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tors and pleaders, but, within the Church of England, scarcely a powerful preacher since Bishop Burnet. The exceptions are to be found exclusively in the ranks of Methodism. Besides, if there be in the settled, peaceful, and unstirring character of the times, something that is unfavourable to the production or development of forensic or political eloquence, there is much in their religious aspect that is peculiarly favourable to the cultivation of sacred oratory,-much to call out and excite the preacher, as well as a more powerful demand for the exertion of his best faculties.
Nor is pulpit eloquence altogether neglected or despised. Popularity is aimed at pretty generally; and popularity, such as it is, is in some cases cheaply obtained. And perhaps we may be told, that a popular preacher must be, in some sort, an eloquent one; that the individual who can attract to himself large crowds, and keep up the complacent attention of a religious audience, must be a gifted man. Unhappily-or-we should rather say happily, when Scriptural truth is taught—it is found that large audiences can be collected and maintained by individuals with whom a man of either eloquence or correct taste would feel it degrading to be compared, -by the periodical exhibition of mere fluency of the shallowest description, or by mere theological eccentricity.* Dr. Hawker could collect frowds, as large as Dr. Gordon or Dr. Chalmers can now; and the same individuals would be found running to hear either. It cannot be said, that the doctrine is always the attraction; although, thank God, evangelical preaching, which alone comes home to the hearts of men as subjects of those spiritual wants which only the Gospel can relieve, will always be the most popular. But the doctrine, apart from the manner, does not ensure to the preacher, however learned and judicious, a complacent audience. It is therefore found necessary to pay a greater attention than ever, to the manner of address, or what is called pulpit oratory.
Surely, then, it cannot be questioned, whether eloquence be a legitimate object of desire and pursuit to the Christian minister,-a gift earnestly to be coveted for the highest ends,the most exalted of human endowments in its noblest and worthiest application. If it be lawful to seek to please an audience by the getting up of a good sermon,' and by the requisites of an approved preacher as to its delivery, it cannot be unworthy of the sacred office to seek to impress, command, and move, by the
* There is nothing new in this. “ Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts xx. 30.
putting forth of the higher qualities of intellectual art. If popularity may be desired as an instrument of usefulness, something more than popularity, the power of ruling the popular mind by the art of persuasion, may as legitimately, and from as holy motives, be aspired after.
But eloquence is, by many persons, confounded with display. There cannot be a greater mistake. At the very point at which display becomes palpable, eloquence ends. Without wishing to disparage any class of public teachers, we must be allowed to say, that the prevailing style of pulpit address is by no means perfectly free from the vice of display. An eloquent speaker must, at least for the time, be full of his subject; whereas there is a style of speaking, which always keeps below eloquence, but which may please and attract, while it leaves the speaker at perfect liberty to be less occupied with his topic, than with the display of himself.
Eloquence, pulpit eloquence, is, in fact, indistinctly aimed at,-even by some who might disclaim it; it is not despised, but it is ill understood. And this we take to be one principal cause that it is so rarely attained. We say that it is indistinctly aimed at. There is a sufficient degree of ambition afloat, but it is not of that kind which aims high. Mixed motives actuate all men,-those who devote themselves to the Christian ministry in common with others, if not in the same degree; but the wish to succeed and to excel, which is an element in all great exertions, does not, in the case in question, rise into a generous passion. Perhaps, there was never eloquence without ambition; and ambition is neither the vice nor the virtue of the age. It is not agitating the world by its turbulence, nor, in its holier mood, leading captive the world's admiration by the exhibition of moral greatness. The prevailing wish, the aim of all classes is, to be on good terms with society, and to be comfortable. But surely the objects of the Christian ministry, embracing in its scope both worlds, and in its successful exercise ensuring a reward infinitely outweighing any sublunary prize,-are worthy of calling forth a sacred ambition of even a heroic character.
Looking at all the advantages of the Christian minister, as derived from his theme, his station, and his personal interest both in the subject and the issue, we should be led almost to wonder why all sincere and well-informed preachers of the Christian verities are not eloquent. That seems to be so far the natural result of their situation, that there must be causes which prevent their almost necessarily becoming such.
As regards the Establishment, it is not difficult to assign the cause which has hitherto operated to prevent the possibility of an English Massillon or Bourdaloue rising up in the English Church. Eloquence has not simply been discountenanced, but, so far as possible, stifled and most sedulously extirpated. A sermon unwritten has been regarded as an offence against orthodoxy,-more heinous, if possible, than a few words of extemporaneous prayer; and a dry, short, monotonous tone and cadence, studiously unaffecting, has been the standard of polite oratory, from which few have had till of late the temerity to deviate. Garrick's criticism on the preachers of his day, as compared with the actors, will doubtless be in the recollection of our readers. The Church, in its morbid dread of enthusiasm, had, by low living, brought on paralysis. Even now, to a great extent, any thing approaching to oratory, lies under the stigma of suspected Methodism, and is, for the most part, abandoned to that very equivocal description of clergymen whom Lord Liverpool thought it his duty to exe clude from all the bigher stations in the Establishment.
The causes why Protestant Dissenters have not among them more eloquent preachers, must be altogether different. One cause may be, the want of good models. And yet, it is remarkable, that the individual who, of all living preachers, best deserves to be so regarded, seems, so far as we are aware, to be wholly without followers in the chaste and simple style of his oratory. He may have his mimics, but has scarcely any scholars. As if the highest models were not the most imitable, it has been seemingly deemed a tribute to his excellence, to disregard his example. Because those higher flights of eloquence and originality which characterise the master-mind may not be attainable, the lesson which might be learned from his mode of preaching has been overlooked. No preacher of the present day exemplifies in so great perfection that secret of all true oratory, clear ideas in simple language. No one is more entirely free from display, or contrives so completely to throw himself into his subject as to be concealed by it, and to send you away with the impression that you never saw the subject in so strong a light before. That exquisite perspicuity which is the great charm of his oratory, that ' simple clearness '; which, like the day-light, makes things conspicuous, and
does not make them glare,'*-might be emulated, if it could not be equalled. Without simplicity, there can be no true eloquence. The most eloquent passages in the pages of either ancient or modern oratory, those which are recorded to have produced, on their first utterance, the most powerful effect, are distinguished by nothing more than by their pure simplicity,
* The description of the eloquence of Fox as given by Foster.
such as characterizes some of the most thrilling passages in the compositions of Purcell and Handel. It is a familiar saying, he that is rich may venture to dress plain ; and rich minds always dress simply. But the prevailing style of modern preachers is by no means such as to afford this indication of intellectual opulence. It is oratory in full dress. There is an affectation of philosophical diction, which, if not so offensive to taste as a poetical diction, is still less intelligible to the lower classes. An essaying style has unfortunately been extensively adopted, which has certainly the merit of making an idea carry more weight of words, and last out longer than by any other mode: it is called, we believe, discussing the subject, and is very academical, but of its being adapted to edifi. cation we strongly doubt. It cannot be charged upon the pulpit in the present day, that there is any deficiency of sound evangelical doctrine ; but still,“ except ye utter by the tongue “ words easy to be understood, how shall it be know what is “ spoken ?" A want of simplicity in the preacher may be almost as fatal to his usefulness as a want of fidelity; and though the source of the evil be different, while they
their lean and flashy songs
The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.' We would by no means insinuate that this want of simplicity is always the result of intellectual poverty; still less, that it proceeds from wilful affectation, from a want of simplicity in the motives and views of the individual, or from any thing worse than bad taste. But we view the consequences of its prevalence with not the less dismay: To our certain knowledge, it forms at least one cause of the preference increasingly obtained by the more simple, more edifying preaching of many of the evangelical clergy. Parents who might listen with complacency to theological discussions, and criticisms, and arguments, and orations from the pulpit, are led to the conclusion that, for their children and servants, instruction must be sought, for elsewhere. And unless there takes place a very considerable alteration in this respect, in the prevailing style of Dissent., ing preaching, without pretending to the gift of vaticination, we may venture to predict, that the result will be such as shall give the death-blow to that interest with which hitherto the cause of evangelical religion in this country has been the most closely identified.
How far the modern system of academic training is favourable to the formation of eloquent preachers, it is impossible not to question. The negative has been strongly maintained :
and certainly, the forcing system by which orators are so very speedily raised, to meet, as is said, the increasing demand for supplies of that description, must tend, we think, to injure the plant. It were, indeed, most unreasonable to expect, that theological academies should be schools for eloquence : they are not at all adapted for this; and all that can be required, or ought to be aimed at, is, that they should furnish the materials for it, and that they should not deserve to be stigmatized as *the grave of eloquence.' We do not profess to know very much of the interior of such institutions, but we have reasoni to believe, that the faultiness lies, not in the administration, but purely in the system. That there are evils connected with the present system, is felt, and has been acknowledged, by some who have with equal laboriousness and ability presided over these schools of the prophets ;' and the only way by which they have become reconciled to that system, has been, by referring its defects to the inevitable imperfection of all human institutions, the alloy of evil inseparable from the good. We believe that we should be simply doing justice to the highly esteemed individuals who for the most part occupy tbose posts of anxious responsibility and, to a great extent, thankless labour, were we to affirm, that all that can be done by them to give efficiency to those institutions, has been done. Nor do we lightly estimate the importance and advantage of such institutions, and the actual benefits they have conferred upon the churches. But we cannot shut our eyes to the fact, that, notwithstanding the multiplication of theological academies, the Dissenting ministry has not kept pace with the times, has not risen in public estimation and efficiency, but has declined ; that a vicious style of preaching has spread, as far removed from simplicity as from true eloquence, and that, from some cause or other, they have failed to produce any fair proportion of either eminent or eloquent men.
We are, perhaps, bound to say what we consider as the radical defect in the system upon which these institutions are conducted; and as the subject is an important one, we shall be forgiven, we hope, if we take the freedom of speaking very plainly. The first error lies in their embracing a course of education and training far too wide for the time allowed, and including arrangements incompatible. A raw lad is taken from the counter; he is made a preacher, as the easiest thing, in one year, a Greek scholar in two, a profound Hebraist in three, and an accomplished divine and orator in four. And his being set to preach, is just that which unfits him for acquiring either solid learning or any thing else well, except that fluency which is dangerous in proportion as it is the substitute for fertility,