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the Sacred Writings? [s] Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor? O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Who can boast, [t] that he has all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God the Father, and of Jesus Christ ? Those only [u] to whom Godwill make known what are the riches of the glory of the double mystery, that is, the evangelists and apostles, who can say, [x] We have received. , . the Spirit of God; we know the mind of Christ. It is known, that this gift was indulged to St. Paul in an eminent degree, who declared [y] I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified; all other things [=] he counted but loss, in comparison of the excellency of the knowledye of Christ Jesus. [a] He declares in more places than one, that his vocation is,  to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see, what is the fellowship of the mystery, which, from the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ,
What is a preacher of the Gospel properly, but an embassador sent by the Creator to men, to declare his designs to them, to lay before them the conditions of the covenant he will make with them; and of the peace he will condescend to grant them, agreeable to that majestic expression of St. Paul, [C] Ie ure embassadors for Christ? Now, from whom should anembassador receive his instructions, or the words he is commanded to deliver to those he is to treat with, but from the master who sent him? It was this made St. Paul exhort the Ephesians to offer up prayers continually for him; in order, says he, [d]that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel. . . that [s] Rom. xi. 33, 34.
[Z] Phil. iii. 8.  Coloff. ii. 2.
laj Coloss. iv. 3, 4. [u] Ibid. i. 27.
[b] Ephes. iii. 8, [x] 1 Cor. ii, 12, 16.
[c] 2 Cor. v. 20. Vy] Ibid. ii. 2,
d) Eph, vi. 19, 20.
therein I may speak boldly. And the same apostle declares in another place, that all things are of God, who hath reconciled us unto himself by Jesus Christ, (e)and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.
When can preachers say truly to their hearers, [f] Now then we are embassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us. . . [g] We speak before God in Christ, or rather, [h] it is Jesus Christ speaks in us, unless when the truths they declare, and the proofs by which they support them, are drawn from the Sacred Writings, and are warranted from God's word? These are likewise infinitely fruitful, whether we desire to inculcate tenets, or to explain mysteries; or would unfold the principles of morality, or censure vices. [i] All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
. It nust be confessed, that the truths which are declared to Christians, are much stronger, and make a much greater impression, when they are thus invested with the divine authority; because every man, at the same time that he has an idea of the Deity, has naturally a veneration for him. Besides, these truths take much deeper root in the mind, when they are joined with some passages of Scripture, the sense and energy of which have been shewn. The hearer may have the text explained, before his eyes, which makes him much more attentive; at least he has it at hane, and, by reading it, he easily recals whatever was said to explain it. But a bare citation, often very short, and of which the auditor has seldom notice, passes away with great rapidity, leaves no trace behind it, and is lost and confounded in the rest of the discourse. We cannot expect much fruit from instructions, when they are founded merely on human reasons.
[+] 2 Cor. V. 15
[%] Ibid. xiii. 3.
“ One might follow, says the archbishop of Cam" bray, in his Dialogues on Eloquence, where he lays “ down excellent rules for preaching; one might "follow many preachers twenty years, and not be “ instructed in religion in the manner we ought. I “ have often observed, says he elsewhere, that there " is no art or science but is taught from principles,
and methodically; whilst religion only is not taught "after that method. A little dry catechism, which
they do not understand, is given them in their in“fant years to learn by heart; after which, they have
no other instructions but what they can gather from “ loose indigested sermons.
I wish that Christians were taught the first elements of their religion, and were instructed with order and method to the high
est mysteries. This was the practise of the earlier "ages of the church. Ministers used to begin with
catechisms, after which they taught the Gospel re“gularly by homilies, whereby Christians became "perfectly acquainted with the whole word of God."
In this manner pastors taught anciently their flocks; and the chief preparation they judged necessary for this important duty, which they looked upon with great terror, was the study of the Sacred Writings. I shall content myself with citing here the testimony and example of St. Austin. Valerius his bishop had ordained him priest, almost in spite of himself, in the view chiefly of making him exercise the ministry of preaching; and indeed he a little after obliges him to it
. Who can express the fears, the inquietudes and alarms, with which St. Austin was seized at the sight of this function? And yet many look upon it as a sport, though this great man trembled at it. But what was wanting in him, either with regard to genius, or the knowledge necessary in a preacher! And this his bishop represented to him. [k] He himself owns, that he was wellenough acquainted with all those things which relate to religion; but then he imagined, that he was not sufficiently able to distribute those [k] Epift. xxi. ad. Valer,
truths to others, so as to conduce to their salvation; and this made him request so earnestly, that some time at least might be allowed him, in order to prepare himself for it, by the study of the Holy Scriptures
, by prayer, and by tears. “But if, says he, in bis “ beautiful petition to his bishop, after having learn“ed from experience the qualifications required in a
man who is intrusted with the dispensation of the “ sacraments and of the word of God, you will not “allow me time to acquire what I am sensible is want“ing in myself, you would then have me perish. “ Valerius, my dear father, where is your love and
charity? ... For what answer shall I be able to “ make to the Lord, when he will judge me? Shall " I tell him, that, after I had once accepted of eccle“siastical employments, it was not possible for me to “inform myself in those things which were necessary “ to enable me to discharge them as I ought?"
All that St. Austin thought on this subject, the several fathers of the church, who were charged with the ministry of preaching, have thought and practised in the same manner: St Basil, St. Gregory Nazienzen, St. Chrysostoin, did thus, and pointed out the same course to their successors. This study therefore is necessary to all, and may be of vast use. There are a great number of clergymen, who, though of small abilitiesin other respects, are appointed however to instruct children, the common people or peasants, whom the bare study of the Holy Scriptures, and especially of the New Testament, will enable to acquit successfully of their duty; and in whom this study, if carefully followed, will supply what they may want with regard to learning and Eloquence. [l] St. Austin advises, that the poorer they find themselves, the more they ought to borrow the riches of the Scriptures; that they should take from these an authority they could never have had for themselves, by enforcing
[!] Quanto se pauperiorem cernit priis verbis minor erat, magnorum in suis tanto eum oportet in iştis testimonio quodammodo crescat. esse ditiorem: ut quod dixerit suis De Doct. Chr. 1.4. C. 3. verbis, probet ex illis ; & qui pro.
their own words for their testimony; and that they should find in their greatness and strength, the means to grow in strength of mind, and to fortify themselves by those divine aids.
THE STUDY OF THE FATHERS, But, in order to discharge the more worthily so sublime and important a ministry, we must join to the study of Sacred Writings, that of the doctors of the church, who are the true interpreters of it, and whom Christ
, the sole sovereign of men, condescended to associate in that honourable quality, by enlightening them particularly with his word.
The Eloquence of the Pulpit has an advantage over that of the bar, which is not sufficiently valued, nor, in my opinion, sufficiently practised. In the latter, the orator draws almost every thing he is to say, from his own understanding. He may make use of some thoughts, and some turns, borrowed from the ancients, but then he is not allowed to copy them; and though he were allowed this, his subject would seldom admit of it. But it is otherwise with a preacher; for, what subject soever he may treat, a spacious field is open to him in the Greek and Latin fathers, where he is sure to find all the most just and solid particulars which can be said on the same head; not only principles and their consequences; truths, and the proofs of them; the rules, and their application; but even very often the thoughts and turns; insomuch, than an orator of no great abilities is on a sudden enriched by the wealth of others, which becomes in some measure his own by the use he makes of it. And so far from its being a crime in him to adorn himself thus with these precious spoils; he ought, on the contrary, to be censured, in case he presumed to prefer his own thoughts to those of such great men, who, by a peculiar priyilege, were destined to instruct all ages and nations after their death.
I do not pretend, in speaking thus, to gonfine thelaþour of preachers to extracting the most beautiful pas