Images de page

our or my peace. The pathetic is also necessary, because the speaker's intention does not terminate in the conviction of the judgment, he intends also, and principally, by means of the judgment, to influence the will. To make me believe, it is enough to shew me that things are so ; to make me act, it is necessary to shew that the action will answer some end. That can never be an end to me, which gratifies no passion or affection in my nature, In order to persuade, it is always necessary to move the passions. Passion is the mover to action, reason is the guide. Good is the ob. ject of the will, truth is the object of the understanding. It is only through the passions, affections and sentiments of the heart, that the will is to be reached. It is not less necessary, therefore, in the orator to awaken those affections in the hearers, which can be made most easily to co-operate with his view ; than it is to satisfy their understandings that the conduct to which he would persuade them, tends to the gratification of the affections raised. But though both are really purposed by the speaker, it is the last only, that is formally presented to them, as entering into his plan. To express a formed purpose to work upon their passions, would be like giving them warning to be upon their guard, for that he has a design upon them. Artis est celare artem. Such a method, on the contrary, would be to lay the artifice quite naked, and thereby totally to defeat its end. The emotion with which they perceive him agitated, and the animation of his language, far from being the result of a deliberate settled purpose, ought to appear in him, the necessary, the unavoidable consequences of the sense that he has of the unspeakable importance of the truths

he utters, joined with an ardent desire of promoting the eternal happiness of them who hear him. It is not, therefore, here one part that is pathetic, and another argumentative ; but these two are interwoven. The most cogent arguments are earnestly urged and pathetically expressed.

With regard to the whole of the introductory part, and explanation in this sort of discourses, I have no. thing peculiar to remark. I shall only observe, that as to the text, it suits this kind better than any other, that it be in the form of a precept. I do not say however that this form is absolutely necessary. The end of the speaker may be, either to persuade to a christian life in general, or to the performance of any christian duty in particular. On the other hand, it may be to dissuade from a vicious course in general, or from the practice of any sin in particular. Nay further, it may be a persuasive or a dissuasive general or particular, either from all the motives that the nature of the subject will afford, or from one class of motives only. There is such a richness and variety in the motives, that may be urged, where religion is in the question, that in order to avoid being superficial, it may be very proper for a pastor amongst his own flock, as he has frequent opportunities of addressing them, sometimes to enforce the same duty from one set of motives, and sometimes from another. If the speaker's design be to comprehend in the same discourse, all the arguments which the nature of the subject admits, his text should be either a simple precept, wherein the duty is enjoined, or the sin prohibited, but no motive urged ; or perhaps a simple proposition, wherein such a practice is barely pronounced right or wrong. If the intention is to per:

suade from one class of motives only, there should be something in the text, that points to these motives.

Thus in the first case, suppose the speaker's intention be to persuade to repentance from every motive which either reason or scripture affords, his text may be the simple command Repent, which occurs in several places of the gospel, or if he does not like one so brief, he may take these words of the apostle Paul, Acts xvii. 30. “God now commandeth all men every where to repent.” But if he would persuade to repentance from the single consideration of its connection with the remission of sins, these words of Peter (Acts ii. 19.) will do better, Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out;" for the words be converted are merely explanatory, and therefore do not render the sentiment complex, whatever may be said of the expression. Or, if the speaker's intention (which is near of kin to the former) be to persuade to repentance from this consideration, that future misery is the inevitable consequence of final impenitence, he may take these words of our Lord (Lu. xiii. 15.) “ Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.” To a christian life in general one may persuade from various motives. Suppose from the native excellence of genuine virtue or true righteousness, the text in that case may be Pro. xii. 26. “ The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour;” or from the present felicity to be found in the ways of religion, these words, Ps. xix. 11. “ In keeping of them there is great reward,” may serve as a text. Let it be observed, that such a text as this requires some explanation of the context, without which the subject is not to be understood, the matter spoken of being expressed

ly by a pronoun. When this is not the case, and when the passage adopted appears independent and perfectly intelligible by itself, it may stand for a general rule, that such explanations are better let alone, and deserve to be considered, but as a sort of digressions at the best. If the intention were to persuade to a good life from the consideration of the comfort it brings in trouble, and especially in the views of death, this passage might answer, Ps. xxxvii. 37. “ Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.” Bourdaloue, a celebrated French preacher of the last century, persuades to the same thing from the consideration of the future happiness of the saints from these words of our Saviour, Lu. vi. 23. “ Behold your reward is great in heaven., It deserves to be remarked, that there is here not only a reference to the context for the character or conduct to which the reward is promised, but that when ye do recur to the preceding words, they seem rather to refer to this in particular, the suffering of persecution and reproach for righteousness' sake. Yet as this itself is one of the noblest fruits and surest evidences of real sanc. tity, the choice cannot justly be deemed an inexcusable liberty. The reward is very properly considered, as ultimately to be attributed to that principle, from which the conduct flows. In persuading to particular duties, or dissuading from particular vices or temptations to vice, when the speaker intends (as it is not indeed so common here to confine one's self to one class of motives) to employ every argument of weight, which the subject presents to him, a single precept, briefly and plainly expressed, seems the most conve. nient choice for a text. If the design is to persuade to the love of God, these words are proper, Matt. xxii. 37. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” If to the love of men, verse 39. « Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” These passages may, in ike manner, serve as foundations for discourses ex. planatory of these duties. And as was remarked on the controversial sermon, we may observe here, that the minister in his own parish may, if he thinks it necessary, begin with a discourse explaining the duty enjoined or the vice prohibited, (if the text contains a prohibition,) and in his next discourse from the same words, make it his business to persuade them to the one, or dissuade them from the other. But in many cases it must be acknowledged, that such previous explanatory discourse is not necessary ; the full import of the precept being perfectly level to every ordinary capacity. Thus if the subject were to dissuade from the vice of lying, a proper text would be these words of Paul, Col. iii. 9. “ Lie not one to another.” If against detraction, Ja. iv. 11. “ Speak not evil one of an. other.” In such plain cases, it must be owned, there would be little occasion for many words, and much less for a separate discourse, in order to explain the import and extent of the prohibition.

In regard to the method, however different the matter be, as something of the argumentative form must be preserved, the rules laid down in the controversial discourse may be of some use. One may begin, with showing the weakness of those pleas or arguments by which the dissolute, the vicious or the profane commonly defend their own conduct, and seduce others into the same track; and then produce positive argu

« PrécédentContinuer »