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is fixed on the train of argument and HOLY SCRIPTURES, will be allowed expression to be recollected, rather by every reader of these sermons. than occupied in delivering the mes. He does not overload, but he supsage of salvation from a heart which, ports, all his arguments by the most absorbed in its subject, neglects en appropriate passages from the Holy tirely the words which it may em
Word. It occurred to me several ploy.
times, that I doubted the truth and The character of Mr. Hall's safety of some of his assertions, pulpit addresses, so far as a few dis- especially in the third sermon, till courses, delivered when he was about the text concluded the position in sixty-four
age, and asier a each case, and convinced me of the habit of preaching for nearly half a rashness of my judgment. century, may allow a stranger to There seem to be upon Mr. Hall's pronounce, is a mild sublimity. mind all the effects of a deep and Every sermon touches, in some part reverential study of the sacred or other, on the highest and noblest Scriptures. He is full of them : he elevations of the human mind. His has matured and digested and comthoughts expand as he proceeds. pared all their parts; and his ScripHe connects the various parts of his tural quotations are amongst the argument together with surprising chief excellencies of his sermons. skill; and then pushes them up to the His abstinence as to the number of contemplation of God, the employ- these quotations, his caution, bis con- . ments of heaven, the end and true fining himself to the simple authohappiness of man, and the vanity of rity of Inspiration, and the bright ilevery thing compared with eternity. lustration he sheds over them someA mild and holy grandeur lifts the times by a single word, render bis serpreacher and hearer; the mind is ab- mons powerful upon the conscience. sorbed; and it requires some time I need scarcely add, that Mr. Hall's afterwards to come down to the or- DOCTRINE IS ENTIRELY EVANGEdinary feelings and duties of human
LICAL. The fall and ruin of man; life and action.
the person and glory of the Saviour ; The FORCE OF REASONING, is a the atonement and satisfaction of his second characteristic of this extra- death; the Deity and operations of ordinary preacher. The argument the Holy Ghost; the necessity of pein the second of these discourses, nitence, of faith, of love, of a holy on the Pre-existence and Divinity of life, of obedience; are the main prin. our Lord, seems to me a master- ciples which he inculcates. Perhaps piece of sound and acute ratiocina- the cast of his mind, as a preacher, tion. The refutation, in the fifth may be said to incline to the exhiand sixth, of that foolish and most bition, more peculiarly, of the happi dangerous heresy, that there is no ness and rest to be found in God as such thing as growth in grace, is the portion of his people; the great quite conclusive; and not less so is end and only blessedness of man; and the refutation of the idea that there of the beauty and excelleney of hois no such grace as patience, in our liness, as the reflection of the Divine sense of the term.
image and the preparation for heaBut, in truth, all these discourses ven. On these two topics--God as abound, unless I am entirely de- the end and rest of man, and holiness ceived, the most beautiful chains the path to peace-I never heard of thought, the nicest division and any minister approach Mr. Hall. classification of the subordinate ideas, The ORIGINALITY with which he and the most forcible and conclusive views every subject, and the masterarguments in support of all his state. hand with which he grasps it, are ments.
quite remarkable. He follows in no The skill and propriety with which track of other men. Neither his he QUOTES AND ILLUSTRATES The thoughts nor his language are bor
rowed. And prodigious power of ideas, and to force the conscience memory in the use of Holy Scrip- of the most intellectual and evasive ture, and exquisite judgment in the hearer to admit the authority of disposition of his materials, are united truth. with a boldness of conception and a The following sermons of Mr.Hall, creative power of imagination which as COMPARED WITH HIS PRINTED stamp an impress of originality and DISCOURses, will lose little or noindependence upon all his reasonings. thing of their value, in the mind of His trains of thought are his own. the reader. They are not so elaI should think he does not read borate, nor so long, nor so brilliant much for his sermons.
In discuss- as to style, nor so sublime in ocing the second text, on the Divinity casional flights of thought, nor so of our Lord, I could not discern much mixed up with incidental octhat he had availed himself of the currences, as the published sermons. incomparable criticisms of Bishop Perhaps there is no one of them Pearson (Creed, Art. ii.), or Bishop (indeed, they could not be so, conSherlock, in his sermons. Self- sidering that the exact polish and retirement, close and long medi- impress of the style is lost, except tation, the pursuit of a subject perhaps in the last of the series) through the Holy Scriptures, a com- so finished as the discourse parison of its parts with the philo- the death of the Princess Charlotte, sophy of the human mind, the adap- or that entitled Reflections on War, tation of metaphysical research to or the sermon on the Christian Mi. the illustration of the simple facts nistry. But the writer of these and truths of the Inspired Word; pages is mistaken, if competent these I suspect to be the sources judges do not consider the imperof his preparation for the pulpit. In- fect sketches here given as quite deed, Mr. Hall informed me, during worthy of the fame of the preacher. a conversation of four hours, with Allowing for the defects in the shortwhich he indulged me, that his hand representation of them, and power of abstracting himself from for the difference between discourses external things was such, that if his prepared for the public eye and mind was once fixed on a topic of those delivered in the ordinary dis
meditation he became unconscious charge of the Christian ministry, 1 of the things which passed around, these six sermons are master-pieces.
and was quite undisturbed by the The spirituality of feeling, the bold noise or pressure of domestic affairs. declaration of Evangelical truth,
His SOUND AND ACUTE META- the powerful pursuit of an important PHYSICAL ATTAINMENTS appear in practical argument, the acute refu. every one of the following sermons. tation of error, the tender consolaWithout giving any prominence to tion administered to the afflicted, them in the pulpit, they pervade the elevating views presented of and illuminate softly all his reason- God and Christ and heaven and ings. The nature of the human holiness, the sacred impression mind, its operations, the force of which the whole discourse is calhabits, the tendency of the Gospel culated to produce, raise them, in to purify the heart, the connection these respects, far above the printed of holiness with peace,
tbe attributes sermons of the same great author. and moral character of God, the For occasional bursts of the true preparation for heaven, and similar sublime, I conceive nothing in the topics, are touched upon with the published writings can much exceed hand of a master; and are connected the whole third sermon, on Fellowwith the Holy Word on the one ship with God; and a passage in the hand, and with the highest meta- sixth, on God the Father of our physical science on the other, in a spirits. way just to supply the intermediate To COMPARE MR, HALL WITH
GENIUS OF greater conviction, and expanding OUR AGE, DR. CHALMERS, is a his one important subject at once difficult, and perhaps an invidious before the view; as the wide and task. They are both highly gifted fair lakes of Switzerland spread their and most powerful men, raised up varied, and complete, and connected and qualified for great service to beauties before the eye of the specthe church of Christ ; but they tator. Dr. Chalmers, in short, is are very different in their style and more impassioned, Mr. Hall more character of mind. As to the use sublime ; the one declaims, the other of the English language and purity argues ; the first storms the mind, of composition, Mr. Hall, the most the second charms it and unfolds elegant writer of his day, stands all its sympathies. Dr. Chalmers confessedly vastly superior to Dr. is adapted for the popular ear : his Chalmers, whose corruptions, neg- bold and reiterated statements, his lects, inventions, and bad taste, overwhelming tide of words, his make his finest discourses at times projecting and striking imagery, his unintelligible. But this is an in- small number of distinct thoughts troductory and very inferior point. enforced in various different forms ; As to power of mind, I should think all make him the preacher for the Dr. Chalmers the more daring and crowded popular auditory. Mr. vigorous, and Mr. Hall the more Hall is the preacher for the scholar, delicate and acute reasoner. Dr. the student, the metaphysician, the Chalmers is bold; Mr. Hall beau- man of elegant education, the fastitiful, Dr. Chalmers seizes one idea, dious proud despiser of spiritual rewhich he expands by amplification ligion, the pretender to a philosophy and reiteration through a discourse: not thoroughly fathomed. His mastera Mr. Hall combines and works up mind, his acute insight into the very a variety of arguments in support inmost soul, his candour towards of his topic; never loses sight of his his opponents, his intipite reverence point; touches every subject briefly, for Holy Scripture, his cautious and with exquisite taste; and leaves conclusive argumentation, his dean impression upon the mind more licate and sublime bursts of imasoft, more pleasing, but perhaps not gery, his superiority to party feel. much less powerful, than his great ings and interests, ensure the attencontemporary. Dr. Chalmers gives tion, and fix the conviction, of every only one or two projecting truths, competent and unprejudiced hearer. and leaves his subject confessedly As to USEFULNEss, the palm must incomplete : his sermons are como be conceded, FOR posed of many separate thoughts AGE, to Dr. Chalmers: he is more slightly linked to one another; and, bold, more decisive, more capable like the reaches in the majestic course of frequent effort, more ready to of the Rhine, which succeed each commit his unfinished compositions other by breaks, and expand upon the to the press, more negligent of the eye with extraordinary beauty when minuter graces, which fetter Mr. you enter them, but are succeeded Hall, and limit his efforts, and have by a narrow flow of the stream at left him, after fifty years of public each interval, his sermons are a life, the author of far fewer works, succession of bold and magnificent and those works of less extent and truths wrought out with strength, less general importance, than Dr. and then left by the preacher, that Chalmers has produced in one fourth he may press on to the next mighty portion of that time. idea. Mr. Hall's sermons are a In The next Age, it is possible beautiful whole; less daring in the Mr. Hall's publications may fetch general parts, but more closely up the way he appears to have lost connected; coming on the mind with in the present. All his practical
writings will live, and exercise a
SERMON I. powerful sway over the public mind, when many of Dr. Chalmers's may The discourse of which the following is a have done their work and been
sketch, was delivered at Bristol, Friday,
November 10, 1826. forgotten. Had Mr. Hall more of the bold and intrepid character of Acts xiv. 22: Confirming the souls Dr. Chalmers ; would he write with of the disciples, and exhorting them less anxiety and refinement; would to continue in the faith ; anid that he devote himself to the prosecu- we must through much tribulation tion of some great national topic, enter into the kingdom of God. touching the interests of morals and After preaching the Gospel in difreligion; would be disregard more ferent parts, the Apostles always aphis own feelings, in order to do pear anxious to see the fruits of their good in a transitory world; there labours. They were not like the fais nothing which he might not be bled ostrich, which leaves its eggs on capable of effecting, under God's the sand, to be trodden under foot ; blessing : for no man of the present but they had the tender feelings age has gained the car, and fixed the of a parent ; they were fathers in love and admiration of his country. Christ. They were more; they had men, more than Robert Hall.
the parental tenderness of the softer There are fewer traces in the fol- sex: “My little children,” says St. lowing sermons of the peculiarities Paul, “ of whom I travail in birth of Mr. Hall's sentiments as a Bap. again till Christ be formed in you :" tist minister, than could have been “ I was gentle among you, even as imagined : scarcely a sentence occurs a nurse cherisheth her children; so, throughout the course, except in the being affectionately desirous of you, fourth sermon, where he ascribes to I was willing to have imparted unto the confession of the Christian faith you, not the Gospel of God only, but at baptism what those who, with the also our own souls, because ye were Church of England, hold Infant Bap- dear unto us.” tism, would rather have asssigned to This tenderness of affection apthe time when the vows made for us pears in the history connected with at baptism are ratified and con- the text. At Lystra and Derbe the firmed. There are a few words, also, Apostles had endured the most vioin the first sermon, on the use of the lent treatment. Paul had been taken word confirmation, and the nature of up as dead ; but immedialely, by a the office of Evangelists, which have miracle, had been restored to life. drawn from me a passing observa: We read of no effects of the stoning tion in the notes. These, however, remaining on his body afterwards, form no exception to that high praise nor of any thing in him different for candour and largeness of charity from his usual health and vigour; we to which Mr. Hall's religious publi. conclude, therefore, that a complete cations fully entitle him.
cure was instantaneously produced. The writer of these sketches can- What fortitude, what patience, not conclude this notice without ex. what magnanimity, appear in the pressing an ardent feeling of grati. Apostles on this occasion ! How fit iude to Almighty God, for having to be chosen the witnesses of Christ's enjoyed the advantage, during a win- resurrection ! So far from being deter of much domestic suffering, of terred by the violence they suffered, becoming acquainted with a preacher they venture, not only into other and minister from whom, both in churches and places; but return public and private, he has learned again to the very Lystra whence more than he ever did, during similar they had just escaped by a miracle. brief opportunities, from any other Their purpose in visiting these cities person.
is given in the text.
The office of the Apostles was more fully in the way of God, to twofold. To sow the seed of in- guard them against temptation, and struction in the mind, to regenerate fortify them against the impression men by the Divine word to a hea of fear. They confirmed them, venly life; this was their first ob- I. By holding out the evidences of ject. When this was done, they se- the religion they had taught. They condly endeavoured to confirm their established their minds, by bringing new converts ; to lead them on; to them back to their first principles. corroborate and strengthen them ; The Apostles doubtless reiterated to to teach them to bear the trials them the great facts upon which and bring forth the fruits which it Christianity was founded, and apwas the end and design of Chris- pealed to the miracles they had tianity to produce.
wrought among them in support of The Church of England, indeed, its Divine authority. confines the idea of confirmation to It is very important for the young one particular rite*. This I think is to be confirmed in the principles a mistake. I understand confirmad and evidences of their faith. Many tion as a constant, oft-repeated duty, are seduced into infidelity because performed by the word of warning, they never had a rational conviction of comfort, and of exhortation. of the truth of Christianity, never
The first office was that of evan- investigated its evidences, never gelists; the second, of pastors and understood the main course of that teachers. It would be well if both argument. Such persons may have offices were continued in the church had impressions, emotions, favournow-if there were evangelists, to able prejudices, and thus have taken go about and plant the Gospel where up the profession of the Christian it is unknown, before men were col. religion; and where all this has been lected into churches under pastors accompanied with humble penitence, and teachers*. But the object of and faith in the truths of the Scripthe Apostles' visit, as recorded in tures, this may be enough. But in the text, was to confirm the souls of a religion that rests merely upon the disciples, to deepen the impres- sentiment, upon circumstances, upon sion of Divine truth, to instruct them negative grounds, there is nothing
to resist temptation. When the feel• The writer of these notes, being a mem- ings subside, that religion is gone: ber of the Church of England, would here there is nothing of principle and observe, that that church is very far from conviction to sustain their faith under confining the idea of confirmation to one particular rite. She embraces every one
a state of decayed sensibility. It of the subordinate duties mentioned above. would be happy for young people, in But she holds, in addition, that, after the this vain age, to confirm themselves example of the Apostles, she may by her in the evidences of Christianity bebishops confirm the young members of her fore they go out into the world. hands. Some such rite is, in fact, retained This might soon be done. A small by all confessions and denominations of the treatise, such as that of Doddridge Christian church. With regard to the Evangelists, it may dences of Christianity,) furnishes a
(in the three sermons on the evibe noted, that the plan of parochial divisions of the population is precisely cal summary of the powerful argument culated to supply the church with mi- such as no sophistry of infidels has nisters, who, residing on their cures, may ever been able to subvert. perform the offices of Evangelists, as well
But the Apostles not only thus as of pastors and teachers, to the different classes of their people. Would that the confirmed the souls of the disciples; influences of Divine Grace were so vouch- but safed to our bishops and our clergy, that the II. Exhorted them to continue in high and sacred designs of CONFIRMATION
the faith.-They persuaded them, might be better answered, and that the duties of Evangelists might be more zeal- by all possible arguments, to adhere ously performed!
to the doctrine of Christianity, to