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hearers may produce an effect somewhat similar, is not to be denied. But the result upon the whole cannot be the same. Onction is an excellent vehicle for instruction ; but where no instruction is conveyed, the hearer can be rendered neither wiser nor better by mere cant; he may be hereby made a greater bigot and a greater fool. The two last kinds of discourses, it must be owned, are near a-kin to each other, and very apt to be confounded. The enemies they combat are indifference and listlessness. If we thought it necessary to observe a scrupulous exactness in distinguishing, we should rather say (for the words are not synonymous) that the enemy of the former is indifference, and of the latter listlessness. And let me add, these often prove more dangerous adversaries to religion, than others of more hostile appearance and of more formidable names.
Finally, it will not be questioned, that it will frequently be proper, to make it the direct design of a discourse to persuade to a good, or to dissuade from a bad life in general, or to engage to the performance of any particular duty, or to an abștinence from any particular sin, and that either from all the arguments, or from any one class of arguments afforded by the light of nature, or by revelation, and adapted to the purpose. Discourses of this sort fall under the fifth and last class above mentioned. They are addressed to the will ; their aim is persuasion. The enemies they combat, are irreligion and vice. Such sermons we discrimi. nate by the term persuasive.
Let us now, for further illustration of the subject, consider whether the different sorts of discourses from the pulpit above enumerated bear any analogy to the differ
ent sorts of orations treated of by ancient rhetoricians. These both Greeks and Romans, after Aristotle, have distributed into three kinds, the judiciary, the demonstrative and the deliberative. The judiciary, is the name by which the Stagyrite has thought fit to distinguish the pleadings of advocates or counsellors, whether in accusation of an adversary, or in defence of a client. As in all such pleadings, and indeed in all litigation whatever, there is something affirmed by one of the litigants, which is denied by the other, so the aim of each is to convince the bench, that his representation is agreeable to truth, and to refute the arguments of his antagonist. The point in dispute is sometimes a question of fact. Did the defendant do, or not do, the action, with which he is charged by the plaintiff? Sometimes it is a question of right. The fact may be undeniable ; and the only point in debate, Was it right, wrong, or indifferent? lawful or criminal ? Sometimes indeed both points may be contended by the parties. But it doth not belong to us, to enter into these minutiæ, or consider the different sources of topics, whence the proof must be derived. Only from what hath been said, it is manifest that this species, from its very nature, is perfectly analogous to the second class of sermons, the controversial. It is directed to the understanding; its aim is conviction ; the adversaries it professeth to combat, are doubtfulness and mistake. The demonstrative, a name given to those panegyrics or funeral orations, which were sometimes by public authority pronounced in honour of departed patriots and heroes, must, from the design of insinuating the love of virtue by exhibiting such ex. amples to their imitation, so exactly and so evidently coincide in form and composition (however different
in regard to matter or subject) to the third class of sermons above mentioned, the commendatory, that I should think it unnecessary to attempt any further illustration of it. Only it may not be amiss to observe here by the way, that to this political expedient among the ancient Greeks and Romans, of paying such public honours to their great men departed, perhaps more than to any other, that love of their country, that contempt of life, and that thirst of military glory, for which they were so remarkable, is to be ascribed. The term deliberative is applied to speeches in the senate or in the assembly of the people, whose express aim is to persuade the audience to come to a certain resolution, in regard to their conduct as a commonwealth or state, such as, to declare war, or to make peace, to enter into an alliance, or the contrary. Discourses of this sort must evidently be in many respects very similar to the fifth and last class of sermons above mentioned. They are addressed to the will, their aim is persuasion. The enemies they combat are temerity, imprudence, and other such vices, considered particularly as political evils, as prejudicial to the interest or honour of the state. Nay there will be often found a pretty considerable coincidence in the topics, from which the arguments, in both these kinds of persuasives, are commonly drawn. The useful, the honourable, the equitable, are considerations entirely well adapted to each. To the first and fourth kinds of sermons mentioned, there is not found any thing in the institutes of rhetoricians which can be denominated analogous. The first, the explanatory, is indeed, of all kinds, the simplest, and may in respect of form be considered, as bearing a resemblance to the lessons delivered in the schools of the philosophers, in regard to which, no person, as far as I know, has thought it necessary to lay down rules. The fourth kind, the pathetic, hath in point of aim more similarity to the eloquence of the theatre, tragedy in particular, than to that either of the bar or of the senate. But the difference in form, arising from the nature of the work, between all dramatic compositions, and the discourses prepared for the pulpit, is so extremely great, that I have not judgcd it necessary hitherto so much as to name this species of oratory.
And as probably I shall not have occasion in these prelections to mention it hereafter, I shall now take the liberty to give you briefly, in passing, my sentiments concerning theatrical performances, and the use which may be made of them by the Christian orator. As to the drama in general, it is manifestly no more than a particular form, in which a tale or fable is exhibited; and, if the tale itself be moral and instructive, it would require no small degree of fanaticism to make one think, that its being digested into so many dialogues and dressed up in the dramatic form, can render it immoral and pernicious. So much for the question of right, as I may call it. If from this, we proceed to a question of fact, to which the other very naturally gives occasion, and inquire, whether the greater number of modern plays, be such tales as we can really denominate moral and instructive, or on the contrary such as have a tendency to vitiate the principles and debauch the practice of the spectators; to this point, I acknowledge, it is more difficult to give a satisfactory answer. I own indeed, that in my judgment the far greater part of our comedies, I say not all, merit the
latter character, rather than the former. For not to mention the gross indecencies with which many of them abound, (and to the reproach of our national taste, as well as morals, English comedy perhaps more than any other) what is generally the hero of the piece, but a professed rake or libertine, who is a man of more spirit, forsooth, than to be checked in his pursuits by the restraints of religion, the dictates of conscience, the laws of society, or (which were accounted sacred even among pagans and barbarians) by the rights of hospitality and of private friendship? Such a one, the poet, in order to recommend him to the special favour of the audience, adorns with all the wit and humour and and other talents, of which he himself is master, and always crowns with success in the end. Hence it is, that the stage with us may, without any hyperbole, be defined, the school of gallantry and intrigue, in other words, the school of dissoluteness. Here the youth of both sexes may learn to get rid of that troublesome companion modesty, intended by Providence as a guard to virtue, and a check against licentiousness. Here vice may soon provide herself in a proper stock of effrontery for effectuating her designs, and triumphing over innocence. But besides the evil that too commonly results from the nature and conduct of the fable, there is another, in the tendency to dissipation and idleness, the great enemies of sobriety, industry and reflection, which theatrical amusements ordinarily give to the younger part of the spectators. On the other hand, are there no advantages which may serve as a counterbalance to these evils? There are some advantages; it would not be candid to dissemble them, but they can be no counterbalance. What is just pronuncia