« ForrigeFortsæt »
It was for the same reason that the fathers of the church were far from forbidding those who were called to the ministry of the word, the reading ancient authors and profane learning. [g] St. Austin declares, that all the truths found in heathen authors are our own, and consequently, we have a right to claim them as our property, by taking them out of the hands of those unjust possessors, in order to employ them to a better use.  He would have us leave to heathen writers their profane words and superstitious fictions, which every good Christian ought to abominate ; after the example of the Israelites, who, by the command of God himself, plundered Egypt of her gold and most precious garments, without touching their idols; and that we should take from the heathen authors, those truths we find in them, and which are, as it were, the silver, the gold, and ornaments of discourse; and clothe our ideas with them, in order to make the one and the other subservient to the preaching of the gospel. [i] He cites a great number of fathers who thus made use of them, in imitation of Moses himself, who was carefully instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,
St. Jerom treats the same topic more at large, in a fine letter [A], where he justifies himself from the reproaches of his adversaries, who imputed it as a crime in him, that he had employed profane learning in bis writings. After pointing out several places in the scriptures, where heathen authors are cited, he makes a long enumeration of the ecclesiastical writers, who also made use of their testiinony, in defence of the Christian religion. Among the holy writers, he had nained St. Paul, who quotes several passages from the Greek poets. “ And indeed, says he, he had learnt “ from the true David, the way of forcing the ene
L] De Doctr. Christ. 1. 2. n. 6. da christianum. De Doct. Christ.
 Sic doctrinæ omnes gentili- 1. 2. n. 60. um, non solùm simulata & super- [i] Nonne aspicimus quanto auro stitiosa higinenta... quæ unusquis- & argento & veste suffarcinatus que nostrum duce Christo de socie. exierit de Ægypto Cyprianus doclate gentilium exiens debet abomi- tor suavissimus, & martyr beatissinari atque devitare : sed etiam libe- mus ? De Doctr. Christ. n. 61. Vir rales disciplinas usui veritatis apti- eloquentiâ pollens & martyrio. S. pres, et quälam inoruin præcepta Hieron. utilissima continent ... quæ tan. [k] Quæris cur in opusculis quam aurum & argentum debet ab nostris secularium literarum intereis auferre christianus ad usum jus- dum ponamus exempla, & candotum prædicandi evangelii. Vestem rem Ecclesiæ Ethnicorum sordibus quoque illorum ... accipere atque polluamus ? S. Hieron. Epist, ad habere licuerit, in usum converten. Magnum.
my's weapon out of his own hand, in order to fight "him; and to cut off the head of the proud Goliah “ with his own sword."
It were therefore much to be wished, that those who are designed for the Pulpit should begin by imbibing Eloquence at its source, that is, from the Greek and Latin authors, who have been always looked upon as masters of the art of speaking. [m] The sacred orators should have learned from them the distribution of the several ornaments of discourse, and this not barely to please the auditor, much less to gain i reputation, (motives which even heathen rhetoric thought unworthy its orators,) but in order to make truth more amiable to men, by rendering her more lovely; and to engage them, by this kind of innocent allurement, to relish her holy sweetness, and to practise her salutary lessons with greater diligence and sincerity.
It is well known that St. Ambrose's Eloquence had this effect on St. Austin, though he was still charmed with the beauties of profane Eloquence. [n] That great bishop preached the word of God to his people with so many charms and graces, that all his auditors were transported with a kind of divine enthusiasm.
 Didicerat à vero David ex- non jactantar, sed prudenter utatorquere de manibus hostium gladi- mur, non ejus fine contenti, quo um, & Goliæ superbissimi caput tantummodo delectatur auditor : proprio mucrone truncare. Ibid. sed hoc potiùs, agentes, ut etiam
[m] Illud quod agitur genere ipso ad bonum, quod persuadere votemperato, id est ut eloquentia ipsa lumus, adjuvelur. S. Aug. de Doci. delectet, non est propter seipsum Chr. l. 4. n. 55. usurpandum, sed ut rebus quæ uti- [n] Veni ad Ambrosium Episcoliter honestèque dicuntur ... ali- pum ... cujus tunc eloquia strenue quanto promptiùs & delectatione ininistrabant adipem frumenti tui ipsà elocutionis accedat, vel tenaci- .. & sobriam vini ebrietatem populo ús adhærescat assensus. . . . Ita fit tuo. Confess. I. 5. c. 13. ut etiam temperati generis ornatu
shameful of vices, the most unworthy a man of honour, and the greatest enemy to society.
OF THE ELOQUENCE OF THE PULPIT.
SAINT Austin, in his excellent work, called the Christian Doctrine, which we cannot recommend too much to the professors of Rhetoric, distinguishes two things in the Christian orator; what he says, and his manner of saying it; the things in themselves, and the method of discussing thein, which he calls sapienter dicere, eloquenter dicere. I will begin with the latter, and conclude with the former.
OF THE MANNER IN WHICH A PREACHER OUGHT
TO DELIVER HIMSELF.
[i] Saint Austin, pursuant to Cicero's plan of the duties of an orator, tells us they consist in instructing, pleasing, and moving the passions. Dixit quidam eloquens, &: verum dixit, ita dicere debere eloquentem, ut doceat, ut delectet, ut flectat [k]. He repeats the same thing in other terms, saying, the Christian orator must speak in such a manner as to be heard intelligenter, libenter, obedienter : viz. that we should comprehend what he says, hear it with pleasure, and consent to what he would persuade us. [l] For
2 preaching has three ends : That the truth should be known to us, should be heard with pleasure, and move US. Vt veritas pateat, ut veritas placeat, ut veritas moveat. I shall pursue the same plan, and go through the three duties of a Christian orator.
I. DUTY OF A PREACHER. To instruct, and for that End to speak clearly.
Since the preacher speaks in order to instruct, and has equal obligations to all, to the ignorant and the poor, as much, and perhaps more, than to the learned and the rich; his chief care should be to make himself clearly understood: every thing must contribute to this end: the disposition, the thoughts, the expression, and the utterance.
It is a vicious taste in some orators, [m] to imagine they are very profound, when much is required to comprehend them. They do not consider, that every discourse which wants an interpreter, is a very bad one. [n] The supreme perfection in a preacher's style should be to please the unlearned as well as the learned, by exhibiting an abundance of beauties for the latter, and being very perspicuous for the former. But in case those advantages cannot be united,  St. Austin would have us sacrifice the first to the second, 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 sort of neglect, which requires some genius and art, as [p] he observes after Cicero, and which proceeds from our being more attentive to things than to words, must not, however, be carried so far as to make the discourse low and grovelling, but only clearer and more intelligible.
St. Austin wrote at first against the Manichees, in a florid and sublime style; whence his writings were
[m] Tunc demum ingeniosi sci- ageret, esse in eâ quandam diligenlicet, si ad intelligendos nos opus sit tem negligentiam. Hæc tamen sic ingenio. Quint. in Præm. l. 8. c. 2. detrahit ornatum, ut sordes non con
Otiosum (or, vitiosum) sermonem trahat. S. August. de Doct. Christ. dixerim, quem auditor suo ingenio 1. 4. 1. 24. non intelligit. Ibid.
Melius est reprehendant nos [n] Ita & sermo doctis probabilis, grammatici, quàm non intelligant & planus imperitis erit. Ibid. populi. Idein in Psal. cxxxviii.
 Cujas evidentiæ diligens ap- [P] Indicat non ingratam neglipetitus aliquando negligit verba gentiam, de re hominis magis, cultiora, nec curat quid benè sonet, quàm de verbis, laborantis. . . sed quid bene indicet atque intimet Quædam etiam negligentia est diliquod ostendere intendit. Unde ait gens. Orat. n. 77,78. quidam,cùm de tali genere locutionis VOL. II.
[o] St. Austin sought only in the sermons of that preacher, the flowers of language, and not the solidity of sense; but it was not in his power to separate them. He thought to have opened his understanding and heart to the beauties of diction only; but truth entered at the same time, and soon gained an absolute sovereignty over him.
He himself made the same use of Eloquence afterwards. We find the people were so ravished with his sermons, that they bestowed the utmost applauses on them. He was, however, very far either from seeking or affecting those applauses; for, his humility was so great, that they really afflicted him, and made him fear the secret and subtile contagion of that poisoned vapour. [p] But whence should such frequent acclamations arise, but from this, viz. that truth, thus illustrated, and placed in her utmost splendor by a truly eloquent man, charms and transports the mind of man?
I cannot here avoid exhorting my readers to peruse M. Arnaud's little treatise, entitled, Reflections on the Eloquence of Preachers. He there refutes part of the preface which M. du Blois his friend had prefixed to his translation of St. Austin's sermons, in which he pretended to shew, that most preachers followed a manner of preaching contrary to that of St. Austin, by making too much use of human Eloquence, which he thought improper for sermons. face had dazzled great numbers, and was very much applauded. But they were greatly astonished, when 11. Arnaud's little treatise appeared, to find that almost the whole preface was founded upon false principles and reasonings. It may be of use, and agreeable at the same tiine, to compare these two treatises,
 Cùin non satagerem discere diceret, pariter intrabat & quam quæ dicebat, sed tantum quemad- verè diceret. Ibid. n. 14. modum dicebat audire . . . venie. [p] Unde autem crebrò & mulhant in animum meum simul cum tùm acclamatur ita dicentibus, nisi verbis que diligebam, res etiam quia veritas: demonstrata, sic dequas negligebam: neque enim ea fensa, sic invicta, delectat ? De dirimere poteram. Et dum cor ape- Doctr. Chr. I. 4. n. 56., sircin ad excipiendum quam disertè