Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

in a specious attire. The fancy was charmed : and reason was not strong enough to break the delufion.

These discourses are introduced to the world by a preface from an anonymous writer, who hath thrown together a heap of fulsome declamatory nonsense on the excellence, importance, and comfort, of the doctrine of Christ's divinity.

The sermons which fucceed it on the same subject are pretty much in the same diffuse, unmeaning, illogical strain. They have not the fightest pretension to argument, and they will rather weaken than confirm the cause they profess to support, They are full of dismal interjections, or impertinent interroga. tions : and their chief strength is concentred in a plaintive ah! or an emphatic oh!

One argument (if it may be so called) on which the Preacher lays stress, in proving the doctrine of Christ's divinity, is drawn from his knowledge of the human heart. This point he illura trates by a remarkable instance from the Evangelists. “Did not a look from our Lord's eye renew the heart of Zaccheus. The holy scriptures represent him as an oppreflor and extortioner: one who made it his butiness to grind the faces of the poor, and raise himself a forture by all manner of unjust practices. One would almost despair of recalling fo egregious a finner :-a finner that was hardened in villany, and a veteran in iniquity. But, behold !-a glance from Christ's eye converts him! He climbed the tree a finner! and came down the tree a new crea, ture!'

In the farther illustration of the subject, the Preacher descants on the signs and wonders which attended the crucifixion of our Saviour, and then gives the Arians a home-thrust by the sharp two-edged sword of interrogation and interjection. · The sun withdraws at the horror' of his agonies, and leaves the astonished world in darkness! And is not this the great God! Did ever the whole face of nature go into mourning for any but its Creator? The centurion, before an infidel, now becomes a believer! He is now convinced of the divinity of the BLESSED Jesus: these astonishing, unheard-of events overcome his prejudices.'-Oh! Priestley, art thou yet, in the pride of reason, hardened against orthodoxy ?

-Can such things be
And overcome us like a summer's cloud

Without our special wonderi To give a death-wound to Socinianism, the Preacher assures us in the most peremptory language of absolute certainty (p. 35.), that the fatisfaction of Christ must be more than intinite, since it made us ample reparation to the Uncreated Holiness as if the whole race of finners had been eternally destroyed.' Some of the duller clafs of our Readers inay be unable to comprehend

the

the force and extent of this argument: and others, whose heads run on nothing but mathematics, may laugh at it as a palpable absurdity. But there is a profound meaning in it, whether it be perceived or not. We will draw it out of its deep and dark abyss, and preient it to our Readers in open day-light, in all the dress of mood and figure; viz. As fin is in itself an infinite evil, it could not be atoned for by a satisfaction that was barely infinite, since in that case the matter would only have been upon an even poise. But the facisfaction of Christ did actually atone for the infinite evil of fin. THEREFORE, the satisfaction of Christ must have been more than infinite. Q. E. D. !

In a fermon on the duty of reading the scriptures, the Preacher hath almost exhausted the very fountain of invention for fimilies, metaphors, and all possible figures of speech, to display the excellence of the word of God.

Ó blefled book! (says he) our better, our spiritual fun, that sheddeft thy bright beams upon our souls, and furnishest us with the light of life! Thou sovereign antidote against the deJusions of the devil, the treachery of our fallen nature, and the darkness of the world! Thou guide to lead us fafely from the mazes of this miserable life unto our heavenly and everlasting reit. No wonder that David counted his kingdom as nothing, and called thee his heritage and portion for ever. 'Tis rather to be wondered at, that all mankind do not prize thee as their richest jewel ; converse with thee as their sweetest companion, and talk of thee as the dearest object of their love all the day long. What a rapid succession of metaphors! So quick and suddenly do they follow, that (as Shakespear fays) they gall each other's heels! The blessed book is a fun, and the next instant this sun is converted into an antidote :--but indeed it is an antidote against darkness. Fron, hence it takes the shape of a guide, and from a guide it is transformed into a heritage. The heritage becomes a jewel, and the jewel (by a process as extraordinary as that which the teeth of Cadmus underwent) ends in a companion, to whom one might be making love all day Jong!

But che Preacher hath not half done with his subject : for as Martinus Scriblerus hath long since observed of Sir Richard Blackmore (Vid. Mape Babes, cap. v.), There is nothing so great which a marvellous genius, prompted by the laudable zeal of finking, is not able to lessen! Hear how the most sublime of all books is represented in the following images.?

First, it is likened to a TRUMPET. $ When our hands have hung down, and our knees grown feeble in our holy warfare, hath not a chapter, and sometimes a single verle called up our courage as a trumpet, and inspired the soldier of Christ with new recruited vigour ?'

Now

Now it is a HAMMER. · Let us put ourselves under the discipline of this heavenly word. It is likened to a hammer that breaketh the obdurate heart, that rock in the breast, in pieces.'

Now it is a good BREAST of MILK. " The babes in Christ may fuck at this breast, and grow thereby.'

It is a LANTERN. “The scriptures are hung out by the Lord himself on purpose to be a light unto our feet and a lantern to our path.'

It is an APOTHECARY's Shop. In this store-house of precious things there is medicine for every fickness and balm for every wound.'

It is a BUTTERY. ' In it we have a supply for every want. It is plenteousness stocked with all that can be cheering to us in our pilgrimage.'

It sometimes acts like Fire. • There are such promises from one end to the other—such pre. cious promises to set on fire all our hopes.'

At other times it acts like Water. • The scriptures are wells of consolation as well as wells of salvation, and we may draw from them the water of joy in such abundance as will drown all our troubles.''

[ocr errors][merged small]

Art. III. Sermons by Calin Milne, LL.D. Rector of North Chapel

in Suflex, Lecturer of Si. Paul's Deptford, and one of the Preach. ers at the City of London Lying-in-Hospital. 8vo. 6 s. bound, Cadell. 1770. THE Author informs his Readers, in the Advertisement

prefixed to his Sermons, that few of them were delivered exactly in the sanie form in which they are now offered to the Public. The time usually allotted for inltructions from the pulpit seldom permitted the Author to exhauit his subject in a single discourse. When the intreaties therefore of some partial friends had perfuaded him to submit the least incorrect of his compofitions to the inspection of the Public, he judged that he thould be guilty of no great impropriety by incorporating several discouries upon the fame subject into one or two, which, though thereby necessarily rendered longer than sermons generally are, might yet, he imagined, by conjoining the several arguments employed, and placing them before the Reader in one strong point of view, gain, perhaps in point of energy and effect, what they lost in elegance and neatness.' What degree of elegance or neatness those fermons might possess in their original and unincorporated Itate, it is not our business to determine. We take the matter as it lies before us; and in this view cannot

help

help observing, that if Dr. Milne sacrificed elegance and neatness for the purpose of securing energy, and producing a better and stronger effect on the Reader, we are sorry his good wishes Thould have so poorly succeeded. We do not fo much bewail the sacrifice of the imaller beauties of language, when the defect is supplied by the greater and more substantial excellencies of sentiment and argument. But, alas! Dr. Milne's loss of neatness is accompanied with a want of force; and where we miss Hermes, we do not meet with Minerva.

These sermons are very long : and for the reason for which the Author may think them excellent, we think them tedious. The arguments employed in them, so far from being placed in a strong point of view,' are weakened by the uncommon length to which they are drawn out : and whatever might be their effe&t when delivered from the pulpit with the accompaniments of voice and action, we are perfuaded they will lose that effect on the sober and more judicious Reader; who, instead of being charmed by the fascination of oratory, will be disgusted to see the simple truths of the gospel gaudily decked out in meretricious ornaments, and the chaster beauties of language loft amidst a redundancy of tawdry metaphors, and glaring but insipid expletives.

The figure of rhetoric to which Dr. Milne is most indebted for his eloquence, is that which the Greeks called the Periphrafis. It is a very common and commodious figure, and generally makes a great thew in the pulpit. It is (as our good old Scriblerus observed long ago) the spinning-wheel of the bathos, which draws out and spreads a thought into the finest thread.' So fine, indeed, that, at times, it is scarcely discernible by the acuteft eye ! We shall produce several examples of Dr. Milne's remarkable dexterity in the working and management of this same spinning-wheel. No matter where we turn. Every page almost presents a proof of our Preacher's fill. In the third fermon (viz. On Death) we meet with the following very lamentable description of a very doleful subject. [N. B. We shall cautiously note by a numeral mark every division, and sub-division, and sub-subter-division of this curious passage, that the Doctor's knack ut amplification may be readily observed, and the value of it arith

II metically estimated.] • To die: - to disappear from all the objects which surround him: to be torn from the intimate society in which he had lived with a father-with a familywith friends-with congenial souls-with kindred spirits, whose sentiments and desires, whose hopes and fears were the fame :

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

2

3

4

5

to

V

3

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2

3

IX

3

4

5

6

IV
to go he knows not where :- to lie in cold obstruction

VI and to rot:'— to be removed from a splendid apartment, furnished with every accommodation and elegance, into the dark, unfurnished, contracted chamber of the grave :—from a bed of softness and luxury, to a dank, loathsome, subterraneous

VIII grotto: to embark on the boundless ocean of eternity : · to become from “ sensible, warm motion,” a motionless, insensible, “kneaded clod”- the food of worms-the horror of men

X -the hideous deposit of a tomb : this spectacle alone held up to fancy, disturbs the senses-darkens the imagination-and

3 embitters all the sweets of life.' “ I wish (says Yorick) that the Preacher had brought it in sudden death." « I have known a regiment (says Uncle Toby, flaughtered in less time.” “ It is like your Honour's wound (says Corporal Trim). 'Tis a d-n'd tedious affair. I'd forfeit my Montero cap, if I made half the ado about it that the parson doch.”

In a fermon on the Confolations of Amiction,' the Author thus expands a common thought beyond all necessary bulk and proportion, by blowing it out with the swelling blast of amplification. Virtue, strengthened by Chriftian faith, and animated by Christian hope, is unchangeable. Like her eternal Fountain, “ the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning,” she is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever :" her pleasures, her supports, her consolations the fame. They reft upon a bafis which nothing can subvert. They are established on a rock which the rain may batter, the floods beat upon, and the winds affail; but shall assail, beat upon, and batter in vain. Free and independent, the rises nobly superior to chailce and accident; and is equally unaffected by the frowns as by the smiles, by the ebb as by the flow of fortune. Though troubled on every side, she is not dejected; though perplexed, yet not in despair, assured as the is that the Lord of Hofts is with her, that the God of Jacob is her refuge.'

Dr. Milne, like most orators of the new school of the BaThos, frequently runs one metaphor into another, and produces such a crude aflemblage of heterogeneous images, that the eye can perceive no distinct object, or any consistent relation or fimi. litude. In the above paflage, virtue is said to iflue from a fountain ; and yet the stream (for it must be a stream that pro5

ceeds

« AnteriorContinuar »