Billeder på siden

Mr Joseph Simpson's. “Joe," said body's confidence ; what he whisbe - there was no mistaking the pered to Mary no one ever knew, unhonest face—“Joe, I believe it !” and less she has told George Harrison he dashed his hand into his cousin's, now they are married. He promised and turned his head aside for a mo- to go back with Sam to school, and ment-perhaps to look at Sam. to skin Vardy, if necessary, in case a

" I'm very sorry, Joe; not sorry magnificent supper to the whole fraI'm alive, you know, that can't be ternity of Lindley House should not helped; but sorry you've been dis- be found sufficient (with a quiet hint appointed. I called at Grindles', to the doctor) to insure Sam's future and they told me all about it. Never popularity without having recourse mind, Joe; the old place shall be a to that extreme measure. By the home for you and yours; and you'll time the faithful Zachary had in forgive me for coming back." formed Mr Grindle of his principal's Mr Joe Simpson made no reply; he arrival in flesh and blood, and that

good hand at speeches. gentleman had made himself up to He turned his head away, now; pro- come down stairs, cousin John Simpbably to see what Mary was about. son had been restored to his own “ That's your daughter, Joe,”. con- again without a heartburning or a tinued Mr John, who was much the grudge from any one of his disinmost at home, as he had best right to herited relations. Over Mrs Simpbe. “I never thought any of our lot son's and Augusta's disappointment, would have shown so much blood. we prefer to draw a veil. They bore Gad, what a sweet sight it is to see an it like women, and said they “alEnglish girl's face,” and he proceed- ways knew cousin John would turn ed to mark his appreciation of the up again.” opportunity by a very emphatic kiss, “ You haven't told us, Mr John," for which he made a very proper apo- said Grindle, “how this strange mislogy, but Mary would have been quite take arose, after all ?”. content without. “And this your “ It comes of doing things by eldest son — how these young ones halves ;” and he took a colonial run up; a'nt an atom like you, Joe, newspaper out of his pocket, and my boy! but a very fine young fel- pointed out this paragraph to Mr low;" and he shook George heartily Grindle. by the hand, to which George as “On the 11th ult., at Point de Galle, heartily responded; he had not the Ceylon, on his voyage home, Mr least objection to be taken for one of John Simpson, Her Majesty's Conthe family. “But what's this, my sulat Tranquebar, to Celestine Sophie, dear,” said he to Mary, from whom relict of the late Count de Leon Sain truth he had hardly taken off his vigny, Colonel in the Austrian Sereyes—“what's this ? you've been cry- vice. ing !"

“ They put in only half the anWhat could poor Mary do, but cry nouncement, you see, and so it got again ? His voice was so kind : he among the deaths, and was copied looked so inquiringly into her eyes; into the English papers. I made them he took her hand so gently. This print it here with an apology. It was was cousin John! Oh! how glad she rather a sudden thing," continued was there was to be no more rejoicing Mr John," and I couldn't come off over his money!

at once by the Formosa ; I only “I shan't cry any more now you landed last night. She's a very fine are come back," she said.

woman, and can't speak a word of “Now, no humbug," said cousin English, so there'll be no family John ; "you didn't cry for me, you quarrels, Joe; and mind what I say, know ; what's this all about, eh!" here's a country-house for you and

He was told all about it. In half yours as long as it stands.” an hour, cousin John and his heirs- Mr and Mrs John Simpson have expectant were the best friends in no family; and Mr and Mrs George the world. He was taken into every- Harrison are their constant guests.


Human nature and popular liking ther it is a certain controversial and get hard measure at everybody's polemic tendency peculiar to a counhand. We who make up the tale, try in which opinion and thought are and add our own individual voices to free as the winds, or whether it be give character to the opinions and merely the broader superficial satissentiments of the crowd, are never- faction which people very imperfectly theless ready at all times to mount religious, yet affectionately inclined upon a fancied superiority, and con- towards the gospel, take in hearing demn the conclusions of the popular it talked of, we do not presume to mind, though that embraces our own, decide ; but it is a very certain fact, At the present time, when all the that even among our novel-loving talking portion of the world not at population, sermons-a manner of leisure in its yearly holiday hast aken literature quite antipodal and antato discuss the intellectual tastes of gonistic-find, in spite of many disthe multitude, we have heard per- claimers, a great and universal achaps quite enough about the novel. ceptance. While people speak of reading of the public libraries and the penny periodicals, full of tales mechanics' institutes throughout the and novelties, which the metropolis country, and that unexampled diffu- sends forth, few think of the side-bysion of light literature among the side existence of a penny Pulpit, masses, which has not ceased yet to where, in thin paper and coarse amaze the philosophic mind. Grant- print like their neighbours, the divines ing as an astonishing and unforeseen of London, of all denominations, send fact the undeniable truth, that all the forth their exhortations to the crowd. different classes of society are pretty And let nobody suppose the Pulpit much at one in their tastes, and that languishes while the tales flourish. the democracy, strangely enough, is We are, though not an island of not more anxious to improve its mind saints, a sermon-loving generation. than is the aristocracy, and does not Our ears tingle to the hortatory adeven show any special distinction in dress as well as to the tale of fancy ; that respect from the very middle and the former liking is so much the classes themselves, we have still, in more spontaneous, that while hosts allowing this, made ourselves aware of literary adventurers watch the of only one side of the subject. We, popular appetite, and study its variaand the great people and the work tions with all the anxiety of unseing people, and all the world, read cured servants, whom a moment's more novels by a very long number caprice may cast out, the body of than we read works of philosophy, divinity troubles itself very much science, or any other elevated and less about the matter, and holds an elevating branch of literature ; per- unbounded and unshakeable confihaps we read more novels than are dence in its own interesting voice-a good for us-not to say write them— confidence which is justified by the but still this is only one aspect of the results. There is scarcely a clever popular English inclination. There writer of the day on the other side of is a counterpoise and balance : it the field who has not had his fling at is common to speak of the race once sermons and their makers one time run by Old Mortality on the one side, or another ; but either the native and Dr Chalmers's Astronomical Dis force of the productions, or the courses on the other, as an amazing strong hold upon nature and the testimony to the attractiveness of popular heart which they possess, has these eloquent sermons; but, after defeated every assailant, and serall, the fact is not so unprecedented mons continue as they have been, and as one might suppose. Whether it is most likely will ever be, a notable the leaven of ancient Puritanism and abundant branch of English liteworking still under the soil; whe- rature-perhaps the most paradoxi

Sermons. By the Rev. John CAIRD, M.A., Minister of the Park Church, Glasgow. cal and contradictory branch of that belongs to so eclectic and limited a great tree ; for while, in common par- class, that it scarcely affects the more lance, we all avow our horror of ser- general case. All of us, not being monising, sermons are not only one very enlightened, go to church-or of the most widely popular kinds of profess to go to church-or when we publication, but constitute no small stay away, feel the matter somewhat part of the standard and classic illus- on our conscience ; therefore the trations of our language. There are character of those pulpit prelections few prose writers whom, in the in- which we do hear, or ought to hear, terests of mere literature, we should every Sunday, is of no small imbe less inclined to part with than the portance to us. But it is impossible great preachers of the past ; yet there to say that these are very satisfactory. is scarcely a man of any intelligence No profession is safe against the inin the country who has not, one time trusion of unfit persons; and the or another, denounced, with all the church has this further disadvantage, energy and impatience of a sufferer, that the proper gifts for its labours the common strain of contemporary are seldom developed in early life, pulpit addresses. The utmost reach while in early life the necessary of eloquence is possible to this man- studies must be prosecuted, and the ner of intellectual exertion--and the course of life decided

upon. Families direst dulness, and most mischief- where one son is inevitably provided making stupidity, unfortunately falls for by the family living, are perhaps also within its wide-extending range. quite as safe, after all, for the proFrom the same platform, and with a duction of clergymen, as are those common advantage of access, come families where a pious lad, totally voices that thrill the world, and unacquainted with his own capacities, snatch the common heart out of its dedicates devoutly a limited and comdaily moil to flash upon its aston- monplace understanding to the office ished vision, once at least, if never of the ministry. From both such more, a true and sudden glimpse of come those ineffable young curates that God and truth in whose pre- who set up private confessionals, sence the veiled nature stands unthose young Dissenters, those youthaware; and voices that drone God's ful Churchmen, who flourish their ways and works into a tale of vulgar beardless logic, arbitrary and imrepetitions, that argue an unques- perative, over all our hardworking tionable truth into shreds till the middle-aged heads, and teach us what unfortunate bearers turn sceptics out we all learnt for ourselves twenty of mere natural antagonism, and that years ago, and since have had to unlaboriously debase and obscure the learn laboriously and with pain. By holy text which they profess to explain. what process of trial and purgation We could almost venture to say that — by what course of years and exthere is nothing in spoken or printed perience, those rampant young heroes speech which can come so low as the settle down into the sober and steady, sermon in proper hands, as there is perhaps even dignified, clergyman, is certainly nothing which can come a secret of the cloth which we do not higher.

presume to penetrate. But when we We have, besides all this, a very go to church out of the battle and special and universal interest in the conflict of our lives, and find one of sermon. One can avoid reading a these youthful champions before us, disagreeable book-one can banish a ready to ride over our heads in all flippant periodical or a stupid paper, the indiscriminating assumption of but if one slights the sermon, one peremptory youth, perhaps the Sunmust take the consequences. Cer- day or the Sabbath service does not tainly we hear of an ethereal and refresh us as it might have done. To elevated description of piety, which tell the truth, it by no means follows holds itself devoutly superior to that we are either instructed, conchurchgoing; which requires no soled, or edified, by the one, two, or weekly stimulation, and is indepen- three sermons which it falls to the dent of those Sabbath reminders lot of most of us to hear weekly. A which are so necessary to the com- great many of us listen very patiently, mon bulk of mankind. But that and with respect, in the satisfying consciousness of doing our own duty under the compulsion of an outward at least, whatever the preacher may force, and not the powerful conbe disposed to do ; and there are straint of having something to say. others who chafe and fret and vex And so, also, there will always conthe religious souls of wife and mother, tinue to be multitudes of men who who are perhaps more easily satisfied. will calmly bring forth their own What is the cause ? There never was opinions—their quips and cranks of an arrangement more simply and en- originality - into that little hour tirely suitable to the nature of man, snatched out of the world, in which than that which establishes for him we would fain be strengthened and not only a common service of suppli- refreshed by other companionship. cation and thanksgiving, but a period- In short, the pulpit wants what ical reminder of those higher duties everything else wants-that sincere which are the soul and inspiration of simplicity which is above geniuslife. It is impossible to suppose an that primitive truthfulness, supreme, institution more accordant with the positive, and actual, which is at once wants and capacities of nature ; and the crown of all endurances and exwhen the question recurs to us in- periences, and the temper of a child. voluntarily, we repeat it alike with And what our preachers require is not wonder and impatience, Why is not a chance gleam of new light, to be the pulpit far more generally, more thrown somehow upon Scripture, or universally influential ? Why is it an original view to be taken of this that we so often fail in finding there or that passage, but to realise what anything better than tedium ? Why heavy - laboured souls stand before is it so often some man, of very them in that one day's leisure, with moderate intellect and ordinary cha- many a dumb longing for the comracter, of whom we are reminded- fort and encouragement of Heaven, an existence not in any way parti- and many a sore experience of the cularly beneficent or improving, as we travail of these latter days— souls contemplate it-instead of the One devoured with the cares of this holy existence and character which world, the deceitfulness of riches, the this is our special opportunity of agonies of a nature which has gone studying ? The question is one im- astray from its original meaning, and portant to the hearers, and very im- is incoherent even to itself; and that portant to the preachers of the pre- this audience, which has no leisure sent time. The pulpit of itself, and and no heart for the self-exhibiby itself, possesses a power which it tion of a clever intellect, is liable to is impossible to over-estimate. All be moved as one man by a true apkinds and degrees of men, all classes peal to its remembrances, a genuine and qualities of minds, come one awaking of its memory towards that time or other under the reach of its gospel in which all its wants are influence ; it is important to the anticipated and supplied. It might whole community that this influence not be a bad exercise for clergymen should be pure and permanent--but to consider how much it is worth the how is it to be done?

while of some hundreds of people to It is hard to answer such an in- spend the prime of that Sabbath-day quiry. While preachers remain, how- which is our only legitimate sacred ever, the pulpit will always retain festival and holiday, listening perhaps those peculiar temptations to self- to the formal, perhaps to the careless, importance, and a pernicious kind of perhaps to the original and eccentric vanity, which does so much harm to composition which they have proits utterance now. While we are as duced because they cannot help we are, preachers, like other men, themselves, because to - morrow is will always stand in jeopardy of re- Sunday, and our reverend friends garding their principal duty as a must do their duty. Is it worth our periodical piece of business necessi- while, do you think, most excellent tated by the rules of their calling, preacher, after we have sung our and the recurrence of these inevitable psalms, and made our matutinal Sundays, which open their mouths thanksgivings and supplications, to like the bells in their church steeple, sit in decorous stillness for an hour

or a half-hour, according to your no- of the preacher. The reflections of tion and habits, to learn what is your the thoughtful, the arguments of the opinion upon that disputed passage, controversial, and the lighter graces or wherein you agree with Gesenius or of natural eloquence, must all be kept differ with Augustine ? If you do not subordinate to this, which is the true happen to be a genius, and have no- thread of purpose and intention nething to say to us, why insist upon cessary for their work. Our worksaying it? Genius is not necessary; ing-day tendency is to put far away cleverness is not necessary. We have from us, in an ethereal, fanciful, imaheard men preach who had no ap- ginative elevation, quite out of our preciable endowment of intellect, yet life, and unconnected with it, our whose honest voice made the heart faith and its supreme Object. But swell, and encouraged the soul. What the preacher is set in his place for we want is no play of wit, nor blood- the distinct purpose of defeating this less flash of college logic; but we tendency; and it is only when he have a right to claim that the man makes his hearers aware, if but for a who calls himself our spiritual moment, if but with the dullest teacher should realise our position amaze of a surprised conviction, that and circumstances, and know what they stand in the presence of a God he is doing, and why he does it. He whose invisibility thrills upon their is there to enter a periodical protest souls a more subtle intuition of His and appeal against our worldliness, presence than if their eyes saw His our vanities, our self-regard; he is glory, and are enriched with the love there to bear solemn witness that of that realest and humanest of men the wrongs and the injustice, the who is the Lord of our life and the heartbreaks and the miseries of hu- author of our salvation, that he acmanity, are but for a time — that, tually fulfils the highest purpose of despite all the contradictions of this his office, which is to keep us in the life, a divine purpose runs through clear recollection and certainty that the web, and a divine presence the basis of our religion does not lie watches to see its grand intentions upon cold and abstract thoughts or all fulfilled. It is his office to keep words, but upon living persons and us in mind of those events which things—acts done, which call forth bind the bistory of the world into a the most lively and genuine emotions whole more grand and more complete of the soul-and an individual Friend, than all our lesser national chronicles whom all the love, the reverence, and of battles and kings; and above all, the trust of nature may embrace, and to keep us in remembrance of that who bears a personal and distinct reone divine and holy Person, the Lord lation to every one who names His of our redemption, who gives coherence and consistence to the whole It is, perhaps, hardly just to Mr marvellous tale. He is the defender Caird to take his Sermons as the only of the spiritual against the temporal, immediate and tangible ground for the public deputy and representative the expression of our own sentiments of that more subtle remembrancer upon a subject so important. Howwho speaks within our own hearts. ever, there are very good reasons why Herein lies the vocation of the he should lend us the occasion to preacher; it is to keep us persuaded break our lance (for all their goods) of the reality, the certainty, the ac- upon modern divines. He is a Scotstual and positive truthfulness of man and a celebrated preacher, but those things and persons which we not a preacher celebrated after the cannot see. This is not to be done usual fashion of his Church and counby argument-perhaps, indeed, argu- try. The popular voice has echoed ment is the last thing which will or loudly that private verdict of royalty can accomplish it; and the best and which thrust the inodest preacher most effectual manner in which to into print some year or two ago; but discharge this high duty must of it is not with any popular watchcourse vary with individual capaci- word in his mouth, or on the top of ties and characteristics; but this is any wave of philanthropical or ecdistinctly and simply the great office clesiastical agitation, that he again



[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »