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general character of English pulpit eloquence, since the Restoration, has been such as 'we describe. It has been produced, without doubt, in a degree by a desire of avoiding those extravagancies, which, in the times of the Commonwealth, brought religion into disgrace, and laid the foundation of the unbelief and libertinism of the age of Charles II.
. It would be opposing the decision of all Europe, to deny the great excellencies of the French sermons. They are, perhaps, the most finished compositions of modern times. They abound in passages of the most splendid description, and, sometimes, of the truest pathos. But their eloquence is usually too artificial, too much designed for mere stage effect. An excessive ambition of the higher attributes of eloquence leads them to constant overstatements of the doctrines and duties of the
gogpel. They have a want of truth and nature in their representations of religion and of human life-a fault, which no other excellencies can redeem. The origin of almost all the corruptions of christianity may be referred to this tendency in men to overcharge their statements of religion, in order to make them dazzling and impressive. If we attend to the arguments, which are brought by the church of Rome to defend what we esteem its errours, we find them chiefly drawn from a literal interpretation of the rhetorical exaggerations contained in the homilies of the early fathers. The fact, that false eloquence has thus been the great corrupter of christianity, will give a lesson
of caution to every rational christian in the employinent of that which is real; and will lead, perhaps, to the general conclusion, that the higher forms of it cannot be often safe. ly attempted in the pulpit. Although, there. fore, no one, who is not wholly insensible to what is beautiful and sublime, can read the best French sermons without perpetual admiration, yet, when they are sidered, not as a mere feast of taste, but
an instrument for the improvement of the hearts and ininds of men in religion, they must be often viewed with the most serious disapprobation. If we would admire them without reserve, we must regard them merely as beautiful poetry; and read Bossuet and Corneille, Massillon and Racine too often with very similar emotions.
That there is nothing necessarily irreconcilable in what is really excellent in both these rival schools, the following sermons will, I persuade myself, furnish a proof. They seem to be the union of Truth, and Reason, and Eloquence. Without saying: they are faultless, every one will perceive in them a strength and originality of conception, a power of delineation, a beauty, novelty, and richness of illustration, which proclaim a powerful and peculiar mind. When, also we consider the seriousness, the rationality, the earnestness, the warm glow of devotion, they every where exhibit, the apostolic freedom and intrepidity, with which sin and errour, however popular and fashionable. are denounced in them and when, in addition to all this, we recollect, that they are sermons, not prepared for the press by himself, but selected by his friends from among several hundreds, all written between his twentieth and twenty-eighth year
- they will be regarded as among the most rare and admirable efforts, which the pulpit has called forth.
I have not attempted a formal description of the qualities of Mr. Buckminster's heart. A life of such uniform purity and rectitude, of such devotedness to God, of such disinterested zeal for the good of mankind, is the surest pledge of its soundness and its sensibility. I might speak of his perfect sincerity, his simplicity, his love of truth, his candour of disposition. I might remark, how little the unbounded admiration, he received, impaired any of the essential features of his character. I might attempt—but I am sure it would be in vain-to describe the magick influence, by which he drew around him a circle of most devoted friends, by whom his memory is embalmed in the fond. est recollections and regrets.
There are many, who feel with me, that his death was the rupture of some of the strongest ties, which the human heart can know. Even now, when time has interposed to subdue all the more powerful emotions of grief, there are those, who delight to recall the hours, we have passed with him, and to dwell on those traits, which we loved, while living, and which death cannot efface from our memories. While we think, how important to the interests of truth and virtue were the light of his knowledge and the weight of his influence, how many plans of improvement were connected with his exertions and encouragement--when we remember, that a mind so rich, so active, so original, so elevated, is no more to impart its conceptions to other minds; that the voice, which has warmed so many hearts, and guided so many steps to immortality, is silent as the grave, and is no more to be heard in the church of God, or the circle of friendship, we are oppressed by the magnitude of the loss, and are ready to number it among the darkest of the divine dispensations. Yet it is ordered by better wisdom than our's; and we cannot but discern many proofs of mercy in the time of his departure. His wish was granted not to survive his usefulness. He disappeared in all the brightness of his honours, without any twilight coming over his fame. We are spared the dreadful spectacle of beholding such a mind in ruins. God can raise up other instruments to effect his benevolent purposes-farewell then! We must say of thee, Felix non vitæ tantum claritate, sed etiam opportunitate mortis.* May the example of a life like thine, devoted to truth, to virtue, and the best interests of mankind, animate us to follow thy career of piety and benevolence, that, by the grace of God,
, we may join thee in another world, where friendship will be uninterrupted, and virtue eternal.
* Tac. Agric.
NOTE A. PAGE xxvI.
TO ARTHUR M. WALTER, ESQ.
Geneva, Sept. 26th, 1806.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
We have at length finished the tour of Switzerland, and add two more to the ten thousands, who have seen and admired before us.
*** has been my companion, ever since we reluctantly parted with ******* at Rotterdam (13th of Aug.); and as he has a taste for the picturesque, and I have pretty good eyes, we have seen and enjoyed as much, as other galloping travellers. You, I know, are rather curious in geography ; and if you are at leisure to pore over a large map of Switzerland, you will have it in your power to trace your friend's route through this interesting country.
After a satisfactory journey up the Rhine, from Rotterdam through Utrecht, Nimeguen, Cleves, Cologne, Coblentz, Mayence, Worms, Strasburg, and Colmar, we entered Switzerland at Basle the 5th of September. For the sake of seeing the famous Chute du Rhin we went fifty miles out of our way as far as Schaffhausen, passing through a part of the Brisgau, once belonging to the humbled house of Austria, but now given to the Prince of Baden. From Schaffhausen we travelled to Zurich, in my estimation the most eligible spot in Switzerland ; thence we crossed mount Albis on our way
to Lucerne, by a road almost too difficult for carriages.