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that he has misapplied, than that he wants, talents for pulpit eloquence. The subjects of his sermons, fourteen in number, arē, i. The consequences of the vice of gaming: 2. On old age : 3. Benevolence exclusively an evangelical virtue : 4. The services rendered to the English nation by the Church of England, a motive for liberality to the orphan children of indigent ministers : 5. On the grounds and regulation of national joy : 6. On the connection of the duties of loving the brotherhood, fearing God, and honouring the King: 7. On the guilt of bloodthirstiness : 8. On atonement : 9. A visitation sermon: 10. Great Britain's naval strength, and insular situation, a cause of gratitude to Almighty God: 11. Ignorance productive of atheism, anarchy, and superstition : 12, 13, 14. On the sting of death, the strength of sin, and the victory over them both by Jesus Christ.
Dr. Rennel's first sermon, upon the consequences of gaming, is admirable for its strength of language, its sound good sense, and the vigour with which it combats that detestable vice. From this sermon we shall, with great pleasure, make an extract of some length.
“Further, to this sordid habit the gamester joins a disposition to FRAUD, and that of the meanest cast. To those who soberly and fairly appreciate the real nature of human actions, nothing appears more inconsistent than that societies of men, who have incorporated themselves for the express purpose of gaming, should disclaim fraud or indirection or affect to drive from their assemblies those among their associates whose crimes would reflect disgrace on them. Surely this, to a considerate mind, is as solemn and refined a banter as can well be exhibited; for when we take into view the vast latitude allowed by the most upright gamesters, when we reflect that, according to thelr precious casuistry, every advantage may be legitimately taken of the young, the unwary, and the inebriated, which superior coolness, skill, address, and activity can supply, we must look upon pretences to honesty as a most shameless aggravation of their crimes. Even if it were possible that, in his own practices, a man might be a FAIR GAMESTER, yet, for the result of the extended frauds committed by his fellows, he stands deeply accountable to God, his country, and his conscience. To a system necessarily implicated with fraud; to associations of men, a large majority of whom subsist by fraud; to habits calculated to poison the source and principle of all integrity, he gives efficacy, countenance, and concurrence. Even his virtues he suffers to be subsidiary to the cause of vice. He sees with calmness, depredation committed daily and hourly in his company, perhaps under his very roof. Yet men of this description declaim (so desperately deceitful is the heart of man) against the very knaves they cherish and protect, and whom, perhaps, with some poor sophistical refuge for a worn-out conscience, they even imitate. To such, let the Scripture speak with emphatical decisionWhen thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him.”
The reader will easily observe, in this quotation, a command of language, and a power of style, very superior to what is met with in the great mass of sermons. We shall make one more extract.
“But in addition to fraud, and all its train of crimes, propensities and habits of a very different complexion enter into the composition of a gamester : a most ungovernable FEROCITY OF DISPOSITION, however for a time disguised and latent, is invariably the result of his system of conduct. Jealousy, rage, and revenge, exist among gamesters in their worst and most frantic excesses, and end frequently in consequences of the most atrocious violence and outrage. By perpetual agitation the malignant passions spurn and overwhelm every boundary which discretion and conscience can oppose. From what source are we to trace a very large number of those murders, sanctioned or palliated indeed by custom, but which stand at the tribunal of God precisely upon the same grounds with every other species of murder ?-From the gaming-table, from the nocturnal receptacles of distraction and frenzy, the duellist rushes with his hand lifted up against his brother's life!--Those who are as yet on the threshold of these habits should be warned, that however calm their natural temperament, however meek and placable their disposition, yet that, by the events which every moment arise, they stand exposed to the ungovernable fury of themselves and others. In the midst of fraud, protected by menace on the one hand, and on the other, of despair ; irritated by a recollection of the meanness of the artifices and the baseness of the hands by which utter and remediless ruin has been inflicted ; in the midst of these feelings of horror and distraction it is, that the voice of brethren's blood' crieth unto God from the ground'—and now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. Not only THOU who actually sheddest that blood, but thou who art the artificer of death—thou who administerest incentives to these habits-who disseminatest the practice of them-improvest the skill in them-sharpenest the propensity to them—at Thy hands will it be required, surely, at the tribunal of God in the next world, and perhaps, in most instances, in his distributive and awful dispensations towards thee and thine here on earth.”
Having paid this tribute of praise to Dr. Rennel's first sermon, we are sorry so soon to change our eulogium into censure, and to blame him for having selected for publication so many sermons touching directly and indirectly upon the French Revolution. We confess ourselves long since wearied with this kind of discourses, bespattered with blood and brains, and ringing eternal changes upon atheism, cannibalism, and apostasy. Upon the enormities of the French Revolution there can be but one opinion ; but the subject is not fit for the pulpit. The public are disgusted with it to satiety; and we can never help remembering, that this politico-orthodox rage in the mouth of a preacher may be profitable as well as sincere. Upon such subjects as the murder of the Queen of France, and the great events of these days, it is not possible to endure the draggling and daubing of such a ponderous limner as Dr. Rennel, after the ethereal touches of Mr. Burke. In events so truly horrid in themselves, the field is so easy for a declaimer, that we set little value upon the declamation ; and the mind, on such occa.
sions, so easily outruns ordinary description, that we are apt to feel more, before a mediocre oration begins, than it even aims at inspiring.
We are surprised that Dr. Rennel, from among the great number of subjects which he must have discussed in the pulpit (the interest in which must be permanent and universal) should have published such an empty and frivolous sermon as that upon the victory of Lord Nelson; a sermon good enough for the garrulity of joy, when the phrases, and the exultation of the Porcupine, or the True Briton, may pass for eloquence and sense ; but utterly unworthy of the works of a man who aims at a place among the great teachers of morality and religion.
Dr. Rennel is apt to put on the appearance of a holy bully, an evangelical swaggerer, as if he could carry his point against infidelity by big words and strong abuse, and kick and cuff men into Christians. It is a very easy thing to talk about the shallow impostures, and the silly ignorant sophisms of Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, D'Alembert, and Volney, and to say that Hume is not worth answering. This affectation of contempt will not do. While these pernicious writers have power to allure from the Church great numbers of proselytes, it is better to study them diligently, and to reply to them satisfactorily, than to veil insolence, want of power, or want of industry, by a pretended contempt; which may leave infidels and wavering Christians to suppose such writers are abused, because they are feared ; and not answered, because they are unanswerable. While every body was abusing and despising Mr. Godwin, and while Mr. Godwin was, among a certain description of understandings, increasing every day in popularity, Mr. Malthus took the trouble of refuting him : and we hear no more of Mr. Godwin. We recommend this example to the consideration of Dr. Rennel, who seems to think it more useful, and more pleasant, to rail than to fight.
After the world had returned to its sober senses upon the merits of the ancient philosophy, it is amusing enough to see a few bad heads bawling for the restoration of exploded errors and past infatuation. We have some dozen of plethoric phrases about Aristotle, who is, in the estimation of the Doctor, et rex et sutor bonus, and every thing else ; and to the neglect of whose works he seems to attribute every moral and physical evil under which the world has groaned for the last century. Dr. Rennel's admiration of the ancients is so great, that he considers the works of Homer to be the region and depository of natural law, and natural religion.* Now, if, by natural religion, is meant the will of God collected from his works, and the necessity man is under of obeying it; it is rather extraordinary that Homer should be so good a natural theologian, when the divinities he has painted are certainly a more drunken, quarrelsome, adulterous, intriguing, lascivious set of beings, than are to be met wi the most profligate court in Europe. There is, every now and then, some plain coarse morality in Homer ; but the most bloody revenge, and the most savage cruelty in warfare, the ravishing of women, and the sale of men, &c., &c., &c., are circumstances which the old bard seems to relate as the ordinary events of his
* Page 318.
times, without ever dreaming that there could be much harm in them; and if it be urged that Homer took his ideas of right and wrong from a barbarous age, that is just saying, in other words, that Homer had very imperfect ideas of natural law.
Having exhausted all his powers of eulogium upon the times that are gone, Dr. Rennel indemnifies himself by the very novel practice of declaiming against the present age. It is an evil age—an adulterous age—an ignorant age-an apostate age—and a foppish age. Of the propriety of the last epithet, our readers may perhaps be more convinced, by calling to mind a class of fops not usually designated by that epithet-men clothed in profound black, with large canes, and strange amorphous hats of big speech, and imperative presence-talkers about Plato-great affecters of senility–despisers of women and all the graces of life-fierce foes to common sense-abusive of the living, and approving no one who has not been dead for at least a century. Such fops, as vain, and as shallow as their fraternity in Bond Street, differ from these only as Gorgonius differed from Rufillus.
In the ninth Discourse (p. 226), we read of St. Paul, that he had "an heroic zeal, directed, rather than bounded, by the nicest discretion -a conscious and commanding dignity, softened by the meekest and most profound humility.” This is intended for a fine piece of writing ; but it is without meaning : for, if words have any limits, it is a contradiction in terms to say of the same person, at the same time, that he is nicely discreet, and heroically zealous; or that he is profoundly humble, and imperatively dignified: and if Dr. Rennel means that St. Paul displayed these qualities at different times, then could not any one of them direct or soften the other.
Sermons are so seldom examined with any considerable degree of critical vigilance, that we are apt to discover in them sometimes a great laxity of assertion ; such as the following :
“Labour to be undergone, affliction to be borne, contradictions to be endured, danger to be braved, interest to be despised in the best and most flourishing ages of the church, are the perpetual badges of far the greater part of those who take up their cross and follow Christ.”
This passage, at first, struck us to be untrue; and we could not immediately recollect the afflictions Dr. Rennel alluded to, till it occurred to us, that he must undoubtedly mean the eight hundred and fifty actions which, in the course of eighteen months, have been brought against the clergy for non-residence.
Upon the danger to be apprehended from Roman Catholics in this country, Dr. Rennel is laughable. We should as soon dream that the wars of York and Lancaster would break out afresh, as that the Protestant religion in England has anything to apprehend from the machinations of Catholics. To such a scheme as that of Catholic emancipation, which has for its object to restore their natural rights to three or four millions of men, and to allay the fury of religious hatred, Dr. Rennel is, as might be expected, a very strenuous antagonist. Time, which lifts up the veil of political mystery, will inform us if the Doctor has taken that side of the question which may be as lucrative to himself as it is inimical to human happiness, and repugnant to enlightened policy.
Of Dr. Rennel's talents as a reasoner, we certainly have formed no very high opinion. Unless dogmatical assertion, and the practice (but too common among theological writers) of taking the thing to be proved, for part of the proof, can be considered as evidence of a logical understanding, the specimens of argument Dr. Rennel has afforded us are very insignificant. For putting obvious truths into vehement language; for expanding and adorning moral instruction; this gentleman certainly possesses considerable talents : and if he will moderate his insolence, steer clear of theological metaphysics, and consider rather those great laws of Christian practice, which must interest mankind through all ages, than the petty questions which are important to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the time being, he may live beyond his own days, and become a star of the third or fourth magnitude in the English Church.
Reflections at the Conclusion of the War: Being a Sequel to Reflections on the
Political and Moral State of Society at the Close of the Eighteenth Century. The Third Edition, with Additions. By John Bowles, Esq. F this peace be, as Mr. Bowles asserts, the death-warrant of the also the death warrant of Mr. Bowles's literary reputation ; and that the people of this island, if they verify his predictions, and cease to read his books, whatever they may lose in political greatness, will evince no small improvement in critical acumen. There is a political as well as a bodily hypochondriasis; and there are empirics always on the watch to make their prey, either of the one or of the other. Dr. Solomon, Dr. Brodum, and Mr. Bowles, have all commanded their share of the public attention: but the two former gentlemen continue to flourish with undiminished splendour; while the patients of the latter are fast dwindling away, and his drugs falling into disuse and contempt.
The truth is, if Mr. Bowles had begun his literary career at a period when superior discrimination and profound thought, not vulgar violence and the eternal repetition of rabble-rousing words, were neces. sary to literary reputation, he would never have emerged from that obscurity to which he will soon return. The intemperate passions of the public, not his own talents, have given him some temporary reputation; and now, when men hope and fear with less eagerness than they have been lately accustomed to do, Mr. Bowles will be compelled