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planatory discourse, from what would suit a controver. sial one. Doctrine is the general subject of both dis. courses. In the one it is explained, in the other it is proved. The direct aim of the first is knowledge, but then the conviction or belief is taken for granted. The direct aim of the second is conviction. In both, the proper application is the influence which the know. ledge and belief of such a truth ought to have on our disposition and on our practice. Perhaps in the con
clusion of controversial discussions, it might not be ' amiss to offer some observations with a view to moderate the unchristian animosities, which differences on these articles sometimes occasion among those, wbo all profess themselves to be the disciples of the same Master, and to shew in general that error is more properly a ground of pity than of indignation.
of Commendatory Discourses, or those addressed to the Imagination..
We have now discussed the discourses addressed to the understanding, those two especially, the explanatory, whose end is information, by dispelling igno. rance, and the controversial, whose end is conviction, by vanquishing doubt or error. I come now to that species which is addressed to the imagination. For as one way, and indeed a very powerful way, of recommending religion is by example, it must be conducive to the general end of preaching above mentioned, to make it sometimes the scope of a sermon, to exhibit properly any known good character of a person now deceased, by giving a lively narrative of his life, or of any signal period of his life, or an account of any par. ticular virtue, as illustrated through the different periods of his life. For performances of this kind, the history of our Lord affords the richest fund of matter. In like manner, the lives of the saints recorded in scripture, the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles and the martyrs, such at least with which, from the accounts given in holy writ, we have it in our power to be acquainted, make very proper subjects. Add to these, deceased persons eminent for virtue and piety, whose characters are well known to the people ad. dressed. Panegyrics of this kind on departed friends were more in use formerly, and commonly distinguished by the name of funeral orations. As praise of this kind was however, sometimes prostituted, and as the usage itself in certain circumstances exposed the preacher to the temptation of making a sacrifice of truth from motives of interest, it is perhaps, upon the whole, no disadvantage to the ministerial character, that the practice is, in this country, almost entirely laid aside, and that we are now very niuch confined in this respect to the examples which the sacred canon presents us with. Now to do justice to the respectable qualities and worthy actions of the good, is to present the audience with a beauteous and animated pattern of christian excellence, which, by operating on their admiration and love, raiseth in their minds a pious emulation. That we are, without attending to it, induced to imitate what we admire and love, will not admit a question. It might not want its use, though scripture hath not afforded here so large foundation or so ample materials, to delineate sometimes, in proper colours, the conduct of the vicious, with its natural consequences, in order to excite a proper degree of horror and detestation against vice. But this, it must be owned, would require to be handled still more tenderly. It is our duty to love and esteem the virtuous, but not to hate and abhor the vicious. Our hatred and abhorrence ought to be pointed only against vice, but not against the persons addicted to it; whom, in pity, we ought rather to study to reclaim. And though the individuals themselves should be dead, and con
sequently in this respect beyond our power,
whatever bears the odious appearance of calumny and personal invective is quite unbecoming the pulpit. Exhibitions in either way from the pulpit form that species of discourses, which falls under the third class above enume. rated. They are addressed to the fancy, and their scope is to promote piety and virtue by insinuation, that is by the gentle but efficacious influence of exam. ple. Discourses of this kind were distinguished among the ancients by the name demonstrative ; but as that word in our language is rather equivocal, I have chosen to denominate them, commendatory, from the purpose to which they are most commonly applied.
In regard to the choice of a text, as there is here sometimes greater difficulty of uniting all the qualities, which were formerly mentioned, as characteristical of a proper text, greater indulgence must be given. At any rate, let it be perspicuous and expressive of the happiness or amiableness of a well spent life, or of those virtues which the discourse itself will give principal scope for extolling. An appositeness to the individual person, who is the subject of the sermon, when it is a funeral oration, cannot be had, and therefore, an appositeness to the character is all that can be sought. When the person, who is the subject, is one of the scripture saints, it is better to choose for a text some passage, wherein he in particular is spoken of. As to the introduction or exordium, there does not seem to be any thing very special requisite in this kind. The common qualities that ought to affect introductions in general have equally place here. They should be calculated to render the hearers attentive, docile and benevolent.
With regard to the explanation of the text and context, unless they could in some way contribute to the illustration of the character, which is the subject of the eulogy, it were better not to attempt it. If the text be sufficiently perspicuous and apposite, there can be no necessity; and there is no sort of discourse to which any thing, that has the remotest appearance of verbal criticism, is worse adapted than to this. The design of the sermon should be proposed with simplicity and distinctness. One may add the mention of the method, in which it may be thought proper to prosecute the subject, unless it shall appear to be so simple and natural, as to render even the bare intimation of it superfluous.
As to the method in which the different parts should be digested and arranged, that may be different as suits the particular taste and talents of the speaker, or as suits best the materials he hath to work upon. All the methods that occur to me for treating subjects of this kind, may be reduced to the three following. First the order of time may be followed. This method I shall call the historical. If this be the disposition adopt. ed, there can be no question as to what should precede and what should succeed in the discourse. If there be much ground to go upon, it may not be amiss, for the ease of the memory, to divide the life you are to re. commend as a pattern, into certain distinct periods, proposing to consider each severally in its order. If the materials you are supplied with for this purpose are not very plentiful, or if, whatever has been remarkable in the person's life which can be of any service to you, is comprised within a narrow compass of time, it will be better to follow the natural order, without using