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Pulpit Eloquence

OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY,

A LECTURE

BY THE VERY REV.

THE DEAN OF CANTERBURY.

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PULPIT ELOQUENCE OF THE SEVENTEENTH

CENTURY.

The words, “ Pulpit Eloquence," strike a note at which, in these days, men's interests are easily stirred. We have witnessed a change come over thoughts and feelings in regard to sermons. Other mighty engines are moving among us, working all but miracles, carrying thousands bither and thither; and some are beginning to require of the mightiest engine among them all, that it should carry its thousands with it likewise. We have borne sermons long enough; we begin to ask of them that they should bear us. Preaching indeed, considered in regard to its sublime object, is, at its best, but foolishness after all; but this, we venture to think, is a reason why it should do its best, not its worst. We must have the treasure in an earthen vessel; still we should sometimes like to hear the chink of the gold. The flesh must utter the sounds; but we want them swept onwards by the living breath of the Spirit within. We live in a busy day, and have not much time for sermons; but in that time we want our hearts touched, and our lives grasped and turned. We cannot afford our pre. cious hours to a mere sound,“ Vox et præterea nihil :” the week brings us enough, and more than enough, of the grinding organ in the streets, making, by everlasting repeti. tion, the once-stirring melody into a burden. No, let our sermons be as Chrysostom said St. Paul's were, living creatures with hands and feet-seeing, feeling, grasping, strug. gling, conquering. If Jove, it was said, spoke Greek, he would speak as Plato wrote; let our preachers take the upward side of the saying, and when they would speak English, speak as their Saviour taught.

Such demands as these are beginning to be heard far and wide over society in our Christian England; and not only are they heard, but they are also listened to, and their effect is becoming daily greater. For the most part, they are just and reasonable. It is true that, like all just and reasonable claims which become a popular cry, they are in danger of being pushed to an extreme. You, perhaps, Christian young men, are in as much danger of doing this as any class among us. You love to hear what is lively, stirring, earnest; you do well. But forget not at the same time, that very much of what is to be done in the pulpit cannot, from its very nature, be thus lively and stirring, and outwardly earnest. What a lively, what a stirring sight is the laying the first stone of a house of prayer. All is liveliness, all is joy; the sun seems to shine brighter than usual, the work. men wear their holiday dresses, the schools wave their banners; the great men of the county gather round, and their words do one good to hear: and so, amid the darkness and weakness and worldliness of humanity, that little new. discovered isle of light is inaugurated. Great thoughts

in the bosom as we lie down that night, and it seems as if heaven had come down nearer to earth, and earth had risen nearer to heaven. Yet, my friends, from that night onwards, how much dull work has to be done, before any can pray in that temple. How many times in the dusk of the morning, in the noonday heat, in the wide shadows of the gleaming West, will the mortar-boy plod up the weary ladder, and the loaded cart discharge its rumbling

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