear the light of investigation, and always have full scope where the mists of ignorance and false philosophy are dispelled by the pure light of her literature. Let the Bible and the writings of the great Protestant authors but be familiar to the people, and they will be covered as with a coat of mail against the shafts of the abettors and teachers of heresy.
4. Such a course of reading and study as we insist upon will constitute a strong barrier against the aggressions of a corrupt literature.
Let the mind be furnished with wholesome nutriment, and it will nauseate the trash which is afloat. There will be no appetite for the foolish fictions—as false to nature as they are corrupt in principle—which are published and circulated in abundance. Mere maxims of prudence and warnings will not keep from our family circles the objectionable publications of the day. Reading is a want which all but mere muck-worms feel. Habits of sober thought and profitable reading only can naturally be expected to prevent injurious contact with bad or unprofitable books. But we must bring this article to a close.
We will conclude first by urging our people-one and all, old and young-to an increased and earnest attention to our own litera
Our books and periodicals should be more extensively circulated among our people. We see too few of our own excellent publications upon the shelves and centre-tables of our friends. And we are often led to inquire, what are the authorized agents of our publications doing to furnish the people with them? Too many of the orders which our agents at the Book Room receive from the preachers are evidently made up of books which they design for their own use. It is well for us to read ourselves,-and it is to be feared that too many of us read but little ;—but shall we not also provide for the people? Does not this come within the range of our regular pastoral duties?" Indeed, unless we can persuade our people to read, they will make but poor Methodists.
• It is worthy of serious inquiry, whether, in the places where the preachers do nothing in the way of circulating our publications, some system should not be instituted to do this work by means of colporteurs. We should like to see the experiment made in all our large cities.
A brother who has recently circulated a large number of Wesley's Sermons among his people, informed us, a few days since, that he already began to see the fruits. His people were evidently improving in religious knowledge. He could perceive it in their prayers, in their exhortations, and in their religious conversation in class-meeting and elsewhere. We have in our societies multitudes of new recruits, who need more theological knowledge—who are but poorly acquainted with our literature. They need not only encouraging and admonishing upon the subject, but to be told that such and such books are on sale at the Book Room, and they can be furnished with them if they wish. And we must be permitted to say that, in consequence of the neglect of this, we have serious fears that our Methodism is degenerating. Could we wake up our ministry upon this subject we should gain a leading object. What changes might not be effected in one short year by a vigorous effort upon the part of the preachers to circulate our books, and to induce the people to read them?
Some will say they have no time to read. Nonsense! Who does not know that time can always be found to do what we very much desire—what we love to do, and will do? If the time, which is lounged away, whiled away, gossiped away, was improved in profitable reading, what great and glorious results would follow! If our young people would but spend a tithe of the time which they now occupy in making and receiving calls, and various other forms of mental dissipation, in reading the writings of Wesley, Fletcher, Clarke, Watson, &c., how much better members of the church would they become, and how much would their religious comforts increase, and their prospects for heaven brighten! Let the ministry look to this matter : let parents awake to the great moral and religious interests of their offspring : let all consider the subject as it personally concerns them, and a great and general reformation of character and habits cannot fail to follow.
ART. V.-1. New Method of learning to read, write, and speak
a Language in Six Months; adapted to the German. By H. G. OLLENDORFF. 3 vols. 8vo. London: Whittaker & Co. Reprinted with Additions. By G. J. ADLER, A. B. New-York: Appleton
& Co. 1846. 2. A Practical Latin Grammar, adapted to the Natural Opera
tions of the Mind, on the Plan pursued in the Public Schools of Germany. By L. E. PEITHMANN, LL. D. London : Orr &
Smith. 3. A New Latin Delectus.- A New Greek Delectus.-Constructive
Exercises for teaching Greek from the Beginning by Writings By ALEXANDER ALLEN, Ph. D. London: Taylor &
Walton. 4. Smith's Latin Exercises for Beginners. London: Taylor &
Walton. 1840. 5. Henry's First Latin Book.- A Second Latin Book and Practi
cal Grammar. By THOMAS KERCHEVER ARNOLD, M.A., Rector
of Lyndon. London: Rivingtons. 6. A Practical Introduction to Latin Prose Composition.-A
Practical Introduction to Greek Prose Composition. By T. K. ARNOLD, M. A.' London. Reprinted: Boston, James Munroe
& Co. 7. The Ciceronian: or the Prussian Method of teaching the Ele
ments of the Latin Language; adapted to the Use of American Schools. By B. SEARS. Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln.
1844. 8. A Grammar of the German Language; arranged into a New
System on the Principle of Induction. By CHARLES JULIUS
HEMPEL. New-York: Harper & Brothers. 1843. 9. First Latin Grammar and Exercises on Ollendorff's Method.
By W. H. PENNOCK, Corpus Christi College, Camb. London: Whittaker & Co. 1844.
“We do amiss," said John Milton, " to spend seven or eight years in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek, as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one." was in the year of our Lord 1644. “I will frankly confess that I am sad when I reflect upon the condition of the study of languages among us. We spend six or seven years in Latin and Greek, and
Letter to Hartlib : Prose Works, p. 99.
yet who of us writes, still more, who of us speaks them with facility? I am sure there must be something wrong in the mode of our teaching, or we should accomplish more. That cannot be skillfully done, which, at so great an expense of time, produces so very slender a result." So spoke President Wayland in A. D. 1830.*
Fifteen years have elapsed, and the day for such lamentations is not over. It is still the case, in too many of the schools of our country, that the chief result of all the instruction given in the ancient languages is to disgust boys with Greek and Latin. And even of the strong minds that are not to be subdued by years of drudgery, there are few, very few, who ever obtain a real mastery of the languages, and these few gain that end, not in consequence of the system generally pursued, but in spite of it. “Cursed be he,' say the rabbies, 'that keepeth a pig, or that teacheth his son Greek. If Latin had been included in the anathema, many a poor boy in Christian countries might have wished himself a Jew, that so he might have come under the benefit of the saving malediction.”+
Let us follow one of the unlucky wights who is doomed to this seven years' apprenticeship; worse than Jacob's bondage to Laban, and worse rewarded. He leaves home for the first time, sad enough at parting from all the pleasant things of life, yet not half so sad as he would be, if he knew what is before him. The first thing to be learned is Latin; and he is put at it, after the most orthodox fashion, with no tools but a grammar of dry vocables. He is to learn a language,-a thing to be spoken and written,-and he begins by trying to hammer into his brain a set of (to him) perverse and monstrous forms, without meaning or object, called declensions and conjugations. After a few months of this pleasing recreation, he gets out of the thicket of etymology, well rubbed and scratched, to be sure, yet perhaps sound in wind and limb. Now, at least, he will get into a green pasture, and even catch a glimpse occasionally of a flower-bed. Not a bit of it. He is plunged at once into a dreary wilderness, ycleped syntax, and driven with whip and spur “through thick and thin, over hills and dales, precipices and stumbling blocks, in the dark,"I until the breath is fairly out of him. By this time the poor fellow is
* Lectures before the American Institute, vol. i.