Page images
PDF
EPUB

who, in confidence of his riches, strikes at the root of liberty, and sets mankind at defiance ?

I conclude with expressing my hopes, that your wisdom and justice, fathers, will not, by suffering the atrocious and unexampled insolence of Caius Verres to escape the due punishment, leave room to apprehend the danger of a total subversion of authority, and introduction of general anarchy and confusion..

CHAP. III.

Eloquence of the Pulpit.

SECTION I..

Remarks on Pulpit Eloquence.

ELOQUENCE is the art of speaking with propriety, elegance, and effect. To enlighten the understanding, please the imagination, move the passions, and influence the will, are the important ends it proposes to accomplish. The darkness which envelopes the human understanding, must be dispelled by a clear exhibition of truth.A combination of noble images presented to the mind, in the rich or agreeable colouring of a finely finished picture, tends to swell the imagination with vast conceptions, and transport the soul with sublime ideas. The creative faculty, from her exuberant stores, produces those expressive figures, and exhibits these vivid features, which, when associated with objects of desire or aversion, love or hatred, pity or contempt, awaken the liveliest sensibility and precipitate the passive assembly, into all the perturbation of passion.-Would the orator not only agi

[ocr errors]

tate the soul, and inspire generous feeling, but pro duce volition, and propel to action, he must employ an artful mixture of the truths which convince, and the imagery which interests; he must incorporate argumentation with pathos, and the efforts of reason with the ebullitions of passion, before he can force his way to the heart, and wield at will its active powers.

The eloquence of the pulpit possesses advantages peculiar to itself. The dignity and importance of its subjects tend to solemnize Christian assemblies, and ought to interest every heart. The preacher has liberty and leisure to chuse his theme, and appears in public with all the advantages of mature preparation. The largeness and solemnity of his audience inspire animation, and. powerfully prompt to exertion. His style may be embellished with the highest ornaments, and his delivery adorned with all the variegated gra-ces of action.

[ocr errors]

Candidates for the sacred ministry should possess good natural talents: a clear understanding, to discriminate truth from error; a lively imagination, to o-pen extensive fields of thought, and exhibit interesting objects in the most advantageous points of view; a retentive memory, to which he may commit the different sets of ideas, and the various parts of knowledge he collects in the course of his study, and may have occasion to use in the discharge of his duty; and an original gift of utterance, to fit him for speaking with freedom and fluency, on any subject which he thoroughly understands. Without a considerable share of such inestimable talents, I may venture to af-firm, all the learning and industry in the world will be unable to render him an eloquent preacher.

Besides the possession of these natural and neces→→ sary qualities, much remains to be acquired by study and observation: An extensive knowledge of natural and revealed religion; of the theory and practice of moral, relative, and religious duties; of the doctrines

of grace, the practice of piety, and pure, experimental godliness: A comprehensive knowledge of the scriptures in their connection, dependance, and leading de-. sign; of the meaning and application of particular passages; of the principal idea contained in every text he undertakes to illustrate, and of the best method of dividing, explaining and impressing the instructions deduced from it, on the hearts of his hearers; An intimate acquaintance with the opinions, passions, and propensities of mankind; the various scenes and circumstances through which they pass, the motives by which they are most easily actuated, and the avenues. which lead most directly to the heart; with the characters, sentiments and humours, which prevail among the people he is destined to address.

The preacher must be acquainted with books as well as with men. The clearest commentaries on scripture, and the most judicious systems of divinity should hold the highest rank in his estimation ; but such as possess sublime moral sentiments, unfold the obligations, characters, and connections of men, explain the principal sciences with elegance and accura cy, inspire the brightest train of thought, enrich the soul with exalted perceptions, improve the taste for composition, give a compass and purity of expression, and afford materials for forming a stile, in which simplicity and grandeur, elegance and chastity, animationand ease, copiousness and perspicuity, harmoniously unite ;-are also entitled to a frequent and attentive perusal. Every book of real merit, indeed, may contribute to assist him in his official capacity, but such as contain the best precepts and specimens of eloquence which either ancient or modern times have produced, should be selected with judgment, studied with diligence, digested by mature reflection, and rendered subservient to the great ends of the gospel-ministry. It must always be recollected, however, that the most extensive reading will be of little advantage to the Christian clergyman, unless it be accompanied by the reiterated practice of careful composition.. It

Is this which converts the materials of reading to the nourishment of thought, which establishes a habit of arrangement, of viewing objects with accuracy and distinction, and of expressing sentiments with variety, fulness, and freedom.

coun

The gospel preacher must maintain an unremitting regard to the great ends of his office; which are, to honour his divine Master, by a faithful exhibition of revealed truths, and an ample declaration of his co sels to men; to promote the best interests of his fellow-creatures, by conscientiously explaining the doctrines, and enforcing the duties of religion, by endeav ouring to confirm their faith, increase their comfort, and influence their practice: to adapt his discourses to the nature of the times, and the capacities of his hearers ;-by trying to stop the progress of prevailing vices, directing to the proper uses of national calami ties, and exciting to the grateful acknowledgment of public mercies; by avoiding unedifying conjectures about points confessedly obscure, matters of mere speculation, and the peculiarities of party opinion; which tend to foster a disputatious temper, and to "minister questions rather than godly edifying ;"-by guarding against those minute criticisms, abstracted reasonings, and learned investigations, which are not level to the comprehension of a common audience, and turning his thoughts into such a shape, as shall bid fairest for drawing the attention, enlightening the minds, and affecting the hearts of his hearers ;-by confining himself in every discourse to a single leading truth, character, virtue, or vice, which, when properly explained, placed in interesting views, and enforced by suitable motives, can scarcely fail to pene-trate and possess the heart.

SECTION II.

The Commandments.

AND God spake all these words, saying;

I am the Lord, thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them th hat me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God : in it thou shalt not do any work; thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates; For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »