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brightness." "Mr. Clark often uses Scripture facts metaphorically and with good effect. “Paul had gone to lay waste that very church, which, a few days after, it was his honor and joy to edify. The devourer was caught with the prey in his teeth and made a lamb.” Again, “ The gospel may produce wrath and still be a savor of life. The tenant of the tombs raved and then believed.” The writer has a vivid recollection of an instance of this sort in hearing him some eighteen years since. The simple stroke did in his mind the work of a dozen sermons. Mr. Clark was addressing Christians at the Lord's table. The sentiment was in substance this: 'Perhaps some are in a luminous, happy frame, and in it they feel confident that they shall no more betray the interests of Jesus, as they have done. Beware of this confidence, Peter thought just so once; yet he went directly down from the scenes of Tabor, and swore that he never knew him.'
It may be remarked in this connection, that our author generally derives his figures and illustrations from obvious and common sources. There is no going out for pretty, and fragrant, and sunny things. There are no singing birds, nor silvery lakes, nor glistening dew-drops to charm us; nothing here of the fringes of the north star ; nothing of nature's becoming unnatural; nothing of the down of angels' wings, or the beautiful locks of cherubims; no starched similitudes, introduced with a “ thus have I seen a cloud rolling in its airy mansion," and the like. Such things are not fit for the pulpit; they seem profane in so sacred a place. They certainly have no power there. The truly drastic men have nothing to do with them. They are not afraid nor ashamed to lay hands on familiar objects. These are understood, they are felt by the hearer. “I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.” What can exceed this in strength and impressiveness? The Bible is full of the most cogent figures; cogent from the commonness of the objects. In this way Mr. Clark attained to a startling power in many of his illustrations. “The truth exhibits impenitent men as playing the fool with their own best interests. A madman in a paroxysm of his disease, has butchered his family, and half despatched himself, and has waked to consciousness in the very act of suicide, is scarcely a sorer picture of wretchedness and ruin, than the sinner upon whose conscience there has been suddenly poured the light of truth.” The following is singularly coarse, and huge, and strong: “One might almost as well attempt to silence the opinion of heaven as hell. The murmurs of that dark world, against the man who casts its burning sentiments behind his back, will be like the distant roar of a thousand cataracts, or like the dashing of as many icebergs, conflicting with each other in some boundless polar sea.” Our author in reaching after strength, not unfrequently, borders upon extravagance in his illustrations. Speaking of the fact, that the wicked are occasionally strangely spared, while the righteous are cut down, he says: “the basest of human beings have sometimes measured out a hundred years, have attended the funeral of every pious contemporary, and have even blown the trumpet of revolt in three centuries.”
And here we may remark, that this love of strength not only runs into extravagance sometimes but into harshness. On the passage, “ Christ gave himself for us, &c.” he says: “How easily could he have blighted all our hopes in that dark hour. Had he sent Judas to his own place, or rendered him an honest man, when he came to steal the betraying kiss; or had he struck lifeless that midnight band which came to apprehenderita honetan, him; or had he let down into hell that senate chamber with its mass of hypocrisy, and paralyzed the sinews of the soldiery that crucified him ; then had there been none to betray, arrest, or murder the son of God.” One other instance: “ No error seems too gross to forbid its circulation; the Swedenborgian and the Shaker, who could have collected their creeds nowhere but from the reveries of bedlam, have not failed to gather around them a community of madmen.”
This harshness of expression, which is one of Mr. Clark's prominent faults, is kept up and increased by certain offensive terms and phrases, which he uses rather frequently. The sinner is termed a “culprit,” a “wretch," a “miscreant ;” and our author sometimes puts a halter about his neck as a sign of his state of condemnation. He speaks of the “ravings” and the ragings of the sinner ; of the “whole herd of evil-doers;” the 6 whole gang of gospel opposers.” The word scowl appears occasionally, and in one instance in an unfortunate connection. 6 When the church rose upon the theatre, and joined with decency to scowl it out of use, it became from that moment a sinking concern.”
When speaking of the sinner's perdition, our author sets it forth commonly in the most terrific imagery of the Bible. We
see too often the unquenchable fire, and hear too often the gnashing teeth. Mr. Clark sometimes speaks of all that is unholy in the world and opposed to God apparently in a spirit of recklessness, as though all were worthless and must perish as a matter of course. He sets forth the divine character, occasionally, in an aspect of such terrific, consuming severity, that we hardly dare approach him, even through a mediator. Our author appears in some of his discourses, as though he were wanting in a spirit of deep and holy compassion for sinners; sometimes he speaks of them as though they were his enemies, and as such doomed to an inevitable overthrow. In some of the discourses the truth is presented as against the opposite error; which fact gives the pages in question a harsh and belligerent character. The severity and harshness which mark parts of these discourses are a serious obstacle to their usefulness. Some will be repelled who otherwise would read with delight and profit. We grieve to see this deformity,—and even this had its use,on so admirable performances. Had there been a little more of the mild, the gentle, the winning, had there been a less frequent appeal to the terrible motives of truth, more of the imbuing of that love which bled on Calvary, Mr. Clark would have stood as a preacher, pre-eminent and complete. But we may not leave what we have to say upon the general strain and spirit of these sermons without adding, that, with all his sternness, and hard, unbending fidelity, Mr. Clark has the power of the pathetic to a very considerable degree. This power grows out of another we have ascribed to him, namely, the power of moral painting. Some parts of the “Church Safe” are fine specimens of the pathetic. The entire sermon, entitled : “ The industrious young Prophets,” is throughout graphic and tender, and must have strongly and deeply moved the feelings of the auditors. Speaking of Christians who have gone from abounding privileges, and are now living far away in regions of moral desolation, he says:
“ They cannot educate for themselves a ministry and build in the wilderness the unnumbered conveniences they left behind. They have turned their eyes to us, and if we refuse them help we cover them with unmingled despair. .... The mother who had devoted her children to God, and has gone with them into the western wilds, must die crushed with the tremendous thought, that she became a mother merely that she might people the realms of death. Already she has hung her harp upon the willows, and there it must harig, till some kind missionary enter the door of her cabin, and wipes away her tears; and this missionary we must educate. Ten long years must still roll away before he arrives, and she in the mean time, bleached by the frosts of age, trembles on the brink of the grave, but dares not die, till her hopes are accomplished and her children saved.” Vol. III. p. 268.
We might find some fault with the manner in which Mr. Clark concludes some of his sermons. The conclusion is a very important part of a sermon, more important perhaps, than of any other kind of discourse. Dr. Payson, when asked what constituted a good sermon, is said to have replied: “A good ending." In a good ending the interest is sustained to the last ; there are some new things in it. Throughout the discourse the preacher should have a regard to the end, and should reserve some of his best thoughts for that important place. Mr. Clark did not always practise this species of economy, but used up his best thoughts in the previous parts ; consequently there is now and then a falling off in the interest as we approach the close. He manifestly lays himself out the most on the body of his discourse. Sometimes he closes very abruptly, without giving any notice, so that we may gather up our ears for the last words. In other instances, where there is enough in length, there is not enough of application. He makes good reflec.. tions; draws appropriate inferences; but he does not, so often as we could wish, crowd the conscience of the sinner with the truth he has established and illustrated. And in the appeals which he does make, we think he sometimes employs too prominently the class of motives which are addressed to the instinctive and selfish feelings, to our hopes and fears, to our love of happiness and dread of misery. The transgressor is shown the good which he may obtain, the misery which he may avoid, by à course of pious obedience. The matter we think should generally be put on the higher ground of obligation,—the ins trinsic, unalterable, eternal claims of law, and love, and duty, ,
On the whole, we must be permitted to reaffirm the opinion we opened with, that Mr. Clark deserves to hold a very high rank as a preparer of sermons. With some peculiar and obtrusive faults, he possessed rare and substantial merits. He was not an imitator; there appears nowhere upon him the marks of any other man's stamp. As a student of Dr. Griffin, he was probably incited and influenced by that gigantic model Yet
his style is not Griffin's, nor does it bear any resemblance, except in a bold, rough, independent power. Every thing our author said came forth with his own characteristic impress.
Having now examined the instruments our author employed, their material and their structure, it seems necessary to the completeness of our estimate, that we look at our author's style of wielding the instrument; in other words, that we view him as a preacher of his sermons. His smiting was generally with a blade which he had previously fabricated and furbished, though he could make a good one at the time when it was necessary; in other words, he ordinarily preached on the Sabbath sermons which had been written carefully and in full.
And here we wish to say, that in Mr. Clark we have an example of interest and power in manuscript preaching. He did not read; he preached from his manuscript. He took not the matter from his memory, he took it from his paper, and preached it. It was as really a specimen of preaching, and good preaching, as any improviser can give. He showed that written preaching need not be dull preaching ; that it may be warm and stirring to the highest degree. Why may it not be as frequently as the off-hand ? Why need a man be so much of an animal, that he can get warm only in a room with other animals? Why may he not grow warm in the solitude of his closet, in the company of quickening truth and of his own glowing thoughts and conceptions? If he has got a soul, why not enkindle it by its own intrinsic life into quick and impassioned movement? This has been done. As matter of fact, the most vivid, pointed and heated appeals, that ever went from human heart or lips, were most considerately, yea, elaborately prepared in solitude. Most will concede that Mr. Clark is sufficiently pungent and heated. We love to meet with new instances of stirring power in the use of the pen. We are grateful to our author for these warm-hearted specimens. We deprecate the coming of a time, when ministers shall lay aside the pen in their pulpit preparations. With it they would lay aside one half of their power. There will then be an end to extemporaneous preaching of the highest order. We very much doubt, whether there ever was or ever will be a first rate extemporaneous speaker, who was not, at the same time, a good writer. The discipline of the writing is necessary to impart order and richness to the speaking. Let all writing be done with, and the extemporaneous product grows diffuse and com