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Reviews of Books

The Song of the Cross, and the Chant of the Labor of Satan, by James MacBeth. Cloth and gold. The Theosophical Publishing Company, 3 Langham Place, London, W. Mr. MacBeth is a spiritual poet of no mean order; but he is more than this, he is also a prophet, and he sings of Love and Peace, and the ultimate emancipation of man. In this, his latest work, he has embodied his prophetic utterances in a series of prose-poems of singular spiritual beauty. So delicate and ethereal are they that they can only appeal to the few whose spiritual ear is more or less attuned to the finer harmonies of the soul of nature. The work is divided into four distinct parts. In the first part, The Song of the Cross, he sings of the painful evolution of the soul from the terrestrial mire to the celestial habitations. In the second part, The Chant of the Labor of Satan, his song is of the woes of man, of his degradation and sin, but also of his ultimate victory and bliss, for the author recognizes all evil as leading at last to good. The third and fourth parts consist of a series of strikingly original songs, written in a strain of mingled plaintiveness and exultant fire, on spiritual themes. In a few words "To the Reader," the author requests each one to take from the book just that which appeals to him, and to leave that which he cannot receive, which is good and elevating counsel. We select the following piece as a good example of the author's work:—"Sing then, ye servants of righteousness on earth, ye priests of God among men, all ye who are ordained by Love to serve in the temple of the Lord of life, even the whole body of our creation. Exult, exult, O ye martyrs to the cause of man, the body for love of whom ye suffered, will suffer no more. Be glad, ye ministers of the grace of the Christ-soul, the day of the shedder of innocent blood, the day of the strong devourer has passed away. Shout, Shout for joy, ye prophet of the Highest, the fair dream that gladdened your heart during many nights (alas, only to awake to a weary disillusionment in the grey morning) is now realized. The Man has come; your strong one is with you; your ideal is standing before you."

The Amen of the Unlearned, by M. C. E., cloth. Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, London, E.C. This, as the sub-title explains, is "A Lay Commentary," and whoever the unknown author may be, he certainly manifests an unusual degree of insight into the ethical significance of the New Testament records. In his twenty-three sketches, there is none of the heaviness which is usually regarded as the unavoidable accompaniment of Scriptural commentary; on the other hand, he is entertaining and fascinating to a degree. His opening piece, "The Touch of Nature in St. Paul," reveals St. Paul, in his divine strength and human weakness, most vividly; and in "St. Luke as an Artist," the writer of the third Gospel appears as a highly educated and versatile man, and probably of Greek nationality. The great beauty of the book, however, resides in the simple moral interpretations of Biblical texts with which it abounds. The writer, with deep spiritual acumen, recognizes that the ethical is above and altogether independent of the miraculous; he says, "No miracle can prove an ethical proposition. The proof of harmony lies in the ear, and the proof of ethics in the conscience." He also recognizes that "the existence of a Divine element in human nature is a truth involved in the cardinal doctrines of Christianity." The book will be read with deep interest by all who believe in the application of Scripture to everyday life and conduct.

Vigil and Vision, by William H. Phelps. Published at the Sign of the Unicorn, 7 Cecil Court, London, cloth bound; price not given. This is a book of 89 pages, containing a Sonnet on each page. In his introductory Sonnet, the author modestly avows himself "a simple wordsman, lacking music's truth." There is, however, music in his lines, and a good degree of poetical talent is manifested in the construction of the Sonnets. The cover and index page are quaintly printed.

The Art of Being Happy, by Rev. Charles A. Hall, published by Alexander Gardner, Paisley, is a pretty little book outwardly, and inwardly is sweetly instructive. The author's message is to the effect that true and lasting happiness is only to be found in unselfishness, and not, as the majority believe, in change of circumstances. He says, "Let it not be believed that any external circumstances, or combination of circumstances, can bestow happiness. Often do we hear it said, 'I could be happy with an income of £10,000 a year,' or 'I should be as happy as the day is long could I but reside in such and such places.' Yet, when these desires are gratified, are the recipients any happier? Sometimes they are much more miserable." It is a good book for Truth-seeking people.

A Booklet of Visions, by Seimmal Eisroh. Published by Elliot Stock, 62 Patemoster Row, London, E.C. (price not given), is an artistic booklet of 30 pages, consisting of a few short "Visions" symbolical of spiritual things.

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James Allen

James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.

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