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the humble office of distribution, going round amidst the multitude, and giving to all as ach may need, believing that he who provided it will see that there be enough and 10 spare, instead of desiring to stand in the place of the Master, and improve by our wisdom me simple elements, " the five barley loaves” which he alone can make sufficient "among
many." but apart from the duty of preaching upon and out of the Scriptures, instead of merely taking a rerse as the starting-place of our irain of remark; apart from the obligation of so expuuading the word of God, ihat the sermon shall take its shape and character from the jext; and ihe doctrine and the duty shall be taught and urged according to the relative bearings and proportions in which they are presented therein; this tertual plan of construciing discourses is the only one by which a preacher can secure a due variety in his niaisirs, except he go outside the limits of always preaching Christ crucified, and deal with other matters than such as bear an important relation to the person, office, and beneots of the Lord our Righteousness.” He who preaches upon subjects in divinity, instead of passages of Scripture, fitting a text to his theme, instead of extracting his theme from his text, will soon find that, in the ordinary frequency of parochial ministrations, he has gone the round, and traced all the great highways of his field, and what to do next, withvut repeating his course, or changing his whole mode of proceeding, he will be at a great loss to discover. Distinct objects in the preacher's message, like the letters in his alphahci, are few-few when it is considered that his life is to be occupied in exhibiting them. But their combinations, like those of the letters of the alphabet, are innumerable. Few are the distinct classes of objects which make up the beautiful landscapes under the light aad shadows of a summer's day. The naturalist, who describes by genera and species, may soon enumerate them. But boundless is the variety of aspects in which they appear under all their diversities of shape, color, relation, magnitude, as the observer changes place, and sun and cloud change the light. The painter must paint for ever to exhibit all. So as to the great truths to which the preacher must give himself for life. Their variety of combinations, as exhibited in the Bible, is endless. He who treats them with strict reference to all the diversities of shape, proportion, incident, relation, circumstance, under which the pen of inspiration has left them, changing his point of observation with the changing positions and wants of his hearers, allowing the lights and shadows of Providence to lend ibeir rigbtful influence in varying the aspect and applications of the truth-such a preacher, if bis heart be fully in his work, can never lack variety, so far as it is proper for one who is to "know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He will constantly feel as if he had only begun the work given him to do—furnished only a few specimens out of a rich and inexhaustible cabinet of gems. By strictly adhering to this plan, the author of these discourses attains unusual variety in his ministry, considering that he makes it so prominently his business to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Bui here it may be well to say that by variety, as desirable to a certain extent, in the preacher's work, we mean nothing like originality. Some minds cannot help a certain Ideasure of originality. They may treat of old themes, and with ideas essentially the same as any one else would employ, but with peculiarities of thought which set them far apart from all other minds. But to seek originality, while it is very commonly the mistake of young preachers, is a very serious error. There cannot be any thing new in the preacher's message. He that seeks novelties will be sure to preach fancies. "The real dificulty and the real triumph of preaching is to enforce home upon the mind and conscience, trile, simple, but all-important truths; to urge old topics in common language, end to send the hearer back to his house awakened, humbled, and impressed; not so much astonished by the blaze of oratory, but thinking far more of the argument than of the preacher; sensible of his own sins, and anxious to grasp the proffered means of salvation. To say the same things which the best and most pious ministers of Christ's church have said from the beginning; to tread in their path, to follow their footsteps, and yet not serriiely to copy, or verbally 10 repeat them ; to take the same groundwork, and yet add to it an eolarged and diversified range of illustrations, brought up as it were to the age, and Japied to time and circumstance; this is, we think, the true originality of the pulpit. To be on the watch to strike out some novel method of display,—to dash into the fanciful, because it is an arduous task to arrest the same eager notice by the familiar-this is not Griginality, but mannerism or singularity. And although few can be original, nothing is more easy than to be singular."
The discourses contained in this volume are all that Melvill has published; unless there be one, or two, in pamphlet form, of which the Editor has not heard. We say all that Velvill has published. Many others have been published surreptiliously, which he never prepared for the press, and which ought not to be read as specimens of his preaching. In the English periodical, called " The Pulpit,” there are many such sermons, under the name of Melvill. In justice to that distinguished preacher, and to all others whose names are similarly used, it should be known that the contents of that work are mere stenographic reports, by hired agents of the press, who go to church that they may get an article for the next number of The Pulpit. While the rest of the congregation are hearing the sermon for spiritual, they are hearing it for pecuniary profit. We see no difference between a week-day press, furnished thus by Sunday wriiers, and a Sunday-press furnished by week-day writers. "The Pulpit” is in this way as much a desecrater of the Sabbath as the "Sunday Morning Post," or "Herald.” But this is not the point at present. We are looking at the exceeding injustice done to the preacher whose sermons are reported. It may be that he is delivering a very familiar, perhaps an unwritten discourse ; special circumstances have prevented his devoting the usual time or mind to the preparation, or have interfered with his getting up the usual energy of thought for the work. He does not dream of the public press. The sermon may be useful for his people, but just the one which he would dislike to send out before the world. Nevertheless, the reporter
for The Pulpit has happened to choose his church, that morning, " for better, for worse," and he cannot lose his time. The tale of bricks must be rendered to the taskmaster. The press waits for its article, and the stenographer wants his wages, and favorable or unfavorable, the report must be printed. Like all such productions, it is of course often careless and inaccurate; sometimes provokingly and very injuriously inaccurate. The attention of the scribe happened to be diverted at a place of main importance; he lost the explanatory remark, the qualifying words, the connecting link-his report is thus untrue: either he leaves the hiatus, occasioned by bis negligence, unsupplied, or, what is often the case, daubs it up with his own mortar, puts many sentences into the preacher's mouth of his own taste and divinity--thus is the precious specimen composed, and that week is advertised, to the great mortification of the alleged author, an original sermon in the last number of the Pulpit, by the Rev. Henry Melvill, fc. Such is the history of almost every sermon which has as yet been read in this country as belonging to that author; The Pulpit, or extracts from it having circulated widely, while the real sermons of Melvill, having been, prior to this, confined to volumes of English edition, are scarcely known among us. No one can help seeing how injurious such surreptitious publications must be to the preacher; what a nuisance to the body whom they profess to represent. So is the magazine of which we have been speaking, regarded in England. Not unfrequently ministers have been obliged to print their discourses for the purpose of correcting the errors of its reporters. More than once its Editor has been prosecuted for the purpose (though in vain) of stopping this exceedingly objectionable mode of sustaining " The Pulpit."
The editor of this volume has thought it expedient to make these remarks by way of explanation of his having excluded all the discourses ascribed to Melvill contained in The Pulpit. If there be any discourses under the same name, in the other periodical of the same character, called the British Preacher, they are subject to the same condemnation.
It is no little evidence of the value of these sermons, in this volume, which were preached before the University of Cambridge, that their publication was in consequence of a request" from the resident Bachelors and Under-graduates, headed by the most distinguished names, and numerously signed.” A strong attestation has also been given not only to the University sermons, but to those preached in the author's Chapel, in Camberwell, in the fact that, flooded as is the market with the immense variety of pulpit composition, which the London press continually pours in, so that a bookseller can scarcely be persuaded to publish a volume of sermons at his own risk, and such a volume seldoni reaches beyond a single edition, these of Melvill have, in a short time, attained their third, and do noi cease to attract much attention. The British Critic, though criticising with some justice and more severity some peculiarities of our author, speaks of the Cambridge sermons as possessing many specimens of great power of thought, and extraordinary felicity and brilliancy of diction." "Heartily does the Reviewer" admire the breathing words, the bold figures, the picturesque images, the forcible reasonings, the rapid, vivid, fervid perorations."
In conclusion of this Preface, the Editor adds the earnest hope that the author of these discourses may receive wages, as well in this country as his own—wages such as best pay the devoted minister of Christ; that he may reap where he did not think of sowing, and gather where he did not expect to strew, to the praise of the glory of our blessed Lord, and only Savior, Jesus Christ.
C. P. M. Gambier, Obio, July 1, 1838.
THE FIRST PROPHECY.
*Al I will pat eomity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it
shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”—Genesis, 3 : 15.
Such is the first prophecy which oc- suffered not alone: every living thing curs in Scripture. Adam and Eve had had share in the consequences of distransgressed the simple command of obedience. And although the effect of their Maker; they had hearkened to the man's apostacy on the serpent may have suggestions of the tempter, and eaten of been more signal and marked than on the forbidden fruit. Summoned into the other creatures, we have no right to presence of God, each of the three par. conclude that there was entailed so ties is successively addressed; but the much greater suffering on this reptile serpent, as having originated evil, re- as to distinguish it in misery from the ceives first his sentence.
rest of the animal creation. We have, of course, no power of as- But undoubtedly it was the devil, certaining the external change which more emphatically than the serpent, that the curse brought upon the serpent. God cursed for the seduction of man. The terms, however, of the sentence, The words, indeed, of our text have a "upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust primary application to the serpent. It shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,” is most strictly true, that, ever since the Gen. 3 : 14, seem to imply that the ser- fall, there has been enmity between man pent had not been created a reptile, but and the serpent. Every man will inbecame classed with creeping things, as stinctively recoil at the sight of a sera consequence of the curse. It is proba- pent. We have a natural and unconquerble that heretofore the serpent had been able aversion from this tribe of living remarkable for beauty and splendor, and things, which we feel not in respect to that on this account the tempter chose it others, even fiercer and more noxious. as the vehicle of his approaches. Eve, in Men, if they find a serpent, will always all likelihood, was attracted towards the strive to destroy it, bruising the head in creature by its loveliness: and when she which the poison lies; whilst the serpent found it endowed, like herself, with the will often avenge itself, wounding its aspower of speech, she possibly concluded sailant, if not mortally, yet so as to make that it had itself eaten of the fruit, and ac- it true that it bruises his heel. quired thereby a gift which she thought But whilst the words have thus, unconfined to herself and her husband. doubtedly, a fulfilment in respect of the
But we may be sure, that, although, serpent, we cannot question that their to mark his hatred of sin, God pro- reference is chiefly to the devil. It was nounced a curse on the serpent, it was the devil, and not the serpent, which against the devil, who had actuated the had beguiled the woman; and it is only serpent, that the curse was chiefly di- in a very limited sense that it could be secied. It may be said that the serpent said to the serpent, " Because thou hast itselt must have been innocent in the done this." We are indeed so unacmatter, and that the curse should have quainted with transactions in the world fallen on none but the tempter. But of spirits, that we cannot pretend to deyou are to remember that the serpent termine what, or whether any, immedi. ate change passed on the condition of thought that, with an undisputed ouSatan and his associates. If the curse premacy, he who had prevailed to their upon the serpent took effect upon the overthrow would ever after hold them devil
, it would seem probable, that, ever in vassalage. Must it not then have been since the fall, the power of Satan has cheering to them, whilst they stood as been specially limited to this earth and criminals before their God, expecting its inhabitants. We may gather from the sentence which disobedience had the denunciation, "Upon thy belly shalt provoked, to hear that their conqueror thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the should not enjoy unassaulted his condays of thy life,” that, in place of being quest, but that there were yet undeallowed, as he might before time have veloped arrangements which would inbeen, to range through the universe, sure to humanity final mastery over the machinating against the peace of many oppressor ? And though, when God orders of intelligence, he was confined turned and spake to themselves, he gave to the arena of humanity, and forced to no word of encouragement, but dwelt concentrate his energies on the destruc only on the toil and the death which tion of a solitary race. It would seem they had wrought into their portion, still altogether possible, that, after his eject- the prophecy to which they had listened ment from heaven, Satan had liberty to must have sunk into their hearts as traverse the vast area of creation; and a promise; and when, with lingering that far-off stars and planets were ac- steps, and the first tears ever wept, they cessible to his wanderings. It is to the departed from the glorious precincts of full as possible, that, as soon as man Eden, we may believe that one susapostatized, God confirmed in their al- tained the other by whispering the legiance other orders of beings, and words, though " thou shalt bruise his shielded them from the assaults of the heel, it shall bruise thy head.” evil one, by chaining him to the earth There can be no doubt that intimaon which he had just won a victory. tions of redemption were given to our And if, as the result of his having se- guilty parents, and that they were induced our first parents, Satan were thus structed by God to offer sacrifices which sentenced to confinement to this globe, should shadow out the method of atonewe may readily understand how words, ment. And though it does not of course addressed to the serpent, dooming it to follow that we are in possession of all trail itself along the ground, had distinct the notices mercifully afforded, it seems reference to the tempter by whom that fair to conclude, as well from the time serpent had been actuated.
of delivery as from the nature of the anBut, whatever be our opinion concern. nouncement, that our text was designed ing this part of the curse, there can be to convey comfort to the desponding; no doubt that our text must be explained and that it was received as a message of the devil, though, as we have shown breathing deliverance by those who ex you, it has a partial fulfilment in respect pected an utter condemnation. of the serpent. We must here consider We are not, however, much concerned God as speaking to the tempter, and with the degree in which the prophecy announcing war between Satan and was at first understood. It cannot justly man. We have called the words a be called an obscure prophecy: for it is prophecy; and, when considered as ad- quite clear on the fact, that, by some dressed to the devil, such is properly means or another, man should gain adtheir designation. But when we re- vantage over Satan. And though, if conmember that they were spoken in the sidered as referring to Christ, there be hearing of Adam and Eve, we must re- a mystery about it, which could only be gard them also in the light of a promise. cleared up by after events, yet, as a And it is well worth remark, ihat, be general prediction of victory, it must fore God told the woman of her sorrow have commended itself, we think, to the and her trouble, and before he told the understanding and the heart of those of man of the thorn, and the thistle, and our race by whom it was first heard. the dust to which he should return, he But whether or no the prophecy were caused them to hear words which must intelligible to Adam and Eve, unto ourhave inspired them with hope. Van selves it is a wonderful passage, spreadquished they were: and they might have ing itself over the whole of time, and
giving outlines of the history of this and both became evil through apostacy. world from the beginning to the final But evil, wheresoever it exists, will alconsummation. We caution you at once ways league against good ; so that fallen against an idea which many have enter- angels and fallen men were sure to join tained, that the prediction before us re- in a desperate companionship. Hence fers only, or even chiefly, to the Re- the declaration, that enmity should be deemer. We shall indeed find, as we put, must have been to Satan the first proceed, that Christ, who was specially notice of redemption. This lofty spirit the seed of the woman, specially bruised must have calculated, that, if he could the head of the serpent. But the pro- induce men, as he had induced angels, phecy is to be interpreted in a much to join in rebellion, he should have them larger sense. It is nothing less than a for allies in his every enterprise against delineation of an unwearied conflict, of heaven. There was nothing of enmity which this earth shall be the theatre, between himself and the spirits who had and which shall issue, though not with joined in the effort to dethrone the Omout partial disaster to man, in the com- nipotent. At least, whatever the feuds plete discomfiture of Satan and his asso- and jarrings which might disturb the ciates. And no man who is familiar with rebels, they were linked, as with an iron other predictions of Scripture, can fail band, in the one great object of opposing to find, in this brief and solitary verse, good. So that when he heard that there the announcement of those very strug- should be enmity between himself and gles and conquests which occupy the the woman, he must have felt that some gorgeous poetry of Isaiah, and crowd the apparatus would be brought to bear mystic canvass of Daniel and St. John. upon man; and that, though he had suc
We wish you, therefore, to dismiss, ceeded in depraving human nature, and if you have ever entertained, contracted thus assimilating it to his own, it should views of the meaning of our text. It be renewed by some mysterious process, must strike you, at the first glance, that and wrought up to the lost power of rethough Christ was in a peculiar sense sisting its conqueror. the seed of the woman, the phrase ap
And accordingly it has come to pass, plies to others as well as the Redeemer. that there is enmity on the earth beWe are therefore bound, by all fair laws tween man and Satan; but an enmity of interpretation, to consider that the supernaturally put, and not naturally prophecy must be fulfilled in more than entertained. Unless God pour his conone individual; especially as it declares verting grace into the soul, there will be that the woman, as well as her seed, no attempt to oppose Satan, but we shall should entertain the enmity, and thus continue to the end of our days his wil). marks out more than a single party as ing captives and servants. And thereengaging in the conflict.
fore it is God who puts the enmity. Now there are one or two prelimina. Introducing a new principle into the ry observations which require all your heart, he causes conflict where there attention, if you hope to enter into the had heretofore been peace, inclining and fall meaning of the prediction. enabling man to rise against his tyrant.
We wish you, first of all, to remark So that, in these first words of tho proparticularly the expression, "I will put phecy, you have the clearest intimalion enmity.” The enmity, you observe, that God designed to visit the depraved had no natural existence : God declares nature with a renovating energy. And his intention of putting enmity. As now, whensoever you see an individual soon as man transgressed, his nature be- delivered from the love, and endowed came evil, and therefore he was at peace, with a hatred of sin, resisting those pasand not at war with the devil." And sions which held naturally sway within thus, had there been no interference on his breast, and thus grappling with the the part of the Almighty, Satan and man fallen spirit which claims dominion upon would have formed alliance against hea- earth, you are surveying the workings ren, and, in place of a contest between of a principle which is wholly from themselves, have carried on nothing but above; and you are to consider that you battle with God. There is not, and can have before you the fulfilment of the not be, a native enmity between fallen declaration, "I will put enmity between angels and fallen men. Both are evil, thee and the woman."