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At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
I HAVE alluded to the salutary effects of Dr. Malcom's preaching on my mind, when sinking under misfortune. The irreligious may“scoff at such ideas, but experience will discover that our only consolation in real trouble is to be found in the refuge of piety. When assured of the coldnem of this world, is it not warming ourselves to turn to the benevolence of Heaven? He whose portion is present misery, may enrich himself by drawing on futurity. For this reason, I would not too severely oensure-in some instances I could almost applaud even hypocrisy in Christianity. What chance has the practical atheist of improvement ? He never goes near the house of God—the hypocrite does ; and, therefore, is in the way of having his heart affected by some powerful appeal to his understanding
In this point of view, I consider a good preacher as one of his Majesty's most valuable subjects. It is deeply to be regretted, however, that so few Dr. Malcoms ornament the pulpits of this religious land. It not sufficient that a clergyman be a good and irreproachable character; he must be a talented, a gifted one, practically to benefit his country. It is not enough that he is able to write an unexceptionable sermon; he must possess the power of delivering it impressively, and with unction, or he may as well let the town-cryer read his labours. If we enter nine places of worship out of ten, we must be convinced that not one clergyman in nine ought ever to have been ordained. It is in vain that we are told not to go to church for the purpose of criticizing a sermon, but to humble ourselves, and examine our own hearts, if the preacher possess not the energy to arouse our attention, and
engage the ear to drink the music of his tones and sentences. How often have I experienced the strongest inclination to fix my whole soul on what I was hearing; when, in defiance of that inclination, the monotonous and stupid manner in which the preacher delivered his discourse has so wearied me, that my busy mind has flown for refuge to unsolicited fancies! Ay, they will tell you, it is the devil that puts these fancies into your head; but ask them, How it comes that you are never subjected to wandering thoughts, whilst a preacher of eminence is addressing you, more than when a celebrated actor is delineating life? Each takes complete possession of your senses; under the dominion of either, your ear and eye are not their own mas ters, more than your fancy and understanding.
How careful, then, should those men be, with whom it rests to sanction the claim of candidates for the clerical profession, not to allow one to pass who is not stamped by nature with the will, and the power, to enforce the doctrines of divine truth. Alas! this can never be while interest fills the church. Hence the coldness to all the duties of religion, which we too frequently behold.
But I am wandering from the objects of this sketch, which were briefly to describe Dr. Malcom's manner, and character; and to relate an affecting little story, connected with the happy influence of his preaching.
Under a splendid testimony to his worth and talent, Dr. Malcom now lies in the Presbyterian meeting-house-yard of Newry. To the congregation in that town he had been minister nearly twenty years, and every year he grew more and more in favour with God and man. Even and tranquil was the tenor of his course. His life, as a man, rarely exhibits a vicissitude; but, as a servant of God, he was a hero in the cause of his religion. In the interests of his fellow-creatures, his activity may be traced through every day of his existence. Here he was visiting the poor--there he was clothing the naked-you heard him in the pulpit to-day-to-morrow you saw him assuaging the bitterness of party, and healing the distractions of his country--in print, you will find him as an author and a poet--in the synod you would have seen him respected by those who were most deserving of respect. The terrors of disease were not sufficient to restrain him in his duty; he caught the typhus fever in one of his visitations, and died in the prime of life in the year 1823.
On the day of his funeral—the most numerously attended funeral I ever witnessed there was not a dry eye in Newry: Protestants, Catholics, every sect and class, in long procession, were all in tears, testifying the universally acknowledged worth of the man, and the general sorrow which was felt for his irreparable loss.
In person Dr. Malcom was of small stature; and, at first, his manner and address excited an unfavourable prejudice. Yet this, by the strong contrast afterwards effected, proved an advantage: before an hour had been passed in his company, your heart and esteem were in complete captivity. It was in the pulpit, however, that he triumphed completely over the minds of his hearers. His mode of achieving such triumphs was perfectly in the style of Buonaparte. Napoleon commenced his attacks by a sort of general skirmish. So did Dr. Malcom. He began by gently rousing attention. Then, Buonaparte pushed forward his lines, and seemed inclined to make a general charge; but contented