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1. Never choofe fuch texts as have not a complete fenfe; for only impertinent and foolish people will attempt to preach from one or two words, which fignify nothing.
2. Not only words which have a complete sense of themselves must be taken: but they must alfo include the complete fenfe of the writer, whofe words they are; for it is his language, and they are his fentiments, which you explain. (3)
dies, and made fome little entrance on divinity, they prefently think themfelves fit for the pulpit, without any farther enquiry, as if the gift of preaching, and facred oratory, was not a diftinct art of itfelf. This would be counted very prepofterous in other matters, if a man fhould prefume of being an orator because he was a logician, or to practise physic becaufe he had learned philofophy," &c.
Wilkin's Ecclefiaftes. (3) The preacher must take the fenfe of the writer. Of fences against this obvious rule are numberlefs: but, inftead of exemplifying the rule from the reveries of learned theologifts, we will give an example of a fimilar effort of extraordinary genius, which
Σον δ' επω τις έχει καλον And no man, fays the ghost of Anticlea to her fon Ulyffes, has yet got your reward, bowever, you may reft quietly: and Πείρος Λωίζιος, Ανδεναχος, That is to fay, PETER LE LOYER, OF THE PROVINCE
will anfwer the fame purpose.
γέρας" αλλά έκηλος.
OF ANJOU, A GAUL, PORN
example, fhould you take thefe words of 2 Cor. i. 3 Bieffed be God, the father of our Lord Ye us Chrift, the father of mercies and the God of all comfort, and ftop here, you would include a complete fenfe: but it would not be the apostle's fenfe. Should you go farther, and add, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, it would not then be the complete fenfe of St. Paul, nor would his meaning be wholly taken in, unless you went on to the end of the fourth verfe. When the complete fenfe of the facred writer is taken, you may ftop; for there are few texts in fcripture, which do not afford matter fufficient for a fermon; and it is equally inconvenient to take too much text, or too little; both extremes must be avoided.
When too little text is taken, you must digrefs from the fubject to find fomething to fay; flourishes of wit and imagination must be difplayed, which are not of the genius of the pulpit; and, in one word, it will make the hearers think, that felf is
ther more nor lefs, let any
expected any reputation from it but because I neither could nor ought to conceal what was revealed to Homer concerning me. This will add more weight to my work of the origin, &c. of divers nations, the clearing up of all which was defigned for me." Bayle art. Loyer, rem. C.
Did ever learned etymologift hit a meaning more accurately? The mischief is, this was not Homer's meaning. But Homer ought not to complain, his betters, infpired writers, have had their Le Loyers.
is more preached than Jefus Chrift, and that the preacher aims rather at appearing a wit, than at inftructing and edifying his people.
When too much text is taken, either many important confiderat.ons, which belong to the paffage, must be left out, or a tedious prolixity muft follow. A proper measure, therefore, must be chofen, and neither too little, nor too much matter taken. Some fay, preaching is defigned only to make scripture understood, and therefore they take a great deal of text, a.id are content with giving the fenfe, and with making fome p.incipal reflections: but this is a mistake; for preaching is not only intended to give the sense or fcripture, but alfo of theology in general; and, in fhort, to explain the whole of religion, which cannot be done, if too much matter be taken; so that, I think, the manner commonly used in our churches is the most reasonable, and the moft conformable to the end of preaching. Every body can read fcripture with notes and comments to obtain fimply the fenfe: but we cannot inftruct, folve difficulties, unfold myfteries, penetrate into the ways of divine wisdom, eftablish truth, refute error, comfort, correct, and cenfure, fill the hearers with an admiration of the wonderful works and ways of God, inflame their fouls with zeal, powerfully incline them to piety and holiness, which are the ends of preaching, unless we go farther than barely enabling them to understand fcripture. (4)
(4) The English preachers (fays a very fenfible writer) are, it is certain, more diftinguished by their juftnefs of fentiment, and frength of reafening, than by their oratorial
powers, or talents of affecting the paffions. More folicitous to convince than perfuade, they choose to employ their abili ties in endeavouring to imprefs the mind with a fenfe of
To be more particular, regard must be paid to circumftances, times, places, and perfons, and texts must be chofen relative to them. ft, In regard to times. I do not, I cannot, approve of the custom of the late Monf. Daillé, who used to preach on the feast-days of the church of Rome, and to choose texts on the subjects of their feafts, turning them to cenfure fuperftition: I do not blame his zeal against fuperftition: but as for the Romish feafts, they are for the members of the church of Rome, and not for us; and, it is certain, our hearers will neither be inftructed, nor encouraged by fuch forts of fubjects: methinks they should be preached feldom, and foberly. It is not fo with particular times, which belong to ourfelves, which are of two forts, ordinary, which we call ftata tempora, which every year return at the fame feafons; or extraordinary, which fall out by accident, or, to fpeak more properly, when it pleafes God. Of the firit kind are Lord's fupperdays; or days which are folemnized amongst us,
the truths they deliver, by the forceof argumentation, instead of roufing the affections by the energy of their eloquence. ---We meet with no examples in their writings of thofe ftrokes of paffion which penetrate and cleave the heart at once, or of that rapid overpowering eloquence, which carries every thing before it like a torrent.---They feem to have confidered mankind in the fame light in which Voltaire regarded the celebrated Dr. Clarke, as MERE REASONING MACHINES: they seem to have confidered
them as purely intellectual, void of paffion and fenfibility. This ftrange miftake may perhaps be fuppofed to be partly the effect of the philofophical fpirit of the times, which, like all other prevailing modes, is fubject to its deliriums; certain however it is, that, while man remains a compound being, confifting of reafon and paffion, his actions will always be prompted by the latter, in whatever degree his opinions may be influenced by the former. Efsay on genius, book 2. fe&t. 4, p. 238, 245.
as Christmas-day, Eafter, Whitfuntide, Afcenfionday, New-year's-day, and Good-friday, as it is called. On these days particular texts fhould be chofen, which fuit the fervice of the day; for it would difcover great negligence to take texts on fuch days, which have no relation to them. It is not to be queftioned but on these days peculiar efforts ought to be made, because then the hearers come with raised expectations, which, if not fatisfied, turn into contempt, and a kind of indig-. nation against the preacher.
Particular days not fixed, but occafional, are faft-days, ordination-days, days on which the flock must be extraordinarily comforted, either on account of the falling out of fome great fcandal, the exercise of fome great affliction, or the inflicting of fome great cenfure. On faft-days, it is plain, particular texts must be exprefly chofen for the purpofe: but on other occafions it must reft on the preacher's judgment; for moft texts may be used extraordinarily, to comfort, exhort, or cenfure; and, except the fubject in hand be extremely important, the fafeft way is not to change the ufual text. (5)
ftate of the people, or to any remarkable difpenfations of providence, which he was always very careful to obferve, and to record, and to improve by preaching, to the advantage of himself and others.""
Life of Mat. Henry, p. 120. Mr. Henry's arrangement of his jubjects is both ingenious and folid. To give one example. The fubject is fanctification. He first treated of the fin, that was to be mortified;
(5) I should think by texte accoutumé, Mr. Claude means fuch a text as would come in courfe in a precompofed Jet of Jermons. This was the method of the excellent Mathew Henry. "In his more conftant way of preaching, he fixed upon a certain fet of fubje7, fitly ranged and methodized under general heads: but together with thefe there were intermixed many occafional difcourfes, fuited to the