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the sum of all its parts. Some things are evidently true. But, when we have said all that we can say, we are still certain that the truth has only half been told. What can be said about these sermons is, first and last, that they are marvellously original. They are more unlike any thing else that we know, than even Mr. Conway's “ Tracts for to-day;" a book which only needed a more faithful publication to go into a hundred families, where now it stirs and quickens scarcely one. A style which is not borrowed is the expression of the man who uses it; and as Mr. Collyer is decidedly himself, so is his style decidedly his own. Thus it is that readers of these sermons constantly remark how vividly they call to mind the preacher's personality. For they reveal at every step not merely what he thinks, but what he is.
But these sermons are scarcely more remarkable for their originality of manner, than for the absence of originality in the subjects of which they treat. We are not blaming now, but, on the contrary, are about to speak our deepest word of praise. More than any other thing, save one, that we can name, we believe that the power of these sermons consists in this very fact, that they discuss the problems of our every-day experience, – the problems that lie manifest enough in every preacher's path, but which nine preachers out of ten will never grapple with. These problems, that lie upon the surface of our life, but whose roots go down into the very heart of things, he has met, and tried to solve for others; as, soon or late, each man must try to solve them for himself. And as the questions are not new, so are not many of the replies. But this, again, is no objection, but another source of joy. Emerson has somewhere said something to the effect, that we are never so well pleased as when a writer tells us what we already know. Certainly there is no greater joy than when a gifted thinker shows us the half-thoughts that we have cherished, made round and beautiful and whole. This is exactly what these sermons do. Treating of questions which almost every one has tried to answer for himself, they offer to us, in exchange for our own dim and shadowy answers, these well-defined, unfaltering replies.
Unfaltering, we say; and yet these problems, to which Mr. Collyer's thought most naturally runs, are almost never such that they admit of being thoroughly unravelled. But, while he is necessarily compelled to leave the mind unsatisfied, he does not kick against the pricks, but is content so long as his own heart is satisfied, and he may hope to make the hearts of those who listen to him equally serene and calm. And we are sure that few who read his book will hesitate to say, that he has done this for them, and therefore has their bidding to be satisfied with his performance. For, when the true prophet can no longer teach, he can communicate, he can inspire ; and it is in virtue of his ability to do this, that we pronounce our author one of the prophetic order of God-inspired and man-inspiring souls. Gifted with much knowledge, he has the better gift of faith. To use a figure that runs through one of the finest sermons in the book, he sheds much light upon the hidden way; but, when he can illuminate the path no farther, he takes the reader's hand in his, with a strong grasp, and walks through the darkness, with a firm, courageous tread, that echoes with the blessed certainty that God is there as well as in the light, and will not let his trusting children go astray. In the triumphant faith of these sermons in the wisdom and goodness of God, we find the key to Mr. Collyer's eloquence and power. It is not here or there, but it is everywhere. In the last century, the ropes in the English royal navy, from the largest to the smallest, were so twisted, that a scarlet thread ran through them from beginning to end, which could not be extracted without undoing the whole, and by which the smallest piece belonging to the crown could be discovered. So, from the beginning to the end of this volume, runs the bright thread of a sublime and tender faith, giving a royal significance to every part, allying every fragment of it to that crown of life which fadeth not away.
To these main reasons for the power inherent in these words, many of secondary importance might be added. Thus, there are not many pages here that have not some sly bit of humor to enliven them. And the best of this humor is, that it seems so inevitable. It is not lugged in. It would not be left out. When some of Mr. Beecher's people remonstrated with him for saying so many funny things in the pulpit, the story goes that he replied, “ If you only knew how many I leave out !” But most pulpit wit, instead of being thus spoken out of the abundance of the heart, is evidently like the widow's mite ; and it is not charity, when one has so little wit, to give it all away. For the most part, these sallies are a tacit confession, that preaching is a most unsavory affair, and that a little “Attic salt," even if it has entirely lost its savor, is better than none. But Mr. Collyer's wit is not of this poor sort. It is the bubbling over of a nature that cannot always be restrained. It is never mere paddingIt circulates in every fibre of the man.
There is a personal, we might almost say autobiographical, interest
attaching to these sermons, which enhances their interest in no small degree. If the reader knows nothing of the writer at the start, after having finished the book, he will be possessed of quite a little history of his career. A very interesting career it has been certainly. The wonder is, that, with the power that could produce these sermons or any thing like them concealed in him, the writer could tarry at his forge so long; that it was not like a fire shut up in his bones, making him so weary of forbearing, that he could not stay. It is pleasant to imagine how he must rejoice in this power, now that he has come into serene possession. May he live to wield it gracefully and courageously for many a growing year !
Some one has said, that there are three sorts of eloquence : first, that which we would like to criticise, but cannot; second, that which we can criticise, but would rather not; third, that which we could not find fault with if we would, and would not if we could. These sermons might be classed under the second head. In their details, at least, they are not above criticism. There are sentences here which have a beginning, but no end; others which have an end, but no beginning; and others still which have neither beginning nor end; while some are labyrinths wherein the reader vainly wishes that he might have one poor comma, dash, or semicolon for a guide. But, in the main, the writer seldom fails to make his meaning plain. And of bits of writing that are fine without trying to be so, there is here no end.
We doubt not that the commentators might sometimes, if they chose, find fault with Mr. Collyer's scriptural interpretations. We can only say, that if these deep and tender meanings are not in the Bible, they ought to be, and let it go at that. Were we in the mood for finding fault with any thing, it would be with one of his renderings of a later scripture, viz., the life of Channing, where, in his sermon to mothers, he infers, from the fact that he attached his first idea of glory to an old black cook, that Channing, in his youth, was somewhat largely animal in his propensities. We can not but think this a false inference. It was not because Channing himself was so fond of good eating, but because the prevailing tendencies of Newport at that time were much in favor of it, that the cook seemed to him glorious. It was a second, not a first, hand estimate. But the general truth of Mr. Collyer's sermon is not affected by the weakness of this illustration. But the least word of blame with such a book as this seems sadly
out of place. Its faults are as the spots upon the sun. To us, as we have read it, it has made the earth seem fairer with its light : its cheering warmth has put our spirits in a generous glow. We have been helped and strengthened by its every page. We have tried to say what we thought of it. Could we have put what we felt into words, we should have given to the reader a more adequate conception of its worth. Happy the man to whom these sermons — these poems rather, for such in very truth they are — come in his hour of need. They will help him over many of the rough places of his life ; and, when we put them on our shelves, it shall not be side by side with other sermons, but Longfellow and Tennyson shall keep them company on either hand.
J. W. c.
We cannot but feel that the study and the work of the last halfcentury have not been in vain, when we find books made for the widest popular circulation, like Mr. Elliott's “ Holy Land," * which at the same time are broad, sensible, and full of the real results of modern criticism and travel. It must be confessed, that a title, which promises so much to a book prepared for wide circulation among all classes of people, recalls at first the memories of the dreary, false, maudlin, commonplace treatises on the Bible, which one has found at distant New-Hampshire inns, which made the Bible ten times more obscure by their rabbinical comments, and staggered faith by their horrible, unfounded lies, – treatises from which one turned, to occupy his vacant twenty-three hours, to the undiluted Josephus beneath, with undisguised satisfaction. Any such prejudice, in this case, is quite unfounded. The author has here brought together the work of the writers in Smith's Dictionary, of Stanley, and other of the best travellers ; gives us “Meditations” from as good meditators as Dr. Woolsey, Bishop Clark, and Mr. H. W. Beecher; illustrates the book by nothing less than Bartlett's own plates of the Holy Land, with some well-selected ideal pictures : and so has undertaken the noble duty of driving out the mawkish trash of pretended commentary, by the truth itself. The result is a book which will attract the young; will be a good table book in families which have very few books; will throw
* Remarkable Characters and Places of the Holy Land: comprising an account of Patriarchs, Judges, Prophets, Apostles, Women, Warriors, Poets, and Kings; with descriptions of Ancient Cities and Venerated Shrines. By CHARLES W. Elliott, author of the “New-England History," &c. Hartford, Conn.: J. B. Burr & Co., 1867.
light on a great deal of Scripture, which is commonly left quite in the dark; and will set a great many people to reading their Bibles in quite a new way.
This is done in a wholly unpretending way. Mr. Elliott copies boldly from Smith and Stanley their chapters on the geography of the Holy Land and the regions adjacent; from Mr. Dixon, his description of Jerusalem ; from Dr. Robinson, his study of the Temple. Dr. Woolsey, Bishop Clark, Dr. Adams, and others, furnish such studies as those on the life of the Patriarchs, of John Baptist, and of St. Paul. Beginning with a certain chronological order, with the Patriarchs, and working down nearly in the order of the canon, the various chapters are wrought into a book sufficiently unique in its plan and arrangement to have a connected interest. Mr. Elliott himself weaves the whole together, and supplies several very curious, speculative chapters, and several of faithful and interesting narrative.
His little essay on the age of the Patriarchs has already engaged the popular attention of our nation of people, who, if not cutting their own throats, are willingly shortening their own lives, by the fast gait at which they travel, and the number of horses they like to ride in that great circus-course in which they engage themselves as competitors. “Did the Patriarchs live to the age of one hundred and eighty ?” – “No reason why not,” says Mr. Elliott, virtually. “ Abraham was well, strong, and beautiful. Breathing a pure air, avoiding angry discussions, eating good food, avoiding whiskey, tobacco, tea, coffee, bhang, opium, and all the rest of the stimulants, he was never sick, knew not what medicine meant, never heard of a doctor; and it follows that he did live out all his days, - not half of them, or a quarter of them, as we do:” and when in the essay itself Mr. Elliott considers what “ stimulants” are, he very justly names among them, literature, newspapers, trade, politics, and theology. “ There were, therefore, no intense excitements and no exhausting demand upon his brain or nervous system.”
It is a pleasure indeed, and to the highest degree encouraging, to find such books are meeting wide and general circulation.
IN Dr. Bulfinch’s very compact and serviceable - Manual” we have an outline of the topics and arguments requiring to be knownand which ought to be more familiarly known — by those who