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study to speak in a persuasive manner. It is this forms the difference between good and bad preachers. [x] The latter, says St. Austin, preach in a gross, disagreeable and cold manner, obtuse, deformiter, frigidè ; the former with ingenuity, beauty, and strength, acute, ornatè, rehementer.

The salvation of most Christians, as well as their faith, depend on the word; but this word must be treated with art and skill, in order that the minds of people may be prepared to receive it. The ornament of speech is one of the means conducive to this purpose, and the reason of it is very plain ; viz. the auditor must not only hear what is spoke, but hear it willingly: [y] volumus non solùm intelligenter, verùm etiam libenter audiri. Now how can he hear it willingly, unless he is induced by pleasure? [x] Quis tenetur ut audiat, si non delectetur ? ...[a] Quis eum (oratorem) velit audire, nisi auditorem nonnuletiam suavitate detineat? “Who can bear to hear an orator, if he be not allured with something sweet and pleasant ?” But this ornament of speech is not incompatible with simplicity; for this simplicity must not be gross, tedious, and distasteful : [6] Nolumus fastidiri etiam quod submisse dicimus. There is a inedium between a far-fetched, florid, luminous; and a low, grovelling, careless style: and it is the medium between these that suits the preacher. [c] Illa quoque eloquentia generis temperati upud eloquentem ecclesiasticum, nec inornata relinquitur, nec indecenter ornatur.

Christians would know much more than they do, were they to frequent regularly their parish churches, which they are more indispensably obliged to do than is generally imagined; and were serinons written and delivered as they ought to be, which is a duty no less incumbent on the preacher. What affliction, what grief must those feel, who have some idea of the importance of this ministry, to see their churches gene

[x] De Doctr. Christ. I. 4. n. 7. {a] N. 56. Uy] N. 56.

[6] Ibid. (2) N. 58.

[] N. 57


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rally empty, or very thin ; especially if they are conscious that it is their cold, languid, tiresome, and often long-winded manner of speaking, which prevents their parishioners from coming to hear them? Hereby they are wanting in the most important duty of their function; they deceive the expectation of their hearers, who run eagerly in order to supply their necessities, but are obliged to return empty. They degrade the word of God by their careless delivery, and cause it to be looked upon with contempt and distaste. They dishonour the Divine Majesty, whose [d] embassadors they are; and they do not consider, that, should the envoy of an earthly monarch behave in this manner, he would be justly looked upon by his sovereign as a prevaricator.

They are far from observing the conduct of that Greek * orator, who never spoke in public till he had duly prepared himself for it; and besought the gods before he came out of his house, not to suffer one word to fall from him unworthy of his auditors : or of that Roman orator, who though so eminent, declares, [e] that he never pleaded any cause, till after he had taken all the pains requisite for that purpose. I dare not translate the words which Quintilian [f] levels against that lawyer, who should be wanting in this duty, so essential to his profession ; but which is inuch more so to that of a minister of the word of God, on which the salvation of his hearers depends.

I am sensible, 'that the multitude of affairs, in which such pastors as are careful of their duty must be engaged, allow them but very little time to prepare their sermons. But we are not here treating of pieces of Eloquence, laboured and polished with the utmost care; which require long application, and consequently complete leisure. The preacher, who,

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[d] Legatione fungimur. semper quantum plurimum poterit * Pericles.

Neque enim solum negligentis, sed (e) Ad illam causaram operam & mali, & in susceptà causâ perfidi, nunquam nisi paratus & meditatus ac proditoris est, pejùs agere quàm accedo. Cic. l. 1. de Leg. n. 12. possit.' Quint. d. 12. c. 9. ] Afferet ad dicendum curze



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besides a natural genius, has some learning; and who joins to these qualities a strong zeal for the salvation of Christians, never fails of success; and is sure of applause, when he lays down his discourse with order, delivers solid and pathetic things, corroborates them by texts of scripture, and observes not to make his discourse too long. Such a preparation as this, (and it is indispensable) does not take up a vast deal of time.

Is any part of the ministerial function more important, more necessary, more worthy of the pastoral zeal,\than the care of the poor, and that of administering the sacraments? [8] Nevertheless we see, on one side, that the apostles, when assembled to remedy the complaints, which the distribution of the alnis had occasioned among the faithful, think themselves obliged to lay aside this so holy duty, rather than to leave off preaching the word of God, to which they were expressly commanded to postpone every thing else ; and on the other side, when St. Paul, so well instructed in the duty of an apostle, and so indefatigable in his labours, declares expressly, [h] that Christ sent him, not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. Preaching is therefore the chief function of apostles, bishops, and pastors of every denomination; to which they ought to apply themselves with all the vigour they are capable of, removing, with an inflexible severity, whatever is incompatible with this first and most essential of their duties.

This precept and example has been given us by all those great saints, whose learned and eloquent discourses have done so much honour to the Christian world, though most of them possessed the highest dignities in the church, and were vigilant in defending it against heresies.

[i] St. Gregory Nazianzen, though he despised the disposition of words, and those empty delicacies which only please the ear, was yet very far from neglecting (8) Act vi. 2.

0] Orat. 15 (bj Cor. i. 17.


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what might be of use to elocution, [k] as he observes more than once: * I have reserved, says he, Eloquence only; and I do not repent the pains and fatigue I have suffered by sea and land, in order to attain it; I could wish, for my own and my

friends' sakes, that we possessed all the force of it: . .: [?] This alone remains of what I once possest, and I offer, devote and consecrate it to my God. The voice of his coinmand, and the impulse of his Spirit, have made me abandon all things beside, to barter all I was master of, for the precious stone of the Gospel. Thus then I am become, or rather I wish ardently to become that happy merchant, who exchanges contemptible and perishable goods, for others that are excellent and eternal. But being a minister of the Gospel, I devote myself solely to the art of preaching: I embrace it as my lot, and will never forsake it.... [mm] In another place, he thanks his flock, in that their incredible ardor for the word of God was his consolation against the injurious and malicious discourses vented by his enemies against his Eloquence, which he indeed had acquired by the study of profane authors; but had raised and ennobled by the reading of the sacred writings, and by the vivifying wood of the cross, which had taken away all its bitterness. He adds, that he is not of the opinion of many others, who would have people be contented with a dry, simple, unadorned, fat discourse ; who cover their laziness or ignorance with a contemptuous disdain of their adversaries, and pretend therein to imitate the apostles; not considering that miracles and prodigies were to them instead of Eloquence.

[n] St. Ambrose, in the very place where he exhorts preachers to make their discourses pure, simple, clear, weighty, and solid, adds, that as they must not be af

[4] Orat. 3.

[m] Orat 27. St. Gregory Nazianzen had in Oratio sit pura, simplex, di. undertaken several voyages, pur. lucida atque manifesta, plena gra. posely to study Eloquence under vitatis & ponderis : non affectatâ the ablest masters.

elegantiâ, sed non intermissâ gratiâ, [?] Orat. 12.

Offic, l. I. C. 22.



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fectedly elegant, so neither must they be devoid of beauties and graces. And he himself always practised what he inculcated to others.

Was ever pastor more employed, or more devoted to good works, than St. Austin? [0] But then his zeal, no less enlightened than fervent, did not engross any part of the time requisite for preparing what was necessary for the instruction of the faithful. One would conclude, that at first his sermons were written down, and got by heart; because he then had more leisure, and more occasion to use this precaution. Afterwards, he contented himself with searching for the sense of such passages of scripture as he intended to explain ; to display the truths they contained, and to find out texts to support and illustrate them; which research, and his preaching, cost him no little pains, as he himself tells us in the conclusion of his fourth discourse on the ciiid Psalm. Magno labore quæsita & inventa sunt, magno labore nunciata & disputata sunt : sit labor noster fructuosus vobis, & benedicat anima nostra Dominum. The insatiable ardor with which his auditors used to hear him, is a manifest proof that he was a very able preacher; was very laborious in preparing, and careful in the delivery of his sermons.

I have purposely reserved St. Chrysostom for the last, because none of the fathers have insisted more on the subject in question, than he has done. In his beautiful discourse on the priesthood, which is justly cousidered as his master-piece, he lays it down as an incontestable principle, that the chief duty of bishops, and consequently of all pastors, consists in the instruction delivered from the Pulpit: because by that alone, they are enabled to teach Christians the truths of religion, to inspire them with a love for virtue, draw them out of the paths of vice, and support them in the severe trials they must undergo, and the combats they must daily sustain against the enemies of their salvation.

Without this support, a poor church may be compared to a city attacked on all sides, and with[O] Epist. lxxiii.


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