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STYLE OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
catch the trick of Andrewes, Laud, and Donne, but there was hardly a clown from Kent to Cumberland, who did not think himself ill used unless his parson was a “Latiner,” and larded his discourse with scraps from St Augustine and the jargon of Aquinas. Even the most powerful intellects and the most fervent spirits could not escape the infection altogether; and when we think of the peculiar terminology, and of the bizarre and fantastic style of decoration which prevailed, we cannot help regarding the triumphs achieved by the pulpit in the first sixty years of the seventeenth century, as a signal testimony to the power of the truth, and the personal worth of its teachers.
Of this mode of sermonising we have already given some account in our notice of Bishop Andrewes. * There was a contemporary writer, the Rev. Abraham Wright, of St Olave's, father of the dramatic antiquary, who published “Five Sermons, in Five Several Styles or Ways of Preaching,” + in which the favourite modes are very happily exemplified. The following is in “the Presbyterian way of preaching," and is founded on Luke xvi. 1-9, and thus commences :
“The parable presents to your view the reckoning, or bill of accounts, of the unjust steward, and my text is the summa totalis of that bill, or the moral to this parable; in which our Saviour taught them then, and doth us now, how we should provide against the great audit—the day of judgment. As for this unjust steward—whether he were St Paul before his conversion, as Theophylact would have him, or the Jews, as Tertullian; whether he be only the rich man, or only the statesman, or only the churchman, or rather every man to whom any charge is committed by God (as the doctors have severally given in their opinions), I will not dispute, as being not much to our purpose. Sure I am, he was bad enough;
* See Christian Classics, vol. i. pp. 153, 157. + London : 1656.
yet not so bad neither but our Saviour picks good out of him, as your physical confectioner, the apothecary, extracts treacle from the viper, and the most cordial of antidotes from the deadliest poison. . . . Therefore learn of him : What to do? • To make you friends. How? ‘Of the unrighteous mammon.' Why? That when ye fail, they may receive you.' Which three queries will direct us to these general parts for our division. The first is the quid, the matter—to provide for ourselves by making us friends. The second, the cujus, the manner-to use the best means to get them, “ The unrighteous mammon.' The third, the cui bono, the end—“That when ye fail,' &c. Of which in their order.”
Another specimen is modelled after Dr Mayne and Mr Cartwright. The subject is, “As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters," and it is thus introduced: “ The text is a picture or similitude; in which picture, as in all draughts of the pencil, you may behold the lights and the shadows—the lights shining forth in the lily and the love, the shadows masked under the thorns and the daughters : for those black thorns are as the shadow to this white lily, and these foul daughters the foil to set off that fair love. Now, as all pictures must have their place of view, so may it please you to look upon, for a third particular, the seat, or standing, of this lily—it is in peow akav@ôv, in the middle, or among the thorns; and, last of all, to vouchsafe a glance or two upon
the artisan himself, implied in the particle 'my:' 'as the lily among thorns, so is my love,'—'my, who am the limner that hath drawn and owns this piece, whose hand protects it here, and will new-trim and varnish it hereafter, turning these lights and glories into everlasting shines, and those shadows into utter darkness. Thus have you, from a rude pencil, the chief lines of this landscape, of the Church, and of my present discourse. And first, of the lights," &c.
These examples are no caricature, and we hope that to the
second, at least, the reader will give the praise of something more than ingenuity. It contains such an arrangement of the topics as would have rejoiced the soul, at once scholastic and poetical, of Coleridge: for on a similar passage in Dr Donne he exclaims, “What a happy example of elegant division of a subject ! Our great divines were not ashamed of the learned discipline to which they had submitted their minds under Aristotle and Tully, but brought the purified products as sacrificial gifts to Christ. They baptized the logic and manly rhetoric of ancient Greece.'
Not only were divisions often arbitrary, but they were multiplied to a preposterous extent. In a sermon of David Clarkson, who was nevertheless a man of masculine intellect, and a firstrate theologian, we have counted as many as 128 heads and particulars. It is needless to say that comprehensive views of truth were incompatible with this comminution into microscopic fragments, and profound and enduring impression would seem still more impossible. The stream which, undivided, might set a mill-wheel in motion, if dispersed into a hundred runnels, will hardly spin a baby's whirligig, and is likely to lose itself at last; and although a skilful driver may manage four-in-hand, the canine multitude which pulls a Kamtschatka sledge in all directions, is not the arrangement which a traveller would select as pre-eminently conducive to the despatch of the journey or the comfort of the charioteer.
* Coleridge's Literary Remains, vol. iii. p. 137. The following is Donne's admired division. It occurs in a sermon on Matt. xix. 17:—" The words are part of a dialogue, of a conference, between Christ and a man who proposed a question to him; to whom Christ makes an answer by way of another question, Why callest thou me good ?' &c. In the words, and by occasion of them, we consider the text, the context, and the pretext: not as three equal parts of the building; but the context, as the situation and prospect of the house, the pretext, as the access and entrance into the house, and then the text itself, as the house itself, as the body of the building : in a word, in the text, the words ; in the context, the occasion of the words ; in the pretext, the purpose, the disposition of him who gave the occasion.”
Greatly modified, no doubt, in many instances by personal tastes or peculiar circumstances, such was essentially the style of sermonising from the accession of James I. to the restoration of Charles II. The matter was often admirable, but nothing could well be more perverse than the manner. ceed to give a short account of two pulpit orators who had the courage to adopt “the more excellent way” which their better judgment dictated, and whose unrivalled popularity soon procured general acceptance for their wiser method.
We now pro
ROBERT SOUTH, the son of a London merchant, was born at Hackney in 1633, and was educated under the famous Dr Busby at Westminster School. Thence he proceeded to Oxford, and, along with John Locke, became a distinguished student at Christ Church, of which Dr Owen was at that time the dean. Even then he shewed the elements of that character to which subsequent years gave development and emphasis ; wit and ill humour, petulance towards those whom it was safe to offend, and considerable adroitness in taking care of himself. His first publication was a congratulatory ode to Cromwell at the conclusion of the war with Holland, but as soon as the power of the Independents began to wane,
churchman grew valiant, and shewed his heroism by insulting Dr Owen. Whilst there was a prospect of Presbyterian ascendency, he flattered the Presbyterians by his invectives against Independency; and when the restoration divested Prelacy of its dangers, he availed himself of an Episcopal ordination which, in 1658, he had obtained from one of the deprived bishops, and came out an ultra-royalist and a reviler of all the sectaries. We have mentioned his wit. In 1660 he was chosen University orator. In this capacity he had occasion to present to the
A FAILURE OF MEMORY.
comitia, for an honorary degree, an officer of distinction, and began in the usual style, “ Præsento vobis virum hunc bellicosissimum ;” but that instant some accident made the great warrior turn round, and in the same tone of voice the speaker proceeded, “ qui nunquam antea tergiversatus est."
His great talents, and the effect with wbich he delivered his eloquent discourses, attracteď the notice of Lord Clarendon, who was Chancellor of Oxford, as well as Lord High Chancellor of England, and in 1661 South was appointed his chaplain. The avenue to preferment was now open before him, and his ambition and self-reliance were keenly alive to the opportunity. But his first appearance before his Majesty was by no means auspicious. A sermon “for the times,” which he preached before Clarendon, was so spicy and clever that, if it could only be presented to the king, his patron was sure it would suit the royal palate. Accordingly, he obtained for the brilliant preacher an invitation to give the discourse in the Chapel Royal ; and, as Anthony à Wood relates, with a fond minuteness, on the authority of some “ fanatic” informant, “ every one's expectation was heightened; and happy was he or she, amongst the greatest wits in the town, that could accommodate their humour in getting convenient room in the chapel at Whitehall, to hang upon the lips of this so great an oracle. The day appointed being come, our author ascends the pulpit, and the eyes of all were immediately fastened
upon him. After he had performed his obeisance to his Majesty, he named his text, which was Eccl. vii. 10, 'Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these?' The prohibition in the text he laboured to enforce by an induction of particulars. The first was, that the pagan times were not better than these; then the Popish times were not, &c. But the last insisted on, was the times of the late rebellion; and while he was endeavouring to evince that, which was indeed the main thing that he intended to handle, it pleased