Page images
PDF
EPUB

These Sermons constitute, in some sense, a legacy to his children ---a heritage of wisdom - the resultant of a life-long study of the highest themes, combined with sagacious observation of the world. They embody his “conclusion of the whole matter"-a scheme of faith and life which he commends to them; as it were saying, “Hear, O my sons, and receive my words. I have taught you in the way of wisdom. I have led you in right paths.”

The Discourses are, as he tells us, of studied simplicity in style. They are logical in form, plain, terse, compact, vigorous. They treat mainly of the great primary doctrines and duties of Christianity. They do not contain any novelties of opinion, but the settled, steadfast beliefs of oldfashioned orthodoxy. They doubtless represent the staple of the preacher's thought; but they lack, as must the written sermons of a truly extempore speaker, those elements of his speech which his contemporaries declare to have been its most effective qualities ; viz., vivid picturesqueness of illustration – constraining power of exhortation

- fervor of pathetic appeal — adaptedness of the idea to time and place --- and spontaneity of man

ner, the tears, gestures, tones, looks, which rose unbidden witnesses to his words.

It is the testimony of some aged people yet living, who knew him in his prime, that his Gospel “was not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."

When such a one---accustomed to speak in an elevation of mind analogous to the “fine phrenzy” of the poet, with all his faculties stimulated by strong emotions, and even more, with genuine religious enthusiasm, and under the persuasion of God's blessing-essays to write down coolly, from memory, the “thoughts that breathed and words that burned,” he can but, at best, make the argumentative outline, the mere osseous structure, of the address. And the written sermon will bear to the spoken much the same relation as the lawyer's brief to his plea before the jury.

These Sermons, then — of the greatest interest and value to those for whom designed, and worthy of consideration by all who appreciate lucidity, sincerity, certitude, and loyalty to Scripture in the preaching of the Gospel — yet are to those which men heard from his living lips, on the self-same texts and themes, like the fossil of a fern leaf in a bit of slate-- an exquisitely accurate preservation of the form, but wanting the charm of vitality in that very leaf, glowing and quivering in the light and air of the geologic ages.

The Discourses are preceded by a Memoir of Mr. SHAW, which has been compiled from an incomplete diary which he left; and from a sketch of his life, published (1865) in “The New Jersey Conference Memorial," and a later manuscript, by his old and dear friend, the Rer. A. E. Ballard. Whenever quotations appear from the Diary, they are marked (A), and from Mr. Ballard, (B).

The volume opens appropriately with a most admirable portrait, out of which the benign features of this good man, and faithful, useful preacher of Christ, look forth to greet one with a benediction.

A. M. C.

[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1

10 APRIL, 1800.

4 OCTOBER, 1858.

FOR THIRTY-THREE YEARS A BLAMELESS, DEVOTED,
AND EMINENTLY USEFUL MINISTER

OF CHRIST

[graphic][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »