Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

the shock, which he gives, is too strong. He seems not only to want theological knowledge, but knowledge of the human mind; or attention in entering into the feelings of rational Christians." Vol. i. p. 452.

It is, perhaps,with a reference to Foote, as well as to some other writers, that Mr. Foster, in his Fourth Essay, says, “I will only remark on one particular more, namely, that the lighter order of these writers, and some even of the graver, have increased the unacceptableness of Christian doctrines to minds of taste, by their manner of ridiculing the cant and extravagance by which hypocrisy, enthusiasm, or the peculiarities of a sect or period, may have disgraced them. Sometimes indeed they have selected phrases for the purpose which were not cant, and which ignorance and impiety alone would have dared to ridicule.-By this criminal carelessness (unless indeed it were design) they have fixed disagreeable and irreverent associations on the evangelical truth itself, for which many persons, afterwards become more seriously convinced of that truth, have had cause to wish those pages or volumes had gone into the fire instead of coming into their hands.” Letter IX.

E. p. 67.

Addison, in No. 445. of the Spectator, says, “I have new-pointed all the Batteries of Ridicule. They have been generally planted against persons, who have appeared serious rather than absurd; or at best, have aimed at what is rather unfashionable than what is vicious. For my own part, I have endeavoured to make nothing ridiculous that is not in some measure criminal. I have set up the immoral man as the object of derision: In short, if I have not formed a new weapon against vice and irreligion, I have at least shewn how that weapon may be put to a right use, which has so often fought the battles of impiety and profaneness.”

Young, in his Centaur not fabulous, says, “What may silence Wisdom, will but provoke Wit, whose ambition it is to say most, where least is to be said. You may as well attempt to silence an Echo by strength of voice, as a Wit by force of Reason. They both are but the louder for it: they both will have the last word. How often hear we men with great ingenuity supporting folly ? that is, by Wit destroying Wisdom; as the same sort of men, by pleasure, destroy happiness; prone to draw evil out of good; and set things at variance, which, by nature, are allies. Happiness and Pleasure,

as Wisdom and Wit, are each other's friends, or foes; if foes, of foes the worst. Well-chosen Pleasure is a branch of Happiness; welljudging Wit is a flower of Wisdom : but when these petty subalterns

for themselves, and counteract their principals, one makes a greater wretch and the other a grosser fool, than could exist without them." Letter I.

set up

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

or the

DUNLOP, in his Sermons, vol. i. Serm. XI. has one upon this text, wherein, taking up the idea of Grotius, who translates to oxud tagayet

“ the scene of this world passes away,or scene changes and presents an appearance entirely new,” (see Parkhurst's Lexicon) he draws a parallel between the transitory nature of this world, and that of a scene in a theatre.

Jones (of Nayland) in his Lectures on the Figurative Language of the Holy Scriptures, Lect. XI, referring to this Sermon, makes some remarks, too much in point to the subject of these Discourses, not to be given here. “ Such is the excellence of the Sacred style, that it is accommodated to our capacities, it delights our imagination, and « leads us into all truth" by the pleasantest way; it improves the natural world into a witness of our faith; it transfigures us from natural into spiritual men, and gives us a foretaste of the glorious presence of God. If these are the effects of it, it must be of infinite value to particular persons in their several studies and professions.

And first, it is absolutely necessary to a Christian preacher: whose doctrine, if it be after the form of the scriptural imagery, will be more intelligible, more agreeable, and more edifying to all sorts of hearers. If this is the method God hath been pleased to prefer for the teaching of man, it must be the best when one man undertakes to teach another. We have seen how our Saviour's preaching was in the form of parables: how the Apostles in their

interpretation of the Old Testament, apply it as a figure and shadow of things to come; and how in their exhortations they reason from some parallel case in the ways of nature. And still it will always be found, that nothing has such an effect in preaching, as the skilful handling of some image or figure of the Scripture. For truth, as we have often observed, does not enter into men's minds in its own abstracted nature, but under the vehicle of some analogy, which conveys a great deal of sense in very few words: and therefore the best preachers have always taken advantage of some such analogy, after the manner of the Scripture itself, which gives us the pattern of all true preaching.

Let me shew you how this is, by an example. Suppose a preacher would persuade his audience not to abuse the station in life to which Providence hath appointed them; and not to presume upon the character they may sustain amongst men for a short time here upon earth: he reasons from the transitory nature of worldly things: and this he teaches them to see in a glass, by setting before them the changeable scenery, and temporary disguise of men in a theatre. In the world at large, as upon a Stage, there is a fashion in the characters and actions of men, which passeth away, just as the scenery changes, and the curtain drops in a theatre; to which the Apostle alludes. The world is a great shew, which presents us various scenes and fantastic characters; princes, politicians, warriors and philosophers; the rich, the honourable, the learned and the wise: and with these, the servant and the beggar, the poor, the weak and the despised. Some seldom come from behind the scenes; others, adorned with honour and power, are followed by a shouting multitude, and fill the world with the noise of their actions. But in a little time, the scene turns, and all these phantoms disappear. The king of terrors clears the Stage of these busy actors, and strips them of their fictitious ornaments ; bringing them all to a level, and sending them down to the grave, as all the actors in a drama return to their private character when the action is over.

From this coniparison, how easy and how striking is the moral. Nothing but a disordered imagination can tempt an actor on a Stage to take himself for a king, because he wears a crown, and walks in purple or to complain of his lot, because he follows this fictitious monarch in the character of a slave. Therefore let us all remember, that the world, like the Stage, changes nothing in a man but his outward appearance: whatever part he may act, all distinctions will

soon be dropped in the grave, as the actor throws off his disguise when his part is over.

On which consideration, it is equally unreasonable in man, either to presume or to complain.”

says,

That you

Orton, in his Sermon, takes up the subject in the same strain, and I would not have you go, even to the play-house, without 'learning something good and useful there. Let me therefore recommend it to you, who, after all, chuse to attend it; that before the play begins, or between the acts, you dwell a little upon such reflections as these. You are acting a part on the great stage of life: a part assigned you, by the infinite, eternal Jehovah, your Creator, governor, benefactor, and judge. That he sits behind the scenes; and though you see him not, he sees you, and observes and records all your actions, words and thoughts: that he is too wise a being to be deceived, and too holy and awful a being to be trifled with. That you may, in a moment, even while you are seeing the play, be called off the stage of life to appear before your Judge. must give an account to him of all things done in the body; of your time and money; your thoughts and imaginations; of the principles

you have acted in life; of the encouragement and countenance, which you have given to religion, or to vice; and the good or injury which you have done to the souls of others, by your converse and example. If it shall then appear, that you have acted your part well, and kept yourselves pure, you will receive the applause of your Judge; all his saints and angels will concur in it, and you will be for ever happy. But if

you have acted

your part ill, he will most certainly and awfully condemn you; and you will have your portion with “ the devil and his angels in everlasting fire.” (Matt. xxv. 41.) These most weighty sentiments and reflections you may learn at the play-house. And if you once learn and feel them, which I heartily pray that you may, my end will be answered : for I am persuaded, you will never go again.” p. 302.

[ocr errors]

on which

B. p. 72. Such is the remark of a critic upon one of Garrick's pieces. Though Garrick did not do all he might have done to improve the Stage, yet we are certainly greatly indebted to him for what good he did; he improved both the morals of the Stage, and the taste of the public. Mr. Styles says of him, that he “in vain attempted to discipline the taste of the English audience; he at last relinquished it in despair, and was heard to say, “ That if the public

Y

« AnteriorContinuar »