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subsists the greatest family likeness. May it please God so to dispose the minds of Christians of every visible church and community, that Ephraim may no longer vex Judah, nor Judah Ephraim; that the only rivalry felt in future may be, who shall most advance the interests of our common Christianity; and the only provocation sustained, that of provoking each other to love and good works! When, at the distance of more than half a century, Christianity was assaulted by a Woolston, a Tindal, and a Morgan, it was ably supported, both by clergymen of the established church, and writers among Protestant dissenters. The labours of a Clarke and a Butler were associated with those of a Doddridge, a Leland, and a Lardner, with such equal reputation and success, as to make it evident that the intrinsic excellence of religion needs not the aid of external appendages; but that, with or without a dowry, her charms are of sufficient power to fix and engage the heart.
The writer of this discourse will feel himself happy, should his example stimulate any of his brethren of superior abilities to contribute their exertions in so good a cause. His apology for not entering more at large into the proofs of the being of a God,* and the evidences of Christianity,† is, that these subjects have been already handled with great ability by various writers; and that he wished rather to confine himself to one view of the subject-The total incompatibility of skeptical principles with the existence of society. Should his life be spared, he may probably at some future time enter into a fuller and more particular examination of the infidel philosophy, both with respect to its speculative principles and its practical effects,-its influence on society and on the individual. In the mean time he humbly consecrates this discourse to the honour of that Saviour, who, when the means of a more liberal offering are wanting, commends the widow's mite.
CAMBRIDGE, January 18, 1801.
* See an excellent sermon on Atheism by the Rev. Mr. Estlin, of Bristol, at whose meeting the substance of this discourse was first preached. In the sermon referred to, the argument for the existence of a Deity is stated with the utmost clearness and precision; and the sophistry of Dupuis, a French infidel, refuted in a very satisfactory manner.
It is almost superfluous to name a work so universally known as Dr. Paley's View of the Evidences of Christianity, which is probably, without exception, the most clear and satisfactory statement of the historical proofs of the Christian religion ever exhibited in any age or country.
NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
NOTHING can be more erroneous than the idea, entertained by a few persons, that Mr. Hall recited his sermons memoriter, from the study of a previously written composition. His eloquence was the spontaneous result of his vigorous and richly stored intellect, and needed not the aid of the usual expedients of men of ordinary mind. There is great reason to believe, that during the entire extent of his ministry he only committed one sermon to memory from a previously composed manuscript, and that was the second in this volume, "Reflections on War." It was preached on a day of thanksgiving, at the termination of a long and dreadful war; it was a publicly announced sermon, to aid the funds of a benevolent society; persons of different religious and political sentiments were expected to be assembled, at a time when the violent party-feelings excited by the French Revolution of 1789 had but little subsided; and Mr. Hall, afraid of yielding to his own emotions on such an occasion, and perhaps of disturbing the feelings of harmony which it was hoped would prevail, thought it advisable for once to deviate from his usual course. That course was, very briefly to sketch, commonly upon a sheet of letter-paper (in a few cases rather more fully), the plan of the proposed discourse, marking the divisions, specifying a few texts, and sometimes writing the first sentence. This he regarded as "digging a channel for his thoughts to flow in." Then, calling into exercise the power of abstraction, which he possessed in a degree I never saw equalled, he would, whether alone or not, pursue his trains of thought, retrace and extend them, until the whole were engraven on his mind; and when once so fixed in their entire connexion, they were never after obliterated. The result was on all occasions the same; so that, without recurring to the ordinary expedients, or loading his memory with words and phrases, he uniformly brought his mind, with an unburdened vigour and elasticity, to bear upon its immediate purpose, recalling the selected train of thought, and communicating it to others, in diction the most felicitous, appropriate, and impressive. This was uniformly the case with regard to the tenor and substance of his discourses; but the most striking and impressive passages were often, strictly speaking, extemporaneous.
On various occasions I have ascertained the correctness of his recollection as to trains of thought and matters of arrangement. Thus, on drawing his attention fully to an interesting conversation which occurred nearly thirty years before, he has given as vivid and graphic a sketch of the persons present, their positions in the room, and of the main topics discussed, as though all had occurred in the preceding week. So, again, with respect to sermons preached early in the present century, and which seemed to have entirely escaped from his recollection; when a reference to some illustration, or the mode of treating a subsidiary topic, has supplied the adequate clew, he has accurately described the plan, the reasoning, the object of the discourse, the illustrations employed, the principal texts adduced, &c., dwelling especially, as was always most natural to him, upon the parts that he regarded as defective.
The history of the following sermon, on "Modern Infidelity," may serve still further to illustrate the peculiar structure of Mr. Hall's intellect. He preached it first at Bristol, in October, 1800, and again at Cambridge in the month of November. Having yielded to the solicitations of his friends, and consented to its publication, there remained two difficulties, that of writing down the sermon (of which not a single sentence was upon paper), and that of superintending the
press. I, who then resided at Cambridge, offered to undertake both these, pro-
At the end of seven weeks Mr. Hall's labour, thus conducted, being, greatly to
During this interval he had preached at least twenty times, had paid his pastoral visits, as usual, had been often in the society of the literary men with whom he then associated, and had, with all his characteristic ardour, carried on, simultaneously, two distinct courses of reading.
I mistake greatly, if, after the perusal of this simple narrative, the reader will not turn to the sermon with additional relish, and meditate with augmented pleasure upon the peculiarities of this most valuable production, and the singular character of its author's mind.
ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY,
EPHES. ii. 12.
Without God in the world.
As the Christian ministry is established for the instruction of men, throughout every age, in truth and holiness, it must adapt itself to the ever-shifting scenes of the moral world, and stand ready to repel the attacks of impiety and error, under whatever form they may appear. The church and the world form two societies so distinct, and are governed by such opposite principles and maxims, that, as well from this contrariety as from the express warnings of Scripture, true Christians must look for a state of warfare, with this consoling assurance, that the church, like the burning bush beheld by Moses in the land of Midian, may be encompassed with flames, but will never be consumed.
When she was delivered from the persecuting power of Rome, she only experienced a change of trials. The oppression of external violence was followed by the more dangerous and insidious attacks of internal enemies. The freedom of inquiry claimed and asserted at the Reformation degenerated, in the hands of men who professed the principles without possessing the spirit of the Reformers, into a fondness for speculative refinements; and consequently into a source of dispute, faction, and heresy. While Protestants attended more to the points on which they differed than to those in which they agreed,— while more zeal was employed in settling ceremonies and defending subtleties than in enforcing plain revealed truths, the lovely fruits of peace and charity perished under the storms of controversy.
In this disjointed and disordered state of the Christian church, they who never looked into the interior of Christianity were apt to suspect, that to a subject so fruitful in particular disputes must attach a general uncertainty; and that a religion founded on revelation could never have occasioned such discordancy of principle and practice among its disciples. Thus infidelity is the joint offspring of an irreligious temper and unholy speculation, employed, not in examining the evidences of Christianity, but in detecting the vices and imperfections of professing Christians. It has passed through various stages, each distinguished by higher gradations of impiety; for when men arrogantly abandon their guide, and wilfully shut their eyes on the light of