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Candour in stating the arguments of his adversary cannot be too much recommended to every pleader. If he disguise them or place them in a false light, the artifice will soon be discovered ; and the judge and the hearers will conclude, that he either wants discernment to perceive, or fairness to admit, the strength of his opponent's reasoning. But, if he state with accuracy and candour the arguments used against him, before he endeavour to combat them, a strong prejudice is created in his favour. He will appear to have entire confidence in his cause, since he does not attempt to support it by artifice or concealment. The judge will therefore be inclined to receive more readily the impressions made upon him by a speaker who appears both fair and penetrating. .
Wit may sometimes be serviceable at the bar, par. ticularly in a lively reply, by which ridicule is throwA on what an adversary has advanced. But a young pleader should never rest his strength on this dazzling talent. His office is not to excite laughter, but to produce conviction ; nor perhaps did any one ever rise to an eminence in his profession by beng a witty lawyer.
Since an advocate personates his client, he must plead his cause with a proper degree of warmthHe must be cautious, however, of prostituting his earnestness and sensibility by an equal degree of ardour on every subject. There is a dignity of character, which it is highly important for every one of this profession to support. An opinion of probity and honour in a pleader is his most powerful instrument of persuasion. He should always, therefore, decline enibarking in causes which are odious and manifestly unjust; and when he supports a doubtful cause, he should lay the chief stress upon those arguments which appear to him to be most forcible ; reserving his zeal and indignation for cases where injustice and inquity are flagrant.
ELOQUENCE OF THE PULPIT.
HAVING treated of the eloquence of popular assemblies, and of that of the bar, we shall now consider the strain and spirit of that eloquence which is suited to the pulpit. This field of public speaking has several advantages peculiar to itself. The dignity and importance of its subjects must be allowed to be superior to any other. They admit the highest embellishment in description, and the greatest warmth and vehemence of expression. In treating his subject the preacher has also peculiar advantages. He speaks not to one or a few judges, but to a large assembly. He is not afraid of interruption. He chooses his subject at leisure ; and has all the assistance of the most accurate premeditation. The disadvantages, however, which attend the eloquence of the pulpit, are not inconsiderable. The preacher, it is true, has no contention with an adversary ; but debate awakens genius and excites attention. His subjects, though noble, are trite and common. They are become so familiar to the public car, that it requires no ordinary genius in the preacher to fix attention. Nothing is more difficult than to bestow on what is common the grace of novelty. Besides, the subject of the preacher usually oonfines him to abstract qualities, to virtues and vices, whereas that of other popular speakers leads them to treat of persons; which is generally more interesting to the hearers, and occu. pies more powerfully the imagination. We are taught by the preacher to detest only the crime ; by the pleader to detest the criminal. Hence it happens, that though the number of moderately good spreachers is great, so few have arrived at eminence. Perfection is very distant from modern preaching. The object, however, is truly noble, and worthy of being pursued with zeal.
To excel in preaching, it is necessary to have a fixed and habitual view of its object. This is to persuade men to become good. Every sermon ought therefore
to be a persuasive oration. It is not to discuss some abstruse point, that the preacher ascends the pulpit. It is not to teach his hearers something new, but to make them be:ter; to give them at once clear views and persuasive impressions of religious truths.
The principal characteristics of pulpit eldquence, as distinguished from the other kinds of public speaking, appear to be these iwo, gravity and warmth. It is neither easy nor common to unite these characters of eloquence. The grave, when it is predominant, becomes a dull, uniform solennity. The warm, when it wants graviły, borders on the light and theatrical. A proper Union of the two, forms the character of preaching, which the French call Onction ; that affecting, penetrating, and interesting manner, which flows from a strong sense in the preacher of the importance of the truths he delivers, and an earnest desire that they may make full impressions on the hearts of his hearers.
A sermon, as a particular species of composition, requires the strictest attention to unity. By this we mean that there should be some main point to wbich
the whole tenour of the sermon shall refer. It must - not be a pile of different subjects heaped upon each
other; but one object must predominate through the whole. Hence, however, it must not be understood,
that there should be no divisions or separate heads in .. a discourse ; nor that one single thought only should
be exhibited in different points of view. Unity is not
to be understood in so limited a sense ; it admits sorae : variety ; it requires only that union and connexion be ....so far preserved as to make the whole concur in some
ione: impression on the mind. Thus for instance, a preacher may employ several different arguments to enforce the love of God; he may also inquire into the causes of the decay of this virtue; still one great object is presented to the mind. But if because his text says," he that loveth God must love his brother also,” he should therefore mix in tho same discourse arguments for the love of God and for the love of our neighbour, he would grossly offend against unity, and leave a very confused impression on the minds of his hearers.
Sermons are always more striking, and generally more useful, the more precise and particular the subject of them is. Unity can never be so perfect in a general as in a particular subject. , General subjects, indeed, such as the excellency or the pleasures of religion, are often chosen by young preachers, as the most showy, and the easiest to be handled; but these subjects produce not the high effects of preaching. Attention is much more commanded by taking some par, ticular view of a great subject, and employing on that the whole force of argument and eloquence. To recommend some one virtue, or inveigh against a particular vice, affords a subject not deficient in unity or precision. But if that virtue or vice be considered as assuming a particular aspect in certain characters or certain situations in life, the subject becomes still more interesting. The execution is more difficult, but the merit and the effect are higher.
A preacher should be cautious not to exhaust his subject; since nothing is more opposite to persuasion, than unnecessary and tedious fulness. There are always some things which he may suppose to be known, and some which require only brief attention. If he endeavour to omit no:hing which his subject suggests, he must unavoidably encumber it, and diminish its force..
To render bis instructions interesting to his hearers should be the grand object of every preacher. He should bring home to their hearts the truths which he inculcates, and make each suppose himself particularly addressed. He should avoid all intricate reasonings; avoid expressing himself in general, speculative propositions ; or laying down practical truths in an abstract, metaphysical manner. A discourse ought to be carri. ed on in the strain of direct address to the audience; not in the strain of one writing an essay, but one speaking to a multitude, and studying to connect what is called application, or what immediately refers to practive, with the doctrinal parts of the sermon.
.. It is always highly advantageous to keep in view the
different ages, characters and conditions of men, and to accommodate directions and exhortations to each of these different classes. Whenever you advance what touches a man's character, or is applicable to his circumstances, you are sure of his attention. No study is more necessary for a preacher, than the study of human life, and of the human heart. To discover a man to himself in a light in which he never saw his character before, produces a wonderful effect. Those ser. mons, though the most difficult in composition, are not only the most beautiful, but also the most useful, which are founded on the illustration of some peculiar character, or remarkable piece of history in the sacred writ. ings; by pursuing which we may trace, and lay open some of the most secret windings of the buman heart. Other topics of preaching are become trite ; but this is an extensive field which hitherto has been little explored, and possesses all the advantages of being curiaus, new, and highly useful. Bishop Butler's sermons on the character of Balaam is an example of this kind of preaching · Fashion, which operates so extensively on human manners, has given to preaching at different times a change of character. This, however, is a torrent which swells to-day and subsides to-morrow. Sometimes poetical prorching is fashionable; sometimes plilosophical. At one time it must be all pathetic ; at another all argumentative ; as some celebrated preacher has set the example. Each of these modes is very de. fèctive; and he who conforms himself to it, will both confine and corrupt his genius. Truth and good sense are the sole basis, on which he can build with safety. Mode and humour are feeble and unsteady. No ex'ample should be servilely imitated. From various examples the preacher may collect materials for improvement; but servility of imitation extinguishes all gentus, or rather proves entire want of it.