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but as a specimen of the materials with which the house is constructed. The reader, therefore, may by this compilation of Mr. B. completely estimate the style of the author quoted, as well as the state of the English language at the time he
Another reason of our approbation of the present work is, that it presents to our view some gigantic authors in their proper size. Some inflated bodies may be compressed into a very narrow compass. When the attenuated lamina of thought, in many compositions, is reduced to a cubic mass, it is really wonderful how small a space it fills. The effusions of an author's brain frequently want distillation, and in how diminutive a phial may the quintessence be confined! Many writers, also, need only be tasted. A slight extract will in this case suffice, as well as the whole work. If any reader is disposed from the flavour of the specimen to devour the entire piece, he may procure it. As, in casting our eyes over a large library, we would wish more than half of the volumes to be committed to the flames, because they are pernicious; the half of what remains, to be torn up for waste paper because they contain harmless falsehoods; a moiety of the residue to grace the library unopened, because they contain useless. truths; and the small remnant, after all these deductions, to form the regular food of the understanding: so in looking at many a huge folio, we wish page after page to be effaced or curtailed, until a few chapters and sections remain to reward the toil and expense of the reader, and to preserve the reputation of the writer.
But it remains to say a few words on the execution of this plan which we approve. The author has performed his part respectably, except in one or two instances. The exception we take is, that he has, we, fear purposely, chosen extracts calculated to throw ridicule on sacred and important truths. With this abatement, we think the author intitled to praise both for his biographical and literary sketches, his account of books and their authors, and his occasional criticisms.
Art. XVI. Sydney Smith's Two Volumes of Sermons.
(Concluded from p. 472.)
N our last number we suspended our review of these volumes in a considerable degree of perplexity, caused by several passages in the sermon against Methodism, and parti cularly by this:
In applying the term sect, to persons of this religious persuasion, (the methodists,) and in distinguishing them from the church of England, I do not found that distinction upon the speculative tenets they profess, but upon the general spirit they display; it is in vain to say you belong to our
antient, and venerable communion, if you lose sight of that moderation for which we have always been distinguished, and, instead of sameness of spirit, give us only sameness of belief. You are not of us, (whatever your belief may be,) if you are not sober as we are; you are not of us if you have our zeal without our knowledge; you are not of us, if those tenets which we have always rendered compatible with sound discretion, make you drunk, and staggering with the new wine of enthusiasm.' Vol. I. p. 284.
Now, in this passage, the writer very clearly identifies his religious belief with the tenets of the established church, and then admits that the speculative doctrines of the methodists also are identical with those tenets; and this is plainly saying, that in point of speculative religious opinions he and the methodists are agreed, the difference being only in the spi rit with which these opinions are maintained and applied. Here we were reduced to extreme perplexity in attempting to guess what class of Christians it could be, that our preacher had chosen to denominate methodists. For we found him rejecting the doctrine of atonement, rejecting and ridiculing the doctrine of a particular providence, and shewing, by pal pable implications, his disbelief of some other tenets, maintained as of the utmost importance by those who lay the most emphasis on these two doctrines. We were quite certain that any one of the classes, usually called methodists, would just as soon acknowledge themselves to be of the faith of Japan, as to coincide with our preacher's notions of Christianity. And yet he has not signified that it is any new class of religionists against which he has felt it his duty to caution his auditors. Nor is it any new class, as far as we can by any means discover from the general tenour of the
It is hard that we have no possible way out of this difficulty, but by breaking a wide gap through the preacher's sincerity. We looked this way in a former part of our ob servations, and we are forced toward the same point again. It is a signal piece of disingenuousness in this preacher, to pretend to identify his opinions with the standard creed of the established church. And what does excite our indignation not a little, we confess, is to see this done in such a manner, as to seem an intentional wanton insult on that venerable establishment; the pretence being made, with an air of easy confidence, in a set of sermons, in which it is not thought worth while to take the slightest trouble even to disguise the rejection and contempt of some of the most essential points of the instituted faith. We cannot preserve our patience, to see our church treated thus by her professed sons and advocates. We seem to hear them say, 'You see to
what a plight the good old superannuated establishment is reduced. She is like an old decrepit lady, whose servants have a few ready cant phrases of deference, but laugh at her orders almost before they have closed the door of her room, and go and do every thing just as they like, without in the least' caring for the consequences of her being told how they are acting, The good old church has appointed plenty of creeds and confessions: we have set our names to a long list of articles, full of the demerit of human works, full of a propitiatory sacrifice, justification by faith, salvation by pure grace, and such kind of things. Yes, we have subscribed, ha! ha! ha! and gravely promised to hold forth these landable fancies. This engagement having been made in all due form, and the ceremonial parts of the service being discharged. in the prescribed manner, we easily find means to dupe our worthy old mistress; or if we cannot dupe her, or do not choose to take so much pains, we have nothing to fear in setting at nought her authority, as to what relates to her musty creeds. We shape our discourses and doctrines according to our own taste, or the fashion of the times; and thus we get the emoluments, and sometimes laugh and sometimes rail, as it may alternately suit our amusement or our interest, at those whose precious squeamish consciences will not let them obtain a share of our privileges, at the trifling cost of declaring their assent to what they do not believe.' These gentlemen, however, know when to be demure again; and then, it is so venerable an institution! so faithfully supported! so formed for perpetuity! Then, each of them devoutly crosses himself, and chants, after this reverend precentor,- 'the church is not endangered by this denomination of Christians (the methodists;) I hope and believe that its roots are too deep, its structure too admirable, its defenders too able, and its followers too firm, to be shaken by this or any other species of attack.' (V. I. 290) We cannot suppress our indignation, at seeing this deliberate systematic practice of insult to the establishment. And we would loudly warn, though we fear it will be of no avail to warn, the church, that all such men are traitors to her interests, and in effect conspirators against her life. Adhering in form to her communion, and possessing all its temporal privileges, they are notwithstanding decided, violent, super-libertine dissenters, beyond all comparison more alienated from her grand princi ples of faith, than thirty nine in forty of those who are formally separated from her communion...
We intended some remarks on our reverend author's doc-* trine of Providence; but shall reserve them for an occasion which will require a brief attention to precisely the same no
tions, exhibited in almost literally the same language, in a short anonymous publication ascribed to the same author, and not disavowed by him. That these notions are opposite to the Bible, is the very last argument, we suppose, that any reader of these sermons would think of suggesting to the writer of them; but it might have been expected he would not have been desirous to shut himself out from every respected school of philosophers.
If no publication ever came with more defective claims, in point of theological quality, than these sermons, we must employ a different language as to what they exhibit of intellectual ability, and moral instruction. They display a great deal of acuteness, diversified mental activity, and independent thinking. Whatever else there is, there is no common-place. The matter is sometimes too bad, sometimes too good, but always too shrewd, to be dull. The author is a sharp observer of mankind, and has a large portion of knowledge of the world. What is more, he has exercised much discrimina. tive observation on the human heart, and often unfolds a correct view of its movements, especially the depraved ones. He has indicated in it so many native principles of pernicious operation, that if he cared about philosophical consistenhe would turn orthodox at once; and be behind no methodist' of us all, in representing the necessity of an influence from heaven to purify so corrupt a source of agency. We have seen many instances of men choosing to be absurd philosophers, in order to avoid being sound divines. But did he not laugh outright in his study, when he was making sentences about 'manly resolution,' 'noble pride,' and other such things, as being the forces which were to subdue internal evil, and defeat, throughout a campaign of half a century, a world of temptations? We should indeed be sorry if he could be in so gay a mood when going to lead his auditors into so fatal an erbut we cannot conceive that he could avoid that perception of incongruity which usually excites the risible muscles. Really, notwithstanding all we have said, we think the man has a more methodistical basis than half his clerical brethren. A man, who entertains his estimate of the condition of human nature, holds a principle which, by correct in. ference, precipitates the mind to despair on the one hand, or leads it toward the reprobated doctrines on the other; and it would be an admirable proof of manly resolution' and noble pride,' to reject them because formalists, and sciolists, and proAigates, and fribbles, and divers other sorts of creatures, all wisely join to sneer at them, for the most part without so much as ever attempting to understand them!
The morality will often be, of course, very defective in prin
ciple, in works wherein the theology is so scanty and so erroneous, Making, however, the due allowance for this and for every other deteriorating cause, there will be found, in these sermons, a large share of valuable instruction. General principles of morals are sometimes developed with very original illustrations. The discriminations of right and wrong are often strongly marked. Moral agents are represented in a great diversity of situations, and many of those situations are brought forward into view very forcibly, by means of well selected circumstances and strong colouring. The reader will observe that the moralist has the real world and the present times constantly in his view; his observations have the advantage of bearing a relation to facts; they are the moral lessons of a man who knows the world; they are pictures as well as precepts. In one of these discourses we are not so much listening to a formal lecture, as accompanying the moralist into some scene of human action, apposite to the topic he has chosen, and hearing him make a series of acute and spirited comments on the prominent circumstances as they present themselves. This prevents regular and extended discussion, but it throws peculiar force into particular passages. It casts the surface of the composition in points, generally sharp, and sometimes sparkling. It is to be noticed, at the same time, that his moral observations, while bearing so strong an impression of acquaintance with the real world, will in some instances be also found rather more accommodating to the world's standard of moral principles, than the moral speculations and instructions of a teacher would be, who should qualify his knowledge of the world with an equally intimate knowledge of Christianity. It will easily be conjectured, that our present instructor will lay down his moral rules, at somewhat more than a sufficient distance from puritanical spirituality and austerity. Yet we find less reason to complain, than we should have expected in moral reasonings so little indebted directly to the light of true theology. A new proof is here afforded, that in a country, where Christianity is well known, those intelligent men who give it but very little attention, and who despise some of its leading principles-if they should ever have happened to hear them stated, have nevertheless acquired, insensibly and involuntarily, a much higher tone of moral sentiment than we find in the heathen philosophers. Our preacher's tone is sometimes very high; we were really surprised, as well as gratified, to find him, for instance, giving no quarter to the love of praise as a motive of ac
I mean by vanity, the excessive love of praise, and 1 call it excessive VOL. V. Tt