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their immediately securing the blessings of salvation. And his public discourses bear frequent witness how near their immortal interests were to his heart. Toward the close of a new year's sermon, he expresses himself in this tender, glowing language: "I beg leave of my promiscuous auditory, to employ a few min utes in addressing myself to my important family, whom my pa ternal affection would always single out from the rest, even when I am speaking in general terms to a mixed crowd. Therefore, my dear charge, my pupils, my children, and every tender and endearing name! Ye young immortals, ye embryo angels or infant fiends, ye blooming, lovely, fading flowers of human nature, the hope of your parents and friends, of church and state; the hope, joy and glory of your teachers! Hear one that loves you; one that has nothing to do in the world, but to promote your best interest; one that would account this the greatest blessing he could enjoy in his pilgrim age; and whose nights and days are sometimes made almost equally restless, by his affection ate anxieties for you: Hear him upon a subject in which you are most intimately interested; a subject the most important that even an apostle or an angel could address you upon, and that is, the right improvement of time, the present time, and preparation for eternity." He then proceeds to urge their immediate attention to religion, by the most cogent arguments, and in a manner peculiarly awakening and persua
In another sermon, on this text; And this is the condemna
tion, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; we find the following pungent address to his pupils: "There is not one in a thousand of the sons of men that enjoys your advantages. Light, human and divine, natural and supernatural, ancient and modern; that is, knowledge of every kind shines upon you, and you are every day basking under its rays. You have nothing to do but to polish your minds, and, as it were, render them luminous. But let me put you in mind, that unless you admit the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to shine in your hearts, you will still be the children of darkness, and confined in the blackness of darkness forever. This is intoler ably shocking, even in supposition. Suppose any of you should be surrounded with more light than others, for no other purpose but that you may have a stronger conflict with conviction, and that your consciences may with greater force raise tumults and insurrections within you; suppose your sins should be the sins of men of learning and knowledge, the most daring and gigantic sins on this side hell; suppose you should turn out sinners of great parts, fine geniuses, like the fallen angels, those vast intellects; wise, but wicked; wise to do evil, but without knowledge to do good; suppose it should be your highest character that you can harangue well, that you know a few dead languages, that you have passed through a course of philosophy; but as to that knowledge which sanctifies all the rest, and ren-. ders them useful to yourselves or
others; that knowledge which alone can make you wise to salvation, and guide you to avoid the paths of destruction, you shun. it, you hate it, and choose to remain contentedly ignorant in this important respect; suppose your parents, who have been at the expense of your education; your friends, who have entertained such high and pleasing expectations concerning you; church and state, that look to you for help, and depend upon you to fill stations of importance in the world; and your careful instructors, who observe your growing improvements with proportional pleasure; suppose that after all this generous labour, and all these pleasing prospects, they should see you at last doomed to everlasting darkness, for your voluntary abuse of the light you now enjoy; suppose these things, and sequences of these suppositions are so terrible, that I am not hardy enough to mention them. And, O! shall they ever become matters of fact!
but the con
be honest men; and surely this is a most moderate and reasonable demand. Therefore, be ye children of the light and of the day, and walk as such, and then it will be a blessing to the world, and to yourselves, that you ever were born."
"Therefore, my dear youth, admit the light, love it, and pursue it, though at first it should make such discoveries, as may be painful to you; for the pain will prove medicinal. By discovering your danger in time, you may be able to escape it; but never expect to remove it by the silly expedient of shutting your eyes. Be impartial inquirers after truth, as to yourselves, as well as other things, and no longer attempt to put a cheat upon yourselves. Alas! how childish and foolish, as well as wicked and ruinous, would such an imposture be! The gospel, in this particular, only requires you to
Instructions thus faithful, delivered with the greatest tenderness, and enforced by a life of ardent, uniform piety, could scarcely fail to make the most important and salutary impressions on the minds of his youthful charge.
The public and official appearances of President Davies were marked with dignity, decorum and elegance. His performances at anniversary commencements reflected equal honour on himself and the institution, and afforded the highest gratification to the crowded auditories, which those occasions brought together. But the work of the ministry was his chief delight. Here, emphatically, he was in his element. Here he was at home. He had, indeed, a lively and almost overwhelming sense of the magnitude of the sacred office, and of his own insufficiency for its discharge. This is strikingly apparent from some passages in a letter to his friend, Dr. Gibbons. "It is an easy thing," says he, "to make a noise in the world, to flourish and harangue, to dązzle the crowd, and set them all agape; but deeply to imbibe the spirit of Christianity; to maintain a secret walk with God; to be holy as he is holy; this is the labour, this is the work. The difficulty of the ministerial work seems to grow upon my hands. Perhaps, once in three or four months, I preach in some measure as I could wish: that is, I
preach as in the sight of GOD, and as if I were to step from the pulpit to the supreme tribunal. I feel my subject. I melt into tears, or I shudder with horror, when I denounce the terrors of the Lord. I glow, I soar in sacred extacies, when the love of Jesus is my theme; and, as Mr. Baxter was wont to express it, in lines more striking to me, than all the fine poetry in the world,
"I preach as if I ne'er should preach again;
And as a dying man to dying men."
But alas! my spirits soon flag, my devotions languish, and zeal cools. It is really an afflicting thought, that I serve so good a Master with so much inconstancy but so it is, and my soul mourns upon that account.'
The same humble and self-diffident spirit breathes in the following paragraph, which we find at the beginning of one of his discourses: "To preside in the solemnities of public worship, to direct your thoughts, and choose for you the subjects of your meditation in those sacred hours which you spend in the house of God, & upon the right improve ment of which your everlasting happiness so much depends--this is a province of the most tremendous importance that can be devolved on a mortal: and every man of the sacred character, who knows what he is about, must tremble at the thought, and be often anxiously perplexed what subject he shall choose, what he shall say upon it, and in what manner he shall deliver his message. His success in a great measure depends pon his choice; for though the blessed Spirit is the proper agent, and Vol. II. No. 7. ૨૨
though the best means, without his efficacious concurrence, dre altogether fruitless, yet he is wont to bless those means that are best adapted to do good. After a long course of languid and fruitless efforts, which seem to have been unusually disowned by my divine Master, what text shall I choose out of the inexhaustible treasure of God's word? In what new method shall I speak upon it? What new, untried experiments shall I make? Blessed Jesus! my heavenly Master! direct thy poor perplexed servant, who is at a loss, and knows not what to do: direct him that has tried, and tried again, all the expedients he could think of, but almost in vain, and now scarcely knows what it is to hope for suc
Respecting Mr. Davies' appearance in the pulpit, an eminent minister, who intimately knew him, has given the following testimony: "His manner of delivery, as to pronunciation, gesture, and modulation of voice, seemed to be a perfect model of the most moving and striking oratory. Whenever he ascended the sacred desk, he seemed to have not only the attention, but all the various passions of his auditory, entirely at his command. And as his personal appearance was august and venerable, yet benevolent and mild, so he could speak with the most commanding authority, or melting tenderness, according to the variation of his subject. With what majesty and grandeur, with what energy and striking solemnity, with what powerful and almost irresistible eloquence would he illus.
* Rev. Mr. Bostwick, of New-York.
trate the truths, and inculcate the duties of Christianity! Mount Sinai seemed to thunder from his lips, when he denounced the tremendous curses of the law, and sounded the dreadful aların to guilty, secure, impenitent sin ners. The solemn scenes of the last judgment seemed to rise in view, when he arraigned, tried, and convicted self-deceivers and formal hypocrites. And how did the balm of Gilead distil from his lips, when he exhibited a bleeding, dying Saviour to sinful mortals, as a sovereign remedy for the wounded heart, and anguished conscience! In a word, whatever subject he undertook, persuasive eloquence dwelt upon his tongue; and his audience was all attention. He spoke as on the borders of eternity, and as viewing the glories and terrors of the unseen world; and conveyed the most grand and affecting ideas of these important realities."
more of his auditory. That this should have been the case, will not probably appear surprising to those who attentively peruse the volumes of his printed discourses, and reflect that the selection was made, after his death, from such as he ordinarily preached. The world is in possession of a great variety of excellent and invaluable sermons. Yet, if aptitude to accomplish the great ends for which sermons are needed, be considered as the standard of merit, few extant are superior to those of President Davies.
Though to some, this description may seem like the partial, undistinguishing panegyric of a friend, there is much reason to rely on its truth and accuracy. There are those still living, who repeatedly heard Mr. Davies preach, and who speak of his public performances as combining a solemnity, a pathos and animation truly wonderful, such as seemed directly to result from a lively sense of a present Deity, together with a most tender, fervent benevolence to the souls of men. The effects were in some measure answerable. It is said, that he seldom preached, without producing some visible emotions in great numbers present; and seldom, without some saving impressions being left on one or
Their chief and prominent excellence is doubtless this: that they abound in clear, forcible and affecting delineations of the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel. The utter depravity and impotence of man; the sovereignly free grace of Jehovah; the divinity of Christ; the atonement in his blood; justification through his righteousness; regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit; these were his favourite themes. On these he never ceased to insist and expatiate. He viewed these doctrines as constituting the essence of the Christian scheme; the grand support of vital and practical religion. He considered their intelligent and cordial reception as of the highest importance; and viewed every attempt to subvert and explain them away, as equally hostile to the truth of God, and the best interests of men. On these points, he was uniformly expli cit, decided, and strenuous.
Still he defended the truth, and ever repelled those errors, which he viewed most dangerous, in the spirit of love and meekness. None could be more
distant from pressing unhallowed human passion into the service of God. In his sermons, we find none of those asperities by which religion has too often been dishonoured. Truth ap pears in an attitude and aspect, not only majestic, but graceful and attractive.
Even in his most pungent and awakening addresses to the unconverted, the spirit of benevò lence and compassion is obvious ly predominant. Perhaps there are no sermons, which depict, in more striking and awful colours, the guilt, the wretchedness and danger of the impenitent. Yet, who does not see, that a tender, trembling concern for their best interests prompts and pervades the whole? And where is the sinner, who can refrain from taking the preacher's part against himself?
These sermons contain frequent descriptions of the nature and evidences of real religion. They exhibit it as commencing in repentance and faith, as continued by a course of mortification and self-denial, and as manifesting itself by substantial fruits of holiness and virtue. So luminous and striking are these delineations, and so accurately do they distinguish genuine re ligion, both from its opposites and counterfeits, that it seems scarcely possible that any one should attentively peruse them, and yet remain ignorant of his real state. His discourses upon the poor and contrite in spirit,
upon the bruised reed, and upon the spiritually whole and sick, abound with discriminating remarks on character, and with consolations for the weakest, the most dejected and trembling believer.
It is no small recommendation of the sermons of Mr. Davies, that, while intelligible to the meanest capacities, they are calculated to gratify persons of the greatest knowledge and refinement. They abound with striking thoughts, with the beauties and elegancies of expres sion, and with the richest imagery. Some fastidious critics may perhaps object to his style, as florid and ornamented in the extreme. But it should be remembered that nature made him a poet; and that a brilliant imagination, operating on a warm heart, familiarized him to forms of expression, which, in others, might seem unnatural and affected. On the whole, it may be properly remarked, that his style, though rich and entertaining, is rather a dangerous model for imitation. Young preachers, by following it too closely, might be betrayed into a manner ill suited to their genius. Let them study to resemble President Davies in his piety, his zeal, his fidelity in exploring and communicating truth; but let them not be too emulous of soaring upon the wing of his vigorous and excursive imagination.