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sonal, but still characteristic, so that every individual of his congregation might know where to class himself, and feel that the hand of the preacher was upon him ;-he would have him endeavour to insulate his hearers, to place each of them apart, and render it impossible for him to escape by losing himself in the crowd;-he would have him adapt his addresses to the different castes of his audience, and select his topics accordingly; remembering that some among them are only capable of digesting first principles; that some require more ample variety and a more comprehensive grasp of scriptural truths; that some are phlegmatic and can only be approached by cool argument, and though believers, indisposed to pay much attention to naked assertions; that some are of a softer clay and must be pricked at the heart; that some again are callous sinners, and must be subdued by the terrors of the Lord. Thus will he become all things to all men, that he may save some. He would not have him too formal or mechanical in the construction of his sermons, ever abating the edge of curiosity by making a point of proclaiming what is to come next; method, indeed, he would have, but not such as comes of observation,-it being impossible to object a want of method to Cicero or Demosthenes, though it would be very difficult to dispose one of their orations under heads, without extinguishing its fire ;—he would have him smite friendly, in order that he may smite effectually, not denouncing God's threats as if he took pleasure in the office, but with St. Paul, telling his people weeping, whenever he has to tell them such a truth, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:-he would have seriousness a feature of his discourses, intending thereby not merely the absence of light or jocular topics, in which few would in these days be likely to indulge, but the use of that sound speech,' which St. Paul recommends to Timothy, a sober dignity of language and subject, so that in describing the pleasures of devotion, for instance, or the joys of heaven, there should be nothing weak, sickly, or effeminate,''no puerile exaggerations or feeble ornaments,' but rather that chaste severity which is ever found in the representations of the apostles ;-he would have him draw his instructions immediately from the Bible, take them fresh from the spring; he would have him seek to fix the attention of his hearers, not by any peculiar refinement of thought or subtlety of reasoning, much less by any pompous exaggerations of secular eloquence, but rather by imbibing deeply the mind of Christ, letting his doctrine enlighten, his love inspire the heart, thereby placing himself in a situation, which, in comparison of other speakers, will resemble that of the angel of the apocalypse, who was seen standing in the sun. Above all, he would have him persuasive in his life, not indeed continually teaching from house to house, nor always
having the subject of religion upon his lips, but so discharging the ordinary duties of the passing day, as to add weight to his ministerial functions, properly so called, and to give token that he is aware of the high trust reposed in him, and that moral delinquency in him produces a sensation as when an armour-bearer fainteth.'
In his polemical treatises, which are confined to the question of free communion, or the admission of pædo-baptists to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, Hall is the advocate of liberal principles, taking part against those who maintained the doctrine of strict communion, constituting, we believe, the great majority of the Baptist church, and considered its orthodox members. Here Hall shows himself a very powerful and very vehement reasoner, but not always a very candid antagonist, sometimes dexterously evading an argument which presses, sometimes resorting to weapons at the risk of piercing his own hand, rather than yield, and sometimes descending to arguments coarse and personal. Thus he considers the doctrine of regeneration in baptism, a pernicious error,'* but being aware that such a doctrine was held by all the early fathers of the church, he takes an opportunity to descant upon the tendency there exists in the human mind to sink from the spirit to the letter-from what is vital in religion to what is ritual, and then he adroitly introduces the sentiments of the fathers, on the subject of baptism, in illustration of his theory. †
Again, Hall on one occasion considers, and with reason, as we believe, the future appearance of the Messiah, to be the great article of the Jewish faith. Yet in the heat of controversy he will rather put this sentiment to hazard, than be worsted in the dispute. For, in arguing on the side of free communion, he contends that there can be no ground for insisting on baptism at all, previous to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, since this latter sacrament itself was instituted before baptism. To this it is replied, true, but John's baptism was instituted before the Lord's Supper. Yes, is the rejoinder, but the baptism of John was very different from the baptism of Jesus. Not so different, is again the answer, seeing that John and the older prophets taught of Jesus. So they did, is the retort, but how indistinct was their conception!
• Ibant obscuri solâ sub nocte per umbras'-§ -where we see Hall allows himself to be drifted by his argument to a position which probably, at another time, he would not have occupied by choice. Instances of the same tactics might be produced from other of his writings;-whilst to his opponents in general he displays a carriage the most supercilious, not to be Vol. iv., p. 174. + Vol. ii., p. 74. ‡ Vol. ii., p. 23. § Vol. ii., p. 211. excused
excused by the consciousness of possessing talents, however unrivalled; and to one of them, who had constructed a synopsis of the principles advanced in the treatise On Terms of Communion,' in such a manner as to provoke Hall's wrath, he so far forgets the rules of common courtesy, as to liken him to a certain animal in the eastern part of the world, who is reported to be extremely fond of climbing a tree for that purpose, inasmuch as he merely pelts the author with his own produce.'* Certainly, whatever can be advanced in favour of the most latitudinarian principles of church membership, may be collected from these dissertations, though, on experience, Hall would have found their application impracticable, and, as we gather from certain inconsistencies discoverable in his writings and already produced, actually did find them so.
His reviewals are of very different degrees of merit. Those in which he has to commend his author seem to us to labour-to drag their slow length along; they perpetually suggest to us Hall's amusing confessions of faith and feeling on this subject, to which he so often gives plaintive utterance in his letters: Reviewing at the request of particular friends he holds to be a snare for the conscience.' + 'He has the utmost aversion to the whole business of reviewing, which he has long considered, in the manner in which it is conducted, a nefarious and unprincipled proceeding, and one of the greatest plagues of modern times.' He wishes that the whole body' (of reviews or reviewers, horrescimus referentes) could be put an end to.'§ And to crown all in one word, 'there is no kind of literary exertion to which he had an equal aversion by many degrees, and were such things determined by choice, it is his deliberate opinion, that he should prefer going out of the world by any tolerable mode of death, rather than incur the necessity of writing three or four articles in a year.' || Even precious balms, concocted in such a mood as this, were very likely to break a man's head; but if it was unfavourable to flowing panegyric, it was precisely the thing to give a sting to censure; and, accordingly, the reviews of Zeal without Innovation,' and of Mr. Belsham's Memoirs of Lindsey,' are incomparably above the others, and of whatever else they may be accused, they are certainly clear of all charges of tameness and constraint.
Certain biographical sketches of departed friends, who had been great in their generation as Christian examples, place his powers very high in this delightful and difficult department of literature, and lead us at the same time to lament, (which we do without + Vol. v., p. 490. Vol. v., p. 523.
* Vol. ii., p. 228.
§ Vol.v., p. 537.
Vol. v., p. 496.
meaning any disrespect to the excellent of the earth whom he has chosen for his subjects,) that such powers should not, like those of Lord Clarendon, have been exercised upon characters who had acted more conspicuous parts upon the stage of life. Hall, indeed, appears to have been a very nice observer of men and manners; drawing his conclusions sometimes from trifles, which none but a keen critic of his kind would have considered as tests. 'Mr. ——,' says he to Mr. Greene, is too much taken up with the world he is overdone with business-if you observe, Sir, he always stoops when he walks out, and looks towards the ground, as if he were of the earth, earthy.'* A remark of the same class as that of Johnson's, who pronounced upon the general character of a lady, when he saw her forbear to cut a cucumber at table; or that of Shakspeare, who makes Cæsar observe upon the lean looks of Cassius, that such men are dangerous,' and that he would rather have men about him that are fat.' Accordingly in his biography, which (as may be supposed) is confined to such persons as, upon the whole, he admires, he still does not allow his admiration to dazzle his judgment; but discriminates in a way to set the party vividly before our eyes, and to work in us a conviction that the sketch is from the life.
Of the letters more need not be said than that they are valuable, as all honest men's letters are, from throwing light upon the character and sentiments of their author. We have frequently referred to them already in the course of this paper, and shall be still more indebted to their contents, whilst we attempt, as we shall now do in conclusion, to put our readers in possession of a more personal knowledge of Hall-premising, however, that we have little means of estimating him but such as his writings afford. He has been described to us as a preacher of a very marked character; at the opening of his sermon somewhat embarrassed, and subject to the perpetual interruption of a short and teasing cough; but no sooner did he kindle with his theme, which he speedily did, than his manner became rapt and impassioned, his soul commercing with the skies, and the vehemence of his mind bearing before it in triumph both himself and those that heard him. His father, of whom he speaks with great feeling, was a decided Calvinist; he also a Calvinist, but of a more moderate school-that of Baxter and Howe,† their opinion upon election being that of Milton in Paradise LostSome I have chosen of peculiar grace
Elect above the rest; so is my will;
The rest shall hear me call and oft be warned
* Reminiscences, p. 192.
+ Vol. v., p. 454; iii., p. 478.
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
The corruption of human nature he considers very great, perhaps total; he speaks of the mind as fatally indisposed,' alienated from the life of God,' having no delight in his converse,' -as having lost the divine image.' * Yet he argues with almost all the leading divines of our church for the evidence of the law written on the heart,' for a moral impress ;'t an opinion scarcely consistent with the utter depravity of our nature. The change which he maintains it necessary for man to undergo before he becomes a new creature he holds to be rather of slow growth than of sudden impulse; and as a consequence perhaps of this, he does not entertain the doctrine of assurance; § he has for himself, indeed, a feeble hope, which he would not exchange for a world; but more than this, though a most desirable attainment, he does not regard as essential, nor would he lay claim to more in his own case. The need we have of the Holy Spirit to guide and support us in all things he strenuously and amply asserts; whilst he precludes every enthusiastic pretension, by entering as a caveat, that the internal illumination of the Spirit is merely intended to qualify the mind for distinctly perceiving and cordially embracing those objects, and no other, which are exhibited in the written word.** He disclaims the notion of conditions of salvation as meritorious, but still contends for them as a sine qua non;++ the idea of the former being inconsistent with the gospel considered as a system of free grace, but the latter being necessary to confound the pretensions of a licentious professor; he holds it culpable, therefore, to flinch from the use of plain language upon this subject, inasmuch as it would pave the way, he thinks, to antinomianism. This heresy, and every approach to it, however remote, he is on every occasion most anxious to condemn; for of all the features of Hall's religion this is the most conspicuous-the practical nature of it; it shows itself at every turn; every attempt that has been made to rear religion on the ruins of nature, and to render it subversive of the economy of life, has proved, according to Hall, but a humiliating monument of human folly.§§ He loves not squeamish auditors, who can listen to nothing but doctrinal statements. He considers the general principles of morality to be not less the laws of Christ than positive rites, such as baptism or the supper of the Lord.¶¶ The credenda, or things to be believed, must indeed precede the facienda