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which, we have already seen, severally to answer to the times of Christ. Some by one link, some by another, every portion of the Scriptures may be shown, more or less distinctly, to refer, as I have already advanced, to one common epoch, or to one common character of epoch.'--Pp. vi. vii.
We are quite willing to leave this passage without remark; its extravagant license will be its own antidote. We may note the inconsistency of the author, however, in availing himself here of an argument which he elsewhere repudiates. Here he establishes a likeness between Moses and Christ on the ground of the declaration, ' A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you like unto me;' while in a note to which this very passage refers us, he says,
• How sadly this simple statement of Moses, here dignified to the rank of a prophecy, were misinterpreted of the authors of the New Testament, it is hardly necessary to say. Moses clearly mcant, that after his decease, God would have a care to continue unto them a ruler, or a succession of rulers; and, accordingly, we are told that he did.-P. 450.
A writer who will thus in the first instance condemn an interpretation as false, and immediately make use of it in argument as true, is either intolerably careless, or wilfully dishonest. In neither case is he trustworthy.
We shall now take our leave of this book, with the simple observation that its appearance is a suggestive sign of the times, as it regards the party from which it emanates. It has long been the fashion of the infidel school we use the term infidel as descriptive merely—to cast reproach on the Bible; but it is their policy now to do it honour.' It is now the grand old English Bible,' "a literature glorious and unique ;' imperfect, indeed, but, with all its imperfections, worth recovering at any cost. We take this as an acceptable confession that hitherto they have laboured in vain; and we shall see whether their insidious praise will do more to wean the hearts of men from the Bible, as containing the 'oracles of God and the word of salvation, than has been done by nearly a century of cavil and abuse.
My Congregation and y:
PASSAGES FROM A YOUNG MINISTER'S DIARY.
Poor soul! The Sin against the Holy Ghost! How many times am I to listen to the same melancholy tale ! . . I think the great mistake in dealing with these cases lies in what I may call
topical applications,' or a treatment purely surgical. To meet them chiefly with direct arguments is like cauterizing a tumour or hacking away at it with the knife, instead of treating it as what it probably is-symptomatic, and aiming to corroborate the patient's system in
general. It is a great point to withdraw the attention from the subject. My poor brother is like Mr. John Rhubarb, in the Spectator, who, whenever anything is to be said, done, or thought, humbly requests • That Your Petitioner may have time allowed him to find how he does.' No, my brother, we refuse your petition point-blank; not a minute shall you have to call your own, if we can help it. We'll find out how you do by what you do. And, now, to provide you occupation !
What an infinite help it would be in these cases of spiritual morbidity if there were a more genial Christian manliness and womanliness abroad; more heart-life and less creedism; more trust and less whim. People take their stand on propositions, and try to project brotherly love from that stand-point. I ought to love brother Smith, and I'll begin to-morrow, soon after breakfast.' Brother Smith rather wonders what is up, and nothing comes of it,
"So barren sands imbibe the shower,
Unpleasant and ungrateful.' And besides the formalism, there is often a muddle-headed asceticism puzzling the sentiments, and leaking out subtly in the intercourse, to such a degree that it is palpably dashed with insincerity, and spoilt by consciousness. Two or three friends laugh at a quaint story—but mingling with the healthy music of honest mirthfulness is the sound of a drag-chain in their thoughts, every clank of which seems to say, 'Be sure you do not laugh too heartily.' I have seen, more than once seen, a young brother or sister, leading a pure and gracious life, walking worthily, in the purple brightness of youth, of the holy Name, challenged and confounded in the midst of some quite innocent unconscious enjoyment, with the question, 'Could you ask the blessing of the Lord upon this ? '-or, . Would you wish the Lord to appear in the clouds and surprise you doing this ?' I have seen this, in cases where I myself should have confounded the questioner by simply replying Yes, I should'—or adding (if any. thing), 'my Lord would justly be wroth with me if he found me thinking at all upon such an occasion. Take back your question, my brother, carry it fairly round the four-and-twenty hours of your life, and you will see how false is your present application of it. The death's head at the feast is a pagan, and by no means a Christian idea. It says, “You have eaten of the tree, and now there is an unredeemed taint in every other fruit of the garden.”. But my Lord gives me back the promise of the life that now is, folded up in that of the life which is to come, and by my obedience makes me free.'
Well, this is not going so far astray from what I began this note with as it
Poor J. is harassed with doubts about the sin unto death; I feel satisfied that true, warm, unhampered social intercourse would be the very tonic he most requires, next to active employment; and when I look around my people I scarcely know three circles in which I think he would be likely to get it. To be taken clean out of
himself is what he wants, and the half-life which is lived by those about him will only serve to quicken his wretched self-consciousness.
How very unsatisfactorily is the question between written and unwritten sermons generally conducted. There is evidently a vague, Uncatechized impression on the vulgar mind that there is more reliance upon the Spirit of God, and therefore more probability of being helped by Him, in a spoken than in a written discourse. Yet if those who think thus would push their notion as far as it will go they would of course be compelled to make very destructive alterations in their customary belief on the subject of miraculous divine influence. Next, we have the equally vague, uncatechized idea that there must be more freedom and sincerity of soul in an extempore than in a precomposed discourse. It all depends. It is a fact that some men can think and feel most freely in the closet, and, having there given their thoughts and feelings a body, can fill it with more than the breath of its original life under the stimulus of a large number of listeners. Then, such people should not preach.' It all depends, again, on who are the listeners. All things are double one against another; and if there are those to whom prepared speaking (or reading) is the true extempore process, there will also be those who will find their account in being hearers. In point of fact there are; and it is no more opposed to genuine spontaneity that a preacher should write down his thoughts, than that a composer should write down his music, beforehand. Sydney Smith's sneer about warmed-up enthusiasm a week old' is natural enough from a man who was never lifted off his feet by an emotion in all his life-but life consists of a series of warmings-up. People talk of the dead past,' but there is no such thing. This reminds me of a logomachy between two of my members concerning the question whether a sermon can be considered profitable which does not affect the mind beyond the hour. I was actually pre. sent while this was debated, and found it hard to get in a word of common sense, and to put the question—How can you tell, my friend, whether the effect of a sermon (or anything else) is permanent or not? When I was a child (said I) I used to have a very vivid, terrible vision of the Angel over against the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, counting up the last slain with his sword of fire. It had passed away from me, utterly. I had read the chapter in Chronicles often since, and again in my study the other day, without recalling the image. Suddenly, in the pulpit, last Lord's-day, while I was reading it aloud to my people, it had flashed up into my face, as fresh as if of yesterday. How foolish (said I) a man must feel who, having made up his mind that a particular discourse cannot influence his mind beyond the hour, finds out some day that it has stayed with him for years, and puts into his hand a clue of thought in the very hour of his need !
To come back to sermons considered from another point of view. If the preacher is only master of his matter, so that
the spirit of sympathy is free to play where it lists while he delivers it,—then, whether he reads it or speaks it matters in only this one particular, viz., that to read well requires greater skill in the mechanism of elocution than to speak well. To touch the heart of a multitude, it is not supremely necessary that a man (if he has something to say and a feeling heart besides) should extemporize. What is necessary is that his style should be objective, and his treatment human. Plenty of substantives standing for things tangible, and plenty of flesh and blood, and a man is sure to be listened to. The peculiar fault of Church of England preaching has hitherto been a dry didacticism, supposed to be chaste.' That of Dissenting sermons is propositionalism,-'appeals' being interspersed or tagged on, instead of the whole vein being lyrical. Our sermons are too long. The lyrical manner cannot ordinarily be maintained for three-quarters of an hour. Why not relegate the expository part of the sermon to its natural place in the reading of the word ?
The ordinary Dissenting chapel is not favourable to solemnity of effect when you first enter it. It is not till after the service is some. what advanced that the sacred calm comes down and broods over the people and the preacher. Of course the dropping in' of the congregation during the first half hour or so has much to do with this : when people are settled in their seats and have arranged their dresses, and their books, and had their coughing over, and let off some of their restlessness in the physical relief of singing, all becomes more propi. tious to serious emotion. But I myself have often felt as if the walls were too thin !--and the place too open to the street! Thick walls, well-buttressed (I have the Temple Church in my mind's eye as I put this down), with duplication, and even reduplication of doors,—which must not be, themselves, too high,—give a grave, solid, shut-out-theworld, interiorness of effect, while our flimsy, shakedown, nine-inch brick cubes give just the opposite. On the other hand, there may be great solemnity of effect in a large building of which the doors are flung entirely open, especially if there be a crowd pressing in. But preaching in out-of-the-way places, such as music-halls, and lecture rooms, has this advantage, that numbers may go and hear who would never enter a chapel. I have actual cases in my thoughts; of persons, for instance, who have not been to a place of worship for years, scarcely all their life, and who would be ashamed to have it said, “I saw So-and-so at Chapel, but who have
without scruple to hear preaching at places where their motive might be taken for mere curiosity.
If the whole institution of preaching the gospel could be rid of the quasi-sacerdotalisms which too much cling to it, even among Nonconformist churches ! Dissent would move all the more freely in its anti-Establishment struggles if it cleansed its own bosom of some perilous odds and ends of a bastard ecclesiasticism which afflict it with the consciousness that it is not quite true to itself.
The news brought by T. M. and Billings were partly glad and partly sad. Glad, that Mrs. T. M. had just become the proud mother of a little girl—for which father and mother were both anxious, having hitherto had only boys. Well, I rejoice with them, as well as I can, at present. The sad news forced upon my mind the painful process of tracing to its true source that strange letter upon confession of wrong done. The story told me the other day was indeed one with the leading incidents cut out. T. M. and B. seem only to have got hold of some strange facts which they cannot piece together. I, alone, as far as I can see, know the real truth; death has taken away one of the actors; and the veil must be drawn. It is awful to look on life from such a watch-tower as even mine. You cannot get together a few hundred people without the raw red earth of the fallen humanity breaking out somewhere.
Is it good for me to be alone, when a heartache of this kind sickens me, as it sometimes will?
I have often felt, with oppressive strength, the desire to get closer to the hearts of this congregation in general, and especially of the young in it. The young are a great problem for us all in the churches. There is a fact about our difficulties with them which we must look in the face. It is, that their warm, simple instincts revolt from the formal machineries so often put in motion in their behalf by their well. wishers. It certainly seems to me that the flower of the young men and women of our people do not attach themselves to the customary organizations. The ordinary Bible-class,' the ordinary Association,' takes up in its net the plodder, the talker, the self-lover, bent on
improvement and advancement,' the slow coach, the sordid dullard, -with, of course, some others of different mould. But for the most part, the bright, swift, beautiful souls, of both sexes, do not flutter to the lure. There is a subtle air of formalism and insincerity about such things which a fine spirit does not like to breathe. This is plain to those who have eyes to see : to those who have not, it does not matter: let them remain blind—better so—and go on doing good in their own way. But I cannot rest without trying to do something to bring me and my young hearers (especially though I by no means exclude the old from my plans) into franker, freer contact. How many secret disciples, who now go to Jesus by night only, would be secret no longer, if the first barriers to open intercourse on spiritual topics were broken down for them! : This has weighed upon my mind for years, and at last I have made a very humble, simple effort in what I believe to be the right direction in this matter. Simple, I say, with emphasis, because the simpler the means of communication adopted, the better. Formality would be the very bane of what, to my mind, is wanted; so I have no class, and no special service for the young. It is not every young person who likes to belong to a 'class;' or to be ticketed as "young. Well, I have lately commenced a series of what I have called • Fortnightly Evenings,