Images de page
PDF
ePub

and being so wise as to know well what to say and what to leave out, he proportions every Part of his work to his Tiine; he enlarges a little upon the Subject by way of Illustration, till the Truth becomes evident and intelligible to the weakest of his Hearers; then he confirms the point with a few convincing Arguments where the Matter requires it, and makes Haste to turn the Doctrine into Use and Improvement. Thus the Ignorant are instructed, and the growing Christians are established and improved : The stupid Sinner is loudly awakened, and the mourning Soul receives Consolation : The Unbeliever is led to trust in Christ and his Gospel, and the Impenitent and Immoral are convinced and loftened, are melted and reformed. The inward Voice of the Holy Spirit, joins with the Voice of the Minister; the good Man and the Hypocrite have their proper Portions assigned them, and the Work of the Lord prospers in his Hand.

This is the usual Course and Manner of his Ministry. This Method being natural, plain and easy, he casts many of his Dilcourses into this Form ; but he is no Slave to Forms and Methods of any kind: He makes the Nature of his Subject, and the Necessity of his Hearers, the great Rule to direct him what Method he shall choose in every Sermon, that he may the better enlighten, convince and persuade. Ergates

well that

F 3

well knows that where the Subject itself is entirely praclical, he has no Need of the Formality of long Uses and Exhortations : He knows that Practice is the chief Design of Doctrine ; therefore he bestows most of his Labour upon this part of his Office, and intermingles much of the pathetic under every Particular: Yet he wisely observes the special Dangers of his Flock, and the Errors of the Time he lives in, and now and then (though very seldom) he thinks it necessary to spend almost a whole Discourse in mere doctrinal Articles. Upon such an Occasion he thinks it proper to take up a little larger Part of his Hour in explaining and confirming the Sense of his Text, and brings it down to the Understanding of a Child.

At another Time perhaps he particularly designs to entertain the few learned and poļite among his Auditors, and that with this View, that he may ingratiate his Discourses with their Ears, and may so far gratify their Curiosity in this Part of his Sermon as to give an easier Entrance for the more plain, necesary and important Parts of it into their Hearts. Then he aims at and he reaches the sublime, and furnishes out an Entertainment for the finest Taste; but he scarce ever finishes his Sermon without Compallion to the Unlearned, and an Address that may reach their Consciences with Words of Salvation.

.

I HAVE observed him sometimes after a learned Discourse come down from the Pulpit as a Man ashamed and quite out of Countenance: He has blushed and complained to his intimate Friends, lest he should be thought to have preached himself, and not Christ Jefus his Lord : He has been ready to with he had entertained the Audience in a more unlearned Manner and on a more vulgar Subject, left the Servants and the Labourers and Tradesmen there should reap no Advantage to their Souls, and the important Hour of Worship should be lost as to their Improvement.

Well he knows, and keeps it upon his Heart, that the middle and lower Ranks of Mankind, and People of an unlettered Character, make up the greater Part of the Assembly; therefore he is ever seeking how to adapt his Thoughts and his Language, and får the greatest Part of all his Ministrations to the Instruction and Profit of Persons of common Rank and Capacity: It is in the midst of these that he hopes to find his Triumph, his Joy and Crown in the last great Day, for not many Wise, not many Noble are called.

There is so much Spirit and Beauty in his common Conversation, that it is sought and desired by the ingenious Men of his Age; but he carries a severe Guard of Piety

always

F 4

always about him, that tempers the pleafant air of his Discourse, even in his brightest and freest Hours; and before he leaves the Place (if possible) he will leave fomething of the Savour of Heaven there: In the Parlour he carries on the Design of the Pulpit, but in so elegant a Manner that it charms the Company, and gives not the least Occasion for Cenfure,

His polite Acquaintance will sometimes rally him for talking so plainly in his Sermons, and sinking his good Sense to fo low a Level: But Ergates is bold to tell the gayest of them, “ Our publick Business,

my Friend, is chiefly with the Weak and

the Ignorant; i.e. the Bulk of Mankind : The Poor receive the Gospell: The Me“chanicks and Day-Labourers, the Women " and Children of my Assembly, have Souls " to be saved; I will imitate my blessed “ Redeemer in preaching the Gospel to the Poor, and learn of St. Paul to become all Things to all Men, that I may win

Souls, and lead many Sinners to Heaven by Repentance, Faith and Holiness.

SECT,

S E C T. II.

A Branching Sermon.

I

HAVE always thought it a Miftake

in the Preacher to mince his Text or his Subject too small, by a great Number of Subdivisions; for it occasions great Confusion to the Understandings of the Unlearned. Where a Man divides his Matter into more general, less general, special, and more particular Heads, he is under a Neceffity sometimes of saying, Firstly or Secondly, two or three Times together, which the Learned may observe, but the greater Part of the Auditory, not knowing the Anulyfs, cannot so much as take it into their Minds, and much less treasure up in their Memories in a just and regular Order ; and when such Hearers are desired to give some Account of the Sermon, they throw the Thirdlys and Secondlys into Heaps, and make very confused Work in a Rehearsal, by intermingling the general and the special Heads. In writing a large Discourse this is much more tolerable * but in Preaching it

is

Especially as Words may be used to number the Generals and Figures of different kinds and Forms, to marshal the primary and secondary Ranks of Particulars under them.

« PrécédentContinuer »