THE MORAL INFLUENCE WE EXERT AFTER DEATH. BY THE REV. J. GUMMING, A.M.

" He being dead yet speaketh." — lleb. xi. 4.

There can be no question that the text, in its primary import, refers to the faith and accepted sacrifice of Abel ; and that the Holy Spirit conveys the important truth, that the departed son of Eve proclaims a useful and healthful lesson, even from the chambers of the tomb — namely, that the blood of Jesus our sacrifice is the ground of all our hopes and acceptance, and that by him alone, as the living way, is there access to the Father. But we may fairly depart from the personal and specific idea involved in the text, and present it as one of those general and great principles which have a bearing on all — a lesson to the living, and a truth concerning the dead. Every son of man, as well as Abel, " being dead yet speaketh." Every man that plays a part in the great drama of human life, leaves, at his departure, an impress and an influence,

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more or less extensive and lasting. The grave of the peasant and the mausoleum of the prince, are alike vocal. The sepulchral vault in which the scion of royalty was laid the other day, as well as the cold, wet, opening of the earth in which the way-side beggar was buried, utters audible and actuating oratory. From every one of the dead a voice is heard, in some circle of the world's inhabitants, which the knell of their departure does not drown — whicli the earth and the green sod do not muflle — which neither deafness, nor distance, nor any tiling that man may devise, can possibly extinguish.

* Occasioned by the dealli of the Rev. Edward Irving, A.M. 456

Every churchyard speaks often far more thrilling accents than the senate house of the congregations of the living.

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No fact is more self-evident, or more universally admitted, than the text; and no fict withal is more generally disregarded by the living. Do not the sayings and doings of your departed relatives often arrest you in the busy stir of human life, and, according to their tone and character, supply you with fresh incentives to holiness and religion, or to godlessness and impiety 1 Do not their words often eclio in ihe cells of memory 1 Do not their features and their forms start into bright contrast with the darkness of actual absence, and light up the chambers of imagery with early recollections 1 Do not the sounds of the one, and the sight of the other, reach your hearts, and tell upon your resohitions, your actions, and your hopes'? And, just in proportion to the width of the sphere in which the departed moved, and the strength of intellectual and moral character they possessed and developed, will be the duration and the plastic power of that influence they have left behind them. A son, for instance, trained to maturity under the affectionato

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superintendence of a religious mother, breaks loose in the days of his manhood from all the restraints and ties that bound him to the ways of pleasantness and peace, and wounds the heart of his parent, and brings her gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. In after years, and in the far-ofl land of his prodigality and guilt, early impressions look forth from his memory,

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from beneath the wreck and rubbish by which they are covered, and rivet his thoughts on the past. In this stilly hour the ghosts of departed scenes of innocence and peace flit before him, and the voice of his heart-broken mother rings amid his

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heart's emptiness, and she " being dead yet speaketh" from her grave, with an emphasis and effect which she could not command while she sat beneath her own roof, and beside her own hearth. A reaction takes place in his conduct, and all by the instrumentality of the holy conversation and unblemished worth of her whose lips are closed in death, and who " being dead nevertheless speaketh" for her God, his truth, and his glory.

Or we may vary the illustration, and adopt that of a departed minister of Jesus. His tongue was ever eloquent in the cause of piety and eternal things, and his life was the exact counterpart of his creed — the echo of his preaching, the legible and the living illustration of all his sermons. Under such a ministry as this, many remained impregnable to the claims of eternity, " dead in trespasses and sins." When he has been gathered to his fathers, and the voice that sounded the trumpet of alarm and of battle has been hushed in the silence of the tomb, and the fingers

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that were taught by .Jehovah to fight, and to wield the sword of the Spirit, are nerveless in death — ! often there comes from the pastor laid in the grave, a more persuasive and melting eloquence, than there came from the pastor standing in tlie pulpit; and from the lierald of Jesus wrapped in his winding-sheet, a more successful sermon, than from the herald of Jesus robed in the emblems of his ministerial character. Deep often is the appeal that comes from his grave, and spirit-stirring and touching the discourse which "he being dead yet speaketh." His example lingers behind iiim ; the imperishahlr of liis nature walks amotitj his

side of the portrait ; and were the influence left behind by the dead universally of this stamp and character, then would men be throughout their biography like visitant angels of mercy passing athwart our miserable world, distilling balm and scattering light among men's sons ; or as

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transient gales from the spicy lands of the East, or glorious meteors arising in rapid succession amidst the moral darkness of the earth, imparting light and fearlessness to its many pilgrims, and this would be bettered by every successive generation, till it arose and expanded to its millennial blessedness and peace. But alas ! if many of the dead yet speak for God, and for the eternal welfare of humanity, many, many also speak for Satan, and ply after, as before their death, the awful work of sealing souls in their slumber, and smoothing and adorning the paths that lead to eternal death. Just reverse the portraits we have drawn. Suppose that the mother we have alluded to was one that forgot, alike and altogether, the claims of her God, her soul, and her family; and, both by her example and her tuition, fostered the evil passions which are indigenous to our nature. What is the language in which she " being dead yet speaks V What is the influence she leaves behind her ] It is the same voice that comes from her home and her grave :

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"Let us cat and drink, for to-morrow we die:" and often and again will her evil maxims be quoted, and her wicked life appealed to, for incentives to sin, and encouragement in the works and ways of ini(juity. She is dead, but- the contagion of her character is alive. Her form is beneath the earth, but her voice is still heard to the extent of its sphere, and the spec.'ro of her immoralily stalks among those that were attached to lier in life : and, just in proportion to the many amiabilities of her ciiaracter, will be ihr depth and duration of th(> ini|)ression made by the

flock, visiting tiioir homes, comforting the I vices of her character. Or we may pass

mourner, warning llic careless, and teaching the ignorant, and continues to stand in the pulpit which the living man occupied, and "to reason of rigliteousness, and It'inperanrc, and juilgmiMit."

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to the higher platform, and quote iho ('hristian minister. Let us suppose that his creed and bis conduct were irreconcilable antagonists — that he preached like a ser;(|)h, and lived like a devil — thai he

This, my Christian brethren, is the fair, preached so well thnt it was a pity hm Vol. I.— 58 2 Q

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€ver left the pulpit, but lived so ill that it was a pity he ever entered it. O ! how

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destructive the sermons which he " being dead yet speaketh !" Every godless hearer he has left behind him will appeal to the doings of his deceased minister for a sort of license to his conduct, and indulgence for his sins ; and the unhappy man will destroy more after his death than during his life.

Thus the departed sinner, as well as the departed saint, " being dead yet speaketh." Thus our sins as well as our virtues survive. Thus we exert a posthumous influence which adds either an impulse upon the advancing chariot of salvation, or throws stumbling-blocks and obstacles in its way. These last characters are like baleful comets that traverse our canoj)y for awhile, leaving behind them pestilence, and plague, and mildew ; or, like the fell simooms of the desert, wafting moral death and desolation to every scene which they visit. It is for these reasons that we urge every one to read the lives of illustrious martyrs, and apostles, and saints, who "being dead

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yet speak," in behalf of all that is holy, and honest, and of good report; and it is for this reason especially that we would warn every man, and teach every man, to be very jealous of his life and his doings, not merely on account of the present generation, but of generations yet to come, over which his influence for good or for evil may extend.

We have hitherto spoken of the influence for good or for evil which men leave behind them in the immediate circles of their friends and acquaintance ; but there are other ways in which men may speak to many generations yet to come, as loudly as if they had a voice which could be heard from the rivers to the ends of the earth. I speak not of the lettered tombstone, which is the voice of many of the dead speaking, after they are gone, to the pilgrim that is wending his way to Zion ; nor of monuments erected to commemorate illustrious worth ; nor of legacies and bequests to the cause of religion, which make the name of the donor to be men-

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tioned with reverence and respect after he is gone : but I speak of the almost un-

dying influence which genius can exert by reason of that great discovery of modern times — the printing-press. The discovery of printing is the finest illustration of my text; and well may we remark in passing, that many texts which to us appear yet weak or obscure, are waiting for greater advancement in human discoveries to be brought home to us in all their weight and their fulness. By means of printing, man may speak to all kindreds, and tribes, and people, and tongues, and make his voice be heard, with simultaneous power, beyond the Atlantic waves, and upon the shores of the Caspian sea, and amid the population of E urope. Nay, he may speak to accumulating generations after his death, with all the freshness and force of personal eloquence. Printing gives to man a sort of ubiquity and eternity of being: it enables him to

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outwit death, and enshrine himself amid a kind of earthly immortality. It enables him to speak while yet dead. His words that breathe, and thoughts that burn, are imbodied and embalmed ; and with him thousands hold profitable or hurtful communion till time is no more.

If, then, we are loudly called upon to be careful what we speak, and what we do, we are doubly warned to beware what we throw into the press, and invest with a power to endure, and a strength to pass every sea, and to visit every people. Every day as it dawns is adding to the powers, and resources, and expansibilities of man : and, if every day docs not also add a larger amount of moral and religious principle to regulate this growing power, then, in the end, will the human race attain a giant's strength, but have an idiot's skill to use it. Our political power is increased ; our numerical, and therefore physical, power is increased; our resources are immensely increased ; our skill has enabled us, by

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steam navigation, to bid defiance to tide, and tempest, and time ; and our improvements in printing are now so vastly multiplied, that we can give body and form to every word that falls from the lips of man, and circulate the speech that was addressed to a few auditors yesterday to the utmost ends of the globe. We there-

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fore want much a commensurate increase of religious principle, and need more liian ever to be reminded how and what we are to do. Never was the text so true as it is in the nineteenth century ; never did men " being dead yet speak" so exteneively, so long, and so loudly.

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If any earth-born joys are admitted as visitants amid the celestial choirs, the joy that springs from having written saving and sanctifying worksj is the sweetest that reaches the hearts of the saved. And I can fancy a Baxter, a Newton, a Scott, a Rutherford, rejoice with exceeding joy when the angels that minister to them that are to be heirs of salvation, bring word that, in consequence of the "Awakening Call of the Unconverted," or " the Force of Truth," or the " Letters from the Prison of Aberdeen," some sinner has been aroused from his lethargy, and made a partaker of grace, and mercy, and peace. And if, as we believe, any poignant recollections from this side " the bourne whence no traveller returns," reach the memories of the lost, not the least bitter will be the remembrance of having written volumes which are circulated by every library, and sold by evCry vender, in which the foundations of morality are sapped, and the youth of our world poisoned throughout

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the whole range of their moral economy. O ! it will be the sorest sting of that worm which never dies, and the most agonizing pang of that fire which is never quenched, that their name, and their creed, and tiieir principles after them, gather converts on earth, and carry fell desolation to liomes that had otherwise been happy, and corruption to hearts that had else beat high with philanthropy and piety. To speak in many tongues and in many lands, long after they are dead, is a source of deep joy to tlie holy ones that arc saved ; and to speak in many tongues and in many lands, after they arc dead, is a source of the bittcreat sorrow to the damned. And thus it seems to co;ne out, that the intellectual and seicnlific discoveries of every day, are preparing nitlier aildilional matter of do(;p p.iin to the lost, or of intense joy to the ransomeil. Knowlmlgn is not only power for good or for evil, but it is

joy or sorrow to the denizens of eternity.

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Often and again will the great and the wise that are in glory, wish that their pens had been more employed, and their faculties put more to the stretch ; and often will the lost in hell wish, that when they wrote, their right hand had forgotten its cunning, and the sun refused them his light, and the press cast out their works still-born, and consigned them to Lethean streams.

Thus I have laid before you the mighty influence which emanates from the dead, and the many channels, through which that influence may continue to flow forth upon the living, for generations yet to come. I am now anxious, as a watchman upon the walls of Zion, to improve all passing occurrences, and, among the rest at this time, the death of one who has made a deeper sensation among the religious public, than any other minister since the days of Luther and of Knox, and who being dead speaks volumes — I mean the death of the Rev. Edward Irving. His name is now perished from the

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catalogue of the living upon earth, but found, I am sure, in the book of the living on high. I believe he has gone to the bosom of his Father and his God, where his sincere, but grievous misapprehensions of many great truths are for ever done away. He held, I know, the alone foundation Christ Jesus, and adorned the doctrine he professed by every Christian virtue ; and while the " hay, and straw, and stubble," he built on it are all consumed, he himself shall be everlastingly secure.

When I came first to this great metropolis, I found in Mr. Irving a friend when I had none besides, and in his session much spiritual and religious comfort. I was in the habit of spending many Saturday evenings along with a few ministers of England and Scotland, in meditations on the (ircek Testament; and when I remember the child-like simplicity, tho striking humbleness of mind, and the kind hospitality of that great and pnod man, I cannot but grieve nl the awful

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eclipse under which he came, an<l the early tomb he has found. Ho is gone to the grave, I have reason to biliovc, willi

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a broken heart. However much he continued to adhere to the unscriptural and enthusiastic notions lie broached, he could not yet shut his eyes to the awful discoveries made concerning the conduct of some of his professedly inspired followers. Conceive men daring to declare that they were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and, in virtue of their pretended inspiration, ordaining apostles, evangelists, prophets, and, all the while, living in the grossest violation of the ten commandments. In

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these things there was enough to break that good man's heart; and if we combine with these facts the various tribunals at which he has stood — his dissociation and exile from the temple in this city, which the credit of his name had reared, and in which (as he himself most pathetically said) his babes were buried — his deposition from the office of the holy ministry in that church, whose battles he had often fought and whose walls he dearly loved ; we can see more than adequate maierid to bring him to the grave in the prime of manhood. He set out on the Christian ministry like some warship, with streaming pennants, and with majestic way : but the storms beat, and the waves arose, and prudence was driven from the helm, and, perchance, the seven spirits that are before the throne ceased to breathe upon the sails; and battered, and tossed, and rifted, she foundered amid rocks and shoals. I left him when I conceived that he had left truth ; but still, never did I cease to esteem the man, and earnestly to pray for his recovery. It is

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because " he being dead yet speaketh" more important lessons than any of the dead I have known, that I bring his character before you this day. Let me, in dependence on divine grace, enumerate a few of the lessons, "he being dead yet speaks" to the ministers and people of Christ.

1. He speaks to us strongly on the danger that environs a hfly intelkd. No man ever possessed a mind of higher range, and a greater power of fervent and impressive oratory. None, with the exception of his illustrious father in Christ, Dr. Chalmers, was so able to arrest the attention, and gain the hearts, and mould

the doings of his audience. But it washis calamity that he knew and felt too well the greatness of his genius ; and this made him fancy he could penetrate the arcana of eternity in virtue of his intellectual prowess, and gather to his bosom

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flowers that bloomed not for man upon earth, and make known a geography which is to be known hereafter only. Like the eagle, he soared too near the sun, and was struck blind. He was misled by sparks of his own kindling. Had he been but a retired and ordinary parish minister, how happy had it been for Edward Irving ! But so it is ; the strongest swimmer is first drowned, and the strongest and the foremost warrior most frequently slain.

Here is a lesson for men of great parts. It is not in this case that grace is needed in the inverse ratio of our intellectual strength. The greater our intellect is, the greater our need of grace to guide it. The strong man has most need of discretion, and the rich man of prudence. Let it be your fervent prayer, that the powers you have derived from the Creator may be incased in grace derived from Christ Jesus your Redeemer. Here also is a lesson to men of moderate talents. Envy not the lofty minds of the eloquent and

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the able : the higher you rise, the greater is your liability to fall. Let us remember, that David's weakness, backed by the blessing of the God of Israel, was stronger than the strength of Goliath without it. Our warfare is not with intellectual, but with spiritual arms. The only desirable gift is the grace of God.

2. " He being dead yet speaketh" of ilie dangers of ministerial popttlarily. Never yet did obscurity destroy ministerial usefulness, but often has it been impaired and neutralized by the poison of the popular breath. He who is gone had often and again among his audience, the crowns and the coronets of the world — the wise, and the rich, and the illustrious ; and the matter of wonder is, not that he should have fallen, but that he did not fall much sooner. It would be well if those, who spare no condemnatory language when they speak of him who is gone, would but think, that if they had

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etood in his place, their fall would have oeen more speedy, and more disastrous. He became giddy from the eminence to which he was raised ; and after staggering awhile, he fell, a warning to all never to forget that " by grace they stand," wherever and whatever be the niche which they occupy.

But there is an especial admonition from his tomb lo our comrregalions. His people almost idolized him ; they listened to him instead of listening to God ; and therefore the Almighty taught them, by bitter experience, that man is not to receive the glory that pertains exclusively to Jehovah. O never was minister-worship so

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signally punished ; and never, I trust, will the lesson cease to be remembered by generations yet to come.

3. " He being dead yet speaketh" respecting the danger of seJf-sufficiencij and se'f -confidence. We are, by no means, prepared to assert, that the verdict of others is to determine the nature of our own decisions on the word of the living God ; and we are not prepared to assert, that any national or individual church is infallible; we must all stand or fall by what we ourselves have thought and done, not by what others have said. But when the whole voice of Christendom is lifted up against an opinion which we ha'^e cherished — when martyrs have sealed by their blood, and apostles have preached to the death, and reformers liave proclaimed in every land, that one proposition is from the Scripture, and the other in direct opposition to its statements, it surely becomes a young and inexperienced divine, to doubt, to pause, to give away. Because we are not to bow to the ipse

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dixit of any, we are not therefore to reject the weight of the testimony of the wise, the holy, the ancient. The whole Church of Scotland decided, through her venerable assembly, that the views of Mr. Irving, respecting the liumanity of Christ, were unscriptural ; and yet he persisted in his adherence to his former statements, and pitched his own judgment ng.iiust tliat of iho most venerable, and c'lrned, and holy fathers of the Christian church. I do feel, that next to ihi; Bible, wo are to honour llio church. But tlic fact

is, that the whole inspiration of the word of God was clean at issue with those views which Mr. Irving broached respecting the humanity of Jesus. As to the claims to miraculous powers, never were claims so wild and preposterous. I defy them to produce one single mstance of miraculous power. The miracles of our Lord and his apostles were so palpable, that men never disputed their supernatu-

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ral character, but declared that they were either from God or from Satan ; but, in the present day, the miracles said to be wrought are such miserable failures, that the question is among themselves whether they really be miracles or not. Doubt is condemnation here. Nothing should be more satisfactory to these deluded men than the fact, that, a fortnight before tlie death of him to whom we allude, one of the gifted persons, speaking (as he professed) by the Spirit, prophesied that their leader would not die. What is tiie fact] And what is the inference] I pressed this single incident lately home to the conscience of one of the deluded people, and he told me that Jeremiah had prophesied falsehoods, and, if he erred, the prophets in Newman-street surely had license to err. So indeed they had. So infatuated are these fanatics that, rather than humble themselves to see the absurdity of their views, they will lot go their belief in the inspiration of the word of the living God, and shake the very foundations of all our Cliristianity. May

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God deliver us from a spirit of self-confidence and self-sufficiency, and lead us to that happy temperament which stands neither in receiving wholesale and unexamined the opinions of men, nor in rejectinf and despising them as less to be depended on tlian our own. Above all, let us ever feel that dependence on the Spirit of God 'which is our greatest strength and security.

4. " He being dead yet speaketh" respecting Ih-. danger if leaving truth, even in the amalleat degree, and pnfrrin<i opiniium Himp/i/ hecausc thetf are nnvel. 'I'liere is but one slraiglit and true way, while j ihiTo are a ihnusaiitl false. In tliit wny I wn find that the pious and (he illustrious i dead have walked, and found peace ; and

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this way is so clear and well-defined that we nnay rest assured, whatever scintillations of truth, unobserved before, we bring to the view of men, these must be on the surface only. The great truths of the Bible were, perhaps, more distinctly seen and grasped, at the dawn of the Christian era, than in these its latter days. We may illustrate, and we may place in stronger light, the great articles of a standing or a falling church ; but find other and hitherto undiscovered and essential truth, we never can. Take care, then, of deviating from the path of truth by an inch. If once you leave that consecrated and beaten way, you know not to what darkness and error you may eventually come. You then follow the ignis fatuus of human fancy, and lose the only light to the feet, and lamp to the path — you lose the thread that leads through the mazy labyrinth of

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human life — you start away on a wrong scent.

He who is dead speaks powerfully on this subject. He started some wild vagaries on the millennium, and laid these down as axioms in Christian doctrine : but he stopped not here ; one wild notion was hatched after another, till the unhappy author was lost in a maze of confusion and error. Had he been spared, I doubt not but that he would have retracted his errors, and returned to the good old ways of scriptural and solid inquiry. As it is, let us learn from the dead the lesson which the Almighty has not seen meet to allow us to learn from the lips of the living — that it is an evil and bitter thing to forsake the plain and the long-established ways of truth. And now, could he revisit them whom he has led astray, O how fervid and how earnest would be his exhortations to abandon tlieir wild and unscriptural creed, and return to the church of their fathers, the mother from whose breasts

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Ihey first drew the sincere milk of the word, and by whose hallowed altars they were nurtured and fed. O, let the confessed hypocrisy of some of these

fanatics, and the discovered iniquity of" others of them — let the mockery of miraculous power they exhibit, and the lying prophecies they utter, prove to these deluded mortals that their church is a refuge of lies, and, with a few sincere and holy exceptions, a sanctuary for hypocrisy, fanaticism, and sin.

To us, who have escaped these delusions, the dead would speak — do not suppose that, because you have the form of godliness, therefore all is well : do not suppose that a sound creed is universally connected with a sanctified heart. Remember heart and life heresy is much worse than head heresy. Remember that to no purpose will you say, " Lord ! Lord !" if you have not done those things

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which he has commanded. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds to see the truth, and sanctify our hearts to feel and to follow it!

garrick's precepts to preachers.

The celebrated Garrick having been requested by Dr. Stonehouse to favour him with his opinion as to the manner in which a sermon ought to be delivered, the English Roscius sent him the following judicious answer : —

" MY DEAR PUPIL,

" You know how you would feel and' speak in a parlour concerning a friend who was in imminent danger of his life, and with what energetic pathos of diction and countenance you would enforce the observance of that which you really thought would be for his preservation* You could not think of playing the orator,

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of studying your emphasis, cadence, and gesture : you would be yourself; and the interesting nature of your subject impressing your heart, would furnish you with the most natural tone of voice, the most proper language, the most engaging features, and the most suitable and graceful gestures. What you would thus be in the parlour be in the pulpit, and you will not fail to please, to affect, and to profit. Adieu, my dear friend."

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