Imágenes de páginas

trying to hide the truth from myself, 1 have vites. They must recur to means, from which asked his opinion as a confirmation of my a minister has no right to expect any thing. own-he has unmasked my heart to itself, Their affairs are all the little transactions of by his wise and searching replies. His deci- this world. But a minister is called and set sions were more according to circumstances apart for a high and sublime business. His than in most men; and, when he gave them, transactions are to be between the living and it would generally be with a declaration that the dead-between heaven and earth; and he other circumstances might wholly change the must stand as with wings on his shoulders. aspect of the thing; and he did this in such a He must look, therefore, for every thing in manner-if I may judge by my own case—as his affairs to be done for him and before his often to make a man look about him, and be- eyes. I am at a loss to conceive how a minthink himself what a treacherous and blind ister, with right feelings, cai. plot and contrive party he had to transact with in his bosom. for a living. If he is told that there is such a

To those who did not know him intimately, thing for him if he will make such an applicahe might sometimes appear to want a quick- tion, and that it is to be so obtained and so ness of perception. The appearance of this only, all is well—but not a step farther. It is faculty is often assumed, where God has not in vain, however, to put any man on acting in given it. Where the mind does decide rapidly, this manner, if he be not a Levite in principle its conclusions are generally partial and defec- and in character. These must be the exprestive, in proportion to their rapidity. Intuition sions of a nature communicated to him from is not a faculty of the present condition of God—a high principle of faith begetting sinbeing, whatever it may be of that toward plicity. He must be an eagle towering toward which we are advancing. He affected no heaven on strong pinions. The barn-door hen such quality, yet he possessed more of it than must continue to scratch her grains out of the most men. When he did not fully understand dunghill.” what was addressed to him, he said so; and He thought that the life of a minister, with his mind was so familiar with the difficulty of respect to worldly affairs, ought to be pecudiscovering the truth through the veils and liarly above that of other men, a life of faith. shades thrown over her by prejudice and self- It was his maxim to lay out no money unnelove, that he did not hastily bring himself to cessarily—and, with this principle, he regardthink that he possessed your full meaning. ed his purse as in God's hands, and found it

His good sense and wisdom led him to avoid like the barrel of meal and the cruise of oil. ALL PECULIARITY AND ECCENTRICITY. He was He confessed that he could advise this condecidedly adverse to every thing of this nature. duct in no case but in that of a Christian min“When any thing peculiar appears," he would ister, who was a wise and prudent, as well as say, “ in a religious man's manners, or dress, right-hearted manager of his affairs. His habit or furniture, this is supposed by the world to was, to be the child of simplicity and faithconstitute his religion. A clergyman, indeed, acting as a servant of God, on those principles is allowed by common consent, and indeed it which he judged most suitable to his character is but decent in him, to have every thing about and station. him plain and substantial, rather than orna He had exalted ideas of ministerial authormental and fashionable."

ity-not the authority which results merely

from office, but from office united with perTHE PERSONAL CHARACTER of Mr. Cecil had sonal character—not the claims of priestly a manifest influence on his MINISTERIAL. arrogance, but the claims of priestly dignity. We find him frequently accounting for those "I never choose to forget that I am a Priest, views and feelings which prevailed in his min- because I would not deprive myself of the istry, by a reference to his constitution and right to dictate in my ministerial capacity. I his early history.

cannot allow a man, therefore, to come to me His sentimeNTS ON THE MINISTERIAL OFFICE merely as a friend, on his spiritual affairs, beare scattered through his writings, as this cause I should have no authority to say to was ever present to his mind. Wherever him, 'Sir, you must do so and so. I cannot he was, and whatever was his employment, suffer my best friends to dictate to me in any he was always the Christian minister. He thing which concerns my ministerial duties. was ever on the watch to do the work of an I have often had to encounter this spirit; and evangelist, and to make full proof of his min- there would be no end of it, if I did not check istry.

and resist it. I plainly tell them that they I have collected together his thoughts on this know nothing of the matter. I ask them if it subject in some sections of his “Remains;" and is decent, that a man immersed in other conI think it impossible that any young minister cerns should pretend to know my affairs and should read ihese thoughts, without imbibing duties better than myself, who, as they ought a higher estimation of his sacred office. More to believe, make them the study of my life. will be found on these points in the following I have been disgusted-deeply disgusted-at views of his ministerial character gathered the inanner in which some men of flaming from his own lips.

religious profession talk of certain preachers. These views were most striking and sub- They estimate them just as Garrick would have lime. “A minister is a Levite. In general, estimated the worth of players, or Handel he has, and he is to have, no inheritance would have ranged an orchestra. “Such an one among his brethren. Other men are not Le-l is clever-he is a master.'-Clever!-a mas

ter!-Worth, and character, and dignity are of PRESERVING ATTENTION above most men. All no weight in the scale."

his effort was directed, first to engage attenThese views are just and noble; and they tion, and then to repay it—to allure curiosity, are suited to his own great mind, and the en- and then to gratify it. tire hold which his office had on his heart. Till the attention was gained, he felt that But-listening with his whole soul to that in- nothing could be effected on the mind. Somejunction, Meditate on these things, give thyself times he would have recourse to unusual mewholly to them-it may be doubted whether he thods, suited, indeed, to his auditory, to awaken did not sometimes challenge to his office more and fix their minds.' “ I was once preaching," respect than the party concerned could be ex- he said, " a charity sermon where the congrepected to allow due.

gation was very large, and chiefly of the lower Mr. Cecil's PREPARATION AND TRAINING FOR order. I found it impossible, by my usual meTHIS EXALTED OFFICE have been already spoken thod of preaching, to gain their attention. It of in the view of his personal character. This was in the afternoon, and my hearers seemed was, as has been seen, of no common kind. to meet nothing in my preaching which was

His QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE DISCHARGE OF capable of rousing them out of the stupefacTHE MINISTRY were peculiar. The great nat- tion of a full dinner. Some lounged and some ural powers which God had given him were turned their backs on me. 'I MUST HAVE ATmoulded and matured by the training and dis- tention,' I said to myself. I will be heard.' cipline through which he was led, and were The case was desperate ; and in despair, I consecrated by grace to the service of his sought a desperate remedy. I exclaimed Master. It will not be requisite to recapitu- aloud, ‘Last Monday morning a man was late what has been said on this subject. I hanged at Tyburn —instantly the face of things shall here speak only of those qualifications was changed! All was silence and expectawhich were more appropriate to him as a tion! I caught their ear, and retained it public teacher.

through the sermon. This anecdote leads His LEARNING consisted more in the knowl- me to observe, that Mr. Cecil had, in an unuedge of other men's ideas, than in an accurate sual degree, the talent of adapting his ministry acquaintance with the niceties of the lan- to his congregation. While he was, for inguages. Yet he was better acquainted with stance, preaching on the same day at Loththese, than many who devote a disproportion- bury, at St. John's morning and afternoon, ate time to this acquisition. His incessant and at Spitalfields in the evening, he found application, chiefly by candle-light, when at four congregations at these places, in many Oxford, to the study of Greek, of which he respects quito distinct from one another; and was enthusiastically fond, brought on an al- yet he adapted his preaching, with admirable most total loss of sight for six months. He skill, to meet their habits of thinking. had determined to become a perfect mas But when he had gained the attention, he ter of the niceties of that refined and noble was ever on the watch not to weary it. He language. The counsel, however, which he seemed to have continually before his eyes received from Dr. Bacon, and which is re- the sentiments of our great critic and moralcorded in his “Remains," under the head of ist :* “ Tediousness is the most fatal of all “ Miscellaneous Remarks on the Christian faults ; negligences or errors are single and Ministry," put him on proportioning his atten- local, but tediousness pervades the whole ; tion more according to the future utility of other faults are censured and forgotten, but his pursuits than he had been accustomed to. the power of tediousness propagates itself. “I was struck with his advice,” he said. “I He that is weary the first hour, is more weary had an unsettled sort of religion, but enough the second ; as bodies forced into motion, to make me see and choose the truth which contrary to their tendency, pass more and he set before me."

more slowly through every successive interSo solid and extensive was Mr. Cecil's real val of space.” Mr. Cecil would say, “ You learning, that there were no important points, have a certain quantity of attention to work in morals or religion, on which he had not on; make the best use of it while it lasts read the best authors, and made up his mind The iron will cool, and then nothing, or worse on the most mature deliberation; nor could than nothing, is done. If a preacher will any topic be started in history or philosophy, leave unsaid all vain repetitions, and watch on subjects of art or of science, with which against undue length in his entrance and width he was not found more generally acquainted in his discussion, he may limit a written serthan other men. But while he could lay these mon to half an hour, and one from notes to parts of learning under contribution to aid him forty minutes; and this time he should not in his one object of impressing truth on man, allow himself to exceed, except on special he was a master in the learning which is more occasions." peculiarly appropriate to his profession. He His POWER OF ILLUSTRATION was great and was so much in the habit of daily reading the versatile. His topics were chiefly taken from Scriptures in the originals, that, as he told me, Scripture and from life. His manner of illushe went to this employ naturally and insensi- trating his subjects by Scripture examples, was bly. He limited himself to no stated quantity; the most finished I ever heard. They were but, as his time allowed, he read one or two never introduced violently or bruptly; but and sometimes five or six chapters daily. Mr. Cecil had THE POWER OF EXCITING AND

* Lives of the Poets, vol. iii, p. 35.

[ocr errors]

his matter was so moulded in preparation for sidered that vigorous conceptions would clothe them, by a few well turned sentences, that the themselves in the fittest expressionsillustration seemed to be placed in the Scrip

Verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur. ture almost for the sake of the doctrine. The general features of the character or history Or, as Milton has admirably said—“ True elowere left in the back-ground, and those only querrce I find to be none, but the serious and which were appropriate to the matter in hand hearty love of truth; and that, whose mind were brought forward, and were thus present- soever is fully possessed with a fervent desire ed with great force to the mind. His talent to know good things, and with the dearest in discriminating the striking features, and charity to infuse the knowledge of them into connecting them with his matter, was so pecu- others, WHEN SUCH A MAN WOULD SPEAK, his liar, that the histories of Abrahám, of Jacob, words, like so many nimble and airy servitors, of David, and of St. Paul, seemed in his hands trip about him at command, and in well ordered to be ever new, and to be exhaustless treasures files, as he would wish, fall abruptly into their of illustration.

own places." The turn both of his mind and of his expe

His written style has less ease than that of rience seemed to lead him to this method. his conversation or preaching. He excelled What he did, therefore, with ease and feeling, rather in strong intuitive sense, than in a train it was natural should be done frequently; and, of arguments; and more in the liveliness of accordingly, I have scarcely ever heard a ser-This thoughts, than in their arrangement. He mon from him in which there were not re-would put down his thoughts as they arosepeated exercises of this peculiar talent; and often at separate times, and as suggested by in some sermons almost the entire subject has the occasion—and was not always nice in rebeen treated in this manner.

jecting obsolete expressions, or antithesis in This talent of illustrating his subjects, and sense. This occasioned a want of flow and ease particularly of seizing incidents for improve- in many parts of his writings, which was obviament, gave an edge to his wise admonitions in ted bythe warmth of conversation or preaching. private, and fixed them deep in the memory.

IMPRESSION was the leading feature of his Riding with a friend in a very windy day, the ministry. Perhaps the infORMATION conveyed dust was so troublesome that his companion by it to the mind was not sufficiently systemawished they were at their journey's end, tic and minute. He had seen so much the where they might ride in the fields free from evil of spending the preacher's time in doctridust; and this wish he repeated inore than nal statements, that possibly there was some once while on the road. When they reached deficiency in this respect in his own practice. the fields, the flies so teased his friend's horse, When, indeed, he had to introduce religion to that he could scarcely keep his seat on the his congregations at St. John's or Cobham, saddle. On his bitterly complaining, “ Ah! on his first entering on those charges, he dealt Sir,” said Mr. Cecil, “ when you were in the with them as a people needing information on road the dust was your only trouble, and all first principles; but my remark applies to the your anxiety was to get into the fields : you habit and course of his ministry. For, how. forgot that the fly was there! Now this is a ever true it is, that, when a man becomes a true picture of human life; and you will find serious reader of God's word, he must grow it so in all the changes you make in future. in the knowledge of the truth; yet many will We know the trials of our present situation; but still read the Bible with an indiscriminating the next will have trials, and perhaps worse, mind, unless their minister's statements give though they may be of a different kind." them, not only a lucid general view of doc

Ať another time, the same friend said he trines, but somewhat of a systematic and conshould esteem it a favor, if he would tell him nected view ; and not a few-buried in the of any thing which he might in future see in cares of the world—will derive all their nohis conduct which he thought improper. tions of the system of divine truth from what “Well, Sir!” he said, “many a man has they hear in public. directed the watchman to call him early in Mr. Cecil wrote and spoke to mankind. He the morning, and has then appeared very dealt with the business and bosons of men. anxious for his coming early; but the watch-An energy of truth prevailed in his ministry, man has come before he has been ready for which roused the conscience; and a benevohim! I have seen many people very desirous lence reigned in his spirit, which seized the of being told their faults; but I have seen very heart; yet I much question whether the prefew who were pleased when they received the vailing effect of his preaching was not deterinformation. However, I like to receive an mination grounded on conviction and ADMIRAinvitation, and I have no reason to suppose tion, rather than on EMOTION. you will be displeased till I see it so. I shall, fect health and spirits, and master of his subtherefore, remember that you have asked ject, his eloquence was finished and striking; for it."

but, though there was often a tenderness which His style, particularly in preaching and in awakened corresponding feelings in the hearer, free conversation, was easy and natural. If yet his eloquence wanted that vehement pashe ever labored his expression, it was in search sion which overpowers and carries away the of emphasis, rather than precision-of words minds of others, which would penetrate the soul, rather than

—si vis me flere, dolendum est round his period and float in the ear. He con Primum ipsi tibi

When in per

This is the great secret for getting hold of the meanness, its uncertainty, its deceit, its vanity, heart. But as not much of the impassioned its vexation, its nothingness, he set fully in entered into the composition of his nature, their view. He even made them look down and he was at the same time pre-eminent in with a generous concern on those who were genius and judgment, it could not but follow buried in its interests, and who forgot, amidst that ADMIRATION should affect the hearer more the toys of children, the real business of life.” frequently than STRONG FEELING. A friend has Some of his printed sermons are perfect told me that he has often lost the benefit of models of simplicity, vivacity, and effect.the truth which Mr. Cecil has uttered, in ad- That, for instance, on the “ Power of Faith.” miration of the exquisite manner in which it His COUNTENANÇe, though not modelled altowas conveyed. And I have again and again gether after the artificial rules of beauty, detected this in myself; and found I have been beamed in animated conversation and in the watching eagerly for what would fall next from pulpit, with the beauty of a great and noble him, not in the spirit of a new-born babe that mind. Dignity and benevolence were strongly desires the sincere milk of the word that I might portrayed there. The variety of its expresgrow thereby, but for the gratification of a men- sion was admirable: nor could any one feel ial voluptuousness. I desire no one will sup- the full force of the soul which he threw into pose that I impute to him any of the studied his discourses, if this expression was conartifices of eloquence. No man sought more cealed from him by distance or situation. His than he did that his hearers' faith should not action was graceful and forcible : latterly, stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of owing perhaps to his increasing infirmities, God. No man more sincerely aimed to have and almost uninterrupted pain, it discovered, his speech and his preaching not with enticing I think, some constraint and want of ease. words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of There was a FAMILIARITY and an AUTHORITY the spirit and of power; yet, moreover, because in his manner, which, to strangers, sometimes the preacher was wise, he still taught the people appeared dogmatism. His manner was, in knowledge; yea, he GAVE GOOD heed, and sought truth, like that of no other man. It was altoout and set in order the messages of divine gether original ; and, because it was original, mercy. The preacher SOUGHT TO FIND OUT ac- it sometimes offended those who had no other ceptable words, yet that which was written was idea of manner than of that to which they had upright, even words of truth. He could not but been accustomed. Yet, even the prejudiced treat his subjects in this exquisite manner, could not hear him with indifference. There while his taste, his genius, and his nature re- was a dignity and command, a decision and mained; yet this could not but be sanctified energy, a knowledge of the heart and the to his Master's honor, while he retained the world, an uprightness of mind and a desire to perfect integrity, the deep conviction, and the do good; and all this, united with a tenderness singleness of eye which his Master had given and affection, which few could witness withhim. That it was the farthest possible from out some favorable impressions. trick and artifice might be seen in his most His most striking sermons were generally familiar conversation; where his manner, those which he preached from very short when he was fully called out, was exactly texts, such as-My soul hangeth on thce--AU what it was in the pulpit. His mind grasped my fresh springs are in thee-O Lord ! teach me every subject firmly; his imagination clothed my way-As thy day is, so shall thy strength be. it with images-embodied it-gave it life- In these sermons, the whole subject had procalled up numberless associations and illustra- bably struck him at once; and what comes in tions; it was realized; it was present to him; this way is generally found to be more natural his taste and judgment enabled him to seize it and forcible than what the mind is obliged to in the most striking points of view.

excogitate by its own laborious efforts: As the “ His apprehensions of religion,” Mr. Wilson subject grows out of the state of the mind at most justly observes, WERE GRAND AND ELE- the time, there is that degree of affinity be

His fine powers, governed by divine tween them which occasions the mind to seize grace, were exactly calculated to seize all the it forcibly, and to clothe it with vivid colors. grandeur of the Gospel. The stupendous mag. A train of the most natural associations prenitude of the objects which the Bible proposes sents itself, as one link draws with it its kinto man, the incomparable sublimity of eternal dred links. The attention is engaged-the pursuits, the astonishing scheme of redemp- mind is concentrated-scripture and life pretion by an incarnate Mediator, the native sent themselves without effort, in the most grandeur of a rational and immortal being, natural relations which they bear to the substamped with the impress of God, the fall of ject that has full possession of the man, and this being into sin, and poverty, and ineanness, composition becomes easy, and even interand guilt, his recovery by grace to more than esting. his original dignity in the love and service of It was a frequent and very useful method his Creator, filled all his soul. He seemed with him, to open and explain his subject in often to labor with an imagination occupied a very brief manner, and then to draw inferwith his noble theme. He felt, and he taught, ences from it; which inferences formed the that no other subject was worthy the consi- great body of the serion, and were rather deration of man. In comparison with it, he matters of ADDRESS to the consciences and led his auditors to condemn and trample on hearts of his hearers, than of DISCUSSION ; so all the petty objects of this lower world. Its that the whole subject was a kind of applica.


tion. This seems to me to have been his advised him, since he was so near his enmost effective manner of preaching. Take trance into the ministry, to lay aside all other an instance :-Mat. xviii. 20. I. Explain the studies for the present, but the one I should words. II. Raise from them two or three now recommend to him. I would have him REMARKS : Contemplate 1. The glory and God- select some very poor and uninformed perhead of our Master: 2. The honor which he sons, and pay them a visit. His object should puts on his house and the assembly of his be to explain to them, and demonstrate to Saints: 3. The privilege of being one of them, the truth of the solar system. He should Christ's servants whom he will meet: 4. The first of all set himself to make that system obligations lying on such servants—What man- perfectly intelligible to them, and then he ner of servants ought such to be?

should demonstrate it to their full conviction He was remarkably observant of character. against all that the followers of Tycho Brahe, When I have asked his opinion of a person, or any one else, could say against it. He would he has frequently surprised me with such a tell me it was impossible: they would not unfull and accurate delineation of him, as he derstand a single term. Impossible to make could have obtained only by a very patient them astronomers! And shall it be thought and penetrating observation. The reason of an easy matter to make them understand this appeared, when I learned that it was his redemption!" custom in his sermon notes, when he wished He gave the following account of his HABIT to describe a particular character, not to put oF PREPARATION FOR THE PULPIT : down its chief features as they occurred to “I generally look into the portions of Scriphis mind from the general observations which ture appointed by the church to be read in the he had made on men; but he would put down services of the day. I watch, too, for any new the initial of some person's name, with whom light which may be thrown on passages in the he was well acquainted, and who stood in his course of reading, conversation, or prayer. I mind as the representative of that class of seize the occasions furnished by own expecharacters. He had nothing to do then, when rience—my state of mind-my family occurhe came to enlarge on that part of his sub- rences. Subjects taken up in this manner are ject, but strongly to realize to himself the always likely to meet the cases and wants of person in question, and he would draw a much some persons in the congregation. Somemore vivid picture of a real character than he times, however, I have no text prepared : and could otherwise do.

I have found this to arise generally from Mr. Cecil was not himself led to the know- sloth: I go to work : this is the secret : make ledge of God through great terrors of con- it a business : something will arise where least science : his ministry did not, therefore, so expected. much abound in delineations of the workings It is important to begin preparation early. and malignity of sin, as in those topics which if it is driven off late, accidents may occur grew out of his course of experience; nor which may prevent due attention to the subdid he enter frequently or largely into the de-ject. If the latter days of the week are octails of the spiritual conflict. He was himself cupied, and the mind driven into a corner, the drawn to God, and subdued by a sense of di- sermon will usually be raw and undigested. vine mercy and friendship; he was led, there- Take time to reject what ought to be rejected, fore, to detail largely the transactions of the and to supply what ought to be supplied. believing mind with God, in the exercise of " It is a favorite niethod with me to reduce dependance and submission.

the text to some point of doctrine. On that He was more aware than most men of the topic I enlarge, and then apply it. I like to DIFFICULTY OF BRINGING DOWN THE TRUTH to the ask myself— What are you doing?-What is

A young minister may leave college with “ I will not foretell my own views by first the best theory in the world, and he may take going to commentators. I talk over the subwith him into a country parish a determina- ject to myself: I write down all that strikes tion to talk in the language of simplicity itself; me: and then I arrange what is written. After but the actual capacity to make himself under- my plan is settled, and my mind has exhausted stood and felt is so far removed from his for its stores, then I would turn to some of my mer habits, that it is only to be acquired by great Doctors to see if I am in no error: but experience. Hear how wisely Mr. Cecil wrote I find it necessary to reject many good things to a young friend about to take orders :—“I which the Doctors say; they will tell to no

good effect in a sermon. In truth, to be effectLavater somewhere mentions an admirable prac-ive, we must draw more from nature and less tice of his own, which carried our friend's principle from the writings of men: we must study the into constant use in his ministry. He fixed on certain book of Providence, the book of nature, the persons in his congregation, whom he considered as heart of man, and the book of God: we must representatives of the respective classes into which his read the history of the world: we must deal hearers might be properly divided amounting, as I recollect, to seven. In composing his discourses, he with matters of fact before our eyes.” kept each of these persons steadily in his eye; and

In respect to mechanical preparation, Mr. labored so to mould his subject as to meet the case of Cecil was in the habit of using eight quarto every one-by which incomparable rule he rendered pages, on which he put down his main and himself intelligible and interesting to all classes of his subordinate divisions, with such hints as he flock.

thought requisite. These notes, written in an


your aim ?'

« AnteriorContinuar »