« EdellinenJatka »
the conscience—that regent de jure of all the soul's faculties. So his Lord's example teaches him. While the discourses of Christ were highly intellectual, they dealt most faithfully with the moral sense; they kept the heart in continual and vigorous action. It is only thus, indeed-as it would be easy to show at large—that gospel ministrations are of highest advantage to the mental powers. It is only thus, of course, that the soul's salvation can be secured. Let a minister so preach, that truth becomes with his hearers the object of mere intellection, and his discourse, however applauded, will be to them but“ a savor of death unto death."
It was said, also, that the conscience may be too exclusively addressed. However important, in some respects, its functions, it has no power of itself to purify the heart." It may be roused to intensest action, while depravity still rages and rules. It convinces of sin, but it melts not the soul into penitence; it produces of itself, neither faith, nor hope, nor charity, nor the peace of God. To this latter result, other appliances are essential. You must appeal to the heart. The fragrance of the divine goodness must be diffused around it-it must be bedewed with the tears, and bathed in the blood of Christ. The symphonies of heaven must steal sweetly over it. Thus, too, is the piety of God's people most advanced. How powerless, even as to them, is discourse mainly objurgatory! How often do they remain cold-hearted under it, and barren, and unprofitable; how often does it seem even to sear the conscience itself! Against the error now referred to, the preacher would be effectually secured by a close observance of his Lord's example. Christ did, indeed, as has been remarked, address the conscience most pungently; but knowing what is in man, he appealed not to that alone. While he reproves, he allures; while
he holds up with one hand the condemning law, he points with the other to the cross on which he hung, and to the mansions he has prepared for his followers.
The wisdom of his example is further manifest, as we recur to the suggestion, that even the heart may be disproportionately addressed. Deal with it to the comparative neglect of the intellect, and fanaticism is the natural result; a religion of mere feeling is engendered, of blind and bewildering impulses, of endless and perilous vagaries. Address it powerfully to the overlooking of conscience, and a miserably selfish piety will be likely to ensue. In place of self-denial, there will be real,
though perhaps covert, self-gratification ; and a specious but sinister utility will wear the honors which belong only to rectitude. How admirable were Christ's appeals, in that they were so happily balanced--to the heart, indeed, as we have said, but to the heart in fitting proportion ;-to the intellect and conscience in due measure also. To all the departments of our complex nature, but to all in perfect symmetry.
There is another, and that a crowning excellence of Christ's preaching, which we may not fail to notice. We refer to its affectionateness. Our readers are familiar with the ancient and oft-quoted maxim,
“Si vis me flere dolendum est Primum ipsi tibi.” “ If you wish me to weep, you must first manifest emotion yourself.” Most felicitously has Goethe expressed this same sentiment:
" Persuasion, friend, comes not by toil or art;
My worthy friend, is this :-to have one of your own!* To secure the highest ends of sacred eloquence, however, regard must be had to the kind, as well as the degree of emotion. It is very possible for the preacher to be highly excited, in view not so much of the truth he unfolds, in itself considered, or in its momentous applications, as of the intellectual processes to which he subjects it; the nice discrimination, the profound analysis, the lucid arrangement, the strict and conclusive ratiocination. He may be like the hireling painter, who feels little interest in the countenance before him, but is delighted with his own imitation of it, with the rapidity and perfectness with which he transfers it to the canvass. Emotion of this sort will have little effect on the mass of hearers. The preacher's sympathies must pass beyond his subject, considered simply as such, to th
Translated by A. A. Everett. SECOND SERIES, VOL. IX. NO. I. 17
souls he seeks to save. He must show himself interested in their fearful state-not merely as a theme of discourse, but as an object of affecting contemplation—if he would hope to preach successfully. In other words, he must manifest in his preaching deep and unaffected love for souls. With what a charm does love invest even the simplest forms of speech! It makes the severest reproof comparatively grateful. Let a frown becloud your brow, and angry words fall from your lips, and however pointed and just your censure, however cogent your arguments for reform, they will be all in vain. You will meet with a cold, and perhaps disdainful repulse. But go to an erring fellow-man, under the strong impulses of benevolence, let your tones be tremulous with compassion, and the dew of kindness
your eye; let your words be fraught with tenderness, and your whole demeanor bespeak deep and disinterested regard; and if the case be not utterly hopeless, your pleading will be prevalent. Oh, there is nothing like the eloquence of love! The doomed man in his dungeon, all blood-stained and hard-hearted, is melted by it, and becomes, the while, like a little child. You may sit by his side, and open before him the dark catalogue of his crimes; you may expatiate upon them, you may appeal most powerfully to his slumbering conscience; all this you may do, though many a cold-hearted intruder has been driven with curses from his cell, if your tears do but fall while you speak. You can say to men, indeed, just what you please -you can do with them, we had almost added, just what you will—if they do but see evidence that you love them.
Now in the blessed and potent quality of kindness, the speech of Christ was unrivalled. He is in this respect, as well as others, a perfect model for the preacher. God is said to be love itself: and Christ was love incarnate. The savor of that same compassion which led him to the cross, was diffused through all his discourses. Well might the people wonder“ at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” Even with his most fearful rebukes, what expressions of tenderness were often linked! It was on the same occasion when he said to the Jews, " Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell," that he exclaimed also, “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings!" How does the example of Christ forbid in his ministers all harshness and bitterness of speech! How does it frown on a denunciatory spirit! With what sweet enforcement does it call for kindness and gentleness, for “ bowels of compassion," and pleadings fraught with love.
Such are some of the leading characteristics of our Lord's preaching. Such is the perfect and delightful pattern which the Bible holds forth to every minister of the gospel. How important to every preacher, we remark in conclusion, is intimate acquaintance with Christ! How desirable that he should so study the record of our Lord's ministry, as to catch the very spirit and manner of his preaching, just as by familiarity with some lored and venerated friend, we acquire often his very tones, and gestures, and forms of speech. Of other models of eloquence, he need not, he should not be ignorant. He may listen to the orators of ancient time. He may linger a while even in the heathen forum, and may give his ear to the more eloquent of the Christian fathers. He may seek improvement in the study of the more modern pulpit. No little advantage will he gain from familiarity with such eminent preachers as Baxter, and Howe, and Leighton, and Edwards, and Whitefield. But they are all imperfect models. He should turn from them all, at last, to him who spake as never man spake. With him he should commune, till as he opens his lips in the sacred desk, the very manner of his preaching shall remind his hearers of Christ, and they shall take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus. The word of such a man is seldom in vain. It contains within itself the most potent elements of moral suasion : and according, as it does, with the mind of Christ, he delights to crown it with his blessing.
Review of LIFE AND WRITINGS OF EBENEZER PORTER Mason.
By Rev. William B. Sprague, Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Albany.
Life and Writings of Ebenezer Porter Mason, interspersed with Hints to Parents and Instructors on the Training and Education of a Child of Genius. By Denison Olmstead, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy in Yale College. New York: Dayton & Newman.
We are free to acknowledge that our interest in Biography has been, in these latter years, not a little diminished by the flood of insipid and trashy productions that has come in upon us in this department of our literature. It is within our recollection that a new biographical work was comparatively a rare thing; and the fact that an individual had a book written about him was regarded as some evidence that he was not a mere common-place character : but the aggregate amount of excellence belonging to these works has not increased in proportion to their number. If there are still some beautiful monuments erected to departed merit, there are not wanting pens that are ready to immortalize departed mediocrity, if not departed dullness. The reasons of this are various. Sometimes it is to be traced to the indiscreet partiality of friendship; sometimes to the commendable wish to aid some young inan in his education by the sale of the book; and possibly sometimes to a mistaken desire to figure on a small scale in the character of an author. There are some stars of this kind taking their places from time to time in our literary horizon, which we trust will shine for ages; but not a small part of these publications, instead of being stars, are mere fire-flies of the night, which shine only long enough to let us know they have existed.
We have two or three grounds of objection to this as it seems to us characteristic feature of the times. In the first place, admitting the character to possess no special interest, it is an act of injustice to the subject of the narrative that he should be dragged before the public after he is dead, just to receive a verdict of having done nothing and been nothing, that should