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is a superiority of intellect commensurate with its dignity. His utter abhorrence of Aattery and adulation lost him that patronage of the great, which he otherwise might probably sooner have acquired; and he rose to eminence rather by the unassisted efforts of his own genius, than the en couragements of the rich and the learned. He was little indelted to the assistance of his friends for his great reputation. The irresistible energy of his character carried him through all his difficulties with an unbroken spirit, and an unblemished fame. If he paid not his court to the noble, it was not from disrespect to the subordinations of rank in society, but a dislike to the arts of dissimulation, and an aversion to the degradation of science at the shrine of patronage. His sarcastic letter to the Earl of Chesterfield is a noble specimen of his independence of spirit, and his contempt of the ser vile arts of adulation. It is a feeling exposition of the hardships he had endured, until royal munificence placed him beyond the boundaries of want, and smoothed his descent to the grave.
His knowledge of the Greek language, in comparison with his acquaint ance with the Latin, was superficial. In his early years, he had devoteo himself so closely to the study of the ancient posts, that it may be questioned, if his familiarity with them in his own times could find a superior His decisive denunciations against the genuineness of Ossian's poems, created him many opponents, upon a subject, respecting which,"" truth had never been established, fallacy detected.”
It is not a little strange, that, in many instances, the biographers of Johnson have appeared like enemies. It may, however, be observed, that few men could have stood the ordeal to which the minuteness of Boswell exposed him, with so much honor to the reputation of their heart and their head. This mighty Caliban of literature is here stripped of every disguise, and held up to public view. Though the world has been delighted and improved by the record of his converation, in which his learning, his genius, and his undisguised sentiments have so conspicuously shone forth, it cannot but be allowed, that it is informed of much, which it was not important, and, perhaps, was not proper for it to know; and that the coloring which the painter has given to his portrait, will admit of many different shades, from which the partiality of friendship should have guarded his pencil. It is here, however, that we may trace the incredible vastness of an intellect, destined to become the glory of his country, and the pride of English literature.
We may contemplate the gigantic powers of Johnson's mind with feel ings similar to those sublime emotions with which we view the boundless expanse of the ocean, fathomless to human measurement, and whose ca pacity exceeds our conception. In his writings appears more conspicuously than in his conversation the compass and extent of his understanding. His faculties were vigorous, his curiosity and avidity for knowledge insatiable and unlimited, his mind vehement and ardent, the combinations of his fancy various and original, and his imagination neither clouded or depress ed by the discipline of study, or the misfortunes of life. His readers are delighted and astonished at the wonderful beauty of his conceptions, and the depth of reflection which his opinions discover. In his style he is dig nified and forcible, in his language elegant and copious. He gives to every word its true meaning, and its illustrative purport. His epithets are used with judgment and discrimination. Every thing which he says has a deter minate significancy, and his words convey no more than the import of his conceptions. If he introduces hard words, their peculiar adaptation to his meaning should atone for his grandiloquism. It should also be remembered, that Cicero introduced Greek terms, when treating upon learned subjects, to supply the deficiency of the Roman language, and that the “great and comprehensive conceptions of Johnson could not easily be expressed by common words." Should it he thought that the style of this learned author has injured ui
language, he must have committed this injury by making it more sabor dinate to grammatical rules. Foreigners and future generations will be more capable of understanding it, since he has excluded expressions which are only to be found in colloquial intercourse and vulgar phraseology. From his example, men may learn to give to their style energy, perspicuity, and elegance. They may acquire a habit of close thinking, and become accustomed to express their ideas with force and precision.
His political writings will be read and admired only for the dignity and energy of their style. His compositions are a most valuable addition to the literature of his country, and will confer a lasting reputation on his name. They are replete with " useful instruction, and elegant entertainment," and by perusing them, mankind may advance in knowledge and virtue. The efforts of his mind discover a life of study and meditation. His writings display a genius cultivated with industry, and quickened by exertion. His multifarious productions are an honor to the English nation; and his answer to his sovereign might more fairly be allowed, “ that he had written his share,” if he had not written so well. His mind has been laid open to the public in his printed works, without “reservation or disguise;" and, with all his faults and failings, he is still the admiration of mankind.
ON THE COMPOSITION OF A SERMON. *
On the Charice of Texts. There are, in general, five parts e a sermon: the exordium, the cou nexion, the division, the discussion, and the application ; but as connexion and division are parts which ought to be extremely short, we can properly reckon only three parts : exordium, discussion, and application. However, we will just take notice of connexion and division after we have spoken a little on the choice of texts, and a few general rules of discussing them.
1. Never choose such texts as have not complete sense ; for only imper tinent and foolish people will attempt to preach from one or two words which signify nothing.,
2. Not only words which have a complete sense of themselves must be taken, but they must also include the complete sense of the writer whose words they are; for it is his language, and they are his sentiments, which you explain, For example, should you take these words of 2 Cor. 1: 3.
Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mer cies, and the God of all comfort,” and stop here, you will include a complete sense; but it would not be the Apostle's sense. Should you go farther, and add," who comforteth us in all our tribulation," it would not then bé the complete sense of St. Paul, nor would his meaning be wholly taken in, unless you went to the end of the fourth verse. When the complete sense of the sacred writer is taken, you may stop; for there are few texts in Scripture, which do not afford matter sufficient for a sermon, and it is equally inconvenient to take too much text or too little ; both extremes must be avoided.
* These directions and remarks are taken from Hannam's "Pulpit Assistant. student will also find much aid from Gresley's " Treatise on Preaching."
General rules of sermons. 1. A sermon should clearly and purely explain a text, make the sense easily to be comprehended, and place things before the people's eyes, so that they may be understood without difficulty. This rule condemns embarrassment and obscurity, the most disagreeable thing in the world in a gospel pulpit. It ought to be remembered, that the greatest part of the hearers are simple people, whose profit, however, must be aimed at in preaching: but it is impossible to edify them, unless you be very clear. Bishop Burnett says, “a preacher is to fancy himself as in the room of the most unlearned man in the whole parish, and must therefore put such parts of his discourses as he would have all understand, in so plain à form of words, that it may not be beyond the meanest of them. This he will certainly study to do, if his desire be to edify them, rather than to make them admire himself as a learned and high spoken man."
2. A sermon must give the entire sense of the whole text, in order to which it must be considered in every view. This rule condemns dry and barren explications, wherein the preacher discovers neither study nor invention, and leaves unsaid a great number of beautiful things with which his text might have furnished him. In matters of religion and piety, not to edify much is to destroy much; and a sermon cold and poor will do more mischief in an hour, than a hundred rich sermons can do good.
3. The preacher must be wise, in opposition to those impertinent people who utter jests, comical comparisons, quirks, and extravagances; sober, in opposition to those rash spirits who would penetrate all, and curiously dive into mysteries beyond the bounds of modesty ; chaste, in opposition to those bold and imprudent geniuses who are not ashamed of saying many things which produce unclean ideas in the mind.
4. A preacher must be simple and grave. Simple, speaking things of good natural sense, without metaphysical speculations; grave, because all sorts of vulgar and proverbial sayings ought to be avoided. The pulpit is the seat of good natural sense, and the good sense of good men.
3. The understanding must be informed, but in a manner, however which affects the heart; either to comfort the hearers, or to excite them to acts of piety, repentance, or holiness.
6. One of the most important precepts for the discussion of a text, and the composition of a sermon, is, above all things, to avoid excess :
1. There must not be too much genius. I mean, not too many brilliant sparkling, and shining things : for they would produce very bad effects, The auditor will never fail to say, “The man preaches himself, aims to dis play his genius, and is not animated by the spirit of God, but by that of the world."
2. A Sermon must not be overcharged with doctrine, because the hearers' memories cannot retain it all; and by aiming to keep all, they will lose all. Take care, then, not to charge your sermon with too much matter.
3. Care must also be taken never to strain any particular part, either in attempting to exhaust it, or to penetrate too far into it. Frequently in at tempting it, you will distil the subject till it evaporates.
4. Figures must not be overstrained. This is done by stretching meta phor into allegory, or by carrying a parallel too far. A metaphor is changed into an allegory when a number of things are heaped up, which agree to the subject in keeping close to the metaphor. Allegories may sometimes be used very agreeably: but they must not be strained: that is, all that can be said of them must not be said.
5. Reasonir.g must not be carried too far. This may be done many ways; either by long trains of reasons, composed of a number of proposi tions chained together, or principles and consequences, which way of rea boning is embarrassing and painful to the auditor. The mind of man loves to be conducted in a more smooth and easy way.
Of connexion. The connexion is the relation of your text to the forego ing or following verses. To find this, consider the scope of the discourse and consult commentators; particularly exercise your own good ser.se
When the coherence will furnish any agreeable considerations for the illustrations of the text, they must be put in the discussion; and they will very often happen. Sometimes, also, you may draw thence an exordium : in such a case, the exordium and connexion will be confounded together.
Of division. Division in general ought to be restrained to a small num ber of parts ; they should never exceed four or five at the most; the most admired sermons have only two or three parts.
There are two sorts of divisions which we may very properly make; the first, which is the most common, is the division of the text into its parts the other is of the discourse, or sermon itself, which is made on the text.
1. This method is proper when a prophecy of the Old Testament is handled; for, generally, the understanding of these prophecies depends on many general considerations, which, by exposing and refuting false senses, open a way to the true explication.
2. This method is also proper on a text taken from a dispute, the under standing of which must depend on the state of the question, the hypothesis of adversaries, and the principles of the inspired writers. All these lights are previously necessary, and they can only be given by general considera tions ; for example, Rom. iii. 28. " We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Some general considerations must precede, which clear up the state of the question between St. Paul and the Jews, touching justification, which mark the hypothesis of the Jews upon that subject, and which discover the true principle which St. Paul would establish; so that, in the end, the text may be clearly understood.
3. This method also is proper in a conclusion drawn from a long preced ing discourse ; as for example, Rom. v. 1. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. The dis course must be divided into two parts; the first consisting of some general considerations on the doctrine of justification, which St. Paul establishes in the preceding chapters; and the second of his conclusion, that, being thus justified, we have peace with God, &c.
The same may be said of the first verse of the eighth of Romans, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation,” &c., for it is a consequence drawn from what he had been establishing before.
4. The same method is proper for texts which are quoted in the New Testament from the Old. You must prove by general considerations that the text is properly produced, and then you may come clearly to its expli cation. Of this kind are Hebrews i. 5, 6. “I will be to him a Father,” &c. “One in a certain place testified,” &c., ii. 6. “ Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith,”. &c., iii. 7. There are many passages of this kind in the New Testament.
5. In this class must be placed divisions into different regards, or differ ent views. These, to speak properly, are not divisions of a text into its parts, but rather different applications which are made of the same texts to divers subjects. Typical texts should be divided thus; and a great number of Passages in the Psalms, which relate not only to David, but also to Jesus Christ. Such should be considered, first, literally, as they relate to David ; and then, in the mystical sense, as they refer to the Lord Jesus.
There are also typical passages, which, besides their literal sense, have also figurative meanings, relating not only to Jesus Christ, but also to the church in general, and to every believer in particular.
For example, Dan. ix. 7: "O Lord, righteousness belongeth to thee, but unto us confusion of face, as at this day,” must not be divided into parts, but considered in different views : 1. In regard to all men in general. 2. In regard to the Jewish Church in Daniel's time. 3. In regard to ourselves at this present day.
So again, Heb. ‘iii. 7, 8. To-day, if ye will hear his voice," which us taken from Psalm xcv., cannot be better divided than by referring it - 1 To David's time. 2. St. Paul's. And lastly, to our own.
As to the division of the text itself, sometimes the order of the words is so clear and natural, that no division is necessary, you need only follow simply the order of the words. As for example, Eph. i. 3. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” It is not necessary to divide this text, because the words divide themselves, and to explain them, we need only to follow them. Here is a grateful acknowledgment. “Blessed be God. The title under which the Apostle blesses God, “ The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The reason for which he blesses him, because " he hath blessed us.”. The plenitude of this blessing, “ with
all blessings.” The nature or kind signified by the term spiritual. The place where he hath blessed us, " in heavenly places.” In whom he hath blessed us," in Christ.”
Most texts, however, ought to be formally divided; for which purpose you must principally have regard to the order of nature, and put the division which naturally precedes, in the first place, and the rest must fol low, each in its proper order.
There are two natural orders; one natural in regard to subjects them selves; the other natural in regard to us.
And though, in general, you may follow which of the two others you please, yet there are some texts that determine the division; as Phil. ii. 13.
It is God who worketh effectually in you, both to will and to do of hig own good pleasure." There are, it is plain, three things to be discussed; the action of God's grace upon men,
to God worketh effectually in you; the effect of this grace, " to will and to do;" and the spring, or source of the action, according to "his good pleasure." I think the division would not be proper if we were to treat, 1. Of God's good pleasure; 2. Of his grace; and 3. Of the will and works of men.
Above all things, in divisions, take care of putting any thing in the first part which supposes the understanding of the secona; ur which obliges you to treat of the second to make the first understood ; for, by these means. you will throw yourself into great confusion, and be obliged to Make many tedious repetitions. You must endeavour to disengage the one from the other as well as you can; and when your parts are too closely connected with each other, place the most detached first, and endeavour to make that serve for a foundation to the explication of the second, and the second to the third ; so that, at the end of your explication, the hearer may at a glance perceive, as it were, a perfect body, a well finished building; for one of the greatest excellences of a sermon is, the harmony of its component parts; that the first leads to the second, the second serves to introduce the third ; that they which go before, excite a desire for those which are to follow.
When, in a text, there are several terms which nced a particular explan ation, and which cannot be explained without confusion, or without divid ing the text into too many parts, then I would not divide the text at all ; but I would divide the discourse into two or three parts; and I would pro pose, first, to explain the terms, and then the subject itself.
There are many texts, in discussing which, it is not necessary to treat of either subject or attribute ; but all the discussion depends on the terms, syncategorematica (words which, of themselves, signify nothing, but, in conjunction with others, are very significative). For example, John iii. 16, “God so loved the world.” The categorical proposition is, God loved the world; yet, it is neither necessary to insist much upon the term God, nor to speak in a common-piace way of the love of God, but, divide the text into two parts ; first, the gift which God in his love hath made of his son ; secondly, the end for which he gave him," that whosoever believeth in hini should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
There are texts of reasoning, which are composed of an objection and an answer and the division of such is plain; fo: they naturally divide into the