Page images

CUSTOM Seems to have rendered it almost neces- | mistakes both on the right hand, and on the left.— sary, for an Author never to appear before the Public without a Preface; in which something, if not concerning himself, yet concerning his work, is looked for, as a respect due to his readers. Yet Rousseau says, it is a part of the book never read, unless by women and children. The author, how ever, indulges a hope that this is not very extensively true; since, in writing the following introductory remarks, he certainly intended, as will appear from their length, something more than a ceremonious conformity to example.

The design of this Series of Lectures was-to diversify a little the ordinary course of ministerial instruction to excite and secure attention by a degree of allowable novelty and curiosity-and to bring together various things pertaining to the same subject; so that they might aid each other in illustration and improvement, by their arrangement and


But why are they published? The writer is aware what an abundance of religious works is perpetually issuing from the press; and he would not wonder, if some should think that he has too often appeared before the public already. Yet he trusts an author is not necessarily supposed to say to his readers, "Now attend only to me." Surely many publications may be serviceable for different purposes, and in different degrees; and a writer may be allowed to conclude, that the production of his pen may obtain a measure of welcome and useful attention-without the vanity of supposing that it is superior to every other, or the folly of expecting that it is to supersede any other. If, too, the author be a public teacher, and has met with acceptance, it is natural to suppose that he will secure a considerable number of connections more immediately his own, and who will be rather partial to the writer, for the sake of the preacher. Such was the case here. In two or three days after this Course of Lectures was finished, a large number of copies was called and subscribed for, by those who had heard them.Many of these applicants were persons whose opinion and desire would have had weight with any one who knew them; while all of them had claims upon the preacher, as stated, or occasional parts of

his audience.

The author can truly say that he yielded to publish, with a reluctance which only an ascertained earnestness could have overcome. Yet he is now glad, especially with regard to his own audience, that the importunity was expressed, and has been complied with. For nearly thirty-five years he has been laboring to serve his present charge, in the unity of the Spirit, and in the bond of peace, and he hopes he may add, in righteousness of life: and though he commenced his connection young, yet such a period strikes far into the brevity of human life, and calls upon him to think, and feel, and act, with increasing seriousness and diligence, knowing that the night cometh, wherein no man can work; and to be concerned that after his decease, his people may be able to have the things he has spoken always in remembrance. The work, therefore, as a brief epitome of his preaching, will serve as a kind of ministerial legacy to be perused, particularly by the younger members of his church and congregation, when the clods of the valley will be sweet about him; and by which, though dead, he may yet speak --perhaps, in some cases, to more purpose than while living. The work may tend to correct some pious

It contains many of the author's views on important subjects, after considerable experience and observation. For such remarks his station has been favorable, and his opportunities numerous; especially from the variety and latitude of his religious intercourse. This has never been confined to Christians of his own denomination. He has not suffered prejudice so to magnify-what his convictions might have led him to consider the mistakes or imperfections of any who differ from him-as to make him overlook their excellences as individuals or communities; or to prevent his mingling with them in company, and co-operating with them in services; or to deprive him of that pleasure and profit which he knows may be derived from those who cannot frame to pronounce exactly the Shibboleth of a spiritual tribe. He has always preferred to study religion, not in its abstractions, but in its subjects; not in its speculative opinions, but in its practical principles; not in its distant generalities, but in its appropriated and particular influences. He has always endeavored to follow it out, from its too common confinement in certain notions, seasons, and services, into actual and ordinary life; and to esteem and applaud it only in proportion as it exerts and displays itself in that "wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without parțiality and without hypocrisy."

This may in some measure account for the desire which has given rise to the publication. For it is to be presumed, that there will be some considerable conformity between the views of a minister and the people of his charge after a voluntary, long, and perfectly affectionate connection. It is certain that these Lectures would not have been completely congenial with the taste of some hearers. They would in any course of religious discussion have said, "We want more of doctrine, and more of Christ." Now we are far from treating these terms themselves with contempt or disrespect. We love the doctrines of the gospel; and believe that it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. We attach importance to evangelical truth; and have no notion of piety without principle, or of good fruit but from a good tree-This is our creed: "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Yet, we cannot be ignorant that the complaint we have supposed, is too often the whining and seditious jargon of a party; and the very last party in the world we should ever consult with regard to preaching. These desperate adherents to something not easily fixed and definable in sentiment, but always accompanied with a spirit as well known and invariable in its operation, as any of the laws of nature; are, in spiritual things, what some discontented zealots are in political; and as the latter render the cause of rational liberty suspicious and despicable, so the former disserve and disgrace the cause of evangelical religion-They are gospel radicals. They are not always even moral: they are never amiable. They neither pursue nor think upon the things that are lovely, and of good report. They set at nought all sacred relations, proprieties, and decencies; while many of them abandon family worship, and leave their children without any ai

tempts to bring them into the way everlasting, not ing is commendable; but they view the desideratum knowing but they may be some of those against in too confined an import. They think it, if not whom God "has sworn to have indignation for improper, yet needless, for a minister to inculcate ever," and not daring to go before him, or to be pro- many things which he must feel to be binding upon fane enough to take the work out of his hands.- him. "Oh!" say they, "the grace of God will Self-willed are they; self-confident; presumptuous; teach people all this." The grace of God will incensorious; condemnatory of all that are not initia-cline and enable us to do all this: but it is the Bible ted into their temper and exclusións. With regard that teaches. This contains all our religious inforto their ministers, they are not learners, but judges;mation; and we only want to be led into all truth. and often make a man an offender for a word. In The sacred writers never left these things to be hearing, all is fastidiousness. Appetite has given taught by the grace of God, without instruction.— place to lusting. They go to the house of God, not They never intrusted them to inference. They parfor wholesome food, but for something to elevate ticularized and enforced them. There is not one and intoxicate. The preacher is nothing, unless he of Paul's Epistles, a large proportion of which might can make them drink and forget their duty, and re-not have been spared as impertinent, upon this plea : member their danger no more. Their religion is for as surely as the former parts lay the foundation entirely an impersonal thing, any further than as doctrinally, the latter, labor to build us up on our it consists in belief and delusion. They look for all most holy faith. But these would restrain a public in Christ, not as the only source from which it can teacher from the extensiveness of the gospel itself. be received unto us-this is truth-but as the only They would oblige him to hold forth Christianity residence in which it is to remain, while they them- only in the first rudiments, not in the advanced selves continue the same. They are complete in science. They would confine him to a kind of abhim-not as to the all sufficiency provided in him stract inculcation of a small class of principles; for their actual and entire recovery; but without which principles are indeed unspeakably important, their being new creatures. They look after nothing yet lose much of their importance, by being accomin themselves-and nothing in themselves should be panied with certain alliances, and developments, looked for as the ground of their acceptance with and applications. Yea, they would not willingly God, or as self-derived or self-sustained: but they allow him to do more than constantly iterate from look after nothing in themselves even as the effect Sabbath to Sabbath, a few well-known and favored of divine agency and communication-forgetful of sentiments, in a manner the most undeviating, and the inspired prayer, "Create in me a clean heart, in phraseology the most hacknied. They prefer a O God, and renew a right spirit within me:" re- scheme of divinity drawn up by some fallible felgardless of the assertion, "It is God that worketh low-creature, to the Scripture at large, which, like in you to will and to do of his good pleasure:" sub- God's other works, no one can perfectly systematize; verting the promise, "Then will I sprinkle clean but in which, as in Nature, we have, instead of mewater upon you, and ye shall be clean and from chanism, infinite freshness, and richness, and varieall your filthiness and from all your idols will I ty, and irregularity; that is, order beyond our reach. cleanse you; a new heart also will I give unto you, They are sure, if not to oppose, yet not to aid; if and a new spirit also will I put within you; and I not to stigmatize, yet not to countenance and apwill put my Spirit within you, and cause you to plaud, any attempt the preacher shall make to exwalk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judg- tend the views of his hearers; to improve their unments and do them." Their state is not a condition derstandings; to lead them through the whole land to be submitted to any process of trial-as those ene- of Revelation in the length and breadth thereof; in mies to Christian comfort would have it, who ad- a word, to do any thing that would follow up the monish persons to examine themselves whether they recommendation of the Apostle, "Leaving thereare in the faith; and to prove their ownselves; and fore the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us to give all diligence to make their calling and elec- go on unto perfection." tion sure. Their peace requires that all this should, Here the Lecturer is unspeakably happy in being without hesitation, be taken for granted; while every able to say to the people he addresses, Ye have thing is to be cried down as unbelief that would dare not so learned Christ." He, therefore, felt no emto lead them to question, for an instant, their secu-barrassment in the study or in the delivery of these rity, or to keep them from being at ease in Zion.-discourses. He had only to consult his own conThe sinner is not only guilty, but diseased-but victions, and was not necessitated to think of the they are concerned only to remove the sentence of likings or dislikings of a sickly fancy, a perverted condemnation, while the disorder is left. They ab- orthodoxy, a party spirit, or an anathematizing solve, but not heal: they justify, but not renovate. bigotry. Neither would he ever consent to officiate The king's daughter is all glorious within, while in any congregation where he could not stand fast her clothing is of wrought gold-with them the in the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free. righteousness of Christ is a fine robe to cover a fil- This freedom he thinks a preacher cannot too highthy body. All their sin, past, present, and future, ly value and assert in the discharge of his work-A is so completely done away, that it were folly to feel freedom from the fear of man that bringeth a snare anguish on the account of it. Their miscarriages -inducing and enabling him to say, as he rises from are not theirs; but those of sin that dwelleth in his knees to enter the pulpit, them. Their imperfections are regretless, because unavoidable-no man can keep alive his own soul. Now we are willing to concede that all those from whom we occasionally hear complaints, do not go into these lengths; and we are persuaded that were these worthier individuals perfectly informed con--A freedom (whatever advantages they may afford cerning the men we have very truly but inadequate-him by their collectiveness and arrangements) from ly sketched, they would exclaim, "My soul, come the fetterings and exclusiveness of human systems not thou into their secret; and mine honor, to their of theology-a freedom from the least sense of any 'system' be not thou united." Yet they sometimes obligation requiring him, in the interpretation and murmur, as if in sympathy with them; and borrow improvement of any passage of Scripture before him, their language, unconscious whose technicality it is; to force its natural and obviovs meaning into any and are in danger that their good should be evil frame of Arminian, or Calvinistic theory or authori spoken of. To be strenuous for evangelical preach-ty--A freedom also from spiritual favoritism, and

"Careless, myself a dying man,
Of dying men's esteem;
Happy, O God, if thou approve,
Though all beside condemn."

which might lead him, from partiality, to shun to declare all the counsel of God, as well as from timidity.

May the author be permitted to plead for a freedom of another kind -An exemption from a wish to gratify the few, at the expense of the profit of many: an exemption from fastidiousness of composition and address: an exemption from such a primness of diction, as admits of the introduction of no anecdote, however chaste, and shuts out the seizure of all hints suggested by present feelings and occurrences: an exemption from the too serious apprehension of little faults in seeking to secure great impressions. Here, to the intimidation and checking of the preacher, how often is he told of the dignity of the pulpit-as if there was any worthy, or real dignity in a case like this, separate from utility! | What is the highest, and should be the most admired dignity in the preacher-but an apparent forgetfulness of every claim, but his object; and such an absorbing solicitude for the attainment of it, as leaves him unable to notice inferior things? With out such an impression, no man can do a great work gracefully; for if in the execution he is observed to be alive and attentive to any littleness, it will revolt the beholder, instead of pleasing him. An officer in the midst of action, will be all occupied in urging and completing the conflict-what should we think of him if he turned aside after a butterfly, or showed himself at liberty to mind and adjust his ring, or his dress? Let a preacher be as correct as possible; but let him think of founding his consequence upon something above minuteness and finesse. Let him never imagine that his influence, or dignity, will ever be impaired by his feeling and displaying a noble elevation; an indifference to every thing else while the love of Christ bears him away, and he is lost, in endeavoring to save a soul from death, and to hide a multitude of sins. There is nothing with which a preacher should be less satisfied than a tame correctness, or his producing something that will bear criticism, but which is as devoid of excellence as it is free from defect. He that winneth souls is wise. What is every other praise of an instrument, if it does not answer its end? What is every other commendation of a preacher, if he be useless? unimpressive? uninteresting? What is it, that nothing is complained of, if nothing is applauded? What is it, that nothing offends, if nothing strikes? What is the harangue that dies in the hearing, and leaves nothing for the hearers to carry away, to think of in solitude, and to speak of in company? What but a fault is the smoothness of address, that prevents every excitement that would rend by terror, or melt by tenderness? A sermon may resemble a French Drama that observes inviolably all the unities, and challenges severity as a finished piece; but excites no sentiment, and produces no effect. But give us rather the Shakspeare, who, with blemishes which a less shrewd observer than Voltaire may detect, actually succeeds; arrests; inspires; and enchants. We need not plead for coarseness or faults. A speaker may be animated, yet decorous and orderly too; but in popular addresses, if either fails, it is far better to sacrifice correctness to impression, than effect a nicety of endeavor. Let the squeamishly hypercritical remember that he is laboring to little purpose while consuming his time and attention in subile accuracies, and polished dulness. And let the man who is in earnest about his work, never vield to an under anxiety resulting from the possibility of a trifling mistake; and which, as Gray says of penury, would repress his noble rage and chill the genial current of his soul. Let him feel his subject, and follow his ardor, recollecting that great excellences or impressions will redeem small failures;

and even prevent their being noticed-unless by the little and perverse-minded, who only sit to discover and remark any minute impropriety-adders to every thing else in the charmer, charm he never so wisely.

There is also some difference between the heat of delivery and the coolness of review; between the leisure and discrimination of readers-and hearers. More freedom therefore will be permitted in preaching than in publishing; and what the press may forbid, the pulpit may tolerate. Yea, the pulpit may require it, especially for the sake of a large part of the congregation. For these, though they have not the advantage of culture, yet have souls as well as others, and their moral wants must be attended to. Now a preacher need not grovel down to the lowest level of the vulgar; yea, he should always take his aim a little above them; in order to raise and improve their taste: but he must not soar out of their sight and reach. Yet he may be tempted to this by the presence of others. But let him remember, that those who are more educated and refined, ought, not only to endure, but to commend his accommodation; yea, and they will commend, instead of censuring him, if they are really concerned for the welfare of their brethren less privileged than themselves. If they are benevolent and pious, as well as intelligent, they will always be more pleased with a discourse suited to general comprehension and improvement, than with a preparation, which, in other circumstances, they might relish as an intellectual treat for themselves. To which we may add, that there is not so great a difference here as some mistaken and elaborate orators imagine. Genuine simplicity knows a mode, which while it extends to the poor and unlearned, will equally please their superiors. For

'So it is when the mind is endued

With a well-judging taste from above;
Then, whether embellished or rude,
'Tis nature alone that we love.

"The achievements of art may amuse,·
May even our wonder excite;
But groves, hills, and valleys diffuse
A lasting, a sacred delight.

In one of his charges, Archbishop Usher says to his clergy, "How much learning and wisdom, my brethren, are necessary to make these things plain !" Could he have said any thing more fine and judicious than this? Here is the proper direction and exertion of a minister's talents, whether natural or acquired. They are not to unfit him for any part of his office-which they may easily do, at the stimulation of vanity or pride; but to qualify and aid him the better to perform it. It is to be feared that some do not employ their abilities to make things plain-if they do, we can but lament their deploraBut it would seem as if their ble want of success. aim was to dazzle, rather than enlighten; to surprise, rather than inform; to raise admiration at their difficult composition, rather than with the Apostles to use great plainness of speech. Even their claim to originality often regards only the mode of representation. The ideas which they wish to pass off as new, when examined, are found only commonplace sentiments. The well is not really deep; but you cannot see to the bottom, because of their contrivance to make the water muddy. They are not really tall; and so they strain on tiptoe.They have not a native beauty that always appears to most advantage without finery; and so they would make up the deficiency by excess, and complexity, and cumbersomeness of ornament. He who cannot rise in the simple grandeur of a morning sun, can excite notice by the gaudy brilliancy of

manufactured fireworks; and flame and sparkle down, as well as up. To notice in some respects a style that has been constructed (for it could hardly have been involuntary) so inverted, involved, obscure, difficult-half blank verse; might seem to be going out of the author's province. He leaves, therefore, others to remark, that this style, though it may be extolled by the lower orders of professional men, and half-educated artisans, and exciteable youth, with a smattering of science and a bad taste; it will never obtain the approbation of the really judicious and discerning. He leaves others to remark, that it is disdained by scholars, and at war with classical purity. Lord Kaimes tells us, that in every language, clearness of expression and simplicity of thought are the first marks of elegance. Milton observes, that nothing accords with true genius but what appears easy and natural when once it is produced. Agreeably to which, Addison says, that the secret of fine writing is, for the sentiments to be natural, without being obvious; and contends, that what produces surprise without being simple, will never yield lasting pleasure to the mind. Hume, in his Essay on Refinement and Simplicity in Style, comes soon to this conclusion: that it is better to err in the excess of simplicity, than in the excess of refinement; the former extreme being more beautiful and less dangerous than the latter. He observes, that the works read again and again with so much pleasure, all lean more to the one side than to the other-that it is increasingly needful to be guarded against the extreme of refinement when learning has made much progress, and good writers appear in every species of composition; as men will then be the more tempted to endeavor to please by strangeness and novelty, and so fill their writings with affectation and conceits-and that simplicity may be lost, not only in subtlety, but in effort and straining; and nature and ease be buried under an artificial load of laborious diffusion.

But while the preacher leaves others to speak upon this subject as a literary question, it cannot be improper for him to notice it in another and far more important connection; and to deprecate the adoption of such a style in divinity, and to warn his younger brethren against every approach and tendency towards it. For how perfectly is it unlike the language of inspiration! What an entire contrast does form with the simplicity there is in Christ Jesus! And how useless must such hard and unintelligible diction be to ordinary minds! And who are the mass in almost every audience? They, who are often comparatively neglected, if not despised, there. Leighton, and Watts, and a thousand other names, whose works praise them in the gate, and are now useful to all might have been so written as to be useless to many. Had our Saviour felt the low ambition of some, he might easily have been beyond the comprehension and the attraction of the multitude. In him were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He spake as never man spake. But was it a proof against his manner, or the highest recommendation of it, that the common people heard him gladly; and that all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth? The author would not for the world be in the condition of that preacher whose attendants do not, cannot say, "Here the poor have the gospel preached unto them." They not only need it, and should excite our compassion by their temporal privations and sufferings, as well as by their spiritual condition; but they are capable of understanding, and receiving, and admiring it. Learning is not necessary here. The doctrines of the gospel are not the result of research, but testimony. There are funds of good sense and good feeling in the common people, as well as in others;

and they are even capable of appreciating what is truly superior in preaching, if it be properly presented and illustrated. The fault is always much more with the preacher than with them. He does not adapt himself to those he professes to teach; he does not make them his aim; he does not study them; he does not throw himself into their modes and habits of thinking and feeling; he has nothing simple and natural in his official being. They understand and relish the Pilgrim's Progress; and the history of Joseph; and the parable of the lost sheep, and of the prodigal son. They are easily informed and impressed by the sayings of our Lord, and the language of the Scriptures. But nothing is to be done in them without excitement; and they are addressed without emotion. Their very understandings must be approached through their imaginations and passions; and they are lectured as if they had none. They are never to be starved into a surrender; and they are circumvallated and trenched at a distance. They are only to be taken by an assault; and they are slowly and formally besieged. They want familiar and seasonable imagery; and to show the preacher's learning, they are furnished with allusions taken from the arts and sciences.— They want striking sentences, and the words of the wise, which are as goads and as nails; and they have long and tame paragraphs. They only want truths to be brought home to their consciences, for they admit them already; and they are argued and reasoned into confusion, or doubt. They want precedents; and are furnished with precepts. They want instances; and are deadened by discussions. The want facts; and are burdened with reflections.

The Bible adapts itself to the state of our nature; and knowing how little all are, and how little many can be affected with abstract representations of virtues and duties, it blends religion with history and biography; so that while we read the rule, we may see the exemplification; and be reproved, excited, and encouraged, while we are informed. It is not a series of logical definitions, like dead bodies well laid out and dressed-all is life and motion. It gives us actions rather than words. We view the fruits of righteousness growing on the tree. We have, not the pilgrimage, but the pilgrim; and go along with him from the city of destruction to the shining city. We are not spectators only; we are his companions; we are interested in all he meets with; we weep when he weeps, and rejoice when he rejoices. It is not Christianity that is set before us, but the Christian; and we attend him following his Saviour, denying himself, taking up his cross, resisting temptation, struggling with unwearied patience through a thousand difficulties, braving with fortitude every danger, and emerging out into glory, honor, and immortality. By nothing can the attention of children be so effectually caught as by facts and narratives; and "men are but children of a larger growth." What is the greater part of the Old Testament but history? There is scarcely a Psalm, but refers to some fact in the experience of the composer. What are the prophets, but historians by anticipation? Many of them state various past, and cotemporary events. The book of Jonah has only one prediction in it; but it describes in a most vivid and interesting manner, the actual and wonderful occurrences that befell the bearer himself. How pleasing and striking are the short and simple annals of Ruth! What is the book of Job but the matchless dramatic story of a good man in his affluence, his adversity, and his deliverance ?— In the book of Genesis, we are present at the creation, the destruction, and the re-peopling of the world; we live, we travel, we worship with the patriarchs; we stand round their dying beds. It is needless to add, that the remainder of the Penta

teuch, with the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, are all of the narrative kind, including general and individual sketches of the most wonderful people on earth. But what is the gospel itself, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Is it any thing like our treatises and bodies of divinity? It is the history of the Son of God: While the Acts are a portion of the history of the Apostles: and the Epistles are evermore enlivened with characters, incidents, and allusions. Is this the work of God? Does he know perfectly what is in man, and necessary to him? Has he herein abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence? Is it not, then, surprising that religious instructers should not think it necessary or desirable to resemble him? And can any thing be more unlike this inspired, and attractive, and irresistible, and impressive mode, than the structure of many of the discourses that are delivered in our public assemblies? Hence, they awaken so little attention; and yield so little pleasure; and take no firm hold on the mind and feelings, especially of the young and the common people


of illustration and confirmation, and some with another: and he whose mind was wandering or heedless at first, may haply be seized afterward. For precept must be upon precept, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. And the preacher will often see by the look and manner of a hearer that what he failed to accomplish by a first stroke, has been done by a second.

The author is perhaps furnishing materials with which to condemn himself. And let him be condemned, as far as he deviates from these rules. He is fully persuaded of their goodness and truth. He can only say, it has long been his endeavor to conform to them. Upon the same principles he has acted with regard to a few other things, in which, if he has erred, he has erred from design. Such is the large use he has made of Scripture language. If holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, we should prefer the words the Holy Ghost useth. They are surely, on their own subjects, the most definite and significant. They are also well known: and it is a great advantage in addressing hearers that we are not perplexed with terms and phrases; but have those at hand which they understand.-What a difficulty do we feel in dealing with those who are ignorant not only of the doctrine, but the letter, of the Scripture. It is probable that a very judicious critic and eloquent Divine* would censure the author as in an extreme here; yet he seems to allow it to be an error on the safer side; and thinks that a great and original writer has condemned the copious use of Scripture language with too much severity. We avail ourselves of his striking remarks, in his review of Mr. Foster's Essays. "To say nothing of the inimitable beauties of the Bible, considered in a literary view, which are universally acknowledged; it is the book which every devout man is accustomed to consult as the oracle of God; it is the companion of his best moments, and the vehicle of his strongest conIntimately associated in his mind with

"And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds." General declamations and reflections do little in a popular audience. The preacher must enter into detail, and do much by circumstances. Nothing can penetrate, but what is pointed. Every indictment must particularize and specify. The eye may take in a large prospect; but we are affected by inspection. We must not stand long with our people on the brow of the hill, showing them a wide and indistinct expansion, but take them by the hand, and lead them down to certain spots and objects. We are to be characteristic-not only with regard to persons, though this is of great importance, but also with regard to vice and virtue, faults and excellenTo what purpose is it to admonish servants to be good? The question is, in what is their goodness to appear? Therefore, says the Apostle, "Ex-solation. hort servants to be obedient to their own masters, every thing dear and valuable, its diction more powand to please them well in all things; not answering erfully excites devotional feelings than any other; again; not purloining, but showing all good fideli- and when temperately and soberly used, imparts an ty, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Sa-unction to a religious discourse which nothing else viour in all things." Does Solomon only condemn drunkenness? What is there in the wretched crime; in its excitement, progress, evil, danger, misery, that he does not strike? "Who hath wo? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright: at the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thy heart shall utter perverse things: yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not; when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again."

A preacher must also indulge in a certain degree of diffusiveness. He who passes rapidly from one thing to another is not likely to impress, or indeed even to inform the majority of his audience. To affect them, he must commonly dwell upon the thought a little; and sometimes more than a little; even with an enlargedness that may seem needless; and with a repetition in other words and exemplifications, that may go for tautology, with persons of quicker apprehensiveness. Hints will please the scholar, and set his own mind pleasingly in motion; and he can instantly add from his own stores. But many have nothing but what they receive. Besides, some are more struck with one species or instance

can supply. Besides, is there not room to apprehend that a studied avoidance of the Scripture phraseology, and a care to express all that it is supposed to contain in the forms of classical diction, might ultimately lead to the neglect of the Scriptures themselves, and a habit of substituting flashy and superficial declamation, in the room of the saving truths of the gospel? Such an apprehension is but too much verified by the most celebrated sermons of the French; and still more by some modern compositions in our own language, which usurp that title. For devotional impression, we can conceive that a very considerable tincture of the language of Scripture, or at least such a coloring as shall discover an intimate acquaintance with those inimitable models, will generally succeed best."

If it be allowed from all these considerations, that the language of the Bible has such claims, will it not follow that the frequent use of it, will tend to bring the preacher's own language into some degree of keeping with it? Surely that style is best for religious instruction which most easily and congenially incorporates the composition of the Bible with it. This is not the case with some modes of writing and speaking. But if there be unsuitableness, and difficulty, and discordancy, in the junction; which is to blame? and which requires to be altered in order to their readier coalescence? the language of Scripture, or our own? Knox has affirmed, that no writer or speaker will ever be so tender,

* Mr. Hall.

« PreviousContinue »