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plan and in setting down the heads of discourse, and either carrying them to the pulpit in short notes, that at the different pauses of the sermon they may meet the preacher's eye, or in fixing them on the memory, without carrying notes to the pulpit, and filling op the illustrations in such words as present themselves on the spur of the occasion.
This method requires accuracy in forming the plan; promptness, and vigour of mind in prosecuting it; considerable stores of knowledge at the preachers command, and a copious and easy flow of diction. This manner of address will generally attain a less degree of accuracy, both in the thoughts and language, than any of the former; but it will, if ably conducted, generally be found to pierce more forcibly, and to sink more deeply into the minds of the hearers. It is perhaps the best calculated to rouse and to alarm the inconsiderate; to awaken attention ; to strike the mind with sentiments of awe and reverence; to melt into pity; to ele. vate the affections; to storm the citadel of the heart that has long been fortified by infidelity ; to impress and to rivet conviction; to convey instruction, and to fix the seal
Great care should however be taken to lay it under such restraints, as will neither suffer it to evaporate into enthusiasm, to swell into the turgid, to rise into the boisterous, nor to sink into the coarseness of violent and vulgar eloquence.-It has one considerable disadvantage. Though it admits of care in forming the plan, in dividing and arranging the heads, in ramifying the principal ideas, in giving order and dependence to the whole discourse ; yet as that case extends only to the leading sentiments, it leaves the secondary ones to be formed in the hurry of reasoning or declamation, and in the agitation and fervour of address, a speaker has neither time nor calm
ness to weigh or to cull his thoughts. It is much better adapted to those who have long been familiar with the heads of divinity, who have often reflected and written upon its awful truths, and are possessed of ample information with respect to its doctrines, the state of Theological controversies, and the intellectual system of moral combinations, than to such as possess but a small stock of knowledge, and that stock very imperfectly arranged. Young preachers should be extremely cautious how they form their habits of composing. Penury of sentiment, and incorrectnesss of language are likely to result from a habitude of this kind. Men, whose habits of thinking and speaking have been matured by study and time, may use it with propriety and effect. Bishop Beveridge has composed four volumes of Skeletons of this kind, but as he intended them only for his own use, their posthumous publication was exposed to many disadvantages. Mr. Simeon has furnished students and young preachers with, we think, six hundred Skeletons; the merits of which rise far above any other specimens of the same kind that our language supplies. Archbishop Secker, speaking of reading sermons and of extempore discourses, observes, “ There is a middle way, used by our predecessors, of setting down, in short notes, the method and principal heads, and enlarging on them in such words as present themselves at the time. Perhaps, duly managed, this would be the best.” Dr. Johnson in his life of Dr. Watts, observes of that eminent Divine, “Such was his flow of thoughts, and such his promptness of language, that in the latter part of his life he did not precom. pose his cursory sermons; but having adjusted the heads and sketched out some particulars, he trusted for success to his extempore powers," VOL. II.
In common Congregations, an address that is pronounced without reading, is generally much more popular and impressive, than one which is read. The former was among the means employed by the fathers and followers of the Methodists; and in the formation and extension of their societies, its influence is acknowledged to have been great. The same method of teaching is generally employed with success by the Evangelical Dissenters.
It seems wonderful that so few of the Clergy should oppose, with arms so powerful, the inroads made upon the Church; and that the attack should be so seldom repelled with the same weapons with which it is made. If, while the fervour of the war rages, and some are every day deserting the Church, and swelling the number of those who have abandoned her interests, the Clergy are employed in balancing the niceties of language, they may come to find abundance of employment, when they shall have nothing else to attend to. No Clergyman should be ignorant of the laws of composition, or un. skilled in the arts of reducing them to practice. But the art of composing with elegance, is a rare talent, and even the most successful attempts of the general part of those who have had the advantage of a liberal education, will not be found in composition, to rise above the state of mediocrity. To a common Country Congregation, the refinements of style are both unin. teresting and useless. The attempt, as a great wit expresses it, is like that of hewing blocks of wood with the fine edge of a razor. A common axe will do in. finitely better.
The last mode of address is when the preacher, with little or no adjustment of plan, eitber in bis mind or committed to paper, ventures into the pulpit trusting
to the supplies of the moment, for the filling up of the great lines of public instruction. Though the three former methods of instruction are generally called extempore preaching, it is only the last that can with propriety be called by that name. It leaves almost every thing to the impressions of the moment, and provides almost nothing for the proper discharge of an office, of the highest trust and responsibility. In this manner, it is true, that the Apostles preached the Gospel. But the Spirit of inspiration who resided in them, rendered preparation unnecessary. It was given them in the moment of address what they should say, and the Spirit of their Father spoke in them. But this promise was peculiar to them, and cannot be claimed by the ordinary Ministers of Christianity. The latter have the promise of the Spirit to help their infirmities, but not to supersede their studies. What talents soever any man may possess, and what knowledge soever he may have collected, he runs a considerable hazard by venturing into the pulpit without preparation. For a man of ordinary talents, in ordinary cases, especially in a country where the fine arts are in a high state of cultivation, to address a promiscuous congregation without having previously arranged the subjects to which he directs their attention, seems to be an act of temerity that attaches to it the crime of presumption.
In modern times, Knox and Whitfield, appear to have been the most distinguished preachers, both for the excellencies and for the faults of popular elocution. Both of them were men of exalted and exemplary piety ; but in neither of them was that piety exempted from considerable mixtures of enthusiasm. Both of them possessed powers of oratory, of the highest order, which, by proper discipline, might have been restrained from eccentric flights, without breaking their force. Both of them might have retained the sacred heat of the altar, without mingling it with wild fire. Both of them were accustomed to seize, and to hurry away with them, the minds of men. They could soften their hearers into tenderness, rouse them to reflection, awaken them to remorse, and call forth the strongest emotions of terror. They often, by a sort of electrical shock, communicated the same sensations to multitudes, and dissolved thousands into tears. But their manner was sometimes rather furious than vehement, and their similies more striking than comely. Their language was unpolished, and while the torrent of their eloquence roared and swept every thing away with it, it flowed with a turbid as well as with an impetuous stream. In times still later, three orators celebrated for their pulpit talents have risen to great eminence in this country, Dr. Kirwan, Dean of Killala, of the United Church of Eng. land and Ireland ; Mr. Struthers, in the Presbyterian Relief Connexion, in Scotland ; an? Mr. Spencer, of the Independent Dissenters in England.
The state of the Church of England, with respect to Evangelical Religion, has for many years been progressively improving, and promises an increasing improvement. The influence of the lamented Mr. Perceval, a man of genuine piety and worth, in promoting that cause, is supposed to have been very considerable. The friends of Evangelical piety, in the Church of England, number among the many excellent men, who, adorn the Gospel by their example, as much as they study to promote its interests by all other means in their power, Lord Har. rowby, and the late Chancellor of the Exche quer, the Hon. N. Vansittart. Of the bench of Bishops, besides