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That the conflict
-"decided a question of rivalship between the righteous and everlasting monarch of universal being, and the prince of a great and widely extended rebellion." p. 122.
Does Dr. C. believe this? It is indeed a poor flourish of rhetoric if he do not. Is he then a Manichæan? Is all this said in the spirit of a cautious philosophy? Does he not know that every single text on which he relies, admits a more rational interpretation-better on this account, if on none other, that it does not debase all our necessary apprehensions of God, that it does not shock all our holiest feelings of devotion? For ourselves, we are free to declare, that we consider such wild excursions neither profitable nor safe. God has seen fit to envelope the œconomy of the world of spirits in an awful mystery, and has revealed only in general terms enough to give sanctions to his laws, and grounds for our hope. We believe it to be our duty to take the plain declarations of his word for our guidance and support, gratefully walking in the heavenly light, when it is Vouchsafed, and meekly acquiescent when it is withholden.
The concluding discourse of the astronomical series is devoted to a consideration "of the slender influence of mere taste and sensibility in matters of religion." The leading thought, which runs through the whole, is very just and important. We are very apt to substitute some of the accompaniments of devotion in the place of devotion. But it is, as we think, quite a bald and embarrassed performance. We recommend in preference, infinitely in preference, the most able and eloquent Essay of Foster, on the same subject; though this latter proceeds on views of religion, to which it will not be supposed we give our full assent.
It is unnecessary to speak particularly of the remaining sermons, and addresses in both volumes. They all inculcate what we deem a false theology. "The doctrine," as is observed in the preface of the second volume," which is most urgently, and most frequently insisted on in the following pages is that of the depravity of human nature."
"He knows, in particular, that throughout these discourses there is a frequent recurrence of the same idea, though generally expressed in different language, and with some new specialty, either in its bearing or in its illustration. And he further knows, that the habit of expatiating on one topic may be indulged to such a length as to satiate the reader, and that, to a degree, far beyond the limits of his forbearance." p. ix.
We admit this to be our case. Indeed there is little else in the volume than the repetition of this doctrine, with its necessary consequences. While we regret that such erroneous and gloomy dogmas should be preached at all, and particularly by
men of such efficient minds and of such ardent feelings as Dr. C., we are aware that they do not always produce their legitimate effect entire scepticism, or a melancholy fanaticism. There is in strong and healthy minds, and in the natural biases of the heart, a reaction against such bad and debasing doctrines of God and religion. Such men will not suffer the manna which God has given, to be changed to poison: they will be good and happy in spite of the speculative faith which is imposed upon them. Besides, this kind of preaching may sometimes be beneficial. Even "curst ungodliness of zeal," may be better than a total indifference to all religion. Such preaching may sometimes serve as an engine to check resolute wickedness, or break down stubborn worldliness. It may sometimes be the pioneer to an enlightened and rational Christianity. As a new soil is subdued by fire, so a flaming zeal and hot religion may sometimes tame the rugged and wild characters of men. And when the mind has been by this progress in some degree ameliorated, better and milder dispositions gain root and flourish; until by judicious culture, the thorns and briars of prejudice are removed, a kindlier soil is gathered on the surface of the soul, the dews of heaven descend and soften and fertilize it, and at last spring up the good fruits of a heavenly temper and religious life.
We proceed to the second part of the duty which we prescribed ourselves, and shall examine as briefly as we can, the literary merit of these far-famed sermons. It is difficult to characterize distinctly, the style in which they are written. We may say in general that it is marked by almost all the faults of an ambitious kind. It is most unsparingly diffuse, it abounds with every species of amplification-with periphrasis, tautology and gross pleonasm; it is in places inflated but not sustained; it is very gairish and abounds with a painful blazonry of expression, which often puts in strong contrast the hazy obscurity of thought. All this is interspersed with Scoticisms, new-coined words, or new combinations of old ones, continual inaccuracies in the use of those established, an habitual preference of long words, a needless multiplication of epithets, sins against grammar; and all this medley of literary abominations brought to a close, after being drawn out into sentences longer than any body's patience, by a tuneful recitativo of some favorite expression. There is besides an industrious artizanship in the manufacture of phrases, especially, as is not unfrequently the case, when a common thought is attempted to be expressed with emphasis, or an emptiness of all nieaning to be covered up with verbiage. We need not add that there is a total want of all simplicity, directness, flexibility, and easy elegance of
style, of all chasteness of expression, and of every thing resembling a pure English idiom.
We would gladly be excused from citing any examples in proof of these remarks. It is an irksome business, but it were wrong to make such general observations upon the style of one of the most popular pulpit orators of our time, without giving some examples in proof of what we have asserted. We must be allowed however to do as little as we may.
The following passage, which we quote entire, will we think afford a tolerable specimen of tautology. One very obvious idea, in this short extract, is repeated, if we have counted right, seven or eight times; and it is said over and over again in the remainder of this and the subsequent discourses. There is at least one grammatical error in the phrase "slumbering a reverie," and an affected use of language in the expressions "all eloquence," "all habit" and "all fancy."
"But while he gets all his credit, and all his admiration for those articles of science which he had added to the creed of philosophers, he deserves as much credit and admiration for those articles which he kept out of this creed, as for those which he introduced into it. It was the property of his mind, that it kept a tenacious hold of every one position which had proof to substantiate it--but it forms a property equally characteristic, and which, in fact, gives its leading peculiarity to the whole spirit and style of his investigations, that he put a most determined exclusion on every one position that was destitute of such proof. He would not admit the astronomical theories of those who went before him, because they had no proof. He would not give in to their notions about the planets wheeling their rounds in whirlpools of ether-for he did not see this ether-he had no proof of its existence and, besides, even supposing it to exist, it would not have impressed on the heavenly bodies, such movements as met his observation. Be would not submit his judgment to the reigning systems of the day-for, though they had authority to recommend them, they had no proof; and thus it is, that he evinced the strength and the soundness of his philosophy, as much by his decisions upon those doctrines of science which he rejected, as by his demonstration of those doctrines of science which he was the first to propose, and which now stand out to the eye of posterity as the only monuments to the force and superiority of his understanding.
"He wanted no other recommendation for any one article of science, than the recommendation of evidence--and, with this recommendation, he opened to it the chamber of his mind, though authority scowled upon it, and taste was disgusted by it, and fashion was ashamed of it, and all the beauteous speculation of former days was cruelly broken up by this new announcement of the better philosophy, and scattered like the fragments of an aerial vision, over which the past generations of the world had been slumbering their profound and their pleasing reverie. But, on the other hand, should the article of science want the recommendation of evidence, he shut against it all the avenues of his understanding—aye, and though all antiquity lent their suffrages to it, and all eloquence had thrown around it the most attractive brilliancy, and all habit bad incorporated it with every system of every seminary in Europe, and all fancy had arrayed it in graces of the most tempting solicitation; yet was the steady and inflexible mind of Newton proof against this whole weight of authority and allurement, and,
casting his cold and unwelcome look at the specious plausibility, he rebuked it from his presence. The strength of his philosophy lay as much in refusing admittance to that which wanted evidence, as in giving a place and an occupancy to that which possessed it. In that march of intellect, which led him onwards through the rich and magnificent field of his discoveries, he pondered every step; and while he advanced with a firm and assured movement, wherever the light of evidence carried him, he never suffered any glare of imagination or of prejudice to seduce him from his path." pp. 36-38.
But to proceed to a few more particulars. Here follow some examples of pleonasm, arising from an attempt to write better than well. " Unpeopled solitude." p. 15. "All the establishment of a conclusive demonstration," 36. "There lies the profoundness of an unsearchable latency." 76. " Practical doing" 138. The list were easily extended.
We have said that the style though inflated is not sustained. A few examples may make our meaning plain. A long series. of turgid phrases is intermingled with some colloquial or mean expression. The use of the word "Aye" (ay) is the common bond of union to the almost interminable sentences, and has sometimes a ludicrous effect. Such expressions too as the following are any thing but dignified. "All should be above boards" p. 72. tell on the moral destinies of mankind, " in the sense of operate on, p. 100. "blow the argument to pieces," p. 91. "Tack our faith." 76. "Looking with half an eye.” "All heaven in a stir." 98. "biggest outrage." 102. "text looks hard upon him." 129. "blink a question." 71. "mince ambiguous scepticism," 86. "would not recede by a single iota" 89.
The obscurity is sometimes very dense. Amidst the cloud of words, the glimmering of the idea is hardly perceptible. This results sometimes from loose thinking, but chiefly from a redundancy of words. We have room for only single sentences. "Now the question is not how these would conduct themselves in such circumstances? but how should they do it?" p. 11. What?"Oh had the philosophers of the day known as well as their great master, how to draw the vigorous landmark which verges the field of legitimate discovery, they should (would) have seen,' "9 &c. 77. "a gleam of malignant joy shot athwart him as he conceived his project for hemming our unfortunate species within the bound of an irrecoverable dilemma," 119, meaning, by interpretation, probably, a dilemma from which recovery was impossible.
"Aye, and it would put them on the stretch of all their faculties, when they saw rebellion lifting up its standard against the Majesty of heaven, and the truth and justice of God embarked on the threatenings he bad uttered against all the doers of iniquity, and the honours of that august throne, which has the firm pillars of immutability to rest upon, linked with the fulfilment of the law that had come out of it." pp. 81, 82.
Sometimes we may not hope to find a meaning. "It must have poured a tide of exuberancy (of what is not said) through all its provinces." 94. "Man feels himself treading on the limits of his helplessness." p. 147. "He is told of the multitude of worlds, and he feels a kindling magnificence in the conception, and he is seduced by an elevation which he cannot carry, and from this airy summit (we suppose of the elevation by which he is seduced and cannot carry) does he look down on the insignificance of the world we occupy." p. 96.
We give one or two specimens of what we have called artizanship of style. A temperate use of these forms of phrase, may not be very objectionable, but become wearisome when they occur on every page. A thought, which in an unbroken state, and simply expressed might have some force and effect is frittered into as many parts as possible, and each supplied with an epithet.
"But is it not adding to the bright catalogue of his other attributes, to say, that, while magnitude does not overpower him, minuteness cannot escape him, and variety cannot bewilder him; and that, at the very time while the mind of the Deity is abroad over the whole vastness of creation, there is not one particle of matter, there is not one individual principle of rational or of animal existence, there is not one single world in that expanse which teems with them, that his eye does not discern as constantly, and his hand does not guide as unerringly, and his spirit does not watch and care for us as vigilantly, as if it formed the one and exclusive object of his attention. pp. 59, 60.
He can attend as fully and provide as richly, and manifest his attributes as illustriously on every one of these objects." p. 61.
-"he may be made to feel with such an emotion, and to weep with such a tenderness, and to kindle with such a transport, and to glow with such an elevation, as may one and all carry upon them the semblance of sacredness." p. 127.
Another process of making sentences, which is equally a favorite one with Dr. C. is to change the epithet into a substantive, and put the substantive in regimen. "Earnestness of regards." "totality of existence" "preciousness of application" and ma
Here follow some specimens of grammatical solecisms and offences against English. "Images dazzle upon the eye." "Heaven rings jubilee." "I cannot tell what the battle that he fought." "He strives a penetrating vision." "It looks (in the sense of appears) to the man of science." "It looks another to the voluptuary." "condescend upon.' "condescend upon." ment." New York edition. p. 242.
"go to ali
A rythmical termination like the esse videatur of Cicero, is given to the sentences very often, as for example by such combinations as the following. "loveliness of the song."