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128, 132, 143, 146. And busy population" "mighty population" "guilty population" "world's population" (very often repeated)" repentant population" "teeming population" "neglected population."
Passing, without more particular notice, the Scotch use of the word just used for only, or merely, for example "to theorize is just making a departure," &c. the frequent use of the words should for would, and shall for will, which is not peculiar to Scotland, and the unnecessary use of the words every, and the misuse of one and alone for only, as in these expressions "it formed the one object of his attention," "Truth is the alone idol of his reverence;" and passing by also the tedious affixes to common words, we offer a few specimens of words of a new coinage: such as residenter, honesties, integrities, rebelliousness, baselessness, exhaustlessness, profoundness, untaintedness, defencelessness, strenuousness, preciousness, powerlessness, virtuousness, versant, argumentable, unfallen, disposited, charioted.
But we are weary of this work-In the words of Persius unde hæc sartago loquendi,
Venerit in linquas ?
We have dwelt longer on the literary character of these writings, than, with regard to common discourses from the pulpit, would be either expedient or allowable. A spirit of criticism on this subject is ever in danger of excess. But these discourses have gained a popularity unprecedented in late years; and certainly they are remarkable for nothing but their style. On this account it seemed to demand of us unusual attention. Examples of gross faults might easily have been multiplied, and those who have read these volumes, will not think that we have been lavish of reprehension.
But we have been induced to indulge in these remarks by other considerations. We consider such gorgeous declamation as this, particularly reprehensible when it is delivered from the sacred desk. To use the emphatic language of Dr. C. with a slight alteration, "it is a piece of parading insignificance altogether the minister playing on his favourite instrument, and the people dissipating away their time on the charm and idle luxury of a theatrical emotion." How are the great objects of christian preaching to be effected? not, surely, by mere splendid diction, rhetorical flourish, parade of language, or by any or all of the artifices of style :-these are but soundin brass and tinkling cymbal :-but by plain expositions of duty, by direct, close, serious,hortatory and pathetic sermons-which will strike directly on the heart and pierce and melt it. In making these remarks, we do not mean to express a doubt either of the talents or sincerity of Dr. C. He is a writer of very conside New Series-vol. 1.
rable endowments, and of such a character as is likely to make him an example to many. We have therefore thought it the more necessary to point out distinctly his errors. For it is to be feared that the race of imitators, " qui aut ea, quæ facilia sunt, aut etiam illa, quæ insignia ac pene vitiosa, consectantur, imitando," may content themselves with the imperfections of their model, and mistake the pomp of words for the natural language of a raised and excited mind.
But while we consider the general style of these discourses as almost the worst, which we have read, we are not unconscious that there are some exceptions. Amid their tinsel and gaudiness, there is sometimes to be found a gem of price :in the intervals of a lumbering sonorousness of phrase the voice of real eloquence may sometimes be heard. This seems to verify the remark of Quinctilian-"inde evenit nonnunquam, ut aliquod grande inveniat qui semper quærit quod nimium est." But it is a dangerous method, for, as the same great critic adds, "verum raro evenit et certa vilia non pensat." We do not remember a better example than the following, in which the language, though rather swelling, is balanced and kept steady by the weight of the thought.
"The contemplation has no limits. If we ask the number of suns and of systems, the unassisted eye of man can take in a thousand, and the best telescope which the genius of man has constructed can take in eighty millions. But why subject the dominions of the universe to the eye of man, or to the powers of his genius? Fancy may take its flight far beyond the ken of eye or of telescope. It may expatiate in the outer regions of all that is visible and shall we have the boldness to say, that there is nothing there? that the wonders of the Almighty are at an end, because we can no longer trace his footsteps? that his omnipotence is exhausted, because human art can no longer follow him? that the creative energy of God has sunk into repose, because the imagination is enfeebled by the magnitude of its efforts, and can keep no longer on the wing through those mighty tracts, which shoot far beyond what eye hath seen, or the heart of man hath conceived-which sweep endlessly along, and merge into an awful and mysteous infinity?" pp. 23, 24.
What, it may be asked, if the style of these discourses is so objectionable, constituted their remarkable fascination? We answer, that we do not know. So far as immediate effect is concerned, some of those very faults of style to which we have adverted, its sounding words, its boldness and contempt of the common forms and rules of speech, may have had an influence. Something too should be attributed to those specimens of real eloquence, which are found at long intervals in these performances, like clear and grassy resting places in a tangled wilderness;-something to the religious dogmas insisted upon which, though in our opinion, unsound to the very core,
are susceptible of being stated in an imposing manner, and must have an awful effect on those who believe them to be true. But probably the chief effect of these sermons depended on the peculiar elocution of the speaker, and particu larly on his earnestness, self-conviction, and temporary enthu siasm. God has set his mark upon sincerity, and the language of the heart never yet fell cold and dead upon the ear. Real feeling has a persuasiveness above all power of words, and which even gross faults of style cannot wholly stifle. It is beard in the tone, it is seen in the lifting of a finger, in the glance of the eye, in the trembling of a muscle, in the irradiation of the face. Deep emotion will always radiate, and sym pathy will kindle and spread in every heart like wildfire.
On Doing Good to the Poor. A Sermon preached at Pittsfield, (Mass.) on the day of the annual fast April 4, 1818. By HEMAN HUMPHREY, Pastor of the congregational Church in that town. Pittsfield: Phineas Allen. pp. 46. 1818. A Discourse delivered at the opening of the new Almshouse in Cambridge, 17th September, 1818. By ABIEL HOLMES, D. D. Pastor of the First Church in Cambridge. Cambridge; Hilliard and Metcalf, 1819. pp. 40.
THERE is nothing which so clearly denotes the admirable influence of the Christian religion in cherishing and developing the most amiable traits of the human character, as the extent and variety of the charitable institutions, which exist in all Christian countries; and more particularly in those where the moral principles of the religion are properly understood, and fully valued. There is no form of poverty or disease, no shape in which human misery can appear, but a hand is stretched out to support, and a home provided to receive and shelter. There seems in fact to be almost an exuberance of these benevolent feelings; the means of charity, especially among us, exceed the necessities of those upon whom they might be worthily and judiciously expended; the suffering often have hardly to seek relief, but are rather sought out as the subjects for the exercise of the feelings of the benevolent.
Not that we consider this as the most desirable channel in which these affections should be made to flow. The good that is done in this way, is by no means in proportion to the good that is intended. Injudicious charity has probably been productive of far more ultimate evil, than the coldest and most in
discriminating selfishness. There are few who know how to distribute alms with discretion, for there are few who have an opportunity to acquire the requisite knowledge with regard to the general character of mankind, or that of particular individuals. But benevolent institutions and private charities indicate the excellent influence of our religion, not so much because a great deal of good is thus actually effected with regard to those who are their subjects; but because they show the operation which it has had upon the feelings, affections, and character of society in general. And although these affections may be injudiciously displayed, these benevolent tendencies exercised on unworthy objects, in an unworthy manner, and finally be productive of more harm than good; yet this state of the human character, does not the less denote the genuine effect of that religion, whose essence is love. Great as are the imperfections which remain in our character as christians, still if we compare the temper and spirit of our own times, allowing for every exception, with those of a few centuries ago, we cannot but be grateful for the changes which have been wrought, and look forward with delightful anticipation to those which are to
But there has been, we believe, and there is, a radical defect in the principles by which most if not all our institutions for the poor have been regulated, and by which we have proceeded in the exercise of private charity. We are too anxious to be always giving. This, we are apt to believe, is the very essence of benevolence, but we think nothing of endeavouring to prevent the necessity of giving. That indeed is one of the most heavenly feelings of which we are capable, which proceeds from the consciousness, that we have relieved or alleviated the suffering of a fellow-creature. Yet how much better a cause were it for such happy sensations, could we prevent this suffering and ward off the attacks of want and disease. How preposterous, nay, how barbarous would it seem, in any individual instance, coolly to permit the evil to be inflicted, and then crowd forward with consolation and assistance. Yet this is what is daily done; it is what our legal provisions, our public institutions, our private charities, are constantly doing. To the destitute, they proffer relief; to him who is already fallen, they hold out the hand of assistance; but to the multitude of those who are travelling onwards through the paths of improvidence and vice to the same termination, they pay no regard; they are permitted, they are encouraged in their improvidence, in their vice, by the certainty that they will never be left to want.
There would probably have been less poverty and less misery in the world, had no charitable institutions ever existed. Yet in
the present state of society their abolition were impossible, since the necessity of their existence has been accumulating for ages. It would be happy, if some revolution could be effected in the mode in which we are accustomed to assist the destitute portion of mankind. As they exist, public institutions operate too much as premiums upon indolence, improvidence and vice. The virtuous, the industrious, the unfortunate poor, who have surely the highest claim upon our feelings, obtain but a small share of our bounty. Look at our almshouses! They are the receptacles of the exhausted drunkard, the ruined gamester, the worn out prostitute, the illegitimate offspring of debauchery and licentiousness; not the asylums of the destitute widow, the deserted orphan, the decayed and unfortunate labourer. We find the grey head-but it is hoary with iniquity and depravity -with the premature old age of intemperance and lewdness; not with the silver hairs of honest virtue, not with the reverend locks of ancient and industrious poverty. On these we might bestow our alms with an open hand, a free heart, and feel proud that we could so exercise the noblest affections of our nature. Such mercy were doubly blessed in him that gave and him that received; for there is the exercise of the same benevolent feelings in worthily receiving as in worthily giving. But how little. disposition should we feel for self-gratulation, did we know that our bounty was operating as the reward of vice and indolence; that it was received with unthankfulness and wasted in extravagance.
Our age is distinguished for projects of liberal and practical benevolence beyond any other. The abolition of the slave trade, the more general diffusion of religious knowledge, the efforts for the banishment of the custom of war, and the various institutions for the relief and the education of the poor, are noble evidences of this enlightened spirit of philanthropy. And it is not the least subject of congratulation, that more correct and enlarged views of the nature of true benevolence, and of the modes by which its objects are best effected, are beginning to prevail. That short-sighted kind of charity is going out of repute, which confines its views to the relief of immediate necessity, but does not extend them to the prevention of future
In the sermons of Dr Holmes and Mr. Humphrey, this subject has received a full and interesting consideration. They are both from the same text, and are strikingly similar in their general construction, and in the topics which are taken up. The discourse of Dr. Holmes is a chaste, clear, and accurate composition, and exhibits a concise and satisfactory view of the causes and methods of preventing poverty; that of Mr. Hum