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Held there on WEDNESDAY, July 8, MDCCXLII.

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My reverend brethren, THE providence of God having called me to the government of this diocese, I have judged it not improper for me to communicate my thoughts

to you with regard to the execution of your ministerial office, in order to the edification and salvation of the souls respectively committed to your charge.

To this end I shall reduce what I have to say to you under two general heads.

The first relates to your conduct in the actual performance of divine offices in the house of God.

The second relates to your behaviour at large towards your parishioners.

In speaking to the former, I shall confine myself to these four branches of your office, namely, preaching, praying, catechising, and expounding the holy scriptures.

I shall begin with preaching, which is one of those means appointed by our Saviour, for the enlightening the minds, awakening the consciences, and reforming the manners of


hearers. In order to answer these great ends, some degree of skill and address, as well as of pains and study, will be requisite: and I shall, for the sake chiefly of such of you as have not been long in holy orders, communicate my sentiments with regard to the subject, the composition, the style, and the pronunciation of a

The subject of a sermon ought to be some point of doctrine that is necessary for a Christian to know; or some duty that is necessary for him to practise, in order to his salvation. I speak this in opposition to subtile questions and curious speculations, that are above the common level


good life.

of the auditory, and which have often no other effect, than to disquiet the minds and consciences of those who do not rightly understand them; and if they please curious and itching ears, yet will edify no man in faith and a

Upon this occasion I would recommend it to young preachers especially, to compose a set of sermons upon the chief articles of the Christian religion, according to their natural order and dependence. By this means they will improve their own knowledge at the same time that they are teaching their hearers: but this should be done in the plainest and easiest manner, laying aside metaphysical niceties and the jargon of the schools, and especially avoiding to explain mysteries; for this is generally giving words and terms without meaning; and no man has ever succeeded in the attempt.

When a useful subject is chosen, the next care of the preacher is to find out some proper and pertinent text, that will naturally lead him to pursue his subject, and that will yield him those doctrines and practical deductions which he had in his view, without force and torture. For want of this, the whole operation will be laborious, obscure, and perplexed to the composer; and the discourse will be yoid of that perspicuity, which is necessary to engage the attention of the hearers. And I am sure there is no want of such texts upon all subjects in the Bible.

It has given me disgust to observe in some preachers a certain affectation of choosing such texts as appear remote and foreign to their subject, that by this means they may have opportunity of shewing their wit and ingenuity in fetching that out of a text, which nobody imagined could be in it. They would do something miraculous, like bringing water out of a dry rock in the wilderness, in order to surprise their auditory: but this will ever give distaste to good judges, and there is no occasion for putting one text upon the rack, to make it speak that which would naturally and easily arise out of another, that might as well have been chosen in the room of it.

When a useful subject and a pertinent text are chosen, the next work is composition, or the ranging of such thoughts as naturally arise upon the subject, into a convenient order and method: this will be the plan of his discourse; and the composer will reap no small advantages from this practice.

First, As it will help him to enter all his loose and detached thoughts in their proper places, for want of

which some of them may escape him when he comes to the finishing part.

Secondly, It will lead him to break his sermon into heads, which is absolutely necessary for giving strength and clearness to the whole, and for engaging the attention of the audience; which will be soon blunted and tired with hearing an harangue where all the parts are run into one general mass, and nothing distinctly and specially offered to the understanding

Thirdly, The memory of the hearers will be greatly relieved; for a sermon thus broken into particular heads will be better imprinted, and more easily recollected, by reason of the dependence and comection of the parts, where one draws another after it like the links of a chain.

And lastly, It will give the preacher an opportunity of interspersing apt texts of holy scripture for the support or illustration of every particular head.

There may indeed be a faulty extreme on this hand; for I have heard a sermon that has been so overloaded with texts of scripture, that the thread of the reasoning was in a manner lost, and the whole looked like a piece of rich patchwork, without any ground appearing at the bottom. But the other extreme, of a penury of sacred texts, prevails too much in our modern and refined compositions; which, for that reason, may rather be called orations than sermons.

A due medium therefore ought to be observed in this case; but of the two, the latter extreme is most blameable; for a sermon will appear lean and unsatisfying to a religious palate, when it is not sufficiently larded with scripture, but the whole is made to rest on the reasonings of the preacher, unsupported by the authority of God's word.

By this means likewise he will become an expert textuary, which is the first excellency of a Christian divine; and the people will occasionally be made acquainted with the holy scriptures.

Now this is what I call a sermon, in contradistinction to an oration, which by one uniform flow of eloquence, without proper breaks and divisions, glides like a smooth stream over the soul, leaving no traces behind it. The word thus delicately sown may, like a concert of music, delight the ear while it lasts, but dies with the sound, and the hearer will carry little home, besides a remembrance that he was sweetly entertained. ... The effect of this will, where there are any kind of

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