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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 know. 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 form
ed 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 proying 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 tropes and figures are derived, which have such a marvellous efficacy in rousing the passions, and, by some secret, sudden and inexplicable association, awakening all the tenderest emotions of the heart. In that case, the address of the orator is intended not ultimately, to astonish by the loftiness of the images, or to charm by the beauteous resemblance, which the painting bears to nature, nay it will not permit the hearers eyen a moment's leisure for making the comparison, but as by some magical spell, hurries them, before they are aware, into love, pity, grief, terror, aversion or desire. It therefore assumes the denomination of pathetic, which is the characteristic of the third species of discourses, that are addressed to the passions.
The fourth and last kind, the most complex of all, which is calculated to influence the will, and persuade to action, as it is in reality an artful mixture of that which proposeth to convince the judgment, and that which interests the passions, its distinguishing excellency results from these two, the argumentative and the pathetic incorporated together. These acting with united force, constitute that vehemence, that warm eviction, that earnest and affecting contention, which is admirably fitted for persuasion, and hath always been regarded as the supreme qualification in an orator. Of the four sorts of discourses now enumerated it
may be observed in general, that each preceding species, in the order above exhibited, is preparatory to the subsequent, that each subsequent species is founded on the preceding, and that thus they ascend in a regular progression. Knowledge, the object of the understanding, furnisheth materials for the fancy; the fancy culls, compounds, and by her mimic art disposes these ma
terials so as to affect the passions ; the passions are the natural spurs to volition or action, and so need only to be right directed. So much in general for the different kinds of discourses on whatever subject, from the bare consideration of the object addressed, understanding, imagination, passion, will, and those fundamental principles of eloquence in the largest acceptation which result from these. But as the kind addressed to the understanding, has been subdivided into two, that which barely explains, and that which proves, I shall henceforth consider them as five in number.
I come now to apply these universal principles to the particular subject, with which we are immediately concerned. It hath been occasionally observed, oftener than once, that the reformation of mankind is the great and ultimate end of the whole ministerial function, and especially of this particular branch, preaching or discoursing from the pulpit. But it is not necessary, that the ultimate end of the whole should be the immedi
of every part. It is enough, that the imme. diate scope of the part be such, that the attainment of it is manifestly a step towards the ultimate end of the whole. In other words, the former ought always to serve as a means for the effecting of the latter. Let us proceed in considering the propriety of particular and immediate ends by this rule.
First then, in order to effect the reformation of men, that is, in order to bring them to a right disposition and practice, there are some things which of necessity they must be made to know. No one will question, that the knowledge of the nature and exent of the duties which they are required to practise, and of the truths and doctrines which serve as motives to practice, is ab