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gious travellers of other lands, as well perhaps as some of his own countrymen, may learn to combine a cheerful style and the happiest descriptive powers, with the art of conveying grave lessons, and even spiritual truths of high importance.
We are frequently asked by the younger clergy who do us the honour to consult us on such matters, what sermons they should take as models. Now, as a model in any style of composition intended for the multitude, that only can be in the proper sense popular, which is at the same time modern. The best sermons of thirty years ago are antiquated; preached verbatim, they would not now produce the effect they produced then. Good preaching is the highest style of popular literature. To be really good, it must be contented to become, to a certain extent, ephemeral. It must defer to the habits of thought, modes of expression, and wants and weaknesses of the passing hour. It must defer to, in order to control, them. We have declined to notice modern sermons, we say it unaffectedly, because they are so many and so good. In no kind of literature has the improvement been so rapid during the last generation; and we have felt, and still feel, that it is invidious to make a selection, which, after all, must be a matter of taste and of private judgment. However, of those which have recently been published, we may select the following:
Sermons preached in St. Mary's Church, Marylebone. Third beries. By John Hampton Gurney, M.A., Prebendary of St. Paul's. Rivingtons. The peculiarity of these sermons lies, as to their style, in their plain simplicity; as to their matter, in the honesty and courage with which they assault the prevailing weaknesses and sins of the congregation who assemble to listen to them. It will require no little industry to write in such a style, and no little grace and courage to preach in such a spirit. They deserve to be studied by all preachers, for they teach two things hard to be learned — that plaiuness may be attained without vulgarity or an air of condescension ; and that the very sins of the people in the pews may be exposed and skilfully anatomized, without scolding, and without the always offensive assumption of priestly dignity. To these we may add Bateman's Sermons, preached at Guernsey; and a Second Edition of his former Sermons. They, too, are clear and pointed. They deal less with prevailing sins, and more with Christian doctrine. The distribution of his subject, too, is a point in which Mr. Bateman excels; and a quiet originality and independence of thought pervades them, such as the reader would expect from bishop Daniel Wilson's biographer. Mr. Roberts, of Woodrising, the author of several volumes of Sermons, has added another to the list. Mr. Roberts is now among sermonizers what Mr. Cooper was to a former generation-judicious, pious, and always appropriate.
-Mr. Nolan, of Regent's Square, has published Four Sermons on the Atonement, of real value, and well timed. They are directed against the errors which Mr. Llewelyn Davies has introduced in another London pulpit, and he mentions him by name. We can scarcely defend this in the face of the 53rd canon; but thus it will ever be, if the rulers of the church do not exercise their just authority. Within a short compass the doctrine of the Atonement, and its high importance in the Christian scheme, are well set forth in these timely sermons.
Twenty years ago, Dr. Arnold, in a strain of eloquence above his usual pitch, described the world as hurrying on with breathless baste, and crowding events upon each other, as if conscious that her task was yet left unfinished ; that she had still much work to do, while her time was short and her doom near at hand. Had he lived till these days, he would have felt, that even so lately as twenty years ago, the world moved at a comparatively flagging pace. A month now contains a history, or rather many histories; and men, even Christian men, become insensible, and draw no moral from the lesson, for the fearful tale runs on too fast. A dreadful persecution of thousands of unoffending Asiatic Christians upon the same fields on which persecution first began, but on a scale of gigantic horror which throws all the early persecutions into the shade,—Italy the scene of events which, when historians write them, will appear as strange and tragical as any which even Italy has supplied in past ages, whether to history or fiction,-Europe everywhere arming to the teeth, and yet each state in Europe professing the most peaceable intentions,—universal distrust in every nation, and everywhere a restlessness which betrays the feverish symptoms of national disease,—these are the circumstances which, crowded into a single month, seem to invest it with an importance seldom conceded to so short a space of time. If we add to these an ungenial season, and now the too certain prospect of a deficient harvest, already affecting our trade and commerce, and threatening wide-spread suffering, we may indeed seem to draw a gloomy picture, but few will say that it is overcharged.
If we inquire into the prevailing disposition of the times amongst the different states of Europe, we find that it is one of the utmost anxiety,--anxiety arising from distrust. Every state professes to desire
peace, yet every state suspects the rest of treachery. Courteous professions pass current among diplomatists ; projects of a pacific congress are renewed, schemes of aggrandizement are solemnly renounced, but national misgivings are not in the least allayed. The emperor of France opened the month with a letter to his ambassador Persigny in London, protesting against the wrong done him in suspecting his motives, and declaring (as he did when he vaulted into the vacant throne) that “the Empire was peace.” But his letter inade no impression, for he has six hundred thousand men in arms, to say nothing of an enormous fleet; and we continue to vote our money for the defence of our coasts, and to urge on the military spirit of our volunteers, as if war had been proclaimed. The unanimity is startling. If an eccentric Bright or Cobden protests against the lavish expenditure, the unusual sound, and the momentary attention with which it is listened to, remind us only of the profound stillness, and show how perfect the agreement is--all alike resolved, that England, come what may, must be well prepared. So it is abroad. Prussia, and the other Gerinan states, under a sense of common danger, have combined with
a cordiality to which they have long been strangers ; and even Austria seems disposed to join the friendly league. Under other circumstances these would be hopeful signs, at present they contribute to the general misgiving. What does the German confederacy, men ask, imply? Against what enemies, should war break out, will it turn its united forces ? For Austria, with an infatuation which shows that she has learned but little from the disasters of her late campaign, has rash:ly declared her intention (though it is difficult in times like these to know what is really meant even by official statements) to defend Naples if Garibaldi should assail it; and Garibaldi's forces, with their leader himself at their head, have landed in Calabria, and are probably by this time not far from Naples. Will an Italian war be the consequence? If so, will Germany interfere? Will France ? And, then, will England be able to preserve her strict neutrality ? These are questions on many lips, and in the deeper thoughts of many who are little given to speak out too freely on political subjects of such grave importance.
This feeling of universal distrust, however it may be explained, is in itself an alarming symptom. It goes far to create the evils which it dreads. Amity is impossible where suspicion reigns. Unless the nations of Europe soon return to a more confiding spirit, war is inevitable; from what quarter, or on what pretext, it may arise, it is impossible to foresee ; but in an atmosphere surcharged with the elements of destruction, the slightest disturbance provokes a terrific storm. The foundations of the earth are out of course, and men's hearts are failing them from fear, and looking for those things that are coming on the earth.
Parliament is still sitting while we are writing; an attempt which was made to throw out the ministry by opposing the chancellor of the exchequer on the question of the duty on paper, failed in a very full house, the ministry having a majority of 33. This was on the 6th instant, and the work of legislation has since advanced with a rapidity in proportion to its previous tardiness. Still few measures of general importance except matters of routine have passed. There has been much discussion in both houses, and points of the greatest importance have been fully discussed. And this, no doubt, is one of the great ends and right uses of representative assemblies. All the world, for instance, is now in possession of two indisputable facts. England will not put her independence in peril, nor enjoy it by sufferance. This is proved by the unanimity with which millions are lavished on our home defences. Nor, again, will England interfere to settle the internal policy of other nations. We have learned this lesson at last, that neither freedom nor legitimacy in foreign lands are our concern-ours in such a sense as to justify any other kind of interference than that of suggestion and advice.
A bill will probably receive the royal assent within a few days, which, in order to take effect, will still require something more—the co-operation of all Irish protestants. This we earnestly hope, we scarcely dare to say expect, it may receive. It is for the suppression of party badges and processions, and is no doubt aimed against those of the Orange lodges. We give the Orangemen of Ireland full credit for the best intentions. We believe that, in times past, they have often served as a barrier against sedition as well as popery. But they were never, at any time, quite free from objection; and now that the law has spoken, they should acquiesce at once, and silently dissolve themselves. Three talismanic words, “meekness, gentleness, longsuffering,” will do more for Irish protestantism than all the demonstrations with flags and fire-arms that were ever made. We have not so mean an opinion of the cause as to believe that it will suffer, or even that the Battle of the Boyne will be forgotten, although the Orange flag should float no more on Irish churches and cathedrals upon
the twelfth of July. Such demonstrations are offensive to the Roman Catholics ; that is, let it be remembered, to a majority of the Irish people. To inflame their passions is not the way to convert them. Where the revivals have taken place, Orange lodges, we are informed, have ceased to exist; or if not, have thrown aside their offensive demonstrations. It is not a political protestantism that is now required, but the aggressive spirit of the gospel. We cannot forbear to add, that an opportunity presents itself of returning good for evil, which we trust the protestants of Ireland will not permit to pass unimproved. The recruits who left Ireland three months ago to swell the pope's army, are now stealing back, humbled, broken down, and in the last stage of misery. They left, it is true, traitors in heart, hating England and the English government; they return mere objects of commiseration. They went out insolent, they come home dejected. But they sallied forth the blinded dupes of popery, and they appear again charged with a mission of no small importance, which every one of them will execute well, and which only men in their circumstances can execute at all. They will do more to open the eyes of the Irish peasantry, their own friends and kindred, to the true character of popery, than could have been accomplished by any other means within half a century. They are now assailed, of course, by the priests who deluded them, and the papal press which contributed its utmost to help on the delusion with scorn and falsehood ; let protestants shew them kindness. It would be an act of policy, even were it not an act of duty and of christian charity. The Scripture will have its fulfilment, and the kindness shown to these starving creatures will not be lost. Their prejudices against England are already softened, their hatred to protestantism will melt away beneath the kindnesses of protestants; they will be “the coals of fire heaped upon their heads."
The frequent occurrence of two of the greatest crimes of which human nature is capable, cruelty and murder, has at length aroused public attention, and led our journalists into some discussion as to their probable causes. These crimes have been committed, not as in times past, by the lowest ruffians, but in several instances by persons held to be respectable members of society in the class in which they moved. A schoolmaster beats his pupil to death. A schoolmistress, had vot her neighbours interfered in time, would have killed a child eight years old under a studied course of brutalities. A young man cuts the throat of his own mother, his little brothers, and his intended bride. Other poisonings, murders, and unnatural cruelties might easily be recorded; but let these suffice. The question is how they are to be prevented, and how explained. As to prevention, we cannot hesitate to avow our conviction that a sterner administration of the law, and more severity, are wanted. Four years' penal servitude appears to us a very inadequate punishment for the ferocious schoolmaster, or three for the scarcely less ferocious schoolmistress. And with regard to murder, the reluctance to inflict capital punishment has, it appears to us, been carried to a dangerous excess. In both cases, the uncertainty which prevails as to the amount of punishment until the sentence is actually pronounced, and in capital punishments until they are carried into effect, acts most unfavourably for the repression of crime. The fashionable theory that punishment ought not to be vindicative, but merely correctional, can of course meet with no favour from us with the New Testament in our hands. We know that the magistrate is God's minister of wrath, God's avenger to execute justice, and that he beareth not, at least ought not to bear, the sword in vain. It is a trite observation, that it is the certainty of punishment, more than its amount, that deters from crime. The law, as row administered, seems defective in both respects. The murderer often escapes the gallows through the misplaced kindness of the jury; and the public sentiment of indignation against the cruel man guilty in God's sight of murder, is gradually destroyed, when time after time they see that he receives no heavier punishment than that of any twice-convicted thief, or dishonest letter carrier, or knavish clerk in a banking house. The frightful nature of these crimes, and their frequent repetition, is, however, producing some good results. Many are led to question the wisdom of the secular educationists, and the truth of the maxims of the Emollit mores school. As education increases, it is discovered that women of good manners, and men of fair education, are as capable of the foulest crimes, as the scum of society, the Mother Shiptons and Dick Turpins of a former age. The necessary inference would seem to be that the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. But obvious as it is, there is still one retreat open from the humiliating admission, and many contrive to avoid it. We are told, in the jargon of quackery, that there is an idiosyncrasy in certain minds otherwise perfectly sound, which compels them irresistibly to the commission of atrocious crimes under sudden impulses, during the continuance of which they are perfectly conscious and equally unaccountable. With regard to the fact, the phenomenon itself, we do not, in the least, presume to question it. Indeed we have a much more complete, and, to our apprehension, a more philosophical account of it, in a very familiar book, than any which has yet been given by Coombe and the phrenologists. The impulse is there called temptation, and the idiosyncrasy is, in plain English, a vile heart in which Satan reigns; but so far is this monomania from being an innocent disease, it is described as one which will consign both body and soul to hell. No plea of insanity ought to be admitted which does not go to the whole extent of shewing that the prisoner was, at the time of his offence, unconscious not only of the full malignity of his crime--for of this no criminal acting under the influence of violent passion is conscious—but of the nature of the act itself. And even then care ought to be taken that he has not produced the aberration of intellect by any previous act, or course, of criminal misconduct; as, for instance, by drunkenness, or any other licentious or vicious indulgences. Society has to deal with the transgression ; God deals with the motives. It is the offence we punish,