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For ordination days extraordinary texts and agreeable to the fubject in hand must be taken, whether it regards the ordainer, or the ordained; for very often he, who is ordained in the morning, preaches in the arternoon.
I add one word touching fermons in strange churches. 1. Do not chooie a text, which appears odd, or the choice of which vanity may be fuppoled to dictate. 2 Do not choose a text of cenJure; for a stranger has no bufinefs to cenfure a congregation, which he does not infpect: unless he have a particular call to it, being either fent by a fynod, or intreated by the church itfelf. In fuch a cafe the cenfure muit be conducted with wisdom, and tempered with fweetnefs. Nor 3. choose a text leading to curious knotty questions; then it would be faid, the man meant to preach himself. But 4. Choose a text of ordinary doctrine, in difcuffing which, doctrine and morality may be mixed, and rather let moral things be faid by way of exhortation and confolation than by way of cenfure:
not that the vicious fhould not be cenfured; for reproof is effential to preaching: but it must be given foberly, and in general terms, when we are not with our own flocks. (6)
(6) Mr. Claude does not mention funeral - fermons, which with us are fometimes juft occafions of offence, but which might be well improved to the advantages of the living, if properly managed. Funeral honours have in all ages, by all nations, been paid to the dead. The Egyptians embalmed, the Greeks buried, the Romans burnt; all agreed in terminating the mournful ceremony with fongs and fhouts of victory, as the Canadian favages do at this day. Orations in praise of the dead were also spoke; and the feveral ceremonies were adapted to maintain the doctrine of the immortality of the foul in the people's minds. Superftition, which defiled every decent ufage, defiled this alfo. The heathens magnified their ancestors into deities; and christians very early imitated them, canonizing and worshippingtothis day. Hence, among the fathers anc ently, and in the church of Rome fill, thofe extravagant and blafphemous orations for the dead. Voffius mentions a modeft faying (compared with fome) of Nazianzen. Nazianzenus in monodia five funebri oratione Bafilii, quem VOL. I.
in plerifque prope æquiparet apoftolis, ac prophetis, atque adeo quodammodo præfert uti eum ait, non ab Hierofolyma tantum ufque ad Illyricum (velut Paulus) Jed majorem circulo. evangelio complexum. Tantum diftat inter Sapayogina,
Sidantina. Jo. Voffii thefes theol. de invocat. fanct.
A just reflection no doubt, perhaps no where more juft than on thefe occafions, when fo many things are usually faid in oftentation, fo few to edification. Thefe abufes have driven fome good men to lay afide all funeral fervices whatever: but methinks with much more reafon may we retain and improve them to the benefit of the living.
It was the opinion of Voffius, that praying to faints owed its origin partly to the injudicious ufe of figurative language in funeral orations; to the apoftrophes, and profopopeias of the panegyrifts. Etiam oratorum non levis hic fe culpa offert, non tantum, quia plerique eorum fanctos invocarent, fed etiam, quia floridam ac luxuriantem fecuti dictionem feculi fui oratorum, modificatæ ac figurate mortuorum laudationi tantopere indulgerent. Nam non
raro Inter hyperbolicas laudationes et xwe prolatas, non fatis diftinguebat imperitum vulgus item apoftrophas ad fanctos xara @powño,
Ta inftitutas, quæ votum tantummodo ecclefiaftæ erant, pro feria invocatione ducebat. G. J. Voffii thef. de invoc. fan&t. difp. 13. thes, 5:
CHA P. II.
General Rules of Sermons.
LTHOUGH the following general rules are well known, yet they are too little practifed: they ought, however, to be constantly regarded.
1. A fermon fhould clearly and purely explain a text, make the fenfe easy to be comprehended, and place things before the people's eyes fo that they may be understood without difficulty. This rule condemns embarrassment and obfcurity, the most disagreeable thing in the world in a gofpel-pulpit. It ought to be remembered, that the greateft part of the hearers are fimple people, whofe profit, however, must be aimed at in preaching: but it is impoffible to edify them, unless you be very clear. As to learned hearers, it is certain, they will always prefer a clear before an obfcure fermon; for, firft, they will confider the fimple, nor will their benevolence be content if the illiterate be not edified; and next, they will be loth to be driven to the neceffity of giving too great an attention, which they cannot avoid, if the preacher be obfcure. The minds of men, whether learned or ignorant, generally avoid pain; and the learned have fatigue enough in the ftudy, without increafing it at church. (1)
(1) That which generally occafions obfcurity (fays Mr. Rollin.) is our endeavouring
to explain ourfelves always with brevity and concifenefs. One had better fay too much C 2 than
2. A fermon muft give the entire fenfe of the whole text, in order to which it must be confidered in every view. This rule condemns dry and bar
than too little. A ftyle like Salluft's or Tertullian's, every where fprightly and concife, may fuit works which are not intended to be spoken, and which can be read over and over again but it is improper for a fermon, which ought to be fo clear, as to reach even the most inattentive; like as the fun ftrikes our eyes without our thinking of it, and almoft in fpite of us. The fupreme effect of this quality does not confift in making ourfelves understood, but in fpeaking in fuch a manner that we cannot be mifunderfood."" "Tis a vicious tafte in fome orators (adds he from Quintilian.) to imagine they are very profound when much is required to comprehend them; they don't confider, that every discourse which wants an interpreter is a very bad one. The fupreme perfection of a preacher's ftyle hould be to please the unlearned, as well as the learned, by exhibiting an abundance of beauties for the latter, and being very perfpicuous for the former. But, in cafe thefe advantages cannot be united, St. Auftin would have us facrifice the first to the fecond, and neglect ornaments, and even purity of diction, if it will contribute to make us more
intelligible; because it is for that end we speak. This fort of neglect, which requires fome genius and art, (as he obferves after Cicero.) and which proceeds from our being more attentive to things than words, muft not, however, be carried fo far as to make the difcourfe low and groveling, but only clearer and more intelligible.-As obfcurity is the fault, which the preacher fhould chiefly avoid, and as the auditors are not allowed to interrupt him, when they meet with any thing obfcure, St. Auftin advises. him to read in the eyes and countenances of his auditors, whether they understand him or not; and to repeat the fame thing, by giving it dif ferent turns, till he perceives he is understood; an advantage which thofe cannot have, who by a fervile dependence on their memories learn their fermons by heart, and repeat them as fo many leflons."
Belles lettres, vol. 2. Mr. Rollin fays, Obscurity is generally occafioned by a ftyle too concife; and others have obferved many ather causes of obfcurity, among which they place a very common one, a jingling of words, a multitude of tinkling founds, which one defcribes and