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of them, on hearing me lecture upon the same subjects again, discovered changes, it led them to reflect for themselves, and filled them with a spirit of investigation; and to awaken a spirit of investigation in my hearers, and teach them to stand upon their own feet, was the grand object of all my lectures, particularly the philosophical.
In regard to theology : The principle, not to approve of any thing in theology which was at variance with the obvious declarations of the Bible, confined me to a middle course, in which, with sufficient freedom for examination, I was restrained from running off too far into error. That this proved prejudicial to the students committed to my charge, I will not pretend to deny: The Bible, as I lately informed you, my dear friend, had been my companion from my youth. I had never ceased to look upon it as the word of God to man, and read it as such. therefore it was of sacred and decisive authority. Hence, a position which contradicted it, disgusted my religious feelings, as much as an immoral assertion did my moral
That I regularly and faithfully examined the principles upon which the authority of the Scriptures rest, you will take for granted. Before I did so, however, it was a matter of conscience with me not to involve myself in any contention with a book which originated with God, and constitutes the instruction of so large a portion of our race; the divine power of which I had so often experienced in my own heart, and for which all my feelings had ever declared in so decided a manner. In addition to this, I was born in a church, which is the proper kingdom of the Scriptures, acknowledging as it does no other unlimited authority and deriving its system of doctrines entirely from them. This system appeared to me to be far more agreeable to the Scriptures, provided they are received without any human refinements or perversions, than that of any other religious party of Christians. Hence, notwithstanding the greatness of my internal fermentation, and the length of my struggles with doubts of every kind, I could, from the very beginning, not only teach the system of doctrines embraced by the Evangelical church, but, if I acted conscientiously, was obliged to do so. Of course, I afterwards did this with increasing delight and thorough
ness; as I became more and more convinced, that the essential parts of this system are contained in the Scriptures and too deeply four.ded upon them, ever to be mistaken, or by any of the arts of interpretation, entirely explained away.
And now, my dear friend, as to the result : Strictly speaking, the six years which I have just described or the time from 1778 to 1784, cannot be reckoned as devoted to an immediate preparation for the ministry. During this remarkable period of my life, I was zealously engaged in inquiries after truth and certainty, and made it my principal aim to obtain correct views of those subjects which by every rational man ought to be looked upon as the most sacred and important. With the business of preaching during this period of struggle, I did not trouble myself. That it was a period of immense usefulness to me, however, in this respect, you will yourself infer. The exercises in teaching and thinking in which I had to engage, the various acquisitions which I was obliged to make, the stores of useful materials which I acquired, the many precious reflections to which I was led, and, what is more than all the rest, the joyful convictions respecting the most important concerns of rnan, which I gradually obtained, all these proved of great value to me when I began to preach. I then found myself neither destitute of materials to work upon, nor void of skill to give what was to be delivered, the requisite order and connexion. In respect, also to expression and representation, I had gained more than I had lost ; for without words it is impossible to philosophize, and the reading of the best and acutest writers in which I employed myself during this period, proved of great use to me in increasing my knowledge of language and forming my taste. It is time, however, for me to hasten to my entrance upon the business of preaching. Permit me to give you an account of myself in this respect in my next letter, and in the mean time, farewell.
Becomes a Pastor-Ministerial habits-Complains of his memory–No imita
tor-Wrote very methodically–His first sermons quite defective-Ought to have read and studied the best masters.
MY DEAR FRIEND
I had not preached more than sixteen or twenty times at the farthest, in all my life, when I was ushered into a very important station as a minister of the Gospel, and one, who was to have young students'for his hearers, and serve as a pattern to those who were destined to become ministers themselves. You will readily suppose that I deeply felt the importance of my calling, and entered upon it resolved to do the utmost in my power to perform iis duties, and to omit nothing so far as knowledge and design were concerned, which should be requisite for enabling me to render my sermons useful. As I was obliged to begin preaching without having gone through much preparatory exercise, in the midst of labors of an entirely different kind, the whole employment with me had some peculiarities, which I will lay open to you in regular order.
I was scarcely ever master of my own time. Almost every moment I had to spare, during the week, was devoted to the business of my professorship. The only time I had for composing sermons, was, what I had formerly spent in reading and extending my studies. I was also unable to calculate upon my health. It had never been firm, and with the efforts which I was now obliged to make, it certainly could not gain. Accordingly, I was subject to sudden fits of indisposition, particularly to ephemeral fevers, which often atacked me wlien I was least prepared for them.
Hence, when I began to preach, I firmly resolved, never to postpone the composing of a sermon to the last moment, but always to commence the work as soon as possible. From the very outset, therefore, I made it an inva
riable rule, before delivering one sermon, to have another already prepared to follow it, in
desk. This was of more than one advantage to me. never driven to the necessity of preaching unprepared or of extemporizing. I was ready for every occasion long before it arrived. If unforeseen events occured, or my studies were interrupted, or sudden fits of indisposition attacked me, they could not injure my labor; for if these things took place during the latter part of the week, they could not affect the sermon already in my desk, and ample time was always left for me to plan another to succeed it, and write it out, with all the requisite care. More than all the rest, however, this habit of early preparation made it unnecessary for me to do any thing in haste. Sometimes I did not succeed to my mind as to every point in my first attempts at composing a sermon. As however more than a week was to elapse before it would be delivered, I had ample time for working over the whole of it or a part, as often as I pleased, and endeavoring to render it, at least, in some measure perfect. Hence, my sermons naturally acquired a certain uniformity of character. At any rate, they had this perfection if no other, that one was not exalted too much above another, as all had in the main received an equal share of attention. These advantages induced me to continue the habit of early preparation for the pulpit, even after I ceased to be professor, when I had far more time to devote to my sermons. This I was constrained to do, so much the more, from the fact, that the ideal perfection at which I aimed in composing a sermon, was always becoming more elevated, and consequently, required me to make increasing exertions to effect its attainment. I labored therefore at this time, notwithstanding I had preached so often and so long, more hours and with greater diligence upon my sermons than I did at first ; and hence, was obliged to calculate closer than formerly, in order to obtain sufficient leisure for composing them.
* ["I cannot recommend Reinhard's custom of writing a second sermon before the first was delivered, to those who commit their discourses; as the two things united must occasion perplexity." Tzschirner, Briefe veranlasst durch Reinhard's Geständnisse, u. s. w. Sulzbach, 1810, S. 248 ff.]
No sooner had I commenced the business of preaching, than I became very painfully conscious of a defect, which had not wholly escaped me before, but which I had not much regarded; namely, the want of a good, ready, and retentive memory for words. In recollecting things, connected trains of thought, and whole systems of well arranged ideas, I never found any difficulty ; and the attention I had paid to philosophy, had greatly exercised and strengthened my memory in this respect. To call to mind however a discourse I was to deliver, in exactly those words and phrases in which it was written, was not so easy a task ; nor could I, at first, consistently with the arrangements I had made for composing my sermons, entirely prevent all the injurious results of a defective memory. Nevertheless, I was sensible of the impossibility of avoiding the introduction of inappropriate and undignified expressions, falling into tautological excrescenses, speaking with imperspicuity and indefiniteness, and perlaps, by means of a careless style, of exciting aversion and disgust, in any other way, than by adhering to the very terms and expressions, which, in writing my sermons, I had selected as the best. Hence, I applied every spare moment I could find during the week, particularly dressing time, to gradually committing my sermon to memory, in order that I might be able to deliver it without embarrassment. That under such circumstances, I found this part of my duty the hardest I had to perform, is a consession you will naturally expect. Indeed, with the most conscientious diligence and care in this respect, I could not avoid letting many things slip in the delivery, and often entirely destroying a well constructed period, by substituting new and ill-adapted expressions instead of the ones which had originally been selected ; nor have I been able by constant exercise, to remedy this natural defect of my memory; for it costs me now as much trouble as it did at first, to take up every thing when I preach, exactly in the order in which it was conceived and written.*
" ["That a sermon should be carefully worked out and committed to memory beforehand, whenever it is possible, I have,” says Tzschirner, (Briefe u. s. w., already referred to, S. 248 f.,)“ become thoroughly convinced. To read a sermon shackles an orator, prevents his hearers from indulging the agreeable