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of systematic divinity; men who will carry to the pulpit, the common speech of every day life, refined and elevated, and utter the divine message, not as a thing to be anatomised, but to be lived by. We often hear good men praying that their minister would preach as dying unto dying men. We wish, that while that is remembered, they would more often preach as living men unto living men. We are not pleading for a secularizing of pulpit teaching, nor for a vulgarizing of the mode of address; but we do think it of no small importance, that both matter and mode should be less moulded in the forms of two centuries ago.
It is a fact that deserves notice, that the men who have been most useful preachers, who are wielding the greatest influence on the present generation, and have especially laid hold of the young men of the day, are those who, differing widely in every thing else, have agreed in this, to let the old traditional stereotypes of firstly, secondly, thirdly, and the still more wearisome stereotypes of thought, of which these forms were but the outward sign, go to the wall,—and have spoken as men who believed that christianity should be carried into all the corners of daily life, and believing that, were not afraid to reverse the process, and bring all the incidents of daily life to the pulpit. We find in this volume the following sketch of Mr. Guthrie, a minister of the Free Church.
He never almost treats his hearers to weary syllogisms, to dry argumentative expositions of particular doctrines, over which your eyes get dull, and your faculties numb. These he disposes of, when they come in his way, very shortly, as important, but as secondary matters. His preaching resembles more a conversation addressed to each individual hearer than a sermon : each feels as if the pastor were speaking to him alone. Were we to describe it in other words, we might make use of a Scottish phrase, and say it has a strong resemblance to a homely crack.' -p. 344.
This description will remind many of a minister in this metropolis, one of the finest illustrations we know of the possibility of adopting such a tone of preaching, as shall neither freeze into cold abstraction, nor evaporate into mere sound and fury; a gentleman whose sermons may be taken as showing that familiar preaching need not be either poor in thought or bald in language, but may glow with heart and be instinct with intellect. No one who has been in the Weigh Ilouse Chapel, and looked at its minister, and the manly intelligent heads he has in his pews, will doubt what is the kind of preaching that the present day requires.
Now we find little of this in these published sermons of the Scotch ministry. The 'genius loci' has been too strong for them. They naturally yield to the current, and supply their hearers with sound truth undoubtedly, with most unexceptionable divinity, full measure, pressed down, and running over; but does it live? We wish to be understood as speaking generally. There are brilliant exceptions, but these are not the rule.
We believe that many of these gentlemen follow the course they have adopted systematically, from an estimate of the intention of preaching, which we cannot but think a mistaken one. We have no space to enter into the discussion here, but we should gladly know that some abler pen had undertaken to settle, “What is the true idea of the aim of pulpit addresses ?' We think we can see what it is not. It is not surely the case, as Mr. Martineau maintains, that preaching is essentially a lyric expression of the soul; but that is nearer the truth than the popular notion, that the aim of preaching should be didactic. This is a very common notion. It is the one most usually acted on, whether consciously or unconsciously, both by preachers in their preparations, and by hearers in their criticisms. Even if it had been true once, the peculiar features of the present day should modify that. It was natural that, when the pulpit was the only means of intellectual impression, its occupant should have been a popular lecturer, and a teacher, and a politician, and an instructor in theology. But now-a-days, every one of these functions is better discharged by the press. What then is left for the pulpit to do? We would that its occupants would weigh the question, and come to some definite conclusion, as to what should be the answer. There is a large part of it in Göethe's saying, 'Give them not loaves of bread, but seed-corn.'
We believe that, until this question be answered by each minister for himself, we shall continue to hear the complaints that have been so common lately. These Jeremiads have, however, we think, been too universally prevalent. There is no doubt that the pulpit does not possess the influence it might be expected to have. We quite admit that; but when we are told that it does not even possess what it once had, we altogether dissent. What period shall we find where it had more weight? Shall we choose the Catholic times, when there were no sermons but on holy days ? Shall we choose the Reformation period? It had influence then; but that was owing to extraneous causes. A pulpit whose occupant could compel attention, by arguments drawn from Smithfield and Tower Hill, was not likely to stand without hearers about it. Shall we take Charles's time? Were there not at work, then, causes, political and such like, which gave it factitious importance ? and do
we not fall into the error of fancying that, because we have left on record the influence which one or two giant minds had, all the ministers were Howes, and all the congregations like those that listened to him. Shall we take the age of the Restoration—that blessed time? Was the reign of James marked by a general influence exercised by the pulpit of England on the people? Did the last century-frigid at the beginning, furious at the close, irreligious throughout — bear any deep traces of pulpit influence? We think that there is little sign of the former times having been better than now, and would not, therefore, speak of deterioration. We rather would indulge the hope, that all the noise recently made about failure and languor, will end in each man who stands in the position of a preacher of the gospel examining whether he has had the right idea of the extent of his work, of the nature of his instruments, of the character of his materials. If there be errors in these points, or a want of adaptation of the one to the other, what can we expect but inefficiency?
We look on such volumes as the present, as very useful auxiliaries to urging the importance of such inquiries on ministers. There can be no doubt, that its comparative immunity from critical notice has injured the pulpit. Sacred subjects have been thought to shelter the man who touched them from all criticism, excepting the irrational likes and dislikes of hearers, who proportioned their praise to the length and the orthodoxy of the discourse. Thus, secure from all remark but that of friends, or of enemies, who could only say, 'I did not think much of that,' a carelessness has been engendered, which has grown still more common from the notion, that to preach without study was a mark of genius, or a token of spiritualmindedness.
We are glad to see any signs of breaking up this notion, by the application of criticism to the pulpit. The process, no doubt, has been painful to some of the gentlemen who hastily strung together a few crudities, with the notion, “That will do,' little dreaming, that in this hastily tacked together dis. habille, they were to appear in 'Our Scottish Clergy. But we hope that their mortification may lead to contrite forsaking of the fatal notion, that preaching is a thing independent of study. It is high time that this idea should cease to be operative on ministers, that baldness and insipidity should be deferentially received, because they are uttered on a Sabbath day, in a place of worship. We have mind in the pews; we must have mind from the pulpit. We have men of active life in the pews; give us no sluggard in the pulpit. We have men in the pews with hearts, who have a daily struggle ; let the man in the pulpit show them that he, too, has struggled, and has lived.
ART. V.-What has Religion to do with Politics? The Question con
sidered in Letters to his Son. By David R. Morier, Esq., late Her
Majesty's Plenipotentiary in Switzerland. London: John Parker. In our September number we showed, in reviewing Mr. Mill's treatise, why political economy cannot help society; and we now propose briefly to examine the claims of religion and government to accomplish the same object. Discarding all theories, we set out from the admitted fact, that vast masses of poverty and suffering exist in society, which, it is the general, the almost universal opinion, ought not to exist, and ought to be, and can be lessened or removed. To that end, and no other, do men propose political reforms, or dare to commence revolutions. The conviction deeply felt, whether right or wrong, that social misery can be, and ought to be diminished, if not wholly got rid of, by proper regulations on the part of government, is a goad to almost innumerable exertions, in the good and the wise, and the parent of even more schemes than exertions in the imaginative, to effect social improvement. We need scarcely remind our readers of the efforts made of late by the opulent classes, to promote education, to improve the public health, to provide better dwellings, baths and washhouses, for the poor; por of the larger schemes of national education and of comprehensive emigration, that are continually forced on public attention ; nor of the manner in which our literature, vividly reflecting public feelings and public wants, has become suffused with an eloquent advocacy of the interests of the masses. Both moral and pecuniary motives, both aspirations after good for its own sake, and an aversion to the cost of increasing poverty and increasing crime, testify to the enormity of the evils of society, and the general desire to remedy them by new contrivances. In other countries, the demand for social improvement, practically but mistakingly carried into effect, has given rise to violent revolutions, has paralyzed credit, suspended the enterprise, and deranged the industry which feed and sustain society. Our own country has, as yet, escaped with fierce threats and unripe attempts, but is not at ease, nor confident of safety. The point, therefore, to which we propose to confine ourselves,-taking no notice of the influence which religion exercises on the hearts and understandings of individuals, and which may ultimately lead to the establishment of perfect social institutions, is 'what are the direct maxims or instructions religion supplies for the guidance of society in its corporate capacity?'
We want to bring distinctly under consideration the important question, how far, using Mr. Morier's language, the Chris. tian law suggests or indicates positive laws of human institution,' and not rules of private conduct, that are capable of promoting the common good. Blackstone, as well as Mr. Morier, tells us, that "human laws derive all their force and authority from the law of nature,' of which revealed religion is a part ;' but he also assures us, that it is still necessary' in each case of the application of the law of nature to have recourse to reason,' in order to ascertain what institutions or laws nature prescribes. Nothing, in truth, seems further from the object of revelation, than to prescribe political institutions. It is adapted to human nature in all ages and countries; and that adaptation would have been lost, had it been in any way limited to, or connected with, the forms of government, the relations of property, or any of the positive human institutions that regulate any one society. At present, all the communities of Europe are involved in confusion, civilization seems breaking up into anarchy, mankind is threatened with a chaos; there is everywhere a loud and piercing cry for help ; men want happiness or salvation on earth; they are conjured, by all the paid priesthoods of the world, and by all statesmen who endow churches, to rely mainly on them and their teaching, and we want men to inquire what hope have they of finding aid in their doctrines and precepts ?
Taking no notice, therefore, of its influence over the conduct of individuals in private life, believing with Montesquieu, as quoted by Mr. Morier, that, “La réligion Chretienne qui ne semble avoir d'objet que la félicité de l'autre vie fait encore notre bonheur dans celle-ci,' is perfectly true, we must at the same time assert, that the utmost happiness of individuals, and the utmost purity of heart in them, leave them ignorant of the means by which the sovereign power of a state, whether a single despot or a democracy, cap promote the welfare of the community. Revelation teaches individuals how they may be good and happy, but there has been no revelation of the means by which politicians can frame constitutions and beneficially govern society. Mr. Morier justly and properly asks :
· Where is the guide able to lead us through the mighty maze ? Does human wisdom pretend to furnish the clue to unravel all its intricacies ? Consult the oracles of her high priests, the pagan sophist, or the modern sceptic. The self-styled systems of both are equally contradictory and incoherent, like the productions of a sickly fancy• Cujus velut ægri somnia, vanæ fingentur species. Again, he says, • The affairs of the world seem arrived at that pass, in which, as was observed of the Roman Commonwealth, mankind can no longer bear