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well as the graces of his servants, subserve his purposes ; and in the selection of instruments, there is always a peculiar fitness for the work in which he employs them.
The effect of Mr. Richmond's ministry was also considerably heightened, by the fluency of his addresses. He adopted a method of preaching usually called extempore; without premeditation, as to the words of a sermon, but not to the exclusion of much previous prayer, and labour in the arrangement of its materials. “ It is a singular circumstance," observes a friend of his early life, “ that his first attempt to preach extempore, in the very small church of Yaverland, in the Isle of Wight, was a total failure. He was so ashamed of it, that he declared he would not repeat the attempt; and it was only in consequence of the urgent solicitations of our common friend, the Rev. Charles Hoyle, that he was induced to make a second trial, when he succeeded beyond his hopes, and never afterwards found any difficulty.”
As a proof of the eminence to which he afterwards attained, we venture to introduce another anecdote.
The late Mr. Whitbread went to hear him preach at St. Paul's, Bedford, in the year 1807, accompanied by a friend, who had expressed an earnest wish to be present. The church was remarkably crowded—the preacher animated--and the interest of the congregation strongly excited. The gentleman above alluded to at length observed : “He has now preached with incredible fluency, both as to matter and language, for three quarters of an hour, and he does not seem even yet to be exhausted, or to be drawing to a close.” “ Exhausted !" replied Mr. Whitbread : “ he can hold on, in the same way,
for two or three hours longer.”
We avail ourselves of this occasion, to offer a few remarks on the subject of extempore preaching.
This mode of address, which has considerably prevailed during the last twenty or thirty years, however acceptable to some, is known to excite strong prejudices in the minds of others. It is considered as an irregular and unauthorized practice; incapable of that well-digested arrangement, which onght to characterize a discourse from the pulpit ; and as derogating from the dignity of the ministers of the Established Church. But this objection regards the execution rather than the principle itself; and it is the legitimacy, suitableness, and efficiency of this practice, rightly and fully improved, which forms the proper subject for consideration. Its legitimacy will most probably be thought by many to be the vulnerable part of the question; wbile the absence of the practice amongst the constituted guardians of our church, who are supposed to be the proper standards for our imitation, will no doubt be appealed to, as furnishing conclusive evidence against it. With regard to its authority, we insert the following Mandate, addressed by King Charles II. to the university of Cambridge :
“ Vice Chancellor, and Gentlemen,
“ Whereas his Majesty is informed, that the practice of reading sermons is generally taken up by the preachers before the University, and therefore continues even before himself; his Majesty hath commanded me to signify to you his pleasure, that the said practice, which took its beginning from the disorders of the late times, be wholly laid aside; and that the said preachers deliver their sermons, both in Latin and English, by memory, without book; as being a way of preaching which bis Majesty judgeth most agreeable to the use of foreign churches—to the custom of the University heretofore—and to the nature of that holy exercise. And, that his Majesty's commands in these premises may be duly regarded and observed, his further pleasure is, that the names of all such ecclesiastical persons as shall continue the present supine and slothful way of preaching, be, from time to time, signified to me, by the Vice Chancellor for the time being, on pain of his Majesty's displeasure.*
“ MONMOUTH. Oct. 8, 1674." This document, which bears the stamp of royal authority, is sufficient to remove the charge of innovation : and so far from extempore preaching being, as is commonly supposed, the exception to the general rule, written sermons on the contrary, are a departure from the original practice; for prior to the time of Charles I., extempore preaching was the usual mode of address from the pulpit, and the deviation from this custom is here considered to be a declension from the zeal of former times, and to have had its source in supineness and sloth. A reference to Fox's Book of Martyrs plainly shews the practice of the Reformers.
In the life of Bishop Latimer we are told, “ he spoke with great freedom; and it not then being the custom for the clergy to write down their sermons, and read them, as they do now, to the people, what he spoke on a subject was full of sincerity, and
* See Statute Book of the University of Cambridge, p. 301. Car. II., Rex. flowed immediately and directly from the heart."* With respect to the usage of foreign churches, the writer can declare from personal observation, that neither in the Romish, Lutheran, or Reformed Churches; neither in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, or Germany, does the practice of using written sermons generally prevail; and it is a fact no less extraordinary than true, that England is the only country where it is known to be established. If again we argue as to the suitableness and efficiency of extemporaneous addresses, we might appeal to the powerful effect produced by them, both in the senate and at the bar. How could a Pitt, a Fox, a Burke, and a Sheridan in the one, and an Erskine in the other, have rivalled the orators of Greece and Rome, if the energies of their minds had been impeded by the restraints and forms of written compositions? And shall the divine and nobler cause of religion, which extends to the immortal destinies of men, be thought less worthy of the sublimest efforts of the mind, and the most intense application of its powers ? Has not the preacher of righteousness materials of a more ample range, and a greater stimulus to vigorous exertion than the advocate of a cause which affects only the interests of the present moment? But it may be objected, are all qualified to exercise this talent? We answer, let men be raised to the grandeur of the subject, instead of the grandeur of the subject being lowered to the level of the men,-let means be adopted to give more of a moral elevation to the education, principles, habits, and lives of the clergy; let doctrine be purified of its errors, and the ambassadors of Christ be more abstracted from the contagious influence of secular occupations, and the deadening effect of too much worldly intercourse-let the influences of divine grace be invoked to descend with their powerful energy on the heart, and we shall soon find that preaching, whether extemporaneous or otherwise, will answer all the purposes of its institution, and religion regain its empire over the soul of man.
We now subjoin some important authorities to sanction this practice.
We quote the following from the life of Bishop Bull, formerly the learned and pious bishop of St. David's.
“It was but seldom, and that upon some extraordinary occasions, that he composed his sermon entire, and committed it to writing ; which is the reason that he has left so few finished discourses behind him. His usual method was, after the choice
* See Latimer's Sermons, 2 vols. 8vo., 1758.
of his text, to mark some words that were to be explained, in order to give the true sense of that portion of Scripture he had chosen to treat upon; and then he writ down some observations which flowed naturally from the subject; and, under each observation, hints to illustrate it, and texts of Scripture proper to be explained, in order to give light to it; and then drew inferences from his whole discourse, by way of application. Thus he had only the scheme of his sermon before him in writing; and having in this manner secured the substance of it, he did, by custom and practice, bring himself to a great readiness and Auency in expressing himself upon all subjects; and if this manner of preaching wanted the exactness of more studied composures, it had the advantage of that popular style, which by good judges has been thought the fittest for the pulpit; from whence, if men design to influence and persuade the generality of their hearers, they must condescend to use more words than are necessary in a strict sense; the same thing must be repeated often, and turned after a different manner, and inculcated with force, so that fresh and lasting impressions may be made upon the audience. What Mr. Bull delivered of this kind never wanted a becoming fervour; and he enlivened his discourses with proper and decent gestures; and his voice was always exerted with some vehemency, whereby he kept the audience awake, and raised their attention to what he delivered, and persuaded the people that he was in earnest, and affected himself with what he recommended to others. By these means he laboured many years in teaching the ignorant, in confirming the weak, in quieting the scrupulous, in softening the hard heart, in rousing the sinner, and in raising the pious soul to a steady and vigorous pursuit of eternal happiness. And whatever he delivered, his words were generally fixed in the minds of his hearers, as they parted from his own, full of warmth and heat.99*
The next authority is from Archbishop Secker.
" There is a middle way used by our predecessors, of setting down, in short notes, the method and principal heads, and enlarging on them in such words as present themselves at the time. Perhaps, duly managed, this would be the best.”
The example of Bishop Burnet may also be adduced ; and in his well-known work, entitled, “The Pastoral Care,” many directions are given for attaining a proficiency in this practice, from which we quote the following for its excellency and importance.
* Nelson's Life of Dr. George Bull, Lord Bishop of St. David's, p. 59.
“ But the rule I have reserved last, is the most necessary of all, and without it all the rest will never do the business; it is this, that a man must have in himself a deep sense of the truth and power of religion ; he must have a life and flame in his thoughts, with relation to those subjects: he must have felt in himself those things which he intends to explain and recommend to others. He must observe narrowly the motions of his own mind, the good and bad effects that the several sorts of objects he has before him, and affections he feels within him, have upon him ; that so he may have a lively heat in himself, when he speaks of them; and that he may speak in so sensible a manner, that it may be almost felt that he speaks from his heart. There is an authority in the simplest things that can be said, when they carry visible characters of genuineness in them. Now, if a man can carry on this method, and by much meditation and prayer draw down divine influences, which are always to be expected when a man puts himself in the way of them, and prepares himself for them; he will often feel, that while he is musing, a fire is kindled within him, and then he will speak with authority and without constraint ; his thoughts will be true, and his expressions free and easy; sometimes this fire will carry him, as it were, out of himself; and yet without any thing that is frantic or enthusiastical. Discourses brought forth with a lively spirit and heat, where a composed gesture, and the
proper motions of the eye and countenance, and the due modulations of the voice concur, will have all the effect that can be expected from any thing that is below immediate inspiration : and as this will be of use to the hearers, so it will be of vast use to the preacher himself, to oblige him to keep his heart always in good tune and temper; not to suffer irregular or forbidden appetites, passions, or projects to possess his mind : these will both divert him from going on in the course of meditation, in which a man must continue many years, till all his thoughts are put in order, polished, and fixed; they will make him likewise speak much against the grain, with an aversion that will be very sensible to himself, if not to his hearers, if he has guilt upon him, if his conscience is reproaching him, and if any ill practices are putting a damp upon that good sense of things, that makes his thoughts sparkle upon other occasions, and gives him an air and authority, a tone of assurance, and a freedom of expression,
“Such a method as I have been opening, has had great success with all those that I have known to have tried it. And though every one has not swiftness of imagination, nor that clearness of expression that others may have, so that in this men may