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To all this the answer is ready, viz. First, the apostles were not all artless and illiterate. St. Paul, the greatest and most general propagator of christianity, is an eminent exception. He could be no mean orator, who confounded the Jezus at Damascus,* made a prince, before whom he stood to be judged, confess, that he had almost persuaded him to become a convert to a religion every where spoken against ;t threw another into a fit of trembling, as he sat upon his judgment-seat ; # inade a defence before the learned court of Areopagus, which gained him for a convert a 'member of the court itself ; struck a whole people with such admiration that they took him for the god of eloquence ; ll and gained him a place in Longinus's list of famous orators. Would the cold served-up monotony of our English sermon-readers have produced such effects as these? But farther, the apostles inight very well spare human accomplishments ; having what was worth them all, viz. the Divine gift of working miracles ; which if our preachers bad, I should not have much to say about their qualifying themselves in elocution. But, as it is, public instruction is the preacher's weapon, with which he is to combat infidelity and vice. And what avails a weapon without skill to wield it? Medicines the most salutary to the body are taken with reluctance, if nauseous to the taste. However, they are taken. But the more necessary physic for the soul, if it be not rendered somewhat palatable, will be absolutely rejected. For we fare much less prudent in our care for the most valuable part of ourselves than for the least. Therefore the preacher ought, above all other public speakers, to labor to enrich and adorn, in the most masterly manner, his addresses to mankind; his views being the most important. What grand point has the player to gain ? Why, to drawn an audience to the
* Acts ix. 22, + Acts xxvi. 28. xxviii. 22. | Aets xxiv. 25, $ Acts xvii. 31. | Acts xiv. 12. " It was with no finall pleasure I lately met with a fragment of Longinus which is preserved as a testimony of that critic's judgment, at the beginning of a manuscript of the New Testament in the Vatican library. After that author has numbered up the most celebrated orators among the Grecians, he says, “ Add to thefe Paul of Tarsus, the patron of an opinion not yet fully proved.” Spect. No. 633.
theatre. * The pleader at the bar, if he lays before the judges and jury, the true state of the case, so as they inay be inost likely to see where the right of it lies, and a just decision may be given, has done his duty ; and the affair in agitation is an estate, or at most, a life, which will soon, by course of nature, be extinct. And of the speaker in either house of parliament, the very utmost, that can be said, is that the good of his country, may, in great measure, depend upon his tongue. But the infinitely important object of preaching is, the reformation of mankind, upon which depends their happiness in this world, and throughout the whole of their being. Of what consequence is it, then, that the art of preaching be carried to such perfection, that all may be drawn to places of public instruction, and that those, who attend them, may receive benefit! And if almost the whole of preaching be delivery, how necessary is the study of delivery! That delivery is incomparably the most important part in public instruction, is manifest from this, that very indifferent matter, well delivered, will inake a considerable impression.t But bad utterance will defeat the whole effect of the noblest composition ever produced. While exorbitant appetite, and unruly passion within, while evil example, with alluring solicitation without (to say nothing of the craft and assaults of the grand enemy of mankind) while these invite and ensnare the frail and thoughtless into guilt ; shall virtue and religion hold forth no charms to engage votaries? Pleasure decks herself out with rich attire. Soft are her looks, and melting is the sweetness of her voice. And must religion present herself with every disadvantage ? Must she appear quite unadorned ? What chance can she then have in competition with an enemy so much better furnished with every necessary invitation and allurement ? Alas!
* I deny not, that the theatre is capable of being made a school of virtue. But it must be put under regulations, other than we have ever get seen it; and those too various to be specified here ; fo numerous are the particulars, which want reformation, much more being at present wrong than right.
+" A proof of the importance of delivery,” (fays uintilian) may be drawn from the additional force, which the actors give to what is written by the best poets, so that what we hear pronounced by them gives infinitely more pleasure than when we only read it.” And again, “ I think I may affirm, that a very indifferent speech, well set off by the speaker, shall have a greater effett than the best, if destitute of that advantage.” 'Quint. Inft. Orat. p. 441. “Docuimento sunt velscenici, " &c.
cur preachers do not address innocents in paradise ; but thoughtless and often habituated sinners. Mere cold explaining will have but little effect on such. Weak is the hold, which reason has on most men.
Few of mankind have able heads. All have hearts ; and all hearts may be touched, if the speaker is master of his art. The business is not so much, to open the understanding as to warm the heart. There are few who do not know their duty. To allure them to the doing of it is the difficulty. Nor is this to be effected by cold reasoning. Accordingly, the scripture orators are none of them cold. Their addresses are such as hardly any man can utter without warmth, “ Hear, O heavens! Give ear, earth! To thee, Oman, I call ; my voice is to the sons of men. As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked ; but rather that he turn from his wickedness, and live. Turn ye, turn ye, Why will ye die? O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee! How often would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, and ye would not. Had'st thou, in this thy day, known the things which belong, to thy peace !
But now they are hid from thine eyes.
It is true, the preacher is carefully to avoid ostentation ; he is not to preach himself, but Christ. But at the same time he is to “stir up every gift that is in hiin ; to, cry aloud, and not to spare, to lift up his voice like a trumpet ; to reprove correct, and instruct ; to be instant in season and out of season ; to become (innocently) all things to all men," consequently to become an orator, if men are not to be affected by simple unadorned truth, however weighty. * What can the people think of the sincerity of the preacher, who is cold and languid in his public instructions, while he is as warm and zealous as other inen, in the defence of an inconsiderable part of his property ? Would he plead as calmıly for his life, as he does with his people in the cause of virtue and religion ? Coplness, in a matter , of the last importance, and about which one is really in carnest, is so unnatural as, to be hardly practicable.
Therefore, Cicero* takes it for granted, that Calidius could not have addressed the senate in so indifferent, and unanimated a manner, if what he wanted to persuade them to believe had not been mere fiction. And Demosthenes, when one came to hiin, begging, that he would plead his cause against a person who had used him cruelly, of which usage he gave Demosthenes a very cold and unanimated account, could not believe that he had been so injured ; till, upon his signifying his suspicion, the man was roused to some warmth ; and then the orator was convinced, that his complaint was well founded, and immediately undertook his defence. +
Ifit should be said by preachers, “ The people will be as much offended with us, if we over-act our part, as they are now indifferent about attending our ministry ; so that it will avait nothing to study a more lively delivery;" to this I must beg leave to answer, that there is no reason to fear any thing from it. Because a manner of preaching may be used, which shall have ten times more life and vivacity in it, than the present, and yet (if it be not unnatural or incorrect) be very safe from all danger of exceeding due bounds as to vivacity and force. And, farther, we do in fact observe, that no preacher is admired (I do not mean by the mob, but by people of education) whose delivery is dull end unanimated ; let his matter be what it will.
Lest any reader should think, I have been too severe upon the deficiencies of men of sacred characters, as to delivery, either in leading the devotions of the people or in instructing them in their duty ; I will add, by way of apology for what I have said, some passages, to the same purpose, from the SPECTATOR.
“Sir, The well reading of the cominon prayers is of so great importance, and so much neglected, that I take the liberty to offer to your consideration some particulars on that subject. And what more worthy your observation than this ? A thing so public, and of so high consequence. It is * Tuiftuc, M. Calidi nisi fingeres, lic ageres ?
Cic. Brut. p. 181, Tom. 1) + Plut. in, vit. Demosthi
indeed wonderful, that the frequent exercise of it should not make the performers of that duty more expert in it. This inability, as I conceive, proceeds from the little care that is taken of their reading while at school, where, when they are got into Latin, they are looked upon as above English, the reading of which is wholly neglected, or at least read to very little purpose, without any due observation made to them of the proper accent and manner of reading. By this means they have acquired such ill habits, as will not easily be removed.” The writer of the letter then goes on to mention the advantage he himself found from being led in his devotions by an elegant performer of the service at St. James's Garlick-hill church.
“My eyes and my thoughts (says he) could not wander as usual ; but were confined to my prayers. The confession was read with such a resigned humility, the absolution with such a comfortable authority, the thanksgivings with such a religious joy, as made me feel those affections of the mind in a manner I never did before. To remedy, therefore, the grievance above complained of, I humbly propose, that this excellent reader, upon the text, and every annual assembly of the clergy at Sion College, and all other conventions, should read prayers before them. For then those, that are afraid of stretching their mouths, and spoiling their soft voices, will learn to read with clearness, loudness, and strength. Others, who affect a rakish negligent air, by folding their arms, and lolling upon their book, will be taught a decent behaviour. Those who read so fast as if impatient of their work, may learn to speak deliberately. There is another sort, 'whom I call Pindaric readers, as being confined to no set measure. These pronounce five or six words with great deliberation, and the five or six subsequent ones with as great celerity; the first part of a sentence with a very exalted voice, and the latter very low, Sometimes with one sort of tone, and immediately after with a different one. These gentlemen will learn of my admired reader an evenness of voice and delivery. And all, who are innocent of these affectations, but read with such an indifferency, as if they did not understand the language, inay be informed of the art of reading movingly and fervently; how to place