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ceeds from love and from thankfulness; from love, the fountain of pleasure, the passion which gives every thing we do, or enjoy, its relish and agreeableness. From thankfulness, which involves in it the memory of past benefits, the actual presence of them to the mind, and the repeated enjoyment of them. And as is its principle, such is its end also: for it procureth quiet and ease to the mind, by doing somewhat towards satisfying that debt which it labours under; by delivering it to those thoughts of praise and gratitude, those exultations it is so full of; and which should grow uneasy and troublesome to it if they were kept in. If the thankful refrained, it would be pain and grief' to them: but then, then “is their soul satisfied as with marrow and fatness, when their mouth praiseth God with joyful lips.')
In beginning this head of discourse, the expression which the author uses, " to set out some of its peculiar properties and advantages,' would now be reckoned not so proper an expression, as'to point out,' or to show. The first subdivision, concerning praise being the most pleasant part of devotion, is very just and well expressed, as far as it goes; but seems to me rather defective. Much more might have been said, upon the pleasure that accompanies such exalted acts of devotion. It was a cold thought, to dwell upon its disburdening the mind of a debt. The author should have insisted more upon. the influence of praise and thanksgiving, in warming, gladdening, soothing the mind; listing it above the world, to dwell among divine and eternal objects. He should have described the peace and joy which then expand the heart; the relief which this exercise procures from the cares and agitations of life; the encouraging views of Providence to which it leads our attention: and the trust which it promotes in the divine mercy for the future, by the commemoration of benefits past. In short, this was the place for his pouring out a greater flow of devotional sentiments than what we here find.
62. It is another distinguishing property of divine pra 'se, that it enlargeth the powers and capacities of our souls, turning them from low and little things, upon their greatest and noblest object, the divine nature, and employing them in the discovery and admiration of those several perfections that adorn it. We see what difference there is between man and man, such as there is hardly greater between man and beast: and this proceeds chiefly from the different sphere of thought which they act in, and the different objects they converse with. The mind is essentially the same in the peasant and the prince; the force of it naturally equal, in the untaught man, and the philosopher; only the one of these is busied in mean affairs, and within narrower bounds; the other exercises himself in things of weight and moment; and this it is, that puts the wide distance between them. Noble objects are to the mind, what the sunbeams are to a bud or flower; they open and unfold, as it were, the leaves of it; put it upon exerting and spreading itself every way; and call forth all those powers that lie hid and locked up in it. The praise and admiration of God, therefore, bring this advantage along with
it, that it sets our faculties upon their full stretch, and improves them to all the degrees of perfection of which they are capable.
This head is just, well expressed, and to censure it might appear hypercritical. Some of the expressions, however, one would think might be amended. The simile, for instance, about the effects of the sunbeams upon the bud or flower, is pretty, but not correctly expressed. “They open and unfold, as it were, the leaves of it. If this is to be literally applied to the flower, the phrase, as it were,' is needless; if it is to be metaphorically understood, (which appears to be the case, the leaves of the mind,' is harsh language; besides that, put it upon exerting itself,' is rather a low expression. Nothing is more nice than to manage properly such similes and allusions, so as to preserve them perfectly correct, and at the same time to render the image lively: it might perhaps be amended in some such way as this: “ As the sunbeams open the bud, and unfold the leaves of a flower, noble objects have a like effect upon the mind: they expand and spread it, and call forth those powers that before lay hid and locked up in the soul.'
63. It farther promotes in us an exquisite sense of God's honour, and a high indignation of mind at every thing that openly profanes it. For what we value and delight in, we cannot with patience hear slighted or abused. Our own praises, which we are constantly putting up, will be a spur to us towards procuring and promoting the divine glory in every other instance; and will make us set our faces against all open and avowed impieties; which, methinks, should be considered a little by such as would be thought not to be wanting in this duty, and yet are often silent under the foulest dishonours done to religion, and its great Author: for tamely to hear God's name and worship vilified by others, is no very good argument that we have been used to honour and reverence him, in good earnest, ourselves.'
The thcught here is well founded, though it is carelessly and loosely br ught out. The sentence, our own praises, which we are constantly putting up, will be a spur to us towards procuring and promoting the divine glory in every other instance,' is both negligent in language, and ambiguous in meaning, for our own praises,' properly signifies the praises of ourselves. Much better if he had said, • Those devout praises which we constantly offer up to the Almighty, will naturally prompt us to promote the divine glory in every other instance.'
64. It will, beyond all this, work in us a deep humility and consciousness of our own imperfections. Upon a frequent attention to God and his attributes, we shall easily discover our own weakness and emptiness; our swelling thoughts of ourselves will abate, and we shall see and feel that we are altogether lighter to be laid in the balance than vanity; and this is a lesson which, to the greatest part of mankind, is, I think, very well worth learning. We are naturally presumptuous and vain; full of ourselves, and regardless of every thing besides, especially when some little outward privileges distinguish us from the rest of mankind; then, it is odds, but we look into ourselves with great degrees of complacency, and are wiser
(and better every way) in our own conceit, than seven men that can render a reason. Now nothing will contribute so much to the cure of this vanity, as a due attention to God's excellences and perfections. By comparing these with those which we imagine belong to us, we shall learn, not to think more highly of ourselves, than we ought to think of ourselves,' but to think soberly;' we shall find more satisfaction in looking upwards, and humbling ourselves before our common Creator, than in casting our eyes downward with scorn upon our fellow-creatures, and setting at nought any part of the work of his hands. The vast distance we are at from real and infinite worth, will astonish us so much, that we shall not be tempted to value our. selves upon these lesser degrees of pre-eminence, which custom or opinion, or some little accidental advantages, have given us over other men.'
Though the thought here also be just, yet a like deficiency in elegance and beauty appears. The phrase, “it is odds but we look into ourselves, with great degrees of complacency,' is much too low and colloquial for a sermon-he might have said, we are likely,'orowe are prone,' to look into ourselves.—Comparing these with those which we imagine belong to us,' is also very careless style.— By comparing these with the virtues and abilities which we ascribe to ourselves, we shall learn'-would have been purer and more correct.
65. I shall mention but one use of it more, and it is this : that a conscientious praise of God will keep us back from all false and mean praise, all fulsome and servile flatteries, such as are in use among men. Praising, as it is commonly managed, is nothing else but a trial of skill upon a man, how many good things we can possibly say of him. All the treasures of oratory are ransacked, and all the sine things that ever were said, are heaped together for his sake; and no matter whether it belongs to him or not; so there be but enough on't; which is one deplorable instance, among a thousand, of the baseness of human nature, of its small regard to truth and justice to right or wrong, to what is or is not to be praised. But he who hath a deep sense of the excellences of God upon his heart will make a god of nothing besides. He will give every one his just encomium, honour where honour is due, and as much as is due, because it is his duty to do so; but the honour of God will suffer him to go no farther. Which rule, if it had been observed, a neighbouring prince (who now, God be thanked, needs flattery a great deal more than ever he did,) would have wanted a great deal of that incense which hath been offered up to him by his adorers.'
This head appears scarcely to deserve any place among the more important topics that naturally presented themselves on this subject; at least, it had much better have wanted the application which the author makes of his reasoning to the flatterers of Louis XIV.; and the thanks which he offers to God, for the affairs of that prince being in so low a state, that he now needed flattery more than ever. This political satire is altogether out of place, and unworthy of the subject. Öne would be inclined to think, upon reviewing our author's ar
guments, that he has overlooked some topics, respecting the happy consequences of this duty, of fully as much importance as any that he has inserted. Particularly, he ought not to have omitted the happy tendency of praise and thanksgiving, to strengthen good dispositions in the heart; to promote love to God, and imitation of those perfections which we adore; and to infuse a spirit of ardour and zeal into the whole of religion, as the service of our Benefactor. These are consequences which naturally follow from the proper perforinance of this duty and which ought not to have been omitted; as no opportunity should be lost of showing the good effect of devotion on practical religion and moral virtue, and pointing out the necessary connexion of the one with the other. For certainly the great end of preaching is, to make men better in all the relations of life, and to promote that complete reformation of heart and conduct in which true christianity consists. Our author, however, upon the whole, is not deficient in such views of religion; for, in his general strain of preaching, as he is extremely pious, so he is, at the same time, practical and moral.
His summing up of the whole argument, in the next paragraph, is elegant and beautiful; and such concluding views of the subject are frequently very proper and useful : Upon these grounds doth the duty of praise stand, and these are the obligations that bind us to the performance of it. It is the end of our being, and the very rule and law of our nature; flowing from the two great fountains of human action, the understanding and the will, naturally, and almost necessarily. It is the most excellent part of our religious worship; enduring to eternity, after the rest shall be done away; and paid, even now, in the frankest manner, with the least regard to our own interest. It recommends itself to us by several peculiar properties and advantages; as it carries more pleasure in it than all other kinds of devotion; as it enlarges and exalts the several powers of the mind; as it breeds in us an exquisite sense of God's honour, and a willingness to promote it in the world; as it teaches us to be humble and lowly ourselves, and yet preserves us from base and sordid flattery, from bestowing mean and undue praises upon others.'
After this, our author addresses himself to two classes of men, the careless and the profane. His address to the careless is beautiful and pathetic; that to the profane, is not so well executed, and is liable to some objection. Such addresses appear to me to be, on several occasions, very useful parts of a discourse. They prevailed much in the strain of preaching before the restoration; and perhaps, since that period, have been too much neglected. They afford an opportunity of bringing home to the consciences of the audience, many things, which in the course of the sermon, were, perhaps, delivered in the abstract.
I shall not dwell on the conclusion of the sermon, which is chiefly employed in observations on the posture of public affairs at that time. Considered upon the whole, this discourse of Bishop Atterbury's is both useful and beautiful; though I have ventured to point out some defects in it. Seldom, or never, can we expect to meet with a composition of any kind, which is absolutely perfect in all its parts : and when we take into account the difficulties which I before showed to attend the eloquence of the pulpit, we have, perhaps, less reason to look for perfection in a sermon, than in any other composition.
CONDUCT OF A DISCOURSE IN ALL ITS PARTS..... INTRODUCTION, DIVISION, NARRATION, AND
EXPLICATION. I HAVE, in the four preceding lectures, considered what is pecu liar to each of the three great fields of public speaking, popular assemblies, the bar, and the pulpit. I am now to treat of what is common to them all; of the conduct of a discourse or oration, in gene ral. The previous view which I have given of the distinguishing spirit and character of different kinds of public speaking, was necessary for the proper application of the rules which I am about to deliver; and as I proceed, I shall further point out, how far any of these rules may have a particular respect to the bar, to the pulpit, or to popular courts.
On whatever subject any one intends to discourse, he will most commonly begin with some introduction, in order to prepare the minds of his hearers; he will then state his subject, and explain the facts connected with it; he will employ arguments for establishing his own opinion, and overthrowing that of his antagonist; he may, perhaps, if there be room for it, endeavour to touch the passions of his audience; and after having said all he thinks proper, he will bring his discourse to a close by some peroration or conclusion. This being the natural train of speaking, the parts that compose a regular formal oration, are these six; first, the exordium or introduction; secondly, the state, and the division of the subject; thirdly, narration or explication ; fourthly, the reasoning or arguments; fifthly, the pathetic part; and lastly, the conclusion. I do not mean that each of these must enter into every public discourse, or that they must enter always in this order. There is no reason for being. so formal on every occasion; nay, it would often be a fault, and would render a discourse pedantic and stiff. There may be many excellent discourses in public, where several of these parts are allogether wanting; where the speaker, for instance, uses no introduction, but enters directly on his subject; where he has no occasion either to divide or explain; but simply reasons on one side of the question, and then finishes. But as the parts which I have mentioned are the natural constituent parts of a regular oration; and as in every discourse whatever, some of them must be found, it is neces