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the affectation of scholastic harshness, or rhetorical flourishes. Obscurity in the discourse, is an argument of ignorance in the mind.. The greatest learning is to he. seen in the greatest plainness. The more clearly we understand any thing ourselves, the more easily can we expound it to others. When the notion itself is good, the best way to set it off, is in the most obvious, plain expression. St.Paul often glories in this, that his preaching "was not in wisdom of words, or excellency of speech; not with enticing words of men's wisdom, not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth the heart."* A minister should speak " as the oracles of God."f And it will not become the majesty of a divine embassage, to be garnished out with flaunting, affected eloquence.^ How unsuitable is it to the expectation of a hungry soul, that comes to this ordinance with a desire of spiritual comfort and instruction, there to hear only a starched speech, full of puerile rhetoric! It is a mark of low thoughts and designs, when a man's chief study is about the polishing of his phrase and words,
§ 27. 2. It must be full; without empty and needless tautologies, which are to be avoided in every solid business, much more in sacred. Our expressions should be so close and appropriate, that they may not be obscure; and so plain, that they may not seem vain and tedious. To deliver things in a crude, confused manner, without digesting them by a previous meditation, will nauseate the hearers, and is as improper for the edification of the mind, as raw meat is for the nourishment of the body.
§ 28. 3. It must be sound and wholesome; not tainted with any erroneous, corrupt doctrine,-or the affectation of novelty. False opinions many times insinuate them*
• 1 Cor. i. 17, ii. 4. IThes. ii. 4.
T Non qii2erit ager modicum eloquentem, seil sanantem. Quid mihi hiioria ista proponis? Noil est jocandi locus, ad miseros vo1 catus os, opera tc laturum naufragjis, captis, xgris, intentse securi suhjecturn prxstan tibus caput, quo diverteris? Quid agis?—Cujuscitnque orationem vides politam et solicitam, scito aninuim in pusillis occupatnm. Sesf.ca, Kpist. 6, 21, 49,
selves, by the use of suspicious phrases* "And it is a dangerous fault, when men cannot content themselves with the wholesome form of sound words, but do altogether affect new light, and new language', which may in time destroy practical godliness, and the power of religion.*
§ 29. 4. It must be affectionate and .cordial; as proceeding from the heart, and ah experimental acquaintance with those truths which we deliver, §>uod proctdit e corde redit in cor. It is a hard matter to affect others with what we are not first affected w ith ourselves, f It is said of John the baptist, that he was a burning and shining- light. Ardere prius est, lucere posterius; ardor \hentis est, lux doctrines. This is to speak in the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit and power. There is a common relation to this purpose of several learned men, who, having a great while, with much argument and strength of reason, contended with another about persuading him to be baptized, he, being learned also, could still evade all their arguments: at length, a grave pious man amongst them, of no note for learning, stands up, and bespeaks him with some downright affectionate expressions, which wrought so effectually lipon the other, that he presently submitted; yielding this reason, " Dum audiebam rationes huinanas, humanis rationibus repugnabam; cseterum simul atque audivi spiritum loquentem, cessi spiritui." And it is reported of Junius, before his canvercion, that, meeting once with a countryman as he was on a journey, and failing into discourse with him about variov.s points of religion, he observed the plain fellow to t;:lk so experimentally, with so much heartiness and affection, as made him first begin to think, that sure there was something more in those truths than his notional human learning had 3*et discovered; which occasioned his more serio is enquiry into them, and afterwards his conversion. Such great power is there in these cordial expressions.
* 1 Tim. vi. 1, 20. 2 Tim i. 13. Tit. ii. 7.
\ Prxcipiur.ii ad persuacfeidura est amine Ijuo<1 shades: Amanti pectus ipsum suggerit orationis ardurem.
§ 30. As for the manner of composing sermons, it will not be convenient for one that is a constant preacher, to pen all his discourses, or to tie himself to phrases. When we have the matter and notion, or sub' Jeci and method well digested, the expressions of it will easily follow; whereas, to be confined to particular words, besides the great oppression of the memory, will likewise much prejudice the operations of the understanding and affections. The judgment will be much weakened, and the affections become dull, when the memory is over much burdened. A man cannot ordinarily be so much affected himself (and consequently he cannot so easily affect others) with what he speaks by rote, as when he takes some liberty to prosecute a matter according to his more immediate apprehensions of it. Many particulars may be suggested, that were not before thought of, when he expatiates upon any subject, according to the workings of his own affections, and the various alterations that may appear in the auditory. And then, besides, this liberty will breed, (;rappu«*,) such a fitting confidence,' as should be in that orator, who is to have power over the affections of others, of which such an one is scarce capable, who shall so servilely tie himself to particular words and expressions, from which he dares not vary, for fear of being out.
But a man cannot expect a good habit of preaching thus, without much study aiid experience. Young beginners should use themselves to a more exact and elaborate way; when a good style and expression is first learned by penning, it will afterwards be more easily retained in discoursing.*
§ 31. In the elocution, there are two extremes to be avoided; too much boldness, and too much fear.
1. Against too much rashness and boldness, consider the special presence of God and angels, the solemn dignity of those sacred mysteries with which we are intrusted, the weighty business of saving souls; and " who
* For further direction in the composition of Sermons, see Disc. *U. of this volume.
can be sufficient for these things?" It was an usual saying of Luther, " Etsi jam senex, et in concionando exercitus sum, tamen timeo quoties suggestum conscendo.'' And he found by experience, that when he was most distrustful of his own preparations, then were his labours accompanied with some special blessing and efficacy; and, on the other hand, when he was most confident, then he failed most.
2. Against too much fear, consider, that it does not become the business we are about; we should speak the word with boldness; God has promised his assistance, that his strength shall appear in our weakness. It does not become the dignity or excellency of our calling; we are the angels, the ambassadors of God (miyul) his fellow-workers. And besides, this timorousness in the speaker will much hinder the efficacy and power of the word on the hearers. In brief, the most proper manner of elocution is with modesty and gravity % which will best suit our calling and business.*
To conclude; the observation of these helps and directions, together with frequent, diligent practice, will (as far as art can effect) quickly produce a good habit, and, by consequence, facility.
* Dr. Blair, in perfect harmony with what our author inculcates, observes: " The chief characteristics of the eloquence suited to the pulpit, as distinguished from the other kinds of public speaking, appear to me to be these two, gravity and warmth. The serious nature of the subjects, belonging to the pulpit, requires gravity; their importance to mankind, requires warmth." See Lect. xxix. On, The Eloquence oj the Pulpit, throughout; which, perhaps is one of the best of his admired performances and certainly to a preacher the most interesting.
CHRISTIAN PREACHER, &c.
OF PREACHING CHRIST.
§ 1. Introduction. § 2. (I.) What regard a minister should have to Christ in his preaching. § 3. (i.) He should be the Esd of our preaching. § 4. Our ultimate end, his personal glory. § 5. The subordinate end, the advancement of his kingdom. $ 6. To glorify the justice and long suffering of Christ is also implied. § 7. All which must be sincerely intended. § 8. (ii.) Christ should be the Matter of our preaching. § 9. (iii.) A continual Regard to Christ should distinguish our sermons from discourses on mere natural religion. $ 10. Particularly on the subject of duties. §11. (I.) We should represent duty as the fruit of faith in, and. love to Christ. § 12. (2.) Enforce duties with motives respecting Christ. § 13. (3.) To be performed by his grace; and § 14. (4 ) Acceptable through his merits. § 15. (iv.) We should express our thoughts in a Style becoming the gospel of Christ. § 16. (II ) Some reasons, and motives to inforce the friendly admonition.' (i.) It is the only way to acceptance and communion with Christ. § 17. (ii ) The only way to win souls to Christ. Which i», § 18 Confirmed by observation. § 19. (iii.) It is a direct imitation of the apostles of Christ. § 20. As appears from some of their discourses on duties the most moral. § 21. And the nature of the motives used. §22. The Remonstrants reproved § 23. (iv.) So only shall we deserve the name of Christian Preachers. While some neglect the peculiarities of the gospel, and,§ 21. Others do not promote holiness, $25. The true christian preacher preserves both, and avoids all extremes. J 26. Yet, to araveat any tolerable perfection is no easy task.