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of Hooker respecting written or extempore sermons. That venerable author says, “When once we have agreed what sermons shall currently pass for good, we may understand what that is in a good sermon which doth make it the word of life unto such as hear. If substance of matter, evidence of things, strength and validity of arguments and proofs, and of every other virtue which words and sentences may contain; of all this, what is there in the best sermons being uttered, which they lose being read?" Certainly nothing. Hooker is quite right; for if we agree in his definition of "what sermons shall currently pass for good," we must admit that all that he comprises in that definition may be better secured in a written than an extempore sermon.
But is this all that ought to enter into the delivery of a pulpit address? What is the actionaction-action, of Demosthenes? I do not mean voice or gesticulation, but that living energy which ought to animate the delivery of a sermon, and to distinguish it from an argument read in silent retirement? Hooker's own case illustrates my meaning: his honest biographer, Walton, says of him, "His sermons were neither long nor earnest, but uttered with a grave zeal and an humble voice; his eyes always fixed on one place, to prevent his imagination from wandering; insomuch that he seemed to study as he spake. The design of his sermons, as indeed of all his discourses, was to shew reasons for what he spake; and with these reasons, such a kind of rhetoric as did rather convince and persuade than frighten men into piety."
"And where he fixed his eyes at the beginning of his sermon, there he continued till it was ended."-Now, to a thoughtful serious mind such a mode of preaching must have been highly interesting and profitable; but I fear that good Mr. Hooker's farm
ers would sometimes fall asleep under discourses thus calmly and logically composed, and uttered without earnestness, in a low monotonous voice, and with motionless eyes. A discourse thus uttered, either at the bar or in the senate, would not be listened to; and what is there so to change the character of the human mind in a church, as to render that impressive which elsewhere would be dull and feeble. Had Hooker, with his full mind, shut his book, and allowed himself to be excited with the animation of his subject, the effect of his discourses would, I think, have been greatly increased.
But, in truth, I am not sure that' Hooker himself was not an extempore preacher. I do not, of course, mean a preacher who gives no pains or thought to his discourses; quite the contrary; but a man who studies his sermons day and night, and reads and prays and meditates all the week long over them, but in delivering them uses the free natural method of pouring out a full heart, in ready words rather than reading, line for line, a fixed composition. The reason why I think Hooker was an extempore preacher, is the description given of his preaching by Walton himself: for why, if he had his sermon written out, fix his eyes on one place "to prevent his imagination wandering?" why "seem to study as he spake?" and how could he fix his eyes on one spot from the beginning to the end of his discourse, if he was reading a manuscript ? Walton would naturally have said he never looked off his book; whereas it appears his eyes were fixed elsewhere, and he never looked on it.
Nor will the description answer to the delivery of his sermons by memory. There is no intimation throughout his Life of his sermons being memoriter, and his appearing "to study as he spake' is quite inconsistent with such an
He seemed, says Walton, to be " studying, not so much for matter, which he never wanted, as for apt illustrations, to inform and teach his unlearned hearers by familiar example.” The whole description applies to a man full of his subject, and addressing his auditory upon it without the aid or the incumbrance of a written discourse. He, of course, used written sermons on special occasions, and in preaching to select and learned auditories, or where the nature of the subject required a more methodical and argumentative style than usually belongs to extempore preaching; but it seems to me most probable, from the facts of the case, that in his usual popular parochial addresses he was what is called an extempore preacher. His own words no where prove that extempore preaching is improper, but only that written sermons are lawful, and may be as good, or better.
Hooker asks, "What is there in the best sermons being uttered which they lose being read?" Not of necessity any thing; for some readers of written sermons utter them as forcibly, and as much from the heart, as if they were extempore; but in point of fact they too often lose much; they lose much of that animation, that appearance of nature, that mutual sympathy between the speaker and his auditors, which conduce more to popular conviction and impression than the cool delivery of the most studied argument. Hooker's own sermons, however admirable in other respects, if the preacher did not appear and was not in "earnest," were more calculated for private perusal than to rivet public attention.
This is one of the questions which can never be settled upon paper; for each method has its advantages and disadvantages: each method is at times proper and at times improper; the
preacher, the audience, the subject, all modify the elements of the proposition; and perhaps the best rule is, for a preacher to accustom himself to both methods, that he may acquire the freedom and animation of extempore speaking, with that fulness, regularity, and accumulation of mental and theological stores, which can only be secured by much reading, reflection, and writing. A ministry composed of both methods would probably be best adapted to the actual condition of an ordinary flock.
Let the careless student,
the idle, gossipping minister-if such there be-remember that Hooker justly enumerates "substance of matter, evidence of things, and validity of arguments and proofs," as necessary ingredients in a good sermon; and that in his own discourses he never failed" to shew reasons for what he spoke :" but let the cold and phlegmatic preacher remember, also, that, though all this is essential, it is not enough; that a very logical sermon may be frigid, a clear argument frosty; and that moral conviction and religious persuasion are not mere matters of intellect, but are connected with all the sympathies and affections of the soul. X. G.
ON THE NATIONAL CRIME OF PRIVATEERING.
For the Christian Observer.
THERE are some sins which have the character of causing guilt, even though they should never happen to be committed. A man may never fight a duel, and yet, if he cherish a purpose of fighting one should the provocation to the crime arise, in the sight of God he lives under the habitual guilt of being a duelist. A man who sets out in the morning to rob his neighbour, is a thief throughout the day,
though he should have no opportunity of committing the intended offence. It is not necessary to adjust the comparative moral turpitude of a cherished mental crime not completed, with that of a crime completed but not premeditated. In the eye of the law, a man who slays his neighbour at the moment of provocation is punished (though less heavily than if he had done so of malice aforethought); whereas the deliberate murderer in heart cannot be punished at all, till he attempts to commit the crime, or at least by some overt act exhibits what he is planning in his bosom. But in the eye of God, who is omniscient, the mental offence indulged, but not perpetrated, may be a much heavier sin than the sudden transgression perpetrated but not premeditated. Indeed, as just observed, even human laws make this distinction, so far as their power of inquisition extends, as in the case of murder and manslaughter; but, for want of being able to scrutinize the heart, their decision is of necessity very imperfect.
This reasoning applies from individuals to nations. There may be an habitual national sin, where there is no actual transgression. It is some years since the unjust and cruel system of impressment was put in force in Great Britain, simply because there has been no temptation to it; but it is not legally renounced, and a tacit compact exists that it is to be repeated as soon as there may arise what the public authorities shall think a necessary occasion. It is therefore a national sin, and the time to clear ourselves from it is when the immediate temptation to it is not present. Is there no humane, no Christian senator, who will dare to bring in a bill by anticipation, to render this barbarous oppression illegal? Let us know how we stand. If we do not voluntarily preclude ourselves from the possible commission of the
crime, we prove, that, if the temptation should occur, we intend to perpetrate it; and therefore, by our Lord's interpretation of the Divine law, we live under habitual guilt, as much as if our purpose proceeded to act.
A similar instance, which is the subject of the following remarks, is the crime of Privateering. It is incredible that such an atrocity should be still tolerated in any professedly Christian and civilized country. National war, however just or necessary, is sufficiently terrible, without calling in private cupidity, and legalizing the worst horrors of piracy. The object of an attack by a national vessel, is to cripple the common enemy-spoil and prize-money are at least professed to be very subordinate considerations;-but in privateering the whole object is personal gain. It differs from national warfare, as a highwayman murdering a man, to steal his watch, differs from a duelist. It pretends to no motive of honour, or patriotism, but is utterly base and sordid. It deliberately weighs blood against gold, and calculates how many dollars will repay the destruction of so much human life, and the fearful contingencies of the contest. The loss, spoliation, and ruin of the unoffending parties, whose property is seized by brutal violence, are not for a moment taken into consideration.
Can nothing be done by anticipation to prevent the recurrence of this murderous practice? The present period is peculiarly favourable for such a measure. Whenever war comes, it may be too late to expect that nations, at least the stronger maritime powers, will enter into a compact to secure the object; but in the cool moments of peace such a stipulation might be easily effected. The United States of America had the high honour, in the year 1823, of proposing this very measure as an article of international law,
Instructions were given to the American ambassadors in France, Russia, and Great Britain, to urge the matter upon those governments; "and when," says the President in his message, "the friends of humanity reflect on the essential amelioration to the condition of the human race which would result from the abolition of private war on the sea, and on the great facility with which it might be accomplished, requiring only the consent of a few sovereigns, an earnest hope is indulged that these overtures will meet with an attention animated by the spirit in which they were made, and that they will ultimately be successful."
This hope, it is to be feared, has not been accomplished; at least no communication to Parliament has ever been made, stating that the British cabinet concurred in the humane suggestion of the American government. With what nation, or what minister, lies the guilt and inhumanity of having frustrated the proposal of the American President, I know not; perhaps, as concerns our own, some member of the legislature may think it right to ask for copies of whatever communications may have taken place on the subject. It is hoped that the present cabinet would concur in the proposed international arrangement; and it might be well to invite the attention of government, of the legislature, and of the public, by the presentation of a few petitions to Parliament, urging the question on the grounds of morality, religion, humanity, and even political expediency. If taken in time, in the hour of peace, it might be easily settled; and thus prevent, in case of war, a recurrence of those fearful scenes of injustice, plunder, bloodshed, and demoralization, which are inseparable from this barbarous practice.
To impress the subject more forcibly upon the mind of the
reader, the following interesting narrative is subjoined. A few individuals, actuated by such truly Christian principles as are displayed in it, and resolutely devoting themselves to the accomplishment of any great object of religious duty and humanity, might, by the blessing of God, effect wonders beyond their own most sanguine hopes.
Mr. Joseph Fox, of Fowey, Cornwall, was born in the year 1729. The family, though bearing the name, were not relatives of George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, but embraced his religious principles at an early period, and evinced the sincerity of their profession, by submitting, in various instances, to fines and imprisonment for conscience sake.
The other sons being brought up by their father in his commercial pursuits, Joseph Fox was educated for the profession of medicine, and settled at Falmouth in that line. He established a fair reputation for integrity, kindness, and professional skill; and was successful, by industry and economy, in bringing up a large family with credit, and increasing his little capital. Not having occasion to employ much of this capital in his own profession, he frequently invested small sums in the mines and fisheries of the neighbourhood, and in shares of vessels sailing from that or adjacent ports.
About the year 1775 he purchased a fourth part of two luggers, or cutters, which were employed on the Cornish coast, and yielded their proprietors a fair return.
At the breaking out of the war between England and France, in 1778, the other owners, not having those religious scruples that are entertained by the society of which he was a member, proposed to arm these vessels as letters of marque, for the purpose of capturing French merchantmen; and, having been constructed for fast sailing, they were peculiarly
adapted for success in such an enterprise. Mr. Fox could not, however, be induced, by this prospect of pecuniary advantage, to consent to the abandonment of what he considered the principles of justice and Christian charity, and he remonstrated with his copartners against the measure in very strong terms. But they, being the majority, had it in their power to direct as they pleased the employment of the vessels; his repeated remonstrances were unavailing, and they proceeded to arm them. He then urged them to purchase his share, even at less than the value; to sell it for him, or to allow him to dispose of it; but they rejected all his proposals, and he was compelled to retain it. He, however, assured them that neither himself, nor any of his family, should ever participate in gains acquired by such means.
The vessels, on being equipped, put to sea, and as the war had not been expected by persons abroad, they succeeded in capturing some valuable ships homeward bound. On this success, the other owners made a great effort to retain all the profits to themselves, on the plea of the adventure having been theirs alone, and of many strong declarations having been made by their partner that he would not in any case allow himself to be enriched by it. To this, however, he could not conscientiously submit; for, finding himself thus put in possession of property, justly belonging to upoffending individuals, though of a foreign country and denounced as national enemies, he conceived it his duty to maintain his claim for the benefit of the suffering parties, and to act as a trustee on their behalf, till he should be enabled to make restitution. Accordingly he demanded a proper statement of the account, and payment of his share of the proceeds. Much difficulty and delay took place in procuring these; the interference of the arm CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 349.
of the law was threatened, if not employed; and he at length succeeded in procuring from his copartners a sum of money, which was lodged in the British funds in his name; but it does not appear that a clear statement of the account was ever rendered, notwithstanding his repeated solicitations.
All his correspondence and memoranda on the subject concur to prove, that it was his unvaried resolution, from first to last, to restore the amount, with interest, to the original sufferers: but the continuance of the war precluded him for several years from an opportunity of fulfilling his purpose; and during this period it remained at interest in the government three per cent. stock, having been invested through the agency of a banking-house that he had not previously employed, for the purpose, probably,of entire distinctness from his other pecuniary concerns.
Lest he should be suddenly removed by death, or otherwise rendered incapable of explaining the business, he took the precaution of making a short memorandum, stating an outline of the circumstances, and his "full intention, as soon as possible, to lodge the net produce in some fund in France, for the benefit of the losers." It appears from this memorandum, which is dated in 1781, three years after the captures before mentioned had been made, that he was still obliged to retain his share in the letters of marque, and was considerably embarrassed to know how to act, under the peculiar circumstances of his situation.
In the year 1783 peace was restored between England and France, which relieved him from any further difficulty on this head, and enabled him to prosecute his intention with respect to the monies he had received. His own engagements and time of life did not allow him to undertake such a journey, or to be absent from home E