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ed to draw up articles of separation, which were reported, and unanimously accepted.
“ As soon as this separation had taken place, the friends of Mr Forster, to whom the church in Archdale Street had been assigned, took measures for their regular organization as a christian society, uoder the name of the Second Independent Church of Charleston. Discarding the use of all formularies and systems of man's invention, they declared the scriptures, and the scriptures alone, to be the rule of their faith and practice ; leaving every individual to the free and uncontrolled exercise of his own judgment and conscience in the interpretation of the sacred volume.
“ As soon as their organization was completed, Mr. Forster was unanimously elected to the office of their pastor." p. xxvi.
Few occurrences in any man's life could be more trying, than those which happened to Mr-Forster during the transactions of which we have given a hasty outline. But throughout the whole, the peculiar traits of his character were never obscured. He was cool and unruffled, firm and resolute. He sustained the dignity of an upright and pious mind in the midst of many causes of excitement and irritation. He was true to his principles, and to his friends. Alone, and without the co-operation of a solitary individual of his profession, be resolutely asserted and defended religious liberty, and the rights of conscience, on the broad principles of the scriptures, and of reason. By his rational views and sound judgment, by his discreet deportment, and christian life and spirit, in the space of a very few months he insensibly changed the views and released from error a large and respectable society, and established it in harmony and peace on the solid basis of an enlightened faith, and gospel freedom. And what adds to the wonder, these things were accomplished while his own opinions were yet unsettled, and while he was patiently pursuing investigations to satisfy himself on several important topics. We doubt whether an example can be found, where so remarkable effects of this nature have been produced in so short a time, by an unaided individual, and under circumstances so unfavourable and disheartening.
But Mr. Forster was not destined long to reap the fruits of his labours and sacrifices, or to enjoy the grateful attentions of a united and most affectionate people. His health soon after began more rapidly to decline. He sought relief in travelling and exercise, and with some apparent temporary benefit. At one time he thought himself nearly recovered, but his visions of hope were but visions, and they soon vanished. He preached, indeed, but a small portion of the time after he was settled, and in March, 1819, he delivered his last discourse. He preached from the
text, The Lord is risen indeed. It was on the day for celebrating the Lord's supper. “Few, who were present on this occasion, says his biographer, “can soon lose the deep and pathetic impression of the scene. The interesting nature of the celebration, the eloquence of the discourse, and the colouring evidently thrown over some of the topics by the peculiar situation and feel. ings of the speaker-his figure pale and emaciated, and so feeble that he could with difficulty sustain himself during the serviceall these circumstances, combined with the melancholy and irresistible conviction that he was listening for the last time, in that place, to the sound of that voice, rendered this one of the most touching scenes, which the writer has ever witnessed." Soon after this, his friends persuaded him to make another trial of a change of air, and he went with his family to Raleigh. Here he was soon confined to his bed, and after an almost insensible decline, for about nine months, his spirit took its flight on the 18th of January, 1820.
Mr. Forster died as he had lived, sustained by his religious hopes, and relying with unshaken confidence on the promises of the gospel. His faculties were unimpaired till the last, and he was perfectly aware of his situation. The approaches of death were silent, but they were not concealed; and he watched them unmoved. His mind found its peace in a region where the accidents of time could not reach, His frame was exhausted, and his powers of bodily action had nearly ceased, but his mind was vigorous and active-resigned and cheerful under the afflictive hand of providence, and tranquil in its contemplation of futurity. The consoling views of religion, to which his patient and earnest studies had led him, were his strength and his comfort when all things else had failed him. In life they had been his support, and his peace in many trying scenes; they divested death of its terrors, and illumined the night of the grave with the beams of hope and of joy.
From what has been said, the prevailing traits of Mr. Forster's character will have been discovered. We will add a few words more from the apparently impartial and discriminating testimony of his biographer.
“ He was endowed by nature with great boldness, decision, and independence of character. His perceptive powers were unusually quick, clear, and strong; and his purposes equally simple and direct. He took bis impressions of trutb and duty from no man upon trust. He acted under a deep sense of his own personal responsibility for his opinions and his conduct; and every thing was with him subjected to the test of rigid and unbending principle. Yet was there nothing of obstinacy, of dogmatism, or self-sufficiency in his temper. No
man listened with more patience or docility to argument from whatever quarter ; no map could be more free from the folly of a pertinacious adherence to his own opinions, merely because they were his
“But perhaps the most prominent feature in his mind was his strong and discriminating good sense. This was apparent in every thing that he did, and in every thing that he said, and stamped a strong and distinctive character of fitness and decorum on all his transactions. His insight into the characters of others was remarkably keen and unerring ; his judgment was rarely imposed on by hollow pretensions and specious professions.
“ As a minister of the gospel, his qualifications were of a high order. While his talents and his virtues commanded the respect of his people, his manners irresistibly attached bim to their affections. Few men have been more ardently beloved while living, or lameuted, when dead, with a more heartfelt sorrow." p. xxx.
The sermons, wbich constitute much the largest part of the volume under consideration, are twenty-two in number, and chiefly on practical subjects. They were printed from the author's manuscripts after his death. These we have perused with pleasure. They exhibit, in a most favourable light, the characteristics of the author's mind, his cautious boldness and decision, his clearness of perception, and above all his piety, and amiable and gentle temper. In our view they have many of the requisites of good sermons ; by which we mean such sermons, as will produce impressions on the hearers and readers, make them thoughtful and serious, console them in affliction, lead them to a just value of religious attainments, and to a knowledge and love of duty. We cannot envy the sensibility, or the moral feelings of the person, who can read these discourses without being made better.
They are particularly to be commended for a lucid arrangement. We take occasion to mention this the rather, as the lucidus ordo, which the ancients thought so essential to a finished composition, seems little to be thonght of by many of our modern sermonizers. The old English divines were scrupulous on this point, and undoubtedly carried it to excess. The divisions and subdivisions became a labyrinth, which it would battle the expertest logicians to unravel. Even Tillotson, who is usually perspicuous, sometimes runs into this fault. No one, perhaps, has excelled Barrow in a clear and philosophical method. Some of his sermons are models in this respect. They are composed with a rhetorical accuracy, which may be compared to advantage with the best specimens of ancient oratorical compositions. The Puritans in this as in every thing else, had a way of their own. They strung one head upon another in an almost endless pro
gression. To ascend to fortythirdly, with an improvement of half as many divisions, was but a common effort of skill and invention; and even ourselves, in these degenerate days, have listened to a worthy covenanter till he has carried us up to seventeenthly. We came away confused, and with little else in our heads, than a din of numerical adverbs.
But there is a medium, which every preacher should study to attain. The French sermon writers have hit upon this with tolerable success. Little good can be done by preaching, unless it make impressions; and this depends quite as much on the manner in which ideas are introduced to the mind, as on the strength and appropriateness of the ideas themselves. The confused and disconnected mode of preaching, which is practised by some, is but ill calculated to answer this end.
Of the printed discourses to which this character will apply, we presume few will stand higher on the list, than Maturin's. It is better that the divisions of a discourse should be few, than many, yet still there should be some clear, distinct points, which the mind can easily apprehend at the time, and to which it can afterwards recur and take up the chain of its associations. The memory will then do its office, and the preacher's labours will not have been entirely vain. To accommodate the condition of most christian audiences, it is important, that the speaker should submit to a little form in dividing and arranging his discourse. The manner in which this shall be done may be varied. Some art may be exercised even here. It will seldom be found advantageous to give a syllabus of the discourse at the outset. The curiosity of the hearers will thus be too soon satisfied. They will be contented with imagining how this outline is to be filled up, and their thoughts will be wandering. It is generally better to let each part open gradually, and to keep the topics themselves in reserve, till the time comes to illustrate and enforce them. We only urge, that there should be an outline at least in the speaker's own mind, and that this should comprize a certain nurnber of distinct topics.
Some of the best examples of what we regard happy method are Archbishop Secker, Porteus, perhaps Blair, and especially Logan. Dr. Priestley and George Walker are methodical, but they took so little pains to make it appear, that their method will frequently escape superficial readers, and it could not always have been perfectly obvious to listless hearers. The late Dr. Lathrop, of West Springfield, was a clear and accurate sermon writer. Few have been more fertile in topics, or more ingenious and methodical in bringing them together. When he erred, it was rather from abundance, than poverty. The sermons of Dr. John
Clarke we would also rank among the best specimens of judicious method,
Now this is a branch of the art in which we think Mr. Forster particularly excelled. His divisions are never numerous, but they are apt and natural. It was his custom to seize on a small number of leading points, and make all his remarks bear on these. His general subject was always kept in view. To very few of his discourses can you apply any other texts, than those which he has affixed to them. His whole aim seems to have been to make his hearers understand him, and receive and feel the im. pressions, which were bearing upon his own mind. Every thing is undisguised, direct, and earnest. He manifestly spoke from his own convictions, and let his hearers into the feelings of his own heart.
We shall make two or three extracts, which may serve to show the author's general manner of writing. The first is from a discourse on the text, We walk by faith, and not by sight, and alludes in part to the organization of his society.
“A veneration for supposed authority, for the pretended claims of antiquity, and for the imposing demands of a false, mistaken sanctity, has proved the means of much injury to the cause of truth. The beautiful simplicity of the gospel, the harmonious features of evangelical doctrine, bave been distorted into a thousand deformities, to which nothing could have given permanency under the name of reli: gion, but the most unhappy prejudices of education, the pusillani. mous apprehensions of private interest, and the ambitious zeal of sectarism.
“But these are the errors, which, in the face of the world, and under the eye of heaven, we have been enabled to renounce. Yes, my brethren, with all the love of truth, I trust, which distinguished so many in the sixteenth century, and with a more pious prudence than at that time prevailed, we have pronounced the glorious work 'which then commenced, and which shook to the foundation the false pretensions of ecclesiastical authority, to be unfinished. We have exalted the scriptures to that eminence, which divine Providence originally decreed they should occupy. We have asserted the primeval and necessary freedom of the mind. We have burst the ma. Dacles with which conscience had so long been enchained. And for what purpose, my brethren, has all this been done ? Verily that we might follow the evangelists and the apostles so far as they followed Christ. For what purpose has the divine approbation attended us in every step, inspiring us with comfort and strength above every attempt at opposition ? Verily, that we might more thoroughly learn to walk by faith and not by sight, through evil, as well as through good report." p. 106.