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LONDON:
RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.

1860.

203. d.

291.

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LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET.

INTRODUCTION.

Dr. Cross, the eloquent writer of this entertaining work, whom I had the pleasure of frequently meeting in London, has made some strictures in it on English preachers-sometimes overdone, but always brilliant. A preacher himself, , he has paid particular attention to preachers in England. In introducing his interesting sketches to the public, it occurred to me that this would be a fit opportunity of paying him a few English shillings for his very many American dollars. I have therefore covered the few pages assigned me, not by praises of the very useful and very amusing book I have the pleasure of editing, but by some remarks on American preachers, who are selected as representatives of classes, and therefore likely to be more interesting and instructive to uş.

HENRY WARD BEECHER.

Henry Ward Beecher is a remarkable, though somewhat eccentric, preacher. The Plymouth Church,' Brooklyn,

• is a sort of audience hall, having very few of the usual and distinctive features of a place of Christian worship. In the large pulpit we shall find on Sundays a respectable-looking person who writes notes, and looks about him, and makes himself singularly at home, before service begins. He wears neither cassock, gown, nor surplice, nor bands, nor any particle of the clerical uniform. His voice is possessed of no extraordinary power, nor is it musical. His manner is commonplace in all respects. But notwithstanding all these mediocrities of the outer man, he is the most popular and effective American preacher of the day. He owes his power wholly to the depth and force and originality of his thoughts, and the homely, yet neither vulgar nor ungraceful, expression of them ; above all, to the honest but not preten

; tious faithfulness with which he inveighs against hypocrisy in every guise, and immorality in every rank. He regards every doctrine of the Bible not as a mere part of a theological system, however precious, but as bearing on man in some of the varied phases of his every-day life. To have any value he holds that a doctrine must be vital :

a

and so,

if any

We must know (he remarks) how to act, how to control passions, how to resist temptations, how to be selfsacrificing and loving. If a person will bring to me a fresh blue violet this beautiful spring morning, I would thank him;

one has a little flower of Christian experience, which has blossomed forth from the wintry snows through the warmth and light of God's love, I would thank him for it: I would give more for it than for acres of dried hay.

Theological systems are good in their place. They have their place, as all sciences have, but that place is not the pulpit. What people need from the pulpit is religious food- the bread of life.

There is no science in nature. God makes nature, and man makes science. There are the flowers and fruits, and man makes the science of botany. There are the stars and the sun, and out of their regular motions man makes the science of astronomy. All these sciences are well in their place.

But when I want a bunch of flowers, I do not thank a man who brings me calyxes, and petals, and pistils, and stamens, scientifically analyzed and labelled. When I want something to eat, I do not thank one for bringing me the component parts of bread and butter and coffee, chemically analyzed and scientifically arranged -the starch in one paper, and the saccharine matter in another, and the caffein in another. No, I want them mixed as nature mixes them; and so I want the Gospel given to me as Christ gave it, naturally, from his great heart, with all the freshness and beauty of life experience.'

;

These are some of the leading principles which give his preaching what such a line is sure to create-a just appreciation and great popularity. He repudiates, and most justly, every system which exalts the government of God above God Himself, and substitutes laws for a living Presence, and makes Deity subservient to them. The heart of human nature yearns for what will still its fervid beatings, and soothe its irritation, and satisfy its longings, and to present this is his aim. A sound theology ought to be the actual possession of the preacher, but it is a lifegiving and life-sustaining preaching that must be the ministry of the pulpit. Carbon in the living tree is delightful and fruit-bearing. Carbon in the diamond is bright and precious, but cold and indigestible. There is something large and comprehensive in the sympathies of Mr. Beecher. His heart has outgrown the restraints and trammels of ecclesiastical party. If it has a defective polarity, it leans and oscillates rather strongly in the opposite direction :

* Let us approach a communion table as if the Saviour were here, as he was at the supper of old. If there be in this congregation any strangers, let them come. I will not ask for their creeds. I will not inquire if they be "church members in good and regular standing.' If there is any one here who, in penitence and longing for a pure life, has apprehended Christ and found him precious to his soul, it is not we, it is Christ who invites him.'

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