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the most sensible expressions come in best here. Such an eloquence as makes the hearers look grave, and as it were out of countenance, is the properest. That which makes them look lively, and as it were smile upon one another, may be pretty ; but it only tickles the imagination, and pleases the ear: whereas that which goes to the heart, and wounds it, makes the hearer rather look down, and turn his thoughts inward upon himself. For it is certain that a sermon, the conclusion whereof makes the auditory look pleased, and sets them all a talking one with another, was either not right spoken, or not right heard; it has been fine, and has probably delighted the congregation, rather than edified it. But that sermon that makes every one go away silent and grave, and hastening to be alone, to meditate or pray over the matter of it in secret, has had its true effect.
He that has a taste and genius for eloquence must improve it by reading Quintilian, and Tully's books of Oratory, and by observing the spirit and method of Tully's Orations : or if he can enter into Demosthenes, there he will see a much better pattern, there being a simplicity, à shortness, and a swiftness and rapidity in him, that could not be heard without putting his auditors into a great commotion. All our modern books upon
those subjects are so far short of those great originals, that they can bear no comparison : yet F. Rapin's little book of Eloquence is by much the best, only he is too short. Tully has so fully opened all the topics of invention, that a man who has read him will, if he has any invention of his own, and if he knows thoroughly his matter, rather have too much than too little in his view, upon every subject that he treats. This is a noble study, and of great use to such as have judgment to manage it ; for artificial eloquence, without a flame within, is like artificial poetry; all its productions are forced and unnatural, and in a great measure ridiculous. Art helps and guides nature, but if one was not born with this flame, art will only spoil him, make him luscious and redundant. To such persons, and indeed to all that are not masters of the body of divinity, and of the scriptures, I should much rather recommend the using other men's sermons; than the making any of their own. But in the choice of these, great judgment must be used : one must not take an author that is too much above himself ; for by that, compared with his ordinary conversation, it will but too evidently appear, that he cannot be the author of his own sermons; and that will make both him and them lose too much of their weight. He ought also to put those printed sermons out of that strength and closeness of style, which looks very well in print, but is too stiff, especially for a common auditory. He may reverse the method a little, and shorten the explanations, that so he may
retain all that is practical; and that a man may form himself to preaching, he ought to take some of the best models, and try what he can do upon a text handled by them, without reading them, and then compare his work with theirs; this will more sensibly, and without putting him to the blush, model him to imitate, or, if he can, to excel the best patterns. And by this method, if he will restrain himself for some time, and follow it close, he may come to be able to go without such crutches, and to work without patterns : till then, I should advise all to make use of other men's sermons, rather than to make any
of their own. The nation has got into so good a taste of sermons, from the vast number of those excellent ones that are in print, that a mean composition will be very ill heard ; and therefore it is an unseasonable piece of vanity for any to offer their own crudities, till they have well digested and ripened them. I wish the majesty of the pulpit were more looked to; and that no sermons were offered from thence, but such as should make the hearers both the better, and the wiser; the more knowing, and the more serious.
In the delivering of sermons, a great composure of gesture and behaviour is necessary, to give them weight and authority: extremes are bad here, as in every thing else; some affect a light and flippant behaviour; and others think that
faces and a tone in the voice will set off the matter. Grave and composed looks, and a natural, but distinct pronunciation, will always have the best effects. The great rule, which the masters of rhetoric press much, can never be enough remembered; that to make a man speak well, and pronounce with a right emphasis, he ought thoroughly to understand all that he says, be fully persuaded of it, and bring himself to have those affections, which he desires to infuse into others. He that is inwardly persuaded of the truth of what he says, and that has a concern about it in his mind, will pronounce with a natural vehemence, that is far more lively than all the strains that art can lead him to. An orator, if we hearken to them, must be an honest man, and speak always on the side of truth, and study to feel all that he says; and then he will speak it so as to make others feel it likewise. And therefore such as read their sermons ought to practise reading much in private, and read aloud, that so their own ear and sense may guide them, to know where to raise or quicken, soften or sweeten their voice, and when to give an articulation of authority, or of conviction; where to pause, and where to languish. We plainly see by the stage, what a force there is in pronunciation: the best compositions are murdered, if ill spoken; and the worst are acceptable, when well said. In tragedies rightly pronounced and acted, though we know that all is fable and fiction, the tender parts do so melt the company, that tears cannot be stopped, even by those who laugh at themselves for it. This shews the power of apt words and a just pronunciation : but because this depends, in a great measure, upon the present temper of him that speaks, and the lively disposition in which he is, therefore he ought by much previous seriousness, and by earnest prayer to God, to endeavour to raise his mind to as warm a sense of the things he is to speak of, as possibly he can, that so his sermons may make deep impressions on his hearers.
This leads me to consider the difference that is between the reading and speaking of sermons. Reading is peculiar to this nation, and is endured in no other. It has indeed made that our sermons are more exact, and so it has produced to us many volumes of the best that are extant; but after all, though some few read so happily, pronounce so truly, and enter so entirely into those affections which they recommend, that in them we see both the correctness of reading, and the seriousness of speaking sermons, yet every one is not so happy: some by hanging their heads perpetually over their notes, by blundering as they read, and by a cursory running over them, do so lessen the matter of their sermons, that as they are generally read with very little life or affection, so they are heard with as little regard or esteem. Those who read ought certainly to be at a little more pains, than for the most part they are, to read true, to pronounce with an emphasis, and to raise their heads, and to direct their eyes to their hearers : and if they practised more alone the just way of reading, they might deliver their sermons with much more advantage. Man is a low sort of creature; he does not, nay, nor the greater part cannot, consider things in themselves, without those little seasonings, that must recommend them to their affections. That a discourse be heard with any life, it must be spoken with some; and the looks and motions of the eye in them such additions to what is said, that where these đó not at all concur, it has not all the force upon them that otherwise it might have: besides that the people, who are too apt to censure the clergy, are easily carried into an obvious reflection on reading, that it is an effect of laziness.
In pronouncing sermons, there are two ways; the one is when a whole discourse is got by heart, and delivered word for word, as it was writ down. This is so vast a labour, that it is scarce possible that a man can be able to hold up long to it : yet there is an advantage even in this to beginners; it fills their memories with good thoughts, and regular meditations : and when they have got some of the most important of their sermons by heart in so exact a manner, they are thereby furnished with topics for discourse. And therefore there are at least two different subjects, on which I wish all preachers would be at the pains to form sermons well in their memories: the one is the grounds of the covenant of grace, of both sides, God's offers to us in Christ, and the conditions that he has required of us, in order to our reconciliation with him. This is so important a point, in the whole course of our ministry, that no man ought to be to seek in the opening or explaining it: and therefore, that he may be ripe in it, he ought to have it all rightly laid in his memory, not only as to the notions of it, but to have such a lively description and illustration of it all, as to be able to speak of it sensibly, fully, and easily upon all occasions. Another subject, in which every minister ought also to be well furnished, is concerning death and judgment; that so when he visits the sick, and, as is common, that the neighbours come in, he may be able to make a grave exhortation, in weighty and fit words, upon those heads. Less than this, I think, no priest ought to have in his memory. But indeed, the more sermons a young beginner gets by heart, he has still thereby the more discourse ready upon those heads; for though the whole contexture of the serinon will stick no longer than he has occasion for it, yet a great deal will stay with him : the idea of the whole, with the most important parts of it, will remain much longer.
But now I come to propose another method of préaching, by which a priest may be prepared, after a right view of his matter, a true understanding his text, and a digesting of his thoughts upon it into their natural and proper order, to deliver these both more easily to himself, and with a better effect both upon himself and his hearers. To come at this, he must be for some years at a great deal of pains to prepare himself to it; yet when that is over,
the labour of all the rest of his life, as to those performances, will become very easy and very pleasant to him. The preparations to this must be these: first, he must read the scriptures very exactly; he must have great portions of them by heart; and he must also, in reading them, make a short concordance of them in his memory; that is, he must lay together such passages as belong to the same matter; to consider how far they agree or help to illustrate one another, and how the same thing is differently expressed in them; and what various ideas or ways of recommending a thing rise out of this concordance. Upon this a man must exercise himself much, draw notes of it, and digest it well in his thoughts. Then he must be ready with the whole body of divinity. in his head; he must know what parts come in as objections to be answered, where difficulties lie, how one part coheres with another, and gives it light. He must have this very current in his memory, that he may have things lie before him in one full view; and upon this, he is also to work, by making tables, or using such other helps as may lay matters clearly before him. He is, more particularly, to lay before him a system of morality, of all virtues and vices, and of all the duties that arise out of the several relations of mankind; that he may have this matter very full in his eye, and know what are the scriptures that belong to all the parts of it: he is also to make a collection of all such thoughts, as he finds either in the books of the ancient philosophers, (where Seneca will be of great use to him,) or of Christian authors : he is to separate such thoughts as are forced, and that do become rather à strained declamation made only to please, than a solid discourse designed to persuade. All these he must gather, or at least such a number of them, as may help him to form a distinct notion of that matter, so as to be able both to open it clearly, and to press it with affection and vehemence.
These are the materials that must be laid together; the practice in using them comes next: he then that would prepare himself to be a preacher in this method, must accustom himself to talk freely to himself, to let his thoughts flow from him, especially when he feels an edge and heat upon his mind; for then happy expressions will come in his mouth, things will ventilate and open themselves to him, as he talks them thus in a soliloquy to himself. He must also be writing many essays upon all sorts of subjects; for by writing he will bring himself to a correctness