صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

These, labouring like paviours, mend our ways
With heavy, huge, repeated Aat essays ;
Ram their coarse nonsense down, though ne'er so dull,
And hem at ev'ry thump upon your scull.

YOUNG. By a simplicity of thought, I mean all those sentiments which arise naturally out of the subject, and are proportioned to the common sense and ideas of mankind. Thoughts of this kind (which seem so obvious, and as it were the spontaneous growth of nature itself) are such as may fall into the minds of every man, but gene. rally do not; such as all the world may have, and but few really have. Each sentiment that is affected or unnatural, mean or abject, finical or precise, are alike faulty, by departing from a just fimplicity. The essential and inherent perfection of such a fimplicity of thought appears from hence, that it is equally relished by the learned and illiterate, persons of every form of life, every degree of understanding. By a fimplicity of expression I would be underfood a natural and easy ttile, free from all peculiarities of diction or anomalies of conitruction. All Atately and gigantic, all quaint and Aowery, all homely and beaten roads of expression are repugnant to, and deviate from, this last quality or perfection. Some preachers shall by certain odd and peculiar modes of expresling themselves, give every thing they deliver a foreign and unnatural air, which cannot but excite a weariness and disgott.'

Our Author introduces the first part of his work with telling us that, “as man is compounded of three principal ingredients, viz. reason, imagination, and paffions, eloquence divides itself into the rational, the florid, and the pathetic, according to the proportion in which it is addressed to one or the other ; that the pulpit eloquence in England is plainly of the severe and rational species, a general fpirit of kaloning and enquiry having in a great degree extinguished the natural enthusiasms of the human mind in religious subjects.'— Ranging however all Christian orators under three diftinct claffes, continues he, I shall endeavour to mark out the capital beauties and imperfections which belong to each of them.

• If you would behold the native light of truth obscured by no cloudy or ambiguous phrases, no false or distorted sentiments, no corrupt paflions or acquired prejudices, peruse the inestimable sermons of CLARKE and CONYBEAVE. The chief merit of these two celebrated preachers lies in that scholastic precision and philosophic closeness, with which each special article of faith or morals is treated. Few or no fallies of fancy are committed, which arise from the mind's colle&ing all its powers to view only one side of a subject, while it leaves the other unobserved. All Aorid epithets, all frigid circumlocutions, which only tend to weaken or debafe an argument, are utterly rejected. Each finished discourse forms a whole, coherent and proportioned in itself, with due subordinacy of conftituent parts. If it turns upon a branch of morality, or any panicular virtue, they never fail to state the limits, extent, and compass of it, with a wonderful juitness and propriety. If it refts upon any article of faith, they ever comprize the doctrinal part is fuch a space, as to leave sufficient room for a distinct and particular enforcement of the practical duties resulting from it.'

upon

Our Author produces, in the next place, a few passages from the fermons of Clarke and Coneybeare as proofs of their logical precifion, their accuracy of diłtinction, their familiar acquaintance with, and clear exposition of fcripture language, &c. and then thews, at full length, the superior excellence of our Saviour and the apostle Paul, in that species of oratory which is addressed to the understanding.

The Doctor introduces the second part of his work with obferving that the business of a Christian orator is not merely to explain the word of God, but to do it in such a manner as to give his hearers a thorough sense of, and proper relish for it;that the naked truth, stripped of every ornament which the. imagination is able to lend it, shall, with all its charms, be little heeded by the many. - Its pure and delicate light, says he, does not enough strike that which there is of jenfible in man.'-As our Author has quoted Bruyere, Gisbert, and some other French writers, we are inclined to think that this fentence is a literal translation from the French; if we are mistaken in this, we are at lofs to account for his expressing himself in so affected a manner.

He next observes, that objects so remote from sense and matter as moral and divine truths are, require to be brought near the mind, and made familiar to it by strength of imagery ;-that the great and chief difficulty consists in knowing how to make a due separation between the graces and ornaments which, being natural and genuine, set off and adorn the truth, and those which, being fpurious and foreign, only tend to weaken and debase it ;-that the beautiful fimplicity which we so much admire in the compositions of the ancients, is perfectly consistent with the former, but altogether repugnant to the latter.

• The Grecian orator, says he (whole eloquence alone raised him a sort of throne, and fixed ihe hearts of a whole republic in him), seeks for no ornaments but what arise naturally from the subject in hand, makes use of no flowers but what offer themselves of their own accord. Having no other passion but the love of truth itself, he disdains to render her less beautiful or effeminate by tricking her up with painted metricious graces. By an energy of thought and ve. hemence peculiar to himlelf, he was able to raise that spirit, and excite those affections, which he was desirous to raise and excite. The true interest of the people to whom he addressed himself being ever upp'rmolt in his view and thoughts, he seems to forget or lose fight of himself. The salvation of his country being the sole and uliimate end of all his finished orations, the applause which resulied from thence to himself appears to be much beneath his regard. How inhoitely worthy, in all these respects, is the Grecian of being

imitated

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

imitated by every Christian orator. How far is it beneath the latter to be studiously hunting after those frivolous, puerile, affected ornaments which were rejected with contempt by the former! Of this fort are the flashing metaphor, the brilliant fimile, the luxuriant allegory, the florid epithet, the contrasted phrase, and the remote allufion, All these pitiful embellithments, which are fo indaftrionfly sought out and so highly admired by lutle fanciful writers, only serve to corrupt and debase the truth. They may be resembled to the plaistering of marble, or the painting of gold, the glory of which is to be seen, and to thine by no other luftre but their own. Such an effeminate study of beauty is (according to the most judicious and ele. gant of critics) no other than taking pains to be ugly or deformed.

The folidity and grandeur of the fubjects which are handled, is that which forms the character of true and perfect eloquence. Such is the native and inherent greatness of those topics which belong to the Chriflian orator, that they will hardly admit of, and are very liable to be sullied by, ornaments in general. The glorious attributes of God, the astonishing exertion or ditplay of his wisdom, goodness, justice and power, in the work of our redemption, an endless and inconceivable fate of rewards and punishments in a world to come, the resurrection of our bodies at the last day, the fapendous awfulness of a future judgment, when the son of man fall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, and before him shall be gathered all nations, are a fore of truths which fand'in need of no foreign embellishments. The purity, majesty, and energy of them, are fure to be diminished by florid epithets, brilliant metaphors, or useless circumlocutions. All graces must be utterly excluded, except of that kind which may be faid decently to adorn without incumbering, and modestly to shine without glaring. In fine, the imagination does its proper office, when it is made use of as a handmaid to truth, neither over.drelling her, nor leaving her wholly naked.'

Dr. Weales then proceeds to lay before his readers a few passages from the sermons of Seed and Sterne, whom he fingles out from among that race of orators, whose fancy, he says, was full apt to catch and blaze out in metaphor, fimile, and the like. In regard to Seed, he observes very justiy, that those glitterings, with which every discourse is besprinkled (we use his own words), may afford some little entertainment to the imagination, but will not at all contribute towards colouring the boisterous and rebellious paffions, or delivering a bewildered reason from error and prejudice ;—that the hearers rise as from à painted banquet, going away just as empty and void of Spiritual food as they sat down to it.

Sterne, we are told, has adulterated the word of God with a vie cious mixture of foreign or unnatural ornaments-loofe (parkles of wit, luxuriant descriptions, smart antitheses, pointed sentiments, epigrammatical turns or expreffions, are frequently to be met with in his sermons.—The great truths of the gosped are enervated by the supernumerary decorations of style and : Rev. June 1778,

FI

eloquence.

eloquence.--In a word, his oratory is decked in all the glowing colours of poetry, as it first appeared in Greece.

Dr. Weales Thews that our Saviour and his apoftles pofseffed, in an eminent degree, that faculty which enables the preacher to give elegance to fimplicity, and dignity to the most common and obvious truths. In this second part of his work the Reader will likewise find some pertinent remarks on our modern declaimers.

The third part is introduced in the following manner :• The CARISTIAN ORATOR, who proceeds no farther than to convince his hearers by the most powerful arguments, or to please them by clothing those arguments with all the natural graces and ornaments of which they are capable, hach left the moft important and the most difficult part of his work undone. It is no such rare talent to thew a man the part of life, and to make it as clear as possible that it is at once his duty and his interell to walk in it, but it calls for more than ordinary powers to work upon his will and affections to chat degree, as actually to determine him to walk in it. For such, alas! is the native pride of the human heart, that it will not presently yield to the just empire of reason; and such is its acquired obitinacy, that when it can hold out no longer, it will even impel a man to act in full and direct opposition to it.

• How a preacher then is to become master of the beart and affec. sions, so as to regulate every movement of them at plealure, is the great point in question. To touch or play upon the pallions (which may be considered as no other than the flops and keys of the Soul) in a masterly way, is confessedly an extraordinary giti, and falls to the thare of but very few. The only way by which an Oratos can polless it in any degree, is to apply to his own feelings, and enquire upon what occasions, and in what manner his own heart is wont to be affected. Now every emotion of joy or forrow, bope or fear, that himself hath experienced, took its rise from either the lively apprehension of some impending, or the actual feeling of some immediate good or evil. From whence it clearly follows, that one person shall excel another in the article of railing those emotions, in proportion to his kill and ability of painting fuch good or evil in more or less glowing colours. The parbos in a fermon is the object not of reason, but sentiment, and can be efti. mated only from its impressions on the minds of an audience. lo fine, nothing can be more evident than that the direct way to the heart lies through the imagination.

. Amongst the few Englijo preachers who have excelled in raifing the pasions, I thall not scruple to give the firft place to the juftly celebrated Dr. Sherlock. A noble glow, a rich vein of eloquence, runs througla his admirable discourses. His oratory comes in to the aid of argument, and impresses those truths which logic teaches in a warmer and more effectual manner. His plan or design is ever the moit juft, the most natural, the most complete imaginable. He lays down such rules and principles as cannot fail to itrike with equal certainty and evidence upon all readers. Almost all his propoutions

are

[ocr errors]

are particular and determinate, and consequently influencing. The
sentiments arising out of the subject, are in their own nature just,
great, and emphatical. The diction, which is chaste and simple in
the doctrinal part, doth, with wonderful propriety, rise and grow
warm by some heightenings of imagination in the practical.'

Our Author now goes on to lay before his readers several
passages from the fermons of Sherlock, South, Atterbury, and
Tillotson, and to point out their beauties; after which, he shews
that our Saviour and his apostles are entitled to a distinguished
place in the list of pathetic writers, inserting, with this view,
a variety of striking passages from the New Testament, contain-
ing the strongest addresses to the hopes and fears of mankind.

We shall conclude this article with the following passage, which well deserves the serious attention of every one who is, or intends to be, engaged in the sacred office:

• Let the ambassador of Christ,' says our Author, 'act, and talk, and think as becometh one invested with so august and honourable a character. A good life is the most compendious and the moft powerful of all reformers. It is a sort of argument that lies level to the apprehenfions, and will find its way into the hearts, of all men. Primitive lives and primitive labours can and will alone recover the respect paid to our function in primitive days. As long as the preacher of the gospel keeps his eye fleadily fixed upon that great end which he hash" laid himself under the most solemn vows never to lose light of, I mean the salvarion of chose committed to his charge, he may look upon himself, and ought to be looked upon by others, as a fellow-worker with God. But as soon as he takes his eye off from, or pays listle or no atiention to such end, he ought to conlider himself, and will be confidered by others, as the most perfidious of all traitors, the moft contemptible of all hypocrites.' R. Art. IV. A Treatise on Practical Seamanship; with Hints and Re

marks relating thereto : designed to contribute something towards
fixing Rules upon philofophical and rational Principles; to make
Ships, and the Management of them; and also Navigation in ge-
neral, more perfect, and consequently less dangerous and deftruc-
tive to Health, Lives, and Property. By William Hutchinson,
Mariner, and Dock matter of Liverpool. 410. 12 s. 6d. Printed
for the Author, and sold by Richardson and Urquhart, London,
and at all the principal Sea ports in Great Britain and Ireland.
1-77.

AVIGATION, as an art, is the proper address in ma

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

,

cording to the principles of seamanship, as a science: but while the theory is not to be acquired without some acquaintance with letters, this manual dexterity is the result of hard labour and dangerous experience; in the turbulent course of which, all literary knowledge is oftener totally neglected or forgot, then cultivated. The Writer of this useful work concludes his pre. face with the following account of himself:

fra

• Mok

« السابقةمتابعة »