« ForrigeFortsett »
as had been supposed, but an enlargement of the air-cells and condensation of the substance of the lungs.
The death, at so early an age, of a man so well qualified in every way to play a distinguished part in public life, so able and willing to have done good service to his country, and of a disposition so adapted to conciliate friendship and disarm enmity, caused, as it may be supposed, a very general and deep
At the suggestion of the Speaker the unusual course was adopted, in moving for a new writ to the Borough of St. Mawes, vacated by Mr. Horner's death, of giving an expression in the House of Commons, to the feelings of regret that pervaded men of all parties. His opponents did justice to his memory, and he was eulogized at once by Canning and Romilly: the former forgetting for the time Mr. Horner's steady opposition to the principles he had himself espoused, the latter recognizing a character that in many of its features was akin to his own. Horner, like Romilly, united in a very unusual degree modesty and decision of character-a rare combination; yet when the principles are considered upon which these qualities in both of them were based, it is apparent that they are perfectly compatible with each other. Their decisiveness arose from a strong sense of duty, which was paramount to all other considerations; and, therefore, kept them steadily along a straightforward path, away from which no force from within or from without ever had the power to drive them. Both of them carried a chivalrous sense of honour into a place, where honour that would have stood almost every other test has too often been debased : and both brought it out again unsullied. In domestic life both were warmhearted, simple, and affectionate; their superior talents and the eminence these gained for them never inspired either of them with any feeling of pride, nor did the excitements of ambition dull their sympathies in the every-day concerns of their friends.
“ I never saw any person,” says Mr. Sydney Smith, “who took such a lively interest in the daily happiness of his friends. If you were unwell, if there was a sick child in the nursery, if any death happened in your family, he never forgot you for an instant! You always found there was a man with a good heart who was never far from you.”
We cannot conclude these notices of Mr. Horner better than in the words of Sir James Mackintosh, one of his most intimate friends in early life.
“ The short life of this excellent person is worthy of serious contemplation, by those more especially who, in circumstances like his, enter upon the slippery paths of public affairs. Without the aids of birth or fortune, in an assembly where aristocratical propensities prevail,—by his understanding, industry, pure taste, and useful information, still more by modest independence, by steadiness and sincerity, joined to moderation,-by the stamp of unbending integrity, and by the conscientious considerateness which breathed throughout his well-chosen language,he raised himself, at the early age of thirty-six, to a moral authority which, without these qualities, no brilliancy of talents or_power of reasoning could have acquired. No eminent speaker in Parliament owed so much of his success to his moral character. His high place was, therefore, honourable to his audience and to his country. Regret for his death was expressed with touching unanimity from every part of a divided assembly, unused to manifestations of sensibility, abhorrent from theatrical display, and whose tributes, on such an occasion, derived its peculiar value from their general coldness and sluggishness. The tears of those to whom he was unknown were shed over him; and at the head of those by whom he was, “praised, wept and honoured,' was one, whose commendation would have been more enhanced in the eye of Mr. Horner, by his discernment and veracity, than by the signal proof of the concurrence of all orders, as well as parties, which was afforded by the name of Howard.”—Vol. ii. p. 430.
Art. 111.--ENDEAVOURS AFTER THE CHRISTIAN
LIFE. A Volume of Discourses. By JAMES MARTINEAU.
When the late Edward Irving, some years ago, published a volume of his singular addresses from the pulpit, he refused to call them Sermons, lest he should deter the general public from their perusal, by the presumption of dullness supposed to attach to all compositions which bear this ominous title. We suspect he was not far wrong in his estimate of the feeling which pervades a very large portion of society. With the exception of the class that is peculiarly designated the religious, and whose interest may be considered as artificially sustained by the existing institutions of religion—all the rest of mankind appear to cast aside with great indifference the multitude of sermons that annually issue from the press—as altogether barren of solid instruction, smitten throughout by the blight of common-place, and setting forth with unnecessary pomp of elaboration in soul-less and conventional phrase, either propositions which nobody disputes or doctrines with which no clear and hearty conviction is associated. Not a few, therefore, are inclined to believe, that this kind of literature, though upheld for a time by the force of established institutions, has accomplished its function in the moral discipline of the world, and is verging with the present tendencies of society to its final extinction.
In this persuasion we do not ourselves participate. Productions from time to time appear (and the volume before us is among the number) which convince us, that it is unfounded, and suggested rather by the confined views of a transient position of human affairs than by a wide survey of the permanent necessities of mankind. The whole experience of the past and the most decided indications of the future forbid the expectation, that men will ever entirely renounce the inspiring exercises of public worship, and will not avail themselves at such seasons of the faithful admonitions of some friend and brother, who makes the duties and destination of humanity and its mysterious connexions with the infinite and eternal-the theme of his habitual contemplations. The feelings which grow out of our moral relations, and the deep questionings they excite in every thoughtful mind-are not like many of the elements of our outward life-our material civilization; they do not appertain to a particular condition of society, and pass away with it,
but, though the forms and expressions of them may vary from age to age, are instinct with perpetual youth and possess an imperishable interest. No advances in science can possibly exhaust the insatiable demands of the soul on that vast world which must ever lie behind the impressions of sense. At the loftiest heights of attainable knowledge, the soul will sustain an unaltered relation to the unsearchable God and the boundless universe. Life and death and the unfathomable wonders which encompass them—the upbraidings of conscience, the sense of frailty, the anguish of bereavement, and the fond presages of a purer and happier futurity—will still visit the heart with their sad and solemn influence, and awaken the reflections of the contemplative, and call on the more gifted to interpret their mysteries.
In the necessary existence of such feelings we find a reason for the perpetuity of worship, of spiritual consolation, of religious warning and admonition; we discern in them the springs of a perennial devotion—the everlasting poetry of the human heart. Here is the sphere of the highest order of genius. Hence flow the elements of that lofty influence which is wielded by the prophet and the bard. Their subject is humanity-its doubts, its fears, its struggles, its aspirations; and the instrument with which they act upon it, is the utterance of a melodious heart breathing in harmony with the sweet and silent music that fills the spiritual universe. The themes on which the humblest preacher dwells, are closely allied to those on which the most inspired have given forth their deepest thoughts. In their most thrilling passages, Dante, Shakspeare, Milton, Wordsworth-touch those very chords of human sympathy which are appealed to-though often without responsein every discourse from the pulpit.
It is clear, therefore, there can be nothing in the nature of the subjects properly embraced by a sermon that should deprive it of the greatest power over the human mind, or exclude from it the highest efforts of genius. On the contrary, the very fact, that it is spoken-in the presence of numbers and under the exciting influences of sympathyand designed for immediate effect on the heart and life-would seem to render it a fitter vehicle of genuine inspiration than such works as aim at producing kindred impressions on the solitary reader through the remoter influences and more circuitous associations of fiction. And it is probable that no action of mind on mind has ever equalled in depth, directness and extent of influence, the preaching, in troubled and exciting periods, of ardent natures, roused by a great object and determined to attain it. That the calmer and nobler forms of
pulpit eloquence do not more frequently appear, we impute mainly to the constitution of most Christian churches-whether established or nonconformist- which deters the best order of minds from engaging in their service, and embarrasses even the few they occasionally secure, with discouragements and restrictions that impede the finest exercise of genius. We allude not merely to the incessant demand for periodical efforts of the same kind, which induces a certain flatness and mechanical uniformity of execution, and to that imperfect division of labour, arising from the multiplicity of sects, which exacts too much from one individual, and prevents the completest unfolding of the specific gifts of different minds in the various offices of pastoral administration, religious instruction, moral warning and spiritual excitement—but chiefly to that denial of free thought, fearless utterance and independent action, which too frequently makes the preacher merely the mouth-piece of the people the recognized organ—through which voice and apparent vitality are given to doctrines deposited in their public confessions, or cherished in their hereditary prejudices. True eloquence is the outpouring of hearty conviction--the expression of a soul penerated to its inmost core with the spirit of humanity, and the love of truth and right. Were religious teachers released from the bondage under which the Church is now languishing, and their hearts brought into immediate contact with God, and Christ, and human kind—conviction and sympathy would come back again, and unseal once more the hidden fountains of inspiration, and shed a quickening influence on the arid unproductive fields of religious formalism; and the lowliest preachers of the Gospel, labouring in the spirit of truthfulness and fidelity, would feel their vocation ennobled by the consciousness, that it was not deemed unworthy of the most intense interest and the highest efforts of the greatest minds.
As it is—wherever, by a happy coincidence of circumstances, faith and professional obligation have been in harmony—what precious fruits of wisdom and eloquence have often been produced by a noble mind's dedication of itself to the service of religion! In the whole compass of our literature, where shall we find a more solemn and dignified eloquence than in Hooker -richer overflowings of spiritual tenderness and beauty than in Taylor-or a more exhausting analysis of the deepest religious themes than in Barrow? Nor must we go back two centuries for proofs of the vast capabilities of pulpit eloquence. Numbers are yet living who can bear witness to the thrilling effect produced on hearers of every description, by the spontaneous and as if inspired-effusions of Robert Hall-of