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A wise man, in any situation into which he may be thrown, tries to compensate the inconveniences with the advantages, and to draw from it what peculiar materials of satisfaction it may happen to afford. In the present instance, the deepest and most secluded recesses of our mountains, are the best fitted for the researches I am recommending; and he who does not turn his mind to the subject when he finds himself placed in the midst of a magnificent museum, not only neglects an opportunity of rational recreation, but neglects the best thing, in some cases perhaps the only good thing, which his situation affords.
Natural history easily ascends from vegetable to animal life. No one who is a botanist, is a botanist alone. The turn of thought which directs a man to remark the structure of plants, will of course carry him to the economy of animals; and here, no doubt, is the widest space for observation, and for observation immediately tending to establish the most important truth which a human being can learn, the wisdom of God in the work of the creation. Instead of expatiating, however, upon the general utility of natural history, of which no person can think more highly than I do, it will be more to our present purpose to point out how applicable it is, and how properly it may be made to mix with those occupations into which we usually fall. We most of us become gardeners or farmers. It is not for me to censure these employments indiscriminately, but they may be carried on, the latter especially, to such an extent as to be exceedingly degrading; as so to engross our time, our thoughts, and our cares, as to extinguish almost entirely the clerical character. Now, what I am recommending, namely, the scientific cultivation of botany and natural history, that is, the collecting and reading at least the elementary books upon the subject, and afterwards forming for ourselves a course and habit of observation, and, which will greatly assist and improve us, a habit also of committing our observations to writing, is the precise thing which will dignify our employments in the field and the garden, and will give to both the appearance, and not only the appearance, but the real character, of an intellectual and contemplative, as well as of an active and manual employment. If a clergymnan will farm, he should not be a common farmer; if he will garden, he should not be a mere delver ; let him philosophize his occupation, let him mix science with work. If he draw from his farm or garden any improvement in the knowledge of nature, le draws from it the greatest, in many cases the only, profit he will receive.
Beside natural history, or rather together with it several branches of natural philosophy, especially those which consist in experiment and observation, are within the reach of a country clergyman's means and opportunities, and will contribute greatly to fill his time with satisfactory and useful engagement. Electrical experiments are of this kind. These I have seen executed in the greatest perfection in the back shop of a linen draper, with an apparatus which did not cost forty shillings.
The use of the microscope is also another endless source of novelty, and by consequence, of entertainment and instruction. More, and more beautiful, discoveries of this kind I have seen made by a private clergyman in Wales, who fabricated all his own apparatus, than by any other person whom I have known or heard of in these times. Those who display philosophical experiments to the public are wont to gratify the eyes of the spectators with the show of a costly apparatus; but a philosopher knows that almost the whole of this is embellishment ; tbat the real effects are produced, the real instruction is gained, with a few simple instruments in a closet, as completely as at a dressed up lecture.
Astronomy, at least so much of it, and that is a great deal, as requires only a telescope and a quadrant, is a proper, I had almost said the most proper, of all possible recreations to a clergyman. The heavens declare the glory of God to all; but to the astronomer they point it out by proofs and significations most powerful, convincing, and infinitely sublime. In common with all science, and more so, I think, than any one branch of it, the contemplation of the heavenly bodies tends to lift up the spirit of man above those entanglements of cares and difficulties with which we are all of us more than enough encumbered and weighed down. Chemistry, however, the popular part of it, may be pursued at very moderate expense, and with great advantage.
It is not my intention to run round the Encyclopædia in order to show the subjects of engagement, and the sources of information which almost every branch of natural philosophy may afford to an active, intelligent, and inquisitive mind, furnished with the leisure which our profession naturally supplies to us. I will rather content myself with briefly pointing out two articles, not so much of science, strictly so called, as of useful investigation, and suggested to our attention by the natural circumstances of the country in which we live; the admeasurement of the height of mountains, by the application of the barometer and thermometer, is very practicable in the operation, unexpensive in the apparatus; and in no part of the island
do more, or more curious, subjects for trial offer themselves than in ours. Meteorological observations, that is, observations upon the phenomena of the atmosphere, such as the quantity of rain which falls in a year, the course of the winds, the dependency of the rain upon the state of the barometer, or upon other appearances and prognostics, which in mountainous countries are always irregular, are very deserving of being known, and can only be known by a long continued and attentive course of observation. This is more particularly true in this very neighbourhood; in which great singularities of the kind I am speaking of are said to exist, of which neither the cause has been explained, nor even the appearances themselves sufficiently ascertained.
I will beg leave to conclude with two short reflections. First, that the various sources of intellectual and active occupation which have been pointed out, prove that there is no man of liberal education who need be at a loss to know what to do with his time; that leisure need never be a burden ; that if we sink into sloth, it is our fault, and not that of our situation ; and secondly, that whatever direction we give to our studies, I mean those collateral and adscititious studies which have been described, we are contributing our proportion to that which is of great importance to the general diffusion of knowledge, and thereby to the interest of religion, and the credit and usefulness of our order; the furnishing of every portion of the country, as well as of every class of the community, with the presence and society of a well informed clergy.
USE AND PROPRIETY OF LOCAL AND OCCASIONAL
The late archbishop Secker, whose memory is entitled to public respect, as on many accounts, so especially for the judgment with which he described, and the affecting seriousness with which he recommended the duties of his profession,
in one of his charges to the clergy of his diocese,* exhorts them to make their sermons local. I have always considered this advice as founded in a knowledge of human life, but as requiring, in its application, a more than ordinary exercise of christian prudence. Whilst I repeat therefore the rule itself, with great veneration for the authority by which it was delivered, I think it no unfit employment of the present opportunity, to enlarge so far upon its use and meaning, as to point out some of the instances in which it may be adopted, with a probability of making salutary impressions upon the minds of our hearers.
But, before I proceed, I would warn you, and that with all the solemnity that can belong to any admonition of mine, against rendering your discourses so local, as to be pointed and levelled at particular persons in your congregation. This species of address may produce in the party for whom it is intended, confusion perhaps and shame, but not with their proper fruits of penitence and humility. Instead of which, these sensations will be accompanied with bitter resentment against the preacher, and a kind of obstinate and determined opposition to his reproof. He will impute your officiousness to personal enmity, to party spirit, to the pleasure of triumphing over an adversary without interruption or reply, to insult assuming the form of advice, or to any motive rather than a conscientious solicitude for the amendment and salvation of your flock. And as the person himself seldom profits by admonitions conveyed in this way, so are they equally useless, or perhaps noxious, to the rest of the assembly; for the moment the congregation discover to whom the chastisement is directed, from that moment they cease to apply any part of it to themselves. They are not edified, they are not affected; on the contrary, they are diverted by descriptions of which they see the design, and by invectives of which they think they comprehend the aim. Some who would feel strongly the impropriety of gross and evident personalities, may yet hope to hit their mark by covert and oblique allusions. Now of this scheme, even when conducted with the greatest skill, it may be observed, that the allusions must either be perceived, or not. If they be not perceived, they fail of the effect intended by them; if they be, they are open to the objections which lie against more explicit and undissembled attacks. Whenever we are conscious, in the composition of our discourses, of a view to particular charac
* Archbishop of Canterbury's Third Charge to his Clergy. Works, vol. iv.
ters in our congregation or parish, we ought to take for granted that our view will be understood. Those applications therefore, which, if they were direct, would produce more bad emotions than good ones, it is better to discard entirely from our sermons; that is to say, it is better to lay aside the design altogether, than to attempt to disguise it by a management which is generally detected, and which, if not seen through, defeats its purpose by its obscurity. The crimes, then, of individuals let us reserve for opportunities of private and seasonable expostulation. Happy is the clergyman who has the faculty of communicating advice and remonstrance with persuasion and effect, and the virtue to seize and improve every proper occasion of doing it; but in the pulpit, let private characters be no otherwise adverted to, than as they fall in with the delineations of sins and duties which our discourses must necessarily contain, and which, whilst they avoid personalities, can never be too close or circumstantial. For the same reason that I think personal allusions reprehensible, I should condemn any, even the remotest, reference to party or political transactions and disputes. These are at all times unfit subjects, not only of discussion in the pulpit, but of hints and surmises. The christian preacher has no other province than that of religion and morality. He is seldom led out of his way by honorable motives, and, I think, never with a beneficial effect.
Having premised this necessary caution, I return to the rule itself. By local' sermons I would understand, what the reverend prelate who used the expression seems principally to have meant by it, sermons adapted to the particular state of thought and opinion which we perceive to prevail in our congregation. A careful attention to this circumstance is of the utmost importance, because, as it varies, the same sermon may do a great deal of good, none at all, or much harm. So that it is not the truth of what we are about to offer which alone we ought to consider, but whether the argument itself be likely to correct or to promote the turn and bias of opinion to which we already perceive 100 strong a tendency and inclination. Without this circumspection we may be found to have imitated the folly of the architect who placed his buttress on the wrong side. The more the column pressed, the more firm its construction, and the deeper its foundation, the more certainly it hastened the ruin of the fabric. I do not mean that we should, upon any emergency, advance what is not true; but that, out of many truths, we should select those, the consideration of which seems best suited to rectify the dispositions of thought,