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196

SERMON ON PAINTING.

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“Where is the good priest, where the true charitable Levite, to point out the Creator in the works of the creature; to aid the doubting, to strengthen the weak, to imprint the eternal idea on the frail understanding Let him lead the poor unpractised soul through the paths of religion, and by familiar images mould his ductile imagination to a knowledge of his Maker. Then were painting united with devotion, and ransomed from idolatry; and the blended labours of the preacher and the painter might tend to the glory of God: then were each picture a sermon, each pencil the pen of the heavenly writer.

• Let him say, Thus, humble, thus resigned, looked the * Son of God, when he deigned to receive baptism from the hand of man; while ministering angels with holy awe beheld the wondrous office !

“ Thus chastely beauteous, in such meek majesty, shone the motherf of Jesus! Thus highly favoured among women was the handmaid of the Lord! Here behold the heavenly love of the holy family! the tender care, the innocent smiles, the devout contemplation! Behold inspired I shepherds bowing before the heavenly babe, and the holy mother herself adoring

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* See the picture by Albano, in the saloon.

+ Several pictures of Madonnas, particularly in the Carlo Marat room, and holy families.

| The octagon picture of The Adoration, by Guido, in the gallery.

SERMON ON PAINTING.

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the fruit of her womb! whilst good * Simeon in raptures of devotion pronounces the blessings of that miraculous birth!

“ Then let him turn his eyes to sadder scenes ! to affliction! to death! Let him behold what Christ endured for his sake! behold the pale, the wounded body of his Saviour, wasted with fasting ; livid from the cross! See the suffering parent swooning, and all the passions expressed which she must have felt at that melancholy instant! Each touch of the pencil is a lesson of contrition, each figure an apostle to call you to repentance.

6* This leads me to consider the advantages of Painting over a sister art, which has rather been allotted the preference, I mean Poetry. The power of words, the harmony of numbers, the expression of thoughts, have raised poetry to a higher station than the mute picture can seem to aspire to. But yet the poem is almost confined to the nation where it was written: however strong its images, or bold its invention, they lose their force when they pass their own confines; or not understood, they are of no value; or if translated, grow flat and untasted. But Painting is a language every 'eye can read: the pictured passions speak the tongue of every country.

Simeon and the Child, by Guido, in the saloon. + See the picture of Christ laid in the Sepulchre, by Parme.. giano, in the cabinet.

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SERMON ON PAINTING.

of an

“ The continence of Scipio shines with all its lustre, when told by the hand of a Poussin; while all the imagination of the poet, or eloquence of the historian, can cast no beauty on the virtuous act, in the eye illiterate reader.

“ When such benefits flow from this glorious art, how impious it is to corrupt its uses, and to employ the noblest science to the mercenary purposes of priestly ambition-to lend all the brightness with which the master's hand could adorn virtue, to deck the persecuting, the barbarous, the wicked head of a sainted inquisitor, a gloomy visionary, or an imaginary hermit! Yet such are deified, such are shrouded in clouds of glory, and exposed for adoration, with all the force of study and colours ! How often has a consecrated glutton, or noted concubine, been drest in all the attributes of divinity, as the lewdness or impiety of the painter or pontiff has influenced the picture !—The pontiffs ! those gods on earth! those vicegerents of heaven! whose riches, whose vices, nay, whose infirmities and near approach to the grave have perhaps raised them to the + seat of infallibility; soon proved how frail, how mortal, when the only immortality they can hope, is from the masterly pencil of some inestimable painter!

* See the picture on this subject in the gallery. + See the picture of Pope Clement IX, in the Carlo Marat

room.

SERMON ON PAINTING.

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“ This is, indeed, not one of the least merits of this, I may say, heavenly art-its power to preserve the form of a departed friend, or dear relation dead! to shew how severely just looked the good legislator! how awfully serene the humane, the true patriot! It shews us with what fire, what love of mankind, WiLIAM flew to save religion and liberty! expresses how honest, how benign the line of HANOVER!. It helps our gratitude to consecrate their memory; and should aid our devotion 10 praise the Almighty good. ness, who by those his instruments has preserved his people Israel !

When we can draw such advantages from the productions of this art, and can collect such subjects for meditation from the furniture of palaces, need we Ay to deserts for contemplation, or to forests to avoid sin ? Here are stronger lectures of piety, more admonitions to repentance. Nor is he virtuous who shuns the t danger, but who conquers in the contest. He is the true philosopher, who can turn from three of the brightest forms that paganism or painting could ascribe to ideal goddesses, and can prefer the penitent, the contrite soul of the # Magdalene, whose big

* See the portraits of King William the Third and King George the First, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, in the parlour.

+ See the Judgment of Paris, by Carlo Marat and by Luca Jordano, in the yellow drawing-room.

| See the picture of Christ at the house of Simon the Pharisee, by Rubens, in the saloon.

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SERMON ON PAINTING.

swoln eye and dishevelled hair speak the anguish of her conscience ; ber costly offering and humble embraces of ber Saviour's feet, the fervency of her love and devotion. Who can see this without repentance ? Who view the haughty worldly pharisee, without abhorrence and indignation ?

Sights like these must move, where the preacher fails ; for each picture is but Scripture realized, and each piece a comment on the history; they are explications of parables, that seeing ye may see and understand. The painter but executes pictures which the Saviour himself designed, He drew in all the colours of divine oratory, the rich, the pampered nobleman, swelling in purple and fine linen, and sumptuously banqueting his riotous companions; he drew poor anguished * Lazarus, sighing without the proud portal for the very crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, while the dogs came and licked his sores ! Who can hear this description without sentiments of compassion, or emotions of anger? Who can see it represented, without blaming the one, or shedding a charitable tear for the other? Who can—is as the idol that has a mouth but speaks not, and

eyes that cannot see.

Again, behold the DIVINE MASTER sketching out new groups of figures, which every day compose pictures of sin, of folly and repentance ! Hear him

* See the picture of Dives and Lazarus, by Paul Veronese, in

the gallery.

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