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his imagination. He then employed himself much more upon the style than upon
the main points of his discourses; but he was always unwilling to revise his course of Lent Sermons,* which he had written at first with much care ; and I do not mean to attack the glory of the immortal MASSILLON, I intend, on the contrary, to render him fresh homage, in boldly advancing, that this, which has for a long time been quoted as his chief work, appears to me one of his feeblest rhetorical productions.
Massillon's plans are all alike; and besides this sameness which is so perceptible, when we read his sermons in succession, he generally confines himself to combat excuses, and perhaps does not sufficiently search beforehand into the bottom of his subjccts.
He was born with very great talents for Eloquence; but, he was not sufficiently studious in his youth. He depended too much upon his quickness of parts; and we may say respecting him, what the Roman Orator said of Piso, “ As much as he withheld from application, so " much he diminished his glory.”+ Yes, it is my admiration of him ; it is my reading him over and
* Fr. son petit Carême. * Quantum detraxit ex studio, tantum amisitè gloriam BRUTUS, 236.
over, every day, with delight, that emboldens me to apply to him the charge, which Cardinal de Retz brought against the great Condé, when he blames him for“ not having merited all that he "might."*
How superior would Massillon really have been to himself, were all his sermons as eloquent and perfect as his " Ecclesiastical Conferences ;" his discourses on the Forgiveness of Enemies ;"
on the Death of a Sinner;" Confession ;" " on the Divinity of Jesus Christ;" “ on the “ Mixture of the Righteous and the Wicked ;" his homily" of the Prodigal Son," &c. In these we have Massillon's most masterly performances; it is here we discover all his genius ; while we regret that he hath not bestowed more time upon the composition of his other works.
This excellent writer, misled by his copiousness, frequently fails in not sufficiently enriching his beautiful style with ideas; and he would unquestionably lose much of his celebrity, were he to be judged according to this maxim of Fene
* Memoirs, vol. 1. + The late Dr. Dodd published a translation of Massillon's sermons preached before Louis XV. during his mino rity. They were called “Sermons on the Duties of the Great,' and inscribed to the Prince of Wales.
The Rev. Dr. Milne has published a volume of sermons, professedly in imitation of Massillon and other French writers.
lon; "a good discourse is that from which nothing can be retrenched without cutting into the ‘quick.'*
Massillon's arguments are sometimes destitute of regularity, of energy, perhaps even of the solidity which he was so capable of giving them.
Could it be believed, that, in his sermon on the Certainty of a future State,' which is, in other respects, full of beauty and energy, Massillon seriously refutes, and more than once, the frivolous objection, that another state of existence is incredible, because no one ever returned from it? The French Orator, so styled by way of pre-eminence, Bossuet, has also deigned to take notice of this plea of sinners, who would call for miraculous apparitions, not to convince them of the soul's immortality, but to determine their conversion. One expression at the close of the funeral Oration for Queen Henrietta (the most pathetic of all his discourses) suffices him to confute, by a sublime stroke, this absurd demand. It were to be wished, that Massillon had often copied this boldness of the pencil! Do we ex
pect God to raise the dead in order to instruct us? It is by no means necessary that the dead return, nor that any one rise out of the
grave; that which to day descends into the tomb might be sufficient to convert us.'
* Letter upon Eloquence.
WE sometimes discover such passages after
the manner of Bossuet, in the sermons of the Pastor SAURIN, whom we ought to insert at the head of Preachers of the second class.*
The first part of his discourses generally consists of a commentary upon his text. opinion, all his critical discussions upon history, grammar, or chronology, are extremely different from Eloquence.
Besides, the shew of erudition, with which Saurin imposes on so many of his readers, ought not to be held of any account, even if all this scientific dress were not mistimed, inasmuch as it is no very difficult task to copy commentators, or to translate dissertations.
*' Among the French Protestant Divines, SAURIN is the • most distinguished; he is copious, eloquent, and devout,
though too ostentatious in his manner.'--Blair's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 120.
The sermons of the late Rev. C. CHAIs, preached at the French church at the Hague, have also considerable merit. in his pulpit eloquence.
On this account, therefore, when you read Saurin, do not stop short at any of the first parts of his discourses. This manner of writing, which, at the beginning of this century, was called the Refugee style,' has been charged against him on substantial grounds. He uses a translation of the Bible, which was made immediately after the separation of the Protestant churches; and this old language, contrasted with his modern Eloquence, imparts to his style a savage and barbarous air. I might quote examples, if his sermons were not so diffuse.
Saurin, however, writes with ardour and vehemence. He doth not make an ostentatious show of wit ; he doth not lose sight of his auditory; he forcibly urges his arguments : he knows when to insist upon them; he is moved, and he inflames. He hath the merit of being a natural Orator: and, he would have acquired the taste in which he is deficient, if he had joined, to the study of examples, the residence of Paris.
No Christian Orator, after Bossuet, (to whom there can be none compared when speaking of Pulpit Eloquence) hath laboured more carefully the perorations of his discourses. In them Saurin always recalled the idea of death. This object renders them as solemn as they are affecting, They commonly consist of repetitions ; and this return of the same set of expressions is very prog