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DELIVERED BEFORE THE PORTER RHETORICAL SOCIETY, AT
ANDOVER, SEPTEMBER, 1828.
It is not necessary now to vindicate the importance of learning to a preacher of the gospel. The day has happily gone by, when the few friends of a well-taught ministry were obliged to make frequent contests with ignorance and superstition. The walls by which we are surrounded, and this assembly convened within them, bear ample testimony, that the church now feels a lively interest in the education of her sons, who are destined to serve at her altars.
It is scarcely more necessary here, to defend the merits and urge the claims of that species of intellectual culture which this Society is designed to promote. True eloquence is certainly not regarded, by judicious minds, as an ostentatious or a deceitful art.
It does not consist in the studied fallacies of speech, the pomp of expression, a minute and trifling attention to words only. It is a correct,
sustained, and manly expression of thought and feeling; it is the free, natural utterance we give to the mind, in its highest excitement and boldest efforts.
The common forms of language are well suited to the purposes of business and of ordinary inter
A clear and grammatical arrangement of words is sufficiently expressive of our thoughts, in mere addresses to the understanding, in plain reasoning on common subjects, and in philosophical disquisitions. But when the mind glows, in the exercise of its energies on lofty themes, and subjects that deeply affect the heart, when it addresses man not only as a rational, but an imaginative, sensitive, and sympathetic being, – then this ordinary use of language is cold and unmeaning. It fails to convey all that is thought and felt within. New and appropriate modes of expression spontaneously present themselves; and the mind bathes and sanctifies them in the outflowings of its fulness.
The graces of rhetoric, as they are called, are nothing else than a felicitous communication of those finer forms of thought, which may be easily perceived by minds susceptible of such impressions, though they cannot possibly be analyzed. The peculiar choice and arrangement of words, the tones of voice, the looks, the attitude, the air and nanner, which constitute the charm of eloquence, are but the combined representatives of the thinking mind. There cannot be a more ill-founded prejudice, than that which sometimes exists against the cultivation