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The wise and benevolent sentiments of these noble fouls were im bibed by the whole congregation, and fifty thousand troubled hearts were calmed in an instant. Hone they returned to eat, ta drink, to Jend portions, and to make mirth, because they had understood the words, that were declared unto him. Plato was alive at this time, teaching dull philosophy to cold academics : but what was he, and what was Xenophon, or Demofthenes, or any of the Pagan orators, in comparison with these men !'
In characterising the great Preacher of righteousness Jesus Christ, he makes use of the following animated language:
In order to mortify human vanity, to convince the world that religion was a plain simple thing, and that a little common sense ac. companied with an honest good heart was sufficient to propagate it, without any aid derived from the cabinets of princes, or the schools of human science, he took twelve poor illiterate men into his company, admitted them to an incimacy with himself, and, after he had kept them a while in tuition, fent them to preach tbe good vidings of salvation to their countrymen. A while after he sent feventy more, and the discourses, which he delivered to each class at their ordi. nation, are made up of the most wise and benevolent fentiments, that ever fell from the mouth of man. All the topics are pure theo. logy, and all unpolluted with puerile conceits, human politics, litesary dreams, ecclesiastical traditions, party disputes, and all the other disgraces of preaching, which those fanctimonious hypocrites, scribes, and pharisees, and pretended doctors and rabbies had in. troduced into it.
• Jesus Christ had never paid any regard to the place, where he delivered his sermons; he had taughe in the temple, the synagogues, public walks, and private houses ; he had preached on mountains, and in barges and thips. His miffionaries imitated him, and convenience for the time was consecration of the place. He had been equally indifferent to the posture, he stood, or sat, as his own ease and the popular edification required. The time also had been ac. commodated to the same end. He had preached early in the morning, late in the evening, on Sabbath-days and festivals, and when. ever else the people had leisure and inclination to hear. It had been foretold, the Mellah should not lift up, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be beard in the freets, that is, should not use the artifices of those who fought for popularity. It should seem, Jesus Christ used very little action : but that little was just, natural, grave, and expresive, He fonetimes wept, and always felt: but he never expressed his emotions in a theatrical manner, much less did he preach as a drowsy pedant declaims, who has no emotions to express.
"The success, that accompanied the miniltry of our Emanuel, was truly astonithiag. My soul overflows with joy, my eyes with tears of pleasure, while I transcribe it. When this Sun of righteousness arose with healing under his wings, the difinterested populace, who lay all neglected and forlorn, benighted with ignorance, and be. numbed with vice, saw the light, and hailed the brightness of its rising Up they sprang, and after him in multitudes men, women, and children went. Was he to pass a road, they climbed the trees to see him, yea the blind fat by the way-side to hear him go by:
une name of the Lord !
Was he in a house, they unroofed the building to come at him. As if they could never get near enough to hear the soft accents of bis voice, they presied, they crouded, they trod upon one another co furround him. When he retired into the wilderness, they thought him another Moses, and would have made him a king. It was the finest ching they could think of. He, greater than the greateft inonarch, despised worldly grandeur : but to fulfil prophecy, fatting upon a borrowed ass's cole, rode into Jerusalem the Son of the Highest, and allowed the transported multitude to strew the way with garments and branches, and to arouse the insensible metropolis by acclamations, the very children shouting, Hofannab! Hofannab in the higheft! Hofannab io ibe son of David! Blefjed be be, that cometh in the name of the Lord !
"The rabbies pretended, the populace knew not the law, and were curfed, and it is certain they knew not those gloffes of the law, which traditionilts affected to teach :- but this ignorance was cheir happiness. It would have been well for the teachers, had chey never known them. The populace did know the law, and often quoted it in its true sense. What mystery is there in the Ten Com. mandments! or what erudition is requifite to determine, whether he, who opened che eyes of the blind, were a worshipper of God, or a fioner! It is a high privilege of poverty, that it is a state degagé, dila engaged, detached, unbiased, and neareft of all others to free inquiry. The populace are not worth poisoning by ecclefiaftical quacks, for they cannot pay for the drugs. Their senses of seeing and hear. ing, their faculties of observing, reflecting, and reasoning, are all as equal to religious topics as those of their superiors, and more co, because unsophisticated. If they apply themselves to examine, their attestation is a high degree of probability, if not a demonliration,
It was gloriously said by a blind beggar to a beach of curmudgeons, Why! berein is a marvellous thing, that ye, with all your great books and broad phylacteries, long titles and hard names, wise looks and academical babits, know not whence Jesus is, and yet be bath opened my eyes. Now we, we blind beggars, we cursed people, who know not the law, we who are altogether born in fin, we know that God beareth not finners, . . If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
• This popularity, obtained by public preaching, fupported by a course of beneficent actions, many of which were miraculous, excited the envy of the leading churchmen, and chey derermined to destroy Jesus. They dare not appeal to the people, bis constant auditors and companions : but they pretended loyalty to César, and love to their country, and taxed the Prince of Peace with firring up fedition. We know the issue. Let us draw a veil over this hor. rid part of the history of mankind, and let us pass on to the principal object of our attention.'
Tracing the progress of preaching through fuccceding ages, he says,
• For some time preaching was common to bishops, elders, deacons, and private brethren in the primitive church : in process, it was restrained to the bishop, and to such as he fould appoint. They called the appointment ordination, and at lalt attached I know
not Bof what ideas of myftery and influence to the word, and of dominion to the bidiop, who pronounced it. The word ordain was ori. ginally equal 10 appoint; and if twenty Christians dominated a man io infruct them once, the man was appoinied or ordained a preacher for the time. If they requested him to continue to instruct them, he was reputed to be ordained or appointed their minister in future, as long as they pleased. These nominations were accompanied with prayer, and sometimes with the bleJing and good wishes of the seniors, expressed by the old custom of laying the hand upon the head. From these limpie transactions came in process of time a longer train of aburdities than I have rooin to relate.
• When a bishop or preacher travelled, he claimed no authority to exercise the duries of his function, unless he were invited by the chorches, where he attended public worship. The primitive churches had no idea of a bihop at Rome presuming to dictate to a congregation in Africa. Noching, however, was more common than such friendly vifits and sermons as were then in practice. The churches thought them ed. fying. In case the bithop were sick, or absent, one of the deacons, or sometimes a short-hand wri:er, used to read a homily, that had been preached, and perhaps publithed by fome good miniller, and sometimes a honrily, that had been preached by the bishop of the church. .• We have great obligations to primitive notaries, for they very early addruffed themselves to take down the homilies of public preachers. Sometines the hearers employed them, sometimes the preachers, and sometimes themselves. For this purpose they carried writing tablets waxed, and styles, that is, pointed irons, or gravers, into the assembly, and flood round the preacher to record what he said. It was a character to a public speaker to be attended by these fcribes; for primitive Christians, never complaisant in matters of con cience, would not give themselves the trouble of taking down the fermons of a patriarch, if they did not like bis preaching. They say no body would write after Auricus, patriarch of Constantinople; for, though he had a great pame, he was accounted buc an indifferent preacher. The people thought once hearing enough of all conscience for a bad sermon. From the labours of chefe men, we derive many a huge folio.
• What a muliitude of not impertinent questions might be asked here! Can we ascertain the motives of all these writers ? - Can we tell which are corrected copies? Is it quite fair to determine the whole character of a preacher by one extempore effufion 1 - Were done of the writers in a hurry to get his own copy first to market, and are the most quick always the most correct ?--Are we sure the preacher spoke clearly, and had no hoarseness, no cold, no impediinent?Can we answer for the writer's quick hearing, or the people's filence? Fathers have been quoted as scriprure : but scrip. ture was not taken thus. They have been alleged in proof of every thing, and well they might! If the populace then resembled the populace now, the most nonsensical sermons were the moit saleable.
The deacons placed themselves round the pulpit, and before fermon one of them cried with a loud voice, Silence-hearken-or fu.nething limilar. This was repeated often, if necessary; I sup:
pore pose at proper pauses, when the preacher stopped. Their manner3 were different from ours : but really our manners want some of their coftoms. It might do some drowsy folks good to be alarmed every five or ten minutes with mind what you are about - Let us liften Astend to the word of God.
• Some affirm, that all the primitive bishops preached in a gown, or a surplicé, or a fomething, which Eusebius cails melahi, and which he says, St. John being a prielt wore. Had S. John thought milanoy neceffary to a good fermon, he would have left in his writings fome direction how God, who enjoined it, chose to have it made. The directions of Moses for the habits of Aaron are so plain, that any habit-maker could work by them to this day : but as for the , apoftle's lancy, we know nothing about it. Eusebius picked up a scrap of a letter of one Polycrates, there he found mélanos, and there we leave it. It is not improbable, that some good preachers might' noc have clothes fit to appear in, especially the itinerant brethren, such as the apostles, and others after them, who travelled and preached. Would it be wonderful, if a congregation had kept a decent clean habit, that would cover all, for the use of such poor men as came among them! The surplice was copied from the Jewish worship, and was, ordered to be worn by all who officiated in facred. things : but this was in the latter part of this period, when preachers were become priells in name, and princes in fact.' . And afterwards,
• In this period many noble places of worship were built. The old Jewish temple was the original, the rest were all taken from it. We have felt the misery of abridging all along : but here it will be less obscure to omit than to abr dge. Let it, then, iuffice to observe, that a cathedral was an imitation of the temple, and a village place of worship of a synagogue. Hence the idea of a holy end for an altar and a circle of priests, and an unhallowed end for the common people. Hence the divisions of porches, choirs, chancels, and so on, answering to the courts of the temple. The ambo, or pulpit, was in the choir. Some were portable, and very plain; others fixtores, stretching out lengthwise, so that the preacher might walk up and down in them; some had seats and curtains, others were adorned with gold and silver, and resembled the thrones of princes more than scaffolds for the convenience of Christian ministers So says Eurebius, censuring the vanity of Paol of Samoleta. Hence came our modern cathedrals and parish churches, our choirs, and altars, and italls, and thrones in places of worship. Many of our churches and chapels are very inconvenient to preach in. They were not erected for icbools of instruction : but for saying mass and facrificing, and where the pulpit thould be, there ftands an old table covered with finery, and called an altar. *In many places, the priest preaches from the middle of a lide wall, or a pillar, to the backs and shoulders of his audience, for the pews were placed with a view to the alcar, where formerly brother Mumpfimus used to play tricks, and not to the pulpit, where now a wise and good minifter itands and preaches to a people, in search, it thould seem by their looking to the old spot, for their former guides. How long shall we sacrifice manly advan- ' tages to puerile.popish baubles !
• Degenerate as these days were, , compared with those of the apostles, they were golden ages in comparison with the cimes that followed. Some taught what they called positive theology, that is to say, compilations of theological opinions, collected from scripture, and fathers, and councils. Others went into scholaftical divinity, that is, confused and metaphysical reasonings, by which they pretended to explain the doctrines of religion. A third fort were all taken up with contemplations and inward feclings, and their divinity was myfticism. Even these were preferable to others, who read the categories of Aristotle, or the life of a saint, in the church, instead of a fermon, and who turned the church, I will not say into a theatre, but into a booth at a country fair. The pulpit became a stage, where ludicrous priests obtained the vulgar laugh by the loweftkind of dirty wit, especially at the festivals of Christinas and Easter. One of our old hiftorians says, The devil was so pleased with the preachers of the eleventh century, that he fent them a letter of thanks from bell for the advantages which bis kingdom derived from their
In describing the state of preaching in reformed countries, after paffing high encomiums on the first reformers, and on many Puritan and Nonconformist preachers (overlooking however many great names which have adorned the English church, and greatly contributed to the improvement of preaching], our Author thus laments the influence of civil authority on the elo. quence of the pulpit :
• In all reformed countries the pulpit was taken into the service of the state, and became a kind of attorney or solicitor-general retained to plead for the crown. The proof of this lies in the articles, canons, and injunctions, which were girded on the clergy of those times; and how thoroughly the state clergy have underflood this to be the true condition of the pulpit, their sermons will abundantly prove. The best state instructions to preachers were given in the DIRECTORY by the assembly of divines : but even these include the great, the fatal error, the subjection of God's word to human law. If, when all other institutes were taken into the service of the state, the pulpit had escaped, it would have been wonderful indeed : but, if the pulpit be a place, and the preacher a personer, in the name of common sense, what are we to expect from both!
"From this fad constitution we derive, the lifelessness of later preaching. The ill-fated youth before he is aware finds himself bound to teach the opinions of a set of ministers, who lived two hun. dred years before he was born. His masters believed their own arti. cles, and therefore preached them with zeal: but it would be unreasonable to expect a like zeal in him for the same doctrines, for he does not know what they are, or, having examined them, he does not think them: true, and thus subscriprion to other men's creeds becomes the death of good preaching.' - After perusing these specimens of our Author's style and spirit, many of our Readers will, we apprehend, agree with us in regretting that, while in so good a cause he discovers such a laudable portion of the fortiter in re, he has not been able to