« PreviousContinue »
of its being communicated; of its being manifested and commended to the conscience. Now we may not only conceive of truth as entirely without body, undivested of language, which of course, is entirely impotent, since it is aloof from the mind and can only be brought nigh by language; but we may also conceive of truth as more or less perfectly furnished with a body of speech. The whole truih may be there, bur it may only in part appear; and then it not only lacks its total power of impression, but even the part distinctly presented has not even its appropriate effect, since it is out of place, dismembered, mutilated. And here is the secret of the difficully with many a sound and pious theologian, whose preaching is without its anticipated effect. All the necessary truth is in his discourse, but it is not seen, it is not felt, because not furnished with an adequate body. It is not rash to say that the ministers of the gospel for the most part lose one half of the fruit of their labors merely from the want of a suitable expression of the truth which they have actually searched out and prepared for exhibition. If there be any disposition to doubt here, go back and look in upon the crowded assemblies that attended the preaching of Edwards. Seeerery eye fixed on the man of God, as with scarcely a sign of outward action he speaks of the dread justice of Jehovah. Watch the rising emotion in those glistening eyes ; listen, as that first sigh draws after it another, and still another, as quicker and quicker, and deeper and deeper it breaks on every side around you ;-as groans succeed and thicken, till the whole vast assembly seems in an agony of distress, and the voice of the preacher is drowned in the sobs, and cries, and groans of his hearers; is there not power there? power in expression ? It is not vehemence of bodily action; it is not overwhelming power of vocal utterance. For in these Edwards was deficient. It is not truth more weighty, more powerful than the gospel contains ;-than is contained in many a discourse, the fruits of which never appear, in this world at least, to human view. It is not holiness higher, purer than it is competent for man to attain ; than the servant of God, perhaps not very unfrequently does attain. It is truth and christian love expressed ;-truth and holiness expressed in the accuracy of method, the clearness and energy of style, and aptness of words which Edwards attained by his assiduous use of the pen almost insensibly to himself, and certainly undesignedly. Take another case illustrative of the remark I have made in respect to another element of expression ; the delivery of thought and passion, arranged and clothed with language, by a suitable action and management of voice. Put the most successful of Whitefield's sermons into the mouth of a less accomplished speaker, and will the thousands, as under the sound of his voice, weep and wring their hands and shriek out in the irrepressible anguish of their souls? It is not then truth alone which instrumentally saves even. It is truth expressed, expressed in its own appropriate manner.
Nor let the opposite error be countenanced, that christian feeling alone will savingly influence men; that holiness and devoted zeal will suffice. There is a zeal without knowledge, which is fruitless except in evil, as the history of our own times and of our own land sadly teaches us. Even that judicious feeling must be expressed, expressed suitably, or it will utterly fail of good effect. Every emotion has its own appropriate expression in language and in' voice, prescribed by the God who formed us; and he only who has learned what that is, and attained, by careful training, the ready control of it, can even by his holiness produce the effect he might. Passion as well as truth must be expressed suitably, or the famous dagger scene of Burke will be re-acted in the pulpit, and the ridicule and disgust of all be the only and merited result.
It is as essential to success that the preacher be able to express truth as to know it; to express Christian emotion as to feel it. Something more than a meek and a learned Moses was needed to achieve God's design of redemption for enslaved Israel. An Aaron must be called in to be a mouth to the people. Something more was needed than the thorough instruction given by our Saviour to his 'Apostles in his long intercourse with them ; something more too, ihan a Peter's devotedness and zeal. The Holy Ghost must be sent down with tongues of fire.
With this learning and holy fervor let the power of expression be joined, and the man of God becomes what he should be—“apt to teach.” He will not enter the sanctuary and and lift up his voice in vain. Truth glowing with love, and directed with skill, will tell of its power. Attention will be aroused. The truth will be understood. Its force will be felt. The heart will be stirred. Sympathy will work. The
feelings will glow; and fed with the oil of truth the flame will continue till the will be reached, and by the grace of God, the man renewed. The pious soul also will be fed with the nourishment of truth which it apprehends, and be refreshed by the living waters of pious feeling not wasted in channels of language which it cannot reach.
Thus preached he who spake as never man spake. His discourses were not dry, obscure logic; nor fervid rånt of words. Truth and feeling, light and love, were duly combined, and spoke out in his clear and perfect method, his rich imagery and illustration, his tender moving accents. Thus preached his devoted and successful Apostle Paul, who was well nigh adored as the god of eloquence, by the superstitious Lycaonians. Thus preached those in all ages of the church whose labors God has greatly blessed in the conversion of many to himself. Let those who would reap similar fruits imitate their example. Let them count no labor lost, no sacrifice dear which shall enable them to speak forth the truths of God with effect.
It is matter of congratulation that attention has been of late more decidedly drawn to the culture of this important art in our own country. It is a matter of especial thankfulness to God, that the eloquence of the pulpit has taken the lead, as it should, of all the departments of oratory. The religious press is speaking out with a more frequent and a louder voice on the importance and means of promoting a higher degree of eloquence in the pulpit of our land. The patrons and conductors of our public institutions, our colleges and theological seminaries, are evincing their zeal and sagacious judgment in the more munificent provision of means of instruction, and the establishment of professorships of oratory. The Christian public are demanding higher qualifications in the preaching art. These signs of the times are hailed with peculiar delight and thankfulness. They augur well for the advance of truth and religion. May the friends of the effective advocacy of truth and holiness, hold on in their laudable course. Especially, may they remember to follow up their charities and their endeavors with their prayers.
THE PROGRESS OF SOCIETY AS INDICATED
DITION OF WOMEN.
BY THE CON
By E, D. Sanborn, Prof, of Latin Language and Literature, Dartmouth College, N. H.
“IF women are by barbarians reduced to the level of slaves,” says Aristotle, “it is because barbarians themselves have never yet risen to the rank of men, that is, of men fit to govern. Nothing proves more ruinous to a state than the defective education of women; since wherever the institutions respecting one half of the community are faulty, the corruption of that half will gradually taint ihe whole.
The practical good sense of the philosopher, exhibited in these quotations, shows him to have been, not only in advance of his age, but superior even to himself : for the sentiments here advanced are more liberal and just than his ordinary speculations upon the relations and rights of females. The wisest of the ancients did not duly appreciate the influence of woman. Her authority was rarely acknowledged in the domestic circle, and her political existence was scarcely recognized. Previous to the introduction of Christianity, even by philosophers, woman was regarded rather as the servant of man, the minister of his wants and pleasures, than his friend, companion and equal.
From Christianity woman has derived her moral and social influence. To it she owes her very existence as a social being. The mind of woman, which the legislators and sages of antiquity had doomed to eternal inferiority and imbecility, Christianity has developed. The gospel of Christ, in the person of its great Founder, has descended into this neglected mine, which wise men regarded as not worth the working, and brought up a priceless gem, flashing with the light of intelligence, and glowing with the lively hues of Christian graces.
Christianity has been the restorer of woman's plundered rights. It has furnished the brightest jewels in her present crown of honor. Her previous degradation accounts, in part at least, for the instability of early civilization. It is impos
sible for society to be permanently elevated, where woman is debased and servile. Wherever females are regarded as inferior beings, society contains, within itself, the elements of its own dissolution. It is impossible that institutions and usages, which trample upon the very instincts of our nature, and violate the revealed law of God, should be crowned with ultimate success.
The family is a divine institution. The duties and rights of its respective members are plainly indicated by the laws of our physical constitution. They are more fully prescribed by the word of God. In the infancy of the world, the family and the state were intimately associated. Both society and government naturally grew out of the divinely constituted relations of the family. The first human pair were not "isolated savages," as they have been termed by groveling infidels, nor was the natural state of mankind a state of warfare, as the philosopher of Malmesbury would have us believe. Admitting what revelation clearly teaches, that the first human pair were intelligent, civilized beings, united by God, “in the bands of holy wedlock," we have then a foundation sufficiently broad for the whole social fabric to rest upon. We need not resort to “a state of nature,” (technically so called,) nor to a “social compact,” for the origin of government, nor to “necessity” for ihe origin of society. The family contained the elements of both. An enlarged family is a society. The regulations adopted by a father, for the management of his household, constitutes a government. Upon this natural foundation “the state" is based. from these simple relations, an endless variety of political institutions has arisen.
Though the family and the statë” are so closely united in their origin, still we must not confound their relations. The rights and the duties of the father and the magistrate, the son and the subject are, by no means, identical. “The state and the family differ, not only in size, but in the essentials of their constitution. At the same time, however, it is undeniable that there have been stages, in the history of humanity, when the ideas of state and family were closely interwoven and almost blended together. They were mixed in the patriarch; they were continued when the family grew into a tribe ; they were not always formally separated when the tribe became a nation.” A more enlightened philosophy