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After a brief general view of the feelings of Christians, under the first head, in the character of strangers and pilgrims, Dr. G. proceeds, in the second place, to assign reasons for such feelings and conduct, and gives as many as eight. Under the third head, which at first seems to be a distinct subject, but is really litile more than a repetition of the second in a different form, he urges the duty of believing and trusting in the promises of God, by five distinct considerations; and then applies the subject in two separate exhortations. Sermons constructed upon this plan would be heavy and uninteresting. The sermon itself is good, and contains many valuable thoughts, but it is far from being a good specimen of sermonizing.
Dr. G. seemed never to forget that he was an ambassador from God to guilty men. While he was affectionate, he was bold; though tender, he was uncompromising; he aimed to preserve the dignity and elevation of the pulpit, and at the same time to accomplish the great object of his mission, reconciliation with God. In this, he was to an uncommon degree successful. He aimed by all means to gain some.
A very shrewd man once said, “that one important thing in the preparation of a sermon is to get the right elevation. We must aim neither too high nor too low.” Dr. G. very happily illustrated this original idea. He did not rise into the clouds to dazzle his hearers by the visions of his fancy, or the white fog of transcendentalism, nor descend to vulgarism and vapidness to catch the smile of the simple.
He was a plain, searching preacher. The hearer felt that he was in the presence of one who was deeply read in the science of human nature, who had thoroughly studied his own heart, and therefore knew how to expose the deceitfulness and depravity of those of others. Very few men communed more with their own spirit. He was a man of prayer. The views he obtained of truth were received on his knees. He knew they were correct; he was witness of their efficacy and sweetness; and because he believed, therefore did he speak.
Dr. Dwight's two volumes of sermons, after his life was published, were expected with great eagerness. The history of the success of the one on “ The Harvest Past," induced many to purchase them, at a great price. But
they are laid aside. They have dropped out of the public mind. They are stately, able, well reasoned and forcibly written, but they are cold. They do not embody the struggles, trials and prayers of the author. We predict a different destiny for these sermons of Dr. Griffin. They are more like the sermons of President Edwards. They go down into the heart, they take hold of the conscience. They will be read in pious families on the evening of the Lord's day; and will lie on the minister's table to be read after the labors of the Sabbath, to refresh the spirit; before going to the conference to arouse the soul, and in the closet to humble the heart before God.
Although there is occasionally a vein of metaphysical reasoning in them, they are for the most part remarkably explicit. Dr. G., though at times profound, yet is never obscure. He calls things by their right names. He expressed great dislike to the fastidiousness of modern writers, who often go around the truth to avoid giving offence.
A worthy clergyman, at present occupying an important station in the church, when a pupil of his, carried to him a composition for correction. He thought he had succeeded very well. Dr. G. read it over. “M.," said he, “what do you mean by that paragraph ?" He told him. “Well, why not say so ?'' and dashed his pen across it. Thus he cut out a good portion of it. The art of saying just what we mean is very difficult of attainment. Dr. Beattie, author of “ The Elements of Moral Science,” was one of the clearest writers in the language, and may be studied with profit on that account. Nor can a student of Dr. Griffin's sermons fail to derive benefit.
Some of his occasional sermons and addresses, to which reference is made in the Life, are out of print, and might be published in the appendix of a new Life, which we hope will be written, or of this, with additions.
Instead of transcribing passages of these thrilling discourses, we choose rather to refer our readers to the volumes themselves, as a depository of evangelical truth and sacred eloquence of rare worth. It was not the design of Dr. G., in preparing these sermons for the press, to strike out any new paths in theology, to agitate the church by any bold and original views of particular doctrines, but to stand in the ways and see what others had seen before
him, to ponder what others had said; and while many were going off in the pursuit of theories, to ask for the old paths and the good way, in which he had found rest to his soul, and believed Zion would find rest.
Dr. G. generally used 'notes when preaching. He has given his views of the best method of preaching, in his able sermon delivered before the pastoral association of Massachusetts. And who that heard him on that occasion, will forget his manner and appearance, as he concluded his sermon ? Taking off his spectacles, and fixing his flashing eye on the distant part of the gallery, as though he saw an unfaithful minister enter there, he addressed him in tones that thrilled every heart.
We sometimes conceive of him as he appeared in his best days. We remember him, on one occasion, as he was about to preach before a large assembly of an evening. It was a time of deep interest in religion. He always took ample time to review his sermon and get his heart in a proper frame, before he went into the pulpit. As he entered the sanctuary, his majestic form and snow white head attracted every eye. He seemed to be pondering awful subjects as he ascended the sacred desk. He read the hymn in a tremulous tone. His prayer was short, simple and earnest. As he arose behind a temporary breast work erected to accommodate his unusual height, he looked around upon the assembly with the solicitude of a parent. His text was Isa. 1: 18. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. His feelings, the subject, the place, the assembly, all conspired to give uncommon interest to the effort. After a few remarks, he said, “My business at present is with impenitent sinners. I would single them out from the crowd, and take them aside, and say in their ear, I have a message from the Lord to deliver to you. I am sent to reason with you in his name about the high concerns of a future world, about your interest a thousand ages hence, about the claims which the Sovereign of the world has upon you, and the long score of uncancelled charges which he has against you." Let Christians stand by and assist me with their prayers, while I attempt to recall from death this interesting multitude." This happy introduction seemed to divest his manner of the formality of the preacher and his address of the regularity of a sermon. We could think of nothing but a parent speaking in all the tenderness of his heart to his wayward offspring. His tender spirit and subdued tones served to render the illusion the more complete. “My poor hearers," he continued, “you have often considered an address from the pulpit as a matter of course, and felt no personal interest in it. But it must not be so now. I have a solemn errand from the Lord to do to you one by one." Each one seemed disposed to give him his hand and come to his side to hear his message. He then proceeded in an easy way to reason and expostulate with them. There was the most breathless attention. He was short, direct, and overwhelming. We think we see him now as he stood at the close, referring his weeping hearers to the awful scenes of the judgment. “My beloved friends,” he said, “I expect soon to meet you at that bar, and give an account of my labors among you to-night.” It is solemn to reflect that many who heard him on that evening are in eternity. They have met him before the throne of God. As though an unwonted solemnity had come over him, he said with deep emotion, “ It is in full view of that awful scene, that I am speaking thus to you. I would not have you perish, but,”—gathering himself up he said, with great deliberation, “but if you perish, I would clear my garments of your blood.”
As though not satisfied, and reluctant to leave them, he came forward in the pulpit and said, with impassioned tones :
“ But you must not perish. The calls of mercy are still out. I have returned to my text and found it written, “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool. These heavenly words, issuing from the eternal throne, still mingle their sounds about your ears. There is yet hope. You need not perish. The door of mercy is not yet closed. That Saviour whom you just now saw on the judgment-seat, once died on Calvary. Though you have so long trifled with his blood, though you have so long abused sermons and Sabbaths, though you have ten thousand times been found in arms against the Sovereign of the world, yet in that blood all your stains may be washed out,--all your treasons purged. Only do not now seal your damnation by longer rejecting his mercy. Fall down now at his feet. Go not from this house, till you have bathed them with your tears and wiped them with the hairs of you head. This is an awful moment. Heaven, earth, and hell are now opened before you. From the throne of God, which is placed in the midst, the invitation is still proceeding. Not man, but God himself is now speaking to you. If you turn away, it will be like those who turned away when their feet touched the borders of the promised land. They could not be forgiven, but must perish in the wilderness. Take care what you do, for you are now standing near the Shekinah. Drop the weapons from your bloody hands. With those trembling arms clasp his feet; resolving never to quit your hold ;—that if he tread you down, you will sink, but that you will never leave the spot till one look of peace assures you that your sins are forgiven. O could we see you thus !--Are you afraid to go? Why, it is the same Being that left the realms of glory to die for you. Go with greater confidence than you ever went to an earthly parent. Go with all your sins upon you. It is not to judge that he has now come. He has come to heal the broken-hearted and to preach deliverance to the captives. The love of Jesus looks out of his eye. His hands, bearing still the prints of the nails, are extended to receive you. Go, and give pleasure to that heart which bled on the point of the spear. Go and find your heaven in the sweetness of that embrace. Go,-you see him there,-0 go!".
Some of his tones yet linger on our ear. Some of his expressions of countenance are yet present to our recollection. That picture can never fade from our mind.
« This sun has set,
SELECTIONS FROM GERMAN LITERATURE.
Selections from German Literature. By B. B. EDWARDS
and E. A. Park, Professors in Theological Seminary, Andover. 8vo. pp. 472. Andover. Gould, Newman & Saxton. 1839.
We accept, with no ordinary degree of satisfaction, this contribution to our scanty stock of translations from modern German literature. The present literature of that country has some undoubted advantages over our own or that of any other nation. In philology, history and antiquities, it is thoroughly critical; in philosophy, it is free and expansive; in poetry and romance, it is luxuriant and semi-oriental; in religious feeling, where true