Imatges de pÓgina

vate life. The causes of change are various; let us glance at some of them; I shall state them in the concrete, frankly saying that these instances, offered under John Bunyan names, have been suggested in actual life, though I hope no one will be impertinent enough to hunt out or find the living examples.

Dr. Rhetoric was always changing; he was a man of disproportionate power; with a fine person and a thrilling voice. He had passages in his discourses which would almost start the house from its foundation. But his taste was incorrect; if he often hit, he sometimes missed; and his great impediment was, that somehow his very eloquence created a craving he could not satisfy; he had, at last, to compare himself to Noah's dove, who left the ark to find no rest for the sole of her foot. The Rev. Mr. Indiscreet was his pupil; I watched him from the first, and never did a preacher so disappoint me. He began by imitating Dr. Rhetoric, and, as Dr. Johnson had clearly proved that no man ever became great by imitation, I set him down as a failure. But no: Indiscreet survived his imitations, soared above them; had every quality for a permanent preacher, so far as sermonizing is concerned; but, alas, failed for want of common sense. He was always moving. Mr. Finespun was a remarkable example. Finespun had power, had ability ; innitated nobody, and was original to the last degree. But his combinations were forced ; his figures were brought from the ends of the earth. Nothing could be more curious than his introductions; and when he named his text, no hearer could divine what would be the subject; yet Finespun was a man of real power; and if, when he left his mathematics, he could have remembered that a straight line was the nearest distance between two given points, it would have been better for him. He always had use for his wings.

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· Burke, to be sure, in his speech on the Nabob of Arcot's Debts, has the following passage, which I quote, both to give some idea of our friend's manner, and to show how Burke could sometimes go down towards Finespun's beauties, though Finespan could never get up to Burke's faults. “ From the marrowless bones of these skeleton establishments, by the use of every sort of cutting an VOL. XIX. No. 74.


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Shotover had short pastorates, and abundance of them. He has left the world a lesson which himself never would learn. Shotover was too politic; he played the politician about cabbages. He always had a plot, because he always imagined a counter-plot against him. If he had the simplest measure to carry in his church, his friends must meet; there must be a caucus;

have opponents; we must be ready for them, etc., etc.," until finally, he had use for all the machinery he had prepared; and what was very sad, Shotover could see the last need of his machinery, but never could see the origin of the evil. Wigfall I always sincerely pitied; for he had short settlements without any great

Somehow or other, he always made the impression that he was a great man, and in a few years the people always found out that he was not so great a man as they thought him. They were indignant, and rose at once to revenge their own mistake on their fugitive victim. He went to another vineyard to make the same impression and to find the same treatment. Sensitive was killed by gossips, busybodies, and tale-bearers. O if he could have put on the shield of indifference — but he did not wholly make himself. Wantwill tried to please everybody, and ended in pleasing none, not even himself. Rev. Mr. Flash had a most pleasing and pathetic voice, and might have spoken for years with effect, if he could have found anything to say; but he died a pastoral death, smothered in his own previous popularity. Wronghead had a short career, because he never could put two ideas together. His sermons generally consisted of one idea, which he would repeat over about seven thousand times, with astonishing variety of language. He would endeavor to make the bantling pass for a new baby by putting on a new slip; but when the audience found it out, they dismissed him and his bantling together. But the most melancholy example of the temporary was my

every sort of fretting tool, he flatters himself that he may chip and rasp an empirical alementary powder, to diet into some similitude of health and substance the languishing chimeras of fraudulent reformation." — Burke's Works, Vol. II. p. 393.

dear friend Mr. Prim. Prim was a good scholar, a man of common sense, a diligent worker, and a true Christian; and yet he was slow to find a settlement, and never could keep what he had slowly found. What was the matter ? Dr. Franklin makes poor Richard say, “ a little neglect may breed great mischief: for want of a nail, the shoe was lost ; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; and for want of a horse, the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy; all for want of a little care about a horse-shoe nail.” Prim was obstructed by little impediments, and which he knew to be little at the time. Nobody must speak to him going to meeting; no one must intrude on particular hours; f he had a call for settlement, he must put in some vexatious condition : they must have a new bell, or change the lamps, or the hymn-books. His manner was always precise, and his very laugh was ungenial. In short, he was a rose-bush full of verdure, flowers, and fragrance; but you could not touch him but some hidden briar would scratch your fingers and repel your friendship. He fell a victim to little briars.

The conclusion is, that short pastorates are more owing to defects in the clergy than faults in the people. Let a preacher have discretion, industry, piety, and common sense ; let him love his work and understand his people; let him be firm without stiffness, and yielding without false conformity; let him wish to be permanent, and he will be so, if he can only GET THROUGH HIS THIRD YEAR. Pindar, in one of his odes, speaks of those who reach the immortal fields by enduring the three purgations.






As in all warfare, so in the attack and defence of Christianity, the battle-ground changes, from time to time, as the enemies of the truth change their tactics, or direct their assault now upon this, now upon that point in the line of our defences. At present, it is the supernatural element in Christianity that is more directly and fiercely assailed. Around this the battle rages. And, what is not a little remarkable, it is from the professed friends of Christianity, from those who call themselves its disciples, rather than from its open and avowed enemies, that this attack mainly proceeds. It is no longer the Jew, the Mohammedan, the pagan, but the rationalist and sceptic, within the sacred precincts of the Christian temple, and before its very altars, who take it upon themselves to call in question, or utterly to deny, the supernatural element of the Christian religion.

Miracles, we are told, are no longer to be relied upon as evidences of the divine authority of the Christian system. However appropriate they may have been in a remote and less enlightened age, they are now quite out of place. As civilization and science have progressed, they have left this method of thinking and reasoning wholly in the back-ground. It is now understood, by all cultivated and philosophic minds, that in the domain of matter everything moves on by fixed and determined laws, which are never violated, never sus. pended, and which never change. This invariable operation, this universal order and unity of physical causes, is the first principle of the laws of nature, and whatever is at variance with this principle must be unconditionally and unhesitatingly rejected. The material universe is discovered to be one great system of self-sustaining and self

evolving laws, a grand whole moving on in harmony, and adequate to itself. Even the idea of original creation is now coming to be rejected as an antiquated notion, in view of the recent developments of science with respect to the origination of species. In a word, any interference with or deviation from the established and eternal order of things, is a physical impossibility, which no amount of evidence can substantiate; and the miracles, so called, of the Christian system, which in a ruder and darker age were considered as its main supports and defences, are, in reality, at the present day the chief hindrances to its acceptance.

Such is the position taken by the modern sceptic and rationalist. It is a position which the advocates of Christianity are called upon to meet. Mere denunciation and reproach of those who thus reason, will not suffice. Ecclesiastical censure will not meet the case. There is a demand for thorough investigation and solid argument. The position is one which overlooks and commands one of the most important defences of the Christian system; and to leave it in possession of the enemy, is to abandon Christianity itself as incapable of defence. Under these circumstances, it becomes necessary for the disciples of the Christian faith to re-examine, with special care, the whole matter of the supernatural element in Christianity, and possibly to re-adjust, in some respects, their own position with respect to it.

There are, in any such investigation, three questions to be specially considered: What is a miracle? What proves a miracle? What does a miracle prove ?

I. What is a miracle ? It is of the first importance in this controversy that the advocates of the Christian system should understand precisely what it is that they are contending for, — how much and how little is involved in, and essential to, the idea of a miracle. If we mistake not, some uncertainty, perhaps we might say some vagueness, of opinion exists on this point in many minds; some are disposed to include more, and others less, under that term. With some it means one

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