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to distinction within the liberties of his profession he will decide to adopt. There would be no wonder to see him soon present himself as a most zealous champion of the ecclesiastical institution, extending his array of defensive hostility along its whole range, from its most solemn doctrines to its minutest ceremonial appointments. And in this case he will apply himself assiduously to theological and polemical studies, and will not fail to become furnished with opinions, very definitely conceived, whether impartially formed or not, on most of the points that have been discussed or controverted among the divines of the present and preceding ages. But, as we have reported him a genteel young man with much address and not a little assurance, a very different course is within his choice ; less promising, we should suppose, of ultimate preferment and prolonged fame, but attended with as much more to flatter such a man as with less to fatigue. Some favourable juncture will be afforded for his debut in a large city, where a great number of most genteel and fashionable persons understand there is some obligation on them, especially as George the Third is on the throne, to pay a Sunday compliment to the religion of their country. Under this conscience of obligation both to the church and the state, they would perhaps discharge the duty, rather than forfeit the repute, even in temples where the officiating persons were defective in the graces both of address and composition. But who would not be happy to lose the irksomeness of duty, in the pleasure of being religious, though this should lessen their merit in the article of self-denial ? And really these good Christians must, in their hearts, be a little heathenishly given, if they should immoderately regret the concert, the opera, or even the Royal Institution, while performing their devotions in a place, where the minister, with an elegant appearance, and graceful gesture, and bland delivery, and brilliant touches, and philosophic elucidations, gently invites, for a very short space of time, to the newest and most tasteful mode of religion, the attention of an auditory shining in wealth, blooming in beauty, and dazzling in fashion; a place,
where the proudest need not apprehend being mixed with the vulgar, where the most dashing may deem it worth while to exhibit, where the most rational will be safe from methodism, and where infidels will not be ashamed to have heard a sermon.
Thus to promote the Christian worship, which is so apt to be regarded as a piece of very dull, though prudent, routine observance, almost to the rank of an amusement; and, in effecting this, to be himself the centre of attraction to a portion of the choicest taste, beauty, and fashion, in a metropolis, may well cause the accomplished minister no little self-complacency and elation. Yes, to have inspirited the church to a competition with the theatre! to have threatened Kemble with rivals in the Apostles ! to have provoked all the gods and muses, that preside over the polished vanities of a great city, to envy at the name even of Christ ! this far transcends the achievement of that illustrious hero, who raised the despised Bæotia to a rivalry with all that was most powerful in Greece. No doubt the fortunate preacher's imagination will greatly exaggerate the effect, and magnify the extent, of his operations; and he will be averse to reflect how much larger a share of beauty and fashion, than that which confers its smiles on him, and how much richer an aggregate of taste, accomplishment, and rank, exists in the capital, without paying him any attention, without knowing him, or even thinking of him : nor can he like to acknowledge to himself, how many more persons would deprecate a final cessation of the exhibitions of Cooke and Mrs. Jordan, than would be sorry for the cessation of his. Let him be duly guarded against the intrusion of such considerations, and he will receive the most lively gratification from the attention and flatteries of a numerous and elegant circle of national Christians ; who will surely be right in bestowing their favour on a person, who saves them from the oppressive dulness incident to Sunday duty, and in part from the ridicule of those who are too gay or free to make any conscience at all about such a matter. If he combines with these ecclesiastical merits the talents and graces that animate the social party, he will find himself in much closer contact, if we may so express it, with his fame,—will enjoy a more immediate and concentrated brilliance of smiles and compliments, than if he were prosecuting all the labours, with all the vigour, of Warburton.
One signal advantage attending this favourite of auspicious fortune will be, the privilege of omitting to study a great many subjects which our eminent divines have deemed of the essence of theology. Almost all that doctrine which constitutes the peculiar character, and which may at last be found to constitute also the stamina and vital essence, of Christianity, must be left out of his ministrations, and therefore may as well be left out of his studies. It is a harder tax on ingenuity and caution, than any benefit likely to arise from such an exercise of them is worth, to proceed with impartial and serious thought through the Scriptures, and the writings of our most venerated divines in and out of the established church, without being misled into some few of the notions now called “methodistical ;” and if our favourite evangelist of the polished and the fair, after having been seduced to adopt any of these notions, were in evil hour betrayed to express them, it is easy and curious to imagine what a look of surprise, quickly followed by a sullen blackness of visage, would take place of that aspect of amenity which before so gently beamed on him from his whole auditory; and how vainly his accustomed wit and graces might be exerted, to play him back into favour in the genteel society of which he had been so regaled with the flatteries.
To be sure, it is possible for a man to be a learned theologian without being a methodist. Setting out with a resolute and laudable prejudgment against all those interpretations of revealed religion which are sometimes denominated evangelical, he may investigate the whole theory with the express design of advancing opposite opinions systematically on every point. But, besides that some questions both of decorum and prudence would be involved in this regular warfare against the articles and the most revered divines of our church, it would be altogether useless and unacceptable in ministering to those devout Christians, whose partiality we have predicted for the pink of sacerdotal spruceness. They do not want to hear theological lectures of any school. Even the delight of seeing methodism exploded would be bought too dear, at the price of listening half an hour to a discussion of the doctrine of justification. What they want is, to steal from the institutions of religion an apology for thinking very little about religion itself; what they attend to must be constituted religion, and must constitute them sufficiently religious, in virtue of its being attended to in a consecrated place, under the presiding wisdom and devotion of a consecrated man, and amidst the paraphernalia of piety; and the performance, being thus secured to be of a perfectly religious quality, may be allowed to avoid all statement of doctrines purely religious, and the more carefully it does so the more agreeable. It would certainly, as we remember a fashionable ecclesiastic pertinently remarking, be somewhat of a “ bore” to insist on such things, while there are so many pleasant matters of taste and sentiment at the preacher's choice.
This exemption from the duty of severe theological study, will give our divine the more advantage for figuring, if he should desire it, as a man of letters, which will be a great additional recommendation. In this character, we can hardly guess how he will be likely to deport himself with respect to religion. But we should rather expect to find him, when associating with wits, politicians, and philosophers, painfully envious of that freedom which they have not submitted to be cramped in canonicals; and not more nice than some of them in the choice of expedients to shine. If, as a writer, he should feel insupportably impatient of the proprieties imposed on the language of a gentleman and a member of the reverend body, he may indulge his genius anonymously; and we know not whether we ought to be surprised, if we should detect him, under this mask, forswearing all his factitious elegance and refinement, railing in low diction against some of the worthiest of mankind,
and repeatedly betraying his implacable quarrel with his destiny by ridiculing the clerical character.
This last employment will be a truly painful sport to him; and he will be sadly mistaken if he should fancy that it will be a recommendation in the view of some clever, and not over religious men, with whom he may be ambitious to hold a literary or a convivial connexion, and by whom he takes care to be recognized in the anonymous exhibition. Instead of admiring what he may wish them to consider as the fine free spirit far above his profession, they will despise the meanness which can assert the full claims, and take all the advantages of the profession, and at the same time be anxious to show them, in a confidential way, that he can sneer at it with as good a will as themselves. But whatever he may think necessary for his credit with the initiated, he will surely take every precaution that his clerical brethren and the public shall not be apprised, how much the bad part of society are indebted to him for burlesquing serious subjects, for fanaticism and slander against Christian zeal, and for examples of a coarse and bullying language. Nor surely can he let his vanity so baffle his prudence, as to compel his ecclesiastical superiors to hear of him as a meddler with matters of political party, and the maker of squibs against the policy of the church, in points of which it is inveterately tenacious. If he should be so far abandoned of his discretion, we cannot choose but anticipate the melancholy consequence; the day will come when this bright form of genteel spirituality, this light of the fine and of the fair, after sparkling for some years about the metropolis, will be smitten away by the crosier of the diocesan ; and flying toward the north like a meteor, hissing but lessening as it flies, will quickly vanish from every bright eye that has been accustomed to reflect its lustre, and is turned to observe its departure. And will not an incurable sorrow take possession of those devout Christian souls, that are thus deprived of their instructor and pattern? Why no; there will be a new fashion, a new opera, or a new singer; and if the gentle belles must still be religious, some other elegant cicerone of