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sation. And of this kind, we should say, as of the former, it is not recommending poverty and inferiority in point of birth to our estimation, but it is exhibiting a pattern to the poor and ignoble, whereby they may be instructed, how to convert such apparent evils into real occasions of improving their virtues, and of rendering these more than a sufficient compensation for every want.
The ancient rhetoricians, though not so delicate on this point as christian teachers ought to be, were yet sensible, that this was the best use that could be made of fortuitous advantages or disadvantages. Thus Quintilian “ Et corporis quidem, fortuitorumque, cum levior, tum non uno modo tractanda laus est. Interim confert admirationi multum etiam infirmitas, ut cum Homerus, Tydea parvum sed bellatorem dicit fuisse. Fortuna vero cum dignitatem affert (namque est hæc materia ostendendæ virtutis uberior) tum quo minores opes fuerunt, eo majorem benefactis gloriam parit.” The following sentiment is indeed excellent, and well deserves our attention. “Sed omnia quæ extra nos bona sunt, quæque hominibus forte obtigerunt, non ideo laudantur, quod habuerit qui eas, sed quod his honeste sit usus. Nam divitiæ et potentia et gratia, cum plurimum virium dent in utramque partem, certissimum faciunt morum experimentum : aut enim meliores propter hæc, aut pejores sumus.”
In regard to this species of discourse, as the immediate object is to please by presenting to the imagination a beautiful and finished picture in suitable colouring, it admits, from the nature of it, more of ornament, than any other kind delivered from the pulpit. There are few of the tropes and figures of eloquence, that may not properly find admission here. This is a kind of moral painting ; and greater allowance is made for introducing things which serve merely the purpose
of decoration, when the immediate object is to delight. Here too there is generally more indulgence in point of style, than can be admitted in any other species of sermon. In respect of flowers and harmony, this kind borders even on the poetical. Yet still it must be remembered, that this indulgence hath its bound. Whatever soars above the reach of the congregation, whatever appears either unintelligible or affected, is still faulty and offensive. I observe further that in regard to the very ornaments, of which the different sorts of discourses are susceptible, such as metaphors, comparisons, examples, these in the thoughts, as well as in the language, should be different in the different kinds. In the explanatory, all the borrowed illustrations and similitudes ought to be from things familiar and simple, as well as exhibited in a distinct and easy
In the controversial kind the simplicity and perspicuity of the decorations, though still of consequence, are not so much regarded, as a certain forcible manner of impressing the imagination, so as to carry conviction along with them. The similes here ought to be all a kind of analogical argument. Again, in the commendatory discourses, whose end is neither to inform nor to convince, but to please, the principal quality in the fund of the imagery to be employed is its beauty. No metaphor, however like or apposite, ought ever to be admitted here, that is not taken from an agreeable object. Under the general term agreeable, I must be understood to comprehend, not only the beautiful strictly so called, but also the grand, the sublime, the wonderful and the new, if with these
qualities there be not connected any thing that is disagreeable, mean, ugly or deformed.
As to the manner of concluding discourses of this kind, any one, or two, or even all of the three following may be adopted, according as the preacher shall judge most suitable, to the time, the subject and the occasion. First, you may make out, from the actions and behaviour you have been delineating, a clear and distinct character of the person. Or secondly, you may introduce a contrast between the conduct of the person commended in some of the most memorable instances, and that which there is reason to believe would be followed, or which commonly is followed by the generality, even of professing christians, in the like circumstances. Or thirdly, you may conclude with a more direct application to the passionis of the hearers, in or. der to excite in them a generous ardour to be themselves, what they cannot contemplate or behold without admiring. The first of these methods is far the most difficult. To draw a character, which shall be at once both just and striking, which shall set the different features in the most conspicuous point of view, that shall mark not only the exact turn of each, but the manner wherein they limit and set off one another, requires indeed the delicate hand of a master in the rhetorical art. It is attempted by every dabbler in historiography ;, but it is not one of a hundred that succeeds. Let it be observed, that a character thus introduced in the conclusion of a sermon of this kind, ought in every part of it to be manifestly supported by the particular actions and conduct delineated in the discourse, and should serve to recal to the memory and impress on it more strongly those particulars. As
to the manner, a good deal of care and attention is ne. cessary. The prevailing taste at present seems to be, to give the whole in a string of antitheses, the great dexterity of which consists in this, to make the contrasted members come as vear as possible contradicting one another, and yet escape being really contradictory. Very often they do not escape this. But though I do by no means blame the use of antithesis in drawing characters, a matter of particular nicety, in as much as in this way, when well executed, the precise boun. daries of the different traits are more precisely ascertained, yet a continued train of this figure through successive sentences, however well it may pass in history, has by far too artificial and elaborate an appearance to suit the seriousness and the simplicity of the pulpit diction. As much conciseness, as can be rendered consistent with perspicuity, is very suitable here.
The second kind of conclusion mentioned, by a contrast between the conduct delineated and that of others, is often a very pertinent application of the subject, in as much as it makes the virtues of another serve as a mirrour to the hearers wherein they may discover their own vices and defects. It deserves only to be observed further on this article, that it is not necessary, that this part should be confined to the conclusion. When any thing noble, generous, humane or pious is illustrated in the discourse, as displayed on any signal occasion, it may very properly be contrasted with the conduct, either of any real character on record, or of what we know from experience to be the conduct of the majority of christians. And this may be done in any part of the discourse. It is only when the narrative is both very affecting, and excites such an anxiety in the hearer for obtaining the sequel of the story and knowing the issue, that it is better not to interrupt the thread of the narration, but to reserve any intended contrast to the conclusion. When a contrast can be found in true history, it generally answers better, than when it is merely hypothetical, founded in common experience.
The third method of concluding, by an address to the passions of the hearers, is the most common. This may be either general and have a relation to the whole, or it may consist of two or more particular addresses, referring respectively to the different virtues celebrated, or to some of the most memorable actions related in the discourse. Thus much may be said in general of all these different kinds, that no observation made, or motive urged here can be called apposite, unless it have a manifest reference to, and be founded in the facts related and the virtues celebrated in some part or other of the body of the discourse.
I must further observe, that the pathetic is more easily attained, and that the transition to it appears more natural in the conclusion of a commendatory sermon, than in that, either of an explanatory discourse, or of a controversial. In these two kinds, during the whole tenour of the discourse, which is of a nature merely speculative, the understanding and memory only are exerted, as the whole consists either in explanations or in reasonings. This is rather unfavourable for emotion, and it requires a good deal of address to pass successfully from the one to the other. The mind cannot all at once from a state of perfect coolness, enter with warmth and keenness into the views of the speaker. It behoves him therefore, in beginning