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to the manner, a good deal of care and attention is necessary. 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 near 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 boundaries 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 render. ed 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 sub. ject, 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 such an address, to take up the point on the key, if I may so express myself, to which he knows their souls are at the time attuned, and gradually to work them up to that pitch to which he wants to bring them. If he act a contrary part, and break out all at once, with heat and violence, when they are perfectly cool, so far from operating on their affections, or influencing their will, he will appear to them like one distracted, who flies into a rage for he knows not what. No axiom is more important for bringing us to succeed in the pathetic, than this, that in addressing the hearers, we must enter with them on the subject in the same tone to which their minds are predisposed at the time to take it up in, and then insensibly work them up to ours. A prudent speaker, who perceives a coldness or indifference in his audience, will judge it necessary to disguise his own warmth, and to appear willing to canvass the matter as coolly as they can desire. If he succeeds thus in entering on it, and has the address for a little while to manage them, he may carry them at last, to what pitch he will. We have an excellent example of this kind of address, in the funeral panegyric, which Shakespear puts into the mouth of Antony, on his friend Julius Cæsar, immediately after his murder in the senate house.
But to return, I repeat the sentiment, as an important one, that nothing tends more strongly to make us deaf to what another says, than if he appear to be in a passion, when we are quite tranquil. Now the panegyrical discourses much more easily pass into the pathetic, than either the explanatory or the controversial. There is a near affinity between the moral sentiments, with the emotions they occasion, and the passions and affections of the mind. The gradation is perfectly smooth and natural from approbation to admiration, from admiration to esteem and love, from esteem and love of the virtuous and praiseworthy, to detestation and abhorrence of the contrary dispositions, and from these to corresponding desires and aversions. The orator has only to take the advantage of this gradation, and that frame of spirit which the whole scope of the discourse was calculated to produce.
Of Pathetic Discourses, or those addressed to the Passions. Of Persua.
sive Discourses, or such as are intended to operate on the Will.
HAVE now gone through the explanation of the principal parts, of the three first kinds of pulpit discourses, the explanatory, the controversial, and the commendatory, and the rules to be severally observed in composing each. I come now to the fourth kind, the pathetic, or that which is addressed immediately to the passions, and which is specially intended to rouse the mind from a state of languor and indifference to the impressions of fervour and affection. The occasions of discourses for this kind with us, it must be owned, are not very frequent. For though in some of the other kinds, particularly in the persuasive, a great deal is addressed to the passions, yet these are, in that species of sermon, only employed as means to persuade to the particular practice or duty recommended. Whereas in the pathetic properly so called, the rouzing of suitable affections is apparently the ultimate end. I acknowledge, that the whole of preaching either directly or indirectly points to persuasion. But I denominate that only, the end of any species of discourse,