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But the bright scenes of the ordination are soon followed by the gloom of funeral obsequies. Never will the writer forget the mournful events of the burial. The sanctuary was filled with a sorrowing people. The sable drapery of the pulpit, the plaintive dirge and the funeral service were not needed to call out emotions of sadness. The pensive look, the moistened eye, and the heaving bosom, every where told of overpowering sorrow. The seats that were appropriated to the circle of mourning relatives, presented an affecting spectacle. There was one whose bridal attire, so recently put on, had been exchanged for the weeds of widowhood: brothers, who could yet scarcely realize the fact that the brightest and best of their number was cut down in the freshness of his youth, were there : and there was a bereaved parent who bowed his venerable head in submission, although the unconscious groan denoted that nature was tasked to the utmost in the effort.
One object was the centre of interest to all-it was the pastor's coffin. The well known voice was silent in death, but the scene spake with indescribable power. All felt the eloquence of the appeal that came from those remains. Solemn and touching was the interview between the living and the dead.
The book, whose title stands at the head of this article is designed to preserve the productions and the biography of the young pastor to whom ihe preceding remarks refer. The editor has been induced to devote his well known abilities to a subject not unworthy of their efforts. Mr. Homer was no ordinary man. His ministry, though brief, was singularly effective. He was attaining fast a wide-spread influence. It was not the tinsel reputation of the shallow pretender, who can practice the arts of the obsequious demagogue, and the tricks of the rhetorical charlatan. It was the substantial result of the consecration of sanctified intellect to the sacred ministry.
The biography of Mr. Homer is executed with great fidelity. If the author have committed any error, it is one that is not often found in those who write ihe memoirs of a well known friend—it is that of giving less prominence than they, perhaps, deserve to the good qualities of the subject, from a praiseworthy fear of coloring the sketch too highly. The uneventful incidents of Mr. Homer's life are invested
with attractive interest by the skill of the biographer; his character is analyzed with searching discrimination, and the memoir is enriched with valuable suggestions which no minister can read without benefit. The following extracts may serve to show in what manner Prof. Park has executed his trust.
“ The subject of this memoir had not the deep self-abhor. rence of him who cried out in view of his sins, “Infinite upon infinite-infinite upon infinite :' nor had he ihe sombre and gloomy piety which made him walk over the ground like David Brainerd, fearing that the earth was just ready to open itself and swallow him up; nor had he the bruised and morbid spirit of Cowper, nor the imposing and awe-inspiring virtues of Payson, nor the spirited and impetuous piety of Baxter, pressed on by an irritated nerve, and looking for no peace till he reached the Saint's Everlasting Rest. There was the calm and philosophical devotion of Bishop Butler,--there was the mild and equable and philanthropic temper of Blair and of Tillotson ; but it was neither of these that Mr. Homer held up as his exclusive model. He had not attained a perfect symmetry of Christian virtue, but he was aiming after it, and striving to blend the graces of the gospel into one luminous yet mild, rich yet simple expression."-p. 77.
“ He was not one of those perfect men who live in biographies but nowhere else, and who never utter a word which dying they would wish to recall. All that we care to say in his praise is, that the charms of his conversation were greater and the foibles of it less, than those of most men, even good men. His excellences were positive rather than negative, and he must have been more than human if they were never combined with a fault. His was a mind of vivacity and ardor, and it was a well regulated mind; but these properties are less favorable than hebetude and coldness to the reputation of a persecily faultless man. It was common indeed to speak of him as faultless, he was so free from the usual foibles of se. dentary persons, from all the malignant feelings, from bigotry and its kindred vices. But he well knew that one who of. fendeth not in word is a perfect man, and he was quick to confess that he had never attained this perfection."--p. 82.
In a valuable chapter on the character of Mr. Homer as a preacher, occurs the following sketch.
“It is not claimed that Mr. Homer's discourses present a model to which all ministers should conform, but they meet one demand of our natures which is too seldom gratified. He was not a rude preacher, but he was plain-spoken when he thought it desirable to be so; he was not distinctively a metaphysical preacher, but he did not always avoid severity of argument. He had more depth of thought than men of his physical conformation are often supposed to have. He was not large of stature, he walked with sprightliness, his voice though masculine was not deep-toned, and he was not clumsy in his attitudes. Now a man who is thus formed will be regarded by some as less profound, than those who have a heavy movement and a very deep enunciation. So much are men affected, consciously or unconsciously, by the outward appearance, in judging of the inward character. The nodosities of the oak are deemed essential to its strength. But if the subject of this memoir had been inferior to the majority of students in mental vigor or acumen, he would not have been so enthusiastic and persevering in his study of the Greek orators and critics, nor would he have selected Bishop Butler as the companion of his leisure hours. But he was sensitive rathe, than profound, and literary rather than scientific. His superiority lay in his quick sympathies with the beautiful and the good, in his ardent and varied emotion, and in the versatile energies of his mind."-pp. 93, 94.
At the close of the volume will be found critical notes on Greek orators and poets, partly original, and partly translated from Latin and German authors, and also an outline of a course of lectures on Homer and Demosthenes. These unfinished remains show with what care Mr. Homer had studied his favorite Greek authors.
In looking over the sermons in this volume, we are struck with the varicty of their subjects and their structure.
Evangelical truth is presented more or less distinctly in all, yet in almost as many varied forms as there are discourses. Mr. Homer did not run his sermons into the same mould. He did not derive from every text a proposition and proceed to prove it, and then deduce inferences. His mode of discussion varied with his subjects. Whether he describes “ the character of Pilate, or of Enoch, or of “the almost Christian," or of “the Judge of the world," or whether he discusses the influence of familiarity with truth upon the
sinner," or the “responsibility of a man for his influence over others," or “ the extent and broadness of the divine law," or “the connection between Christianity and the social affections ;" or whether he urges “the duty of immediate obedience to the divine commands," he adopts a method well suited to the subject. Had he preached for many years, no wag would have been able to exercise his wits, at the announcement of the text, by anticipating the preacher's outline, and by fitting a set of stereotype phrases as the "hooks and eyes” to a well known series of remarks appended to that particular verse.
One variety only is wanting in these sermons—it is that which has no plan. Mr. Homer's sermons always have method and point. He is not confined to the textual, topical, or expository method, but uses all of these modes on appropriate occasions. The following is the outline of a discourse on Maitthew xi: 29. If we are correctly informed, this sermon was projected and finished in a single daybut this fact would not have been conjectured by the reader. The outline, we think singularly neat and striking. “The passage invites us to look upon Christ in four several aspects : 1. As a master, in the services he enjoins : “Take my yoke upon you.' II. As a teacher: ‘Learn of me.' III. As an example: 'I am meek and lowly in heart.' IV. As a refuge from sorrow and sin : ‘Ye shall find rest uinto your souls.'” An ambitious preacher might have despised this textual arrangement as an insufficient framework for the exhibition of profound remarks, and of finespun speculations, but Mr. Homer was free from this affectation of greatness. On other occasions, as in the sermon on the extent of the divine law, for example, he shows that he can form a plan of great compactness and strength, every part of which is subservient to the single point in view, in which nothing is superfluous, and nothing omitted that is necessary for his purpose.
Mr. Homer did not deem it his duty to gratify those "who would like no more variety than depravity and election today, election and depravity to-morrow." His range of topics he believed to be as wide as that of the Great Teacher. A considerable space in these sermons, is allotted to the social affections. Their insufficiency as a substitute for holiness is faithfully pointed out, and the importance of their due culti
vation is urged upon the religious professor. The author would have his hearers embellish their piety with all the charms of a sanctified social influence. He was no advocate for that sort of religion which can leave men unamiable, rough, and repulsive in their character. Still less could he endure “flagrant instances of criminality in the church and the ministry, which seem to indicate that one can be a good Christian and a very bad man.” The orthodoxy that did not make men even moral, could never receive his sanction. His sense of honor was delicate, and it was excited to shuddering by any instance of meanness, of indelicacy, of ingratitude, of what often passes among religious persons for the most trivial misdemeanor. Scorning as he did whatever was dishonorable, trained as he had been from early childhood to avoid every stain of immorality—he could not believe that Christians might soil their profession with open improprieties. His sermons urge the careful cultivation of whatever “ is lovely and of good report.” The requisitions of elevated morality as well as “the doctrines of grace,” were the subject of his ministrations. Purity of life as well as accuracy of belief was enforced in his sermons.
These sermons show that their author had formed a method of preaching, peculiarly his own.
It is not difficult to see that he had studied some of the best models. One might conjecture that he had read with admiration the pages of Jeremy Taylor, and that he was not ignorant of the peculiarities of Prof. Tholuck's sermons, and that he had learned from Demosthenes to proceed with directness and strength to the point before him. Yet he was no copyist. If he examined the best models, it was to select from them the trails which were to be embodied in the formation of his own model. He would only have been trammelled by the help of a pattern for imitation. His own active and full conceptions would have overflown the channel thus provided for them. Whatever ground there may be in the remarks of Mr. Knox* of the preaching of his day—“There is no spirit in it. It is the result of a kind of intellectual pumping : there is no gushing from the spring,” this cannot be said of the sermons of Mr. Homer. They are as
* Correspondence with Bp. Jebb. vol. i. p. 18.