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tors have rightly rendered it Sir, in the second Sirs. Indeed it is notorious, that both in the Greek version of the Old Testament and in the New, the word, like Dominus in Latin, or Signore, in Italian, is applied indiscriminately, as a term of respect to God or to man. I own I could not help concluding in my own mind from the remark, Either you must be exceedingly ig. norant in regard to the book you pretend to explain, or you treat sacred writ with a freedom and artifice, that suit better the subtlety of the Jesuit, than the sincerity of the christian divine. If a man wanted to render truth suspicious to people of discernment, I know no better way he could take, than to recur to such cavils in order to support it.
But to return to the method of treating the proofs, from which, I am afraid, I shall be thought to have digressed too long. I observed on entering on this article, that when the controversy is reducible to one simple point, and when there is only one opposing sen. timent to be refuted, the preacher might make the refutation of objections the first head of discourse, and the defence of the cloctrine proposed the second. And if nothing can be said, in refutation, but what will naturally find a place in treating his argument, there is no necessity that the discourse should be divided into separate heads. One conclusive argument in many cases, is as good as a great number; for every part does not admit variety. Nor ought a division into different heads to be considered as a thing indispensable. Sometimes indeed when there is but one argument, it will very properly admit a division, as the conclusion rests on two propositions called premises; when neither of these can be said to be self-evident, it may be
made the subject of the first head, to support one of the premises, and of the second, to support the other. I shall borrow an instance from a late attempt of my own in this way, as no other at present occurs to my memory. The design was to evince the divinity of our religion from the success of its first publishers. The argument stood thus. “First, the natural means originally employed in propagating the gospel, were utterly inadequate, and must have proved ineffectual, if unaccompanied with the divine interposition. Se. condly, the means employed were however eminently effectual beyond all example before or since. Conse quently they were accompanied with a divine interposition, and our religion is of God.” But every argument does not admit this division ; for often one of the premises is either self-evident, or which amounts to the same, received by those against whom we argue. On the contrary, when the subject is complex and the opinions of the adversaries various, it will be better not to make a separate head of refutation, for where there are many jarring sentiments to be set aside there is a danger of distracting the mind by multiplicity. Let the truth be defended by arguments distinctly explained, and enforced, and in doing this, especially when the topics are drawn from holy writ, occasion may be taken of refuting the contradictory glosses or expositions of the opponents as you proceed. In this the preacher ought to consult carefully, what will give most simplicity and perspicuity to his reasoning. Further, a question is sometimes capable of being divided into two, or more, distinct though intimately related questions. In that case the heads of discourse may be the examination of eacıi. When
the arguments are numerous, it is better to class them under a few general heads or topics for the sake of memory, as those from reason, those from scripture, and the like.
As to the arrangement of the arguments, there may sometimes be in them a natural order, as when a right apprehension of one is previously necessary to the full conception of another. When they are not of this kind, the speaker ought to consider the disposition of his hearers. If their prejudices rather oppose his doctrine, he would need to begin with what he thinks will have the greatest weight with them, lest otherwise, by introducing the debate with what they shall think frivolous, he should disgust them in the entry, and avert their attention from what he has further to offer. In general, rhetoricians have recommended to begin and end with the strongest arguments, and throw the weakest into the middle. It is as important, that you should leave a good impression on their minds in end. ing the debate, as that you should bespeak their favourable attention by what is of consequence in the beginning. They would have the orator act, in this respect, like the experienced commander, who puts his weakest troops into the middle ; for though he has not the same dependance on them, as on those in the front and the rear, he knows they are of some use by their number, and add to the formidable appearance of
The conclusion here may very properly be introduced by an abstract or recapitulation of the argument, followed with a suitable improvement of the doctrine proved. There does not seem to be any material difference, in what constitutes a fit conclusion to an ex.
planatory discourse, from what would suit a controver.
Doctrine is the general subject of both dis
In the one it is explained, in the other it is proved. The direct aim of the first is knowledge, but then the conviction or belief is taken for granted. The direct aim of the second is conviction. In both, the proper application is the influence which the knowledge and belief of such a truth ought to have on our disposition and on our practice. Perhaps in the conclusion of controversial discussions, it might not be amiss to offer some observations with a view to moderate the unchristian animosities, which differences on these articles sometimes occasion among those, who all profess themselves to be the disciples of the same Master, and to shew in general that error is more properly a ground of pity than of indignation.
of Commendatory Discourses, or those addressed to the Imagination. We have now discussed the discourses addressed to the understanding, those two especially, the explanatory, whose end is information, by dispelling ignorance, and the controversial, whose end is conviction, by vanquishing doubt or error. I come now to that species which is addressed to the imagination. For as one way, and indeed a very powerful way, of recommending religion is by example, it must be conducive to the general end of preaching above mentioned, to make it sometimes the scope of a sermon, to exhibit properly any known good character of a person now deceased, by giving a lively narrative of his life, or of any signal period of his life, or an account of any particular virtue, as illustrated through the different pe. riods of his life. For performances of this kind, the history of our Lord affords the richest fund of matter. In like manner, the lives of the saints recorded in scripture, the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles and the martyrs, such at least with which, from the ac. counts given in holy writ, we have it in our power to be acquainted, make very proper subjects. Add to