Page images

doubt, will be flattered with what they suppose to be an offering presented at their shrine, a price paid for their admiration. But, depend upon it, my sisters, those men who are formed to be agreeable companions, faithful friends, and good husbands, will not be very forward to chuse their associates and partners for life, from the flaunting train of vanity, or the insipid circles of dissipation, Nor will it always be very easy to convince them, that while the open theatre of the world exhibits so many trivial and insipid characters of the female sex, its more retired situations abound with women of discretion and significance.

For my own share, I will confess, that I should not have thought so favourably in general concerning the fair part of the creation, as I now think, had I formed my opinions on this subject in places of gay resort ; where simplicity, softness, a sedate carriage, and rational conversation, must usually give way to the boasted tone, and brilliant, but illusive figure of the society in vogue, which seems to me a composition of. frivolous talk, fantastic manners, expensive outside, servile imitation of the mode, incessant amusement, ruinous gaming, and eternal disguise.

May I venture farther, and acknowledge my astonishment, when I have discovered that some sensible and deserving women, who in the country delighted all that came near them, by a style and deportment perfectly reasonable and highly engaging, yet appeared so forgetful of themselves the moment they plunged into the diversions and tumults of the town. Their heads turned round in the whirl of a fashionable life; and their hearts which went forth to their friends in the quiet of retreat, shrunk and vanished out of sight, in scenes where they apprehended that sentiment, affection, confidence, would probably be objects of derision. So then, Ladies, you could resign those sweetest pleasures of the soul, for the reputation of oppearing modish: you could bury your better feelings, and relinquish for weeks and for months, your more respectable pursuits, to

mix familiarly and habitually with the herd of inferior beings, that run mad after superficial amusements, and the poorest objects of low-souled ambi


Do we mean, that you ought to shut yourselves up from all the resorts of what is called Genteel Company, which, to say the truth, is often but another name for well-dressed triflers? We do not mean, we do not wish it. There are situations and connexions which would render it improper. To minds capable of reflection, the pageant, as it passes in review, may occasion many observations on the emptiness and perturbation of all but piety, worth, and heart-felt enjoyment. Nor is it altogether impossible, that a more correct appearance, a more composed address, friendly hints dropped by accident, improving remarks suggested by good sense, without the affectation of unseasonable gravity, may sometimes leave useful impressions where they were least expected. We only complain, that the friends of virtue should ever be so far entangled in the maze of modern impertinence, as to be afraid of living principally to themselves, to one another, and to the noblest purposes of their being.


Remarks on Preaching.

THE Preacher, above all other public speakers, ought to labor to enrich and adorn, in the most masterly manner, his addresses to mankind; his views being the most important. What great point has the player to gain? Why, to draw an audience to the theatre. The pleader at the bar, if he lays before the judges and jury, the true state of the case, and gains the cause of his client, which may be an estate, or at

most a life, has accomplished his end. And of the speaker in a legislature, the very utmost that can be said, is that the good of his country may, in a great measure, depend upon his tongue.

But the infinitely important object of preaching, is the reformation of mankind, upon which depends their happiness in this world, and throughout the whole of their being. And here, if the preacher possesses talents and industry, what a field of eloquence is open before him! The universal and most important interests of mankind! far beyond those for which the thunder of Demosthenes rolled in Athens ; far beyond those for which Cicero shook the senatehouse of Rome. It is for him to rouse his auditors to a valiant resistance of the most formidable slavery, of the tyranny which is set up in a man's own bosom; and to exhort his hearers to maintain the liberty, the life, and the hopes of the whole human race for ever.

Of what consequence is it then, that the art of preaching be carried to such perfection, that all may be drawn to places of public instruction, and that those who attend may receive benefit! And if So important a part of preaching be delivery, how necessary must be the study of delivery! That delivery is one of the most important parts of public instruction, is manifest from this, that very indifferent matter well delivered, will make a considerable impression; while bad utterance never fails to defeat the whole effect of the noblest composition ever produced.

While exorbitant appetite, and unruly passion within, while evil solicitation, with alluring example without; while these invite and ensnare the frail and thoughtless into guilt, shall virtue and religion hold forth no charms to engage votaries? Pleasure decks herself out with rich attire. Soft are her looks, and melting is the sweetness of her voice. And must religion present herself with every disadvantage? Must she appear quite unadorned? What chance can she


then have, in competition with an enemy so much better furnished with every necessary invitation and allurement? Alas! our preachers do not address innocents in paradise; but thoughtless and often habituated sinners Mere cold explaining will have but little effect on such. Weak is the hold which reason has on most men. Few of men have able heads; but all have hearts, and all hearts may be touched, if the speaker is master of his art. The business is not so much to open the understanding, as to warm the heart. There are few, comparatively speaking, who do not know their duty. To allure them to the doing of it, is the difficulty. This will never be effected by cold reasoning, either read or delivered in such a manner as to disgust, or lull the audience asleep. Can it be supposed, that an audience is to be warmed to the love of virtue, by a cold though learned harangue, either ill read, or, what is worse, wretchedly delivered? Can it be supposed, that a preacher will win the affections of his hearers, whilst he neglects all the natural means for working upon their passions? Will he kindle in them that burning zeal which suits the most important of all subjects, by talking to them with all the coolness of a stoic philosopher, of the terrors of the Lord, of the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched, and of future glory, honour, and immortality, of everlasting kingdoms and heavenly thrones ?

Did preachers labour to acquire a masterly delivery, places of public instruction would be crouded, as well as places of public diversion. Rakes and infidels, merely to show their taste, would frequent them. Could all frequent them, and none profit? It is not supposable, but some who came to scoff, might remain to pray. That such a manner might be acquired, there is no reason to doubt, if preachers were only to bestow due pains to obtain it. What time and labour is requisite to acquire even a tolerable knowledge of the Latin language? Were only onehalf of these spent upon the art of delivery, what an

astonishing degree of improvement would take place in all kinds of public speaking! What infinite advantage would accrue to pulpit oratory! Let us only reflect for a moment, upon the time necessary to acquire a competent knowledge of any of the mechanical arts. A taylor, a shoemaker, or a blacksmith, must be under a master five, generally seven years, before he is capable of setting up for himself. Are these arts more difficult to attain, than the art of oratory? And yet, the preacher goes into the pulpit at once, without having had one lesson, or article of instruction in this part of his art, towards gaining the end of preaching. What could be imagined more elegant, if entertainment alone were sought; what more useful, if the good of mankind were the object, than the sacred function of preaching, properly performed. Were the most interesting of all subjects delivered to listening crowds, with that dignity which becomes a teacher of divine truth, and with that energy, which would show that the preacher spoke from his own heart, and meant to speak to the hearts of his hearers, what effects might not follow?

It has been observed, "that mankind are not wood or stone; that they are undoubtedly capable of being roused and startled; that they may be drawn and allured. The voice of an able preacher, thundering out the divine threatenings against vice, would be in the ear of the offender, as if he heard the sound of the last trumpet summoning the dead to judgment. And the gentle call of mercy, encouraging the terrified and almost despairing penitent, to look up to his offended heavenly Father, would seem as the song of angels. A whole multitude might be lifted to the skies. The world of spirits might be opened to the eyes of their minds. The terrors of that punishment which awaits vice; the glories of that state to which, through divine favour, the pious will be raised, might be, by a powerful preacher, rendered present to their understandings, with such conviction, as would make indelible impressions upon their hearts, and work a substantial reform in their lives."

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »