Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]

have the advantage of enabling a man to treat it in a more thorough manner, or introduce a greater variety into his discourse, it should certainly be preferred. My later sermons do in reality exhibit a greater degree of variety, than my others. At least, I have endeavored to be guided in their arrangement, by the subject selected and the principal divisions which naturally belonged to it, rather than an inclination to symmetry and an artificial admeasurement of divisions and sub-divisions. But enough of this thing. Permit me, my dear friend, in my next letter, to give you some account of the composition and execution of my sermons, and draw these consessions to a close. Farewell.*

[ocr errors][merged small]

Speaks of the composition of his Sermons—Their defects—Not adapted to country congregations-Examples–Difference of ancient and modern el. oquence-Has used some figures of speech too often-Failed of easy transitions—Of a correct use of pronouns-Criticisms—Of publishing a selection of his Sermons.


There is one other subject to speak of, namely the composition of my sermons, or what the ancient rhetoricians called elocution ; and hence, their style. It is a subject of which much might be said. You will permit me, however, to treat it with brevity, and take notice only

.* [Many excellent remarks upon the arrangement of Reinhard's sermons might here be added from others, particularly Tzschirner's Briefe, &c. but brevity forbids. This last work upon the whole subject of these letters, is well worthy of being read. Some farther notice will be taken of R.'s Sermons in

Part Second.)

of their defects or imperfections in this respect, or at least, of what I do not wish to bave imitated before mixed assemblies or country churches. In the first place, I must confess in general terms, that I have never as yet, been able entirely to satisfy myself in regard to the elocution of my sermons. Indeed, I have never been able to devote so much time and labor 10 them, as is requisite to perfect diction. It is impossible for him, who under a pressure of business and amidst unavoidable disturbances, is obliged to preach once every week, and occasionally, oftener, to produce any thing very excellent in its kind. Under such circumstances, one cannot find time for the multa litura in which alone excellence can originate, there often being scarcely enough left for writing down what a man wishes to say upon paper.* Hence, whenever I read my sermons with critical accuracy, in the style and dress, I every where discover imperfections and defects which might have been avoided, had I possessed more time, or been able to work them over and improve them. Did these imperfections consist merely in my occasionally commencing a sermon with two or three short syllables, as has justly been objected to them by Gräfe,f I should comfort myself with the reflection, that such a master as Cicero commenced a powerful oration with venio.f The defects of which I

* [What then must be said of writing three serinons a week, under a pressure of other parochial duties? Where is there any time left for thought, rhetorical preparation, and holy communion with God? Besides, is it not as well to prcach' extempore, as to read a sermon written extempore? To come at the point at once ? Should not the grand object of an education be, to enable a man to pour forth the rich treasures of his own mind into the minds of others, without being subjected to the slavish necessity of writing them down in the first place ? True, it is an object of great elevation and difficult attainment. Noihing but deep practical thinking, close attention to philosophy, intimate acquaintance with the human heart, susceptibility of emotion, and a thorough knowledge of language, will enable one to reach it; but does not the cause of truth require every student for the ministry to make the effort ? Once attained, what power would it put into his hands ? All the time now devoted to the mechanical process of writing, might then be devoted to energetic thinking; and looks, actions, tones of voice, nay, eloquence herself, be brought to the minister's aid. Then, we might expect him to catch the inspiration of the revivals which now light up the church and begin to roll their influence over the worlu, and hear him speak in the pulpit, not like a timid child, afraid of offending his audience, with his head pouring over his notes, but like an ambassador of God, full of awful solemnity, with a message fresh from the portals of heaven ]

See his Anweisung zum Rhytmus in homiletischer und liturgischer Hina sicht, S. 118.

Compare Accusationis in C. Verrem, lib. IV.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

speak are of a far higher character. They may be stated in general terms, as follows: The expression is not always as excellent, definite and intelligible, as it ought to be, is not rich enough, and does not contain sufficient variety, Sometimes it is too brief and not sufficiently clear; at others, it is too verbose, and contains something that is superfluous. It is often destitute of that easy movement, that ready flow, in which every thing seems to spring naturally forth of itself. Sometimes the ear is offended by a disagreeable location of the words; at others, it is displeased, or filled with one that is defective. And finally, the transition from one part to another, is not always sufficiently easy and natural, too often recurs, and exhibits too great an appearance of uniformity. Permit me, my dear friend, to make a few definite remarks respecting these several points of complaint, without pretending to follow the order in which they have been named. That the diction of my sermons does not always possess that clearness and simplicity which it ought to; that I have made use of a multitude of words and phrases which can be understood only by those who are acquainted with our book language, or at least, by those who have had some degree of scientific education, I willingly admit. I will go so far as to confess, that in view of my relations, and the churches before which I had to preach, I considered myself not only authorized, but in a manner obliged, to make use of this style and language.

At Wittemberg, I preached in the University Church, and most of my common hearers were learned men and students. In addressing this audience, of course, I could make use of many representations, expressions and figures of speech, which would have been altogether improper before any other; and being in the habit of using scientific expressions during the whole week, it was natural for me to introduce them into the discourses I wrote for the Sabbath. In Dresden, I was placed over a church, which was either composed of. well educated men, or such as were acquainted with our best writers; and hence, in addressing it, I was at liberty to make use of the book language, and a style, altogether above the comprehension of common peo

ple. Indeed, I was obliged to do so, or create displeasure or offence.

I hope, however, that no one will think of writing and speaking as I did, who has to address a very mixed as, sembly, or merely country people. I am altogether opposed, indeed, to that false clearness and simplicity, in which a man speaks to growo persons as children, and degenerates into what is fat and vulgar. The preacher should not lower himself down to the vulgar capacities of the populace, but he should elevate bis hearers to himself; and hence, at all times avail bimself of a serious, dignified, and select diction. In so doing, however, he must avoid those turns and expressions with which ignorant or poorly educated people can connect no ideas, or only wrong ones, and make use of those which are well known, or ex. actly describe the thing intended. An example will best illustrate what I mean.

The thirtieth Sermon cf 1799, treats of the theme: How Christians should regard their location in time. In this case the subject is not expressed in language sufficiently clear. A common person will not know what to make of the clause, his location in time. For such an one, the theme should have been thus expressed : How Christians should regard the time in which God permits them to live. In my examination and illustration of this theme, I have used a multitude of turns and expressions which can be understood only by well educated people. For instance, in the introduction, I have personified time, and called upon her children for that help, which, in common language, should be sought for, from, and ascribed to God; and used the phrases: Periode der vergangenheit- unter den Bedingungen der Zeit stehen, die Zeit nimmt uns nicht wieder auf, wenn wir uns ihr einmal entzogen haben-schwärmerische Seher ihre Periode soll vorüber seyn, 11.5. w., which are altogether above common intellects; and the body of the sermon is full of instances of this kind, and if any one wishes to find a passage in which they are beaped together in great abundance, he may consult the first sub-division of the third part, commencing; Verblendung nenne ich den Stolz, and ending ; dieser Stolz ist wahre Verblendung. The subjects of this sub-division, are sufficiently intelligible for any coun

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

try village; but they are treated of in such language, that I have no idea they would be understood, if declaimed to such a village by a rapid speaker. In short, should I accurately examine this sermon, I should find a multitude of words, like strange coin, altogether unknown to the common people, having never been in circulation among them. I have said enough, however, to show, that, as I did not write for a country congregation, my sermons are not intelligible to all, and hence, are by no means to be imitated by those who preach to country people.*

And here I must make some remarks respecting a difference as I think, to be noted, between ancient and modern eloquence. The ancient orator, strictly speaking, never addressed a mixed assembly. His hearers had an equal degree of education, as regarded the main subject, and were alike acquainted with and interested in, the point in question, respecting which, as it was a matter purely of common life, they believed themselves equally competent to decide.

He was not merely at liberty, therefore, but he was obliged, to use those expressions only, which were generally known and commonly employed; and the amount of words in circulation were amply sufficient to enable him to say whatever he wished. Had he used poetical forins or philosophical expressions, he would have heen ridiculed, as he would have departed from the practices of common life without any just occasion whatever. With the modern orator, and especially the preacher, every thing is different. The art of printing, by the facility with which it spreads all kinds of writings abroad, has in modern times formed a reading public as it is called, of which the ancients were totally ignorant. When writers sought to impart every thing to ibis public which could be interesting to man, and began even to reduce the abstract sciences to a popular form, they were cbliged to form a language altogether peculiar, and entirely different from that used by the mere speaking and talking public,


او برای



* The Remarks of Greiling, Von der höhern und niedern Popularität, in the work already quoted : Theorie der Popularität, $ 51. S. 97 ff. are well worth attention.

+ Hence, the reason why Cicero made so many apologies whenever he wished to use philosophical and scientific expressions. See Pro Archia Poeta, c. 2; also the conclusion of tbis Oration, and Pro Murena, c, 29.

« PoprzedniaDalej »