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besides a natural genius, has some learning; and who joins to these qualities a strong zeal for the salvation of Christians, never fails of success; and is sure of applause, when he lays down his discourse with order, delivers solid and pathetic things, corroborates them by texts of scripture, and observes not to make his discourse too long. Such a preparation as this, (and it is indispensable) does not take up a vast deal of time.

Is any part of the ministerial function more important, more necessary, more worthy of the pastoral zeal, than the care of the poor, and that of administering the sacraments? [g] Nevertheless we see, on one side, that the apostles, when assembled to remedy the complaints, which the distribution of the almıs had occasioned among the faithful, think themselves obliged to lay aside this so holy duty, rather than to leave off preaching the word of God, to which they were expressly commanded to postpone every thing else; and on the other side, when St. Paul, so well instructed in the duty of an apostle, and so indefatigable in his labours, declares expressly, [h] that Christ sent him, not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. Preaching is therefore the chief function of apostles, bishops, and pastors of every denomination; to which they ought to apply themselves with all the vigour they are capable of, removing, with an inflexible severity, whatever is incompatible with this first and most essential of their duties.

This precept and example has been given us by all those great saints, whose learned and eloquent discourses have done so much honour to the Christian world, though most of them possessed the highest dignities in the church, and were vigilant in defending it against heresies.

[i] St. Gregory Nazianzen, though he despised the disposition of words, and those empty delicacies which only please the ear, was yet very far from neglecting

[g] Act vi. 2.
[b] 1 Cor. i. 17.

[i] Orat. 15.


what might be of use to elocution, [k] as he observes more than once. * I have reserved, says he, Eloquence only; and I do not repent the pains and fatigue I have suffered by sea and land, in order to attain it; I could wish, for my own and my friends" sakes, that we possessed all the force of it.... [] This alone remains of what I once possest, and I offer, devote and consecrate it to my God. The voice of his command, and the impulse of his Spirit, have made me abandon all things beside, to barter all I was master of, for the precious stone of the Gospel. Thus then I am become, or rather I wish ardently to become that happy merchant, who exchanges contemptible and perishable goods, for others that are excellent and eternal. But being a minister of the Gospel, I devote myself solely to the art of preaching: I embrace it as my lot, and will never forsake it.... [m] In another place, he thanks his flock, in that their incredible ardor for the word of God was his consolation against the injurious and malicious discourses vented by his enemies against his Eloquence, which he indeed had acquired by the study of profane authors; but had raised and ennobled by the reading of the sacred writings, and by the vivifying wood of the cross, which had taken away all its bitterness. He adds, that he is not of the opinion of many others, who would have people be contented with a dry, simple, unadorned, flat discourse; who cover their laziness or ignorance with a contemptuous disdain of their adversaries, and pretend therein to imitate the apostles; not considering that miracles and prodigies were to them instead of Eloquence.

[n] St. Ambrose, in the very place where he exhorts preachers to make their discourses pure, simple, clear, weighty, and solid, adds, that as they must not be af

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fectedly elegant, so neither must they be devoid of beauties and graces. And he himself always practised what he inculcated to others.

Was ever pastor more employed, or more devoted to good works, than St. Austin? [o] But then his zeal, no less enlightened than fervent, did not engross any part of the time requisite for preparing what was necessary for the instruction of the faithful. One would conclude, that at first his sermons were written down, and got by heart; because he then had more leisure, and more occasion to use this precaution. Afterwards, he contented himself with searching for the sense of such passages of scripture as he intended to explain; to display the truths they contained, and to find out. texts to support and illustrate them; which research, and his preaching, cost him no little pains, as he himself tells us in the conclusion of his fourth discourse on the ciiid Psalm. Magno labore quæsita & inventa sunt, magno labore nunciata & disputata sunt: sit labor noster fructuosus vobis, & benedicat anima nostra Dominum. The insatiable ardor with which his auditors used to hear him, is a manifest proof that he was a very able preacher; was very laborious in preparing, and careful in the delivery of his sermons.

I have purposely reserved St. Chrysostom for the last, because none of the fathers have insisted more on the subject in question, than he has done. In his beautiful discourse on the priesthood, which is justly considered as his master-piece, he lays it down as an incontestable principle, that the chief duty of bishops, and consequently of all pastors, consists in the instruction delivered from the Pulpit: because by that alone, they are enabled to teach Christians the truths of religion, to inspire them with a love for virtue, draw them out of the paths of vice, and support them in the severe trials they must undergo, and the combats they must daily sustain against the enemies of their salvation. Without this support, a poor church may be compared to a city attacked on all sides, and with[o] Epist. lxxiii.


out defence; or to a ship driven by storms, and without a pilot. The word in the mouth of a pastor, is like a sword in the hand of a warrior; but this sword must be managed with art and dexterity; or, to speak more plainly, [p] a pastor must very assiduously prepare the sermons and other discourses he is obliged to deliver in public; and must use his utmost efforts to acquire this talent, since on it depends the salvation of most of the souls committed to his care.

But here it will be objected; if this be true, why did St. Paul neglect the acquiring this talent; and why did he not scruple to own, that [g] he was rude in speech, and that too in writing to the Corinthians, who set so high a value upon Eloquence?

This expression, says St. Chrysostom, the sense and depth of which has not been discovered, has deceived multitudes, and by them has been made use of as a handle to vindicate their own sloth. If St. Paul was ignorant, as you say, how came he to confound the Jews at Damascus, having not yet wrought any miracles? How was it possible for him to vanquish the Greeks in argument, and why did he not retire to Tarsus? Was it not after he had gained so complete a victory by the power of his discourse, that unable to bear the ignominy of their defeat, they resolved to put him to death? Of what did he make use in his contest with the citizens of Antioch, who were resolved to embrace the Jewish ceremonies? Did not the senator of the Areopagus, who inhabited the most superstitious, and at the same time the most learned city in the world, and his wife, follow him, after hearing but one of his discourses? How did that Apostle employ his time in Thessalonica, in Corinth, in Ephesus, and even in Rome itself? Did not he spend whole days and nights in explaining the sacred writings? Need we relate his various disputes with the Epicureans and Stoics? How audacious then must those be, who after this would give the title of ignorant to St. Paul? He, whose disputations and sermons [3] Χρὴ τὸν ἱερέα πάντα ποιεῖν [9] 2 Cor. xi. 6. ὑπὲρ τὸ ταῦτην κτὴςασθαι τὴν ἰσχύν. K 2


were universally admired; he, whom the Lycaonians imagined to be Mercury, undoubtedly because of his Eloquence?

It may happen, that pastors full of zeal, charity, and at the same time very capable of presiding over men, may however not be endued with a talent for preaching, nor able to instruct their flock. In this case, the example of Valerius bishop of Hippo, who, because he was not conversant in the Latin tongue, made St. Austin preach for him, and in his presence, is a rule for them; and authorizes them to employ others in those functions to which they themselves are unequal. [r] Such country rectors as are not capable of composing sermons, may have recourse to books. There is purposely calculated for them, a set of short and easy homilies, adapted to the meanest, capacities; these they may either read to their congregation, or get others to read for them.

St. Austin would not condemn this practice; [s] he being of opinion, that when a pastor is not capable of writing a sermon, he may get it done by another; and after learning it by heart, deliver it as though he himself were the author. The reason of which is, that some method or other must be used to instruct the people.


To affect and move the Passions of his Auditors by the Strength of his Discourse.

Though we ought to set a high value on a discourse, which is not only very perspicuous, but graceful and eloquent; it must however be owned, that the great, the surprising effects of Eloquence are not produced either from that of a simple or mediate, or of an em

[r] M. P. Abbé Lambert. [] Sunt quidam, qui benè pronunciare possunt, quid autem pronuncient excogitare non possunt. Quòd si ab aliis sumant eloquenter

sapienterque conscriptum, memoriæque commendent, atque ad populum proferant: si eam personam gerunt, non improbè faciunt. De Doctr. Chr. 1. 4. n. 62.


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