« AnteriorContinuar »
ledge all the faults of this French version, the subject-matter of the Archbishop of Canterbury's sermons still remains far inferior to the discourses of Massillon and Bourdaloue.*
Tillotson is more of a theologian than a moralist. He scarcely ever discussed any other than controversial subjects. He employs the same dull modes of syllogism or dissertation ; and merely habituates himself to an insipid uniformity of method.
I discover in his discourses no rhetorical movements, no great ideas, no sublime strokes : he generally divides every paragraph, and has thirty or forty subdivisions in each of his sermons. His particulars are insipid, futite, and often devoid of excellence. In short, Tillotson is so much a stranger to the art of Eloquence, that he scarcely ever inakes an exordium or a peroration. Is this then
From this acknowledgment of M. Maury, that his ideas of Tillotson's sermons are derived from the imperfect French version of Barbegrac, it would seem, that he himself has but little acquaintance with the English language; if so, it must be presumed that he is not a competent judge of English writers ; and that, therefore, the indiscriminate censures, which he passes upon our English divines, must, in a great measure, be ascribed to his own ignorance of their works, and the language in which they are written,
the Orator whom they are bold enough to put in competition with our French preachers ? *
But, not to confine ourselves to indefinite criticism, let us hasten to substantiate the grounds of our opinion.
In his sermon on Prejudices against Religion, Tillotson starts an objection, drawn from the
opposition which man finds between his duty and his inclinations. This objection he copies from the tragedy of Mustapha, by Fulke, lord Brooke, from which he recites in the pulpit a series of ver
Is a quotation of this sort worthy of the
* MAURY had no good reason whatever, to bring Archbishop Tillotson forward as the person, generally esteemed the first Orator among English Divines. For soundness and strength of argument, few of his own country have exceed. ed, and none of the French Divines have equalled, the celebrated and worthy Archbishop. His warmest admirers have never esteemed him as a first rate Orator, but have agreed with the general opinion in placing him in rather an inferior situation of that class. He is, however, a great favourite among his countrymen, who attend so much to the sapere from the pulpit, as to neglect the fari to a faulty de. gree. Let it be recollected, that he has been the most pow. erful, the unanswerable opponent ofthe Romish church, and that Maury has indulged himself in attacking the Protestant church, on the weakest side of its most formidable champion, whilst he has affected to overlook many others less obnoxious, whose claim to Oratory he dared not to controvert.
† Vol. iv. p. 35.
majesty of a church ?* “ The passions,' he adds, are a kind of glue, fastening us to things low and terrestrial. + + Scarcely can one pass in the
made a quota
Maury has thought it inexpedient to recollect, that some of the writers of the Holy Scripture, that Arnobius, Lactantius, and the generality of the ancient fathers, and the most learned writers in every age of the church, have embellished their composition, supported their arguments, and elucidated their observations, by quotations from classic authors of every description, from tragedians and comedians, as well as poets, historians, and philosophers. To adduce no more instances, has not St. Paul, in his very sublime argument en the resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. 33, tion from the comic Menander, “Evil communications cor
rupt good manners ?' Has he not, in his Epistle to Titus 1. xii. quoted from Epimenides, • The Cretians are always
liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.'? Has not St. Luke, in his memoirs of the Acts of the Apostles, xvii. 28, informed us, that St. Paul made a quotation, which was from Aratus,
For we are also his offspring,'? And has not St. Peter II. Epistle, ii. 22, quoted two proverbs, which the learned generally suppose to have been from some comic writer'whose works are lost, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again, 6 and the sow that was washed to her wall ng in the
mire.'? Did not Maury recollect these, and many others ; or had rancour benumbed his faculties, and obliterated every impression of memory; or did prejudice warp bim, with his eyes open, from the region of truth?
† Vol. i.
Tillotson's expressions are, “The lusts and passions of men do sully and darken their minds, even by a natural
influence. Intemperance, and sensuality, and fleshly lusts, debase men's minds, and clog their spirits, make them gross and foul, listless, and inactive; they sink us down
' streets, I speak of it from experience, without • having his ears assailed with such horrible oaths • and imprecations, as would be sufficient to ruin
a nation, were it guilty of no other crime : and * they are not merely servants, who break out into such blasphemous conversation ; it proceeds also from the mouth of their masters.'* +
Elsewhere, in order to prove that the mysteries of religion ought to be believed, although we can never comprehend them with mathematical evidence, Tillotson expresses himself in this manner; we eat, we drink, every day, although in
my opinion, no one can demonstrate that his ba*ker, his brewer, or his cook, have not put poison • into the bread, the beer, or the meat.
• into sense, and glue us to these low and inferior things ; • like bird-lime, they hamper and entangle our souls, and hinder our flight upwards; they indispose and unfit our minds for the most noble and intellectual considerations.'TILLOTSON, vol. i. Serm. 4, 7th ed, 8vo. p. 153.
* Vol i. p. 173.
† Tillotson's words in the English edition are. I speak it • knowingly, a man can hardly pass the streets without hav. *ing his ears grated and pierced with such horrid and blasphemous oaths and curses, as are enough, if we were • guilty of no other sin, to sink a nation ; and this not only
from the tribe that wear liveries, but from those that go before them, and should give better example--Vol. i. Serm. 3, p. 148.
# Vol. i. p. 112; or, in the English edition, thus : 'Nay, • which is more, men every day eat and drink, though I
In this manner did Tillotson perform the ministry of the word in the age of Dryden, Addison, Waller, Milton ; and before that same Charles II. who had heard in his childhood the most illustriouis French Orators.*
'think no man can demonstrate out of Euclid or Apollonius, " that his baker, or brewer, or cook, have not conveyed poi. son into his meat or drink.' Vol. i. Serm. 1. p. 86.
* Abp. Tillotson's character as an Orator must be acknowledged to be some what problematical. The extrava. gant eulogiums of those, who have extolled him as a pattern of excellence, and the first Orator of England, have, perhaps, whetted the edge of our author's severe censures on his performances.
Tillotson, as a writer, had considerable 'merit; but he was not without his faults. His style is so deficient in ac. curacy and elegance, that it will not, in the present day of refinement, permit him to be held up as a model for imitation.
At the same time, M. Maury appears to be as much prejudiced against this English Protestant writer, as he is unreasonably partial to those of his own nation and communion.
An acute and polite writer of our own country refuses to Tillotson the character of an illustrious Orator, and thinks that no man had ever less pretensions to genuine Oratory than this celebrated preacher. • One cannot but regret,'
says he, that Dr. Tillotson, who abounds with such noble 6 and generous sentiments, should want the art of setting "them off with all the advantage they deserve ; that the i sublime in morals should not be attended with a suitable
elevation of language. The truth, however, is, his words • are frequently ill-chosen, and almost always ill-placed in
his periods are both tedious and unharmonious; as his metaphors are generally mean, and often ridiculous ; a