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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. [h] 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. [] 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 [], 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 his writings. After pointing out several places in the scriptures, where heathen authors are cited, he

[] De Doctr. Christ. I. 2. n. 6. [] Sic doctrinæ omnes gentili um, non solùm simulata & superstitiosa figmenta... quæ unusquisque nostrum duce Christo de societate gentilium exiens debet abominari atque devitare: sed etiam liberales disciplinas usui veritatis aptiores, et quædam morum præcepta utilissima continent... quæ tanquam aurum & argentum debet ab cis auferre christianus ad usum justum prædicandi evangelii. Vestem quoque illorum... accipere atque habere licuerit, in usum converten

da christianum. De Doct. Christ. 1, 2. n. 60.

[i] Nonne aspicimus quanto auro & argento & veste suffarcinatus exierit de Ægypto Cyprianus doctor suavissimus, & martyr beatissimus? De Doctr. Christ. n. 61. Vir eloquentiâ pollens & martyrio. S. Hieron.

[*] Quæris cur in opusculis nostris secularium literarum interdum ponamus exempla, & candorem Ecclesiæ Ethnicorum sordibus polluamus? S. Hieron. Epist. ad Magnum.


makes a long enumeration of the ecclesiastical writers, who also made use of their testimony, in defence of the Christian religion. Among the holy writers, he had nained St. Paul, who quotes several passages from the Greek poets. "[7] And indeed, says he, he had learnt "from the true David, the way of forcing the ene

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

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 extorquere de manibus hostium gladium, & Goliæ superbissimi caput proprio mucrone truncare. Ibid.

[m] Illud quod agitur genere temperato, id est ut eloquentia ipsa delectet, non est propter seipsum usurpandum, sed ut rebus quæ utiliter honestèque dicuntur... aliquanto promptiùs & delectatione ipsâ elocutionis accedat, vel tenaciùs adhærescat assensus. . . . Ita fit at etiam temperati generis ornatu


non jactanter, sed prudenter utamur, non ejus fine contenti, quo tantummodo delectatur auditor : sed hoc potiùs, agentes, ut etiam ipso ad bonum, quod persuadere volumus, adjuvetur. S. Aug. de Doct. Chr. 1. 4. n. 55.

[2] Veni ad Ambrosium Episcopum... cujus tunc eloquia strenuè ministrabant adipem frumenti tui .. & sobriam vini ebrietatem populo tuo. Confess. 1. 5. c. 13.


shameful of vices, the most unworthy a man of honour, and the greatest enemy to society.



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 them, which he calls sapienter dicere, eloquenter dicere. I will begin with. the latter, and conclude with the former.



[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. [] For preaching has three ends: That the truth should be known to us, should be heard with pleasure, and move


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] De Doctr. Chr. l. 4. n. 27. [] De Doctr. Chr. n. 61. [4] N. 30.



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, [o] 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 scilicet, si ad intelligendos nos opus sit ingenio. Quint. in Prom. 1. 8. c. 2. Otiosum (or, vitiosum) sermonem dixerim, quem auditor suo ingenio non intelligit. Ibid.

[] Ita & sermo doctis probabilis, & planus imperitis erit. Ibid.

[o] Cujus evidentiæ diligens appetitus aliquando negligit verba cultiora, nec curat quid benè sonet, sed quid bene indicet atque intimet quod ostendere intendit. Unde ait quidam,cùm de tali genere locutionis


ageret, esse in eâ quandam diligen tem negligentiam. Hæc tamen sic detrahit ornatum, ut sordes non contrahat. S. August. de Doct. Christ. 1. 4. n. 24.

Melius est reprehendant nos grammatici, quàm non intelligant populi. Idem in Psal. cxxxviii.

[] Indicat non ingratam negli. gentiam, de re hominis magis, quàm de verbis, laborantis. Quædam etiam negligentia est diligens. Orat. n. 77, 78.



[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. This preface had dazzled great numbers, and was very much applauded. But they were greatly astonished, when M. 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 time, to compare these two treatises,

[2] Cùm non satagerem discere quæ dicebat, sed tantum quemadmodum dicebat audire... veniebant in animum meum simul cum verbis que diligebam, res etiam quas negligebam: neque enim ea dirimere poteram. Et dum cor aperirem ad excipiendum quam disertè

diceret, pariter intrabat & quam verè diceret. Ibid. n. 14.

[] Unde autem crebrò & multum acclamatur ita dicentibus, nisi quia veritas sic demonstrata, sic defensa, sic invicta, delectat? De Doctr. Chr. 1. 4. n. 56. ̧


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