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human Wit, was never able to furnish out a Subject so vast and profound, as those adorable Mysteries of Grace and Predestination, contain'd in St. Paul's Epistles. But indeed, what Élogies can describe the Excellence and Dignity of the New Testament, which is, most emphatically, the Book of our Religion, and to which all the prophetick Writings were but a kind of Preface, or Introduction : What can be conceiv'd so great and expressive, as that short Character of our Lord's Discourses, given by himself? The Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life': Other Books are compos'd only of Words; this only of Things : And as 'tis the Character of Man's Spirit, to speak Much and say Little ; fo 'tis the Character of the Spirit of God, to speak Little, and say Much. For the holy Scriptures, having a peculiar Greatness of Sense, couch'd under a plain and familiar Phrase, lead us commonly to conceive more than they express. Can there be so much Simplicity, or Succinctness, in any other Exprefsion, as in those two, The Word was made Flesh:

And they crucified him? How many Volumes have been written to explain the full Import of so few Syllables? How many more may still be written on the fame Theme? And what Penetration of Spirit can ever be sufficient to fathom the utmost Depths of those mysterious Truths? And yet Men are too much dispos’d to rest in the bare Words, and not to search into their hidden Stores by diligent Meditation. What Example have we of a Preacher able to pierce thro' the awful Darkness and facred Obscurity of the Scri. ptural Text, and to discover all the Treasures of Knowledge that it conceals ? How few are

worthy

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Parvuli worthy to break this holy Bread of the Word petierunt of God, which ought to be the common Food

of Christians ? That is, how few are so proqari fran- foundly knowing and skilful, as to unfold to geret eis. the People, the full Sense and Compass of the Lam. 4. Scripture, and to apply it properly in their

Discourses, as the surest Means of Persuasion and Success ? Men preach their own Jmaginations, and not the Conceptions of the Spirit of God. And is not this to fail in the very first Principles ? For there can be no Christian Eloquence, but such as is founded upon the genuine Idea drawn from the holy Writings, which are its proper Fountain and Original.

XIII.

There is a particular Style for the Pulpit, which seems not to have sufficiently exercis'd the Care and Study of Preachers. This Style is the same that the Apostles, after they had receiv'd the Holy Ghost, made use of in their Discourses to the People, recorded in the Book of Ats; where we find them explaining their Subject, by Expressions taken out of the old and New Testament. 'Tis from this sacred Spring, that they derive their Terms, their Phrase, their Figures, their Examples, their Arguments, and all the Amplifications of their Oratory : or rather, the Holy Spirit, speaking by their Mouth, delivers himself in the fame Manner, as by the Voice of the Prophets, because he is the fame Spirit. 'Tis this Manner which the Pulpit ought to express and imitate, and which a Preacher should labour to acquire, by that inward Light, resulting from his Meditation, and by his frequent reading of the Holy Scriptures, in which he ought to be fa

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miliarly vers’d, as they are the richest Treasure our Saviour has left to his Church. Whosoever would be a Teacher of Men, and would expound to them the Truths of Religion, must first be a Disciple of the Holy Spirit: He must by an humble and obedient Faith, enter into the Knowledge of those Heavenly Instructions, which are the spiritual Manna, that God has been pleas'd to hide under the Veil of the Scriptures. And when a Preacher has hence fill'd his own Capacity, he pours this divine Un&tion, which is the true Character of the Word of God, on all that he de. livers ; his Words pierce, as so many Rays, to enlighten the Minds of his Hearers, and as so many Flames, to enliven and kindle their Hearts.

XIV.

But besides this Fund of Sense, drawn, as I have observ’d, from the Reading of the Fathers, and from a long Courfe of Theological Studies; and besides this peculiar Art of Eloquence form'd upon the Model of the Prophets, a Preacher ought to frame to himself a particular Morality, built wholly on the Principles of the Gospel. For all other Systems of Morals can reach no higher than to bare Philosophy and Pagan Probity. This sacred and refind Morality is to be fought for, not only in the four Evangelists, but likewise in St. Paul's Epistles, and in the Homilies of St. Chryfoftom, where it is so admirably explain'd. These Homilies ought to be a Preacher's daily Study. He will also receive great Instructions in the same way from St. Austin, St. Jerom, St. Gregory the Great, St. Bernard,

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and the other Fathers. These he must peruse with the exactest Care and Judgment, not to cull out the fine Thoughts and bright Periods, with which the younger Sort are lo desirous to adorn their Compositions, and which, to speak the Truth, are utterly unserviceable to Êdification, and true Compunction of Spirit.

XV.

Attende True Chriftian Morality can only be deritibi, & ved from those pure and holy Fountains, but Dorina, now described ; especially in this our Age, 1 Tim. 4. when every Man is for framing bis Morals

according to his Fancy, and when there are not wanting such extravagant Preachers, as vent from the Pulpit their own Chagrin and Complexion for the great Laws of Duty, with certain ridiculous and visionary Schemes, which they have before-hand entertain'd, and which are purely owing to a Spirit of Noyelty. Have we not some time since beheld a Preacher in Paris, who though profoundly ig. norant of what belong'd to his Character and Profession, undertook to decide every Thing

in the most rigorous Manner ; and who, be Propbetæ cause he utter'd the greatest Absurdities with ejus vesu- the assurance of a Prophet, or rather with ni, viri

the Confidence of a sophist, and in practical infideles, Zeph.4.

Points ventured at any Extravagance whatfoever, when once the Fumes of his Zeal were got into his Brain, was follow'd more than all his reverend Brethren ? For 'tis the Mode of our Nation, and of Paris especially, to run after every Thing that is new, and that has an Air of Singularity. But when we come to lift these Orators to the bottom, who thus attempt to fanctify their Discourses with an affected

Rigour,

Rigour, we find that they are not altogether so hard-hearted to themselves as to others. Thus it was with that Doctor, who begir ning his Course of Lent-Sermons, in a famous Church of Paris, declared to his Audience with the Air and Tone of a great Reformer, that they were to expect nothing from him but the severest Morality, and the height of Chriftian Discipline, in opposition to the licenti. ous Rules of the modern Casuists. But, as the Town is wont not to be over.charitable, Men took the same freedom with this Gentleman's Morals, as he had done with theirs ; his Story was the common Theme of Discourse, and Entertainment of Company. He that would preach up Severity, must imitate our blessed Saviour, and preach it by his own Example. 'Tis the Character of Christian Strictness, to be gentle to others, and severe to our selves. To appear otherwise, is to act the Impostor, or the Comedian, not the Preacher. The last Age was disturb’d by certain false Zealots, who, at the same time pretended to preach a greater degreee of Purity and Perfecti. on, while they were lifting up unholy Hands to Heaven, and promoting Error and Faction upon Earth. In a word, all Preachers, whose Ignorance leads them to this Extreme, who make Enormities and Abominations of mere Trifles, who by their plenitude of Power condemn a Woman for wearing colour'd Ribons, or for walking out upon a Festival; all such Preachers, I say, dishonour their Ministry by so violent an Excess; they discourage the Good and Pious by their false. Pictures of Vices, and authorize the Libertines and Impious by their frightful Representations of Virtue, which they draw with an Air of Cruelty

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