« 上一頁繼續 »
are all so far of the same nature with religious ordinances, that they are aids and helps of Religion itself; and I think that religious seriousness cannot be maintained in the soul without them.
But again ; a cause which has a strong tendency to destroy religi. ous seriousness, and which almost infallibly prevents its formation and growth in young minds, is levity in conversation upon religious subjects, or upon subjects connected with religion.
The turn which this levity usually takes, is in jests and raillery upon the opinions, or the peculiarities, or the persons of men of particular sects, or who bear particular names; especially if they happen to be more serious than ourselves. And of late this loose, and I can hardly help calling it profane humour, has been directed chiefly against the followers of methodism. But against whomsoever it hapa pens to be pointed, it has all the bad effects both upon the speaker and the hearer which we have noticed : and as in other instances, so in this, give me leave to say that it is very much misplaced. In the first place, were the doctrines and sentiments of those who bear this name ever so foolish and extravagant (I do not say that they are either) this proposition I shall always maintain to be true, viz. that the wildest opinion that ever was entertained in matters of Religion, is more rational than unconcern about these matters.-Upon this subject nothing is so absurd as indifference ; no folly so contemptible as thoughtlessness and levity. In the next place, do Methodists deserve this treatment? Be their particular doctrines what they may, the professors of these doctrines appear to be in earnest, about them; and a man who is in earnest in Religion cannot be a bad man, still less a fit subject for derision. I am no Methodist myself. In their leading doctrines I differ from them. But I contend, that sincere men are not, for these, or indeed, any doctrines, to be made laughing stocks to others. I do not bring in the case of Methodists (in this part of my discourse) for the purpose of vindicating their tenets, but for the purpose of observing (and I wish that the observation may weigh with all my readers) that the custom of treating their cha. racters and persons, their preaching or their preachers, their meetings or worship, with scom,' has the pernicious consequence of de. stroying our own seriousness, together with the seriousness of those who hear or join in such sort of conversations ; especially if they be young persons : and I am persuaded that much mischief is actually done in this very way.
A phrase much used upon these occasions and frequent in the mouth of such as in religious matters are more serious than themselves, is, • that they are righteous over-much. These, it is true, are scripture words; and it is that circumstance which has given currency to the expression : but in the way and sense in which they are used, I am convinced that they are exceedingly misapplied. So long as we mean by righteousness a sincere and anxious desire to seek out the will of God, and to perform it, it is impossible to be righteous overmuch. There is no such thing in nature ; nor was it, nor could it be, the intention of any passage in the Bible, to say that there is, or to authorize us in casting over-righteousness as a reproach or a censure upon any one.
By proud Euphrates' stream we lay,
It was in the beginning of the year 1704, that the Duke of Marlborough obtained permission from the States General to lead the combined army which was under his command, into the heart of Germany. He had, during the whole of the preceding campaign, been engaged in ineffectual warfare on the frontiers of the Netherlands, while the united forces of France and Bavaria threatened the Emperor of Germany even in his capital. The States General gave a very unwilling consent, as they were afraid they should leave themselves exposed to the inroads of the French ; but the result shews that Marlborough's schemes were conceived with as much prudence as they were executed with courage and alacrity. The march of his army, from the extremity of Flanders to the banks of the Danube, :; almost unequalled in military history for its rapidity, secresy, and success. He arrived in time to save Vienna from insult, if not from capture ; and, manæuvred so as to place the Elector of Bavaria entirely on the defensive. But he was not long allowed to maintain this superiority uncontested; the French commander, Marshal Tallard, hastened from the Rhine with all the forces he could bring together; and Marlborough, quitting for the present his designs against the Bavarian territory, recrossed the Danube, effected a junction with the Imperial forces under the command of the celebrated Prince Eugene, and avowed his determination to give the enemy battle wherever he should meet him.
On the morning of the 12th of August, the French were descried from the out-posts, marking out the ground for a camp on the little river Nebel, between the villages of Blenheim and Lutzingen. This discovery fulfilled the warmest wishes of the enterprising commanders of the allied forces. Aware that the confusion which is almost inseparable from a change of camps presents the most favourable oppor. tunity for attack, they determined to give battle before the enemy could have time to strengthen himself in his new position. In this conjuncture some officers, who were well acquainted with the superiority of the hostile forces in point of numbers and the strength of their position, remonstrated with Marlborough on the rashness of his purpose. Having listened to them with calmness and attention, he replied, "I know the danger-yet a battle is absolutely necessary; VOL. I.
and I rely on the bravery and discipline of the troops, which will make amends for all our disadvantages. In the evening orders were issued for a general engagement, and received by the army with an alacrity that justified his confidence.
At this crisis Marlborough felt a deep and awful sense of his own responsibility, as well as of the impending peril. He devoted part. of the night to prayer, and towards morning received the Sacrament from the hands of his chaplain, Mr. Hare, with marks of the warmest devotion. He then took a short repose, and employed the remaining interval in concerting with Eugene the various arrangements for a battle, which appeared to involve the fate of the Christian world.
The scene of this great conflict was a valley on the northern, or left bank of the Danube, through which flows a little river, or rather rivulet, the Nebel. This valley is thickly studded with villages and dwellings'; the small and insignificant town of Blenheim, which was destined to give its name to this renowned victory, stands just at the point where the Nebel (even there not above twelve feet broad) flows into the Danube. On the western bank of this rivulet was the position of the French army; its extreme right resting on and protected by the Danube; its front strengthened throughout by the marshy, broken, and difficult ground, which extended to some distanee from both banks of the rivulet; the left occupied the village of Lutzingen, and the woody eminences which overhang it. Marshal TaHard commanded, assisted by Marsin and the Elector of Bavaria ; their whole force amounted to about 56,000. Marlborough had under p is command about 52,000; but this disparity did not deter him from the bold design of dislodging the enemy from his chosen, position.
At two o'clock in the morning of the memorable 13th of August, the allies broke up their camp, leaving the tents standing; and at three the troops began to advance in eight columns. The right wing was commanded by Eugene, the left by Marlborough; and the aggregate force amounted, as we have stated above, to 52,000 men, with 52 pieces of artillery, and a train of pontoons. The two commanders, escorted by forty squadrons, rode forward to observe the situation of the enemy : about six they descried his advanced posts, who fell back on their approach ; and at seven they reached some high ground, whence they had a full view of the hostile camp. The morning being hitherto partially hazy, Tallard had received no intimation of their approach, but at first persuaded himself that the guard, which attended Marlborough and Eugene, was merely a body of cavalry pushed forward to conceal a retreat. As the fog cleared away, the heads of the columns were seen advancing over the distant hills, and he then discovered his mistake, and set himself to repair it. He lost no time in strengthening the most assailable. parts of his line; placed his artillery where it might be most effectual, and stationed a strong body of his best cavalry, with orders to charge the allies whenever a certain number should have crossed the stream.
In the meantime Marlborough continued bis advance, and at eight
a heavy cannonade was opened on his eolumas from every part of the enemy's right wing. The imperialists had filed towards the right, and Eugene's presence now became necessary to divert their attack. On taking leave of his colleague, he promised to give notice as soon as his lines were formed, that the battle might begia on both wings at the same instant.
While Marlborough waited for this communication, he ordered the chaplains to perform the usual service at the head of each regiment; and he was observed to join with peculiar fervour in this solemn appeal to the Giver of all victory. After this act of devotion, he shewed his usual humanity, in pointing out to the surgeons the proper posts for the care of the wounded. He then rode along the lines, and was gratified to find both officers and men full of the most elevated hopes, and impatient for the signal. As he passed along the front, a ball glanced under his horse and covered him with earth. A momentary feeling of aların for the safety of their beloved chief thrilled in the bosoms of all who witnessed the danger ; but he coolly continued his survey, and finding his dispositions perfect, sat down to take some refreshment while he waited for reports from the imperialists.. .
It was mid-day before the news arrived that Eugene, whose march had been impeded by many unlooked for difficulties, was at length ready. Marlborough instantly mounted his horse, and ordered Lord Cutts to begin the attack on the village of Bienheim, while he himself led the main body across the river."
At one the attack on Blenheim conamenced ; and for some time was vigorously, though ineffectually maintained: but Marlborough perceiving that the village was filled with troops, and not likely to be carried without great loss, ordered Lord Cutts to keep up a feigned attack, while he himself hastened the dispositions for the execution of his grand design, that of forcing the centre of the enemy.“*
General Churchill, our illustrious commander's brother, had already pushed a part of the infantry across the river; the first line of cavalry now broke into columns, and descended to the fordy. Here began the hottest part of the conflict; the horse, entangled in the marshy and broken banks of the river, were fiercely charged by the troops stationed by Tallard expressly for the purpose, supported by a heavy fire of artillery and musquetry. For a long time the fight was doubtfully maintained ; at length, they succeeded in making good their ground, and by three o'clock Marlborough was able to send a messenger to Eugene, announcing his success. The Prince had not been so fortunate; his infantry had been exposed to a severe cannonade in the first onget, and his cavalry were three times driven back in utter confusion. Stung by the prospect of defeat, he exposed himself without reserve ; and at length, after a sanguinary struggle, his infantry succeeded in their purpose of turning the enemy's left flank.
The battle now drew to a crisis : Marlborough had finally effected" the passage of the river, and at five his dispositions for a general ate