« PreviousContinue »
paratively empty. The preacher but rarely leads “into the green pastures :" but more commonly, while under his feeding, are we doomed to be drawn over an arid acre, to gather a gaunt and husky dinner. It is the curse and condemnation of a vast deal of extemporaneous preaching, that it is without beginning, middle, or end, subject or object. “I never write my sermons," said Rowland Hill, “ I always trust to the gospel. The gospel is an excellent milch cow, which always gives plenty of milk and of the best quality. I first pull at sanctification; then give a plug at adoption; and afterwards a tit at sanctification; and so on till I have filled my pail with gospel milk.” We say decidedly, it is far better to write sermons, than to proceed in this scattering way. The man, who writes in part vigorously and well, will proceed with closeness and order in the sermons he does not write. He may make his written sermons warm, searching, effective; and the unwritten will catch from the written a thorough imbuing and seasoning of the same sterling qualities. · Mr. Clark was an arresting preacher, with all the alleged disadvantages of his paper before him. He had a remarkable power of seizing and holding the attention. If he did not awaken spiritually the auditor, he kept him awake physically. From what we have said of his style, it would be inferred that the house in which he preached would not be much infested with sleepy hearers. They might disbelieve the preacher, they might execrate his sentiments. They could not but hear them if in the house. He must have been a doubly stupid boor, who, by any opiate or any magnetism, could get to sleep under some of the discourses and parts of discourses which proceeded from our author. Whoever, at such a time, might attempt to sink into repose, would not proceed far, before some crashing thunderbolt would compel him to open his eyes, and see what was happening. The roughnesses and rugged points of Mr. Clark's style were admirably adapted to keep the mind well spurred and jogged. Sometimes a sentence or paragraph would come suddenly like a great rasp across the audience. It is admitted, we have repeatedly said, there was an excess of roughness and harshness; but better this than an excess of smoothness. A sermon may be adjusted, and harmonized, and polished into perfect tameness and insipidity; the whole moves off, in a gentle, uniform, mellifluous flow, which reaches and stirs nobody, and which nobody cares for. “The words of the wise are as goads.” Such should be a portion, at least, of the words of the preacher. He must, in a world so spiritually stupid and lazy as this, employ thoughts and words which now and then will prick men: and men must be thankful for the spear, and be docile when it touches them, and never retaliate and kick against the salutary goad.
Mr. Clark's person, voice, and entire manner were in perfect keeping with his style ;-a large masculine frame; a voice harsh, strong, capable of great volume, though not very flexible; an action, for the most part, ungraceful, but significant and natural; a countenance bearing bold, strongly marked features, at every opening of which the waked and working passions would look intensely out; then, thoughts and sentences such as we find in these volumes coming forth ;—all together gave the idea of huge, gigantic power. We were reminded often of some great ordnance, throwing terribly its heavy shots. Who could, who dared go into unconsciousness before such an engine?
Mr. Clark had an unusual power of impressing the memory. Perhaps in nothing do preachers differ more than in this. We hear one deliver a sermon, and are very well pleased with it. It is made up of substantial and important matter. We endeavor at the time to give earnest heed to the things which we hear, lest we should let them slip. But somehow, do all we can, they will slip; soon the whole is utterly gone, and all that we can say about it is, that at such a time, we heard such a minister preach a sermon. We hear another; we give no closer attention; we are in no better mood. But the sermon inheres; parts of it, at least, are lodged within us too deeply and firmly to be thrown out by the rudest jostlings of amusement or business. Mr. Clark had this prime excellence of preaching to an unusual degree. Those who listened to his preaching, a score of years back, find that they can remember a great deal that he said. They retain, doubtless, clear conceptions of entire discourses, which on their delivery ploughed deeply into their minds. The power of condensed, graphic enunciation, by which light, strength and beauty were combined and concentrated, in part enabled Mr. Clark to sink these fixtures in the memory. The power of moral painting, also of graphic presentation, which has been referred to, did much to give the adhesiveness in question. The truth, which we are made to see, we cannot forget, as we do the truth we only hear. The value of this power upon the memory in a preacher is not soon estimated. It helps him to insert the good seed beneath the surface, where the birds will not eat it up, nor the winds blow it away. Truth so inserted will often rise up and be thought of ; conscience will reiterate the sermon in far future years. The Spirit may give it power; so that it shall result in the conversion of the soul, after the voice, that originally preached it, shall be still in death.
Mr. Clark frequently exhibited in his preaching the ability to make very strong religious impressions. His sermons were not in the strict sense revival sermons. They were never vaguely, loosely declamatory. There were no tricks of eloquence, no play upon the passions. There was, perhaps, too much sentiment, too much solid, searching truth in them for the greatest immediate movement and effect. His were not the right sort of loading and aim to do the most execution in a flock. His preaching was adapted rather to impress deeply a few minds than rnore slightly many minds. He did not operate upon the surface; he struck heavy and shook the very foundations of the character.
It is sometimes said of a preacher that there is a great deal of Christ in his sermons. This is deemed, and it is, a high commendation. It was a commendatory trait in Mr. Clark's preaching, that there was a great deal of God in it. We think, as we have said, that his exhibition of the divine character, at times, was not sufficiently mitigated. Still there is often placed before us, God, the great Sovereign and Agent, the subduer or the punisher of his foes, the unfailing protector of his people and his cause. God in his awful glory and purity, man in the moral baseness of his character,-in the black and stormy elements of his depravity,—were placed clearly and terribly side by side. The effect produced was, in some instances, awful and overwhelming. Says one, formerly a hearer of Mr. Clark, now a preacher of the same gospel : “ While he was preaching on the text, “Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldst, such was the view of depravity which he gave, and such was the sense I had of my own native depravity, that a faintness came over me, and I verily believe, but for the hope I had in the atonement of Jesus, I should have sunk to the floor.” A lady remarked, that “at one time his eloquence had such an overpowering effect upon her, that she felt afraid she should die if he proceeded farther.” Others speak of the same sort of impression. The effect on the mass, we think, would have been more immediate and benign, had there been some abatement of the awful and the irritating. As it was, the work done was thorough, and by no means inconsiderable in extent. Mr. Clark's preaching searched and incited the true disciple, pressing him up to a higher standard; it agitated and cut down the sinner, convincing him that there was no help in himself; it stripped and laid bare the hypocrite, bringing to his own view his own ugliness. Many of all classes, we doubt not, were persuaded by him to flee for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them, some of whom are now amid the conflicts of time, others amid the glories of eternity.
Subordinate to the spiritual results, and quite inferior in worth, yet highly valuable, was another effect of Mr. Clark's preaching. It wrought powerfully upon the intellect. It waked up the mind and set it to work. It was bracing; it made the hearer feel stronger than he felt before; he went out ready for achievement. We happen to be acquainted with those who acknowledge an indebtedness to Mr. Clark, in this respect, beyond what they owe to any other living mind, they ever came in contact with. They met him in their vernal and forming period. He interested them, he seized them, and bore them forward in a quickened and more robust growth. It is always, in some respects, an original and ascendent mind, that thus stimulates, and moulds, and makes stronger, other minds. · Mr. Clark's printed sermons have much of the same power. They read well; and when read once, they are apt to create an interest, which brings the individual back to read them again.. This is a test of their excellence; they bear repeated readings. Some sermons lose almost every thing when separated from the living voice and manner. These preserve to a high degree their freshness and raciness in type. We love to recur to them, and feel that we are stirred and benefited by the perusal.
These sermons are fitted to exert a wholesome influence upon the pulpit; we deem them good sermons for preachers to have intercourse with. While they are not to be regarded altogether as models, they will aid ministers in advancing the style and strength of their own sermons. If any have fallen into a miserable, mincing way of writing or speaking, let them read these sermons. If any have come so under the dominion of false or excessive taste, that they cannot say a thing out, clear, strong and straight, let them read these sermons. If any are affected with languor and tameness, as they stand in the pulpit, and afflict their hearers with the same oppressive qualities, let them read these sermons. If any are given to exquisitely fine spinning, or extravagantly high soaring, more in love with the sublimated than the sublunary, let them take in hand these coarser, rougher and weightier productions. They will do good by their astringency and their impulsiveness. They will help to make closer, warmer, manlier preaching. We trust the friends of Mr. Clark will continue to perpetuate his works in a convenient form, and an important service will be rendered thereby to the cause of truth and of God.
PSYCHO-PHYSIOLOGY, VIEWED IN ITS CONNECTION WITH THE
By Samuel Adams, M. D. Prof. of Chemistry, etc., Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois.
In a previous article,* we attempted to give a brief sketch of the connection between the body and the mind, and to classify and explain some of the phenomena, that result from that mysterious union. After a brief explanation of the laws of psychophysiological sympathy, we dwelt principally upon the action of the mind upon the body; and we noticed more particularly the influence of certain mental states, in disordering or suspending the action of the organs of sense. We beg leave to refer the reader to the above-named article, for the principles there laid down and illustrated, while we proceed to unfold, somewhat more fully than was there done, the connection of the mind with muscular action, and to make a direct application of our principles to the subject of the religious emotions. But while we shall principally restrict our inquiries to the relations of the religious emotions to the bodily functions, we shall be free to adduce parallel illustrations from the whole range of mental excitement; for we regard the religious emotions as peculiar only in the nature and magnitude of the objects which
* Biblical Repository, April, 1839, Vol. I. p. 362.