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OBSERVATIONS ON MEN, BOOKS AND THINGS.
UNITARIANISM AS RELATED TO ORTHODOXY AND EPISCOPACY.-Certain gentlemen, highly esteemed, at New Haven, have, of late, taken occasions to speak of Unitarianism in this region, as a tree full of ripe pears, which the Orthodox ministers are rudely shaking, while certain demure gentlemen are slily going about, with the laps of their silken robes outspread, to catch the falling fruit. And those New Haven gentlemen, about once in three months, administer sharp rebukes to their brethren here, for not managing so as to secure the spoils for themselves. We think these reprovers are wholly mistaken in this instance; and though it is hard to instruct such geniuses as think that they know more than their teachers, we wil try to tell them how the case appears to those who dwell upon the spot. It is evident that, where the various parties are so mixed up as they are here, in the intercourse of business and of families, there must be numerous intermediate shades of opinion and feeling, and consequently many transitions from one denomination to another. It is no uncommon thing for a Unitarian to be converted to the evangelical faith. If it be a thorough conversion, he will be likely to make thorough work, and to take a decided stand for the truth. If he be half-converted or thereabouts, he will be disposed to look for a "half-way house," where he can satisfy his conscience, without going clean over to the side he has hated and opposed. We cannot better illustrate the relative position of the sects, than by an adventure which befel a person of this description, who has held an important office in the Commonwealth. This gentleman, who had long been a Unitarian, though still undecided in many of his views, had begun his studies with a view to "taking orders" in the Episcopal sect. At this time, he stopped, during a journey, at a populous town, which, in the heart of the noble county of Hampshire, sits in rural beauty on the banks of the Connecticut. Our stranger, charmed, as everybody is, with the delightful spot, hired a stage driver to take him in a carriage around the streets and environs. They presently passed by a stately sanctuary, perhaps the largest in New England. To the inquiry of the gentleman as to what it might be, the driver gravely and emphatically replied, in professional phrase: "That, sir, is the OLD LINE!" No explanation was needed. It must belong to the Standing Order of good old Massachusetts Orthodoxy. They soon came to a more modern building with a neat Doric front. To a similar question the driver quietly replied: "That, sir, is the NEW LINE, or what you may call the OPPOSITION!" This was enough to designate the shrine of a religion which our fathers knew not of. At last they espied a small structure, with pointed windows and an ambitious Gothic air. To the same question, the knight of the whip made answer: "That, sir, is the AccOMMODATION LINE!" The traveller, who well knew the range which that line offers to the 'passenger, reaching from a fervent evangelical piety, with its prayer-meetings and Sabbath. 8*
Schools, to the elegant formalism which delights in crosses and candles, owned the aptness of these descriptive phrases, and used to relate the incident with considerable relish. Among all decided Unitarians, whether of the old fashioned, free-thinking class, or of the new fashioned, loose-thinking class, the anti-prelatical feeling is exceedingly strong. They idolize the "right of private judgment;" and cannot endure the thought of a holy corporation of priests to fix their opinions for them. The dread of losing their mental independence leads them to regard the Church as little more than a company coming together for religious purposes, and taking the title of Christian. To persons of this turn of mind, it must be very hard to submit to the demands of the hierarchy; and yet it may be much harder to yield to the claims of the gospel upon the depraved heart. It would not be strange, then, if more of them were to turn to Episcopacy than to Orthodoxy. And the Orthodox would far prefer to have the whole body of the Unitarians become devoutly Episcopalian rather than they should remain as they are. Aye; for the Orthodox would much sooner conform to Episcopacy themselves, than succumb to Unitarianism, and suffer that freezing faith to thrust its daggers of ice into their hearts, and to congeal their souls within them. The Orthodox can make no compromise with error for the sake of winning Unitarians. We can only take our stand on the saving truths of the Bible, and entreat them to join us there. If they will not be persuaded, we must sorrowfully leave them free to pursue their chosen course, fatal as it may be.
SCHOOL BOOKS. Few persons are aware how profitable a matter, in a pecuniary point of view, is a successful school-book. Though very many fail of attracting notice, or enjoy but a transient popularity, yet some acquire such a circulation as to be a little fortune to the authors, and a mine of wealth to the booksellers. It would be interesting, if the statistics belonging to the subject could be collected. Thus a work on "Progressive Exercises in English Composition," a subject which would not be expected to create a very great demand, has had at least fifty-six editions. The "Rhetorical Reader," by the late Dr. Porter of Andover, has reached two hundred and fifty editions. Of a grammer lately issued, forty thousand copies were sold in the first year of its publication. The issues of Webster's Spelling Book can only be reckoned in millions. These are but a few examples which have casually caught our attention. It is probable that there are others which would be even more surprising. The writers of this class of books ought to have little cause for adopting Sir Walter Scott's complaint, - and he, by the way, ought to have been one of the last to murmur at "The Trade," - that "booksellers quaff their wine out of author's skulls!" For the edification of the zealous friends of education, we close with a passage from a sermon of Jacob Heubrand, a jolly German prediger, in 1590. "If there were no schools, the stronger would put the weaker in a sack; and there would be no end of this, till the people ate one another up. Head-law, and not fist-law, must govern the
world. But then, men of learning do not grow upon the trees, so that one has only to shake them down; and, with reverence be it spoken, put a pair of boots below for them to fall into."
THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES. tended Constitutions are regarded by some with utter contempt, as one of the most impudent of all “ pious frauds." By others, who are ever ready to "crook the pliant hinges of the knee," at every sound of the words " canon " and "apostolical," they are viewed with considerable awe, as one of the chief records of that "apostolical tradition," which is their best Bible. They are valuable, however, to the student of church-history, as exhibiting the opinions which generally prevailed at the times of their appearance, which were somewhere along from the third to the fifth centuries, some of them being much older than the rest. Professor Chase, an enlightened and truly liberal scholar, and an ornament of the Baptist denomination, has published a carefully revised translation of these important documents which have exerted so much influence on the opinions and practices of past ages. He has added translations of copious and learned dissertations from the German, forming, with what he has given of his own, a complete apparatus for the study of this famous piece of antiquity. The volume forms an elegant octavo, and is one which they who are studious of such matters, will be sure to purchase and peruse as a matter of course.
ASSOCIATIONISTS IN BOSTON. - By a recent number of the "Harbinger," it appears that there is no institution here for living in common; though there are some fifty persons who contribute more or less to the cause, and occasionally attend the meetings. The number of real zealous souls "may be set as low as thirty, a fair share of whom are women." They spend at the rate of a thousand dollars a year, in support of the cause, by printing and preaching. Their place of worship, if it may be called such, is adorned with pictures and emblems; and they boast of it as quite a little oasis in the waste of civilization." "This is the evening home of the hard-toiling Associationist, returning from his civilized drudgery." Here they concoct their schemes for bringing in the millennium of "Universal Unity," of uncivilized elegance and self-supporting indolence. This genteel union is divided into three voluntary groups, the Group of Social Culture, the Group of Indoctrination, and the Group of Practical Affairs. Their Social Culture Group has fine times at its monthly parties; some of which are musical, some conversational, some dramatic, and some essentially lightfooted." This last is owing, possibly, to their being essentially lightheaded; for observation shows, that extremes usually meet, and that specific levity of the upper understanding is usually associated with. the same property in the nether understanding. Communitism will never flourish till natural depravity runs itself out; and till some way is contrived for all men to put their brains into a common stock, from which each shall draw out the average quantum for his own use.
Sir Walter Scott speaks of our general-fund philosophers, as men who would "convert the whole country into work-houses, just as Commodore Trunnion would have arranged each parish on the system of a man-of-war!"
PRISON DISCIPLINE IN AMERICA. This is the title of an elegant pamphlet, which should have been a book, from the pen of Hon. Francis C. Gray. It relates to that main question in dispute between the zealous friends of reform in prison discipline, Whether solitary confinement at night with social labor in silence by day, as practised in the prison at Charlestown, is preferable to separate confinement and labor by day and night, as practised in the prison at Philadelphia? Mr. Gray argues in favor of the Charlestown plan, with a careful exactness in the statement of facts, and a calm consideration of the practical results of the two systems, which appear to make his position impregnable. His work possesses the highest merits which can be sought for in a discussion of this nature. Suffice it to say, that under the Charlestown system, neither death nor insanity are more frequent, than in the surrounding community. While under the Philadelphia system, the deaths are more than twice as numerous as at Charlestown; and the cases of insanity are as thirty-six to one! Moreover, the Pennsylvania convicts, who neither die nor go mad outright, become, for the most part, enfeebled in body and mind. And yet our modern "malignant philanthropists," who would scientifically immolate a whole generation to an experiment in morals, are in favor of a method which outrages all the instincts of humanity, and subjects nature itself to years of crucifixion. It is queer, that these fanatics are violent opposers of capital punishment, though they would doom at least one convict in a hundred to die by such slow tortures, while expiating an offence not made capital by the law. As for insanity, they care little for that; having no fear that their poor convicts will ever be more crazy than their kind patrons of the "Murderer's Friend and Assassin's Aid Society." The last number of the North American Review contains a very able article on Mr. Gray's production, favoring and strengthening his results. This review is said to be from the pen of the editor, under whose vigorous hands that celebrated Quarterly cannot but prosper. In Mr. Gray, we have the logic of the subject; in his reviewer, we have "the logic set on fire." The reviewer pays a high and richly merited tribute of commendation to Mr. Louis Dwight, the much-abused Secretary of the Boston Prison Discipline Society, for the firm and successful stand he has maintained, in restraining the mischiefs of the cruel Philadelphia system, and in sternly refusing to "make a compromise with insanity and death."
MR. WINTHROP's Scripture. This honorable gentleman, on his election as Speaker of the lower house of Congress, made a very fine address, in which he piously alludes to the Being, whose recorded attribute it is, that he "maketh men to be of one mind in
an house." Oh that he would make that house to be of one mind, in putting a stop to the abominations of the Mexican war! Let all the people say: Amen! As Mr. Winthrop's quotation looked Scripture-like, and yet seemed quite new, it produced no small sensation among editors, letter-writers, and ministers. Concordances came into demand; but failed to afford satisfaction. At last, it was discovered that the citation was made from one of several translations of the Psalter, in which good old Miles Coverdale had a part, and which is incorporated with the Episcopalian Prayer-Book. In the "authorized version" of the Bible, the passage, Psalm Ixviii. 6, is given thus: "God setteth the solitary in families." The incident is curious, as showing how little the contents of the Book of Common Prayer are known among a people, who would at once have recognized any quotation from the Bible, and turned to chapter and verse without delay. This reminds us, that there are other sad discrepances between the Prayer-Book and the Bible. Thus in Psalm cvi. 30, the Bible says, that Phinehas "executed judgment;" but the Prayer-Book translates it, that he "prayed." Again, in Psalm cv. 28, the Bible says: "and they rebelled not against his word:" but the Prayer-Book asserts just the contrary on the twenty-first day of every month," and they were not obedient unto his word." Thus, twelve times a year, our excellent friends in the Episcopal Church, and Mr. Speaker among them, with the audible voices of the whole of their responding congregations, flatly contradict the sacred oracles of God! This is certainly very awkward; not to say, quite shocking. And we fear that the worthy people who stick to the Prayer-Book, even when it directly denies the Book of God, are themselves "not obedient unto his word;" though they may "be of one mind in an house," at the time of committing this piece of unintentional irreverence.
A singular controversy has been going on for some time, in regard to Popery at the West. Rev. Mr. Clark of Portsmouth published a pamphlet contaniing statistics which went to show that the principal schools of the highest class, in some of the Western States, were in the hands of Papists, and that Protestant interests were much endangered thereby. The "Journal of Commerce" at New York, and the "Herald," a Presbyterian paper at Louisville, Kentucky, warmly denied the danger; and produced facts and statements designed to show, that the Protestant schools were very far in advance of the Papal, both in numbers and influence. Various writers have taken part in the debate, which is, perhaps, far from being settled. According to present appearances, it would seem that the Romanists