Abbildungen der Seite
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

makes a long enumeration of the ecclesiastical writers, who also inade use of their testimony, in defence of the Christian religion. Among the holy writers, he had nained St. Paul, who quotes several passages from the Greek poets. "[?] And indeed, says he, he had learnt “ from the true David, the way of forcing the ene

my's weapon out of his own hand, in order to fight "him; and to cut off the head of the proud Goliah " with his own sword."

It were therefore much to be wished, that those who are designed for the Pulpit should begin by imbibing Eloquence at its source, that is, from the Greek and Latin authors, who have been always looked upon as masters of the art of speaking. [m] The sacred orators should have learned from them the distribution of the several ornaments of discourse, and this not barely to please the auditor, much less to gain

reputation, (motives which even heathen rhetoric thought unworthy its orators,) but in order to make truth more amiable to men, by rendering her more lovely; and to engage them, by this kind of innocent allurement, to relish her holy sweetness, and to practise her salutary lessons with greater diligence and sincerity.

It is well known that St. Ambrose's Eloquence had this effect on St. Austin, though he was still charmed with the beauties of profane Eloquence. [1] That great bishop preached the word of God to his people with so many charms and graces, that all his auditors

nsported with a kind of divine enthusiasm. (1) Didicerat à vero David ex- non jactanter, sed prudenter utatorquere de manibus hostium gladi- mur, non ejus fine contenti, quo um, & Goliæ superbissimi caput tantummodo delectatur auditor : proprio mucrone truncare. Jbid. sed hoc potiùs, agentes, ut etiam

[m] Illud quod agitur genere ¡pso ad bonum, quod persuadere votemperato, id est ut eloquentia ipsa lumus, adjuvetur. S. Aug. de Doci. delectet, non est propter seipsum Chr. 1. 4. n. 55: usurpandum, sed ut rebus quæ uti- [»] Veni ad Ambrosium Episcoliter honestèque dicuntur ... ali- puin ... cujus tunc eloquia strenue quanto promptiùs & delectatione ininistrabant adipem frumenti tui ipsâ elocutionis accedat, vel tenaci- .. & sobriam vini ebrietatem populo ùs adhærescat assensus. . . . Ita fit tuo. Confess. l. 5. c. 13. ut etiam temperati generis ornatu


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

[O] St. Austin sought only in the sermons of that preacher, the flowers of language, and not the solidity of sense; but it was not in his power to separate them. He thought to have opened his understanding and heart to the beauties of diction only; but truth entered at the same time, and soon gained an absoJute sovereignty over him.

He himself made the same use of Eloquence afterwards. We find the people were so ravished with his sermons, that they bestowed the utmost applauses on them. He was, however, very far either from seeking or affecting those applauses; for, his humility was so great, that they really afflicted him, and made him fear the secret and subtile contagion of that poisoned vapour. [p] But whence should such frequent acclamations arise, but from this, vis. that truth, thus illustrated, and placed in her utmost splendor by a truly eloquent man, charms and transports the mind of man?

I cannot here avoid exhorting my readers to peruse M. Arnaud's little treatise, entitled, Reflections on the Eloquence of Preachers. He there refutes part of the preface which M. du Blois his friend had prefixed to his translation of St. Austin's sermons, in which he pretended to shew, that most preachers followed a manner of preaching contrary to that of St. Austin, by making too much use of human Eloquence, which he thought improper for sermons. face had dazzled great numbers, and was very much applauded. But they were greatly astonished, when M. Arnaud's little treatise appeared, to find that almost the whole preface was founded upon false principles and reasonings. It may be of use, and agreeable at the same tiine, to compare these two treatises,

[? Cùm non satagerem discere diceret, pariter intrabat & quam quæ dicebat, sed tantum quemad. Verè diceret. Ibid. n. 14. modum dicebat audire . . . venie- [p] Unde autem crebrò & mula bant in animum meum simul cum tùm acclamatur ita dicentibus, nisi verbis que diligebam, res etiam quia veritas sic demonstrata, sic de. quas negligebam: neque enim ea fensa, sic invicta, delectat? De dirimere poteram. Et dum cor ape- Docir. Chr. l. 4. n, 56., sirera ad excipiendum quam disertè


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

This pre

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

that roli rate ding ruth biso

by first reading the preface, in order to see if we can find any fault in it; and then, by examining the refutation, to see whether it be just and solid, and supported by sound arguments.

The principle I have laid down from St. Austin's rules, viz, that the Christian orator may, and even ought to strive to please the auditor, must be kept within certain limits, and requires some illustration. Two defects must be avoided in preaching; the one consists in taking too much pains about the ornaments and graces of discourse, and the other in neglecting them. I shall say something of each.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]



[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

It is very blameable in a Christian orator, to endeavour more at pleasing than instructing his auditors; and to be more solicitous about words than things ; to rely too much upon his labour and preparation; to enervate the force of the truths he is denouncing, by a puerile affectation of bright thoughts; in a word to adulterate and corrupt God's word, by a vicious mixture of trilling ornaments.

[9] St. Jerom, whose taste for Eloquence and the graces of discourse are well known, could not suffer the Christian orator, (neglecting to instruct himself and others in the very principles of religion) to employ himself only as a declaimer, to please people ; nor that the august Eloquence of the Pulpit should degenerate into a vain parade of words, fit for nothing more than to gain a little trifling applause. (r) St. Ambrose was of the same opinion, and would banish absolutely that kind of embroidery from preaching, whose only effect is to make thoughts more languid.

(9) Nolo te declamatorem esse rationem sui facere, indoctoruin & rabulam, garrulumque sine ra- hominum est. S. Hieron. Epist. ad

Verba volvere, & ccleritate di- [r] Cornment. 1.8.
cendi apud imperitum vulgus admi.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Aufer mihi lenocinia fucumque verborum, quia solent eneroare sententias.

God tells us in Ezekiel, how much he detested the unhappy disposition of the Israelites, [8] who instead of improving by the sad predictions of his prophet, and being alarmed by them to their advantage, went to hear him only for diversion's sake, as to a concert of inusic. How much would he have reproached the prophet himself, had he given occasion for so shameful an abuse, through any fault or neglect of his, by endeavouring merely to gratify the ears of his auditors by a soft harmony and an empty sound of words: This is the just character of sermons, of which nothing remains but the unprofitable remembrance of the pleasure they gave when spoke.

A certain heathen complained, that in his time these light graces of style, which ought to be employed in subjects of a less grave and serious nature, had done a kind of violence to good sense and reason; and possessed themselves, as it were, by force, even of the suits or causes in which the lives and fortunes of incn were debated. [t] In ipsa capitis aut fortunarum periculla irrupit voluptas.

How much more ought this abuse to be condemned in religious discourses, in which the gravest, and at the same time the most awful subjects are handled? In which it is intended, for instance, to humble and intimidate the sinner in order to effect this salvation, by representing the horrors of death to be nearer him than perhaps he imagines; the cry of the blood of Christ Jesus, which demands vengeance for having been so long profaned; the anger of a justly exasperated God, ready to fall upon his head ; and hell open under his feet, in order to swallow him up?

[u] Is a preacher excusable, amidst such great truths as these, to employ himself wholly on an empty

pomp [s] Et eis quasi carmen musicum, [u] An quisquam tulerit reum in quod suavi dulcique sono canitur: discrimine capitis, decurrentibus et audiunt verba cua, et non faciunt. periodis, quam lætissimis locis senEzek. xxxiii. 32.

tentiisque dicentem? ... Quò fuge10] Quint, 1. 4. C. 2.

rit interim dolor ille ? Ubi lachry

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]




ent cert the

pomp of elocution; to go in search of bright thoughts, to make his periods harmonious, and to croud a set of einpty figures one upon the other? What becomes in the mean time of that grief and sadness which ought to pierce his soul whilst he is discoursing on such subjects, and which ought to make his whole discourse one continued groan, as it were? Might we not justly be angry, should the preacher endeavour to display his genius, and had leisure to act the fine speaker, at a time when thunder and lightning only should appear, and the most lively and animated emotions of the soul?

[ocr errors][ocr errors]




[ocr errors][merged small]

Another fault in preaching, much more common than the former, and of infinitely worse consequence, is, the being too careless of the elocution; the not having a sufficient respect for the audience, the appearing before them without almost any preparation, the speaking extempore whatever occurs, frequently without order, choice, or justness; and by this affected negligence giving the hearers a distaste and contempt for the word of God, which in itself is worthy of engaging the esteem and awe of mankind, and ought to be their sweetest consolation, their most so

[ocr errors]

lid glory.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The aim and design which every worthy preacher proposes in addressing himself to Christians, is to persuade them, in order to incline them to virtue, and to give them an abhorrence to vice; but all do not einploy the necessary means to those great ends, nor mæ substiterint? Unde te in medium ac sui jactantem, & ambitiosum intam secura observatio artium mise- stitorem eloquentiæ in ancipiti sorte rit? Non ab exordio usque ad ulti- videat ? Non imò oderit rerum verba mam vocem continuus quidam ge- • aucupantem, & anxium de fama mitus,& idem tristitiæ vultus serva, ingenii, & cui esse diserto vacet, bitur? ... Commoveaturne quis. Quint. d. 11.6.3. quam ejus fortuna, quem tumidum


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »