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was strengthened in his purpose by the prospect of more extensive opportunities to benefit his fellow creatures. His first sermon, as a protestant minister, naturally attracted an overflowing congregation; and if among them there were evil spirits who hoped for the growth of irreligion from the discords of the Christian community, they were disappointed in the selection of a subject entirely un. connected with controversy ; nor was this forbearance the effect of only an occasional liberality; it regulated the intercourse of his private life, and contributed to the unoffending boldness of his public exertions. The powerful effect of these exertions is thus described in
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"For some time after his conformity he preached every Sunday in St. Peter's Church, and the collections for the poor ou every occasion rose four or five-fold above their usual amount.' Before the expiration of his first year, he was wholly reserved for the distinguished and difficult task of preaching charity sermons; and on the 5th of November, 1788, the governors of the general daily schools of several parishes eotered into a resolution-" That from the effects which the discourses of the Rev. Walter Blake Kirwan from the pulpit have had, his officiating io the metropolis was considered a peculiar national advantage, and tint vestries should be called to consider the most effectual method to secule to the city an instrument, under Providence, of so much public benefit. p. 8.
“ His aniour was not abated by promotion, por his meekness corrupted by admirmion; though whenever he preached, such multitudes assembled that it was necessary to defend the entrance of the church by guards and palisadoes He was presented with addresses and pieces of plate from every parish, and the freedom of various corporations; his portrait was painted and engraved by the most eminent artists; and (what was infinitely more graeful to his feelings) the collections at his sermons far exceeded any that wer were known in a country distinguished for unmeasured benevolence. Even in times of public calamity and distress, bis irresistible powers of persuasion repeatedly produced contributions exceeding a thousand or twelve hundred pounds at a sermon ; and his hearers, pot content with emptying their purses into the plate, sometimes threw in jewels or watches, as earnest of further benefactions."-p. 9.
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To this testimony we may add the panegyric of Mr. Grattan in the Irish parliament, on the 19th of June, 1792.
“ And what has the church to expect? What is the case of Dr. Kirwan? This man preferred our country and our religion, and brought to both genius superior to what he found in either. He called forth the latent virtues of the human heart, and taught men to discover in themselves a mine of charity, of which the proprietors had been unconscious. In feeding the lamp of charity, he has almost exhausted the lamp of life. He came to interrupt the repose of the pulpit, and
shakes one world with the thunder of the other. The preacher's desk becomes the throne of light. Round him a train, not such as crouch and swagger at the levee of prioces; not such as attend the procession of the viceroy, horse, foot, and dragoons; but that wherewith a great genius peoples his own state-charity in ecstacy, and vice in humiliation; vanity, arrogance, and saucy, empty pride, appalled by the rebuke of the preacher, and cheated for a moment of their native improbity and insolence. What reward ? St. Nicholas Within, or St. Ni. cholas Without ! The curse of Swift is upon him : to have been born an Irishman and a man of genius, and to have used it for the good of his country.”-p. 13.
To the countrymen of Dr. Kirwan, who are in the habit of adopting, as their own, opinions which circulate under the sanction of their great authorities, and more particularly to those who have formed a part of his audience, we are apprehensive that we shall offer no very acceptable criticism. For the man, for his enlarged liberality of mind, for his zealous and unwearied benevolence, we join in the general admiration, and acknowledge his superior claim to the gratitude of his country: but these predilections it is our present duty to dismiss, and, considering him as an author, to examine how far he is fairly to be recommended to imitation.
The volume consists of thirteen discourses, all on charitable subjects, and the greater nuinber on the same occasion; they do not at all constitute a series, but are the effusions of the moment, desultory, and to appearance unpremeditated, although, in parts, discovering traces of laboured composition--the language strong,
but unpolished, is made up of words that present images to the eye, rather than ideas to the mind, and adapted more to affect than to inform : the sentiments, of high and exalted morality, are drest in figurative allusions, sometimes beautiful and appropriate, but too frequently carried beyond the limits of grace and elegance. Altogether they are compositions which present a blaze of brilliant but ill-assorted colouring, with no regard to the disposition of light and shade, no attention to the inferior niceties of art, which are as indispensable as genius. In justification of these remarks, we will present to our readers a slight outline of the first sermon.
_ Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.” i Cor. X. 24. The principle of happiness is supposed to be the motive of all our actions ; and after a laboured display of its universal influ. ence, it settles into this conclusion_“In a word, from the people that inhabit the most civilized cities to the savage that prowls in the bosom of the wilderness; from the throne of the monarch to the hut of the most abject peasant, the world is in labour to bring forth true peace and tranquillity of soul.” p. 1. We then pass on rather abruptly to the wisdom of the Gospel, which is illustrated by the character of a true Christian, whose conduct is regulated by his views of eternity.
“No interest can possess or transport his heart, but those to which ' he is invited from above. No, not a desire in his breast, not a movement in his life; no evil io his apprehension, or happiness in his conception, that refers not to eternity; he is all immensity of views and projects : and hence that true nobility of spirit, that calm, majestic indifference, which looks down on the visionary enterprises of man, sees them, unstable and fleeting as the waves of a torrent, pressed and precipitated by those that pursue, and scarce tell you where they are, when you
behold them no more: bevce likewise that equality of soul, wiiich is troubled at po reverse or vicissitude of life, which knows pot those tormenting successions, those rapid alternatious of pleasure and pain, so frequent in the breast of worldlings: to be elevated by the slightest success, depressed by the slightest reverse, intoxicated at a puff of praise, inconsolable at the least appearance of contempt, reanimated at a gleam of respect, tortured by an air of coldness and indifference."--p. 4.
From thence we are conducted by an observation, “ that selflove is the most active principle of the human soul, and that neither reason nor religion discourage a reasonable attention to our temporal interests,” to the consideration of self-love degenerating into selfishness, and the consequent passion of avarice, exemplified in the niser.
“ The maxim of the Roman satirist will be his rule of life, money at any rate. If the plain and beaten paths of the world, diligeuce and frugality, will conduct him to that end, it is well: but if not, rather than fail of his object, I will be bold to say, he will plunge without scruple or remorse into the most serpentine labyrinths of fraud and iviquity. Whilst his schemes are unaccomplished, fretfulness and discontent will lower upon his brow; when favourable, and even most prosperous, his unslaked and unsatisfied soul still thirsts for more.”—p. 7.
We give the conclusion of this character, as it altogether affords no unfavourable specimen of our author's most striking manner.
“Who will say that he is at any time vulnerable by reproach, or, I had almost added, even convertible by grace! No, through every stage and revolution of life he remains invariably the same; or if any difference, it is only this, that as he advances into the shade of a long evening, he clings closer and closer to the object of his idolatry; and while every other passion lies dead and blasted in his heart, his desire for more pelf increases with renewed eagerness, and he holds by a sink. ing world with au agonizing grasp, till he drops into the earth with the increased curses of wretchedness on his head, without the tribute of a tear from child or parent, or any inscription on his memory, but that he lived to counteract the distributive justice of Providence, and died without hope or title to a blessed immortality.”—p. 8.
Selfishness is then traced to its origin, in splendid luxury, which
begets an attachment to money as the means of gratifying that passion :” at this point, the eighteenth of thirty pages, we return to the text; and the application to the charity in question makes up the remainder of the sermon, in a desultory, but certainly eloquent peroration. Prejudiced, as perhaps we may be, in favour of the philosophical reasoning, and the quiet, though not unornamented language of the divines of the last century, we have occasionally fancied ourselves amidst the sparkling morality of a modern novel, where, at the touch of a magician's wand, the fairy land of fable vanishes, and pages grow upon pages of digressive ethics. The author, we are told, “cautiously abstained from polishing too highly to blend with such extemporaneous effusions as occasional circumstances suggested;" this may account for many of the defects which it remains for us to notice. An idea, captivating by its brilliancy, is hastily adopted; and to render it attractive to the audience, meretricious and overloaded ornament usurps the place of that simplicity which is the best recommendation of pure sentiment. From the dread of too feeble an impression, the figures which illustrate are repeated to satiety, or thrown into such inextricable confusion, as to perplex the mind, and interrupt the pursuit of the attention. But if this exuberance is frequently lost in obscurity, it sometimes transgresses the modesty of the pulpit, and, hurried away by invective against manners and fashions, descends into satire and irreverent sarcasm. Allusions to the Augean stable, and to Achilles ; to the history of George Barnwell, and the Rambler, we cannot approve; the following terms of colloquial vulgarity are surely beneath the dignity of the occasion: “Money, any how ! money." “ The God help you of a gaping world;” nor is it exactly the opportunity to introduce expressions patched up from Shakspeare. The comparison of Christianity to a Colossus is derogatory, and not in the least atoned for by the inflated phraseology that follows : “ Christianity, that mighty Colossus which still rears its head amidst the ruins of empires, the revolutions of ages, and the torrent of human passions !” We shall conclude this catalogue of minor faults with an instance of turgid and puerile declamation.
“Great God! what havock does ambition make among thy works ! I see it sitting at this moment, in ghastly triumph, on a throne still wet with the blood of its rightful possessor! I see it dragging hoary and trembling religion from a distant region, and forcing it to the guilt and baseness of consecrating this foul usurpation ! I see, of surrounding pations, some chained to its footstool, and ground to the very dust in its pillage and rapacity; some compelled to wield their energies in support of its crimes; some still permitted to breathe by its insulting forbearance; and in the midst of all this I hear it mocking the understanding and feeling of mankind, by the specious accents of peace and philanthropy."
It was our intention to point out these errors to our readers, by the contrast of passages in our older and purer writers; but recalled by our author's admonitory horror of all the musty folios the groaning shelves of polemic divinity ever bore, we are unwilling to pursue him in death, with a discipline at which he so much revolted in life. It is, however, our opinion, that if he had condescended to the study of such models, his claim to notice as a writer would have rested on a more durable foundation; though, as a preacher, he might possibly have forfeited some of his attractions for an audience who so much delight in the extravagance of eloquence. We know that by prescribing the mould in which the thought is to be cast, and the rule which is to measure the expression, we shall be accused of endeavouring to reinstate art on the throne of originality. But originality implies, not the pas sion for irregularity which ransacks creation in search of new modes, and is reduced for the effect it produces to fantastic eccentricity, but that force of genius which bends to its purpose the most stubborn materials, clothes in form and propriety appear. ances almost beyond the confines of nature, and produces a uniforunity and an elegance surpassing even the conception of inferior capacity. We will illustrate our meaning by a reference to Bishop Horsley. : In his exposition of the forty-fifth Psalm, he has ranged through every variety of conjectural criticism. With truth for the basis of his general argument, he has laboured to give to every part a coöperating tendency; from a presumption he infers certainty, from a shadow of allusion he extorts probability, and builds his most refined speculation upon the slender variations of verbal meaning. Yet to the flights of an imagination so excursive, be our conviction what it may, we readily concede the praise of combining for our instruction the most seeming incongruities, without disgust to our taste, without offence to our judgment. We cannot be suspected (for this would be unjust) of wishing to draw an unqualified comparison between writers of such different attainments : our sole object has been to convince the admirers of Dean Kirwan (amongst whom we ourselves are not the least) how differently he would have appeared before the public with the same talents under the regulation of sober reason. We particularly hold out this consideration to such as, being gifted with a ready flow of language and idea, rely upon these specious endowments. If their ambition, too impatient to wait for the slow maturity of expanding faculties, glows with renovated ardour at contemplating the career of Dr. Kirwan, if with loftier projects and livelier hopes they are eager for the same course, let them pause in this foretaste of their glory, and acknowledge, from his example, that the impetuosity which overbears the hearer is not irresistible in the perusal, and that ultimate success must ever depend upon actual desert.