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aggeration and nationality, so much of substantial truth in his remarks, that we may well learn some useful lessons, while we duly writhe under the castigation. Maury says, that many English sermons are highly ratiocinative and logical, but that they are lifeless, and without emotion; he knew of none calculated to elicit either tears or admiration; they are cold, and dry, and nerveless; they are repellent disquisitions; mere ethical dissertations, not only tame as compared with the elevation of the higher species of French eloquence, but even as compared with such works as the "Moral Essays" of Nicole, or the Abbé Fleury's "Duties of Soldiers." He elsewhere tells us that the English pulpit, after having been for a long time an arena for polemics, had afterwards become almost exclusively a school for the moralities of civil life; in proof of which he ranges through the host of the Boyle Lecturers, from Bentley to Derham, including Kidder, Williams, Gastrell, Blackal, Harris, Stanhope, the two Clarkes, and Whiston. He seems to think it unaccountable that the writers of these celebrated lectures did not even seek to be eloquent, which, however, he supposes would be an unpardonable scandal in a minister of the Gospel in London. He admits that these discourses refute Atheism and Deism, defend Christianity, point out the causes of infidelity, explain the prophetic æras, and shew the respective offices of faith and reason; that they are erudite and solid; and are fine models of dialectics and criticism: but they have the style and the frigidness of a treatise on jurisprudence; they defend Christianity as if in an argument before the judges; they soar above the comprehension of common auditors; they have no power over the imagination, the feelings, the heart. They have nothing of tenderness, of pathos, of persuasiveness. They are as lucid, but as cold, as a frosty star-light night.
Maury goes on to give us a dissertation on the discourses of Tillotson, with a few touches upon Barrow and others, all tending to the same argument. He concludes his animadversions with similar strictures upon Blair; respecting whom he says, that the Gospel of Christ is only accessary in his discourses, "the exclusive object of which is a philosophical morality, purely human, a theory rather than a law." He treats, says Maury, upon gentleness, upon the duties of youth and age, upon the advantages of order, the government of the heart, the love of praise, candour, the advantages of visiting the house of mourning, sensibility, honour, firmness, the creation, distaste of life, luxury, curiosity, fashion, friendship, tranquillity of mind; "but rarely, or never, upon the precepts of Christian morals, upon the paramount interests of eternity; in short, upon none of the great topics which more peculiarly belong to the Christian pulpit." This censure is not equally applicable to all the subjects mentioned by Maury; for some of them are perfectly susceptible of being treated in the full spirit of the New Testament; but the general strain of the remark, is, we lament to say, too well founded: and we quite agree with Maury, that this substitution of classical ethics for the peculiarities of the Gospel of Christ, is not less fatal to genuine pulpit eloquence, than to the grand design of the ministerial function.
We wish we could say with truth, that the date at which these censures were applicable to our English, and, we may add, Scottish and Irish pulpits, has passed away. We indeed devoutly bless God, that of late years there has been in the three kingdoms a wide diffusion of truly evangelical sentiment, which has chased from a large number of our pulpits the frigidity of merely human ethics, and warmed and animated large and attentive auditories with the cheering beams of the Sun of Righteousness. But to this hour the reformation is far from complete; and,
even where it is complete as to sentiment, where a really Christian strain of preaching has been introduced, though the change has been very generally accompanied with a great increase of simplicity, fervour, and true pulpit eloquence (for we mean not any thing tawdry or ostentatious), yet much remains to be effected before our long cherished national habits will be altogether moulded into a perfect system. A discourse on faith, or sanctification, may be as coldly didactic, as disquisitional, as little calculated to rivet the attention, to interest the affections, or to warm the heart, as a dissertation upon "the moral sense," or "the fitness of things." Preachers should ever remember that the understanding is not the only inlet to the human mind; men need as much to be aroused and borne along by affecting sentiments and glowing appeals as to be argumentatively instructed. Some French preachers err by making impression every thing; some British ones, by making it almost nothing. "I would make you feel," says Massillon or Fenelon: "I would make you understand and believe," says Barrow or Tillotson: "I would, by the grace of God, make you do both," says the fervid and "well instructed" evangelist, who makes the Scriptures his model, neither taking his logic from the schools, nor his eloquence from the rhetoricians; but both from the word of God, which is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword."
Let no man lend himself to a digression till he has well calculated where it may lead him. We have, inadvertently, begun one, and must therefore follow it up. Our object was with Mr. Jerram's funeral sermon for Dr. Good, which we proposed to introduce with a few remarks upon that interesting, but difficult, species of composition; but Cardinal Maury having taken us by the hand through a somewhat longer course than we intended, we
are induced, before we homewards, to notice a curious fact which he has recorded respecting the decadence of the French pulpit. It would seem that, since the time of Massillon the French Catholic preachers have materially altered their style of preaching. The alteration is somewhat similar to that which took place in our own country about the age of Charles the Second. Formerly the French preachers, though grievously misled by the false doctrines of the Church of Rome, insisted largely upon what they considered to be the doctrines of Scripture; they dwelt much upon "the mysteries of religion;" they urged upon men their duties, or what they considered to be their duties, not from the maxims of ethicism, but from the dictates of the inspired code, corrupted, it is true, and mixed up with much that was unsound and superstitious, but still so far giving a theological air to their discourses, that they resembled rather the addresses of some of the fathers than the Morals of Seneca or the Offices of Cicero. They were not ashamed of the science of divinity, as such, though their divinity was the perverted system of Rome instead of the pure evangelism of the Scriptures. We are as far as possible from defending either their doctrines or their choice of subjects: but whether they preached upon saints, relics, or upon the fasts and festivals of their church, it was always clear that they had heard of Christianity, and believed in it, and thought it of infinite importance, and that they had no doubt respecting any of the articles of the Apostles' Creed, or the confession of Nice, however they might misinterpret them; they had much to say, though blended with anti-scriptural errors, upon grace and pardon, and heaven and hell; in short, they shewed that, although they were Papists, they were also Christians, according to their notions of Christianity; none of which points are very clearly to be ascer
tained in some of the addresses which have passed under the title of "sermons" in the Protestant church. Their views respecting the choice of subjects for their pulpit ́addresses, as compared with those of our own "moral preachers," may be inferred from the advice which even Maury, who certainly had no very correct perception of scriptural truth, gives to ministers when urging his clerical countrymen to return back to the practice of their fathers. He reminds them that, even as respects the most painful topics of the Christian ministry, their duty is clear; for that "religion is founded on those awful verities which its ministers must not shun to declare, though men shrink from listening to them, in the very proportion in which they are powerful for effecting striking conversions." At the same time, be adds, let the ministers of Christ remember that they are not heralds of vengeance, but messengers of mercy; that they are not to repel sinners, but, by the terrors of the Lord, to persuade them; "to interpose" (the expressions are rather Catholic than Protestant) "between the Judge and the guilty; to obtain grace and pardon for the penitent and heart broken;" to threaten only to soften; and to temper the rigours of the law with the attractions of Divine mercy. "With this just mixture," he says, "choose for your sermons those strictly religious subjects which bring you into the closest contact with the consciences of your auditors; which constantly surround them with the horizon of eternity; which embrace all the grand interests of the Christian man. Shun those intermediate subjects which shut up the preacher in too narrow bounds; which do not directly depend upon the precepts of the Gospel; which you cannot connect with religion except by some elaborate subtlety, or attenuated thread of junction "Choose not for your subject," he afterwards adds, "decencies, but
duties; or those topics which are very well for a letter, but not for a sermon; or those which turn morality into pompous declamation, in which the heart feels no interest; or philosophical topics, equally alien to religion and to eloquence; topics fitter for the Portico or the Lycæum than for the Christian pulpit, and which give rise to discourses in which a Cosmopolitan orator needs make no change to adapt them, with as much propriety, to a Mohammedan mosque, or an Indian pagoda." We may sum up the whole in the expressive words of Bossuet, "Dilatez, dilatez vos talents du côté du ciel;" or in the inspired declaration of the Apostle, "When I came among you, I came not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."
It seems then that the great masters of French pulpit eloquence were generally accustomed to select for their compositions such subjects as those which Maury specifies. Now the remarkable fact which we have above alluded to is, that, according to Maury, it was chiefly the celebrated Petit-Carême sermons of Massillon which, contrary both to his own doctrine and to his own example, caused that great change in the topics of pulpit address which began to take place about a hundred years since, and which was, in the end, as fatal to eloquence as to Christianity. For many years previous to the French Revolution, the Gallican church had not furnished a single preacher of extraordinary celebrity; its Bossuet, its Bridaine, its Massillon, its Fléchier, its Bourdaloue, had passed off the stage of life, and had left behind them no equal successors. We shall give, in substance, Maury's account of this decadence, as far as relates to the effect of Massillon's Petit Carême lectures; for, though he attributes too much to that single cause, his
detail is too curious not to deserve consideration. We believe that the spirit of infidelity which, long before the period of the Revolution, had begun, secretly, to infest the French national church, was one chief cause of the downfal of pulpit eloquence in that country. Men could not preach with zeal what they did not firmly believe; and those who were thus circumstanced would seek a refuge from the appropriate topics of the Christian pulpit, in the frigid generalities which mere moral philosophy or metaphysics could fur
chose a new path. Hitherto the ecclesiastical calendar had furnished the current, subjects of Catholic preaching; and the chief of these not being peculiar to the Church of Rome, but the common property' of Christianity, the leading dogmata of the creed had been periodically brought before the people. They had heard much of the first and second advent of our Lord; of his incarnation, and sufferings, and death, and resurrection, and ascension; of the doctrine of the Trinity in unity; of death and judgment, of heaven and hell. But Massillon selected for his subject the conduct of the great; and he did this, doubtless, with the best intention of adapting his discourses to the circumstances of his auditory, and with a real zeal and faithfulness which did him great honour. But, at the same time, he was led to compose moral essays rather than Christian sermons: there was not more of the Gospel, exclusively considered, in his discourses than in Dr. Johnson's Rambler, or the graver papers of the Spectator. His morality, even in the judgment of his countryman and panegyrist Maury, was purely human.' We should somewhat qualify the epithet "purely;" but certain at least it is, that there was so little of "the offence of the Cross" in his discourses, that they became the delight, not only of the votaries, male and female, of a dissipated court, but even of professed infidels, particularly Voltaire, who speaks of them with greater rapture than of any other prose composition in the French language. Maury says rather severely, "How often must the consciences of the dissolute courtiers of the regency have thanked Massillon for not disturbing the infected dregs of their vices, for not dragging them before the tribunal of the Sovereign Judge, for dissipating their remorse for themselves in their plaudits on the preacher !"
Massillon, after having obtained the highest reputation as a divine and preacher, for his pastoral discourses and episcopal charges, was invited by the regency, in the year 1718, to preach at the chapel of the Thuilleries before Louis XV., who was then only eight years old, and had never heard a sermon. Massillon being charged with this delicate commission, and fearing that the discourses which had been so much admired fourteen years before by the old court were too long for the present occasion; and perhaps, adds Maury, a little too ascetic for an auditory so much changed since the year 1704, when he preached his last course at Versailles; sat down to compose, and in three or four months, says Maury, (the prefacer to his works says six weeks,) wrote his celebrated PetitCarême discourses. The impression made by them was wholly unparalleled: Bossuet himself had never been received with such popular enthusiasm: the eloquent Bishop of Clermont and his discourses were the theme of every circle; his originality, the fervid charm of his pastoral eloquence, his pure, his simple, his enchanting style, enriched with Scripture diction; his magic colouring, his harmony, his variety, his elegance, his tenderness towards the infant king, and his bold censures of the follies of the court, were every where The fame of these sermons is descanted upon with rapture. He so great, and their real excellence so
unequivocal, that we feel it right to justify our strictures by a specimen of the lax and adulatory language which, amidst all his censures, Massillon allowed himself to use before the most profligate of profligate courts. "God," said he, "has caused you to be born with a greater taste for what is good than other men. You have received from nature those well-directed inclinations which are hereditary; your passions are more gentle, your manners more cultivated, your decorums are akin to virtues; you have a politeness which softens down natural inclination, a dignity which restrains the excesses of disposition, a humanity which renders you more susceptible than others of the impressions of Divine grace." "We cannot require from you that trembling and tender piety, that attention to religion, and that fervour which belong to persons of retired habits, free from the engagements of the world, and who have nothing to do but to employ themselves with the things of God. But still there ought to be a rectitude of mind; a noble respect for your God, a solidity of faith and religion, that exactness which good taste requires (de si bon gout), in the essential duties of Christianity," &c. &c.-How misplaced are such topics in the lips of a minister of Christ! A morality founded on high blood and good taste! We need say no more. Alas for Massillon! he would Christianize philosophy; but instead of this, he secularizes religion. Death, judgment, eternity, salvation, "the end of man," "the small number of the chosen," " the danger of delaying conversion," how infinitely more important such topics than the trash which we have just quoted; and which, though not a fair specimen of the general course of these celebrated sermons, is still sufficient to shew how miserably scanty and superficial was the basis on which they were founded!
The success of these Petit-Câreme sermons was contagious: all the
talent of the French pulpit was directed towards a new object; every little village church now resounded with the vices and follies of courts*; the minor morals were all, and Christ and Christianity were nothing; for philosophy scorned to borrow from religion, or to regulate its choice of topics by the epochs of the church. The new commonplaces of the pulpit were such as benevolence (not the love of man, grounded on love to God); the evils of luxury; friendship; modesty; the social virtues; egotism; antipathy; even the excellence of agriculture; any thing in short but scriptural theology. Well might the venerable Pere de la Valette say of such discourses, "I know not what talent it may require to compose them, but it shews a sad want of common sense to preach them in a church." Would that all "moral preachers,” so called, and all lovers of "moral preaching," whether French English, would ever remember the remark of Bossuet; "You ask for moral exhortations in sermons; yes, but let it not be forgotten that Christian morals can be founded only on Christian mysteries."
We feel so much ashamed of our want of courtesy in having wandered thus widely from Mr. Jerram, that we will return at least one step towards him, though still on French ground, by confining our attention to the particular kind of sermons of which the one before us is an example,-funeral sermons, on the composition of which our Gallic neighbours erect the pinnacle of their pulpit fame.
France possessed no funeral orations of celebrity till the age of Louis the Fourteenth; about which time suddenly, and as if by magic, that species of composition was carried
It has been stated, that the constant recurrence of this topic, in almost every pulpit in France, was one of the preparatory causes of the Revolution; by acprivileged orders as one mass of pride, customing the people at large to view the profligacy, and folly.