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far as possible from bearing this negative character. The gush of thought and feeling is one of their prominent features. They are the fresh and racy productions of a vigorous and independent mind.
These sermons are characterized by superior chasteness and elegance of style.
We hail with pleasure sermons that inculcate the doctrines of the cross in language of classic purity. If these doctrines need not the dress of a polished diction to set off their powers, is this a reason why they should not be invested in the best dress which the store-house of our language furnishes? We have read sermons in which the attractions of style were employed with too great success, to exhibit a system of faith not based on the sacrifice of a redeeming Saviour. When we have turned over the pages of Mr. Buckminster, or Dr. Channing, the pleasure imparted by the elegance of their style has been greatly diminished by the absence of what we regard as the fundamental truth of Christianity. We feel not this difficulty in reading the sermons of Mr. Homer. A few out of many selections that might have been made, may enable the reader to judge for himself of the beauty of Mr. Homer's style.
“ Contrast the humblest saint, who comes from his earthly pilgrimage to heaven with the highest archangel, who ministers before the eternal throne. He glorious in holiness, splendid in beauty, terrible in power! We would not diminish the height of his elevation, or impair the lustre of his crown. But who is this that comes toil.worn and timid from terrestrial strugglings, and upon whose unprepared vision the glories of the upper world are bursting in their full effulgence. That song of angels which ceases neither day nor night-we would not detract from its harmony or its significance. • Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.' Verily the majesty of the invisible is deserving of such homage ; and the wonders of creation, even of old, waked into melody the sons of God, when with the morning stars they shouted and sang together for joy. Yet there is a song more rapturous and elevated, such as breaks from the lips of the new inmate, and is echoed by the sympathetic choir of the saints, until all hearen rings
with the gladsome acclamation, Worthy the Lamb that was slain, for he has redeemed me by his blood.'”—pp. 198, 199.
This extract is taken from a sermon in which the superiority of the saints to angels" is advocated. We thought that Payson had exalted our nature to a lofty rank, when he'contended for "the equality of men with angels." Mr. Homer advances redeemed man to a still higher grade.
A sermon on the connexion between Christianity and the social affections, contains the following contrast :
“Go back to the remote ages of antiquity, before the light of our religion had dawned upon the world. Many a bright spot shall you find in the moral waste. Many a city where art has lavished her most gorgeous treasures, and learning has reared her proudest seats. You shall find there the taste of the architect in marble columns, gracefully carved cornices and majestic temples that rear themselves towering and queenlike You shall find there the skill of the sculptor in the accurately chiseled proportions of that chief earthly beauty, the human form. You shall enter suburban groves, and listen to philosophy in her most inspired lessons, and poetry in her most winning strains. You shall be surrounded by every thing outward that speaks of elevation and refinement. But when you penetrate the secrets of domestic life, when you look for the happiness of a pure and holy fireside, the light that is in them has become darkness, and how great is that darkness.”
“ Follow the influence of Christianity during the ages since its origin, and you will find the nature of the case materially changed, yet leading to the same result. Now religion and refinement seem to go hand in hand. All that is splendid in art becomes consecrated to, or is consecrated by the spirit of the gospel. Painting and sculpture expend their choicest workmanship on the subjects of the bible, and the mosaic pavement and the arched galleries and the frescoed ceiling become vocal with the praises of God. And it seems as if the social refinement of Christianity attracted to its own service the genius and taste of man as eminently harmonious with its spirit.”—pp. 305, and 306.
The discourse from which this is taken, abounds with strains equally beautiful. A minister who heard this sermon speaks thus of the impression it made. “ The whole effect
was most delightful. Strangers pronounced it an exquisite specimen of sermonizing. I think that the service, taken as a whole, was one of the most beautifully impressive which I ever attended. In contrasting it with my own performances, I felt strongly inclined to give up the clerical profession.”
Here we find the distinctive truths of the Christian system, embellished with a dress, that need not shrink from a comparison with some of the best habiliments of an erroneous belief. Had the author lived to develope his powers more fully, we cannot but think that he would have ranked among the best writers of the age. The fourteen sermons in this volume were the productions of a youthful ministry. We know not where to look for as many sermons, all from the same source and all presenting better specimens of correct, chaste, classical, elegant English, than have been produced by Mr. Homer, at the age of twenty-four. Perhaps the sermons of Mr. Melville ought to be excepted in this remark, but we are not sure that even they should be made an exception.
The sermons in this volume are remarkable also for the skill with which the author illustrates religious 'truth. He was far from being satisfied with a languid and bare utterance of Christian doctrines. Nothing short of a vivid and impressive exhibition could satisfy him. His active mind brought illustrations from every quarter.
Unlike those who are shocked at every allusion in a sermon, not drawn from the scriptures, he felt at liberty to obtain illustrations from any respectable source. He recognized no
narrow tabooed ground to which the preacher must be restricted. Sometimes classic lore is made to subserve his purpose. Historical facts are pressed into his service. Passing events of local
dr of general importance he seized, as the Great Teacher iridoid, for the purpose of investing his appeals with fresh inter
est. The lamented loss of his early friend, Mr. Brown, in the ill-fated Lexington, furnishes two different illustrations well suited to give force to the subjects on which he treats. The stores of his own fancy contributed their share to the elucidation of truth; and the facts of scripture history were brought forward in a striking manner. While he employs freely the aid of diversified illustrations, he does not use them in the unhewn shapes in which he may happen to find them. They are first fashioned into forms of beauty in which you
do not recognize the rough original without some difficulty. They are made ornamental gems before they are inserted in the structure. "Nihil tetigit, quid non ornavit.”
Mr. Homer seems to have believed what all preachers do not understand—that, if the instructions of the pulpit are to be of any avail, they must secure a hearing. Accordingly, he made his sermons attractive by the aid of graphic illustrations. To the want of this trait in the French pulpit, Dr. Wiseman attributes some of the most deplorable results. "The reason why infidelity proved so mischievous in France during the last century, was, that its emissaries presented it to the acceptance of the people, tricked out with all the tinsel ornaments of a mock science; because they dealt in illustration and in specious proofs drawn from every branch of literature ; because they sweetened the edge of the poisoned cup, with all the charms of an elegant style and lively composition ; while, unfortunately, they who undertook to confute them, with the exception of Guenée, and perhaps a few others, dealt in abstract reasoning, and mere didactic demonstration.”* A complaint like this cannot be brought against Mr. Homer's preaching.
These sermons contain sketches of remarkable power. From a discourse in which “ the extent of the divine law" is described in a mode that would have been creditable to a far more experienced preacher--the following passage may be taken as a specimen
“ Time is one of the chief limits to the operation of a human code. The reaper, in his flight, cuts down the tares as well as the wheat, and the vices of men with their virtues are lost in the lapse of years. Human law too, cannot reach beyond the present lise. The capital offender may anticipate the sword of justice, by laying violent hands upon himself, and his lifeless frame hanging suspended from the grate of his cell, or dashed against its granite walls, becomes a ghastly mockery of the court, and seems to proclaim in sepulchral tones, “I am beyond your power now.' The waiting executioner cannot call back the suspended animation, and the sheriff must knock in vain at the door of the dead.
* Lect. on Science and Rev. Religion, p. 393.
* But not so the divine law. It is not subject to the mutations of time. Co-existent with the Deity who is its great administrator, its broad sweep is from eternity, ipto eternity, through eternity. The same yesterday, to.day, and forever, it brings up the crime of a century's growth, as if it were but a moment old. Its action, like the being of God, is an eternal now; and upon the guilty it has its eye, ever with the same fixed gaze. He may hurry into forgetfulness of himself and all around him, but the eye is there still. Sometimes in this life it will begin the work of retribution, and kindle the flames of conscience with all the terrors of a present and living hell, but its grand sphere is in eternity, where the spirit is left bare to its searching gaze, to the recollection of past and the consciousness of present guilt, compelled to hear the constant mandate to do right; yet as often, of its own free, evil nature, drawing back to do wrong, and withering under that saine eye which blazes on forever and ever and ever.”—pp. 327, and 328.
A sermon on the character of Pilate evinces careful research and great skill in moral dissection. The vacillation of the Roman Procurator is sketched with a master's hand. The following passage, while it evinces the author's fondness for the rich style of Jeremy Taylor, shows that he might himself have well-nigh risen to the splendid imagery and elegant diction of this modern Chrysostom.
6 So have we seen one upon a rock, with the sea circling his tabernacle and crossing his pathway, and even calling to him as with a mother's voice; and the tide and the waves ever gain upon him, and already presume to touch with their damp breath, the lower fringes of his garment, and it is only by one desperate exertion that he can clear the flood, and rest himself above and beyond its gaping mouth—but still he hesitates, and calculates, and edges along his little island, and looks over his shoulder at the advancing billows, as if ashamed to turn his back on danger, and all the while the surges boil more furiously, and the ground grows slimy beneath his feet, and by and by, the wet spray touches his forehead ; but still he pauses, and doubts, and edges along, till the irritated sea pours over him, and he goes to be seen no more. How strikingly did this weakness and irresolution, this dallying with duty, this shuffling of responsibility, this edging along upon the rock, instead of leaping to the shore, seal the ruin of the Roman governor. Oh! had he but boldly responded to