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following Work was published separately: the first volume, containing Claude's Effay, with the Sermon on the Gospel Mellage, and the four Skeletons which are annexed to that Seimon for the purpose of briefly illubrating Claude's Esay, and the first hundred of the Skeletons, was published first ; and patsed through three Editions. The other four volumes followed'In the Prefaces belonging to the different.parts of the Work, the Author tiated all that he judged neceffary for explaining his views of compolition in general, or of the doctrines which he has delivered in his own compositions in particular. And that his sentiments may no longer be detached, he now presents them to the Reader in one view, but under diftinét heads.
1. Ii hij the Author publifhed Claude's Elay.
THIS Effay on the Composition of a Sermon was originally written by the llev. Jolin Claude, a minister of the reformed religion in France, who preached upwards of forty years with great acceptance, firit at St. Afrique,
* The author renews, with unfrigned gratitude, his former acknowledgement of the very kind and liberal atlitiance, which he received from the Univerity in the firii publication of this work : and if any thing could have itimulated him to greater exertion in preparing it for le press, it would have been the desire he felt of rendering it not alto-; gether unworthy of their patronage.
He is proceeding in a similar work, which will be posthumous: but whether as an whole he live to fast it or not, every distinct Skeleton will be left, without any further correction, ready for the press. Vol. I,
afterwards at Nismes, and lastly at Charenton. It was translated from the French, and published in the year 1778, by the Reverend Robert Robinson, who also was a man of very considerable erudition, and who presided over a differting congregation in Cambridge. The Eflay itself appears admirably calculated to answer the end proposed: but, it must be confeffed, the Notes which the Translator has added, and which are at least four times as large as the original work, are not altogether fo unexceptionable as might be wished. The compiler says in his preface (which will enable us to form a pretty accurate judgment of the whole), “ The following short Eflay was published it its present form for the ufe of those ftudious minifters in our protestant diffenting churches, who have not enjoyed the advantage of a regular academical education. He afterwards informs us, that he "translated the Effay for his own edification; then added several quotations, intending them for finall exercises for one of his fons; and that, ten years afterwards, having prained his ancle, he improved the leiture which this accident occasioned, in preparing this book for publication.” And then he concludes with faying, “ This plain tale is the best account I can give of a work, which it might have appeared arrogant in me to publith, and of a collection of notes, which mujt seem an odd farrago, unless the different views of the compiler at different times be considered."
It would be invidious and unbecoming to figyelt any thing unneccitarily that should depreciate the coinpiler's merit. But it will be expected that tome reason thould be affigned for the omiffion of almoft all his notes. We are under the neceflity therefore of obferving (what any perfon who reads a single page of them must see) that they were compiled for “ dissenting minifters;" and that, after making all poflible allowance for the views of the compiler, they are indeed “ AN ODD FARRAGO."
” But a far more ferious ground of objcction against them is, that they are replete with levity, and teeming with acrimonỳ againit the efiablished Church. The preface itself, short as it is, will afford us but too just a speciinen, both of the matter contained in them, and of tlie spirit which they breathe throughout. “ I vill venture to affirm, fays Mr. Robin
fon, in spite of Lord Clarendon, and Dr. Burn, that we have not a brother so ignorant, and so impudent, as to dare to preach to seven old women in an hogstie, what Doctors and Bishops have preached before Universities and Kings.'
The reader may judge from hence of some out of many reasons, which induce the Editor, as a minister of the establithed Church, to publish this Essay without the incumbrances with which the translator had loaded it. There can be little doubt but that the notes have prevented many from perusing it, who inight otherwise have been much profited by its contents: and it is hoped, that, now it is sent forth in its native dress, and inay be read without exciting either bigotry or disgult, it will become an object of more general attention.
II. Why he annered the Gospel Nefage und the
Four Skeletons to it.
THE various methods, which Mr. Claude 'has proposed for the treating of different subjects, are all exemplified in the Skeletons annexed to his Eftay. But the particular topics, which he mentions as Sources of Invention, may be rendered more profitable by being brought into one view. And the different modes of treating subjects, which he suggests, may be more clearly understood, by being all exemplified on One Text. This idea having occurred to the Author's inind, he has maturely weighed it; and the more it engaged his attention, the more firmly he was persuaded of the utility of carrying it into effect
. But he was aware, that, to propole a text in four different points of view, without introducing any material repetitions, was 110 easy matter. If indeed lie had chosen to take leparate parts of the text for the several discourses, he would have found it eaiy enough to avoid the most diftant approach to tautology: but such a mode of difcufling lubjects he does not altegether approve: the principal points in every text ought, in his judgment, to be the leading features of the discourse formed upon it. and upon that principle he has conftruEted the Skeletons which are annexed to this Sermon. Another and a far greater difficulty, was to include no less than twenty-Seven different topics in one discourse, and yet to preserve (what
no sermon should want) unity and perspicuity tlıroughout. But being very folicitous that nothing thould be omitted which could contribute to the perfection and usefulness of that invaluable Effay, he has 'made the attempt: with what success he leaves to a candid Public to determine. He begs the Reader, however, to take notice, that the introducing af all the topics into one discourse is a thing by no means to be imitated. It is done here only with an intention to set in a clear light the nature and use of those topics. In fact, a person who would write a judicious discourte, must not only not undertake to bring in every topic, but he must not fetter himlelf by an endeavour to illustrate any topic. He must consult the nature of the text or fubject he is discussing, and must follow whithersoever that may lead him. The mind filled with any subject, will naturally suggest such topics as are most calculated to reflect light upon it: whereas a regard to this or that particnlar topic will be very likely to render the discourse incoherent and confused.
III. The Nature and Intent of his own Skeletons.
INSTRUCTION relative to the Composition of Sermons is of great importance, not only to Ministers but, eventually, to the community at large. And it were much to be withed that inore regard ucre paid to this in the education of thole who are intended for the minittry. It has sometimes been recommended to the younger Clergy to tranfcribe printed Sermons for a feason, till they thall have attained an ability to compose their own. And it is to be lamented, that this advice has been too strictly followed : for, when they have once formed this habit, they find it very difficult to relinquish it: the transition from copying to composing of Sermons is so great, that they are too oiten discouraged in their first attempts, and induced, from the difficulty they experience in writing their own Sermons, to rest satisfied in preaching those of others. Hence has arifen that disgraceful traffic in printed Sermons, which instead of meeting with encouragement from the clergy, ought to have excited univerfal indignation. To remore, as far as possible, these difficulties from young
beginners, is the intent of these Skeletons. The direc tions given in Mr. Claude's Elay on the Composition of a Sermon, which is prefixed to these Skeletons, cannot fail of being helpful to every one who will study them with care: but there appears to be fomething further wanted; fomething of an intermediate kind between a didactic Eflay like Claude's, and a complete Sermon; fomething, which may fimplify the theory, and, fet it in a practical light. Mr. Claude himself iias interspersed several sketches, with a view to illuttrate the different parts of his Eflay: but these, though suited to the end which he proposed, are not fufficiently full to sublerve the purpose of which we are now speaking.
A scheme, or Skeleton of a discourse, is that species of composition to which we refer. It flould be not merely a sketch or outline, but a fuller draft, containing all the component parts of a Sermon, and all the ideas necessary for the illuftration of them, at the same time that it leaves fcope for the exercise of industry and genius in him who uses it. The pious and learned Bithop Beveridge has written four volumes of such Skeletons, under the title of “Thefaurus Theologicas:” and if the Author had intended them for publication, he would probably have lo completed his design as to fuperiede the necessity of any fimilar work. Even if the Editor had ditpored the materials in a more judicious method, they would have appeared to much greater advantage. That fo great a Divine Thould write so many compofitions of that kind jclely for his own use is a clear demonftration of his judgment with respect to the utility of them in general : and the circumfiance of his never intending them for the public eve, is fufficient to exculpate any one from the cliarge of prefumption who should attempt an improvement.
The following Skeletons are not intended the particular particularly to exemplity Mr. Claude's rules : intent of the the examples, which he himfelf adduces in Skeletons. confirmation of his directions, are fufficient for his pur
For this use of the word “Skeleton,” see Johnson's Dictionary. "A Student would find it not unprofitable, in this view, to analyze some judicious Sermons, and to make use of thote analyes as the groundwork of his own compositions, B 3