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of heart, to be content with any less perfect standard than the example of Christ, the dictates of the Spirit-the whole law of God-holiness in all its parts. To grow, therefore, in grace is necessary to our Christian calling, is an indispensable accompaniment of a state of salvation.
3. Grow in grace, further, if you would taste the consolations of religion. They are inseparably connected with it. To be spiritually minded is life and peace. Progress in religion, is progress in happiness. It gives a taste of purer pleasures than the brightest images of human felicity have afforded the least intimations of. As the heart becomes pure, it is capable of receiving the satisfying happiness of religion. As the vessel of the conscience is purified, it becomes sacred; the Spirit of God pours into it the fullest tide of blessedness. The backslidings of Christians are the cause of their misery. When we turn towards the Sun of Righteousness, and seek brighter emanations of light and love from Him he will shine full into the heart, and will shed comfort and peace there; God will give us to drink of those rivers of pleasure which are at his right hand for evermore.
Look back on your past experience. When did you walk in darkness, meditate terror, fear that you were not a true Christian? When you had forsaken God, when you had lost sight of Christian vigilance, when you ceased to walk closely with God, when you followed lying vanities, and forsook your own mercies, when you ceased to pray. Then it was that you were entangled, then was the critical moment, then was the hour of successful temptation. If you would have the consolations of religion, the comfort of the Spirit, the presence of the Saviour, you must grow in grace-the Spirit of God cannot witness to a lie-you must shut your ears against temptation, you must not follow the voice of the seducer. If you would enjoy peace of heart, you must walk humbly and closely with your God.
4. Would you be useful in your day and generation, you must grow in grace. And who, that is born of God, would not desire to be useful? You must then press forward. There is no such thing as being stationary, if you would benefit mankind. Nay, if you stand still, if you give up resistance to evil; you will not only fail to be useful to others, but you will decline yourself more and more. If you mean to do good to the church and the world, you must bring forth much fruit; so shall ye be Christ's disciples, and so will your heavenly Father be glorified. You must seek to be decked and adorned with the beauty of Christ, that you may attract sinners to him. Your purity of life, your patience under sufferings, your moderation in earthly pursuits, your animated hope of glory after death: these will be the best means of infixing a conviction in the minds of men that there is a reality in religion; and, at least, will produce the wish of Balaam, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."
And soon the realities of eternity will be here. Every effort to do the will of God, will then be recompensed in full measure. God will reward every one in proportion to his advances in piety. Those who have advanced most in grace, will stand nearest to the Saviour. Let us covet a distinguished place among the mansions which Christ will assign. For, behold, he cometh quickly, that he may reward every man according to his work. Amen.
(To be concluded in our next).
OBSERVATIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF
THE LATE ROBERT HALL.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I HAVE read with great interest, in the Christian Observer of March, the introduction to the Notes of Sermons by the late Rev. Robert Hall. Having for nearly twenty years availed myself of every opportunity which
came within my power of hearing his incomparable addresses on Divine truth, I feel a lively satisfaction in the attempt to assign to him his just rank and place, as a man, a Christian, a preacher of the Gospel, and a conductor of public worship. I will not conceal that my interest is greatly heightened by more than a suspicion, that, in the whole style of the observations referred to, I trace the hand of one to whose own public instructions (whatever I may be indebted to them as an individual) I owe, as a clergyman, the most essential assistance, as fixing in my mind an elevated standard of public ministration, and an excitement to its performance, both in the manner and spirit of its performance.
As your respected correspondent has arrived at some different conclusions respecting Mr. Hall's preaching from those which have been formed in my own mind; and as every thing is interesting which relates to this extraordinary man-who was, to use his own forcible description of another, "one of those rare specimens of human nature which the great Author of it produces at distant intervals, and exhibits for a moment, while he is hastening to make them up among his jewels"-I beg to offer to you and your readers a few remarks, both upon your correspondent's observations, and upon the subject of them.
1. Your correspondent says, "Mr. Hall's discourse passes through the mind of a stranger with very little impression." "It appears like the hurried recitation of a school-boy." "The consequence is, that the hearer is not struck at the time, or very faintly," &c.—I confess that I am able in no degree to accord with the opinion expressed in this passage. For my own part, I can say, with a perfect recollection of the first sermon I heard from this unique preacher, that the effect of that sermon upon my mind was as that of enchantment: nor have I ever heard him on any occasion without the most riveted attention, and exquisite gratification, united, in most instances, with a
more solemn feeling than usual of the momentousness of the truths to which he gave utterance. So far am I from being able to enter into the idea of there having been any thing resembling a school-boy's recitation, that, judging from my own impressions, I should rather compare Mr. Hall's addresses to the pouring forth of a mighty bed of water struggling through a narrow pass, till its accumulations sweep every thing before them. When he rose from the argumentative and metaphysical parts of his discourses to matters touching the core of religion-such as the worth of the soul, the vanity of life, the immensity of eternal things, the devastation of sin, the glories of redemption, the sufficiency of the promised influences of the Divine Spirit -he displayed at once the inspiration of the poet, the eloquence of the orator, the solemnity of the man of God, the copiousness of a mind that had filled its urn at the fountain of Divine truth, and an unction of spirit caught from the Father of lights, and those invisible realities with which he freely and permanently conversed. I entirely concur with the suspicion of your correspondent, that the employment of taking notes may have neutralized his own, otherwise unquestionably excellent, powers of discrimination.
2. Your correspondent supposes that Mr. Hall meditated and wrote much previously to the delivery of his sermons, and that he delivered a great part of them" memoriter."From observation, and from knowledge of his mind and habits derived from various quarters, I exceedingly doubt the whole of this conjecture. There is no necessity for such a supposition. Robert Hall's mind was always at work, and his habits in society, or in privacy, were eminently intellectual. Reasoning out subjects of all kinds was to him a natural employment. quired, of course, a facility proportioned to his habits and powers, of rapidly seizing the prominent features of every subject, and of dis
He had ac
tinctly classifying them. He was also familiarly acquainted with the word of God, the great storehouse of the preacher. I can conceive no reason, therefore, for supposing that there was all the immediate labour for the pulpit which is assumed by your correspondent. On the contrary, I should judge that he prepared little for the actual occasion; that he wrote still less; and that memoriter he was not accustomed to speak at all. It is generally understood that the evening on which he preached the funeral sermon for the Princess Charlotte he went to his chapel unprepared for that effort; and that it was on being informed that a congregation had assembled under the expectation of hearing him preach something suitable to the event, that he delivered the sermon afterwards printed, which, although it may not be one of his most powerful discourses, abounds with passages of great splendour, and is altogether sufficient to prove that he had no occasion to resort to the slavery of "memoriter" preaching. His eminent metaphysical talents* very early developed, and strengthened by long habit; his power of abstracting his thoughts from surrounding objects, referred to by your correspondent, and which probably he carried with him into the pulpit; his well-furnished and ready memory; his knowledge of Scripture; his rich, excursive, and singularly elegant powers of imagination; the great reality which his subject ever was to him; and the perfect freedom in which he stood from the solicitude of applause, or the fear of censure; all qualified him to become an extempore preacher in the strictest use of the phrase. An extempore preacher in this sense, only a man like Mr. Hall can become: no other person should attempt it. Nothing can be more mistaken than the idea that fluency, and the power of going
⚫ The most intimate friend he ever had informed me that at ten years of age he read, for his own gratification," Edwards
on the Freedom of the Will."
on, are all that is required for this effort. We have all heard preachers of this class to weariness. There can be no question, among sensible people, that for ordinary men, and in general for talented men also, whether the language and filling up of their discourses be extempore or otherwise (I protest against the memoriter plan), the example of your correspondent himself—whom I take leave to denominate indisputably the most diligent and successful student for the pulpit in our day-is far more worthy of imitation than that of Mr. Hall, who ought to be followed in this respect by none but those who are possessed of the same rare assemblage of qualities with himself; that is, by not more than an individual in
I am not now speaking of what may be the peculiar gifts of the Holy Spirit in any particular instance: that is a question quite distinct I refer only to ordinary endowments, and the use which God is pleased to make of the faculties which he bestows.
Having repeatedly heard this Apollos of our own time, and having on a few interesting occasions been in his society, it may not be uninteresting and unedifying, especially to younger students for the sacred ministry, to refer to some of the prominent excellencies which he exhi.bited, and to some of those blemishes which took their root and found their nourishment in the very qualities we so much admire. We may learn even here to" cease from man."
1. Child-like devotion appeared conspicuous in this eminent individual. Of uninspired and extempore prayers, I must say that I never heard such as proceeded from his lips. If in preaching he appeared an angel in vigorous intellect and knowledge of Divine mysteries, in prayer he appeared an angel in humility, covering his face before the Eternal Throne. It was the prostration of a creature sensible of the
gulf which separates finite from Infinite, dependent from independent being; a prostration of soul aug
mented by the penitence of a redeemed sinner. It was the confiding approach of a child restored to his father's arms. It was the clinging of weakness to Omnipotence. It was the fervency of craving want, of a spirit thirsting for its proper good. Its prominent characteristic was reverential, filial simplicity. The metaphysician, the orator, the man of information and brilliancy, were never forced upon the attention: the creature, the penitent, the child, the believer, were all we could discover. The intimate friend to whom I have alluded most justly remarked to me once, "You never hear a sparkling thought from him in prayer."
to be dazzled with the reflection of his beams as they play from the ocean beneath. The natural vice of such a mind is pride, not vanity; confidence in itself, rather than the overvaluation of foreign opinions.
3. The constant effort to be useful, which appeared in his preaching, deserves to be noticed. He had a highly metaphysical mind. Argument, reasoning out a subject, seemed to place him in his natural element; the most elaborate train of thought flowing with a facility inconceivable except to those who have again and again listened to his most perfect specimens of acute and logical ratiocination. But to what purpose did he apply this power of profoundly and accurately demonstrating truth? To the discomfiture of the infidel, the overthrow of Socinian subtlety, the establishment of the essential verities of the Gospel, the vindication of religion as the only medium of happiness, the proof that sin is indissolubly connected with misery and degradation. His efforts were triumphant. By the force, not of abusive language, but of irresistible proof, he literally trampled his adversaries in the mire; assailing them first with the power of reason, and then, with an extraordinary sequel of irony, putting their conclusions into a light which shewed them to be as absurd as they had been previously proved to be unfounded. But from the metaphysical to the practical, and to what suited the humblest mind, was an easy return to him. I never heard him preach an argumentative sermon that did not issue in a "Hills peep o'er hills, and alps o'er alps Gospel manner. I have in my recol
2. Insensibility to his own great powers was remarkable in him. I have understood that he frequently expressed surprise that people should crowd to hear him;-language in his lips the most remote from affectation of a feeling he did not possess. He appeared to feel no complacency in his popularity, and was much more happy among his poor people at Leicester, than amidst the suffocating throngs of London, Clapham, or Cambridge. This insensibility to a vice so common as the desire of popularity resulted from the union of two causes, the eminence of his Christian character and attainments, and the natural greatness of his mind. The former is an obvious cause; the latter, in connexion with it, is no inconsiderable assistance to such an indifference. To a mind like that of Mr. Hall, the horizon inconceivably widens ;
lection, as an instance, a sermon,
It was like the applications of Dwight (who had a mind much more of Hall's class than Dr. Chalmers), splendid, holy, practical. I took no notes of the sermon, but I have a perfect recollection of his energetic description of the great contest waging in the universe between God and the spirit of evil; a contest in which the inhabitants of the invisible world took the most lively interest, and a part on one side or the other, while the soul of man, of every individual before him, was the prize contended for. Then followed the exhibition of Gospel mercies and the glory of the Cross, concluded with the unfettered offer of pardon, grace, help, and eternal life to all present. The effect was electrical.
4. The splendour of this extraordinary man's conversation is, of course, familiar to all who knew him. When he engaged in discussion, which he frequently did, he displayed the same ability which distinguished his pulpit exhibitions, and the same power of overwhelming an adversary, His conversation also displayed great originality: he could not say a common thing in a common way; or, rather, common ideas lost in his mind their gregarious character by some original association. Mr. H. had been to see York cathedral. It was not, as he described it, "a venerable, majestic, solemn, awful" building that would have been the common-place form of the idea: his was, "The place would sober a Bacchanalian." He made a remark, when he first saw the monument erected to the late Mr. Robinson of Leicester, which intimated at once his delicate sense of propriety, his apprehension of the Saviour's glory, and his judgment of the honour conferred on those who are called to preach the everlasting Gospel. Mr. Robinson is represented in a standing posture, receiving the Bible from the Saviour's hands. The friend who was with him (my informant, if my memory is correct), expressed his admiration of the
piece. "No, sir," Mr. Hall energetically said; "he ought to have been prostrate at the Redeemer's feet *.”
One of the blemishes of this singularly endowed man appears to have been a tendency to extravagance of sentiment. This probably arose from the ardour of his character and the generosity of his disposition, which often presented objects to him in an unnatural size. His note upon the lamented Mr. Spencer, appended to his great sermon on the Christian Ministry, is an instance of this kind. Without detracting from the merits or promise of Mr. Spencer, it was surely too much to say, on mere report, that a youth of twenty, had he lived, would probably have carried the talent of preaching to a greater perfection than it had ever reached in this kingdom." The sequel of this eulogium is no less exorbitant. The sermon on the Princess Charlotte, also, has a mixture of the same extravagance, arising from the disposition to magnify objects viewed under the excitement of feeling; while the great powers of his mind replied with facility to the warmth of his heart in furnishing arguments agreeable to his generous emotion, and in diminishing the force of contending or neutralizing evidence.
Another fault natural to Mr. Hall, was, perhaps, a too great readiness to yield to the metaphysical turn of his mind; and which he permitted in some instances (not in public, that I am aware,) to lead him to argue ably and brilliantly, but fallaciously, on the wrong side of the subjects under consideration. I remember an instance of this kind, in which he maintained the position he had taken, most splendidly, against the late Mr. Owen and two
* Even during his well-known aberration of mind he is stated to have often uttered remarks of extraordinary force and brilliancy. His incoherent ideas were not common-place. Thus, suffering under an intense pain in the head, he was heard to exclaim, "Gabriel, you have bound this crown too tightly around my brows: it presses me to agony."