Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

dignity, it roused the sluggish, and fixed the volatile, and detained the mind upon the subject, without directing it to the speaker.

“ The grandeur and solemnity of the preacher did not intrude upon his general behaviour; at the table of his friends he was a companion com- ? municative and attentive, of unaffected manners, of manly cheerfulness, willing to please, and easy to be pleased. His acquaintance was universally solicited, and his presence obstructed no enjoyment which religion did not forbid. i Though studious he was popular; though argumentative he was modest; though inflexible he was candid; and though metaphysical yet ora thodox.”

JOHNSON, speaking of religious seclusion, said, If convents should be allowed at all, they should only be retreats for persons unable to serve the public, or who have served it. It is our first duty to serve Society, and after we have done that we may attend wholly to the salvation of our own souls. A youthful passion for abstracted devotion should not be encouraged. It is as unreasonable for a man to go into a Carthusian convent for fear of being immoral, as for a man to cut off his hands for fear he should steal., There is indeed great resolution in the immediate act of dismembering himself; but when that is once done, he has no longer any merit;

a

for though it is out of his power to steal, yet he may all his life be a thief in his heart. So when

man has once become a Carthusian, he is obliged to continue so, whether he chooses it or not. Their silence too is absurd. We read in the Gospel of the Apostles being sent to preach, but not to hold their tongues. All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle. I said to the Lady Abbess of a convent, Madam, you are here, not for the love of virtue, but the fear of vice.' She said, she should remember this as long as she lived." It was, perhaps, hard to give her this view of her situation, when she could not help it; and, indeed, we may wonder at the whole of what he said on this subject, because both in his 6 Rambler” and “ Idler," he treats religious austerities with much solemnity of respect.

To a young clergyman in the country, Dr. Johnson gave the following valuable advice, which may be not unuseful, we think, to Divines in general:

“ You are afraid of falling into some improprieties in the daily service by reading to an audience that requires no exactness.

Your fear, I hope, secures you from danger. They who contract absurd habits are such as have no fear. It is impossible to do the same thing very often, without some peculiarity of manner; but that

YOL, II.

manner may

be good or bad, and a little care will at least preserve it from being bad: to make it good, there must, I think, be something of natural or casual felicity, which cannot be taught.

cc Your present method of making your sermons seems very judicious. Few frequent preachers can be supposed to have sermons more their own than yours will be. Take care to register, some where or other, the authors from whom your several discourses are borrowed; and do not imagine that you shall always remember, even what, perhaps, you now think it impossible to forget.

“ My advice, however, is, that you attempt, from time to time, an original sermon; and in the labour of composition, do not burthen your mind with too much at once; do not exact from yourself at one effort of excogitation, propriety of thought, and elegance of expression. Invent first, and then embellish. The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy, than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced. Set down diligently your thoughts as they rise in the first words that occur; and, when you have matter, you will easily give it form: nor, perhaps, will this method be always necessary; for by habit, your thoughts and diction will flow together.

“The composition of sermons is not very dif

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ficult: the divisions not only help the memory of the hearer, but direct the judgment of the writer; they supply sources of invention, and keep every part in its proper place.

“ What I like least is your account of manners. in your parish; from which I find that it has been long neglected by the parson. The Dean of Carlisle, when he was a little rector in Northamptonshire, told me, that it might be discerned whether or no there was a clergyman resident in a parish, by the civil or savage manner of a people. Such a congregation as 'yours stands in need of much reformation, and I would not have you think it impossible to reform them. A very savage parish was civilized by a decayed gentlewoman, who.came among them to teach a petty school. My learned friend Dr. Wheeler of Oxford, when he was a young man, had the care of a neighbouring parish for fifteen pounds a year, which he was never paid; but he counted it a convenience that it compelled him to make a sermon weekly. One woman he could not bring to the communion; and when he reproved or exhorted her, she only answered, that she was no scholar. He was advised to set some good woman or man of the parish, a little wiser than herself, to talk to her in a language level to her mind.- Such honest, I may call them holy artifices, must be practised by every clergyman; for

all means must be tried by which souls may be saved. Talk to your people, however, as much as you can; and you will find, that the more frequently you converse with them upon religious subjects, the more willingly they will-attend, and the more submissively they will learn. A clergyman's diligence always makes him venerable."

LITERATURE.

TALKING of History, Johnson said, “ We may know historical facts to be true, as we may know facts in common life to be true. Motives are generally unknown. We cannot trust to the characters we find in history, unless when they are drawn by those who knew the persons; as those for instance by Sallust and Lord Clarendon."

" Great abilities (he said) were not requisite for an historian; for in historical composition, all the great powers of the human mind are quiescent. He has facts ready to his hands; so there is no exercise of invention. Imagination is not required in any high degree; only about as much as is used in the lower kinds of poetry. Some penetration, accuracy, and colouring will fit

« AnteriorContinuar »