« PreviousContinue »
Accounts and Experiments, Labour of Workmen, Practices of different Counties, Manures, Early Sowing, Leases, Jealousy of Farmers at the proceedings of Gentlemen-agriculturists, Returns, Economy, and Workington Agricultural Society, many judicious observations occur, which will fully repay the reader.
We have next some remarks on Friendly Societies, which appeared in the IVth Vol. of the Communications to the Board of Agriculture. For these institutions, Mr. C. is a strenuous advocate, from extensive experience of their good effects; and his sentiments appended to the orginal paper, respecting the policy and humanity of inviting the Poor to act for themselves, and to acquire some little consequence in their own eyes, in preference to degrading them by our present system of Poormanagement, are so very creditable to his mind and heart, that we cannot but applaud and repeat them:
A circumstance of trifling notice, but important in its influence on the feelings of a body of people, must not be omitted; the yearly celebration of the first formation of their respective Societies, the parade of colours and music, the joint attendance on public worship, the dining in common with their Patron, the passing the yearly ac counts, and choosing a new committee of management from among themselves, are so many charms to bind and engage man to man, and raise him in his own estimation.
That such a plan might be made general, under Parliamentary restrictions, and accompanied with proper checks, is what I cannot too positively affirm; but I shall submit at some length the grounds of my opinion.
It is not enough barely to satisfy the wants and alleviate the sufferings of our fellow creatures; we must advance farther; and the mind must be an object of our care as well as the body. The near alliance of vice and misery to mental degradation, and the dreadful, moral effects of torpid indifference and hopeless poverty on the lower. orders, (evils of late greatly increased and still increasing daily,) satisfactorily prove, that whatever has already been done by law, has been founded on erroneous principles, and that something less compli cated in its system, and more consentaneous to the great springs and motives of human action, must be speedily attempted. I would not hastily pull down and destroy what is even avowedly imperfect and insufficient to its ends, but I would inquire whether some plan might not be so constructed, as to supply its place, and in time render its application altogether useless."
All persons who have reflected on the large sum which is raised by Poor-rates, and the little good that is effected by its expendi sure, on the state of Poor-houses in most parishes, and on the increasing misery and profligacy of the Poor, must be solicitous to revise our existing Poor-laws, and to introduce a new system. In order to benefit the Poor, as Mr. C. remarks, we must make
make the mind an object of our care as well as the body;" and we should not overlook the intimate connection of reason and virtue with the happiness and good order of the great family of the world.' What must be the consequence of congregating a multitude of untaught, immoral, and degraded poor within the walls of a Parish Work-house? They must be soon lost to society and to themselves. Can we expect them to be virtuous;-can we expect them, after having been sunken to the lowest state of degradation, to be any other than a dead weight on society, a gangrene in the body politic? We must restore the poor to some independence of character, must endeavour to make them act for themselves, must clear the poor-houses of all idle and profligate persons, and make the poor as much as possible the agents in their own concerns, before we can extend any real benefit to the lower classes. Mr. Curwen's suggestions are important, as they tend to remedy an evil which we contemplate with sorrow and alarm; and we wish that the conclusion, as well as the other parts of this volume, may obtain the attention which is due to them.
ART. VI. The Pulpit; or a Biographical and Literary Account of eminent popular Preachers; interspersed with occasional clerical Criticism. By Onesimus. Vol. I. 8vo. pp. 367. 9s. Boards. Matthews and Leigh.
ART. VII. Onesimus examined; or Strictures on his Account' of popular Preachers. By an Evangelical Minister. 8vo. pp. 27. Is. Sherwood and Co.
CRITI RITICISM is now so much on the alert, that it seeks for objects beyond the purlieus of authorship. Here is a gentleman who, instead of quietly saying his prayers in his own parochial church, has rambled from parish to parish, and from conventicle to conventicle, in order to spy out the clerical nakedness of the land, and to play the critic in pointed animadversions on the pulpit-performances of certain popular preachers. To give a zest to this spiritual amusement, he has kept a sharp look-out for defects as well as excellences, and has suffered no foible of the sacred orators to lurk unexposed. An earnest zeal for the honour of the Gospel is the ostensible plea for this inquisitorial conduct but the author's views of the Gospel are not sufficiently defined; and in his notices he descends to minutiæ in which neither the honour nor the suc cess of the Christian doctrine is concerned. He accuses others of "itching ears," without perhaps considering how fairly the charge may be retorted on himself. Yet though he may oc casionally
casionally offend, we are disposed to think, on the whole, that he may do some good; and that his hints may effect some reform in the pulpit. He certainly has not been an inattentive hearer, and he writes with spirit and force. Strong attachment to the Established Church is confessed: but objections to certain parts of her offices are broadly stated; and the practice of her clergy, in " reading sermons," instead of cultivating the more engaging talent of extemporaneous eloquence, is censured as injurious to her interest. We quote the passage in which the writer offers his opinion on this subject; being inclined to suspect that his view of the matter, how much soever it may be resisted, is not far from the truth:
What is called Extempore Preaching was always popular with us. Even the late Dr. Gregory admits, apparently with reluctance, the estimation which extempore preaching has commanded, and its effects on the people, "It has been debated," observes this writer, in his Letters on Literature, treating of the eloquence of the pulpit, "whether Sermons may be most advantageously delivered from written notes, memory, or perfectly extempore. Dr. Beattie decides in favor of written sermons. Indeed there is scarcely any extempore discourse," continues Dr. Gregory, "which is not too diffuse for the time usually allotted for the pulpit; that might not, in fact, be comprised in much fewer words; and which does not abound in impertinences, tautologies, or solecisms. Yet, a good Extempore Discourse has more effect, in a common audience, than a written one.” The issue is clear. Granting, as Dr. Gregory says, that Extempore Preaching is, generally understood, the most effectual mode of preaching; and if also it is, as we shall see, judged " most agreeable to the nature of that holy exercise;"why is it not encouraged among the ministers of our national pulpits?
As to the practice of "reading sermons," this, it should seem, according to the Statute-Book of one of the universities, " took be, ginning from the disorders of the times" preceding the restoration of our monarchy; and was countermanded, as no light error in the church, by Charles the Second, when King. Burnet, in his History of the Reformation, seems to account for the disuse of extempore preaching. "Many complaints," affirms this prelate, "were made of those who were licensed to preach; and, that they might be able to justify themselves, they began, generally, to write and read their sermons; and thus did this custom begin So says Dr. Gregory; adding, that "the ease which this practice afforded, and the correctness it induced, has continued it in the Church of England ever since." Widely does this writer here differ from the monarch. What Dr.Gregory terms "ease," Charles the Second calls" supine and slothful;" and that very "correctness" of which this writer seems so much to approve, is reprobated "on pain of the displeasure" of the monarch! Perhaps it is now impracticable to ascertain what effect the royal mandate produced: how long extempore discourses only where heard; or, at what time the body of our clergy relapsed
into their "supine and slothful way" of "reading sermons." Me thodism latterly confirmed them in this spiritual sluggishness. Certainly it is from the origination of Methodism that we must date, for some time, the almost entire discontinuance of extempore preaching Equally anxious to avoid the imputation of ignorance and fanaticism, churchmen and dissenters alike gave up that mode of religious instruction to which ignorance and fanaticism were supposed to be peculiarly attached. Methodists, however, increase; and since one great cause of this increase is the preaching of ther teachers, since the extempore oratory is so unquestionably essential in then, let other pastors, profiting by this example, desist as much as they can, from their "present supine and slothful way of preaching."
I am much in earnest on this great point. Every preacher is not, I know, truly eloquent; for the speaker, as well as the poet, must be born to excel. Much of good, however, might be done. Were the hearts of all her sons in her cause, were the fire of aposto. lic eloquence warm in them, were they full of life and zeal, were her teachers all such, then might the Church of England, worthy of herself, tower as far above the talents as the power of her rivals.
Such is the high spirit for which I would pray; such is the only kind of religious rivalry that I should rejoice to hail in our land. Thus let the church meet her foes. "It is not rendering them railing for railing; it is not," as the great and good Archbishop Secker first admonished the Diocese of Canterbury. " it is not ridiculing them, especially in terms bordering on profaneness; or affecting, more gravely, to treat them with contempt; it is not doing them the honour of miscalling other persons, of more than ordinary seriousness, by their names, that will prevent the continuance or increase of the harm they are doing.'
Let our national clergy take this argument into their most serious consideration; and let them lose no time in using the most effectual weapon that they can employ against Methodism, which, in the present state of things, seems to be going on "conquering and to conquer."
Onesimus divides his work into two parts, the first referring to those Established popular preachers, and the second to those Dissenting popular preachers, who are the objects of his remarks. In the first list, are the names of Dr. Beilby Porteus, late Bishop of London; Dr. Gerrard Andrews; Samuel Crowther, M. A.; Philip Stanhope Dodd, M. A.; Lawrence Panting Gardner, M. A.; Dr.Robert Hawker; John Hewlett, B. D.; Robert Hodgson, M. A.; Isaac Jackman; George Matthew, M. A.; John Owen M. A.; Thomas Robinson, M. A.; Isaac Saunders, M. A.; Robert Stevens, M. A.; Sydney Smith, M. A.; John Wilcox, M. A.; Basil Woodd, M. A.; and Richard Yates, B. D. F.S.A.
The second list includes Dr. William Bengo Collyer; Dr. Henry Draper; Robert Hall, A. M.; Rowland Hill, A. M.;
William Huntington, S. S.! John Hyatt; William Jay; John Martin; Edward Parsons; John Townsend; and Hugh Worthington.
It is apparent, throughout the notices here given, that the critic is solicitous to make what he considers as a fair report; and some of the gentlemen enumerated in the above catalogue may be tolerably satisfied: but others will feel themselves hurt, especially by his pointing, with a degree of ridi cule, to certain little blemishes in their public exhibitions, One, he tells us, plumps on his text ;' another bobs his sermon-case up and down;' another chats for some seconds with the reader in the desk below;' another adjusts his bands and strokes his chin;' another rubs his face and picks his nose ;' another works his mouth about;' and another bundles out of the pulpit.' Not only is Dr. Collyer charged with employing a feminine oratory, an emasculating eloquence, and with seraphic simperings,' but the ladies of his flock, with whom the Doctor is said to be a favourite, are charged with indecorum, one languishing fair-one being accused of dropping a handkerchief into the pulpit, and others with inserting billets-doux in the Bible.' Rowland Hill's chapel is called the religious round-house.' Having recorded a memorable saying of John Ryland, that "the minister was nothing worth who could not make the devil roar," the author adds, but it seems as if it had been reserved for Mr. Hill, exclusively reserved, to shew us the worth of a minister who could make the devil laugh! Among the Established Preachers, Mr. Sydney Smith is singled out as an object of particular severity; he is said to be apparently lifted above orthodoxy; and his partiality to the canons of Ecclesiastes' is intimated as a fault. By a critic who compares morality to the husks of swine,' and represents instruction merely ethical as meagre vapourings,' the soliloquies of Solomon may be deemed improper subjects for pulpit eloquence but, as pure morality is an essential part of the divine law, we can never admit the propriety of any attempt to degrade it in the estimation of mankind, who are too prone to violate its duties, and who require to have its sanctions strengthened instead of being relaxed. We fear that the preaching which is strictly moral will be unpalatable, but it is no part of genuine orthodoxy to decry it. The genius of Mr.Sydney Smith may possibly be more adapted to the bar than to the pulpit: but, if he well illustrated and enforced the canons of Ecclesiastes, he must have delivered such lessons as are much wanted in our vicious metropolis.
William Huntington, S. S. has laid himself open to animadversion: but, after his wonderful success with the multi