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most concise and simple manner. To this generally succeeds the division, or laying down the method of the discourse; in the management of which the following rules should be carefully observed.


First, The parts, into which the subject is divided, must be really distinct from each other. It were an absurd division, for example, if a speaker should propose to explain first the advantages of virtue, and next those of justice or temperance; because the first head plainly comprehends the second, as a genus does the species. Such a method of proceeding involves the subject in confusion.


Secondly, We must be careful always to follow the order of nature; beginning with the most simple points; with such as are most easily understood, and necessary to be first discussed; and proceeding to those which are built upon the former, and suppose them to be known. The subject must be divided into those parts into which it is most easily and naturally re solved.




Thirdly, The members of a division ought to exhaust the subject; otherwise the division is incomplete ; the subject is exhibited by pieces only, without displaying the whole.

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Fourthly, Let conciseness and precision be peculiarly studied. A division' always appears to most advantage, when the several heads are expressed in the


clearest, most forcible, and fewest words possible. This never fails to strike the hearers agreeably; and contributes also to make the divisions more easily remembered.


'Fifthly, Unnecessary multiplication of heads should be cautiously avoided. To divide a subject into many minute parts, by endless divisions and subdivisions, produces a bad effect in speaking. In a logical treatise this may be proper; but it renders an oration hard and dry, and unnecessarily fatigues the memory. A sermon may admit from three to five or six heads, including subdivisions; seldom are more allowable.

The next constituent part of a discourse is narration or explication. These two are joined together, because they fall nearly under the same rules, and because they generally answer the same purpose; serving to illus trate the cause, or the subject, of which one treats, before proceedling to argue on one side or the other; or attempting to interest the passions of the hearers.

To be clear and distinct, to be probable, and to be concise, are the qualities which critics chiefly require in narration, Distinctness is requisite to the whole of the discourse, but belongs especially to narration, which ought to throw light on all that follows. At the bar, a fact, or a single circumstance, left in obscurity, or mis. understood by the judge, may destroy the effect of all the argument and reasoning which the pleader employs. If his narration be improbable, it will be disregarded;



if it be tedious and diffuse, it will fatigue and be forgotten. To render narration distinct, particular attention is requisite in ascertaining clearly the names, dates, places, and every other important circumstance of the facts recounted. In order to be probable in narration, it is necessary to exhibit the characters of the persons of whom we speak, and to show that their actions pro ceeded from such motives as are natural, and likely to gain belief. To be as concise as the subject will admit, all superfluous circumstances must be rejected; by which the narration will be rendered more forcible and more clear.

In sermons, explication of the subject to be discoursed on, occupies the place of narration at the bar, and is to be conducted in a similar manner. It must be concise, clear, and distinct; in a style correct and elegant, rather than highly adorned. To explain the doctrine of the text with propriety; to give a full and clear account of the nature of that virtue or duty which forms the subject of discourse, is properly the didactic part of preaching; on the right execution of which much depends. In order to succeed, the preacher must meditate profoundly on the subject; so as to place it in a clear and striking point of view. He must consider what light it may derive from other passages of scripture; whether it be a subject nearly allied to some other, from which it ought to be distinguished; whether it can be advantageously illustrated by comparing or opposing it to

some other thing; by searching into causes, or tracing effects; by pointing out examples, or appealing to the hearts of the hearers; that thus a precise and circum. stantial view may be afforded of the doctrine inculcated. By distinct and apt illustrations of the known truths of religion, a preacher may both display great merit, as a composer, and, what is infinitely more valuable, render his discourses weighty, instructive, and useful.


AS the great end for which men speak on any se rious occasion, is to convince their hearers that something is true, or right, or good, and thus to influence their practice; reason and argument must constitute the foundation of all manly and persuasive eloquence.

With regard to arguments, three things are requisite. First, invention of them; secondly, proper disposition and arrangement of them; and thirdly, expressing them in the most forcible manner. Invention is undoubtedly the most material, and the basis of the rest. But in this, art can afford only small assistance. It can aid a speaker however in arranging and expressing those arguments which his knowledge of the subject has discovered.

Supposing the arguments properly chosen, we must avoid blending those together that are of a separate nature. All arguments whatever are intended to prove one of these three things; that something is true; that it is right or fit; or that it is profitable and good. Truth, duty, and interest are the three great subjects of discussion among men. But the ar guments employed upon either of them are generally distinct; and he who blends them all under one topic which he calls his argument, as in sermons is too fre quently done, will render his reasoning indistinct and inelegant.

With respect to the different degrees of strength in arguments, the common rule is, to advance in the way of climax from the weakest to the most forcible. This method is recommended when the speaker is convinced that his cause is clear, and easy to be prov ed. But this rule must not be universally observed. If he distrust his cause, and have but one material argument, it is often proper to place this argument in the front; to prejudice his hearers early in his favour, and thus dispose them to pay attention to the weaker reasons which he may afterward introduce. When amid a variety of arguments there is one or two more feeble than the rest, though proper to be used, Cicero advises to place them in the middle, as a situation less conspicuous, than either the beginning or end of the train of reasoning.



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