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with difficulty, we can bring ourselves to believe, that he. “ was moved by the Holy Ghost,” to preach the Gospel.
The Bishops, before they ordain a candidate for holy orders, from either of the Universities, very properly, require him to produce a certificate from a Divinity Professor, of his having attended a certain course of lectures. But, what ever be his classical, philosophical, and theological knowledge, if he cannot address a popular assembly—if he cannot, by his mode of speaking, secure the attention of the wandering, suppress the levity of the giddy, and attract the mind of the inquisitive, hearer-he may engage by his example, edify by his conver-, sation, and instruct by his writings, but he will not be an useful Preacher, .
Solicitous to uphold the credit of the Church, and to promote the success of the Gospel, I express a most fervent wish, that the Northern Schools, which prepare very many young men for the Church, would establish the custom of frequent public speaking, and-which is still more desirable--that the several Colleges, in the two Universities, would, as an indispensible preliminary to a degree, require of every one in their Society, to repeat in their chapel, in every term, speeches, declamations, parts of sermons, &c. &c. An University education, would then qualify, as it was, originally, designed to do, all who enter into holy orders, to discharge the “. popular part of their vocation, with honour to themselves, and benefit to their hearers; and the good Shepherd would have the comfort, not al. ways awaiting dignities and preferments, of seeing his flock daily“ grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
I introduce to the reader, without any comment or observation, a passage from my Lord Bacon's Works, which he will not, perhaps, think inapposite.
Speaking of a custom that formerly prevailed, which was, as he expresses it, “ the best way, to frame and train up Preachers, to handle the Word of God as it ought to be handled, that hath been practised—the Ministers did meet upon a week day, in some principal town, where there was some ancient grave Minister that was President, and an auditory admitted of gentlemen, or other persons of leisure. Then every Minister, successively, beginning with the youngest, did handle one and the same "part of Scripture ; spending severally some quarter of an hour or better, and in the whole, some two hours : and so the exercise be. ing begun and concluded with prayer, and the Pre. sident giving a text for the next meeting, the assembly was dissolved. Every practice of science," he continues, “ hath an exercise of erudition and initiation, before men come to the life : only preaching, which is the worthiest, and wherein it is most danger to do amiss, wanteth an intro
duction, and is ventured and rushed upon at the
He next proceeds to say, it is his wish, “that the same exercise was used in the Universities, for young Divines, before they presumed to preach, as well as in the country, for Ministers.”
Massillon having given his Clergy no directions, respecting either the delivery or composition of a discourse, I offer to the reader, a Translation of a Letter on the Art of Preaching, by M. Reybaz, a Minister of Geneva. I also subjoin such sentiments as have occurred to my mind, on the nature of a sermon, in so far as preaching affects the Church of England. The younger Clergy may not, perhaps, be displeased, that I add a Prayer, which may, by those, who have not previously composed one of more fervor and piety, be read devoutly in the study.