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of faith in a heavenly immortality was meant to degrade the earthly present, or alienate us from its attractions; but, on the contrary, they were all intended to contribute to its worth, to add their compensating influences in remedy of its incompleteness. When all around is dark and trying, and despair has emptied the present of its glory, to renew the withered heart and faded life we should
“ Then from earth's immediate sorrow
Towards the skyey future turn,
Fill to-day's exhausted urn." Since we are here at present, what better can we do, while here, than studiously look about, and patiently meditate, and zealously labor, and devoutly aspire ? not lying supine in passive recollection and dreamy faith, not letting “memory and hope, like two wild horses, tear the precious Now asunder.” Behold the facts. The past pours the tribute of its traditions, and sheds the reflection of its wisdom, along the channels of experience, upon the poised present. The future sends the inspiration of its promises, and scatters the omens of its warning, down the vistas of faith, to the tempted Now. Birth opens the portal to the opportunities of the living world. In the interim, invisible worlds, with unuttered secrets charged, hang breathless over the running of the free career. And then death closes up and seals the earthly epoch of probation for judgment. All appear to point with fixed fingers at each passing to-day as the concentred crisis of man's fortunes; all seem to say to man's soul, in tones of profound sobriety and immortal cheer, “Here is the appointed spot, and now is the accepted hour. Contemplate and use the surrounding scene, spring to the instant duty, pluck the immediate prize, smite the urgent foe, snatch the hovering chance, solve the pressing problem. Slumber not in ruinous sloths, revel not in distant fancies, perplex not the brain with impracticable speculations; but study the reality of your lot, and work for the crown of your destiny."
Art. IV.- THE MODERN FRENCH PULPIT.
1. Les Vrais Principes sur la Prédication, ou Manière d'annoncer
avec Fruit la Parole de Dieu. Par M. L'ABBÉ J. X. VÉTU, Ancien Vicaire-Général et Chanoine honoraire de Dijon et de Paris.
2 Tomes. Paris : Delaguette. 1845. 8vo. pp. 511, 794. 2. Discours prononcés à la Chapelle Impériale des Tuileries pendant
le Carême 1856. Par M. L'ABBÉ CHARLES DE PLACE, Chanoine de l'Église de Paris, Prédicateur ordinaire de S. M. l’Em
pereur. Paris : Le Clère et Cie. 1857. 8vo. pp. 253. 3. Panegyrique de St. Vincent de Paul, et Discours Divers. Par M.
L'ABBÉ CHARLES DE PLACE. Paris : Le Clère. 1857. 8vo.
pp. 366. 4. Démonstration Philosophique de la Divinité de Jésus-Christ. Par
M. L'ABBÉ L. Guiol, Chanoine honoraire de Marseille, Curé de la Paroisse de St. Charles. Paris : Le Clère et Cie. 1856. 8vo.
pp. 428. 5. Le Progrès par le Christianisme. Conférences de Notre-Dame de
Paris. Par le R. P. Félix, de la Compagnie de Jésus. Trois volumes. An iées 1856, 1857, 1858. Paris : Le Clère et Cie.
1859. pp. 942. 6. Panorama des Prédicateurs, ou Repertoire pour l’Improvisation et la
Composition du Sermon. Par M. L'ABBÉ C. MARTIN. Paris :
1858. 6me Edition. 3 vols. 4to. 7. Cours d'Éloquence Sacrée populaire, ou Essai sur la Manière de
parler au Peuple. Par M. L'ABBÉ Mullois. Paris: Dillet.
3 vols. 12mo. 8. Euvres complètes du Rev. P.H. D. LACORDAIRE. Paris. 1858.
6 vols. 8vo. 9. Sermons. Par ATHANASE COQUEREL, Père. 6 Recueils. Paris.
1852 - 58. 12mo. 10. Sermons et Homélies. Par ATHANASE COQUEREL, Fils. Paris.
1857 – 58. 12mo. 11. Recherches Homilétiques, ou Quelques Idées sur la Prédication,
avec de Nombreuses Citations à l’Appui. Par. M. ALFRED VIN
CENT. Paris : Grassart. 1858. 8vo. 12. Sermons Prêchés à Strasbourg. Par T. COLANI, Directeur de la
Révue de Théologie. Strasbourg: Treuttel et Würtz. 1858.
12mo. pp. 390. We have no intention of even “noticing," much less of reviewing, all the works whose titles are prefixed to this paper. These are only a selection in various kinds from the recent homiletic issues of the French press. They illustrate satisfactorily the rules, the methods, and the characteristics of modern French preaching, the theme on which we propose to offer some remarks. They include all shades of opinion, from the ultra-Catholic to the ultra-Protestant, from the most strict Mariolatry to the most liberal form of positive Christianity. If the views of the Strasburg pastor remind us in parts of the theology of the Boston Music Hall, the orthodoxy of the imperial chaplain is substantial enough to meet even the extreme theory of “ Brownson's Quarterly.” The subtile arguments of M. Guiol for the Divinity of Christ are matched by M. Coquerel's plea for Christ's Humanity. While the impassioned appeals and rapturous visions of Father Lacordaire show us French pulpit oratory in its soaring and its melting moods, the “ Conférences” of Father Félix show this oratory calm and almost cold in its sharp logical play. And a comparison of the small Protestant work of M. Alfred Vincent with the larger treatises of the Abbés Mullois, Martin, and Vétu demonstrates that the Reformed Church in its notion of pulpit eloquence does not widely differ from the Faculty of St. Sulpice. Substantially, the same system is taught in the seminaries of both communions. The curate of St. Roch may lack the genius and the culture of the chief minister of the neighboring “ Oratoire"; but the styles of the two preachers have many points of resemblance, and their discourses are of similar construction.
The French pulpit of to-day suffers from its heritage of great names. It is shadowed by its ancient glory. Bossuet, Massillon and Bourdaloue, Fénelon and Fléchier, that pentad of pulpit orators, perpetually stand in the way of the living preachers, and hinder any just appreciation. These are the stars of first and second magnitude, which make a sufficient study for those who would become finished preachers. These are the unsurpassable models; and to become great as the least of these is presented as the high object of the young preacher's ambition. The instances of excellence are drawn chiefly from the sermons of these famous men. There is nothing in Germany, England, or America resembling the
idolatry of the French for their ancient pulpit models. The Reformers of the sixteenth century are not presented in the theological lectures of German professors as model preachers, although the names of many of them would compare fairly with those of the French preachers. South, Barrow, Taylor, and Howe do not in the least interfere with the fame of modern Melvills, Cummings, or Robertsons; and on this side of the ocean there are no ancient American examples in this kind that any one would offer for imitation. The tale of the American pulpit is but just begun; the tale of the English pulpit is hardly half finished; while the tale of the French pulpit seems to be fully told, and all that any one may properly do is to tell it again. An edition of the five preachers seems to contain and to sum up all that is, or ever will be, desirable or possible in the pulpit of France.
If one might divine the state of pulpit eloquence in France from the quantity of new treatises on that subject which every decade furnishes, it would seem to be flourishing in a high degree. While the English theological student is embarrassed by the number of “ Bodies of Divinity,” of commentaries, of exegetical and dogmatical works, the French student is embarrassed by the abundance of homiletic manuals. Three quarters of a century have not passed since Cardinal Maury gave to the world his famous “ Essay"; and already the bibliography of this subject fills a large space in the catalogues. It is their own fault if the French curates fail to preach well; they cannot complain that they have not been instructed, and instructed with a care, a thoroughness, a minuteness, quite marvellous. No English work on the principles of preaching can bear a moment's comparison with the exhaustive fulness of the work of the Abbé Vétu, with its six hundred and eightyfour distinct sections, in which everything is said that could be said or imagined, and some hundreds of things that nobody but a Frenchman would ever have thought of saying. The table of contents of this work would make a catechism of respectable size. The work of the Abbé Martin is even larger and more unmanageable, and may well frighten a student who reflects that life is short, and who intends to begin his work of preaching before his hair shall turn gray. The French insist
VOL. LXVII. — 5TH S. VOL. V. NO. I.
much upon the importance of memory in every kind of public discourse; and no more severe exercise of that faculty could be required of a preacher, than the memory of all these counsels in his prédication text-books.
A great deal is nevertheless remembered. The directions which are laid down so accurately, and with such wonderful method, are not neglected. Nine preachers out of ten gesticulate, declaim, slide the voice, bend the body, and use the pauses, as they have been taught by their masters. Nineteen sermons out of every twenty are constructed according to the rules of the books. Originality of manner is a thing which few French preachers attempt, and still fewer are able to achieve. Spurgeon's reputation would be an impossibility and an absurdity among the people who idolize Bossuet. In the last century, indeed, the rude, natural eloquence of Jacques Bridaine seemed to show a capacity for such oratory as that of Whitefield, and a relish of the people for that style; but it may be doubted whether even Bridaine could find in this age a hearing in France for his erratic harangues. Preaching, like passports, and everything else in France, must now be strictly selon les règles. It must conform to the authorized standard of weight and measure, of length, breadth, and depth. And this close adherence to prescribed forms prevents French preachers from seeming original, even when there is real originality of thought and idea. The fresh ideas inevitably take the color, along with the shape, of the moulds in which they are cast; the outline, however graceful and appropriate, is accompanied with a rigidity of tone. The pathos seems artificial, and the raptures fly heavily and near the earth, like an eagle with clipped wing and tethered ankle.
One who has in hand, therefore, the standard manuals of the French pulpit, does not need to read or to hear very many of the sermons in order to understand the character of French discourses. He may study it in the theory as intelligently as in the specimens, may tell as confidently what the preachers are, without hearing them, as Leverrier could tell in his chamber the ways and bulk of the undiscovered planet. Between the theory and the specimens there is an admirable coincidence, This a priori judgment, however, is somewhat embarrassed by