« ZurückWeiter »
the avoidance of painful slowness on the one hand, and too great rapidity on the other; and lastly, the giving what few preachers ever allow us, proper time for breath and reflection between the distinct parts of the discourse. People can in these days so seldom carry home in their minds a recollection of the discourse just listened to most attentively (mnem.--the preachers say the fault lies in us), vivid enough to permit a criticism of its composition, i.e. in our use of the word, the arrangement and harmony of its parts.
Not so with the sermon we now refer to. We venture to say that nearly every one of that vast auditory took away as complete an abstract of it as did the rather ugly and apparently unwashed individual who stood up so prominentiy in front of one of the side galleries, pretending to take a terbatim report. And to the educated mind what a treat! Sufficiently varied in topics to keep the subject from monotony, and the hearer enchained for one hour and thirty-eight minutes ; each again of these divisions of subject rising above the other in popular interest and helping on the great argument running through all, and, further, the perfect harmony of the whole-no lengthened exordium, forcing the orator to cut short his peroration, but each in bis own appointed sphere both as to time and prominence—thus making the sermon complete as a composition-a sine qua non to all oratorical success. The Parthenon, at Athens, bore away the palm, even in that city, of splendid architecture, but the incomplete Edinburgh copy of it, on the Calton Hill, stands the laughingstock of every mau of sense and taste that looks upon it.“
PECULIARITIES AND STYLE OF THE PREACHER.
“ Were we attempting a complete criticism of Mr. Binney, instead of a brief and sketchy portrait, this would be the place to notice at length one of the great secrets of his faine, his vigorous but beautiful style; as it is we can only venture a reference to it. He for one has fully realized the truth that the speaker or writer in this age who would occupy a niche in the Temple of Fame, inust give his most careful study, and bend his full powers to the acquisition of grace and power of style. And in this most difficult matter, our preacher has succeeded well. He is too much the man to affect the profound by the use of the barbaric jargon of German-English so dear to the hearts of under-graduates aspiring to the dignity of great thinkers; and his taste is too good to permit him for a moment to indulge in the tawdry finery of a Robert Montgomery. Even in his spoken sermons, you recognise a clearness of style equal to the clearness of his thinking; when he soars to the mountain tops of thought, his language also leaves the common place, and his fiftly chosen words are perfectly in keeping with the grandeur of the theme; so when he wishes to call forth the emotional within us, or to picture the beautiful, the words and rythm of his sentences are like linked sweetness long drawn out.' Let any one of our readers who think we are over-colouring turn to two of Mr. Binney's works, ' The Service of Song,' and 'Is it Pose sible to Make the Best of Both Worlds,' and they will find in abundance, illustrations of our remarks. There are few living writers who could equal in word painting the description of the Psalms, or the character of David to be found in The Service of Song.' Here is a sentence from the former, . They (the Psalms) are penitential, jubilant, adorative, deprecatory; they are tender, mournful, joyous, majestic; soft as the descent of dew, low as the whisper of love; loud as the voice of thunder ; terrible as the Almightiness of God! Whatever importance, however, we may attach to a speaker's manner and style, we readily admit that what he says is more important than how he says it. And this consideration introduces us to the matter of the serion in question. Nearly all Mr. Biuney's exordiums consist of exposition, and in this fact we fancy we discover his theory of the preacher's work. By his practice he seems to say, 'to man has been sent a book of infinite worth, in its pages the Holy Spirit has declared what it is absolutely necessary every man should know, and the chief duty of the spiritual teacher is just to discover by diligent study, and then expound as clearly as possible, what God suys, instead of using any particular part of the book simply as a peg on
which to hang his own thoughts. Might we intrude our humble opinion within this charmed circle, with bated breath, befiting the profane, we should whisper our agreement with those who employ the textual method.
Is the Divine right of mediocrity in the pulpit to be for ever proclaimed then ?? asks an excited reader ; 'Is there to be no room for genius, or for poetic power and feeling, or for the strong massive thought of the powerful thinker? Yes, verily, and with a full recollection of the most masterly scriptural exposition we ever listened to, as was unfolded to us, the ideas in the Apostolic mind, of which the generic word "carnal was the articulate expression, we assert that not more varied in glory are the lights which shine so purely in the midnight heavens than the degrees of ability which may find full exercise in this method of preaching. One train of reflection was started in our mind by the sermon. We had often before felt that if any. thing could shake our faith in the inspiration of the Bible it would be the utter want of truthfulness, common sense, and manliness displayed in many of our commentaries on its books. Of all insipidity and jejuneness commend us to a popular commentary. Alas! we fear many a young earnest spirit has found his way into the realm of the everlasting No!' through this tortuous via doloroso. Now, here we thought, is a large brained educated, spiritual Englishman evidently possessing a deep acquaintance with the spirit of his age, and who speaks as if he too once had lifted his eyes unto the heavens and for a time beheld no Father's face looking down upon him, who is not a stranger to the anxieties either of shop or counting-house, and whose strong terse Saxon words the people could understand. Why should not he, as the great work of his life, give to his countrymen an exposition in his own style of part of the volume he so loves and understands? We wish that on our voice hung the practical answer to our query:
After Mr. Binney has set before his hearers what he believes to be the mind of the Spirit, in the words of the text, he commences an application of the principles evolved, or the doctrines stated, to what he considers the requirements of the men and women who sit before him. Here, without the slightest straining after the melodramatic, and carefully eschewing all claptrap, he powerfully rivets and moves his audience. Young men and maidens, the artisan and clerk, the half-sceptic and the simple-minded hearer, are each after their kind mysteriously impressed. How is it? asked a friend while still under the fascination of the sermon we speak of. We replied thus : The Yankees have a saying which on the first blush sounds like an absurdity, but which every speaker and writer should be compelled to ponder for one month, to the exclusion of all other sublunary subjects. It is that there's a good deal of human nature in man.' And so, if you inquire, yon will find there's a good deal of human nature in Mr. Binney."
CAUSES OF MR. BINNEY'S POPULARITY. “We have heard that one gentleman, who wrote a paper on Mr. Binney, assigned as a principal cause of his popularity the possession, in a large degree of humour, as distinguished from wit, which him most frequently flowed forth in delicate irony or trenchant satire. With this acute remark, to a great extent, we agree. His, however, is not the grim, inferno-like humour of Swift or Carlyle, so merciless and savage, but genial and loving like that which throws its sweet witchery over the fascinating page of Scott; though a tendency to controversy and a delight in hitting an adversary with "the gloves off' often imparts to Mr. Binney's humour the pungency and sarcastic power of that of old Puritan-hating South. We have already given it as our opinion that the creative, or, limiting it to its philosophic signification, the imaginative, is the predominant faculty in Mr. Binney's nature. That belief, however, we cannot now further argue, and therefore can only ask our readers who may dissent from us, once more to weigh our previous state. ments. Next in prominence, undoubtedly stands in Mr. Binney the reason. ing faculty ; that glorious gift which, when love of truth overshadows its exercise, and the pure syllogism becomes its guide, leads its possessor from the city of ignorance, rescues him from the sloughs of despair, and, though the path it chooses may pass very close to Doubting Castle and the Temple of Indifference, though it may even necessitate a contest with A pollyon, eventually lands him safely in the land of Beulah where the flowers, the grapes, and the songs of birds never cease, where the sun shines night and day, and where are plainly seen the golden pavements and the streets of pearl.' From the first faculty comes Mr. Binney's synthetic power, and his breadth of thought, a manifestation of which we have in his Is it possible, and in his well-kuown sermon, 'Salvation by fire, and Salvation in fulness; and from the second, his great subtlety of analysis, that penetrative power he displayed so strikingly in his lecture on St. Paul, delivered in the church in Pitt Street, when with exquisite delight we listened to him dissecting ideas into their component parts with a touch as delicate and firm as ever Liston showed when engaged in any of his complex surgical operations. So also we account for his logical exactness. You may refuse to admit his premises, and so escape from his conclusion, but grant his major and minor, and you will find the deduction too clear and exact to be overthrown. A result of this logical acumen is his clearness of conception, from which again di. rectly springs his luminous style, and these are ihe things which have made the pulpit of Weigh-House Chapel a centre of power, and installed our preacher as Golden Lecturer to Young England. These are his glory as a preacher-these the fountains of his eloquence. As Sir James Stephen somewhere finely says, 'The cloud-compelling Jupiter shrouded himself in darkness, because he dwelt in an abstracted and silent solitude ; but the God of day rejoiced in the light, because he was also the God of eloquence.'”
A CLOSING WISH, “ Poet and logician, using his fine powers in the noblest of all services, is it wonderful crowds have gathered around him wherever he has preached in our colony! And if of these some have come to listen merely from curiosity, certain are we that short as has been his sojourn among us, around his name hallowed associations have already twined themselves, which will cause hundreds to mourn his departure as that of a friend or personal benefactor. Happy would many be to hear that our beautiful land was henceforth to be the home of the father as well as of his sons. But should that joy not be oors, when he utters his vale, vale, thousands will approach the throne of Him who holds the winds and the waves in his fist' to implore that the everlasting arms' may be round about him while on the great deep, and that having been brought in safety to his desired haven, the health he came so far to seek may be granted in such full measure, that the fock now mourning his absence may have cause with us to bless the Lord his steps were ever guided to the sunny shores of Australasia."
It will be a cause of much sorrow to the homeward bound travellers to learn, that in their absence from England, the father of Mrs. Binney, and the Senior Deacon of the Weigh-House Church, the venerable Thomas Piper, departed this life in the seventy-ninth year of his age.
In the letters lately received from Mr. Binney, he speaks of his health and spirits as greatly improved, and he has applied to his people at the Weigh-House for a further six months extension of his leave of absence. It will be the universal hope, that at the end of that period he may return and be welcomed back thoroughly re-invigorated by his foreign travel. 760
Recently Published, A Volume of Sermons selected from the Penny Pulpit, by the Rev. T. Binney.
bound in cloth, 48., also, THE PREACHER IN PRINT. Vol. II. Eleven Sermons by the Rev. T. Binney. With a short account of the Weigh-House Chapel. 18mo, cloth, 2s. 6d.
FOURTEEN LECTURES ON THE BOOK OF PROVERBS, by the Rev. T. Binney. Cloth Is. 6d.
MAIDENS AND MOTHERS, or the Christian Spinster and the Hebrew Wife. A Book for Young Women. Cloth, 8d.
FORMATION OF CÉARACTER. Book for Young Men, selected from some Sermons, by the Rev. T. Binney. Cloth ls. 6d.
THE SHEPHERD. KING. An Exposition of the Twenty-Third Psalm. A
REST AND WAIT.
AT ST. MARGARET'S CHURCH, LOTHBURY.
“ Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”—Psalm xxxvii. 7. Solomon, advanced to the highest point of worldly prosperity, and Job, reduced to the lowest extreme of outward reverse and sorrow, were both agreed upon one thing-namely, the proper estimate of life, considered as the end of man's happiness. And regarded in this view, their united judgment is that life is a very disappointing thing; a very unsatisfying thing-in its best estate and with its largest appliances always leaving a man with something else to wish for ; with a conviction that beyond it, and apart from it, and independently of it, there must be a nobler field for his aspirations, and for his disquietudes a more abiding rest. The language is as much Job's as Solomon's—“the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing, for the thing that hath been is that which shall be.” And the conclusion is as much Solomon's as Job's—“ I would not live always ; I would not, if I might, be for ever and for ever rolling life's stone up the bill, just that on reaching the top, it might roll down again.” What can one year be but the repetition of another year which has gone before-full of mistakes as that, full of disquietudes as that, full of false dependences as that? The true rest not found, all other reliances for happiness are treacherous, shifting, mocking torments. It is as a thirsty man dreaming of water, and awakening to find it is a desert. Solomon, more than any other man, put life's material capabilities to the test. He multiplied springs of worldly happiness without number, but one after another he saw them all run dry; he found himself as empty and ill-furnished as Job was when the day of trial came. Thus there is but one relief for all men, whether for the full or for the hungry, for them that abound or them that suffer need—“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”
There is nothing of marked purpose or connection in this passage requiring explanation. The circumstances were of frequent occurrence in David's life when he might have penned such a Psalm. He had leaned on human succours often enough, and fled to second hand reliefs often enough, but never with other than one result, namely, to make him “cease from man," to cease from himself, to convince him that if there were relief anywhere, it must be found by looking out and looking up. He must rest and wait ; rest in what God is, wait for what God will do. There is a time for working, and a time for looking on while God works. When the extremity is come and we can do nothing, we are the better able to admire and wonder at what God does. It is when we are hemmed in between Pharaoh's chariots and the sea that the command comes—“Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” “ Rest in the Lord, and wait.”
Let us proceed to consider the state of mind here supposed, the persons subject to it, and the reliefs recommended.
And first, with regard to the state of mind assumed to need such an exhortation as this. This is sufficiently indicated by the relief prescribed. It is a state of unrest, of a mind ill at ease ; a distracted heart going first to this source for relief and theu to that, but never satisfied. The condition is well described by the prophet Haggai ; and the man eats, but he has not enough ; he drinks, but he is not filled with drink ; he clothes himself, but he is not warmed ; and though he earneth wages, he earneth them but to put them into a bag with holes. The idea suggested by all this is that of a man in difficulties, or need, trusting to inadequate consolations, building his house on ground too loose to bear it, leaning on a reed that gives way and runs up into his hand; and then disappointed of his hope, not knowing which way to turn or look. And the text is to remind him, that under such cir. cumstances there is but one way and one strength; that other ways besides that one are but a going about, and other strengths beside that one but a comparison of weaknesses. The fabled receding of the stream from the parched lips that would slake at it, flowing to excite hope one moment, and ebbing to mock with despair the next, is only scripture truth in the guise of Pagan myth; it is only another way of describing that ever mocking and disappointing toil which spends money for that which is not bread and labour for that which satisfieth not, and the more spending the less bread, the more toil the less profit. “Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity ?"
But let us pass on to consider some classes of persons who are thus laboriously miserable-doing and undoing; like children building up paper houses which are to fall down under their hands ; or like something worse than children, ever “walking about in dry places, seeking rest and finding none."
And first, there are the men that have their portion in this present world, not knowing, and, perhaps, not very much caring to know, whether they