« PreviousContinue »
A volume of sermons was published after the death of Dr. Paley, which he left by his will to be distributed among his parishioners. In clearness of expression, in harmony of style, and in force of moral sentiment, some parts of these sermons are equal if not superior to any of his other works. In the pulpit he was one of those preachers who excelled in bringing the most important truths home to men's interests and bosoms. Though a few will rejoice, yet the majority of readers will lament, that in these sermons the author has abandoned his usual reserve with respect to certain doctrina matters, which it is more easy to find in the liturgy and the articles of the church, than in the precepts of Christ, or the writings of the Evangelists.—Those doctrines which tend only to engender strife and to produce vain logomachies, would always be better omitted in the pulpit : and it is greatly to be deplored that in these sermons Dr. Paley has sanctioned their introduction. The great end of the commandment is charity; but can these doctrines conduce to that end? If this question had been proposed to Dr. Paley, it is not difficult to conjecture what would have been his reply, if that reply had been in unison with his unsophisticated sentiments.
The reader will perhaps not be displeased, if we add to this biographical sketch of Dr. Paley the following interesting anecdote which he related to a friend at Cambridge in the year 1795, while they were conversing on the early part of his academical life.
“I spent the first two years of my undergraduateship,” said he,“ happily, butunprofitably.' I was constantly in society, where we were not immoral, but idle, and rather expensive. At the commencement of my third year, however, after having left the usual party at rather a late hour in the evening, I was awakened at five in the morning by one of my companions who stood at my bed-side, and said, Paley, I have been thinking what a d***** fool you are. I could do nothing, probably, were I to try, and can afford the life I lead: you could do every thing, and cannot afford it. I have had no sleep during the whole night on account of these reflections, and am now come solemnly to inform you that if you persist in your indolence, I must_renounce your society. I was so struck," Dr. Paley continued, " with the visit and the visitor, that I lay in bed great part of the day and formed my plan. I ordered my bed-maker to prepare my fire every evening, in order that it might be lighted by myself. I arose at five; read during the whole of the day, except during such hours as chapel and hall required, allotting to each portion of time its peculiar branch of study; and just before the closing of gates (nine o'clock) I went to a neighbouring coffee-house, where I constantly regaled upon a mutton chop and a dose of milk punch. And thus on taking
my bachelor's degree I became senior wrangler.”
Anecdotes of this kind, which have some thing of the marvellous, are seldom related with a punctilious adherence to truth: but if here be no erroneous statement, or inaccurate representation, Mr. Meadley appears to ascribe too much to the occurrence when he attributes to it, “not only his (Paley's) successfu, labours as a college tutor, but the in. valuable productions of his pen.” A mind like that of Paley could not have been long so indolent as is represented without some compunctious visitings of remorse. It is more than probable that when he first received this friendly admonition, his bosom was a prey to some lurking pangs of self-condemnation ; and he was consequently predisposed instantly to put in force a plan of more systematic and more vigorous application. Where the matter of combustion already exists, a little spark will set it in a blaze.
to new rules of conduct