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none, but violence prevailed); and next transferred * P. Clodius to the plebs, that he might be made tribune. It was previously notorious that Clodius intended to attack Cicero for having obeyed the verdict of the senate against the Catilinarians; so here was a new Catilinarian faction let loose on the aristocracy. Henceforth bands of armed men paraded the streets of Rome, violently interfered with the elections, slew peaceable citizens, forced the aristocracy to arm a Milo against a Clodius, until a dictatorship became essential to save public order. Then the tools of Cæsar alleged, that, a dictator being essential, he was as proper a man for it as Pompeius; and perverted the constitutional into a personal question. Cæsar thus came in compassion to restore 'order' to the afflicted city, and in his extant writings gravely exerts himself to show how constitutional are his desires and proceedings, and in how unconstitutional a way the senate is opposing him.
So blind is Mr. Merivale to the real state of the case, that he does not even understand the proceeding of the tribune Metellus; who, until Cæsar had threatened his life, would not retire from the sacred treasury, wishing hereby to manifest the hypocrisy with which Cæsar pretended that he had invaded Rome to protect the sacred and inviolable rights' of the tribunes M. Antonius and Q. Cassius. In the same spirit is his simple complaint (vol ii. p. 471), that the Roman nobility were discontented at the fact of Cæsar's pre-eminence, rather than at his
He may seem not to desire any firmer security for law and justice, than the will of one profligate and mortal man. He is apparently surprised that Cæsar's clemency' did not reconcile Romans to hold all their rights at his mercy and that of his chance successor. But there would be no end of such criticisms; and we finally notice only his misrepresentation of Suetonius's judgment on Cæsar's death.
* Suetonius allows that Cæsar was indeed justly slain, but makes no attempt to absolve his assassins.'-Vol. ii. p. 489.
Nay, but Suetonius says, he was held to be legitimately slain' ( jure cæsus) 76 ; and thereby does justify his assassins ; indeed, gives this as a general sentiment. Byron has a note † remarking on this. “We must not be so much dazzled,' says he, 'with Cæsar's surpassing glory or with his magnanimous, his amiable qualities, as to forget the decision of his impartial countrymen :
HE WAS JUSTLY SLAIN.
* Suetonius (Jul. 20) says that he did this so as to mark his displeasure on Cicero, for having dared publicly to deplore the state of the times. This may not be correct; but Suetonius tells all these things simply and without animosity.
† Childe Harold, Canto IV. note 26.
Jure cæsus existimatur, says Suetonius, after a fair estimate of his character, and making use of a phrase which was a formula in Livy's time, and was continued in the legal judgments pronounced in justifiable homicide, such as killing housebreakers.' So difficult does it appear to Mr. Merivale fairly to report what the ancients say. In his vocabulary, Cæsar's murderers are
wild unprincipled men,' though Cicero looked on them as heroes of surpassing merit, and regrets that he had no personal share in the deed.
It would be natural and suitable to remark on the writer's style, on his judgment, on his power of condensation, on his grouping, and other matters of taste; on his philosophy and his religious reflections: but when we have so deep complaints against his fidelity and moral soundness, we feel that we must appear to the reader biassed judges on points of taste and feeling which cannot be brought to any certain standard. We, therefore, forbear to add a word on these matters, and so close our very irksome task.
Art. II.-Exposition of the Gospel according to St. Luke. By Dr.
James Thomson. Vols. I and II. Edinburgh : A. and C. Black. It has often been matter of wonder and of regret to men of piety and taste, who have had at heart the best interests of humanity, that from among the many thousands who have been pulpit-teachers, comparatively few have attained to excellence. In the present day, when we have in every village a pulpit and a preacher, it is a cause both for amazement and for sorrow, that the pulpit has so little hold on the popular mind. We have at the bar much successful speaking, and the success in all cases there is to be estimated by the power of the pleader to convince ; but by the sacred teacher how little effect is produced ! The subject of pulpit-excellence is so large, that it cannot be fully treated of within the limits of this article; and yet it is just one of those subjects which earnest religionists in the present day should diligently inquire into. Let us suppose that some one unconnected with any religious body—the occupant of a religious neutrality-should ask : Why cannot the same degree of eloquence, which is only another way of saying the same efficient speaking, which obtains in parliament and at the bar, be brought to bear on the topics which are discussed from the
pulpit? Why should there be success in the one, and almost powerlessness in the other? There is one fact, which must strike all thoughtful men as of the most serious import at the present time—That the pulpit has not that hold on the public mind which it once had, and that men are not so seriously affected by the great truths proclaimed from it as they once were. The sad reality, patent to all but the wilfully unconvinced, is, that the weekly teachings from the word of God do not produce that effect on the people which, from the awful importance of their subject, we might reasonably expect them to do. We know, it may justly be said, “the pulpit-teachings so often recurfamiliarity with the sublime subjects of them, on the part of the hearers, blunts the edge of appeal-we have the unwillingness and positive enmity of the human heart as a resistance to argument, however potent—there is a morbid taste among our people for mere dilations-in many cases, they prefer smart phraseologies, or anecdotical littlenesses, or effete sentimentalities, to vigorous and healthy thought—they do not like new wine in their old bottles—they hear with suspicion any departure from the routine of old technicality—and they prefer rather that their feelings should be excited, or their curiosity gratified, than that their minds should be quickened by new and vigorous thought.' These objections may be partially true—there may be some classes of mind, and some few churches, where they would have place.
Now we presume not to blame the ministers of religion for the small success which attends their pulpit-labours. However faulty individuals may be, to blame the mass, among whom are men of great attainment and heavenly-mindedness, would be to the last degree harsh and ungenerous. But we find fault with the system under which they are placed. Let us illustrate our position by an example :-A young man comes from one of our colleges, trained to habits of close thought, and accustomed to severe analytical processes; with some knowledge of Hebrew and of classical literature; devoted to the noble employ to which God has called him, and eager to preach the doctrines of the Cross.' He accepts the pastorate over one of our rural churches, and becomes thus the acknowledged teacher of, it may be, some hundreds of people.
Among his congregation it is not probable that there will be many equally taught with himself; but, perhaps, the larger portion of them shall be devourers of the weaker part of the religious literature of the day—those small periodicals in which the state of our churches is being perpetually canvassed, and by which an unwholesome agitation and constant dissatisfaction are excited towards that among us which is invigorating and elevating to the mind-in which not doctrines
alone, but the very phraseology in which they are expressed are stereotyped. The young pastor finds his congregation leavened by these small works, and he speedily discovers that he is a slave, not so much to unchanging dogmata, as to a fixed traditionary expression of them. At once he is in chains, like an artist who must paint only after a pattern, to soar is impossible—to unleaven his congregation, who receive from the abovementioned sources weekly or monthly supplies of fresh fermentation, is utterly out of the question—he is in vassalage to mere words—and, after a season, abandoning in despair higher aims, he sinks down to the weary monotony of oft-repeated theological formulæ ; and he finds that, instead of being free to teach according to his enlightened conscience, he must do so in the set phrases of his predecessors, which may be, many of them, offensive to a refined ear and painful to a lowly heart. We have positive knowledge that there are many of our ministers, extensive in their acquirements, abundant in their piety, and capable of eloquence, who groan under this slavery to ancient forms of thought—which do not suit the present age,
but for which, we candidly admit, there would be no little difficulty in finding synonymous substitutes. Surely, in the abandonment of many of these phraseologies, our theology would be unimpaired, but might still be taught, scripturally and healthily, in other modes of expression. He will do no small service to the Church, who can show us how we may safely substitute the simple terms of the word of God for the set utterances of scholastic theology.
The question returns to us : Why is the power of the British pulpit so feeble; or, why are its results so few? It is not because we are lacking able preachers; for, surely, if extended education, acquaintance with the best authors, and enlarged views, tend to successful oratory, our present ministry should be inferior to none. Nor would we hint, for a moment, that the great majority of our pastors are not thoroughly devoted to their work. There are men among the present Nonconformist ministers who would dare all in preaching the Cross,' and who, should the condition of the age require it, would joyfully suffer all that Baxter, Howe, or Bunyan endured of old. But it has always appeared to us, that the pulpit-power of many of our ministers is all but destroyed by the frequency of their services.
There are many of our congregations which require from their minister three entire sermons on the Sunday, and an additional
address' or two during the week. These worthy people eschew, and perhaps with propriety, 'read sermons'- every discourse among them must be both extemporaneous and remarkable for freshness and vigour: and of how many of our ministers have their resources been thus early exhausted, and
themselves worn out! No one can be a Demosthenes, a Bossuet, or a Massillon, four times a week; and that ministry which is ever in action cannot be long successful.
Another grand reason, we conceive, for the partial failure of our pulpits, is in the narrow range of subjects which the minister is permitted for discussion. We have heard of some worthy Scotch divines, of the last century, who made it a matter of conscience-or, at least, their habit—to introduce the notable
five points' into every sermon; and we know what dead formalism reigned in their churches, while in their creeds they were as orthodox as even Knox could have desired. Now the mission of every religious teacher is to preach the Cross,' and a nobler theme than this no one can desire. But in such a subject do not all Divine requirements and all human duties meet? Is it not the central of all truths, in which the most philosophical mind has all it seeks as matter for lofty thought, and the pious mind for holiest breathing? And yet how often are its very doctrines preached merely as credenda! whereas, all earnest activities and charities must proceed from these. While the zealous Christian teacher is mindful of his great mission, he will not forget that his benevolence is to be all-embracing, and that everything which can exalt humanity, and make less barren the desert of life, is his peculiar work; and, therefore, while the great verities of the gospel are earnestly proclaimed, and faithfully applied to the consciences of the hearers, the preacher may legitimately advocate from his pulpit everything which tends to the enlightenment and elevation of the people. What a wide range would thus be opened for pulpit-address, and what a mighty impulse might thus be given to Christ-like activity both in the Church and the world!
Again,—we think the requirements of the present day are utterly adverse to the attainment of pulpit-eloquence, even by a small section of our pastors. As a general rule, perhaps, no one is born an orator-that excellence can be reached only by certain orders of mind, and not even by them till they have studied all the avenues to the heart of man, and the manner in which those entrances have been gained by the great masters of eloquence. Even the best minds among us have not fair play. They are' cabined, cribbed, confined, by the pastoral habits common to this age. What time have they, for example, for such study, whom the circumstances of the Church call to constant secular activity ? How can they be efficient among an educated and intelligent auditory on the Sunday—such as is found in our larger towns only-who, during more or less of the entire week, have been necessitated, often with an unwilling heart, to sit on some half-score of committees—to superintend