« PreviousContinue »
EDWARDS A. PARK,
PUBLISHED BY ALLEN, MORRILL AND WARDWELL.
NEW YORK: MARK H. NEWMAN.
BV 662 P23
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845, by
ALLEN, MORRILL & WARDWELL, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts
Some of the reasons for republishing the following treatises of Fenelon, Herbert, Baxter and Campbell are the following:
First, all these treatises have an established character, and no minister's library should be destitute of the standard works in any department of his professional studies. “ The Reformed Pastor," says Dr. Doddridge, “is a most extraordinary performance, and should be read by every young minister, before he takes a people under his stated care; and, I think, the practical part of it reviewed every three or four years; for nothing would have a greater tendency to awaken the spirit of a minister to that zeal in his work, for want of which many good men are but shadows of what (by the blessing of God) they might be, if the maxims and measures laid down in that incomparable treatise were strenuously pursued.” Dr. Bates characterizes the Reformed Pastor as an accomplished model of an evangelical minister;" and Baxter himself speaks of it as one of the greatest and best works that I ever put my hand to in my whole life.” Similar testimony has been given by venerated men to what Doddridge calls, “Fenelon's incomparable Dialogues on Eloquence.” Dr. Edward Williams says in his Christian Preacher, that they “are deservedly mentioned by many writers of eminence, with a sort of respect bordering on veneration ; and no wonder, for such a union of the sublime and simple, of learning and familiarity, of judicious criticism and happy illustration ; such unaffected humility and warm benevolence, delicate taste and solid sense; and above all, such reverence for sacred things, blended with a subject so often employed by human vanity and pride, are superior excellences very rarely found.” It may also
be said of Campbell's Lectures on Pulpit Eloquence, that although imperfect, they have yet become a kind of professional classic for the preacher. They have already passed through many editions on both sides of the Atlantic, and derive a commanding reputation from the philosophical genius of their author, and from his known intimacy with the rhetorical writings of ancient and modern days. The labor which he expended on his Philosophy of Rhetoric, qualified him to write his Lectures on the Pulpit, and that work imparts to these lectures somewhat of its own authority. They contain the compressed results of a protracted study, in which he was an acknowledged master.
Secondly, the bare fact that these treatises have a standard authority in the church, imparts to them a factitious worth which cannot be attained by compositions of modern date. It is impossible that any living divine will give such counsels with regard to clerical duty, as will secure the veneration already paid to the maxims which our ancestors have sanctioned. Even if the contemporary author be as good a man as Richard Baxter, and if he express himself with as much pith and wisdom, still he cannot expect the same immediate deference, which is yielded, as by prescriptive right, to the Puritan of Kiddermin
The dead, when revered at all, have often one advantage over the living; their foibles are hidden behind the veil of years, it may be of centuries; their virtues are remembered, perhaps magnified,—and that which is unknown in reference to them is interpreted in their favor. There is a species of canonization, which we are instinctively inclined to practise, and which often gives to the departed a more unbroken influence than even they could have had while living.
Thirdly, the treatises here republished of our older writers are eminently suggestive in their character. A book which leads those who peruse
to think for themselves, is more valuable than one which is composed with greater punctiliousness, but without that peculiar kind of inspiration which infuses itself into the mind of the reader. George Herbert does not mention
some good rules for the pastoral care ; but he suggests far more than he expressly enjoins. He prescribes much that is now obsolete, but those maxims which are inappropriate to our time are still useful as illustrations of times gone by; as intimating certain great principles of ministerial duty, which remain in all ages the same, while the methods in which the duty is discharged may be varied with successive generations. It would increase the ease of our living, if we could find the rules of our profession, all written out just as they are to be applied; but it is far more impressive to learn the main principles of our calling from a comparison of the systems which are become somewhat antiquated with those which are at present in vogue. While it is important to read such works as those of Porter and Gresley, it is by no means prudent to neglect such as those of Campbell and Fenelon.
Fourthly, the style in which some of these treatises are written is a sufficient reason for presenting and earnestly commending them to our clergy. The language of George Herbert will never cease to be itself instructive. He published his Country Parson about forty years after the first three books of Spenser's Faery Queen were written, but this poem cannot well be understood without a glossary, while it may almost be said of Herbert, as Mackintosh says of Hobbes, that “two centuries have not superannuated more than a dozen of his words.” It is interesting to the scholar to compare the style of the Country Parson, with that of Cotton Mather's “ Directions for a Candidate of the Ministry;" a work published nearly a century after that of Herbert, and yet more antiquated in its phraseology. Coleridge remarks in his Friend, p. 37, “ Having mentioned the name of Herbert, that model of a man, a gentleman and a clergyman, let me add, that the quaintness of some of his thoughts, not of his diction, than which nothing can be more pure, manly and unaffected, has blinded modern readers to the great general merit of his poems, (and, it may be also said, his prose writings,) which are for the most part exquisite in their kind.” With the style