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multiply those means and widen those limits,) the time has certainly come when we ought also to aim at that higher intellectual distinction, to which our capacities and resources, rightly directed, are doubtless adequate. A pure and exalted national literature is second in importance only to morality and religion, and the means of forming it in our peculiar situation, presents one of the most interesting problems which remain for us to solve.
Mr. Wheaton has adverted in several instances to the perfection of the English system of education, in that portion of the community who enjoy it, one specimen of which appears in his account of the examination of the Charter House boys, in London.
“It was," he says,(p. 237,)“a noble spectacle, to see between five and six hundred of them assembled in one apartment, to exhibit proofs of the progress they had made in their various studies. The exercises were conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury's chaplain and another clergyman, in the presence of a number of spectators. The eldest classes were examined in Sophocles, which they rendered into correct English with perfect fluency. The readiness with which they explained the sense of that difficult author, showed a proficiency in the language quite unknown in the schools, and even in the colleges of America. In reading portions of the new testament in the original, they were not only required to attend to the nicest shades of meaning; but to cite parallel passages, illustrative of those on which they were examined, and to give explanations, geographical, grammatical, doctrinal, and historical-all of which was done with admirable readiness and precision. Their recitations from Virgil exhibited, in a striking manner, the perfection of their training in the Latin tongue. One began, without book, reciting and construing from half a dozen to a dozen lines. He had no sooner completed the sentence, than the examiner called upon another boy in the same class, who immediately commenced reciting in the same way; and so on till each one had been examined in his turn. Notwithstanding they were suddenly called upon, and apparently without any order, there was no mistake, nor the least hesitation, during the whole trial. The ages of the boys seemed to be from eight to fifteen."
Another specimen, on a lower scale, appears in our author's account, (p. 211,) of the charity girls of St. Sepulchre's.
“ Their examination,” hesays,“ was conducted wholly among themselves by question and answer. No book was used, nor was the least prompting necessary; and although the exercise was prolonged for two hours, there was neither blunder nor hesitation through the whole time. The children stood motionless as statues, looking strait forward with their arms crossed ; and it was often difficult to perceive from whom the voice proceeded, as no apparent order was observed.—What I greatly admired was the extreme beauty and propriety of their pronunciation, to which we in America pay so little attention in our schools."
But it is not our design to pursue the subject of the difference between England and America, into many particulars. We shall therefore omit others, and come to the topic of religion. We are much indebted to the author under review, for the information he
has afforded us on this point, particularly as it relates to the Establishment. His opinion has already been presented in part. A few other notices from his pen may be added. Speaking of a sermon by Archdeacon Blooinfield, (p. 153,) which he heard, he says,
It wanted method, and like many of the sermons I have heard in and about London, was deficient in strong and manly thought. There is a barrenness of invention in almost all of them-a poverty of matter, which may be traced in part to a radically deficient theological education. The preachers have literature in abundance, which they lay up at the universities: but they have not theology enough.
“Without doubt,” says Mr. Wheaton, in another place, “our American clergy are before their Transatlantic brethren in the article of faithful preaching, and even in pulpit eloquence, in that warmth and directness of address which makes its way to the conscience and feelings of the hearer; however inferior they may be in classic lore and literary taste.”
Again, in detailing a conversation which he had with Mrs. Hannah Moore, (p. 312,) he says,
Mrs. Moore expressed her surprise that no provision whatever had been made by the (American] government for this purpose, [the support of religion.] I replied it was best things should remain as they are. This interference of government in any shape, is impracticable and by no means to be desired. The cause which they should undertake to support would be ruined by their patronage. “But how are your clergymen supported ?" By annual pew-rents, voluntary taxes, and contributions. “ But does it not make them servile and unfaithful in their preaching?" Quite the contrary. I believe our clergymen are as a body, more faithful in this respect than yours. It is the way to gain popularity and influence, as well as the way of duty. “That speaks much for the American people.”.
This is the tone of our author's remarks in some other places, and especially in commenting on individual preachers, many of whom he took an opportunity to hear, as the best means of ascertaining the state of religious feeling in the land. Still he thinks favorably of the piety of the people, a large proportion of whom attend on the means of grace, with apparent devotion and zeal.
It seems to be conceded, that the strain of English preaching differs from the generality of that which is adopted by our American divines, and is inferior to it, in some important characteristics. Of this fact not only the hearers, but the readers of English sermons must be assured. The printed discourses of English divines, at
present day, bear a certain signature, by which they are readily distinguished from those which proceed from the pulpit or press in this country. We here speak of the sermons, not only of religious teachers connected with the established church, but of the sermons of those belonging to the dissenting interest. And we have reference not merely to the great mass of pulpit exhibitions, which are rather essays than sermons, and the subjects of which are rather
identified with pagan philosophy than christianity, but to those that pertain to the evangelical school of divinity. We leave Dr. Blair and Mr. Alison out of the question, whose sermons " have had their day, and no longer retain a place on the shelves of christian theology.” Taking the productions of those who preach substantially the truth-the doctrines of the reformation, we find with a few exceptions, some obvious points of dissimilarity, if not of contrast. Their evangelical preaching is not exactly our evangelical preaching.
The form of it is different. Most English sermons of the class intended, compare unfavorably with American sermons, in this respect. They fail in strictness of method, in a doctrinal experimental cast, in an argumentative turn, in directness of address, or in power of appeal to the conscience. If, in most English discourses, we find a regular train of remarks; we do not so frequently recognize that formal division of topics, by which the object of the preacher is rendered more apparent to the hearers, and his instructions are more easily remembered. If, in the majority of English sermons, we are gratified with manly thought and sententious wisdom; we do not so often meet with doctrinal disscussion and pungent application. If they are marked by literary exactness, and a practical turn; they give us fewer examples of bible reasoning, and clear views of truth. If they are filled with instructive representations, respecting the realities of religion and the spiritual world, yet they are sparing of those powerful, pungent appeals to the conscience, which render sinners so wretched in the neglect of their duty. They may be apparently kinder in manner, but less efficient-less heart-stirring. Their effect is more soothing, but not more purifying. Some one has said that English theologians preach as if their hearers had no conscience.
In respect also to the matter of sermons, although the same christianity for substance may be preached, there is not in the two countries, the same sort of representations on some points, nor is there the like prominence given to certain other points. The doctrines of the gospel are a little differently shaped, or appear in connections in which they affect the mind with different degrees of force. We could find fault with the theology of English divines occasionally, by noticing their confused representations concerning the means of grace as used by sinners, the value of unregenerate doings, the nature of fallen man's inability to obey God, the true character of the divine work in regeneration, and perhaps some other topics. They need more thoroughly to understand the principles of Edwards, in order to open the conscience, and to make the truth bear upon it in all its weight. The advantages derived from the views of experimental religion mostly prevalent in this country, especially as exhibited in revivals, would also be felt to be very great by our English brethren, were they fully to embrace them.
They would then preach the gospel with much more effect. Let us not be misunderstood. We design not to proclaim our own superiority, but we would thank God for his goodness. Through his gracious providence, this people have been placed in peculiarly favorable circumstances, in respect to a free, bold, and independent discussion of religious truth, on the part of spiritual teachers; circumstances in which the latter could neither be seduced by the emoluments of the world, nor awed by its power. Ours, too, is the home of the pilgrim fathers, the best men that ever reared an empire, through whom unnumbered blessings have descended to the present generation. The theological training of our clergy, moreover, has been eminently propitious. The master spirits who have given to theology, here, its bright, primitive, scriptural aspect, have always exerted and now exert a deep and strong influence over the religious public. They have felt the awful power of Edwards, have listened to the arousing tones of Davies, have followed the close reasoning of Smalley, have been searched by the keen discrimination and pungent appeals of Emmons, and have drunk in the sound sense, diversified scriptural lore, and holy unction of Dwight. But though speaking for ourselves individually, we should consider these and others like them, as best exhibiting both in matter and manner, what preaching should be; yet we must be alike stupid and ungrateful not to own our obligations to kindred spirits, in the parent country. These certainly have furnished important aids to piety. They may not, in general, have very effectually wrought conviction in the minds of sinners, but they have been the means of advancing the holiness of christians. Though we may have been less thoroughly aroused to duty by their representations, we may have been made to feel more the charm of religion as a speculative principle, our taste and feelings may have been at times better conciliated. Some of the earlier worthies have been already named. Among the more recent, we are glad of the opportunity of saying, how much we have been refreshed by the cheerful piety of Newton, have been humbled in view of the large experience and devoted diligence of Scott, have been lifted above the world, by the calm wisdom and purity of Venn, have been subdued by the solemn grandeur and the pathos of Chalmers, and been thrilled and edified by the vivid representations and rich religious feeling of Hall.
The strain of preaching which we have noticed in our transatlantic brethren, so far as it is different from that of our divines, is doubtless owing in a great measure to their different circumstances. The force of custom in the ministry itself—the spirit of imitation—the settled notions of the country which have come down, not altogether rectified, from a corrupted age, the age of papal darkness--the influence of the establishment giving, in Vol. II.
many instances, too secular a character to the ministry—the great distinction among the different orders of the people—and the habits of social intercourse founded on that distinction, might be expected to present some modifications of christianity as preached, differing from those that are witnessed among us. 'Under such circumstances the gospel, in its administrations, might be expected to possess a less primitive, simple, and independent character, than as it came from our puritan fathers, purged as it must have been from its corruptions, through their sufferings. People, as is often the case in the English national church, who have not the choice of their own spiritual guides, may be displeased, (though unable to relieve themselves,) with an heretical, worldly, or lazy parson. In the last named character, as Mr. Wheaton has described one, they may be often treated to an excellent sermon, but “the quantity of good divinity contained in it, together with the intermixture of certain phrases which have a strong smack of antiquity, inay lead to the most uncharitable doubts how much of it is his own.” Where worldly, irreligious laymen have the right of presentation to a vacant benefice, such must frequently be the character of the ministry. And even pious clergymen will naturally feel themselves embarrassed and tempted to become unfaithful, (if they do not possess a large share of decision of character,) when they are situated like the one, whom Mr. W. has also spoken of, in page 421 of his book. Those lords and ladies who, during the shooting season, visit their estates in the neighborhood of some small village, and announce to the pastor beforehand their intention to attend church, or countermand the message, if indisposition occurs in the mean time; and who at best favor the church with only half a day's attendance, can hardly be expected by their formality and parade to make themselves agreeable to the manly, honest feelings of a servant of Christ, or to aid his fidelity, while they will certainly much disturb a humble and simple-minded congregation.
From such unpropitious influences on the ministry we are free, and doubtless the good men beyond the water, rise in a measure above them. Still they must have a degree of effect on the ministry at large, and produce those modifications of a preached gospel, which we have attempted to describe. Other influences, however, may be peculiarly in their favor, and do much to neutralize the effects of those that are adverse, or render them less mischievous than they otherwise would be. Among these, we would barely mention the situation of that large class of the British population, called operatives, whose dependence seems favorable to the influence of religion over them, in those instances, where the patrons or pastors of the church interest themselves, in the spiritual welfare of these poor but industrious people. Many of the touchiug tsaots