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which is the declared and apparent end of the speaker. I have observed, that the occasions of discourses of this kind are few; there are however some. None is more remarkable or occurs oftener, than those calcu. lated for disposing a congregation to a suitable commemoration of the sufferings of our Lord, in the sacrament of the supper, or Eucharist, as it is commonly named in Ecclesiastical History. I do not say however, that this is the only kind of discourse that is adapted to such occasions. By no means. If that were the case, as the subject of exciting the affections on such occasions is always the same, it would lay a minister in his own parish under the necessity of recurring so often to the same topics, as could not fail to prove tiresome to the majority of the hearers, and that though the things advanced by him were ever so good. An explanatory, a commendatory, or a persuasive discourse may also at such times be very pertinent.
A little of the grace of novelty in form and manner, is exceedingly necessary
for commanding the attention of the greater part of audiences. The only kind that I think ought to be excluded entirely from occasions of this nature, is the controversial. When the pathetic at such a time is made choice of, the preacher's aim is not to persuade the people to communicate. He supposes, that they have come to church with that intention. It is not to persuade them to the performance of any preparatory duty; all this he supposes to have been performed already. But it is to operate on all the grateful and devout affections of the heart, and to put his hearers, I may say, per frame of spirit for discharging the duty for which they are assembled, in such a reverend and pious manner, as may produce the best effect upon their minds, and tend most to the edification and confirmation of themselves, and others. The subject for this purpose may be more or less comprehensive, as the preacher shall judge convenient. Indeed, for the sake of giving a little variety to what does not, from its nature, admit a great deal, it may not be improper at different times to follow different methods; at one time, for instance, the subject may be the love of Christ as manifested in the whole scheme of redemption ; at another, the same thing, as manifested in his sufferings and death. It is discourses of the last kind, which are commonly called passion-sermons.
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In regard to the exordium or introduction, there will be less occasion for much art, when the solemnity of the time or the purpose of their meeting tends itself to rouse the attention of the hearer, and to supersede the address of the speaker. The topics for introducing the subject may then very pertinently be raised either from the intention for which the day was set apart, or from the nature and importance of the matter to be treated in the sermon. There is nothing peculiar to be observed in regard to the explanation of the text and context. If the discourse is intended merely to display the sufferings of our Lord, from his being betrayed into the hands of his enemies, to his death, the cruel. ty which was exercised upon hiin, and the meekness, piety and patience with which he bore it, it does not appear to be necessary, formally to lay down a method. It is enough in your narrative to follow the order of the history. In the manner of the exhibition, there will not be here a very material difference between that of the commendatory or panegyrical discourse and this of the pathetic. Only the latter admits less show
and ornament, and requires that we dwell longer on the most affecting circumstances. When the preacher's subject is such as doth not confine him within so narrow a compass, but affords an opportunity of expatiating on topics in themselves very distinct, but as it were concentrating in the tendency they all have to kindle the same affection in the breast; this common tenden. cy gives a sufficient unity in discourses of this kind. The reason is obvious. It
may be remarked, that in this sort of discourses, more of the common textuary method may sometimes be followed, than any other species of sermon will properly admit. Thus suppose the text to be 2 Cor. viii. 9. “ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich.” The whole intention of the discourse being to stir up grateful and devout affection, these topics may severally and very pertinently be touched as tending all to the same important point. First, the consideration of the person, whose grace the apostle here celebrated, the Lord Jesus Christ who was rich. Secondly, the consideration of the persons, on whom this grace was bestowed, you (it was
was for your sakes) the posterity of fallen Adam, poor and helpless. Thirdly, the evidence and effect of his grace,
“ he became poor.” Fourthly, the happy fruits and purchase of his grace, “that ye, through his poverty, might be rich.” It is manifest, that each of these considerations, as it were, assists the other, all conspiring to kindle the warmest return of gratitude and love. Thus all pointing to one end, a grateful commemoration, gives unity to the discourse. Another instance of a text, which on such an occasion, and for such a purpose, may very properly be divided in a simi. lar manner, is that in 1 Pet. ii. 18. “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” This is all of the verse, that, in a consistency with the unity of scope and design, should be taken into the text. The subject, in effect, , perfectly coincides with the former; and the distribution may be in other words the same. First, Christ the just. Secondly, us the unjust. Thirdly, “ he suffered for sins.” Fourthly, “that he might bring us to God.” Each consideration severally enhances the obligation, and consequently the gratitude. In the man. ner of treating the different topics, one ought carefully to avoid all dry, minute, abstract and metaphysical explanations, as well as every thing, that may savour too much of argumentation and dispute. We are to remember, that this kind of discourse is very different in its nature and complexion, both from the explanatory and from the controversial. These are intended only to enlighten, but the other to warm. The view of the speaker, in these several topics in a pathetic discourse, is not to inform the hearers of what they did not know before, it is not to convince them of what they did not believe before ; but it is to bring to their remembrance, truths which, though both known and believed, require often to be depicted in the most striking colours, that they may produce their congenial effect on the susceptible heart of the christian. It is manifest therefore, that cold and formal explanations, critical discussions, and abstract ratiocinations are here carefully to be avoided. A few lively strictures on the several heads, exhibiting all the principal considerations in the most glowing colours, are the surest way of raising such images in the fancy, as not only will give a greater permanency to the perception of the truths themselves, but will make them more effectual. ly operate on the passions. In discourses of this kind, there is less occasion also for a formal peroration or conclusion than in any other. The reason is, that whereas a certain application in the other kinds, of the points discussed in the body of the discourse, requires a particular address to the passions, there cannot be the same propriety of ending in this manger here, where the whole discourse is addressed to the passions. Something therefore, which in few words may serve to set the whole object full in view, to recall and infix the impressions already made, is all that is necessary in discourses of this nature.
I shall now, in the last place, consider the fifth species of discourse mentioned, that which was intended to operate upon the will, and which was denominated persuasive. Under this I include not only those ser. mons, whose end is to persuade to good, but those also which are calculated to dissuade from evil; for the structure and the rules of composition in both kinds are much the same. Here the distinguishing excel. lence results from a proper mixture of the argumentative and the pathetic, as it were, incorporated together. Let it be observed, that I use the word pathetic, in the largest acceptation, for whatever is fitted for exciting passion, affection or desire. The argumentative is necessary, because the intention of the speaker compriseth in it to convince the judgment, that is, for example, to satisfy me, that the conduct which you recommend, is agreeable to my duty, that it serves to promote my true interest, or is conducive to my hon