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ral, they should be such as appear to the preacher to be the most useful, and the best accommodated to the circumstances of his audience. No man can be called eloquent, who speaks to an assembly on subjects, or in a strain, which none or few of them comprehend. The unmeaning applause which the ignorant give to what is above their capacity, common sense and common probity must teach every man to despise. Usefulness and true Eloquence always go together; and no man can long be reputed a good preacher who is not acknowledged to be an useful one.

The rules which relate to the conduct of the different parts of a sermon, the introduction, division, argumentative and pathetic parts, I reserve to be afterwards delivered, when treating of the conduct of a discourse in general; but some rules and observations, which respect a sermon as a particular species of composition, I shall now give, and I hope they may be of some use.

The first which I shall mention is, to attend to the unity of a sermon. Unity indeed is of great consequence in every composition; but in other discourses, where the choice and direction of the subject are not left to the speaker, it may be less in his power to preserve it. In a sermon, it must be always the preacher's own fault if he transgress it. What I mean by unity is, that there should be some one main point to which the whole strain of the sermon should refer. It must not be a bundle of different subjects strung together, but one object must predominate throughout. This rule is founded on what we all experience, that the mind can attend fully only to one capital object at a time. By dividing, you always weaken the impression. Now this unity, without which no sermon can either have much beauty, or much force, does not require that there should be no divisions or separate heads in the discourse, or that one single thought only should be, again and again, turned up to the hearers in different lights. It is not to be understood in so narrow a sense : it admits of some variety; it admits of underparts and appendages, provided always that so much union and connexion be preserved, as to make the whole concur in some one impression upon the mind. I may employ, for instance, several different arguments to enforce the love of


God; I may also inquire, perhaps, into the causes of the decay of this virtue; still one great object is presented to the mind; but if, because my text says, "He that loveth God must love his brother also," I should, therefore, mingle in one discourse arguments for the love of God, and for the love of our neighbour, I should offend unpardonably against unity, and leave a loose and confused impression on the hearers' minds. In the second place, Sermons are always the more striking, and commonly the more useful, the more precise and particular the subject of them be. This follows, in a great measure, from what I was just now illustrating. Though a general subject is capable of being conducted with a considerable degree of unity, yet that unity can never be so complete as in a particular one. The impression made must always be more undeterminate; and the instruction conveyed, will commonly, too, be less direct and convincing. General subjects, indeed, such as the excellency or the pleasures of religion, are often chosen by young preachers, as the most showy, and the easiest to be handled; and, doubtless, general views of religion are not to be neglected, as on several occasions they have great propriety. But these are not the subjects most favourable for producing the high effects of preaching. They fall in almost unavoidably with the beaten tract of common-place thought. Attention is much more commanded by seizing some particular view of a great subject, some single interesting topic, and directing to that point the whole force of argument and Eloquence. To recommend some one grace or virtue, or inveigh against a particular vice, furnishes a subject not deficient in unity or precision; but if we confine ourselves to that virtue or vice as assuming a particular aspect, and consider it as it appears in certain characters, or effects certain situations in life, the subject becomes still more interesting. The execution is, I admit, more difficult, but the merit and the effect are higher.

In the third place, Never study to say all that can be said upon a subject ; no error is greater than this. Select the most

useful, the most striking and persuasive topics which the text suggests, and rest the discourse upon these. If the doctrines which ministers of the Gospel preach were altogether new to their hearers, it might be requisite for them to be exceedingly

full on every particular, lest there should be any hazard of their not affording complete information. But it is much less for the sake of information than of persuasion, that discourses are delivered from the pulpit; and nothing is more opposite to persuasion, than an unnecessary and tedious fulness. There are always some things which the preacher may suppose to be known, and some things which he may only slightly touch. If he seek to omit nothing which his subject suggests, it will unavoidably happen that he will encumber it, and weaken its force.

In studying a sermon, he ought to place himself in the situation of a serious hearer. Let him suppose the subject addressed to himself: let him consider what views of it would strike him most; what arguments would be most likely to persuade him; what parts of it would dwell most upon his mind. Let these be employed as his principal materials; and in these, it is most likely his genius will exert itself with the greatest vigour. The spinning and wire-drawing mode, which is not uncommon among preachers, enervates the noblest truths. It may indeed be a consequence of observing the rule which I am now giving, that fewer sermons will be preached upon one text than is sometimes done; but this will, in my opinion, be attended with no disadvantage. I know no benefit that arises from introducing a whole system of religious truth under every text. The simplest and most natural method by far, is to choose that view of a subject to which the text principally leads, and to dwell no longer on the text, than is sufficient. for discussing the subject in that view, which can commonly be done, with sufficient profoundness and distinctness in one or a few discourses: for it is a very false notion to imagine, that they always preach the most profoundly, or go the deepest into a subject, who dwell on it the longest. On the contrary, that tedious circuit, which some are ready to take in all their illustrations, is very frequently owing, either to their want of discernment for perceiving what is most important in the subject; or to their want of ability for placing it in the most proper point, of view.

In the fourth place, Study above all things to render your instructions interesting to the hearers. This is the great trial and mark of true genius for the Eloquence of the pulpit: for

nothing is so fatal to success in preaching, as a dry manner. A dry sermon can never be a good one. In order to preach in an interesting manner, much will depend upon the delivery of a discourse; for the manner in which a man speaks, is of the utmost consequence for affecting his audience, but much will also depend on the composition of the discourse. Correct language, and elegant description, are but the secondary instruments of preaching in an interesting manner. The great secret lies, in bringing home all that is spoken to the hearts of the hearers, so as to make every man think that the preacher is addressing him in particular. For this end, let him avoid all intricate reasonings; avoid expressing himself in general speculative propositions, or laying down practical truths in an abstract metaphysical manner. As much as possible, the discourse ought to be carried on in the strain of direct address to the audience; not in the strain of one writing an essay, but of one speaking to a multitude, and studying to mix what is called application, or what has an immediate reference to practice, with the doctrinal and didactic parts of the sermon.

It will be of much advantage to keep always in view the different ages, characters, and conditions of men, and to accommodate directions and exhortations to these different classes of hearers. Whenever you bring forth what a man feels to touch his own character, or to suit his own circumstances, you are sure of interesting him. No study is more necessary for this purpose, than the study of human life, and the human heart. To be able to unfold the heart, and to discover a man to himself, in a light in which he never saw his own character before, produces a wonderful effect. As long as the preacher hovers in a cloud of general observations, and descends not to trace the particular lines and features of manners, the audience are apt to think themselves unconcerned in the description. It is the striking accuracy of the moral characters that gives the chief power and effect to a preacher's discourse. Hence, examples founded on historical facts, and drawn from real life, of which kind the scriptures afford many, always, when they are well chosen, command high attention. No favourable opportunity of introducing these should be omitted. They correct, in some degree, that disadvantage to which I before observed preaching

is subject, of being confined to treat of qualities in the abstract, not of persons, and place the weight and reality of religious truths in the most convincing light. Perhaps the most beautiful, and among the most useful sermons of any, though, indeed the most difficult in composition, are such as are wholly characteristical, or founded on the illustration of some peculiar character, or remarkable piece of history, in the sacred writings; by pursuing which, one can trace, and lay open, some of the most secret windings of man's heart. Other topics of preaching have been much beaten; but this is a field, which, wide in itself, has hitherto been little explored by the composers of sermons, and possesses all the advantages of being curious, new, and highly useful. Bishop Butler's sermon on the Character of Balaam, will give an idea of that sort of preaching which I have in my eye.

In the fifth and last place, Let me add a caution against taking the model of preaching from particular fashions that chance to have the vogue. These are torrents that swell today, and have spent themselves by to-morrow. Sometimes it is the taste of poetical preaching, sometimes of philosophical, that has the fashion on its side; at one time it must be all pathetic, at another time all argumentative, according as some celebrated preacher has set the example. Each of these modes, in the extreme, is very faulty; and he who conforms himself to it, will both cramp genius, and corrupt it. It is the universal taste of mankind which is subject to no such changing modes, that alone is entitled to possess any authority; and this will never give its sanction to any strain of preaching, but what is founded on human nature, connected with usefulness, adapted to the proper idea of a sermon, as a serious persuasive oration, delivered to a multitude, in order to make them better men. Let a preacher form himself upon this standard, and keep it close in his eye, and he will be in a much surer road to reputation, and success at last, than by a servile compliance with any popular taste, or transient humour of his hearers. Truth and good sense are firm, and will establish themselves; mode and humour are feeble and fluctuating. Let him never follow, implicitly, any one example; or become a servile imitator of any preacher, however much admired.. From various exam

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