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sudden all my hopes vanished, and were melted like snow before the sun.”
During this visit to London he had preached a remarkable sermon in the chapel of Guildhall, on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Dining with his friends, Dr Pope and the Bishop of Salisbury, he was observed not to eat. He said that he was suffering from a slight indisposition with which he had struggled two or three days, but that he hoped by fasting and opiumto cure it, as he had removed another and more dangerous sickness at Constantinople some years before. The sickness increased into high fever. Unfavourable symptoms manifested themselves; the physician was struck with horror at his appearance, and when he left him, thought that he should never see him more. The foreboding was but too well grounded. He never rallied, and on May 6, 1677, he calmly fell asleep. Thus at the age of fortyseven, in the prime of his life, fame, and usefulness, he was cut off. The fever was caused by a cold which he had taken by his devotion in preaching. That sermoni, one of the noblest and most eloquent which he ever delivered, was on glorying in the Cross. He employed his dying hand in preparing it for the press. In the language of his simple-hearted biographer, Abraham Hill,
| This discourse is contained in the present volume.
2 He seems to have formed the habit of using opium, medicinally, when in Turkey. There, too, he acquired his fondness for tobacco, in which he freely indulged, calling it his nav papuakov, or universal remedy, and saying that “ it did help to regulate his thinking."
“his death was suitable to his life; not this imperfect, slight life as I relate it, but that admirable, heroic life which he lived."
In person Barrow was thin, and rather below the usual height; “ of extraordinary strength, of a fair and calm complexion, a thin skin, very sensible of the cold; his eyes gray, clear, and somewhat short-sighted; his hair of a light auburn, very fine and curling." His friends thought he was “unmercifully cruel to himself, not taking sufficient sleep or food.” He used always to sleep with the means of procuring a light beside him, and he would at times get up while it was yet dark, and pursue his studies.
He was a most kind friend, and ever ready to render a service to all who sought his aid. When young, he
, used to do their college exercises for his idle companions, and when hewas Professor and Master, his learned friends were made freely welcome to his manuscripts one after another. Most of his lectures were lost in this way.
He appears to have been careless and inattentive to his personal appearance, even beyond the wont of the most negligent scholars. This was once a source of some annoyance to him. He was to preach for his friend Dr Wilkins at St Lawrence, Jewry. At the appointed hour, a pale, meagre, unpromising-looking man made his appearance in the pulpit, dressed in a slovenly manner, with his collar unbuttoned and his hair uncombed. It so happened that an alarm of fire was raised, and most of the congregation went away. The preacher,
utterly unmoved by the commotion, gave out his text, and went through his sermon to the two or three people present. It so happened that the great and good Richard Baxter was one of those who remained. Some of the parishioners thought fit to call upon Dr Wilkins “ to expostulate with him why he suffered such an ignorant scandalous fellow to have the use of his pulpit.” Dr Wilkins appealed to Mr Baxter, who was present. Baxter had already told Wilkins that he had never heard a better discourse; he now declared that he could have sat and listened all the day long. The complainants, astonished at hearing this, changed their tone, and confessed
they did not hear one word of the sermon, but were carried to mislike it by his unpromising garb and mien, the reading of his prayer, and the going away of the congregation.” They even begged Dr Wilkins to procure them the pleasure of hearing Barrow preach again. But we are told that he “could not by any persuasions be prevailed upon to comply with the request of such conceited, hypocritical coxcombs.”
The sermons of Barrow are unlike the great majority of discourses. They were written in a very unusual mode, and are to be judged according to exceptional rules. Barrow had no settled pulpit. He never, at regular intervals, addressed regular congregations. He was himself conscious that if he had done so, a different system would have been necessary. he would then have shortened his sermons, and have trusted to his memory. As it was, when he meditated
upon a text he produced a treatise. The subject was exhaustively treated: nothing was left unsaid which ought to or could be said." His plan was to think over some important subject, and then, selecting a text, write a sermon upon it. Preaching the sermon
was with him a secondary point; his first thought was to deal thoroughly with the whole length and breadth of his theme. His habit
to prosecute the matter thoroughly to a ternination. He even speaks of this as his "imperfection, not to be able to draw his thoughts easily from one thing to another.” This is an “imperfection” of a very peculiar kind; it would be well if it were more common. Nothing is more rare than this faculty of sustained attention. Indeed, some philosophers have given a definition of genius very little different from the “imperfection” of which Barrow complains.
Various stories are told of the length to which his sermons extended.
His friends allow that they were not orations designed to be spoken in an hour.” On one occasion he was going to preach in Westminster Abbey. The Dean told him not to be long : the Abbey congregation liked short discourses, and were used to them. Hereupon Barrow produced his sermon. The Dean glanced over it, and begged him to give them only the first part. With visible reluctance, Barrow
1 The king “who never said a foolish thing, and never did a wise one,” used to call Barrow “ an unfair preacher, because he left nothing for those who came after him.”
consented. It occupied one hour and a half. The Dean's reason for preferring this request was, that on a former occasion the congregation, wearied by the length of the discourse, began to disperse before its conclusion. The vergers, who received fees from visitors for showing them round the Abbey at the close of the service, fearful of losing all their customers, induced the organist to “strike up against him, and would not give over playing till they had played him down.” On another occasion, he preached before the lord mayor and aldermen, and gave them the whole of his sermon. It occupied three hours and a half. Some one asked him whether he was not tired. “Yes, indeed,” said he, “I began to be weary with standing so long."
It is, of course, manifest that sermons such as these were not fitted for ordinary ministerial use. They could not be so by reason both of their great length and their great learning. But though scarcely sermons in themselves, they form a storehouse from which multitudes of sermons have been, and will continue to be, drawn.
It is doubtful which to admire most, Barrow's natural or acquired powers. His mind was one of the very highest order. It exhibits that admixture of logical with rhetorical power which critics hold to be the perfection of written or oral eloquence. His object is kept before him with severe simplicity; his reasoning is of mathematical cogency; but as he proceeds with his subject the rigid lines burst into fruit and flower, and his diction, exuberant and energetic, rises to a grave and