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before us. It is upon this principle that the society has been established to which you belong. It was to develop and mature the speaking powers of its members by frequent exercise. Therefore be prompt and faithful in your efforts; and though you may sometimes falter, or even stumble and fall, yet be not discouraged. Such things are expected. If young men were originally perfect speakers there would be no necessity for such associations. All must creep before they run. The child that stumbles at almost every step to-day, will, hereafter, by repeated attempts, be able not only to walk with firmness, but to run with the ease and agility of an Asahel. Behold yonder youthful Athenian! At his first attempts at eloquence he is hissed from the tribunal of his native city. But what was the effect? Despair ? No; but tenfold resolution. Look for him again, and where do you find him? Why, he is hurrying up yonder steep ascent, speaking as he goes, to improve his breath, which was so short that he was obliged to stop in the middle of every sentence. Now he is pronouncing with pebbles in his mouth to cure his stammering. And now again you behold him declaiming in his private pulpit, under the point of a halbert, to correct the habit of shrugging up his shoulders. And what was the final result? I need not tell you that you will tind it in the history of the subsequent triumphs of the great Demosthenes. Let similar exertions be yours, young gentlemen, and you will meet with similar success; and the talents now being cultivated in the lyceum shall hereafter adorn the bar, the pulpit, and the legislative hall.
II. This introduces us, in the second place, to the consideration of the motives for improvement in extemporaneous speaking. And we may remark, in general, that the motives which should incite you to improvement in this department of education are as great in the present age as they have been in any other; and they are more important in a republican government, like our own, than elsewhere, because here, in common with the great body of the people, you are to have a voice in every movement of church and state.
But let us consider these motives a little more particularly. Beginning with the lowest, we would observe, first, that your own interest, whether as private or professional men, will be most favorably effected by acquiring a facility in this method of communicating your ideas. Though Providence should assign you your path along the peaceful vale of retired life, there would still be a thousand instances in which your personal benefit, and that of your friends, might be greatly promoted by an ability to express yourself extempore before a numerous assembly. But if this acquirement be important for private citizens, how much more so for those whose profession will call them to act a prominent part in the scenes of public life? It is here that the beautiful motto of your society is strikingly exemplified, Eloquentia vincit omnia. It is here that a ready popular eloquence overcomes every obstacle to its own elevation, while it exerts an unlimited influence upon public sentiment and action. To what a lofty eminence did this talent exalt a Patrick Henry and a Fisher Ames! How bright the halo of glory that encircles the names! How broad the influence they wielded in the counsels of the nation! The former spoke with a voice which made the British lion quail, while it warmed the blood and nerved the hands of three millions of freemen. And of the powers of the latter we may form
Vol. IX.-July, 1838.
some conception from the fact, that, after his celebrated speech in congress, on the treaty with England, a member in the opposition arose, and moved that the decision of the question might be postponed, lest, under the influence of their present deep excitement, they might pass a vote which their subsequent more deliberate judg. ment might condemn. What a triumph for oratory was that when all Greece flocked to Athens to hear the master of ancient eloquence, who at that time swayed the policy of the state at his will, and who extorted from the ambitious monarch of Macedon the acknowledgment, that Demosthenes did him more harm than all the fleets and armies of the Athenians! “For I myself," says Philip, “had I been present, and heard that vehement orator declaim, should have been the first to conclude that it was indispensably necessary to make war against me!”
But, secondly, I trust I am addressing those who act from higher motives than mere self-interest—those who aim at distinction in your acquirements chiefly because it will enlarge your sphere and multiply your facilities for doing good. But, in order to be useful, iť is doubtful whether there be any talent more important than a ready command of your thoughts and words. See this illustrated in the case of the faithful advocate at the bar, pleading the cause of justice and of injured innocence against the machinations of fraud and the cruelty of lawless oppression. Or still more conspicuously in that of the statesman as he enters the arena of political strife, and fearlessly supports and defends those principles and measures which he deems of vital interest to the well-being of his country. How happily is this talent employed at the anniversaries of the various benevolent associations of the day. On these occasions the speaker seems to become the soul of the assembly. Spell-bound they follow him through fields of fresh luxuriant thought, or rise with him as he soars amid the bright visions of imagination. Their hearts and hands open at his bidding. He kindles a flame in a thousand bo; soms which shall glow through life, prompting to deeds of high and holy enterprise. In a word, he imparts an impulse to the public mind which shall not only open the fountain of sympathy and benevolence to the suffering and the destitute of the present generation, but which shall cause those fountains to flow on in their perennial course till they shall have made glad the hearts of unborn millions. Perhaps the most influential and useful man in the British Wesleyan Connection at the present time is the Rev. Dr. Bunting. Pre-eminent as a preacher, standing at the head of their literature, and aeknowledged as one of the most successful advocates of the mission: ary cause, he is the guiding mind in that distinguished ecclesiastical body. That, however, in which he particularly excels, and which gives a grace and efficiency to all his other qualifications, is his unrivalled ability at extemporaneous address. "He is sure to please;" says a graphic writer, “even when he fails to convince. Listen to him in conference debate. He takes, perhaps, at first, a generar view of the question ; next goes on to establish certain positions, and notices the remarks of previous speakers so far as they interfere with his own sentiments, encircling himself all the while in a tower of strength, from whose impregnable walls he nods defiance to all his assailants. Very often, at a moment when an opponent is congratulating himself on the probability of a happy escape 1
notice, he will come down upon him in an instant, like an unexpected flash of lightning, broad and vivid, shivering to pieces by a single stroke the whole superstructure he had reared, and upon which he had gazed with the fondness of a parent. He never approaches a subject without illuminating it, and rarely retires from the field without conquest, followed by the smiles of his friends, and leaving the opposing powers in a state of suspense, or of blank astonishment." But to return: it is in the pulpit, after all, that we behold the most signal benefits of this branch of practical knowledge-in the pulpit, where the momentous truths of the gospel are proclaimed, that gospel which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. In other places we can consult for the temporal interests of men, but in this we labor to improve their spiritual condition. In others we may rescue their persons, property, or reputation from injury ; in this we are the honored instruments of saving their souls from endless death. The faithful minister of Christ
“Doth here the current of destruction stem, .
And warns the sinner of his wo; leads on
And here permit us to remark that these sublime results, we believe, are most fully realized under that preaching which is extemporaneous. Some write their sermons, and then read them. That this method has its benefits we will not deny. Nay, we grant that there are certain peculiar subjects, and some particular occasions, when it is required. But as an ordinary practice we think it is not to be preferred. It fails to interest an audience, and consequently fails in doing them good. "The most accurate and sensible discourses of mere readers,” says a learned man, "are disregarded; while the discourses of others which appear to flow 'ex imo pectore,' though perhaps less accurate and elegant, are listened to with pleasure and avidity. In this respect human nature is the same in every country, and will continue the same to the end of time.” Again: others, having written and committed their sermons, repeat them from memory. This custom we consider quite as exceptionable as the other. In the first place, it is servile; it makes all the other powers of the mind dependent on the memory. If that should be propitious and faithful, you may proceed with tolerable success; but if it play the truant, and fail you, which sometimes happens, you are embarrassed and confounded, and your congregation with you. But suppose the memory to be infallible, still you are subjected to a serious loss of · time. You are committing words when you should be acquiring ideas. You are barely exercising the memory when you should be improving the understanding, the imagination, and the taste; in fine, all those noble endowments of the mind which go to make up the character of the ready speaker, the eloquent man. For while the memorizing method may improve the fluency of expression on a given subject, it fetters thought, clips the wings of fancy, and dries up the gushing fountains of the soul. The brightest displays of thought, the highest flights of the imagination, the most overwhelm
ing bursts of eloquence, are extemporaneous; the corruscations of excited intellect, the overflowings of a heart moved and melted by spontaneous emotion.
Who have been among the most useful preachers of modern times? May we not answer, A Wesley, a Whitefield, a Robert Hall, a Summerfield, and a Watson? Who can measure the amount of good these men have accomplished? Yet their discourses were neither read nor recited. Are not the revivals of religion which distinguish the church at the present day, both at home and in the missionary stations, the fruit of extemporaneous preaching? And it was the same in ancient times. This was the manner in which Ezra explained the law to the Jews on the memorable occasion of their return from captivity, when the whole nation wept around him. Paul spoke thus when Felix trembled. This was the manner of Peter's discourse on the day of pentecost, when many were pricked in their hearts, and three thousand were added to the church. To this cause, among others, must be referred the rapid rise and present extent of the Methodist connection, which, in less than a century from its origin, has come to embrace more than a million of souls within its ample pale. Such is the effect of the divine blessing upon the ministrations of his servants delivered impromptu; and in view of such facts who can avoid coming to the conclusion, that if the world be ever converted it must be through the instrumentality of extemporaneous preaching?
With these remarks, young gentlemen, permit me, in conclusion, to express my friendly interest in your behalf, both as individuals and as a society. Go on and prosper. Employ the best means to attain the best ends. In all your efforts to improve your talents keep constantly in view the glory of Him who bestowed them. So shall the renown you reap in this life be but the prelude to that honor which will await you in the world to come. The Parnassian wreath and the civic chaplet must soon wither, but the crown which the Saviour shall place upon the brows of his faithful servants is incorruptible-a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
N.B.-In my article published in the number of this work for July, 1837, there is the following error. The quotation p. 269 commencing with, " Ignorance is one principal cause,” &c., is pointed as if it ended with the first sentence, whereas the quotation extends to the top of the next page. I introduce this remark here, because I contemn the principle as much as I deprecate the name of a plagiarist.
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
THERE are no subjects so important as those contained in the Bible, and yet there are but few treated with equal lightness and neglect. How many, without even a perusal of the sacred volume, doom it to perpetual ridicule and scorn! Yes, this precious book, which alone tells them how they may be saved; which has transformed the lives of thousands; which has afforded tranquillity and peace to the troubled mind; and through which the radiant light of Jehovah's smiles beams upon the departing Christian, and enables him to exult in the hour of dissolution, and to exclaim with David, “ Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me;"_yes, this book of truth, of love, and heaven, is branded as a fable; stigmatized as a fiction, and as a relic of superstition, it is impiously cast to the moles and to the bats. And is this because it is an idle legend of the past, unaccompanied by evidence? Surely this cannot be; for it bears indubitable marks of genuineness and authenticity ; it is supported by irrefragable and overwhelming evi. dence that demonstrates its truth; and it is corroborated by a cloud of witnesses, that with a thousand tongues proclaim it to be the book of God.
Among the many evidences of the divine authority of the Scriptures the prediction concerning Ishmael and his posterity, viewed in connection with its wonderful fulfilment through a succession of ages down to the present day, is not the least striking and conclusive. It is recorded in Gen. xvi, 10-12; xvii, 20.
In the first place, it is predicted that he should have a numerous posterity. "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude;" and farther, “Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly." Ishmael was married to an Egyptian woman, and in a few years his family was so increased that in the 37th chapter of Genesis we read of Ishmaelites trading into Egypt. Afterward his seed was exceedingly multiplied, in Hagarenes, Itureans, Nabatheans, Arabs, and Saracens, who are a numerous people of the present day. Not only is this part of the prediction precisely accomplished, but,
Secondly, It is said, " Twelve princes shall he beget.” This prediction is very particular. They are to be princes, and their number is to be twelve. But, particular as it is, it was punctually fulfilled. Moses says, “ These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations,” Gen. xxv, 16. And the same testimony, in substance, is borne by several ancient historians, as well as by a tradition existing among themselves, even at this day.
Thirdly. “He will be a wild man," or, as it is translated by the celebrated Bóchart, “as wild as a wild ass.” Some of the most eminent oriental travelers assure us that the best description of the wild ass is to be found in Job xxxix, 5-8: “Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the cry. ing of the driver. The range of the mountain is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing." Both ancient and modern travelers testify that the descendants of Ishmael have been and still are independent and loosed from all political restraint; that “in the wilderness and the parched land, where no other human beings could live, they have their dwellings; that they scorn the city, and therefore generally have no fixed habitations; that when they make depredations on cities and towns they retire into the desert with so much precipitancy that all pursuit is eluded: in this respect the crying of the driver is disregarded ;' that they may be said to have no lands, and yet 'the range of the mountains is their pasture;' they