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skill in a thing of so great difficulty; we are only once to die, and in that all is at stake; either eternity of torments in hell, or of hapo piness in heaven: How live we then so careless of dying well; since
for it we were born, and are but once to try it? : Another paragraph may be quoted, to: exemplify the tumultuous torrent-impetus with which the course of ideas often rushes along, daringly careless of congruity and probability. i . As in this life the rigour of God's justice is as it were repressed and suspended, so in that point of death, when the sinner shall receive judgement, it shall be let loose and overwhelm him. A great and rapid river which should for thirty or forty years together have its current violently stopped, what a mass of waters would it collect in so long a space. And if it should then be let loose, with what fury would it overrun and beat down all before it. And what resistance could withstand it ? Since then the Divine Justice, which the prophet Daniel compares, not to an ordinary river but to a river of fire, for the greatness and fury of the rigour, shall be repressed for thirty or forty years during the life of man, what an infinity of wrath will it amass together, and with what fury will it burst out upon the miserable sinner in the face of the offended judge! And therefore the prophet Daniel saith, that a river of fire issued from his countenance, and that his throne was of flames, and the wheels of it burning fire ; because all shall then be fire, rigour, and justice. He sets forth unto us his tribunal throne with wheels, to signify thereby the force and violence of his omnipotency, in executing the severity of his justice; all which shall appear in that moment when sinners shall be brought into judgement, when the Lord shall speak to them in his wrath, and confound them in his fury.
The vigour of conception, the austerity, the kind of assailant impetuosity, of which such passages will give some slight idea, are exemplified to a degree almost oppressive, in the part of the book which displays, at great extent, the state of lost spirits : it largely exemplifies also, the violent confusion of the different elements of thought, in a chaotic turbulence. Physical plagues and mental agonies are closely mingled together, as at once in fierce conflict and co-operation over their victims, whose misery is confounded while it is augmented between the coarsest disguşts of sense and the most refined anguish of reflection; between the thought of the eternal loss of the Divine favour, and the intolerable annoyance of the stench which it is repeatedly, and formally, and with all possible emphasis, asserted that the bodies of the damned, as well as certain vehicles analogous to bodies, attached to the de vils, will perpetually emit while they are eternally burning. In the revolting combination the torments of a physical kind are made much the more conspicuous, and are particularized and amplified with all the grim and prolific ingenuity of Dante. The pious Contemplator deemed himself authorized by those few terrific material images which have been employed in the Bible for a figurative intimation of the severity of the future punishments of the wicked, to exhibit in the most positive manner, as matter of literal reality, every horrid forın of material torment, and every loathsome form of offensive sensation, which he could stimulate his imagination to conceive. Much of this portion of the work, therefore, instead of being awfully and dissuasively impressive, is purely and utterly hideous. The mind recoils in disbelief, regarding it as nothing else than a frightful and disgusting fiction of what there may be a temptation to call a fierce poetical imagination. And if we had not good reason, from other evidence, to regard the pious Author as, in a considerable degree, a man of gentle spirit, we should receive a very ungracious impression of the temper of his mind, from that appearance, almost, of ease to himself, with which he dwells and dilates on the infernal horrors; that protracted creative activity, that something like poetical interest, with which he invents, and ramifies, and accumulates, and aggravates modes of torment. And this impression forces itself on the reader the more, from the circumstance that the Author, instead of being, while declaring these horrors, rapt away as io an awful and prophetic trance, which would obliviate, for the time, his sense of immediate relation to this world and to the human beings in it, and suspend in a degree the claims of human sympathy, is giving every moment the most palpable signs that he is consciously and closely in the company of his fellow mortals, his dreadful discourse being full of references to familiar circumstances in our life, and nature, and society. He seems to be pointedly looking in the faces, and observing the breathing and action of life, and almost feeling the warmth and pulsation in the hands, of human creatures, while he enlarges to the utmost particularity, and with the most frightful and often the coarsest vividness of description, on the corporal tortures of condemned sinners. The intense fire of his imagination, flames directly from the human fuel around him ; so very directly from the physical substance of the human nature, and from its grossest constituents and accidents, that the burning has no sublimity in its horror. The light it gives is fit to be reflected from the countenance of a worshipper of Moloch.
On such subjects, and on all others, the Author displays a mighty power of aggravating the emphasis, by means of some single striking image or supposition : not seldom, however, the thought so einployed shall have a certain character of enormity, either essentially in the conception, or as being pushed to extravagance. The great river obstructed and dammed up for thirty or forty years, is an example. We will transcribe two or three more.
16 Such are the torments and miseries of hell, that if all the trees in the world were put in one heap, and set on fire, I would rather burn
there till the day of judgement, than suffer only for the space of one hour that fire of hell."
. We ought not to think much at the sufferings of a thousand years torments, or to remain in hell itself for some long time, so we might behold Christ in his glory, and enjoy the company of saints, and be partakers of so great a happiness, but for one day.' 'If those joys of heaven were short, and those of earth eternal, yet we ought to forsake these for those.
So powerful is that love and joy which springs from the clear vision of God, that it's sufficient to convert hell into glory; insomuch, as if to the most tormented soul in hell, were added all the torments of the rest of the damned, both men and devils, and that God should vouchsafe him but one glimpse of his knowledge, that only clear vision, though in the lowest degree, were sufficient to free him from all those evils both of sin and pain.'
So foul and horrid is a mortal sin in its own nature, that thoughi it passed only in thought, and none knew it but God and he who committed it, and which endured no longer than an instant, yet it deserves the torments of hell for all eternity.'
For the purpose of aggravation he seeks to put an idea in the most extreme and violent form of language, which shall startle us with a first impression of portentous absurdity. But indeed, no second thoughts can excuse such a mode of expression, for instance, as when he represents sioners in their condemnation at the Divine tribunal, as found guilty, not only of selfdestruction, but -- of Deicide! His words are,
The murderer who stands charged with the life of a man, although it be of some wicked person, yet fears to be apprehended and brought to judgement; how is it then that he who is charged with the life of God trembles not? Consider how dreadful it shall be unto a sinner, when he shall receive a charge not only of his own being, and his own life, but also of the being and life of God.'
The plain meaning of these expressions, even taken thus detached from the context, will be readily apprehended; but assuredly a great deal of corrective discipline was wanted by an eloquence which could avail itself, for aggravation, of such a licence of language.'
Taylor is the most arbitrary tyrant over ideas and words that ever had the business of subduing, and ruling, and employing them. When he takes a fancy to make any of them serve a purpose, he cares not how repugnant or unadapted they may be. They are coerced with hasty violence into the appointed places; and there they are kept, how glaringly evident soever it may in any case be, that there they are necessarily counteracting the purpose for which they were forced thither. He would sometimes appear as if contented to lose the proposed effect, for the wanton indulgence and display of mere power. It is peculiarly so in his excessive exaggerations. When, for instance, in representing the brevity of life, and adverting to the antediluvian age, as no exception to that representation, he says, “Those who 5 lived more than eight hundred years, esteemed their life but as a
shadow, and in the instant when they died judged they were scarce born : a life of eight hundred years was no more than the flirting up and down of a little sparrow, or the flight of an
arrow;' -and this not in any direct comparison to eternity: ít is impossible he should not have been sensible he was bringing ideas together but to contradict one another...
In contemplating great monarchies, in existence or in history, we are, from what cause soever, the less offended at the view of some disorders and abuses, some excesses and caprices, in the exercise of power, in proportion to the extent of the dominion. If the intellectual emperor and tyrant of whom we are talking, is to have the benefit of this our instinctive idolatry of power, he will be but little injured in our esteem by all his extravagancies, his violences, his sweeping undiscriminating dictates, his uncouth or monstrous combinations, his wild orgies and frequent permis. sion of the Saturnalia of ideas; for the extent of his range is quite marvellous, especially for all kinds of illustrative facts, analogies, similies, and all manner of spectacles, fantastic, splendid, or fearful; and, if we were to speak with special reference to this book, we might add, repulsive.
It appears to us that this great orator fails very much in the pathetic ; not for want of passion, perhaps, but for want of simplicity. We are never long borne away by a current of feeling too deep and high for us to be touched, retarded, diverted, or intercepted and caught by things in the way. The pathetic effect of many a glowing passage, is spoiled by some grotesque phantasm, or ingenious or erudite allusion, or complication of quaintnesses and rudenesses of phraseology. There is frequently also what we do not well know how to describe otherwise than as a hardness and harshness of sentiment, a something austere and roughly judicial, in parts that might otherwise produce great emotion. While the orator utters the expressions that belong to passion, he scarcely ever seems dissolved in passion, and the reader is not absorbed in sympathy.
These last remarks are made as particularly applicable to the present work. Its predominantly gloomy character is not that of a pensive melancholy, affecting, inspiring, and tending immediately to sublimity and devotion ; but a rugged, frowning austerity, which can recount miseries and menace horrors in a firm harsh tone, only inflected sometimes, rather than relaxed, by the rapid force of mind which throws a certain kind of vivacity into the train of the most gloomy ideas, and most rigorous denunciations. The terrors of death we have before remarked that the Author represents in a manner much too undis. criminating; and he will sometimes, as if in a kind of tragical wantonness of aggravation, make, without the slightest hesitation, such alarming implications or assertions, as it is really difficult to believe expressive of his deliberate opinion,--at least if they mean all they seem to mean. Such a sentence, for instance, as the following,-does it not assert that no man can know, before his death, whether his future state shall be happy or miserable ? and if it does, are we to believe that to have been the Author's decided judgement? Or has the clause we put in Italics no definite meaning, being only flung out, in a kind of gloomy sport of fancy, to darken the meditation ?
Death, because it is the end of life, is by the philosopher said to be the terrible of all things terrible : what would he have said, if he had known it to be the beginning of eternity and the gate by which we enter into that vast abyss, no man knowing upon what side he shall fall into that profound and bottomless depth!
A circumstance contributing greatly to enhance the gloomy character of the book, is the very sparing reference made to the effect of the merits and sacrifice of Christ, and the assistance and operations of the Divine Spirit; together with the expressions recurring here and there, which seem to refer a creature most guilty and unworthy at the best, to a desperate resource, as to the interests of eternity. We presume the Bishop did not mean to teach, systematically, that a man's confidence, in the approach to death and judgement, must be chiefly founded on bis own virtues; but something apparently so much resembling this principle, is suggested by expressions like the following, as to deepen the gloom of his formidable representation of death. Describing the arraignment at the supreme tribunal, he says,
• Thou art to expect no patron, no protector, but thy virtuous actions: only they shall accompany thce; when all shall leave thee they. only shall not forsake thee; the rich man shall not then have mul. titudes of servants to set forth his greatness, nor well-fee'd lawyers to defend his process; only his good works shall bestead him, and they only shall defend him.'
But there is so much that is oratorically, confusedly, and in a sense carelessly, thrown out in the rapid career of our Author's composition, that it would be quite unjust to hiold him accountable for the full import and consequences of every transient expression or proposition he may scatter in his course. What would a strict commentator do, for instance, with a sentence in which, after shewing what an aggravation it will be to the remorse and despair of lost sinucrs, to think how much God had done towards effecting their welfare and salvation, the Contemplator says, in so many words, “They shall tremble to see • what God did for their good; and that he did so much as • he could do no more ?? In short, we must remark, at the ha