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not intended to be spoken, and give the reader time and liberty to read them over and over again; but it is not proper for a sermon, the rapidity of which might escape the most attentive auditor. [t] It must not even be supposed, that he is always so; and consequently the discourse ought to be so clear, as to reach even the most unattentive, in like manner as the sun strikes our eyes, without our thinking of it, and almost in spite of us. The supreme effect of this quality does not consist in making ourselves understood, but in speaking in such a manner that we cannot be misunderstood.



The necessity of the principle I have now laid down, appears in its greatest evidence with regard to the first instructions given to young people, which I look upon as a primary kind of preaching, more difficult than is generally imagined, and oftentimes more useful than the brightest and most laboured discourses. It is allowed that a catechist, who teaches children the first elements of religion, cannot be too clear and intelligible. No thought or expression should fall from him, above their capacities. Every thing ought to be adapted to their strength, or rather to their weakness. We must say but few things to them, express them clearly, and repeat them often; we must not speak hastily, or with rapidity, but pronounce every syllable articulately; give them short and clear definitions, and always in the same words; make the several truths evident to them by known examples, and familiar comparisons; speak little to them, and make them speak a great deal; which is one of the

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most essential duties of a catechist, and the least practised; and above all, must call to mind the happy saying of Quintilian, [u] that a child's mind is like a vessel with a narrow neck, in which no water will enter, if poured abundantly into it; whereas it fills insensibly, if the liquid be poured gently, or even by drops. The catechist must proceed gradually from these plain steps, to something stranger and more elevated, according to the proficiency he observes in the children; but he must always take care to adapt himself to their capacity, and their weakness; and to descend to them, because they are not in a condition to raise themselves to him.

This task, which is one of the most important in the ecclesiastical ministry, is not, generally speaking, esteemed or respected enough. People seldom prepare themselves for it with the care it deserves and as the difficulty and importance of it are little known, we too often neglect the means which might facilitate its success. Whoever takes this charge upon himself, ought to peruse with great attention St. Austin's admirable treatise upon the method of instructing catechumens, in which that great man after laying down excellent rules upon this point, proceeds to propose a plan of the best method (in his opinion) for instructing them in the principles of religion.

I think it would be of great advantage to form a general scheme or plan for catechising in parishes, to serve as a foundation for all the instructions necessary, and regulate both the matter and disposition; so that all the catechisms might contain the same instructions, but treated in a more or less extensive manner, as the children should be more or less improved. These catechisms may be divided into three classes, the first

[u] Magistri hoc opus est, cùm adhuc rudia tractabit ingenia, non statim onerare infirmitatem discentium, sed temperare vires suas, & ad intellectum audientis descendere. Nam ut vascula oris angusti superfusam humoris copium respuunt,

sensim autem influentibus, vel etiam instillatis, complentur, sic animi puerorum quantum accipere possint videndum est. Nam majora intellectu velut parùm aptos ad percipiendum animos non subibunt. Quint. I. 1. c. 3.


for beginners, the second for those who have already received some instructions, and the third for such as are more advanced, and are prepared for receiving the first communion, or have lately received it. I suppose children to continue in each class about two years; in which time, the plan I have now mentioned, be it what it will, is to be explained to them (for it is highly reasonable to leave it to the choice and prudence of the person who is at the head of the catechists) always subjoining the catechism of the diocese. The matters should at first be treated briefly, and in general terms, because they are calculated for children. M. Fleury's catechism is excellent for beginners, and may be looked upon as the execution of the plan which St. Augustine gives us in his treatise. The same matters are repeated in the second and third classes; but in a new method, which is always an improvement of that which preceeded, by adding to it new lights, and more efficacious truths. Would not religion be thus taught thoroughly? I have seen some children, even among the poor, make surprisingly clear responses upon very difficult subjects, which could be owing to nothing but the master's order and method of teaching, and which shews, that young people are capable of every thing, when they are well instructed.

I own that nothing is more tedious or distasteful to a man of genius, who has often a great deal of vivacity, than thus to teach the first principles of religion to children, who very often want either capacity or attention. But must not others have had the same patience with us, when they taught us the alphabet, orthography, and the joining of words; and when we ourselves learned the catechism? [r] Is it agreeable

[x] Num delectat, nisi amor invitet, decurtata & mutilata verba immurmurare? Et tamen optant homines habere infantes quibus id exhibeant: & suavius est matri mi


nuta mansa inspuere parvulo filio, quàm ipsam mandere ac devorare grandiora. Non ergo recedat de pectore etiam cogitatio gallinæ il lius, quæ languidulis pennis teneI 3


to a father, says St. Austin, to stammer out half words with his son, in order to teach him to speak? Yet this gives him great pleasure. Does not a mother take more delight in putting aliment into her infant's mouth, suitable to its weak and tender condition, than to take the nourishment proper for herself? We must perpetually call to mind the tenderness of a hen who covers her young ones with her extended wings; and hearing their feeble cries, calls them with a faltering voice, in order to shelter them from the bird of prey, who unrelentingly snatches away such as do not fly for safety to their mother's wings. [y] The love and charity of Christ, who vouchsafed to apply this comparison to himself, has been infinitely more extensive, and it was in imitation of him, that St. Paul [~] made himself weak with the weak, in order to gain the weak; and had for all the faithful, the gentleness and [a] tenderness of a nurse and a mother.

[b] This, says St. Austin, is what we must represent to ourselves, when we are tired or disgusted; when we are weary of descending to the puerility and weakness of children; and to repeat incessantly to them the most trite things, and run them over a hundred times. It often happens, continues the same father, that we take a singular pleasure, in shewing friends newly arrived at the city we live in, whatever is beautiful, uncommon, or curious; and the sweetness of friendship diffuses a secret charm over things which would otherwise appear exceeding tiresome, and gives them, as to ourselves, all the graces of novelty. [c] Why should not charity produce the same effects in us that friendship does, especially when the ros fœtus operit, & susurrantes pul- descendere... cogitemus quid nolos confractâ voce advocat; cujus bis prærogatum sit ab illo. qui, blandas alas refugientes superbi, cùm in formâ Dei esset, semetipsum præda fiunt alitibus. De Catchif, exinanivit, formam servi accipiens. Rudib. c. 10, & 12. De Catech. Rud. c. 10. [y] Matt. xxiii. 37. [x] 1 Cor. ix. 22. [a] Thes. ii. 7. [b] Si usitata, & parvulis congruentia sæpe repetere fastidimus. ... si ad infirmitatem discentium piget

[c] Quanto ergo magis delectari noso portet, cùm ipsum Deum jam discere homines accedunt, propter quem discenda sunt, quæcunque discenda sunt? Ibid. c. 12.

thing proposed tends towards making God himself known to men, who ought to be the end of all our knowledge, and of all our studies?

I thought it my duty to enlarge a little upon the manner of framing catechisms, which is not foreign to the end I propose to myself in this article, viz. of instructing youth in what relates to the Eloquence of the Pulpit. It is now time to proceed to the second duty of preachers.


To please, and for that End, to speak in a florid and polite Manner.

St. Austin recommends to the preacher to endeavour first, and above all things, to be clear and perspicuous, but he does not pretend he must confine himself to that only. He would not have truth divested of the ornaments of speech, which it alone has a right to employ. [d] He would have human Eloquence subservient to the word of God, but not the word of God made the slave of human Eloquence. It often happens, that we cannot reach the heart but through the understanding, and that in order to affect the one, we must please the other. [e] It is an excellent quality, in his opinion, to love and to search in the words only the things themselves, and not the words but he owns at the same time, that this quality is very uncommon; that in case truth is represented without ornaments, it will affect very few; [ƒ] that speech, like food, must be palatable in order to make it agreeable; and that in both, we must pay a regard to the delicacy of mankind, and gratify their

taste in some measure.

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