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We may perhaps be thought to have been speaking rather in the language of panegyric than of criticism.' And we confess we have felt no inclination to point out faults in a volume, upon the whole so excellent. Indeed for ourselves we may say, that we do not perceive any faults in sentiment, doctrine, or morals, though we might, if this were the place, point out some of a rhetorical or literary nature. But these are of secondary importance. It is sermons like these which do bonour to our religion, and improve the state of Christianity. It is sermons like these, that we wish to have printed and read. Above all, it is such as these, that we wish to have preached. In the high standard of moral excellence they present, in their celestial spirit of piety, their rational and sober and practical views of life, duty, and responsibility, in their animation, their fervor, and directness of address, in all these respects they are specimens of what the discourses of christian ministers ought to be; addresses equally to the understanding and the affections, the reason and the conscience, the intellectual, and moral, and spiritual nature of man. Preachers appear sometimes to forget that men have affections, and speak to them as mere intellect; sometimes to forget that they have understandings, and appeal solely to their passions; sometimes to imagine that all are scholars, and employ language which, to the majority of bearers, is an unknown tongue. In some sermons, the whole connexion of men with the Deity appears to be overlooked ; in some, their connexion with one another; and in some, their concern with common sense. Now it is important, that all such errors be avoided. Men should be addressed according to the character and state in which they actually exist. Their whole nature and all their relations should be considered and remembered.
of this kind of preaching, we have already said, this author affords examples; and we think the preaching which would do good, must have the same general characteristics. It must, in the first place, be rational, never losing sight of common sense. For though you may put the reason of some men asleep, and so make them Christians, yet the vast majority in this inquiring age, will not yield to representations which contradict their plain understanding; and therefore the more you approve every thing to men's reason, the more likely will you be to approve it also to their consciences. They must be treated as men, actual men, not as beings of romance or creatures of the imagination. Otherwise they will regard your exhortations as child's play, or the fictions of the theatre.
But this is not enough; preaching must also be animated, fervent, and pointed, another characteristic of these discourses. You must paint not only according to the truth, but in lively colours. You must show your hearers that you think the truth important, and are exceedingly desirous, that they should perceive it to be so. Men are so much influenced by sympathy, that they cannot see another greatly in earnest, without being ready to believe, that he has good cause for being in earnest. Here is seen the importance of addressing the affections. The state of men's minds on the subject of religion, is far more a matter of feeling than of reflection. That attachment to the world, which is constantly counteracting the influ. ence of religious truth, is altogether a matter of feeling. And it is to be overcome and altered, not by informing their ignorance, for they already know ; not by convincing their understanding, for they are already convinced; but by creating an opposite feeling, by exciting an opposite interest, by presenting images of moral and eternal things in so lively and affecting a manner as to displace those images of earth which now fill and clog the mind. In order to this, you must speak to their feelings, must paint to their feelings, must engage their wishes, their desires, their passions, must interest their hearts. Else, you may convince a thousand, without moving one. Moreover, if men are to be at all interested in the subject, the preacher must do it; they will not excite themselves; they will not go out of their way to seek persuasion; you must bring it to them. They will be cold, except you warm tbem. A very calm, sober, learned dissertation may be borne, may be assented to; but it will leave no impression, for it will excite no emotion.
This animation and fervor, in the next place, must be distinguished by piety and devotionul feeling. The relation of man to his Creator and Sovereign must never be left out of view. Otherwise eloquence will excite attention but for a season, and produce only a temporary effect. It will not sink into the heart and make a home there, unless the image of God go with it. It is the most excellent thing in these discourses, that He is in all the thoughts. The hearer never loses sight of him; his image is associated with all, and solemnizes all; and therefore the impression is lasting. And we believe, that sertoons will always be found efficacious, in proportion to the solemnity, the elevation and purity of the devotional senti ments they contain, and the frequency, or rather constancy, with which they are presented.
We will only prolong this article to express a wish, that those who value impressive eloquence, pure morals, and fervent christian piety, and desire to promote in themselves and others the religion of the gospel, would acquaint themselves with this volume; and, that the publishers may be encouraged to present to the public, a second volume, “chiefly on practical subjects.”
The Constitution of the Massachusetts Society for the Sup
pression of Intemperance, together with their Annual Report for the year 1818, and a list of the Officers and Members of said Society. Boston, Sewall Phelps, Dec. 1818.
The pamphlet before us contains the sixth annual report of the Society by which it is issued, and presents to our notice a series of facts and statements, which have a strong claim upon the immediate attention of the public, and ought to arouse us to determined and persevering exertions. It obliges us to realize the extent to which habits of intemperance exist; the actual increase, at least, in this metropolis, of the number of those who are addicted to them; and the magnitude of the effects which they produce upon the comforts, the health, and the lives of a considerable proportion of our fellow-beings. We certainly are not sufficiently awake to a sense of the importance of the subjects, which occupy the attention of this society. We are too apt to view the intemperate as individuals only, who have severally brought misery and disgrace and disease upon themselves, and perhaps upon their families, by an unlimited indulgence in a favourite propensity-and not in a collective character, as a class of men whose vices and excesses bave an immense effect upon the moral and political state of society. Private vices, it may be thought, are not fairly the subjects of public interference; but when private vices entail a lasting burden and disgrace on the whole community ; when they not only destroy the character, the fortune, the happiness of the individual bimself, but infect those of all around him, and in their ultimate consequences sap the foundations of public virtue, and lower the standard of public morality, they be. come the legitimate objects of public attention. There is cere tainly no other vice, whose influence is so debasing and degrading, both in a moral and intellectual point of view, as that of Intemperance ; none, which exbibits in so humiliating a light to human pride, the weakness, the frailty, the littleness of buman nature.
This Society has now been in existence nearly seven years ; but in this time, it can hardly be expected that it should have produced any very sensible change. Indeed a central and general institution like this, can never, itself, have any considerable direct effect. It must act as the point of union and the organ of excitement to others, formed on the same plan, but upon a less extensive scale, and more adapted for immediate operation upon the habits of the people. Its objects must be answered by the establishment, under its guidance and patronage, of auxiliary branches, who are to carry into effect all the active measures of the society. In this way, as we are informed by the report before us, considerable progress has been made. There are already “forty affiliated societies ;" but we lament, that out of so large a number, only six should have transmitted
account of their labours and their success. Yet even from the little which has been made public in the present report, we gather many circumstances which augur well for the future success of the institution. The auxiliary societies already formed, appear to have entered upon their undertaking with the proper spirit and views, and to be composed of influential and respectable characters. We extract with peculiar satisfaction, the following passages from the Report of the Yarmouth Society for the Suppression of Intemperance.
“A number of the inhabitants of this town, who have been accustomed to use ardent spirits freely, have wholly laid it aside, and whether journey. ing or labouring, by sea or land, have experienced no inconvenience from the want of it. Several vessels have, the year past, performed their voyages without any Spirit, and one of said vessels, a fishing vessel, made the most successful voyage of any in the vicinity. We have no hesitation jo giving it as our opinion, that not so much as one-fourth part of the ardent spirit has been used in this town, the year past, as in former years.
“ The vending of ardent spirits, taken in all its bearings and effects, is undo dly a profitable business. But we have the pleasure and pride to state, that our retailers of spirituous liquors, preferring the public good to their immediate interest, have not only voluntarily given up tbe business, but joined our Society, and taken an active and efficient part.” p. 15.
We would quote also the following paragraph, relating to information received from an auxiliary society in Dedham, principally on account of the evidence it affords, of the efficacy which may attend institutions of this kind, conducted with steadiness and resolution. Their communication, says the Report,
“Suggests encouragement, from the consideration, that the existence and exertions of this and similar institutions have given alarm to people of 1 certain character and description, lest they should be stopt in the career of their darling vice.' This they deem favourable, evincing, that they are not regarded with indifference, or as destitute of influence.' It offers as another ground of encouragement, that they have reason to thiok, that some progress has been inade towards a reformation, with respect to intemperate habits.' It states, for this purpose, the beneficial result of interviews of a committee of that society with the respectable board of selectmen of the town of Dedham. As of the same tendency, it informs the society, that in one instance at least, during the past year, the practice of retailing spiritous liquors by the glass has been laid aside. It gives us great satisfaction to become acquainted with this fact, because it induces us to hope, that this good and praiseworthy example will be followed by others."
It is obvious, that a considerable effect must be prodaced upon the general feeling of the community, by the association, the exertions and the example of so large a body of men of character, as are or will be united in the objects of this Society. Wherever the Institution extends, the votaries of Intemperance must be sensible of its existence and of its influence. It will act in a manner as the protector and guardian of public morals, and as a restraint upon those who are viciously inclined, but have not yet thrown off their respect for the better part of society. In fact, this regard for the opinion of the wise and virtuous, is the last good feeling which deserts us in the career of vice. It is to this, then, we must appeal, when religion and conscience have pleaded in vain; and, judiciously managed, it may be so operated on, as to reclaim, when every other motive has been presented without effect. It is on this principle, that much of the salutary operation of the secondary societies must depend. It is true, that something of this influence might be exerted by the same individuals without their connexion in the form of a society. But we do not believe the effect could be so great. They would not bave the same motives for the exercise of their influence, nor the same support in their exertions; there would be no concert in their measures, and besides, their purposes would not be so directly and definitely, nor so perpetually brought into the view of the subjects themselves. If these institutions are conducted with zeal and energy, the intemperate will feel as if they were constantly watched, as if they were always the subjects of observation to those, for whose characters they have the greatest respect, and whose good opinion and countenance cannot but be desirable to them. They should have it in their minds, that some one is constantly taking note of their conduct; for under no other kind of temptation is it so dangerous to leave a man entirely to himself and his own resolutions. Whatever be his principles New Series-vol. I.