페이지 이미지

persuasive, but equable diction. They require more · 25 hurried tones, more stirring spirit, more glowing and ir.

regular sentences. There must be intensity of thought and intensity of phrase at every turn. There must be bold and abrupt transitions, strong relief, vivid coloring,

forcible expression. If these are present, all other 30 faults are forgiven, or forgotten. Excitement is produced, and taste may slumber.

Examples of each sort may be easily found in our miscellaneous literature, among minds of no ordinary

cast. Our poetry deals less than formerly with the sen35 timents and feelings belonging to ordinary life. It has

almost ceased to be didactic, and in its scenery and descriptions reflects too much the peculiarities and more bid visions of eccentric minds. How little do we see

of the simple beauty, the chaste painting, the uncon40 scious moral grandeur of Crabbe and Cowper ? We

have, indeed, successfully dethroned the heathen deities. The Muses are no longer invoked by every unhappy inditer of verse. The Naiads no longer inhabit

our fountains, nor the Dryads our woods. The River 45 Gods no longer rise, like old father Thames,

“ And the hush'd waves glide softly to the shore."

In these respects our poetry is more true to nature, and more conformable to just taste. But it still insists too much on extravagant events, characters, and pas

sions far removed from common life, and father remov50 ed from general sympathy. It seeks to be wild, and

fiery, and startling ; and sometimes, in its caprices, low and childish. It portrays natural scenery, as if it were always in violent commotion. It describes human emo

tions, as if man were always in ecstasies or horrors. 55 Whoever writes for future ages must found himself upon

feelings and sentiments belonging to the mass of mankind. Whoever paints from nature will rarely depart from the general character of repose impressed upon her

scenery, and will prefer truth to the ideal sketches of 60 the imagination.


82. Tribute to Henry Kirke White. Unhappy White! while life was in its spring, And thy young Muse just wav'd her joyous wing, The spoiler came; all, all thy promise fair

Has sought the grave, to sleep forever there. 5 Ob! what a noble heart was here undone,

When Science self destroy'd her favourite son !
Yes, she too much indulg'd thy fond pursuit,
She sow'd the seeds, but death has reap'd the fruit.

'Twas thine own genius gave the final blow,
10 And help'd to plant the wound that laid thee low :

So the struck eagle stretch'd upon the plain,
No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
View'd his own feather on the fatal dart,

And wing'd the shaft that quiver'd in his heart: 15 Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel,

He nurs'd the pinion which impellid the steel. While the same plumage that had warm'd his nest, Drank the last life-drop of his bleeding breast.


83. Defence of Pulpit Eloquence.

It is sufficiently evident that eloquence has a strong influence over the minds and passions of men.

I do not call the attention of the reader to those compositions which filled Athens with valor, which agitat5 ed or calmed, at the will of the orator, the bosoms of a

thousand warriors, and which all nations have consented to immortalize. The thunder which Demosthenes hurled at the head of Philip, continues to roll to the

present hour; and his eloquence, stripped as it is of ac10 tion and utterance, mutilated by time, and enfeebled by

translation, is yet powerful enough to kindle in our bosoms, at this remote age, a fire, which the hand of death has extinguished in the hearts of those who were origi

nally addressed ! We pass over, also, the eloquence 15 which Cicero poured out, in a torrent so resistless, that

the awful senate of Rome could not withstand its force ; an eloquence that could break confederacies, disarm forces, control anarchy !-an eloquence that years

cannot impair, age cannot weaken, time cannot. de20 stroy! But we appeal to its influence, in an age not

very remote, nor very unlike the present, in a neighboring country, in the ministerial profession. The name of Massillon was more attractive than all the

perfumes that Arabia could furnish ; and this was the 25 incense that filled the churches of spiritual Babylon.

The theatre was forsaken, while the church was crowded; the court forgot their amusements, to attend the preacher; and his spirit-controlling accents drew the monarch from his throne to his feet, stopped the impet30 uous stream of dissipation, and compelled the mocking

world to listen! This is not a picture delineated by fancy, but a representation of facts; and it is well known, that no fashionable amusements had attractions when

the French Bishop was to ascend the pulpit. While he 35 spoke, the king trembled ; while he denounced the in

dignation of God against a corrupted court, nobility shrunk into nothingness : while he described the horrors of a judgment to come, infidelity turned pale, and

the congregation, unable to support the thunder of his 40 language, rose from their seats in agony! Let these

instances suffice to show the power of eloquence, the influence which language well chosen has upon the mind of man, who alone, of all the creatures of God, is able

to transmit his thoughts through the medium of speech, 45 to know, to relish, and to use the charms of language.

I am well aware that an argument is deduced from the power of eloquence against the use of it in the pulpit. It is liable to abuse,' say they ; it tends to im

pose upon the understanding, by fascinating the imagi50 nation. Most true! it is liable to abuse; and what is

there so excellent in its nature that is not ? The doctrines of grace have been abused to licentiousness; and the liberty of Christianity used as a cloak of malicious

ness.' This, however, is no refutation of those doc55 trines, no argument against that liberty. Because elo

quence has been abused, because it has served Antichrist, or rendered sin specious, is it, therefore, less excellent in itself? or is it, for that reason, to be re

jected from the service of holiness ? No; let it be em60 ployed in the service of God, and it is directed to its noblest ends ; it answers the best of purposes !

But the most eloquent are not always the most useful: and God hath chosen the ignorant, in various in

stances, to confound the wise.' It is granted. But 65 does God uniformly work one way? When he sends,

it is by whom he will send ; and he can qualify, and does qualify those whom he raises up for himself. He can give powers as a substitute for literature, and by his own energy effect that which eloquence alone

70 cannot. But we set not up this attainment against his

energy; we know that it is useful only in dependence upon it. We know, too, why the ignorant are frequently exalted in the scale of usefulness, to show that the

power is not of man, but of God;' and that no flesh 75 should glory in his presence. But has he not blessed

talents also, for the same important purpose ? Has he never employed eloquence usefully ? Has his favor been uniformly limited, or ever limited to the illiterate ?

Because he sometimes works without the means, and 80 apparently in defiance of the means, are we therefore

to lay them aside ? Who possessed more advantages, or more eloquence than the apostle, whose words are alluded to in this objection ? Did Paul make a worse

preacher for being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel ? 85 But the gospel of Jesus disdains such assistance :

for the apostle says to the Corinthians, 'I came not to you with excellency of speech :'_'and my speech, and my preaching, was not with enticing words of men's

wisdom. That the gospel of Jesus disdains the assist90 ance of eloquence, in a certain sense, I admit. It will

not accept any thing as its support. It stands upon its own inherent excellence, and spurns all extraneous aid. It is a sun absorbing every surrounding luminary.

Its beauty eclipses every charm brought in comparison 95 with it. Yet, is this a reason why, in enforcing its

glorous truths upon our fellow-men, we should disdain assistance which although it aids not the gospel, is useful to them? Follow the opposite principle, and

lay aside preaching. The gospel approves itself to the 100conscience; every attempt to illustrate and enforce it

is useless, when applied to the truth itself, for it cannot be rendered more excellent than it is : yet it may be rendered more perspicuous to our fellow-men ; it needs

enforcing as it regards them ; and preaching has been 105instituted by God himself for that express purpose. So.

eloquence cannot render assistance to the gospel itself; but may be useful to those who attend it. True ela quence has for its object, not merely to please, but to

render luminous the subject discussed, and to reach the 110hearts of those concerned.

« 이전계속 »