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tions of three English Bishops; and in the next, of the Rev. Mr. Sherman and the Rev. R. C. Dillon, A. M.; and in one very near it, the names and compositions of two Dissenting Ministers, and even of the person who is supposed to have written the “ Case of the Dissenters” against the Church. It is of course abundantly possible that the discourse of a dissenter may be quite as good as the discourse of the most dignified ecclesiastic that adorns the hierarchy of the land; and even that a man may preach as well from a mound of turf as from a pulpit, or in a plain coat as in a gown and cassock. But we should think it a spurious liberality indeed, if any clergyman of the establishment was a voluntary agent in having his sermons mixed up in the same leaves with the sermons of an Independent or a Baptist; if he should forget, and so help to obliterate, the broad and obvious line of separation between a National Church, and a variety of sects, which, to his understanding at least, must be imbued with heresy and schism. Such a measure, if deliberate and wilful, we should regard as almost a step to preaching in the same place of worship, and we entertain a strong feeling as to the mischief which it might occasion. Preposterous, we are aware, would be the absurdity of attributing to a catch-penny speculation, like the “ British Pulpit,” any deep or premeditated design. Yet the plan of comprehending“ Evangelical divines of every denomination,” is of a piece with the general tactics and devices of the Dissenters, assisted, as they sometimes are, by conscientious persons attached to a particular section in the National Church, who ought to be more upon their guard. It is just of a piece with the system which would distribute Christian ministers, not into the old and plain, and intelligible distinctions of Episcopalians, who belong to the Establishment, and Sectarians, who secede from it, but into a new division, of Evangelical and un-Evangelical preachers; the former to be extolled and brought forward, and and the latter to be proscribed: and thus--not to mention other sorer topics—by way of getting rid of the intolerance, and exclusiveness, and the assumption of the dominant Church, would introduce a new intolerance, a new exclusiveness, a new assumption, just on a par with that spirit, which advertises for “ a maid of all work to a family of decided piety," and which would insinuate that none can be “ serious” or devout, or really Christian, without the pale of the special sacred band, who use a peculiar phraseology on every suitable or unsuitable occasion. The notion, how-ever, ought not to be lost of something superior, and independent, and separate in the Established Church; the associations of reverence, as well as affection, which are connected with it, ought not to be lightly broken. But if the religionists of the
day see all denominations of Christians and Christian ministers placed upon a perfect equality in a periodical work, they may soon become familiarized with the dissenting principle, that they are perfectly equal in themselves : they may slide into the habit of hurrying with an indifferent and most impartial eagerness, from Church to Conventicle, and from Conventicle to Church; just wherever there is “ a wonderful fine man” to be heard; and all peculiar respect for the doctrines and discipline of the religion of the country, may be merged in an indiscriminate passion for florid and stimulating barangues. It is evident, at least, that, as far as the influence of these publications can extend, if the principle of an Established Church is not absolutely trodden under foot, the way is paved for the secret but triumphant progress of the principles of dissent.
In whatever light, then, the matter is viewed, whether as it affects preachers or as it affects hearers, whether as it affects those whose discourses are inserted against their inclinations, or those whose discourses are inserted with their proper knowlege and consent—whether as it affects successful, or, if such there be, unsuccessful candidates for the honour of a place—we can discern little more than another phase of mischief. Something, likewise, might be said generally about the intellectual and spiritual taste which is fostered by such publications as the Pulpit and the rest; and a few flowers might be gathered out of these gardens of eloquence, which such of our readers as are fond of the gaudy and fantastic might be anxious to preserve. We might smile at some of the men who are exalted to the pinnacle of popularity, and held up as the luminaries of the time. Divers samples might be selected of all that is puerile in logic, or that ought to be avoided in oratory,--of turgid rant or mawkish familiarity, -of the marvellously wild in doctrine, or the strangely infelicitous in expression,—of the sublime soaring away into the burlesque, or the pathetic sinking down into the ludicrous. Much unquestionably there is of a far better kind; but upon dipping into one of these compilations, or endeavouring to wade through another, we really cannot but come to the conclusion, that the exceptionable, on the whole, preponderates over the laudable, both in substance and in style. A considerable proportion is sad rubbish indeed.
This, however, is a matter on which we forbear to expatiate; for our object is rather to protest against the principle than to enter into details. Moreover, if we attempted the task of criticism, we should yet be ignorant whether we were passing our strictures upon the preacher, or upon the reporter.
This latter point one pregnant instance may sufficiently ex
plaio. We had, as it happens, prepared certain extracts--some of them atrocious transgressions against soundness of doctrine and purity of composition,--and, by accident, the very first was from a sernion in the Preacher, purporting to be delivered by the late Mr. Howels, and entitled “ Sacramental Preparation." But in looking into the Memoir of that clergyman, prefixed by his friend Mr. Bowdler to his Sermons lately published, we were much struck by the following passages.
á Mr. Howels wrote with painful emphasis when complaining of the way in which his sermons were reported in some periodical publications." He spoke of " sermons to be published afterwards, not for the spiritual, but the temporal profit of others.” He “ strongly objected to the practice of publishing his sermons, sometimes erroneously reported, and uniformly without his leave.”—p. cxix. And the subjoined sentences then occur in a letter addressed by Mr. Howels himself to the editor of the Pulpit, and inserted in that work.
“Sir,- I bave perused with surprise a sermon reported as mine, in No. 338 of your periodical publication. Thousands of gold and silver would not bave seduced me into the press, and thence into the tour of the empire, in the dress I am invested with by your reporter.
Though the whole of the sermons would have been very different had it courted the public eye from my own pen, I cannot, from bodily indisposition, do more than correct a few passages by presenting you with my own undisturbed sentiments.
“ I disown every thing hitherto inserted in The Pulpit under my name, and deprecate the future insertion of any thing ascribed to myself.”
These sentences have determined us not to quote any passages whatever attributed to other names, while we are uncertain as to their authenticity; but after this strong caveat of Mr. Howels, we may feel convinced that the reports of his sermons are not authentic in one of these compilations more than in another; and therefore we insert the following jargon, which some coarse and ignorant reporter, or perhaps some secret enemy, has put into the mouth of a minister of the Church of England; not as being any thing which Mr. Howels really said, but as showing the sort of stuff which “ The Preacher” can contain as " eminent Divinity.”
“ We have more to achieve than Wellington ever bad when be faced the enemies of his country in Europe.”.
~ Some jodividuals are so much under the influence of good sense, that they not only say and do what is right, but they time things admirably. They will not only say a good thing, but say it at the moment
· Seek thy
it ought to be said, and we are very much pleased. This is just the way with God.”
“ It is true there is hypocrisy and deceit in the bosom of the believer ; but he knows these enemies, and is fighting against them. This is the difference--though hypocrisy and deceit are lurking in bis heart, yet he is not a hypocrite, a self-deceiver. I remember hearing a very eminently pious man say, “ You smile so sweetly.' 'Hold your tongue,' said I, you do not know how to abuse me: if you knew what was in my heart, your expressions are too weak a great deal ; you cannot paint me: if you want to see me in all my deformity, let me paint myself -- I do not want such a dauber as you are to murder my picture.'
The man was astonished, and at the same time ashamed of himself.
“ In the hundred and nineteenth Psalm we see what individuals who live nigh unto the Lord are engaged in. Wbat sweet aspirations there are in that Psalm ! We see David flying on the wings of faith and love, leaving earth and all its trumpery; he seems to soar in the neighbourhood of the sun : yet after all how does he conclude ? servant; I am gone astray like a sheep that is lost.' He was a man, as I told you before, who had his eye fixed in his heart. His conduct must have been admired by all who knew him. He was eminently embued with the spirit of piety; yet he said, “Seek thy servant.' May God give us this religion, a religion that will make us all radicals—that is the religion we want-a religion that reaches the root of every principlea religion that sometimes does what one tooth does with another, in the mouth of a young person ; the tooth that grows pushes out the other. So divine grace grows out every evil principle, in the strength and love of God.”
“ If thus I wait upon God in the exercise of faith, he will give me every thing that is good for me. Yes, he will give me, to-morrow, or even to-day, the sun, moon, and stars, if they would do me real good. God takes away many things from his family, as a mother does with her child who has found a knife and fork; they pass very near his eyes, his mouth, and his nose; and what does she do? She takes them away from his hands. Thus the Lord does with us ; and we shall learn hereafter, as I have often told you before, that God is often acting wisely in taking away what we consider to be necessary.”—“ The Preacher, part IV., Sermon 2nd.”
We might adduce other specimens of Preacher and Pulpit eloquence quite as extravagant, and even more offensive; for, in point of fact, no clergyman in the kingdom, from the archbishop to the deacon, from the primate of all England to the assistant curate, is safe, except through thorough incapacity, from being not merely turned into an author against his will, but misrepresented and caricatured into the bargain ; unless, indeed, by condescending to correct the proofs, he mixes himself up with persons whom, to say the least, he cannot respect, and acquiesces in a system which defrauds him, and perhaps gives to the defrauding parties a lien upon his literary property which may be used against
himself, if he afterwards wishes to print his own sermons for his own benefit.
But, if such are the evils of the plan pursued by “the Pulpit” and its tail,” the question comes, “ what are the remedies ?” For our own parts, we should be glad to see the matter fairly tried in a court of law. But the issue might be doubtful. In the case of medical lecturers, it has, we believe, been determined, that the lecture, when once delivered, belongs to the persons for whose service it was composed, and by whom the lecturer is paid. And although the case of a clergyman is in many respects different, and his moral and equitable right to a property in his own discourses seems incontrovertibly clear, the decision in law might be unfavourable, and he would be unwise to enter into a squabble with most unworthy antagonists, and put himself to trouble and expense, without first obtaining a sound legal opinion, founded upon an exact statement of the particular circumstances. Still there are some means of prevention, even if there be no complete redress. Wherever a minister is systematically annoyed by the unauthentic publication of his sermons, we advise him to express, forcibly and emphatically, his disapprobation and disgust, not merely in a letter addressed to the editor of the offending work, but generally, through the medium of the newspapers and the periodical press. To some inconveniences he would, of course, be exposed, and, very possibly, to some malignity of attack; for where is the thief who will resign his booty without a murmur? But the honest exposure would do good, and if the example was set by one influential divine of high character and talent, others would be induced to follow, and the proprietors of these compilations might be deterred by very shame; or, at least, it would be seen who the parties are who dislike and reprobate the system, and who, if any, are the other parties who, behind the curtain, uphold and promote it. We trust, indeed, that there are no clergymen of the Established Church who can, in any way, pander to a scheme so mischievous and so nefarious.
Something again might be, and we hope has been, done by the cheap and authorized publication of judicious and orthodox, and at the same time stirring and attractive, sermons, contributed either to a society, or to a responsible editor, by ministers of the Gospel, who are willing, occasionally, to see their compositions in print, but who have yet no inclination to puff themselves in a
No plan, however, of this kind can be sufficient to stop the evil, although it may help to counteract it. If the system can be put down at all, it must be put down by a fearless, powerful, uncompromising exhibition of public sentiment. We cannot see