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natives. You go, I shall first suppose, without knowing any thing of the language of the country. In all the affairs you have to transact with the inhabitants, as you find yourself unable to convey to them directly your sentiments, or to apprehend theirs, in the only manner they are able to communicate them; as you daily receive letters, which you cannot read, or give a return to, in a language that can be read by them, you are compelled every moment to have recourse to interpreters, a method extremely cumbersome, tedious, and dangerous at the best. You are entirely at the mercy of those interpreters; their want of knowledge, or their want of honesty, may be equally prejudicial to you. A very slight blunder of their's, arising from an imperfect acquaintance with either language, may be productive of consequences the most ruinous to your affairs. Let us now again suppose you take a different method. You make it your first object to study the language, and are become a tolerable proficient in it, before you go abroad, or at least before you enter on any important business with the natives. This, though a harder task at first setting out, greatly facilitates your intercourse with the people afterwards, and gives you a certain security and independence in all your transactions with them, which it is impossible you could ever have otherwise enjoyed. You may then occasionally and safely, where any doubt ariseth, consult an interpreter; the resources in point of knowledge, which you have provided for yourself, will prove a sufficient check on him, to prevent his having it in his power to deceive you in a matter of moment. I shall leave you, gentlemen, to make the application of these two suppositions at your leisure.
ON PULPIT ELOQUENCE.
Importance of the Study, and Objections against it answered.... Helps for the attainment of the Art.
It is not enough for the christian minister, that he be instructed in the science of theology, unless he has the skill to apply his knowledge, to answer the different purposes of the pastoral charge. And the first thing, that on this article seems to merit our attention, is the consideration of the minister, in the character of a public speaker; and that, both in his addresses to God on the part of the people in worship, and his addresses to the people on the part of God in preaching. Of the importance of this last part of the character, as a public teacher, no one can reasonably doubt, who considers that it was one great part, if not the principal part of the charge which the apostles received from our Lord, Math. xxviii. 19, 20, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." And again, Mark xvi. 15, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." And with
out derogating from those solemn institutions of our religion, which in after times came to be denominated sacraments, preaching may in one view, at least, be said to be of more consequence than they, in as much as a suitable discharge of the business of a teacher undoubtedly requires abilities superior to those requisite for the proper performance of the other, a part in comparison merely ministerial or official. It is besides the great means of conversion as well as of edification. "Faith cometh by hearing," says the apostle. The ministry of our Lord, to his kinsmen the Jews, consisted chiefly in teaching; for the evangelist John iv. 2, expressly tells us that Jesus baptized none; this, as comparatively an underwork, was entrusted entirely to his disciples. And the apostle Paul acquaints the Corinthians i. 1, 17, that Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel; that the latter and not the former was the principal end of his mission. When it pleased God by the conversion of Cornelius the Roman centurion to open the door of faith to the Gentiles, no less a person than Peter the first of the apostolical college was selected for announcing to him and his family the gospel of Christ; but after they were converted by his preaching, the apostle did not consider it as any impropriety to commit the care of baptizing them to meaner hands. "He (that is, Peter,) commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Acts x. 48. What hath been said however, is by no means intended to arraign the propriety of limiting to a lower number, in churches which are already constituted, the power of dispensing the sacraments, than is done in regard to the power of preaching. The near connection which the former has with discipline
and order in a christian society already established, affords a very good reason for this difference. But if teaching is a matter of so much consequence, and if the proper discharge of this duty is a matter of principal difficulty, it ought doubtless to employ a considerable part of the student's time and attention that he may be properly prepared for it. Indeed it may be said, that the study of the science of theology is itself a preparation, and in part it no doubt is so, as it furnishes him with the materials; but the materials alone will not serve his purpose, unless he has acquired the art of using them. And it is this art in preaching which I denominate christian or pulpit eloquence. To know is one thing; and to be capable of communicating knowledge is another.
I am sensible however, that there are many pious christians, who are startled at the name of eloquence when applied to the christian teacher; they are disposed to consider it as setting an office, which in its nature is spiritual, and in its origin divine, too much on a footing with those which are merely human and secular. And this turn of thinking I have always found to proceed from one or other of these two causes; either from a mistake of what is meant by eloquence, or from a misapprehension of some passages of holy writ in relation to the sacred function. First, it arises from a mistaken notion of the import of the word. It often happens both among philosophers and divines that violent and endless disputes are carried on by adverse parties, which, were they to begin by settling a definition of the term whereon the question turns, would vanish in an instant. Were these people then, who appear to differ from us, on the propriety of em
ploying eloquence, to give an explication of the ideas they comprehend under the term eloquence or oratory, we should doubtless get from them some such account as this, a knack, or artifice by which the periods of a discourse are curiously and harmoniously strung together, decorated with many flowery images, the whole entirely calculated to set off the speaker's art by pleasing the ear and amusing the fancy of the hearers, but by no means calculated either to inform their understandings or to engage their hearts. Perhaps those people will be surprised, when I tell them, that commonly no discourses whatever, not even the homeliest, have less of true eloquence, than such frothy harangues, as perfectly suit their definition. If this, then, is all they mean to inveigh against under the name eloquence, I will join issue with them with all my heart. Nothing can be less worthy the study or attention of a wise man, and much more may this be said of a christian pastor, than such a futile acquisition as that above described. But if, on the contrary, nothing else is meant by eloquence, in the use of all the wisest and the best who have written on the subject, but that art or talent, whereby the speech is adapted to produce in the hearer the great end which the speaker has, or at least ought to have principally in view, it is impossible to doubt the utility of the study; unless people will be absurd enough to question, whether there be any dif ference between speaking to the purpose and speak. ing from the purpose, expressing one's self intelligibly or unintelligibly, reasoning in a manner that is conclusive and satisfactory, or in such a way as can convince nobody, fixing the attention and moving the