Page images

sibly turn to advantage in prosecuting sinister ends. If such were the race of men, it would be quite wrong to trust young ladies in society at all; the best and most proper expedient would be, a grand, universal nunnery.

The tendency of all unjust and ill-founded want of confidence in all the departments and relations of life, is to make those towards whom it is manifested what they are suspected of being. Such a style of manners, therefore, on the part of ladies to gentlemen, if universally adopted, would have a positively demoralizing tendency. There is still another view of the subject, another reason for the same result. Primness and prudishness are so repugnant to the taste of gentlemen, they so completely rob woman of her charm, that were all the virtuous to become prim and prudish, their influence would very much diminish, and that of the vicious increase proportionally. The kind of precision which our author inculcates, never commands respect; for it is in itself of the very essence of indelicacy. It supposes the mind of the precieuse full of all sorts of naughty thoughts. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

One cannot help suspecting, that a lady who thinks it neces. sary to build up all these fences about herself, and to cry out so loudly, "thus far shalt thou come and no farther," is conscious of wanting that inherent power of self-protection which is always found associated with native dignity and refinement in woman. We, of course, do not mean to include in our censure that native shrinking reserve of character which is sometimes met with, for nothing of the kind, which is natural, offends, but that which is artificial, and worn as a sort of garment. We maintain that any woman of sense and propriety may be free, frank, confiding, untrammelled by rules, in her intercourse with gentlemen ; and yet command whatever style of manners she pleases on their part. A glance of her eye, a tone of her voice, some sudden change of manner, will immediately set at a proper distance all disrespectful or undue familiarity.

There is a mutual desire between the sexes to appear well in each other's eyes, which God undoubtedly implanted for wise purposes. Without reference to the institution of marriage, which unites so many of them in the closest earthly bond, it was intended that each sex should exert great influence over the other. Whatever counteracts the designs of Providence, must be bad ; and we repeat, that woman cannot have her just influence where she deprives herself, in any degree, of her power of pleasing

In concluding this article, we should be glad, if we could, to add some sanction to these excellent precepts and principles which are scattered throughout the book-which spring from an enlightened humanity; and which, in most things, not relating to the artificial forms of society, are marked by good sense and high moral principle. But we must put our veto upon her mawkish sentiments about marriage, because we are unwilling that any woman should be indifferent in regard to it; or should form false and mistaken views of an institution which is the well-spring and pure fountain of all social happiness and civilization. We would have her thoughts turned towards it, and her mind fitted for it, as her probable and high destiny.

We protest, too, most earnestly, against the whole scope and spirit of the author's remarks upon • Behaviour to Gentlemen.” From whatever source they are derived, they depreciate the power of one sex and the virtue of the other; and have a tendency to give to their mutual intercourse associations degrading to both.

In regard to such a book, its style is comparatively a matter of so little consequence that we have forgotten to speak of it. It is extremely well written ; but it would have been a more agreeable as well as a more useful book, had there been less of detail in regard to many subjects already well understood, and more illustration connected with those of greater importance.

Art. IX.-- The Christian's Defensive Dictionary ; being an

alphabetical refutation of the general objections to the Bible, &c. By W. W. SLEIGH, the successful Advocate of Divine Revelation in the late Discussions with the NewYork and Philadelphia Infidels. Philadelphia: 1837. 12mo. pp. 437.

Nothing seems to take attention now-a-days unless it is out of the way, and calculated to startle and excite. The author of the book before us seems fully aware of this. He has not failed to make the discovery, that people, and especially in this country, must be addressed in a new and exciting manner. Accordingly, on his first arrival here, we find him advertising to prove, in a course of lectures on some branches of natural science, that all the objections against Scripture are " based on ignorance, insanity, or dishonesty ;” and, if we remember rightly, to show that infidelity is a “monomania.The lectures of the author were crowded with people anxious to hear the proof of these assertions, and among them were, of course, some of these very monomaniacs. They challenged Dr. Sleigh to a public discussion of the question of Christianity. This, as it turned out, was no very clear proof of their wisdom. The Doctor accepted the challenge, and boldly encountered the advocates of infidelity, in successive debates, in Philadelphia, New

York, and Boston. Whatever may be thought of the expediency of public discussions of this sort, which give to infidels the opportunity to state their sophistical objections to Christianity before multitudes in a promiscuous crowd, who would never otherwise have heard of their existence; we judge, from what we have heard from a variety of quarters, and from what we ourselves saw on some of these occasions, that this debate was assuredly productive of good. The champions of infidelity were routed on every point; their miserable quibbles and sneers turned back upon themselves ; and the cause of religion triumphantly vindicated from their objections.

The idea was subsequently suggested to Dr. Sleigh of assailing infidelity in another form, and the book before us is the result of that suggestion. It professes to be a refutation of the common objections of infidels, arranged alphabetically ; in other words, to use its title, it is "the Christian's Defensive Dictionary." Many will think, perhaps, there is scarcely any need now of new books on evidences of Christianity, that of works of this sort we have an abundance, and that nothing can be better than some of them are. Yet so long as there are infidels and sceptics, there is no objection to the publication of new works on the subject. Some will read new publications who would perhaps never examine those of established reputation. Besides, they are mostly composed, as a set treatise on any disputed point ought to be, as a regular argument, which it requires time to examine, and some effort of mind to comprehend. Most of them, too, give the direct evidences of Christianity ; touching only incidentally upon the other side of the question. But a dictionary of a small size, such as Dr. Sleigh's volume is, with its articles independent of each other, so as in each to be complete ; and its different subjects arranged alphabetically so as to be referred to in a moment to satisfy a doubt, to settle a dispute on a particular point, (and it is in the form of distinct and isolated points that difficulties arise in the popular mind), is not without some advantages of plan, and if executed with any thing like tolerable VOL. 1.-NO. II


ability, must be useful, precisely because it will be read, and may be read without effort and without trouble. A work not encumbered with profound discussions, not burdened with long articles, but thrown together in the ad captandum style, suits the ignorant and the half-learned. We have no doubt that Dr. Sleigh's “ Defensive Dictionary” will attract attention. Among the hundreds who have attended his discussions, and the thousands who have heard of his almost laughably triumphant defeat of the champions of Infidelity, there are multitudes who will buy the book, and read it, and keep it by them for reference, and quote it, and lend it. Many will examine it who have never in their lives read a treatise on the evidences; and many a one will read here and there an article, and then iurn to the other articles to which it may refer, that would never read any book continuously or long.

With feelings perlectly friendly to the author, we intend to speak of his work with freedom. There are things in it calculated to do good, but we regret to say it is marked with glaring faults, which exceedingly diminish its value, which will do harm; indeed, we fear the book, on the whole, is calculated to do more harm than good. We do not find fault with it because it is not perfect. It does not profess to be so. Nor is it of unavoidable imperfections and incidental blemishes—the maculæ quas incuria fuditwe speak. And yet, perhaps, it affords ground for complaint that the author should have permitted himself to dash off from his pen a stout volume like this, of more than four hundred pages, in less than three months. It does not indeed follow, that because a man writes fast, he will write badly, but it is very likely to be the case in a work like this; and it is very easy to discover in the “Defensive Dictionary” the crudities of haste and the defects of carelessness. We scarcely recollect to have seen a more striking specimen of a hastily composed book. How much it is to be regretted that advantage should hereby be given to the enemies of religion, will be strongly felt by every intelligent Christian who reads the work before us.

Some specifications will be expected of us to exemplify and sustain our judgment against our author. But our limits compel us to be brief.

First of all, then, the work strikes us as singularly different from what it professes to be. It is intended, and promises to be, a "refutation of the general objections against the Bible.” We have looked in vain for even an allusion to many difficulties and objections which infidels are in the habit of advancing; and very often, when difficulties and objections are re

ferred to, they receive no "refutation” whatever, and are met with nothing but statements and declarations unsustained by proof. The work, in truth, has more of the character of a Bible dictionary than that of an alphabetical refutation of infidel objections. Even this may be thought a vague and general condemnation : let us go into particulars.

Under the article “ Adam," Adam and Eve are said to have been mere children in knowledge ; and God is said to have selected the prohibition respecting a particular tree, because “no test of their obedience could possibly have been better suited and adapted to their infancy and childish understandings." (p. 24.) These assertions are perfectly gratuitous and unreasonable ; besides, in what an indefensible light does our anthor place the conduct of Almighty God. Where did our author learn that our first parents were "mere children” in understanding, in a state of intellectual “ infancy ? The inspired record does not say so, or even say any thing from which such an inference may be drawn. We know that Adam had, before his fall, the intelligence to "give names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;" and that whatsoever he called them, “that was the name thereof” by God's approval. He must have had, then, sense enough to perceive the prominent features and characters of each, since their names are known to represent these ; and this required no small degree of intelligence. Does this look like "childishness" of understanding?

In the same article (p. 25), Dr. Sleigh explains the penalty denounced against Adam, in the event of disobedience, to mean temporal death. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely become mortal.We believe he has given the true sense of the word:-whether it is the whole sense is another question. But we agree with him in thinking that the curse of mortality, liability to death, was meant by the words rendered thou shalt die." But how strangely he seems to forget this interpretation immediately after, in the very next page. There he represents Moses as using the expression, * thou shalt die,” without any explanation, as if totally regardless of the interpretation that might be put upoy it, and even as not caring whether or not it appeared to contradict his subsequent record that “ Adam lived 930 years.” This the Doctor adduces as an example of the fairness and boldness of Moses, and other sacred writers, in stating things just as they were, even when they seemed “contradictory or absurd." He asks, “what could appear to persons then, and now, more contradictory than these statements, ---viz: that Adam should

« PreviousContinue »