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that is very painful to themselves, and by necessary consequence, grating to their hearers. It will require much care, attention and even practice to prevent thiş evil. It will not a little contribute to this end, that
diligently observe the following direction, the third I am to give on this subject, which is that ye always begin by speaking very deliberately and rather slowly. Even a drawling pronunciation, in the introduction of a discourse, is more pardonable than a rapid one. Most subjects will require that ye grow somewhat quicker as you advance. But of all things be careful to avoid that uniform rapidity of utterance, which is very unattractive, as having the evident marks of repeating a lesson by rote, which is so great an enemy to all emphasis and distinction in pronouncing, and which, besides, even to the most attentive hearer, throws out the things delivered faster than his mind is able to receive them. The fourth and last direction I shall give, is what was hinted already, frequent practising in reading, speaking and repeating before ore sensible companion at the least, or more where they may be had, who should be encouraged to offer with freedom and candour such remarks and censures as have occurred. So much for the general rules of rhetorical pronunciation in preaching. A great deal more might be profitably offered; but where such a multiplicity of subjects demand our attention and a share of our time, a great deal on each must be left to your own application and diligence.
Discourses distributed into various kinds, as addressed to the Understand
ing, the Imagination, the Passions, and the Will.
PROCEED, in the third place, to inquire into the various kinds of discourses, which the christian eloquence admits, and the rules in regard to composition, that ought to be followed in each. Before I enter on it, I will take the freedom to digress a little, and give you a brief account of the origin of the plan, that I am going to lay before you, which may be regarded as the outline of an institute of pulpit eloquence. When I was myself a student of divinity in this place, there were about seven or eight of us fellow students, who, as we lived mostly in the town, formed ourselves into a society, the great object of which was our mutual improvement, both in the knowledge of the theory of theology, and also in whatever might be conducive to qualify us for the practical part or duties of the pastoral function. We added to our original number, as we found occasion, from time to time, for our society subsisted a good many years. Several valuable members have already finished the part assigned them by Providence on this stage. As to those who remain, I shall only say, in general, that they are all men of consideration and character in the church. I should not
have been so particular, but that I would gladly by the way recommend the practice of forming such small societies, when it can conveniently be accomplished. I can assure you from my own experience, that when there is a proper choice of persons, an entire confidence in one another, and a real disposition to be mutually useful, it is one of the most powerful means of improvement that I kħow. Amongst other things discussed in this small society, one was, an inquiry into the nature of sermons and other discourses proper for the pulpit, the different kinds into which they might fitly be distributed, and the rules of composition that suit. ed each. On this subject we had several conversations. When these were over, I had the task assigned me to make out a short sketch or abstract of the whole. This, I the more readily undertook, as it had been, for some time before, a favourite study of mine, having, when qualifying myself for another business, given some attention to the forensic oratory of the ancients, and having afterwards remarked both the analogies and differences between it and the christian eloquence. Of this abstract, every one who chose it took a copy; and as we had no object but general usefulness, every one was at liberty to communicate it to whom he pleased. I have a copy of this still in my possession, and as in the main I am at present of the same sentiments, I shall freely use it in the lectures I am to give on this subject. At the same time I do not intend servilely to follow it, but shall make such alterations as I shall see cause ; for I acknowledge, that further experience hath made me in some particulars change my opinion. Besides suggesting to you the advantages that may redound from such small societies formed among students for mutual improvement, I had another reason for prefacing my prelections on the composition of pulpit discourses with this anecdote, which was, that I might not appear to arrogate more merit than truly belonged to me. To come therefore to the point in hand; it was observed in a former lecture that the word eloquence, in its greatest latitude, denotes that art or talent by which the discourse is adapted to its end. Now all the legitimate ends of speaking, whatever be the subject, you will find, if you attend to it, are reducible to these four. Every speech hath, or ought to have, for its professed aim, either to enlighten the understanding, to please the imagination, to move the passions, or to influence the will.
The first of these may be subdivided into two others. When a speaker addresseth himself to the understanding, he proposes the instruction of his hearers, and that, either by explaining some doctrine unknown or not distinctly comprehended by them, or by proving some position disbelieved or doubted by them. In other words, he proposeth either to dispel ignorance or to vanquish error. In the one, his aim is their information, in the other, their conviction. Accordingly the predominant quality of the former is perspicuity, of the latter argument. By that, we are made to know; by this, to believe.
The name of address to the imagination may seem at first, to some hearers, to convey a notion of too much levity, to be a suitable characteristic of any thing which ought to come from the pulpit. But this is a mere prejudice, arising from an unfavourable sense that is sometimes put upon the word imagination, as opposed to truth and reality. Whereas with us, it
only means that faculty of the mind, whereby it is capable of conceiving and combining things together, which in that combination have neither been perceived by the senses, nor are remembered. Now in that acceptation of the word, let it be observed, that all fables, apologues, parables, and allegories are addressed to the imagination. Poetry, for the most part, both sacred and profane, is an address of this sort; in like manner all prophecy. Indeed in the Jewish idiom poetry and prophecy were synonymous terms. Hence it is, that the apostle Paul speaking of the Cretans, does not scruple to call one of their poets, though a pagan, a prophet of their own. This only by the way, in order to remove any dislike or unfavourable prepossession which may be occasioned by the name.
In regard to preaching, the only subject with which we are at present concerned, the imagination is addressed, by exhibiting to it a lively and beautiful representation of a suitable object. As in this exhibition the task of the orator, like that of the painter, consisteth in imitation, the merit of the work results entirely from these two sources, dignity as well in the subject or thing imitated, as in the manner of imitation, and resemblance in the performance or picture. The principal scope for this kind of address is in narration and description, and it attains the summit of perfection in what is called the sublime, or those great and noble images, which, when in suitable colouring presented to the mind, do, as it were, distend the imagination, and delight the soul, as with something superlatively excellent. But it is evident, that this creative faculty the fancy frequently lends her aid in promoting still nobler ends. From her exuberant stores, most of those