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flights of fancy. In short, he had not any of the adventitious aids of the orator, and yet no orator ever excelled him in the effect of his hiscourses; nor was that effect produced by a false humility, a feigned affection, or the audacities of Antinomianism; he always supported the authority of a teacher, observed the strictest propriety in the choice of epithets, and generally dwelt on practical or experimenta theology. The secret of his success may perhaps be attributed under the divine blessing, to the originality of his thoughts, to the simplicity of his illustrations, to the solemnity of his manner, and to the holiness of his life. He had always something new; his hearers always understood him, he always preached “as a dying man to dying men," and his life was known every where to shed a lustre upon his ministry. He was uniformly the same man. • He feared God alway.” Many of the happiest days of his life as a minister, have been spent by the translator under Lavington's hospitable roof, and he had numerous opportunities of observing this inestimable preacher. It was in the closet that he became great for the pulpit. Frequently have his aged limbs shuffled along by the writer's chamber at break of day, from his own chamber to his study, and then for several hours before breakfast he communed with his God, and prepared those discourses which then delighted his young friend and the people, and of which many have since delighted the world.
We cannot resist the inclination that we feel to give further currency to the following strictures, part of a just comment on the corrupted taste of the present day.
• While introducing these observations on modes of preaching,' says Mr. Cobbin, the translator embraces the opportunity to bear testimony against that pernicious taste which too much prevails in the present day, and which threatens to banish all real eloquence from the English pulpit. A disgusting familiarity or noisy declamation, begins universally to prevail; and where both of these exist, or either of them, a congregation is sure to be gathered. In some solitary instances, real eloquence and sound sense are appreciated; and a few discerning hearers will listen to nothing but the truth preached in its natural simplicity, but the thoughtless crowd are to be attracted only by eccentricity, chit chat, colloquial freedoms, bombast, or sermons seasoned with a few favorite doctrines.'
Mr. Cobbin lies under a mistake when he mentions, in his Preface, the scarceness of the works of French divines, and the difficulty of procuring them. The scarceness is not quite so great as he represents it, if we may trust our own experience, and the difficulty of procuring them is exceedingly exaggerated. There are of course difficulties and uncertainties connected with importation, but these are not greater in the instance of books, than in the case of other articles. Mr. Cobhin should have considered, that these statements tend to confirm and enhance the evil of which he complains. Besides, he is incorrect in some of his information; the works of Bossuet, Mas. sillon, and Poulle, (erroneously called here La Poulle,) are
quite as common as those of Bourdaloue. Poulle has we understand been republished within a few years; Massillon has also been reprinted by Renouard, a very handsome edition in 8vo. 1810; and Bossuet is we believe in course of republication. We would however recommend theological students to content themselves with his Sermons in 17 vols. 12mo. or with a selection from them in one volume, as Mr. Cobbin states, but as we think in three volumes; for either we are wrong in our recollection, or speak of a different work.
From the works at large of this writer, there is a very excellent and comprehensive selection by the Abbé Sauvigny, in 10 vols. 8vo. which will give the inquirer a very adequate notion of Bossuet's powers and peculiarities as a controvertist. That those powers were of the very highest order, no man of common judgement will venture to question; but that they are completely debased and neutralized by those peculiarities, no impartial examiner will feel disposed to deny. When writing against the Protestants, bis principal argument is drawn from their variations, and his collateral reasonings form such a mass of intangible and perplexing subtleties, as set an antagonist at defiance. Nothing, in fact, can be more decisive of the superiority of their cause, than the general character of the Protestant writers of that day. They put aside all minor considerations, discard all puny and paltering dialectics, reject every thing in the shape of sophistry, and take their stand on the plain sense of Scripture, on the fair exercise of reason, and on the civil and religious liberties of mankind. Let any one take up Bossuet's refutation of Paul Ferry, and compare it with Claude's master-piece, the “ Réponse à “ Nouet;” or let him read after it the rich and racy" Bouclier “ de la Foy" of old Pierre du Moulin, and he will be able to form a pretty accurate opinion as to the side on which sound reasoning and plain dealing lie. Bossuet has been very hardly dealt with in this country; none of his works have made their appearance in decent English.
It is a very remarkable circumstance, that the two great ornaments of the French Pulpit should have found in this country the very worst of Translators. Dickson has translated Massillon in a style of ignorant vulgarity; and Jerningham (strangely complimented by Mr. Cobbin as a respectable translator") has dressed up Bossuet in a garb which bears about as much resemblance to the original, as a harlequin's jacket does to the Roman toga. Mr. Cobbin will do well not to quote Kett again as an authority in matters of criticism ; his own opinion is entitled to respect, but it derives no addition of critical weight from being coupled, on the subject of Bossuet, with that of the author of the superficial “ Elements of general “ Knowledge.”
Before we dismiss this part of Mr. C.'s work, we would mention an additional circumstance in the life of Bossuet, which is very little known. The Lady mentioned in the biography of Bossuet, (page 140), as having been contracted to him, is stated to have been actually his wife; and it has been said that he was in the secret possession of a dispensation from the Pope. A literary character of some celebrity, St. Hyacinthe, has been supposed to be the son of Bossuet. Since writing this sentence, we have been able to recollect our authority for a part of this statement. At this part of the English history, Mr. Carte introduces an anecdote so extraordinary that it merits admission, although it belongs to a later age. Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, 'had, he says, a dispensation from the Pope tò marry. This was produced and verified before the Parliament of Paris,
who, as the rapporteur of the cause told Mr. Carte, adjudged the Bishop's estate to his wife and children, and allowed them . to be legitimate.'*
The Historical view of the Reformed Church of France, is an interesting and comprehensive sketch; but we confess that it seems to us out of its place. It would, we think, be much better to publish it with enlargements and elucidations, as a separate work.+ We have no space for an adequate abridgement, and must pass it by with a reference to a very singular specimen of mistranslation. When the death of the too celebrated Cardinal Richelieu was announced to Louis XIII, the latter, who probably rejoiced in his emancipation from the control of his tyrannical minister, coldly rejoined, “ Voilà un grand politique “mort;" and this is strangely rendered by Mr. Cobbin, “ It is " a great political death !" Even had Mr. C. been ignorant of the difference between mort politique and politique mort, he might surely have been aware that mort being feminine, would require the feminine termination in the adjectives. At page 102, we find the treatment of the Pastors :' we take it for granted that the original word is traitement, which means salary.
It will not be expected from us that we should go through the whole of the various matter of which the body of the volume is made up. Fifteen sermons are given from as many different authors; and to each is prefixed a short critical biography. We shall enumerate the subjects and the preachers. CATHOLIC DIVINES-Bossuet, on Providence; Flechier, on Christmas
* Andrews's Continuation of Henry's History of Great Britain. Vol. I. Page 377. Note.
+ This suggestion Mr. C. has we find so far anticipated, that he has since published the Historical View by itself in a 5s. volume.
Day; Bourdaloue, on the Passion of Jesus Christ; Massillon the day of Pentecost; Cheminais, the difficulty of Salvation ; Poulle, the Prodigal Son; Beauvais, the vanity of human things; Rue, (la Rue) the Dying Sinner; Fenelon, Plan of a Serinon, Protestant Divines-Abbadie, the Sacrifice of Abraham ; Mouchon, God manifested by Jesus Christ; Huet, the Divinity of Jesus Christ; Faucheur, the wages of Sin and the reward of Grace; Dumont, the Believer pressing forward; Guillebert, the sufficiency of grace; Claude, the sealing of the Spirit. "A concise account of French Preachers' is subjoined ; which might be enlarged by the addition of several names far superior in merit to many here set down.
With respect to the selection of sermons made by Mr. Cobbin, we believe it to be judicious; in one or two instances, we could have wished for the substitution of favourites of our own; but this is mentioned merely as matter of private preference, and not with any intention of detracting from the propriety of Mr. C.'s decision. In the two or three extracts that we shall make for the purpose of giving a fair sample of the execution of the work, we shall prefer the sermons of preachers who are less generally kpown.
Timoleon Cheminais was a man of great powers and popularity; he entered very early upon his public labours, and died exhausted at the premature age of thirty-nine. His published sermons display, with some deductions, considerable excellence. They are eloquent, but somewhat superficial; and while we sometimes meet with passages of genuine force and feeling, we find, in other parts, specimens of the most insipid wordiness. If we were called upon to produce an example of perfect bavardage, we do not know where we could more effectually seek for it than in the opening of his third division of a sermon Sur la Fête de Páques; in which he tries to work up a kind of dramatic scene, with a jingling Latin chorus at the end of every pause. The preface to the fourth volume of bis sermons, contains a proposal to abolish the system of divisious and subdivisions, and to preach, as it should seem, without arrangement. This scheme, or rather anti-scheme, seems to us neither original por advisable; and by its adoption, either entirely or in part, some of Cheminais's sermons are not a little injured. From the discourses of this divine, Mr. Cobbin has translated one on “ The difficulty of Salvation,” from Matthew vii. 14. We quote the commencement of the Third Part.
• You will be yet more convinced, Sirs, of the truth that I preach to you, if you consider the exalted perfection of the law of Jesus Christ, joined with the extreme weakness of man in the state of corrupt nature. For truly the religion that we profess, says St. Augustin, is not a sluggish and inactive
• It demands from us a love of God, which includes a preference so absolute, that neither relations, nor friends, nor health, nor honour, can snatch it away, when solicited, I will not say to give up our religion, but even to violate the least of the commandments. ference so universal that it influences all the habits of the life, and all the articles of the law. It requires a love of our neighbour so generous, that it forgets the most atrocious injuries, that it pardons them, not only outwardly in not executing vengeance, but inwardly by stilling in the heart all the feelings which give birth to it. It claims a faith which makes the Christian ready to lay his head upon the scaffold; a renunciation, a denial of himself, which influences him to pluck out the eye that offends him, a chastity which not only deprives him of unlawful pleasures, but prevents him even from desiring them, from thinking upon them; an entire renunciation of the good things of this world. It wills that we should be persuaded that those are happy who suffer, who weep, who are poor, persecuted, calumniated; and that on the contrary we should consider the rich, men of pleasure, those who are honoured and blessed with worldly prosperity, as unhappy. It requires that we should rather be reduced to poverty, than do the least injury to our neighbour; and all this, Sirs, is absolutely obligatory.'
The Abbé Poulle is the most brilliant and sparkling of all the French divines ; but at the same time he is very inferior to Bossuet and Massillon in the higher moods of oratory. With the former he cannot for a moment endure comparison ; and that he falls far below the latter has been shewn by Laharpe in a very able critical analysis of their respective styles. Mr. Cobbin has translated his sermon on the Prodigal Son, and a better choice could not on the whole have been made, though there may be stronger painting in some of his other discourses. We extract the opening of the Second Part.
• How wonderful are the operations of grace! This prodigal, whose wanderings and misfortunes, but a few moments ago we so deeply deplored, is now become our model and the object of our emulation. Let us study his conduct; his most trifling actions, every single word affords us so many instructions: the prodigal at length comes to himself. Till now he had only the sensation, and at most but a superficial knowledge of the evils that he endured; he suffered them impatiently, and never dreamt of looking for deliverance from them. The deepest reflections upon his present condition could alone inspire the wish and the courage to return to his father's house. The sinner would not have wandered from God, says St. Ambrose, had he not wandered from himself. The first effect of grace is to restore him to himself, that he may afterwards be restored to God. In the height of his dissipation, he feels himself dragged away by a secret virtue into the abyss of his conscience; he descends there with terror ; instantaneously grace throws a light into the midst of the darkness which covers it. Enveloped with this sudden brightness, what does he behold? Within only crimes, only monsters appear;