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CHRISTIAN PREACHER, &c.
OIJ THE GIFT OF PREAcHING.
§ 1. Introduction. The importance of the art of preaching. § 2. One chief reason why good scholars and divines are often bad preachers. §3. What is implicdin the gift of preaching. $4. (I.) Concerning Method. § 5. Different kinds of method, and which preferable. § 6: The parts of a sermon according to iter external form; and more essentialpart9. § 7- (i.) Explication. Of opening the text. § 8. Of texts which have a double sense. § 9. One great help of interpreting the books of scripture i» toknoir their times, references and order. § tO. Of explaining words and phrases. J 11. Doctrinal observations. § 12. Of stating the subject, whether doctrinal or practical. § 13. (ii.) Confirmation of the subject proposed; in doctrinal points, from scripture and reason. $ 14. In practical, from divine testimony. § 15. From reason, and $ 16. Experience. § 17. (lit.) Of the Application, both $ 18. Doctrinal, and $ 19- Practical, for reproof. § 20. Consolation, and § 21. Exhortation. § 22. The conclusion. §23. (11,) Concerning Matter, which oughtto be seasonable, and § 24, Pertinent. To pramoTe which are proposed several helps; particularly, § 25. Reading and the knowledge of books. § 26. (HI.) Concerning Expression; which must be plain. §C7- Full, §28. Sound, § 29. Affectionate. § 30. The manner of composing Sermons. § 31. Elocution, in which two extremel are to be Avoided, tco much boldnast, and too much fear.
# 1. IT is the end of all sciaices and arts, to direct men, by certain rules, to the most compendious way of knowledge and practice. Those things of which we have only some imperfect, confused notions, are herein fully and clearly represented to our view, from the discoveries that other men have made, after much study and long experience. And there is nothing of greater consequence for the advancement of learning, than to find out particular existing advantages for the shortest way of knowing and teaching things in every profession.
Amongst all other callings, therefore, this of preaching, being in many respects one of the most weighty and solemn, should have its rules, whereby we may be directed the easiest and readiest way for the practice of it.:—Besides all those academical preparations by the study of languages, sciences and divinity, with which fnen should be qualified and predisposed for this calling, there is a particular art of preaching, to which if ministers did more seriously apply themselves, it would extremely facilitate that service; making it more easy to themselves, and more profitable to their hearers.
§ 2. There are two qualifications* requisite in every preacher; a right understanding of sound doctrine, and an ability to propound, confirm, and apply it to the edification of others. A«d the first may be without the other. As a man may be a good lawyer, and not a good pleader; so he maybe a good divine, and yet not a good preacher. One chief reason why divers men, otherwise of eminent parts, are herein so slow and unskilful, is, because they have not been versed in this study, and are therefore unacquainted with those proper rules and directions by which they should be guided in the attaining and exercise of this gift.
It has been the usual course at the university, to venture upon this calling in an abrupt, over-hasty manner. "V^hen scholars have passed over their philosophical
studies, and made some little entrance upon divinity, they presently think themselves fit for the pulpit, without any farther inquiry; as if the gift of preaching, and sacred oratory, were not a distinct art of itself. This would be counted a very preposterous course in other matters; for instance, if a man should presume on his being an orator, because he is a logician; or to practise physic, because he has learned philosophy! Certainly, the pre-eminence of this profession above others must needs extremely aggravate the guilt of such neglect, and make it so much the more mischievous, by how much the calling is more solemn. Many have written particularly and largely upon this very subject, concerning the art of preaching, wherein they have laid down such various helps and rules as they, from their own practice and long experience, have found most useful.* § 3. This service of preaching may be considered under a double notion; as a duty and a gift. It is here insisted upon only in the second sense, and may be thus described:—Such an e.vpcrtness andfacility in the right handling and dividing the word of truth, as may approve us to be workmen that need not to be ashamed. It requires both spiritual and artificial abilities:
1. -Such spiritual abilities as must be infused from above, whereby our judgment and affections shall be made experimentally acquainted with all those sacred truths that we are to deliver to others. The only wav for the attaining of these, is by prayer, an humble heart, and an holy life.f
2. Such artificial abilities as are to be acquired br our own industry. And these are either more general^ as skill in all those arts and languages which are required as pre-requisites; or more particular and immediate for the act of preaching, to which the chief helps are these three, method, matter, and expression. These contribute mutual assistance to one another. A good MeThod will direct to proper Matter; and suitable matter will invite good Expression.
• See the Appendix to this volume,
$ 4. (I.) By Method I understand an art of contriv-.
ing our discourses on such a regular plan, that every part may have its due place and dependence. This will be a great advantage both to ourselves and our hearers:
1. Td ourselves, and that both for invention and memory. A man may more easily-find out things, when, instead of seeking for them at random, he can have direct recourse to all those places and heads from whence they maybe most naturally collected; and more easily retain them, when thev are linked together and not scattered. Method is a chain; if a man should let slip any one part, he may easily recover it again, by that relation and. dependence whjch it has with the whole.— It is also eligible.
2. For the beuefit of the hearers; who may understand and retain a sermon with greater ease and profit, when they are before-hand acquainted with the general heads of discourse. It is but a bad rule in Alstf.d, at least for vulgar auditories, where he advises to conceal and alter the method for the sake of variety; Crypsis dispositionis tollit j'asudium auditoris.* This may be true of itching, curious hearers, but not of such as regard their own profit and edification. An immethodical discourse (though the materials of it may be precious) h but as a heap, full of confusion and deformity; tU (;h r .'s r fi.lriv or buildirg, much-mere crcc!kr.t, Leu. .v.i (\ci.f;;arid veci
§ S. There may be divers kinds of methods prescribed, according as men's own fancies, and the variety of subjects and occasions shah require. But that which our best divines, by long experience, have found most useful for ordinary and popular assimblies, is that of doctrine and use. This, as to the nature of it, is very easy; and therefore most natural, being generally applicable to any subject." In its true latitude, it is as full and comprehensive as any other, including all such notions as are any way useful and proper. In its branches and
* H. Ai.s'i Ecu Triec!og:a Prophctica, Far. L Cap. x.
f See Watts';, Improvement of the Mind, Part II. Ch. vi.