Obrazy na stronie


8 Aug. 1670.)

upward into the country, in an inland parish, it will do no more than Syriac or Arabic.

Another, he falls a fighting with his text, and makes a pitched battle of it, dividing it into the Right Wing and Left Wing; then he rears it ! flanks it ! intrenches it ! storms it! and then he musters all again ! to see what word was lost or lamed in the skirmish : and so falling on again, with fresh valour, he fights backward and forward ! charges through and through ! routs ! kills ! takes! and then, “Gentlemen! as you were !” Now to such of his parish as have been in the late wars, this is not very formidable ; for they do but suppose themselves at Edgehill or Naseby, and they are not much scared at his doctrine : but as for others, who have not had such fighting opportunities, it is very lamentable to con. sider how shivering they sit without understanding, till the battle be over !

Like instance might be easily given of many more discourses, the metaphorical phrasing whereof, depending upon peculiar arts, customs, trades, and professions, makes them useful and intelligible only to such, who have been very well busied in such like employments.

Another thing, Sir, that brings great disrespect and mischief upon the Clergy, and that differs not much from what went immediately before, is their packing their sermons so full of Similitudes; which, all the World knows, carry with them but very small force of argument, unless there be an exact agreement with that which is compared, of which there is very seldom any sufficient care taken.

Besides, those that are addicted to this slender way of discourse, for the most part, do so weaken and enfeeble their judgement, by contenting themselves to understand by colours, features, and glimpses; that they perfectly omit all the more profitable searching into the nature and causes of things themselves. By which means, it necessarily comes to pass, that what they undertake to prove and clear out to the Congregation, must needs be so faintly done, and with such little force of argument, that the conviction or persuasion will last no longer in the parishioners' minds, than the warmth of those similitudes shall glow in their fancy. So that he that has either been instructed in some part of his



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duty, or excited to the performance of the same, not by any judicious dependence of things, and lasting reason; but by such faint and toyish evidence: his understanding, upon all occasions, will be as apt to be misled as ever, and his affections as troublesome and ungovernable.

But they are not so Unserviceable, as, usually, they are Ridiculous. For people of the weakest parts are most commonly overborn with these fooleries; which, together with the great difficulty of their being prudently managed, must needs occasion them, for the most part, to be very trifling and childish.

Especially, if we consider the choiceness of the authors out of which they are furnished. There is the never-to-becommended-enough Lycosthenes. There is also the admi. rable piece [by FRANCIS Meres) called the Second Part of Wits Commonwealth (1598): I pray mind it! it is the Second Part, and not the First! And there is, besides, a book wholly consisting of Similitudes [? JOHN SPENCER's Things New and Old, or a Storehouse of Similies, Sentences, Allegories, &c., 1658] applied and ready fitted to most preaching subjects, for the help of young beginners, who sometimes will not make them hit handsomely.

It is very well known that such as are possessed with an admiration of such eloquence, think that they are very much encouraged in their way by the Scripture itself. “For,” say they, “ did not our blessed Saviour himself use many metaphors and many parables? and did not his disciples, following his so excellent an example, do the like? And is not this, not only warrant enough, but near upon a command to us so to do?"

If you please, therefore, we will see what our Saviour does in this case. In St. Matthew he tells his disciples, that “they are the salt of the earth," that "they are the light of the world,” that “they are a city set on a hill.” Furthermore, he tells his Apostles, that "he sends them forth as sheep in the midst of wolves ;” and bids them therefore “be as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Now, are not all these things plain and familiar, even almost to children themselves, that can but taste and see; and to men of the lowest education and meanest capacities !

I shall not here insist upon those special and admirable

J. Eachard. 8 Aug. 1670._



reasons for which our Saviour made use of so many parables. Only thus much is needful to be said, namely, that they are very much mistaken, that, from hence, think themselves tolerated to turn all the world into frivolous and abominable similitudes.

As for our Saviour, when he spoke a parable, he was pleased to go no further than the fields, the seashore, a garden, a vineyard, or the like; which are things, without the knowledge whereof, scarcely any man can be supposed to live in this world.

But as for our Metaphorical- and Similitude-Men of the Pulpit, these things to them, are too still and languid ! they do not rattle and rumble ! These lie too near home, and within vulgar ken! There is little on this side the moon that will content them! Up, presently, to the Primuin Mobile, and the Trepidation of the Firmament! Dive into the bowels and hid treasures of the earth! Despatch forthwith, for Peru and Jamaica! A town bred or country bred similitude is worth nothing !

It is reported of a tree growing upon the bank of Euphrates, the great river Euphrates! that it brings forth an Apple, to the eye very fair and tempting; but inwardly it is filled with nothing but useless and deceiving dust.

Even so, dust we are; and to dust we must all go!" Now, what a lucky discovery was this, that a man's Body should be so exactly like an Apple! And, I will assure you that this was not thought on, till within these few years !

And I am afraid, too, he had a kind of a hint of this, from another who had formerly found out that a man's

Soul was like an Oyster. For, says he in his prayer, Our souls are constantly gaping after thee, O LORD!

yea, verily, our souls do gape, even as an oyster gapeth !” It seems pretty hard, at first sight, to bring into a sermon all the Circles of the Globe and all the frightful terms of Astronomy; but I will assure you, Sir, it is to be done! because it has been. But not by every bungler and ordinary text-divider ; but by a man of great cunning and experience.

There is a place in the prophet Malachi, where it will do very nicely, and that is chapter iv. ver. 2, “But unto you, that fear my Name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” From which words, in


the first place, it plainly appears that our Saviour passed through all the twelve signs of the Zodiac; and more than that too, all proved by very apt and familiar places of Scripture.

First, then, our Saviour was in Aries. Or else, what means that of the Psalmist, “The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs!”? And again, that in Second of the Kings, chap. iii. ver. 4, “And MESHA, King of Moab, was a sheep master, and rendered unto the King of Israel an hundred thousand lambs," and what follows, "andan hundred thousand rams, with the wool!" Mind it ! it was the King of Israel !

In like manner, was he in Taurus. Psalın xxii. 12. “Many bulls have compassed me! Strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round!” They were not ordinary bulls. They were compassing bulls! they were besetting bulls ! they were strong Bashan bulls !

What need I speak of Gemini ? Surely you cannot but remember Esau and JACOB! Genesis xxv. 24. “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold there were Twins in her womb !"

Or of Cancer ? when, as the Psalmist says so plainly, “ What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest ? thou Jordan! that thou wast driven back ?” Nothing more plain!

It were as easy to shew the like in all the rest of the Signs.

But instead of that, I shall rather choose to make this one practical Observation. That the mercy of GOD to mankind in sending His Son into the world, was a very signal mercy. It was a zodiacal mercy! I say it was truly zodiacal; for Christ keeps within the Tropics! He goes not out of the Pale of the Church ; but yet he is not always at the same distance from a believer. Sometimes he withdraws himself into the apogæum of doubt, sorrow, and despair; but then he comes again into the perigeum of joy, content, and assurance; but as for heathens and unbelievers, they are all arctic and ant

arctic reprobates !” Now when such stuff as this, as sometimes it is, is vented in a poor parish, where people can scarce tell, what day of J. Eachard. 7 WONDERFUL THINGS DONE BY METAT!:ORS. 277

the month it is by the Almanack? how seasonable and savoury it is likely to be!

It seems also not very easy for a man in his sermon to learn (teach) his parishioners how to dissolve gold, of what, and how the stuff is made. Now, to ring the bells and call the people on purpose together, would be but a blunt business; but to do it neatly, and when nobody looked for it, that is the rarity and art of it ! Suppose, then, that he takes for his text that of St. Matthew,

“Repent ye, for the Kingdom of GOD is at hand.” Now, tell me, Sir, do you not perceive the gold to be in a dismal fear! to curl and quiver at the first reading of these words! It must come in thus, “The blots and blurs of our sins must be taken out by the aqua-fortis of our tears ; to which aqua-fortis, if you put a fifth part of sal-ammoniac, and set them in a gentle heat, it makes

aqua-regia which dissolves gold." And now it is out! Wonderful are the things that are to be done by the help of metaphors and similitudes! And I will undertake that, with a little more pains and considerations, out of the very same words, he could have taught the people how to make custards, or marmalade, or to stew prunes !

But, pray, why “the aqua-fortis of tears?" For if it so falls out that there should chance to be neither Apothecary, nor Druggist at church, there is an excellent jest wholly lost !

Now had he been so considerate as to have laid his wit in some more common and intelligible material; for example, had he said the “blots of sin " will be easily taken out" by the soap of sorrow, and the fullers-earth of contrition," then possibly the Parson and the parish might all have admired one another. For there be many a good-wife that understands very well all the intrigues of pepper, salt, and vinegar, who knows not anything of the all-powerfulness of aquafortis, how that it is such a spot-removing liquor !

I cannot but consider with what understanding the people sighed and cried, when the Minister made for them this metaphysical confession :

Omnipotent All! Thou art only! Because Thou art all, and because Thou only art! As for us, we are not ; but we seem to be! and only seem to be, because we

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