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quent on a subject in which he feels not deeply interested. Hence many are criminally defective in genuine pulpit oratory, because their own hearts are not warmed and inspired with the truths which their lips utter. The appearance of a large audience, in which are supposed to be men of science and taste, while it in- . spires some with the spirit of eloquence, binds others down with timidity, and deprives them of the ability to exercise with freedom their own powers. Through these and such like means, many who otherwise might have warmed all around them with the eloquence of truth, have been doomed to drawl out their lives in a monotony of dull sounds, which neither affect themselves nor any - one else.
As already observed, unless a man feels the solemn weight and importance of the subject on which he speaks, it is not possible he should be eloquent. It is a lamentable fact, that while the mountebank upon the stage, inspired by an ardent thirst for fame, and feeling the strong impetus of pecuniary advantage, will make the sentiments and passions of his author his own, and express himself so appropriately as to excite in his audience the alternate passions of love and hate, of sorrow and joy, pleasure and pain, of admiration and disgust; the preacher of righteousness, though possessing all the advantages of the supreme grandeur of his subject, sinks even below mediocrity: while the former astonishes you with the pathos of his manner, the latter either pains you with disgust or lulls you to sleep, by indulging in all the sang froid of a cold calculating philosopher; his whole demeanour declaring that he feels-if he feels at all as if neither himself nor his hearers had any part or lot in the matter.
This, however, is not the case with all. We have our Apollos, who, inspired with the Spirit of their Master, (who spoke as never man spake,) acting under a consciousness of their high calling and tremendous responsibility, pour forth the unrestrained effusions of hearts replete with love to God and man, while their hearers confess, by their sobs and groans, that their speaker “is sufficiently eloquent.” Indeed, when a minister of Christ feels the infinite importance of his subject, when it presses upon his soul as involving the everlasting interests of himself and his listening auditory, though he be naturally “rude in speech," he will be eloquent. He will, indeed, as one observes, "forget method, forget order, he will forget himself,” being lost in the tremendous importance of his subject, and carried out of himself in search of the lost souls with which he is surrounded. With what majesty does such a man appear! He preaches not himself, but Jesus Christ. His theme inspires him. His inspiration is from above. His whole soul is wrapt up in the sublimity, the depth, the tremendous solemnities of his subject! The gestures of his body, the expression of his eyes, the very muscles of his face, all have a tongue, while the tongue itself pours forth a tor
rent of eloquence which overwhelms his congregation by its impetuous force. How diminutive, in comparison to such a man, does the dull reader appear, pleasing himself with the eloquence of his well-turned periods, and playing with the harmony of his sentences, and priding himself upon the high literary character of his composition! · But if this man have, in addition to a sense of the immense weight of his subject, a comprehensive view of the grand system of redemption and salvation, a command of appropriate language; if his mind be imbued with useful knowledge, and has not through timidity or a wrong use of artificial rules, contracted an unnatural stiffness and awkwardness of manner and enunciation, but has command of himself as well as his subject; he will always exhibit that kind of eloquence which will command attention and produce effect. Truth, instead of freezing upon his lips, will warm his whole soul, sanctify and enliven every passion of his heart, and produce correspondent emotions in his audience. He will be less attentive, though not entirely inattentive-to the beauty and elegance of language, than he will to the clearness of his perceptions, the simplicity of his doctrines, and the perspicuity of his illustrations, and the force of his appeals to the understandings and consciences of his hearers. A man who clearly comprehends his subject, is master of his own thoughts, and communicates them in chaste and appropriate language, will rarely fail,—if a becoming earnestness evince the interest he feels in the subject to succeed in arresting the attention of his auditory, or of awakening their minds to serious reflection.
But of all the disgusting practices which a man can exhibit in the pulpit, mimickry is the most disgusting. I once set under one of those good meaning souls, and was alternately chilled and heated; and sometimes, from writhing and twisting in order to give a sort of playfulness to my feelings, I must have exhibited gesticulations as awkward as my recondite speaker; for the goodnatured creature was now aping A. then B. now assuming the voice of C. then D. and in some moments of forgetfulness, when his subject seemed to call off his attention from his numerous prototypes, he spoke in his natural tone, which, indeed, was far from being disagreeable; but when he came to the lisping sound of S, when an uncommon effort was visible to imitate a favourite speaker, the teeth and tongue, coming in close and continued contact, made such a hissing noise, that I was almost thrown from my balance, by a strange association of ideas! “Thinks I to myself, when was he imported from Africa, that he should yet be so much like the monkey-breed! Or does he think we are all such a set of fools as to be pleased with these apish tricks? But another thought happily passed my mind, which saved me from the severe mortification I must have felt from exposing my weakness before so numerous and respectable a congregation: a tear substituted the rising laugh, when I thought of the great and striking contrast between the awful subject of which he was treating and the man- . ner in which it was treated. I thought what a pity, that a cause for which the Saviour of the world bled, for which apostles and saints have burned, should be thus degraded, thus trifled with, by exhibiting over it the disgusting airs of a mimicking mountebank! What rendered him more ridiculous still was, when he seemed the most engaged in this kind of spiritual quackery, he seemed the most elated with himself, as though he was then displaying the preeminent qualities of the finished orator. I could but think, what a pity this man could not for a moment prefer himself to all others, however exalted those others might be in his own estimation: at least so far as to be natural. the delights of virtue; that, in a short period, they must be cop. signed over to inconceivable and unceasing misery, and be for ever secluded the ineffable and never ending glories and joys of Heaven, how doth humanity weep at their situation? Who would not rejoice at their return to virtue? Who can forbear to pray for their reformation ?
Be yourself, then, however ugly that self may be. Another man's coat will not suit you, however well it may sit on his shoulders.
But still, you will not be contented, I suppose, unless you have rules. Well, then, first, study-yourself. 2. Understand your subject. 3. Feel its importance. 4. Keep master of yourself—that is, be not depressed by timidity, nor swollen with self-confidence and vanity. 5. While you derive all the knowledge you can from every source, and especially from all you hear and read, make no efforts to imitate any man, neither in his gestures, the intonations of his voice, nor the peculiar enunciation of his words. 6. Set God always before you ; and as if standing upon the thresholy of eternity, labour as though this might be your last effort to save those who now hear you. And if you must have artificial helps, study Blair, Campbell, Maurry, Knox, and Wesley.
But above all, if you would succeed in accomplishing the allimportant end of your mission, be most solicitous for the holy anointing. While it is said of Stephen that “he was a good man,” it is added that he was “ full of faith and of the Holy Ghost.” It is, indeed, the inspiration of the Holy Ghost which gives to a minister a just claim to his peculiar office, and which fits him for the efficient and successful discharge of its highly interesting duties. Thus qualified he preaches not with “enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power." His word cuts its way through the foldings of the sinner's heart; and he confesses that God is with His ministers of a truth. In the fulness of his heart he pours forth the strains of divine truth, and his doctrine distils as the “dew upon the grass, and as the rain upon the tender herb.”
It might be asked, “What has this to do with the evidence of Christianity ?” What has this to do with it! Is it no evidence of the truth of a doctrine for its professed advocate to preach as if he believed it? How many skeptics have been, as they have thought, confirmed in their perpetual doubtings, by the cold indifferent manner in which truths of such acknowledged impor
tance have been delivered? How disgusting to an intelligent mind to see a man in the pulpit apparently more attentive to himself than to his subject, and mumbling over the tremendous truths of God with less pathos than a school-boy would read his lesson ! And is it not more disgusting still to see a proud man recommending humility, a stiff, haughty man, praising the virtues of gentleness and meekness, a hard-hearted, unconverted man, urging the necessity of penitence and conversion? If hypocrisy and inconsistency be contemptible in any one, it is most assuredly so in a professed ambassador of God. Let, then, the evidence of truth shew itself in the sincerity, the earnestness, and lowliness of your manner, that those who hear you may credit the sincerity of your own faith.
(To be Continued.)
Your very agreeable letter of the 2d ultimo, I have had the pleasure of receiving. As by the contents of it, I perceive you are sensible of the importance of religion ;-(by which I understand unfeigned contrition for sin; faith in Jesus Christ; a reliance on his merits for salvation and purity of heart; a life of undissembled piety, or a sincere and universal observance of the divine precepts, to the utmost of our power;)-permit me to mention that it is my sincere wish and ardent prayer, that yourself; Mr. Gouverneur, your little ones and friends, may be so blest as to participate of the happy effects of the Christian Dispensation.
But ah! Madam, how many are there who would blush were they to know they were even thought to be pious ; that is, beings of reason, honour and virtue, and who make it their study to please and serve the God of infinite perfection, who gave them existence, and who is continually opening his hand liberally and favouring them with his bounty!—And what multitudes are there who “live without God in the world;" who, with the perfection of folly, temerity and impiety, make a jest of every thing serious, and consume their days in vice as though they were formed for no higher end than to eat and drink; to laugh and die!
Infatuated mortals ! How soon must the scene be changed ! How soon will they be torn from the sinful embrace; for ever close their eyes upon all sublunary objects; their persons be clothed with putrefaction; their souls covered with confusion and infamy, and be filled with sorrow and woe!
Affecting thought! To consider that, for the practice of iniqui- . ty, they now endure the terrors of guilt, and rob themselves of Vol. VI.
Let the spectacle of sin, and its consequences, in others, occasion us to flee it with the utmost detestation and abhorrence; and to “draw nearer to God,” in all his holy ways, that he, in con-, descending goodness, may “draw nearer to us;" bless us with his presence; preserve us from evil, and at last receive us into his heavenly kingdom!
O! happy prospect! O! blessed hopes of eternal bliss! 0! transporting idea, to associate with all the blest company of the celestial regions.
Should Providence not suffer me to enjoy, dear madam, much of your conversation on earth, may we be so favoured as to spend eternal ages together in that happy place, wherein will be no disquietude nor pain, nor any thing to embitter, even for a moment, those rivers of pleasure we shall enjoy, which will for ever flow at the right hand of God.
But before we can expect to enter upon heavenly bliss; or to be invested with “ the palm of victory and crown of glory, which fade not away," we must look for a season of conflict with sin and Satan ; or many impediments in our Christian course. The best of persons find it necessary to make use of every aid in their power, that, at last, they may vanquish their spiritual foes: And pardor me, madam, if I take the liberty of suggesting the following particulars, the observance of which, (if they are unpractised by you, will, I trust, cause you more perfectly to be united to the Divine Being by faith and love.
1. Frequent and fervent devotion, in the closet, at least three times a day, and pious ejaculations every hour, through the day, or more frequent.
2. Reading some portion of the Holy Scriptures daily, with some good exposition of them.
3. Serious meditation, on the most important religious subjects.
4. Avoiding all levity of conversation, and the very appearance of evil.
5. Perfect resignation to each dispensation of divine Providence.
6. Self-examination at night of our conduct the day past.
I shall only add to this letter, that I shall always be happy in your correspondence; that Mrs. Ogden's affectionate regards awaits yourself and Mr. Gouverneur, and that, with great esteem,
I am, Dear Madam,
Your sincere friend,
And most obedient servant, Newtown, 6th Dec. 1783.
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