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these, deceased persons eminent for virtue and piety, whose characters are well known to the people addressed. Panegyrics of this kind on departed friends were more in use formerly, and commonly - distinguished by the name of funeral orations. As praise of this kind was however sometimes prostituted, and as the usage itself in certain circumstances exposed the preacher to the temptation of making a sacrifice of truth from motives of interest, it is perhaps, upon the whole, no disadvantage to the ministerial character, that the practice is, in this country, almost entirely laid aside, and that we are now very niuch confined in this respect to the examples which the sacred canon presents us with. Now to do justice to the respectable qualities and worthy actions of the good, is to present the audience with a beauteous and animated pattern of christian excellence, which; by operating on their admiration and love, raiseth in their minds a pious emulation. That we are, without attending to it, induced to imitate what we admire and love, will not ad:nit a question. It might not want its use, though scripture hath not afforded here so large foundation or so ample materials, to delineate sometimes, in proper colours, the conduct of the vicious, with its natural consequences, in order to excite a proper degree of horror and detestation against vice. But this, it must be owned, would require to be handled still more tenderly. It is our duty to love and esteem the virtuous, but not to hate and abhor the vicious. Our hatred and abhorrence ought to be pointed only against vice, but not against the persons addicted to it; whom, in pity, we ought rather to study to reclaim. And though the individuals themselves should be dead, and con
sequently in this respect beyond our power, whatever bears the odious appearance of calumny and personal invective is quite unbecoming the pulpit. Exhibitions in either way from the pulpit form that species of discourses, which falls under the third class above enumerated. They are addressed to the fancy, and their scope is to promote piety and virtue by insinuation, that is by the gentle but efficacious influence of example. Discourses of this kind were distinguished among the ancients by the name demonstrative ; but as that word in our language is rather equivocal, I have chosen to denominate them, commendatory, from the purpose to which they are most commonly applied.
In regard to the choice of a text, as there is here sometimes greater difficulty of uniting all the qualities, which were formerly mentioned, as characteristical of a proper text, greater indulgence must be given. At any rate, let it be perspicuous and expressive of the happiness or amiableness of a well spent life, or of those virtues which the discourse itself will give principal scope for extolling. An appositeness to the individual person, who is the subject of the sermon, when it is a funeral oration, cannot be had, and therefore, an appositeness to the character is all that can be sought. When the person, who is the subject, is one of the scripture saints, it is better to choose for a text some passage, wherein he in particular is spoken of. As to the introduction or exordium, there does not seem to be any thing very special requisite in this kind. The common qualities that ought to affect introductions in general have equally place here. They should be calculated to render the hearers attentive, docile and benevolent.
With regard to the explanation of the text and context, unless they could in some way contribute to the illustration of the character, which is the subject of the eulogy, it were better not to attempt it. If the text be sufficiently perspicuous and apposite, there can be no necessity; and there is no sort of discourse to which any thing, that has the remotest appearance of verbal criticism, is worse adapted than to this. The design of the sermon should be proposed with simplicity and distinctness. One may add the mention of the method, in which it may be thought proper to prosecute the subject, unless it shall appear to be so simple and natural, as to render even the bare intimation of it superfluous.
As to the method in which the different parts should be digested and arranged, that may be different as suits the particular taste and talents of the speaker, or as suits best the materials he hath to work upon. All the methods that occur to me for treating subjects of this kind, may be reduced to the three following. First the order of time may be followed. This method I shall call the historical. If this be the disposition adopted, there can be no question as to what should precede and what should succeed in the discourse. If there be much ground to go upon, it may not be amiss, for the ease of the memory, to divide the life you are to recommend as a pattern, into certain distinct periods, proposing to consider each severally in its order. If the materials you are supplied with for this purpose are not very plentiful, or if, whatever has been remark. able in the person's life which can be of any service to you, is comprised within a narrow compass of time, it will be better to follow the natural order, without using
the formality of proposing it to the hearers, or dividing the discourse into separate heads, for this ought never to be considered as absolutely necessary. The second method of arrangement is, by considering separately the most eminent virtues displayed in the life you propose to recommend to the admiration of your hearers. This I shall call the logical method. Suppose the subject, for example, were the life of Jesus Christ, and one were inclined to divide the virtues thereby illustrated into three classes, those which have self for the immediate object, those which have other men, and those which have God. The greatest objection I know of, that lies against this method, is that it generally occasions frequent recurring to the same actions and events, in which different virtues may have been illustrated. This, unless managed very dexterously, will have the appearance of tiresome repetitions. But to return to the example given of the life of Christ. Each of the heads above named may be illustrated through all the different periods of his life, or they may be subdivided into inferior branches. For example, the first of these, the duties a man owes to himself, may be understood to imply the virtues of humility, temperance and fortitude; humility or a superiority to pride and vanity ; temperance or a superiority to appetite; and fortitude or a superiority to fear. But such subdivisions are not often convenient, in as much as they commonly tend more to burden than to assist the memory. If the preacher were to make one of the general heads only, the whole subject of one discourse, such a division of that head would be very proper. But if the whole example of Christ is the subject of a single discourse, the case is very different. Subdiyisions for the greater part ought to be avoided. The sort of discourse, to which they seem most adapted, is the explanatory, whose principal excellence appears to be in perspicuity and precision. Let it be observed however, that the method implied in a subdivision may often be conveniently followed, when it is not in so many words proposed. A third method, that
be employed in panegyrical discourses, as when two or three memorable events or actions are the sole fund, from which all the materials employed by the encomiast must be derived, is to illustrate the virtues displayed in the person's conduct on these several occasions, as the separate heads of discourse. And this method may, for distinction's sake, be denominated, the dramatical. As to the manner of prosecuting the design through all its different branches, I do not intend to enter into particulars. It is not my purpose to give a full institute of eloquence, but only to apply to the pulpit, as far as they are applicable, the general rules laid down by the ancients, referring you to their writings for the illustration, and particularly to remark to you the differences which the very different nature of the subject, of the occasion, of the end, of the character, to be supported by the speaker, and of the character of the audience, should give rise to. Now it must be acknowledged, that no sort of discourse from the pulpit hath so close a resemblance in respect both of the subject and of the end, and sometimes also of the occasion, to the judicial and deliberative orations, as this sort of encomiums hath to the demonstrative orations of the ancients. To their institutes therefore, I must refer you for more particular information. It is not my intention by these lectures to supersede the