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borate than his more public efforts, following very much the incidentally suggested transitions and trains that seemed to arise in his mind. These efforts were not particularly calculated for sermonizing models; they, of course, presented occasional crudenesses of thought and improprieties of expression; they were somewhat irregular in their arrangement and disproportionate and digressive in their form: but still they possessed high interest, as the apparently spontaneous discoursings of à superior mind; and they abounded with many a lesson of divine wisdom, and many a passage of impassioned eloquence.
The common sense substratum which we have assigned as the basis of Dr. Fisk's character may be pronounced pre-eminently the basis of his mode of thought as an orator. A prominent fault, we have often thought, of pulpit ministry is, that its modes of reasoning and expres. sion are too professional, and too little common sense. They are the thinking of the trained theologian, with his own vocabulary, and his own logic; indulging which all the more freely because he feels sure of his audience, and secure from audible contradiction ; he goes along disregarding the unspoken difficulties, and exulting in conventional demonstrations that prove just nothing to the common-sense thinker. Dr. Fisk was the common sense preacher. He was at bottom-and without education would have been a direct, practical, clear-headed, common-sense man; and with such minds, comprehending the world's great average, he had a natural power of sympathy and self-identification. This quality--his perfect self-adaptation to the popular mind -constituted one great secret of his great power over it. He knew that in every breast there are the germs of common sense ; that these are the elementary starting points the mental sprouts
of all sound thought. Into these he transfused his own soul ; he impregnated the germ with the quickening spirit; he brought it out into new yet natural developments, and he elevated it into lofty and glorious expan. sions. And so natural and spontaneous was the process, that the hearer thought the reasonings were pretty much his own. They were his own sort of thoughts ; at any rate he was sure they were just what he could, and should have thought; only it was thinking a little harder, a little farther, a little more clearly, and a great deal more nobly. And thus the worldly and the shrewd were forced to feel the grapple of his mind, while they appreciated the purity of his character, and to doubt whether, after all, there was not some common sense in theology and religion somewhere else than in books. Through his life he thus drew into his moral influence secular men of thought and character, and in his death presented to them a not ineffective lesson. To one of these he exclaimed, “ You behold me, sir, hovering between two worlds !” “And fit for either," was the beautiful reply.
It was uncongenial with the manly simplicity of Dr. Fisk's mind carefully to hoard his oratorical reputation. The arts of rhetorical keeping, he knew not. When once advised, upon his assumption of the college presidency, to preach seldom, and reserve himself only for great occasional displays, he shrunk at the thought! He had no fear, by constant pouring forth, to exhaust the fountain ; and he was not too proud to waste the most masterly exertions of his mind upon the smallest and the humblest audiences. Strains of oratory, that might have richly filled the city cathedral, were freely lavished in the country
schoolhouse! It was not his object to make a grand oration, but to gain a more ultimate and business purpose. He aimed to be the faith. ful Christian minister, not the splendid pulpit-orator. He forgot not his subject in himself; he forgot himself in his subject. And when he came forth to his ministerial performance, it was not after a period of solicitous, intensive, verbal, memoriter premeditation. He did not then involve his plain thoughts in folds of wordy gorgeousness; nor did he invest them with that intensive glare of diction which, however entrancing to the fancy, renders the thought itself too dazzlingly painful to the mental gaze, to be intelligible to the mental perception. No; his oratory was the natural and animate glow of the mind, effer. vescing with the subject; or rather, it was the spontaneous effervescence of the subject itself. For the subject that animated his periods, animated his soul. In the days of what was his health, but what to others would have been disease, he esteemed it as his high delight to preach with unremitting frequency; when the sympathy of all others for his illness would have spared his service, he could not spare himself. So long as he could stand in his pulpit he proclaimed the mission of his Master; and when he could no longer stand up to proclaim it, he proclaimed it still. It were a picture, worthy a nobler hand than mine, to portray this minister of Christ, as his friends watched his successive yieldings to the attacks of the destroyer ; a feeble, yet resolute figure, visited by the successive shocks of disease, and losing at each shock that which he did not recover ; preaching, so long as he could stand in the desk : when he was never again to stand up in that desk, preaching from his seat,-in his sick and dying chamber preaching, it was said, as he never preached before ;—so long as the crumbling elements of his body could frame a voice, sending forth the dying articulations of his faithful ministry.
There was a kind of public exercise which we must not omit to mention, which, the farthest possible removed from artificial rhetoric, -presented, as Dr. Fisk performed it, a specimen of eloquence most genuine and pure we mean the eloquence of prayer. If eloquence be the natural uttering of the simplest and most spontaneous breathing of the highest and holiest sentiments of which our nature is suscep. tible of being inspired, then were Dr. Fisk's addresses to the Deity specimens of the truest eloquence. Devoid of artificial pomp, devoid of affectation, and especially devoid of that most subtle of all affecta. tion, the very affectation of simplicity; they possessed a real simpli. city, variety, and pertinency, which we have never seen equalled. They were simple, for they expressed in direct and unambitious words the natural mind of the speaker ; they were varied, for he had no stereotype clauses, and the persons most familiar with his daily devo. tions, remember not his ever twice using the same form of expression; they were pertinent, suiting with happy and instantaneous yet digni. fied applicableness, the peculiar exigencies of specific circumstances and characters. Persons of intellectual character of other denomina. tions, or of worldly views, have expressed their surprise and pleasure at the unstudied, extempore beauty of his occasional instantaneous prayers. Among the most hallowed recollections of our departed friend, are the soft and soothing tones of his voice, as they melted along the current of fervid devotion, with which he loved, at the close
of an evening social assemblage, to consecrate the hour of interview.
The thought may naturally present itself, and I know not why it may nt be pursued for a moment, what stand Dr. Fisk would have acquired had he, with all his intellectual and moral qualifications about him, unchanged in all but ministerial profession, employed his powers upon the high arena of the national legislation. We cannot but picture to ourselves, that his great natural practical and executive talent would have, even there, held a mastering sway; that his genuine and manly eloquence would have thrilled the senate and the nation through ; that the innate magnanimity of his soul would have gathered an unbought influence around him; and that his pure, high, uncompromising principle would have enabled him to present, in grandest pre-eminence, that character, in our days so rare—so rare, indeed, that, as in the instance of a Wilberforce, it appears almost unique and original—I mean the noble character of an uncompromising commanding CHRISTIAN STATESMAN. Let those who consider that this would have been a higher destiny carry out the picture; not so do we depreciate his high and holy calling.
The traits which pervaded the manners of the man, and which were audible in the efforts of the speaker, were visible in the productions of the WRITER. His style through the press was indeed very much the style of an orator haranguing an audience. He emphatically ad. dressed the public. To the imaginations of his accustomed auditors, his intonations are easily recalled and audible through his printed words; and as the imagination of the professional musician in the perusal of his notes associates with the visible characters, voiceless bars of parallel melodies, heard by fancy's ear alone, so in the perusal of the remains of our departed friend, with how sacred interest may his survivors call to the ear of memory, those modulations that human ear no more shall hear. Perhaps even to the reader who had never seen the author, the natural impression is that of a speaker's personal presence. The natural qualities of the author's mind were so transfused into his periods that they conferred upon him a sort of diffused presence, and gave a sort of personal acquaintance with him to the multitudinous thousands who, in all parts of this wide empire, consti. tuted his great audience. If you knew the author, you thought, and with much of truth, that you knew the man. Hence it may be affirmed, that not only has Dr. Fisk attracted more attention from the great world beyond and without the circle of his own denomination than any of his departed predecessors; but, perhaps, scarce any one man of any section has, by the mere power of his pen, so identified him. self with the feelings of his own range of auditors and readers, as to become, not merely the champion of his sect, or the expounder of their creed, but their sympathizing friend and personal favorite. There is a coloring to his character, and an animation to his figure, which render him palpable to the mind's eye, and the object of the feelings of the addressed. These circumstances arose from the fact, that his unaffected nature prevented his adopting an artificial mode of expression ; and he simply sought that phraseology, which would convey, with the clearest directness, his own clear ideas. He pitched the tune of his periods to no falsetto tones. His words were less of the Latin
derivation, than of the honest old Saxon stock ; his clauses were uninverted and his sentences were modelled, not to the stately structure of Roman measures, but to the more negligent simplicity of native English syntax. This he did, not so much from a conscious original intention, as from the unconscious tendencies of his own mind; for when a friendly critic once pointed out the circumstance, he recognized it as a fact, to which his own attention had not been very defi. nitely directed. Nor was this so much a matter of decided taste that he would have prescribed it, as a rule, for all others; for to the friend who made the suggestion we have mentioned, he gave positive advice, not to change his more inverted and Latinized mode of expression. He knew that diction was not merely the product of original nature, but also the result of that second nature-habit or education. It had been his life's early and late business, not to address scholars almost exclusively, but to address popular assemblies, and to commune with the common mind; and it might be as truly affectation for others, of different habits, to conform to his own plainer model, as for him to cast his thoughts into their formal mold. Still the habit of constant, hasty, popular address, with all its simplifying benefits, and all the popular power it conferred, produced its corresponding defects. lowered his standard of rhetorical finish. He possessed not that fasti. dious choiceness of words, nor that chastened purity of phrase, nor that perfected burnish of diction, which is requisite in a classic model. The main excellence of his style consisted in its clear, vernacular, consecutive train of manly thought; truthful in all its touches, free from every sleepy member and every inert excrescence, animate in every clause, and life-like in all its spirit. In his style of written thought, as in his mind, the three great departments of intellect, imagination, and feeling, were united in most admirable proportion ; alternating with successive impulsions, mingling in one composite temperature, or modifying each other with mutual counter-check.
A single glance at the mass of his published writings reveals the fact, that they were mostly controversial, and perhaps all occasional. His active mind never had time, had even his health permitted, to abstract itself from the external and the moving, to retire into its own depths, and bring out independent results upon great universal and eternal truths. Perhaps every line he has ever published was more or less the result of objective and immediate circumstances. True it is, that some of the great monumental products of master intellect in former days, which have enabled the world to gain one great step in its march of mind, were called out by imperative occasion.
The immortal analogy of Butler, for instance, sprung from the previous attacks of a free-thinking age. But the questions which called Dr. Fisk out were, of course, far less universal; the doctrines he main. tained, not fundamental; the truths he developed, if they were new, were not vital; and the area upon which he acted, far more sectional and provincial. Yet the powers which he displayed upon these more specific questions, and in his less extended sphere, are certainly such as to induce the desire that they had been drawn into concentration upon some work of complete and standard nature. His tract upon the Unitarian controversy has, we think, most justly, been pronounced a little master-piece in its kind. His sermon upon predestination is, VOL. X.-Oct., 1839.
perhaps, his noblest controversial performance; presenting the statement, we think, with unrivalled compactness, embracing the most forcible form of logic in just the exactest phrase. The merit of this performance has been amply complimented by the eulogies of its friends, but still more amply by the assaults of countless champions in the ranks of orthodox militancy. The essays upon the Calvinistic Controversy, by which the sermon was succeeded, although not comparable with it in compact force, and although the trained logician may sometimes feel the absence of the forms of a rigid demonstrative logic and the presence of a too popular and ad captandum process of reasoning, yet, in much of his train, he occupies perhaps new ground in theology, and furnishes an able statement of what must, if we mistake not, stand as the argument in the present position of theologic questions.
As a tourist, the extensive popularity of Dr. Fisk's Travels cer. tainly assigns him a high rank. A twelve-month traveller over a continent certainly does not pledge himself to all the absolute accu. racy, in point of individual fact, of sworn official statistics. Rigid accuracy in regard to every minute unimportant fact may exist in the absence of all vraisemblance; and individual mistake is consistent with the spirit of the most perfect truthfulness. If in the course of a year's rapid travel, recorded upon seven hundred pages, a rigid hypercriticism should detect an occasional individual mistake, that could be no matter of wonder, for he was fallible; and yet the talent of seeing things very much as they are, and depicting them very much as he saw them, and the power of taking you with him, and giving you eyes wherewith to see a little more vividly and a little more truly than your own, I know not where you will find, if they glow not on the pages of his Travels.
One subject there is of his active pen, which painful differences of opinion render somewhat difficult, at the present time, to touch with. out waking some vibration of discordant feeling; but which consti. tuted so largely, and in the view of some so entirely the amount of Dr. Fisk's public character that it can scarcely be omitted. We approach it, however, as he would have approached it, and as he would have wished it should on this occasion be approached, with kindness to the maintainers of other opinions, yet with an unequivocally frank expression of our own. From the earliest rise of that excitement which has taken so deep a hold upon the best and upon the worst feel. ings of our nature, and which has roused a controversy waged with a bitterness surpassing the bitterness of politics, the eye of Dr. Fisk descried in it the elements of an impracticable, self-defeating ultraism, and the seeds of discordancy calculated to disorganize every thing else, did it not happily succeed in first disorganizing itself. No friend himself to the system of slavery, he believed that anti-slavery measures might be urged with a most pro-slavery effect. He feared, erroneously some may say, but honestly all should concede, that the mea. sures really adopted were calculated to demolish other institutions and sever other ties than those of slavery. The truth of these opinions it is not now the time to argue; but this is the time, and peculiarly the time, to offer to the public that testimony to the integrity of his views which a most intimate confidential personal intercommunity with