LICENSED Roger L' Estrange.

Decemb. 13. 1671.

REFLECTIONS UPON THE Eloquence OF THESE TIMES; Particularly of the BARR AND PULPIT.

LONDON, Printed for Richard Preston in Turn-stile Alley in Holborn, 1672.

THE EPISTLE TO HIS Ingenious Friend T.B.

SIR,

ELoquence is so natural to persons of your House, that it is difficult to form any Ideas, but what you have already conceived; or to write any thing upon this glorious Subject, that you have not perfectly considered. All the world knows, that it was this Eloquence, joyned with a great Capacity, with a Pro­bity yet more great, and with all those Vertues which Quintilian gives for its companions, which hath advanced your Father to the first preferments in the Church, and [Page]who yet attracts the admiration of of this renowned Kingdom. The chiefest glory that you have acqui­red in pursuing such noble paths, you have obtained from Elo­quence: It is to her that you owe those great praises, that you have merited in your first sally into the World. For this cause, Sir, the Reflections that I present you be­long most justly to your self; do you protect them, Sir, and it will render them more acceptable to those who read them: For who can refuse to read, or give their appro­bation to what appears authorized by a name so auspitious to Elo­quence as yours is?

How oft, Sir, have I admir'd that solid Spirit, that excellent Judgment, that vast and illumina­ted understanding, which you have in all things, and in which you are so very much distinguish'd from all those that are considerable, upon [Page]the account of their vertue and great qualities? But as you aspire not to any other reputation, but what flows, mixt with pleasure, from an honourable discharge of your sacred Function, I forbear to make a further discovery of what all the world observes in you, & which all your modesty cannot conceal: Yet how would the Publick accuse me, if out of fear of wounding your modesty, I should neglect to speak of that unexampled moderation which you have witnessed in the flower of your Age, in renoun­cing all things, to apply your self only to copy, even to the least Tracts, from that admirable Model which you have perpetually before your eyes.

It is there Sir, that you find an inexhaustible fountain of bounty, of Knowledge, and of Piety, which are not to be met elsewhere. How in­finitely above others are you ren­dred [Page]capable of all these excel­lences by a Study such as that is, and by an imitation of such a Father? O what a happiness is it, to have a domestick example, which alone includes all others!

It is not Fortune alone that distri­butes these advantages; there is re­quired vertue, which must be as na­turalized in a Family to merit these favours of Heaven. I have said per­haps too much for a man that de­sires not to be known: For it is not enough to conceal my name, but I should also have conceal'd my Zeal, and contented my self that you know who I am, and with what pas­sion I am, Sir,

Your very humble and obedient Servant. N. N.

THE Epistle TO THE READER.

THat Eloquence which rendred the posses­sors of it so illustri­ous in the happy age of Augustus, and in that of his Im­mortal Predecessors Has now lost all its wonted Charms, and natural Beau­ties. The nobleness of its end, and dignity of its use, is so little preser­ved in this vain and voluptuous Age, that it is no wonder to see it de­generated into a thing meerly superfi­cial. We labour in the composition of Perfumes, and our cares are only [Page]scrupulous in the disposition of Words, and an arrangment of Sentences, with a beautiful variety of Periods; we commonly hunt after glistring Meta­phors, and making choice of expressi­ons, which go to the pomp and osten­tation of our Language, even some­times to the contempt and ruine of Piety, whilst we neglect, out of a sloathful impatience, what goes to the essence of it. True Eloquence con­sists not in the number of Syllables, nor in a musical ordering of Dactyles or Sponds to make up harmony. Of which kind was that Oration of Ovid, which Seneca calls solutum Carmen. Alas, how miserably do they mistake; who make it consist in a few fugitive words. True Eloquence is a thing that survives in the most ingrateful Memories, and makes its passage into the most secret parts of Man, descends to the bottom of his heart, and pier­ces even to the Center of the soul: It is above the scrupulous Precepts of [Page] Grammarians. Priscian has no longer any Jurisdiction over us; nor are his Precepts of more force to us than the Edicts of the Great Mogul. The Compilators of common places, the Copiers of others Rhetoricks, or the Translators of some Chapters of Quin­tilian, are not of the number of those who do successfully attach or captivate the Soul; they may have their Facti­on, and be satisfied with their applau­ses, but yet all their victories are only in Picture, their triumphs in Masque­rade, and all their false miracles but a shadow. The world is so far become reasonable, as that pedantry has lost its credit, even in the Ʋniversities. Their travel is to be pittied, who are busied in the gathering and tying toge­ther of Flowers, and decking their de­clamations in affected Ornaments, which only surprize the Ignorant and the Vulgar. True Eloquence has the mean of an Amazon, rather than of a Wanton; She is not so curious of her [Page]Ornaments, as of her Armes, and had rather gain the soul by an entire victo­ry, than debauch it for a few hours by a light satisfaction; all her charms are the charms of a Majestick Beauty, which only triumphs over great Souls, and dazle not the Imprudent by a borrowed and affected lustre. It must well consided, that, be­sides the knowledge of all Sciences, an Orator must be acquainted with all the different avenues to the seat of Reason; he must perfectly know the strength and weakness of humane spi­rit, and those parts of the soul that are most pregnable. I have often blush­ed with indignation at the reading of some of our Late Writers; so much are also their stiles vitiated and de­praved: and to see so few Imitators of that vigorous and majestick stile of our illustrious Bacon, which was the legitimate off-spring of his fine pregnant and powerful Imagination. As on the Stage, Farce has supplanted [Page]Comoedy, so in the Press the lascivious and burlesque hath usurp'd upon the grave and modest. And what is most deplorable, we have seen the holy Scri­pture it self debased by an impudent and ambitious Jargon; and even those Authors which pass for the most polished, the most elaborate Discour­ses, are but nugas canoras, Six words are oftentimes cramed with twelve figures, and all their Sentences pom­pous and magnificent; but that Magni­ficence is so far removed from sobrie­ty, and the Majesty of an Oratory stile, that the most rash and prodigal Poesie has nothing more licentious. The most of our young Orators, as well as Poets, are distempered by this wild and extravagant fury. In others we find an inequality, which renders their discourses monstrous; some­times they are elevated with a preci­pitation approaching to fury; and o­ther sometimes depressed so low, that their stiles become flat and distaste­ful, [Page]whereas it ought to be continued in a constant equality and sweetness. Non est formosa cujus crus lauda­tur, aut brachium, sed illa cujus uni­versa facies admirationem sin­gulis partibus abstulit. The Cler­gy, Sir,Seneca. are not wholly exempt from failings; their Eloquence is properly Pagan, which proceeds from the read­ing of certain Authors, which has so imbued their minds with their Ideas, that they cannot forbear them in mat­ters the most Religious; how many thinking it better to say the Christi­an Perswasion than the Christian Faith, &c. Know Reader, that not­withstanding what I have said, that I am so far from despising or underva­luing Elocution, that I praise, and ad­mire it in whomsoever I find it; and I am as much in love with elegant words and noble expressions, which may adorn our Language, as any are: But yet, with Quintilian, I would have them serve to unfold a [Page]sence yet more considerable. Curam ego verborum, rerum volo esse soli­citudinem; A too great care of words, and their disposition is equally blame­able, with a too great neglect. I am very sensible, that he who appears in Print, let the cause, as to himself, be never so good, profitable, or commen­dable, exposes himself to censure; yet I cannot forbear to urge the general importance of the Subject in excuse of my pains. I know it cannot be un­seasonable in a time when our own Clergy are still wrestling with the re­proaches that have been lately cast upon them upon this account. Yet I must needs say, that had the stile of that Author been more modest and respect­ful, he might have escaped the confu­sion of being seen in the Press the se­cond time less to his advantage. Instructions are entertained with effect, when they are not too perso­nally addrest: We may with civility glance at, but cannot, without rudeness [Page]and ill manners, stare upon the faults or imperfections of any man: And I think every man ought to be offended with himself, who violates that reli­gious respect which they owe to the Church and Churchmen.

ERRATA.

PPage 6. Line 12. for fine active Spirits, read fine and active Spirits: and l. 15. f. this r. it is. P. 13. l. 15. f. as a skilful Painter knows, r. as a skilful Painter who knows. P. 14. l. 20. f. that the extremity and heat, r. that in these extremities the beat. P. 15. l. the last. f. Escheres r. Esche­nes. P. 24. l. 16. f. his Spirit r. our Spirit. P. 63. l. 23. f. dicerenter r. dicerentur. P. 80. l. 17. f. amongst us r. among them. P. 88. l. 4. f. some tincture r. some tin (que)ure of An­tiquity. P. 116. l. 19. f. pains r. pain. P. 131. f. minds r. means. l. 14.

REFLECTIONS UPON THE Eloquence OF THESE TIMES.

THough true Elo­quence hath a pow­er more absolute than Authority, or Violence, to which we do not usually submit our selves more than in Ce­remony and with constraint; yet its powers are subject to revoluti­ons [Page 2]and declinations, as all other things are: For we have much pain in these times to find any re­mainder of that Empire which it exercised upon the Spirits of men, and whereof there appear'd so ma­ny glorious marks in those Ages and States where she hath rul'd. We must not now expect such miracles of Elocution, nor such excellent works of Discourse, as have recei­ved birth in Athens and Rome, when Eloquence was there the Mistress universally ador'd.

Let us not boast our selves upon the pretended Glory of our Age, which we prefer to all others, with­out a due deliberation; for at this day, who is the Orator that can be Master of the resolution of those to whom he speaks, and force them to divest their pre-occupations, and renounce their Sentiments? We have heretofore seen Elo­quence in a short moment restore a [Page 3]Calm in the most violent agitati­ons of a people moved and muti­nous: We have seen it in the con­fused deliberations of a tumultuous Assembly, to make impressions un­hoped for upon their Spirits, and to appease their Seditions by inspi­ring the most fearful with Courage, and disarming the insolent and re­volted, and constraining both to follow blindly her Counsels: We have seen her also in Arms, in the shape of Pallas, fly from Rank to Rank, and restore heart to fainting and flying Souldiers; and in fine, to triumph amidst the Armies of those whom she hath vanquish'd by her Reasons.

But to speak truly, at the present, we have only remaining a vain Phantome of that victorious Elo­quence, which we now possess not but in Idaea. Ingenii ipsius lu­men elo­quentia. Cic. O [...]o [...]. Let us examine then from whence comes this Disorder in a time wherein we have so much Spirit.

§. 1.

ARistotle, Cicero, Quintilian, and Longinus, which have left us Treatises of Rhetorick, the most accomplish'd of Antiqui­ty, remark that that Eloquence which they had seen sometimes in Athens and in Rome, before that these Republicks had lost their liberty, could not rule then a­mongst a People free and Indepen­dent: She is a fierce and haughty Mistriss, who cannot be made sub­ject to Vassalage or Flattery: She seems to bear in her Character that of a Monarchy, which cannot submit without destroying it self: And Aristotle observes that she had not any success in Cicily, during that the Tyrants were their Masters, when all other Arts con­tinued there and flourished. This was the opinion of these great men, [Page 5]who were very able to judge of the truth, though they licensed them­selves to speak somthing in favour of the Government wherein they had been advanced.

§. 2.

As the Honours that Greece ren­dred to Eloquence, made it consi­derable amongst other Nations, and the success it had at Rome was by the great rewards which were proposed; so her Credit ceased there, when her Recompences were taken away. We must not then be astonished, (the Fruit which we gain from this Art, being now so disproportionate to the tra­vel and application that it de­mands) if we find so few Orators so couragious as to sustain the Fa­tigue,Sibi per­suaserunt neminem sine elo­quentiae, aut assequi posse in Civitate, aut tueri conspicuum & emi­nentem locum: De caus. corrup. Eloq. especially when it is not at­tended [Page 6]by any hopes which smile either on their Interest or Ambiti­on. Eloquence was the means to attain to the greatest Honours in those Estates in which she had Do­minion; but in these times there is little or nothing to be obtained by the same way: This alone is ca­pable to extinguish that generous ardeur and study which is necessa­ry to Eloquence, and to rebate the most fine active Spirits.

§. 3.

That greatness of Genius which Eloquence requires, and which we search after, is now no more to be found: This is a gift of Heaven, and a work of many Ages; for be­sides a happy birth for the pronun­ciation, the sole Assembly of Na­tural Qualities requir'd to succeed in this Art of Speech, is extreamly rare; there is required an extraor­dinary [Page 7]elevation of Spirit, a great judgment formed by a natural so­lidity, to which the usage of the world, and a profound knowledge of Letters, must give perfection: There is also required a vast Memo­ry, and an extended Imagination, an easie Comprehension, a Voice clear and distinct, a Visage that hath nothing of forbidding, a Pro­nunciation fine and animated, joyn­ed with an Air of Authority; and many other Qualities, which being usually incompatible of themselves, are very difficultly found all toge­ther assembled:Cernimus vix singu­lis aetati­bus binos Oratores laudabiles extitisse. De Orat. 'Tis this that gave cause to Cicero to complain, in his time, when Eloquence was so flou­rishing, that he could not with­out great trouble find in that Age, two Orators that merited esteem; yet this is no reason but that they may be found no was well as at other times; for Nature is as liberal of her gifts in these last times, as [Page 8]she was in the first; but or­dinarily we have not so much light, to know in our selves those qualities, when they are there; or sufficient care or application to cul­tivate them; so that they are there, as if they were not at all.

§. 4.

Besides this natural disposition, there is required to be eloquent, a great capacity, and a great appli­cation. These were the three things which rendred the Eloquence of Brutus, Erat in Bruto natu­ra admira­bilis exqui­sita doctri­na, & indu­stria singu­laris. De clar. Orat. which Cicero praised so much, so very accomplish'd: There must be a great Attachment to stu­dy, and an extraordinary diligence at the Cabinet to replenish the Spi­rit with knowledges necessary to Eloquence. It is good to draw from the Sources, to study to the [Page 9]bottom the Ancients, principally those which are original; and in fine, to make a Subject of our per­petual Meditation the Rhetorick of Aristotle, who hath taken the care to expose so exactly all the particular motions of mans heart. The Orator ought to make the chief end of his Study to move the Souls of his Auditors by the move­ment of his Affections, which are the true resorts of this Machine, which is so difficult to enflame, when we bestow no time in the stu­dy of them.

Without this knowledge an O­rator is in a condition to determine nothing, nor to obtain the attenti­on of an Oracle, which he must ordinarily be esteemed; nor can his spirit be capable of a­ny reasonable production, accord­ing to the opinion of the judicious Critick, Neque concipere, neque edere partum mens potest, nisi ingen­ti [Page 10]flumine literarum undata. By what means can he enlighten o­thers, if he himself be not enlight­ned? or how can he perswade, if himself be not perswaded? And who is there now who can sustain the travel of a study so opiniastre, and of a perseverance so great, as must be that of the Orator, who must be ignorant of nothing?

§. 5.

The true Eloquence being so difficult to acquire, we think at least to recompense it by the appea­rances of a false Eloquence, which had its first course amongst the Greeks and Latines, in the decli­nings of their Republicks, which never had any subsistence or enter­tainment than in the servitude of these Nations. The Sophists, whose Lives Philostratus and Eunapius have describ'd, establish'd in their [Page 11]publick places, this false eloquence, which gives all to the exteriour part by aiery and wandring Dis­course, and hath no other tendency, than to amuse the people: but as this Eloquence has nothing of na­tural, the Figures themselves and the Ornaments serve only to render it more weak.

All its Movements are false; it touches not at all the heart, nor enters in any manner into the Spi­rit; all that it gives, is a pleasure superficial, and is no more than a simple pastime for the foolish and idle. But as it is easie to mistake universally the false for the true; for the former quickly offers it self to the Spirit; but the latter is not found than with study and with care: the first is immense by the multiplicity of its appearances, which serve to disguise it; where­as the other has none, and consists in some kind in a point indivisible: [Page 12]We ought not to be astonished if we take Appearance for Truth in Eloquence, as in other things; but when we arrive to true discern­ment, we find that there is little of true Eloquence or perfect Orato­ry; and that the most part of those which speak in publick, are no other than pure Declamators.

§. 6.

We exercise not our selves to ob­tain this Eloquence in the way that is most ordinary, and sure to succeed in the pursuit, that is, fre­quent exercise in composition,Nulla res ad di­cendum proficit quantum scriptio. Cic. fu Brut. to which we must apply our selves with no little assiduity to acquire a habitude; for nothing is equal to the advantage we receive by it: It was by this way that Demosthenes and Cicero are come to that degree of perfection which every one knows; and without speaking of the [Page 13]first who spent so many years in that acquest;Caput est quod minime facimus; est enim magni laboris quod fugimus quam plurimum scribere, De Orat. no person is ignorant that the latter employ'd all his leisure which his Affairs allow'd him, to exercise himself to speak well, by this frequent use of Composition.

§. 7.

We study not to speak things cor­rectly, nor to make our Images and Portraicts equal; we speak usually too much or too little; the Mean that we must hold, is known to ve­ry few persons, for that it is almost imperceptible; to attain which Knowledge, we have but very few Rules. And as a skilful Painter knows how to distinguish Passions in different Subjects wherein he is to express them; he does not make the joy of a Prince like that of a Valet, nor the fiercness of a common [Page 14]Souldier equal to that of his Ge­neral. There are also in the motions of the Soul different degrees, which the Orator ought to distin­guish, to avoid the confusion of I­mages; Which are not well compre­hended or understood but by those who are perfect Masters of the Art. The Ignorance of this Principle, so little practised, occasions the ma­king so many false pictures of Elo­quence.In omni­bus rebus videndum quatenus; etsi enim suus cui (que) modus est, tamen ma­jus offen dit nimi­um quam parum. De clar. Or at. It is important in the mul­titude of Idea's which present themselves to the Fancy, to make a just choice, and to avoid taking the false for the true; this demands an exact discernment, a great ex­perience, and an exquisite under­standing; we ought above all, to make a reflection, that the ex­tremity, and heat of our Fancy may not transport us, and the too much shocks more than the too little. This is that which the Roman Orator reproves so many times in his books [Page 15]of Rhetorick: For the too much is alwayes a mark that we are transported beyond our selves, which is a great fault; but the too little may seem a mark of Mo­deration and Reserve, which is al­wayes a Virtue.

§. 8.

We think it not enough to be­stow our Cares in the study of our natural disposition, to follow its in­clination, without committing some constraint in affecting Manners, which becomes us not, and in for­cing through violent studies, wherewith we become overbur­dened; or in fine, in imposing an air of Greatness, or of more Art than we are able to sustain; this began (as Cicero notes) first to make Eloquence degenerate from that Grandeur which it had in A­thens, under Pericles, Lysias, Esche­nes, [Page 16]and Demosthenes; for that De­metrius Phalerius affected more of Art than his Genius could bear.Phalereus non tam armis, quam Palaestra inslitutus, Cicero in Brut.

§. 9.

The Pronunciation, which is one of the most important parts of Eloquence, is yet one of the most neglected: It renders Eloquence sensible to the people by the com­position of the exteriour part, and which hath the Art to impose by the appearances, when it wants the power to touch by its effects. If its virtue be so great, as to make impression in Subjects feigned and supposed, as it doth upon a Thea­ter in a Comedy, what can she not do, when things true are her ob­ject? But this admirable Art be­comes unprofitable to those which speak in publick, because of the [Page 17]little care they have to use and ap­ply it; 'tis true, he must have much of the natural in him, who succeeds well in this Art; but where he wants that, application may sup­ply. The Eloquence of Demost­henes became admirable by his pro­nunciation, though he had not any natural disposition; and he was ob­liged for his success, to the pains that he took to obtain it: But be­cause we are soon weary of these constraints, we cannot resolve to give our selves the pain that is re­quired to form our selves to this exeroise whereby we lose that great advantage that the pronunciation gives to an Orator, by giving a cer­tain agreement to his person, and by the passionate expressions which it inspires even into his Eyes and Visage: Also we may truly say, that nothing frustrates more the ordi­nary effects of Eloquence than the little care we have of the exterior [Page 18]part, whose faults become so much more sensible, as they are above, in delicacy, the other pleasures we receive from Eloquence; which being an Art to please by the pro­fession which it makes, hath no­thing more opposed to it, than that which is violent and disa­greeable in the action.

§. 10.

Those which make profession to speak in publick, are not so careful to put in use their Logick, either by a pure negligence to instruct themselves in it, or by a natural debility to practise it; or in fine, by a very blameable regret they have to put themselves in pain of a little Meditation, in which the Discourses of Ceremony, or of Interests of State, with those of Religion, have not any part; and those which are purely for pomp and preparation, [Page 19]are ordinarily those wherein Lo­gick finds its self most defective; for that they are too wandring, or too abstract for the general matters whereof they treat. Logick is the first Rule of Discourse, and the universal Organ of Speech; to dis­course without this Instrument, 'tis but to beat the Air, and make a noise; we canot say any thing that's judicious, or supportable, without it. How oft do we abandon it? and when we put it into use, how many extravagances do we commit, either by the confusion of the ex­pressions wherewith we perplex it; or in fine, by the Idea we form of false Reasonings, to supply the want of the true Reason, which cannot inhabit but in a Spirit fine and penetrating: The rareness of such a Character is the reason that we find Eloquence so defective in the most part of those which make profession of it; for that the Rea­sonings [Page 20]on which they establish it, are either too mysterious, or too common, or altogether false and Chimaerical; and if we examine things well, we shall find that com­monly in the usage of Eloquence in this age, there is no defect so essential as that of Reasoning, to which we have no great care to form our selves. This is not so much obtained by the study of Logick, which we learn at the Colledge; as by the reading Aristotles Rheto­rick, and by the frequent com­merce we must have with good Books, the reading whereof im­prints upon the spirit a justness of apprehension, which cannot be acquired without it. A right judg­ment is sometimes a Gift which comes purely from Nature; but when we have it not, we must la­bour to find it in Books, whereof we must be careful to make a good choice; for we may meet with [Page 21]some Books, which, instead of re­ctifying, may quite destroy our judgments: We must therefore take counsel of the most knowing persons, upon what we are not a­ble to understand our selves. The neglect of this, is the reason why so few persons are capable, and young men yet more than others; for that their experience and the usage of things have not yet form'd their Spirit: But though the want of Logick be the most ordinary defect of those that speak in pub­lick, yet it is a thing whereof there alwayes appears the least want; for none but men of the fi­nest spirits, whereof there is al­wayes the fewest, are capable of that knowledge; not but that the people perceive very well the na­tural order of Discourse, and all that there is of Logick in it, with­out knowing it; but their Light reaches not so far to see what is [Page 22]false in his Reasonings, or defectu­ous in the order and pursuit of his Design: Upon which we may make three Orders of Spirits, the first, of those which attend only to the Words, to judge of their Beauty; the second, of those which go further, and who judge of the Thoughts: the third, of those which go even to judge even of the whole Design, Order and Proportion of the Parts; which last is not known but by the most intelligent. There are some Orators who leave not their Au­ditors liberty to examine the bot­tom of their Discourse, by a cer­tain Charm of Words and of Thoughts, wherewith they sur­prize them: There are some o­thers which quite blind us by the agreeable manner of expressing things. I have known a person of this sort, who alwayes pleas'd, though his Discourse was very lit­tle [Page 23]correct, either in the Order or Reasoning: but after all, he pleas'd none but Women and the Igno­rant; the more understanding e­steem'd him not.

§. 11.

When we apply our selves to the study of Eloquence, we are accustomed to mistake, by the false measures we take of it, or of its Subject, or of those to whom we address our selves. For an Orator who hath a great elevation of Spi­rit, many times takes too great a pleasure in pursuing his own Fancy, without giving any care to proportion his Discourse to the Subject, or to measure the capaci­ty of those to whom he speaks; it is much more easie to abandon our selves to the impetuosity of our Ge­nius, than to regulate our selves ac­cording to the Circumstances of [Page 24]the things we speak of; for one is the effect of Imagination, the other the effect of Judgment, which is a Gift more rare. Also it is no mar­vel if those that speak in publick, are so subject to this Disorder, out of which spring so many Indecen­cies, and choquant Disproportions which are jumbled together in our ordinary discourses which are made publick; as the assuming of an air of greatness in the most trivial af­fairs, and affecting grand expres­sions in the most petty Subjects; making ostentation of the beauty of his Spirit to the people, and be­fore a gross and stupid Auditory, and being ardent and pathetick in Subjects which deserve it not. E­loquence ceases to be true,Refert cognosce­re qui sunt audienti­um mores, quae publica recepta persuasio. Fab. l. 3. c. 7. when it hath no proportion with the ca­pacity of those to whom it is ad­dressed. [Page 25]The diversity of Ages,Ut guber­nator ad incursus tempesta­tum, sie agenti ad varieta tem causa­rum ratio mutanda. Quintil. l. 10, cap. 7. Sexes and Conditions, and of Lights acquired or natural, ought to ob­lige the Orator in different man­ners to proportion it to the Spirits of these different estates.

§. 12.

It must be known in general to distinguish the divers Characters of Eloquence, for to serve himself according to the necessity of the Subject whereof we treat, lest we fall into confusion. And we must be especially careful of this confu­sion, because nothing is capable to succeed in this Art out of its place. The grand Air of Eloquence ought to be in great places, and i [...] great Assemblies, where we find a general concourse: For we must speak to persons of great quality in that kind of Discourse which hath [Page 26]most of esteem, extention and grandeur of expression. This Cha­racter ought to be used in the most elevated Subjects, and in the most important matters; as it ought to be simple,Tenues causae tenue di­cendifilum requirunt. Orat. Oratio poscitur austera, si accuses; fusa, si laudes. Quintil. l. 9. c. 4. Loquendi accurata, & sine molestia diligens Elegantia. Cic. in Brut. natural, and without af­fectation of expression in lesser Sub­jects. Praises demand a Stile ele­vated and diffused; Accusations serious and austere; in fine, Elo­quence hath arrived to its utmost perfection, when it knows to adapt words proportionate to things, and to conserve the care to unfold her self without difficulty or scruple. There remains two things especial­ly to be avoided, the cold Stile, and the Boyish; for the first ren­ders the Discourse dry and insipid, by the faint languor and lowness of its expression; the second ren­ders it distastful and tedious by its [Page 27]affected amplifications, wherewith they weary the patience of the Auditor.

§. 13.

Thought that Longin. confounds in some fashion the cold Stile, and Boyish, whereof I have spoken we may alwayes distinguish them in this manner; in the affectation of a cold Stile, we use great ex­pressions in Subjects which demand little; and in the Boyish, we use little and low expressions in things that demand great: But our Lan­guage is become so modest, reser­ved and scrupulous, that it rejects all expressions too strong and gli­stering, Metaphors too hardy, and the too frequent points in a cold stile, as it does in the Boyish, the little exultations in serious matters, and the too languishing amplifica­tions in those places of discourse, [Page 28]which ought to be serious and con­cise.

§. 14.

It is impossible to be happy in an elevated Stile, when we are not entirely perswaded that it is formed of the things themselves which we have to speak, of the great images which we have con­ceived, and of the elevation of our Genius more than that of Expres­sion, the vain splendor of words, or that train of studied Periphrases. This is that which in Discourse, in some manner, is like that load of Flesh in the Body of man, which serves only to charge & imbarrass it with an unprofitable weight; for when this elevated Stile is un­natural, it degenerates into a Chara­cter low and reptile; for it cannot sustain it self. Pindar and Sopho­cles elevated themselves so high by [Page 29]the grandeur of their expression, that they could not, without much pain, pursue it. And when they could not bear up that elevation, which is not natural; for that it is not alwayes in the things they speak of; they sometimes abase themselves even to a contempt, and become not knowabl even to them­selves. This is a fault not to be pardoned; for there is a presump­tion of appearing great without being so, and a desire to elevate themselves without being able to sustain themselves in that height. The Secret is to study how to think of things worthily,Oratio sententiis debet esse ornatior [...] quam ver­bis. Fab. and serve our selves of no other words than of those which are capable to answer to the dignity of the Subject whereof we speak.

§. 15.

As the great defect of the wiser sort of men is the negligence they have to measure themselves upon the capacity of the Subject, or their Auditory. That of the lesser Genius's is a too scrupulous care, and a too affected Diligence to attach themselves more than is required, to finish in particular cer­tain parts of the Discourse they have enterprized, & to which they have some peculiar affection. This is a pure effect of their little judg­ment, to tie themselves to one part of a Design; for they are not a­ble, nor so happy as to form a Design all entire. These narrow Spirits suffer themselves to be sur­priz'd into a false Principle, which they would authorize by the Au­thority of Tyrius Maximus, who pretends that Art hath alwayes [Page 31]something more perfect than Na­ture; and that we cannot find a­ny natural Beauty that can be so perfect as some of their artificial Statues. I pretend not to enter into a Discussion of that Princi­ple with this Philosopher: But Eloquence being the true Art to please, which she cannot do with­out an imitation of Nature, that Maxime of those little Spirits which give so much to Art, is not a very sure mean to perswade. I pretend not only that Rule is false, but that their too Boyish Attachment to Precepts which they have learn­ed in their youth, hath form'd in them a very vicious Idaea of Elo­quence: We need not then con­sult the Agamemnon of Petronus, to comprehend the ridiculousness of that Eloquence which hath no­thing of natural in it; for that it fastens it self too much upon the exterior Ornaments, which they [Page 32]would have to pass for that which is most essential. The true foun­dation of Eloquence is a good Judgment, which as it is the qua­lity most necessary to speak in publick, so it is the most rare; we need not be astonished that we find so few perfect Orators, since a perfect Orator cannot be form'd but in an Age happy, and in a people of good Gust.

§. 16.

The Soveraign Art of Elo­quence consisteth in a scrupulous attention to Nature, as to its true Model, and first Original, where­of we have so little knowledge, by reason of the little care we take to pursue the Tracts, and to observe the conduct; we must study then to know well this great Model, and to examine all its Resorts by a profound stu­dy [Page 33]of Philosophy, and a long ob­servation of natural things; for so often as we depart from Nature we fall into errour and mistake; the heat of our most passionate moti­ons, is but a false heat; the most dazling splendour of her Figures are but a false and deceitful blaze; and the greatest of her Reasons hath nothing real, and is no other than a sophistical Declamation and pure Illusion.

§. 17.

We find very little of constructi­on in the Discourses of the most of our publick Orators, because they apply not themselves to study the Rules of Speech. Those which have a genius for Eloquence find it a trouble to abase themselves to those little scrupulous cares which are necessary to succeed well; the natural elevation of [Page 34]their spirit cannot be subjected to those circumspections; and those that have not that genius, are sub­ject to fall into the fault of affecta­tion, to supply by words that which they want of light to understand things well.

§. 18.

The most ordinary source of those defects which we meet with in the expression, which is so essen­tial to Eloquence, comes from the natural defects of the imagination. The expression falls into a Lux and into superfluity, when the Ima­gination is too quick and ardent; she falls into galimatia's and into obscurity, when the Imagination is too abundant and too profuse: In fine, it falls into a faint langui­shing and insipidness, when the Imagination is too cold, too heavy and enveloped.

§. 19.

We scarce ever study that just temperament which is of so much use in the mixing in our Discourse, Reason with Authority, Compari­son and Similitude with Example and Induction. In the usage it self which we make of this great Instru­ment of perswasion, we apply not our selves with any care to arrange our reasons in such a manner, as that the one may sustain the other by the order which we give them; for the stronger Reasons ought to succeed the weak, and the most so­lid to those that are the less solid, to the end that the Discourse may sustain and elevate it self the near­er it approaches to the period of its perfection. This is a thing of such Importance, that the only neg­lect of this observation renders som­times the reasonings which are very [Page 36]strong and solid, little effective, for that they weaken themselves when the proportion of the reasons is not observed. This proportion con­sists in the not urging of any thing that may appear weak, when we have said any thing more perswa­sive: For the latter Reasons make the most lasting impression in the spirit, and ought therefore, as I have said before, to be the most strong. Besides the mannagement of the Reasons, which ought to be placed in their natural order, and ought not to be confounded, they must also be orderly mannaged in the use which we make of Inducti­on, least we be exposed to an in­considerate multiplication. Also our Orator must have that admira­ble Art, which knows generously to retrench superfluities in things as well as words, and to suppress too frequent Ornaments, without hearkning to the transport of the [Page 37]Imagination, which by a natural inclination suffers it self to be carry­ed away to a vain splendour of Discourse, which usually hath no­thing of solid Eloquence, he cannot move with success those great Ma­chines of het Art, without these precautions, which are of the high­est consequence, for that they re­duce things to their natural estate. But these Observations are but sel­dom practic'd, because they are but little known.

§. 20.

That Eloquence which touches not the spirit, and makes not its way to the heart, is not true Elo­quence, it is no more than a pure instruction, which ought not to be used but in the School. And all those Beauties which smite the spi­rit without affecting the heart, are not true Beauties. That great Air [Page 38]it self which Longinus teaches, af­fects but little, when it doth not dazle nor astonish, as he avows himself, for that it enters not into the thoughts of those to whom we speak. All those great expressions, without as great thoughts, are like those great Ships that are not bal­lanced, they float, and never sail in safety.

§. 21.

That Eloquence in general which bestowes too much care in the arrangment of words,Cum ver­borum de­rogat affe­ctibus fi­dem, et u­bicunq: ais o lentatur veritas ab­esse vide­tur. Quint. l. 10. c. 4. Non ad judiciorum certamen, sed ad voluptatem aurium scripserat Isocrates. Cic Orat. and of that outward splendour which gli­sters in the expression, almost never succeeds. We are usually displeas'd with all things which appear stu­died and artificial. That great O­rator Isocrates, which wrote, as it [Page 39]seems, only for pleasure, was not fit for affairs, and had never succeed­ed at the Barr, for that he was too polish'd. This was the manner al­so of the Sophists, upon whom So­crates rallyes so pleasantly in Pla­to's Phaedra, and Longinus notes in the great artifice of Hiperides, who used to fill his Discourse with too many Ornaments, and too many beauties. It is a great Art to know how to mannage these Ornaments, and to dispose them in their due place, when necessity obliges to make use of them. The Artifice of Eloquence cannot have any effect, but against it self, when it is too dazling, for thereby it becomes suspected, and we regard it only as a Page which is gawdily drest,Quae pa­r [...]nt retia vitat av [...]s: Ovid. for no other end than to surprize. Besides, that which strikes the spi­rit and the sense with too much splendor, wearies and oppresses. In fine, 'tis necessary that the mat­ters [Page 40]themselves be not without beauty to bear those great Orna­ments which become ridiculous in little Subjects; for there is nothing more contrary to Art, than to adorn what merits it not: And 'tis not of the least importance in this Art, to know what is to be neglected, and what is not. To be too expensive in Ornaments, is but a vain and fruitless prodigality; for we often find, that which glisters most in Discourse is most usually false. Those studied Figures, those fine Antithesies, and those splendid E­pithites, are not alwayes conforma­ble to good sense. True Eloquence doth not dazle or surprize, but insi­nuates by little and little into the spirit. The Reasons that are most capable to move, are ordinarily the most common, as Aristotle teacheth us.Topic. 1. And the most natural Lan­guage to which we are carried, by the sole desire we have to make [Page 41]our selves understood, is most pro­per and the best. Those Discour­ses which require much of spirit and ornament, as Panegyricks, and Fu­neral Orations, contain little that's very solid, and generally owe their success to the pronunciation: We may discover the truth when they come to the Press; which I advise those that make them, not to pub­lish. When they want that heat of action which first gave them life, they make no longer any impressi­on. There are Images in Elo­quence as there is in painting, which somtime must be shown to the view ar a distance, and somtime near at hand.

§. 22.

There is required in Eloquence less of Genius to invent things, than to place them in order: For that place which we must assign (to have them dispos'd where they [Page 42]ought to be) will cost more than the pains we are at in cogitation and invention; for every reasona­ble spirit may have reasonable thoughts; but it is not so easie to give to our thoughts that grace which renders things agree­able, and which makes them to be admir'd. This is it in which con­sists Eloquence: I mean not that Eloquence of words which we or­dinarily know but too much, but the Eloquence of things, which we seldom well understand, and have little knowledg of; and the perfect attainment of which, we cannot hope than from an happy Na­ture. We may know the price of this Art, by the great difference in the same things diversified. This right disposal of things ordinarily makes the beauty of an Oration; and though this Air be usually the bounty of our Nature, yet we have means to acquire it, when Na­ture [Page 43]hath denyed it; as a frequent use of Composition under a good Master, or an intelligent friend, and a diligent commerce with ancient Authors; it is from them that we learn that justness which gives to the Spirit that agreeable variety, and which the spirit communicates to all its thoughts and Imaginations when we have a Genius for it.

§. 23.

There is not, according to the sentiment of Cicero, any true Elo­quence,Eloquenti­am quae admiratio­nem non habet nul­lamjudico. Cic in Brut. but that which doth at­tract an admiration; and there is nothing more capable to render it admirable, according to the judg­ment of that great man, than the pictures that it makes of manners, and those motions that it excites in those divers passions which it toucheth. This cannot be effe­cted without a perfect knowledg [Page 44]of the heart of man, which ought to be the soveraign Science of the O­rator. The Portraicts that he makes of manners cannot be false, if he know well the principal, which is the heart; and he will know without doubt, how to move with success the most hidden Parts of the soul, that is to say, the Passions, by the same knowledg of the heart, which is the sourse. The little cares (that the most part of those that speak in publick have to know the depth of that abysm which appears so difficult to descend) is the cause that we have so few successful Ora­tors. For this cause those who make profession of Eloquence, ought to make very serious Refle­ctions; for all being well considered, no man is properly eloquent, who knows not the heart of man, and all its intricate Maeanders, to expose them to the people.

§. 24.

Quis ig­norat elo­quentiam descivisse a veteri gloria, no inopia ho­minum, sed desidia juventutis parentum negligen tia, et insci­tia precipi­entium.The evil Education of Youth, caused by the extream luxury and delicateness of this Age, by the in­dulgence of Parents, by the little experience of Masters, and by the ignorance of the most part of those with whom we converse, is one of the most certain Causes that there is so little success in this Art, it being one of the greatest obstacles to Elo­quence. We conduct our Youth through false and unequal paths, and through very unskilful me­thods, who being corrupted even in their principals, it is no wonder if their success be so little happy, and their purfuits unprofitable.

§. 25.

I do not affirm that there are not yet some sparks of wit remaining, [Page 46]which eminently shine in some of the Orators of this Age, who cease not to merit applause and reputati­on: but because Eloquence purely natural cannot atchieve any thing without the succour of Art, as may be usually observed either by the false principles which we assume, or the little application of those who make profession of it: it cannot ar­rive to merit the general admirati­on of the people, by the marveilous effects which it would produce up­on their hearts if it were accom­plished.

I have thus finished the Reflecti­ons, as may be made upon the use of the Eloquence of this Time, con­sidered in general; and upon that which may hinder its effects in those occasions which it hath to make appear its power over hearts. Those that follow are Reflections upon the use of Eloquence in [Page 47]particular, and the two principal Species of it, The Eloquence of the Barr, and that of the Pulpit; wherein I have remarked the abuse which may be committed in the one and in the other, and the means to succeed with moderate felicity in both.

REFLECTIONS UPON THE Eloquence OF THE BARR.

ELoquence in General may be reduced to two Spe­cies: Whereof one is occupied in Interests of State; The other in those of Re­ligion: also one is prophane, the other Sacred. The first hath a vaster Cariere than we are able to think; she is not bufied only to sustain an Ordinance, nor to defend a Law; she exerciseth her self in rhe Campaign, as well as in the [Page 49]Cabinet; she presides over States, and is imploy'd in Councils of War; she rules in the Camp, and hath the greatest part in the Government and Ministry of Kingdomes. But because she is at all times more par­ticular in Cabinets, where we can­not penetrate to come to the knowledg of her, where she passeth for a Mistery, and is no where so publick as at the Barr, I'le confine my self to the state which she holds there, being the place where she appears with most advantage.

§. 1.

At the Barr we give no time to the study of Eloquence, but what we gave in the first studies of our Youth, which are ordinarily too precipitate, too confused, or too superficial. This renders us unable to form any just or reasonable Idea of it. Besides the great advantages [Page 50]that the Greeks and Romans had by the force of their Genius, and by their great natural dispositions they had to speak, they made Eloquence their continual study during their lives they travel'd all the World to understand the most choyce Ma­sters of this Art, they laid out a long time and study to form their spirits upon the great models which they went to seek out of o­ther Countries; they did not occupy themselves as if they were to gain nothing by it; they placed their pleasure, their hopes, their fortune, and all their ambition in the study of it, for ir was then able to elevate them to the greatest Honours. But the young men of these Times (with a very indifferent genius's) believe that the reading of a Romance or a Comedy, is sufficient to acquire all the Eloquence which is necessary to the Bar. We are not excited by the same hopes of Glory as the [Page 51] Greeks and Romans were, amongst whom Eloquence attained so much splendour, because it was the way that conducted to the highest Ho­nours, even to the Soveraign pow­er it self.

§. 2.

When all the Qualities requisite to succeed in the Eloquence of the Barr concur in an Orator, with all the perseverance of Application, and is encouraged in it by a pro­spect of Interest and Ambition; yet those little condescentions to which he must submit in a scrupu­lous and exact usage of the pra­ctick, would be able to weary the spirit, and to take away the power to form an Idea according to Art and Nature; he must have a care to shun this default, and to prevent it by an anticipated study of Elo­quence, where we must form the [Page 52]spirit, before we abandon the Ima­gination to the barbarous terms of the practick.

§. 3.

The Eloquence of the Barr is too much subjected to the divers Fantasies of Language, which reign in this Age, according to the dif­ferent gusts which prevail, and corrupt it by taking away the natu­ral beauties, & in giving it false and adulterate. There was a tedious kind of Eloquence which had once the vogue amongst the Romans, which consisted in a long and per­plexing Discourse: But this gust changing with the Age, one more judicious succeeded. Neverthe­less it is true that the Eloquence of the barr demands a Manner diffu­sed and extended:Subselia grand io­rem et ple­niorem vocem de­siderant. Cic. in Brut. But that Em­barras of words to which these kind of Declamators usually abandon [Page 53]themselves, alwayes displeaseth: We are not now taken with things so little real and solid.

§. 4.

Too great a care to appear re­gular, exact and just in our Dis­course, is somtime very dangerous; it wearies both the attention of those that speak, and those that hear. We ought to shun this fault, and must not alwayes be so scrupu­lous to speak nothing but what is exact; it suffices to have a care to maintain a certain equality and evenness; for there is nothing more essential to him that speaks, than to speak according to his Ge­nius, without force or constraint. Besides, those scrupulous Orators that speak with so much circum­spection, have nothing of great or elevated; the care they take to speak things so correctly renders flat [Page 54]their spirit; and they have not the power to move the heart by the greatness of their thoughts; they expose our Language by this con­straint, and too much scruple, to loose its force and abundance, be­ing too desirous to preserve its sweetness and delicateness.

§. 5.

There is also another extremity to be avoided, which is a too great negligence, not only in the ornament of the words, but also in the right order and disposal of things. Those which have alrea­dy established their Reputation, and which are accustom'd to a long usage of the air of the Barr, are most subject to fall into this Errour; for when they arrive to above forty years of age, and to great imploy­ment, they think then of nothing but of what is profitable and solid; [Page 55]they abandon the ornaments of Eloquence, for they have no time to spend in the thoughts of it: And the care of Interest surmounts that of Glory and Ambition.

§. 6.

There are some occasions not­withstanding where this negli­gence is pardonable, and where the heat of a Discourse, and the impe­tuosity of the Genius succeeds som­times better than all our care, the most exact words, or all the Or­naments of Art. The difficulty is to know and distinguish it; when we have sufficient force of spirit and understanding to know it, we need not be much troubled to sur­mount the scruples which may arise from the negligence of certain pla­ces in our Discourse, which regu­larly ought not to have been neg­lected.

§. 7.

There are also certain manners peculiar to the Barr, which are known but to few Orators, for that they are not discovered but by a great penetration of spirit, a seri­ous inquiry into the sourses, and in studying with much meditation the great models of Eloquence which we have amongst the Ancients. These are the extraordinary efforts of this Art, which surprizeth the Judges, and which works unfore­seen and unexpected effects in their spirits: Such was that which Cicero praises in one Canus Ruffius, who being accused with much vehe­mence by Sisenna, cryed out with a very touching and animated voyce to the Judges, O ye Judges, I am cir­cumvented, except ye succour me, &c. That shew of fear that he had to be surprized, and the protection he so [Page 57]passionately demanded of his Jud­ges, touched them so much, that they became favourable to him. There are an infinite of like places in Demosthenes and Cicero; but we must make reflection that these are not the glistering parts of an Oration, or that splendour of words that works these effects. These Charms of Eloquence are more in the things themselves, than in the words; whose beau­ty we cannot unfold, nor give cer­tain Rules to it, for that they are inexplicable: yet we cannot fail, (if we have a right judgment,) of a true discovery. Somtime in these great Subjects of Eloquence, we must imitate that Master-piece of the Painter, who to express the grief of Agamemnon at the sacrifice of his Daughter, drew him with his face covered, despairing that his Art could express the sorrows of a Father, after he had exprest that of [Page 58]his friends in a manner so vigorous. These also are the expressions that Cicero requires in matters of impor­tance, Significatio saepe major erit quam oratio. Cic. in Brut These places ought to be prepared by a passionate and tender Discourse, and by all the most studied attractions of that Art, to have that success that they ought to have.

§. 8.

Nothing hath so much power on the spirit of his Judges,Melior moderatio et nonnun quam etiam patientia bonus al­tercator vitio ira cundiae carcat. Quint. l. 6. c. 4. as the opi­nion of a general probity, and espe­cially a moderation in the affairs which wound his own Interest, or that of his Party. An affair becomes suspected, when it is mannaged with transportation; and Choller may ruine the most just Cause; for we are apt to believe that Cause to be unjust, which useth only passion for its defence. Moderation, above [Page 59]all other vertues, knows the best how to regulate the outward moti­ons, and wherewith we are the most sensibly touched: And indeed they must have a very ill opinion of their Judg, who think him capable to take pleasure in their Choller, and in their ill humour.

§. 9.

Loci ina­nes, nec erudita ci­vitate tol­lerabiles, Cic.Nothing so ill consists with the Eloquence of the Barr, as that fruit­les cumber of Common Places, wherewith our Pleaders swell their Discourse beyond proportion, and serves only to weary the patience of the Judg, and make him distast that which may be good in the rest. They are ordinarily the young men that are most subject to this default; they wander about, because they want force of spirit to enter imme­diately into the matter: We should render them a great service, if we [Page 60]could make them resolve to leave that length and circuit of Discourse which is so much contrary to deco­rum, and becomes odious and in­supportable. A Discourse spun out with these childish amplifications, becomes languishing, it only makes the Judges yawn, and lulls them into a slumber.

§. 10.

It is also the delight of young men to glister in all they say: But true Eloquence seeks not after that vain splendour, which is only pro­per to dazle the spirit. We alwayes fall into errour when we study too much to please. That Lawyer which relies more upon a passage of Seneca for defence of his Cause, than upon good Reason, very much deceives himself; those glistering passages have not any force to perswade, they serve only to waken the spirit [Page 61]of the Judge, when it is weary.

§. 11.

We seldome take any care of the exteriour part which relates to acti­on, which Cicero calls the Eloquence of the Body, whose perfection con­sists in the gesture and pronunciati­on, because we do not enough com­prehend the necessity and impor­tance thereof: Quintilian only hath given us any precepts of it, which Aristotle and Cicero have o­mitted, possibly believing that it was a gift only of Nature, which could not be reduced into Art or Method, and have contented themselves only to note us the importance of it, which they have done in several places of their works. This right pronunciation is so important, that we cannot neglect it without renouncing what is most powerful and perswasive in [Page 62]Eloquence: It is that which rules most in Discourse, and which irre­sistibly invades the soul, and in which consists the greatest force and ornament. The great Talent of Hortensius who equall'd Cicero in Reputation, was the skilful man­nagement of the action: He was so admirable in an ardent manner of speaking, that Roscius and Aesop, the most famous Comedians of that time, went alwayes to hear his O­rations, to learn from him their measure. Having so little care to form our selves to this action, we need not be astonished that we see so few tracts of that Eloquence which wrought so many wonders in the Times of Cicero and Demo­it henes, who alwayes endeavour'd to express in themselves, by their ardour and vehemence, those passi­ons which they intended to excite in the Spirits of their Auditors. It is true we have seen Orators [Page 63]some years past, who gave weight to all their Reasons by the force wherewith they animated their Discourse: but after all, their ardency was so ill mannaged, that what they said, lost its grace, by the desire they had to be too passi­onate: for when once the fire mounted to their faces, we could understand no more, their pronun­ciation became so confus'd by their excessive transport. Some others appear too cold, they shew in their greatest affairs little of that emoti­on which is necessary to enflame the spirit of the Judges, which are not at all touched in these great Subjects, but by great movements. We may say to these languishing Declamators that of Cicero against Calidius, who spoke things very touching with an air of tranquility, An ista si vera essent, sic a te dice­rentar? All those which speak at the Barr are subject to add to the evil [Page 64]pronunciation, which they learn'd at the Colledg; One constant and disagreeable tone, and an impressi­on of the accent in the penultima syllables, which occasions rather laughter than perswasion.

§. 12.

The Subjects which furnish the present condition of the Bar, hav­ing nothing of great or elevated, cannot give to Eloquence those advantages, which is found in the more important matters of the An­tients: Such were the deliberations of War and Peace, the considera­tions of the good of the State and the publick interest, the accusati­ons and defenses of Princes and Kings, which the great Orators dis­coursed with so much splendour. The interests which are at this time the Subjects of the Barr, are some­times so little considerable that [Page 65]they are not capable to furnish mat­ters of such worth to Eloquence, as made it in those times to triumph o­ver hearts.His acce­debat spl endot rerum, & magnitu­do causa­run, qui­bus ipsa plurimum elo quen­tia praeslat. Dialog. de cous. co. eloq. Crescit cum amplitudine rerum vis ingenij: nee quisquam illustrem orationem facere potest, n [...]si qui causam paremi invenit. 16. This was one of the ad­vantages (that Messalla notes in the Dialogue of Quintilian) the anti­ent Orators had above those of his time: in effect, petty Subjects make petty Orators; and the Spirit of him that speaks in publick, is ele­vated by the merit and elevation of the Subject.

§. 13.

There is an Eloquence of pure Au­thority which is of very great use at the Bar; and though it be not pa­ssionate, and its manner of declaim­ing be cold, and serious, yet it has the dignity that is required to imprint respect and veneration; we heark­en to it as to an Oracle, being pre­ingaged [Page 66]in its favour. This is the E­loquence of the Judges, and those which make Orations to Princes and great Lords, who ought to observe this calm and peaceful Elo­quence, who must speak without emotion to preserve their Charact­er, for it ought to have nothing in it but submissive and respective, and ought to be regulated according to the rank and quality of those to whom it is addressed, either more or less respectively, according to their degree or merit.

REFLECTIONS UPON THE Eloquence OF THE PULPIT

TIs a thing above wonder, that in so great a number of Persons who apply themselves to Preaching, we find so few who succeed, see­ing they have so many advantages infinitely above all others who speak in publick. The Eloquence of the Barr cannot furnish its Ora­tors with matters so important to treat, with things so touching to [Page 68]speak, nor with such great mo­tives to perswade, as this Elo­quence of the Pulpit: all those En­gines which she imployes in moving the Passions are so powerful, the Figures of Rhetorick (which are as sanctifyed in the Mouth, by the commerce it has with the holy Spi­rit) so glorious, and the mysteries that it unfolds are so transcendent, and it speaks by the dignity of its Character with so much authority; that if there be any Eloquence which is perfect Mistress of hearts, by the power that it hath to move, and by its natural independance, it must be this; from whence comes it then that we have so few good Prea­chers? It is not the fault of the Audi­tors, since Faith prepares their Spi­rits to a perfect submission to what they come to hear? the sight of Altars inspires them with respect, and they are already perswaded by the principles of their Religion, [Page 69]of what they come to attend. Fi­nally, since the Preacher speaks as the Ambassadour of God, and his words are the words of his eternal Master, when he preaches everlast­ing recompence to those that be­leive, and threatens unspeakable punishments to those who disbe­leive; it must be his own fault if he have not all the success that his function merits. But as it is too true that amongst all Professions, there are the fewest in this who succeed well in this Art, it will not be un­profitable to search out the way to remedy it, since it is a thing of so great importance, which I pretend to do by these following Reflecti­ons.

§. 1.

We seldome enter into serious consideration of that disposition of mind, which the honness of that [Page 70]ministry of the word of God, and the dignity of a Function so sacred, requires. There is not only expe­dient a great Application, and long study to replenish the mind with great Images, which are necessary to form the Character of this Elo­quence; but there must be also long retirements from the noise of the World, to prepare the heart by solitude for the reception of the ho­ly Spirit, whose Interpreter the Preacher takes upon himself to be: It is from this eternal Spirit that he takes his immediate mission by the principles of the interiour life,Quomo­do praedi­cabunt nisi mittantur. 5. Rom. 12. to dispose him to take his Orders from those who are established in digni­ty, and have received the power of God to communicate it to others: He must then take great care that he be not too much abandoned to himself and to his Genius; but first he must passionately seek the suc­cours of Heaven, by the frequent [Page 71]use of Meditation and Prayer. Without this divine assistance it is impossible to penetrate into the mysteries and hidden truths of the Gospel. How many does this? who ever thinks of it? what studies or what retreats do we make to dis­pose our hearts? or what prepara­tions of Spirit do we bring to this holy Function? do not we see eve­ry day young Preachers without Virtue or Science ascend the Pul­pit, with the same end that a Co­maedian mounts the Theater? they invite their Friends by Letters, and fill a great Circle with their Rela­tions, who engage a great assem­bly of their honest acquaintance, to grace the audience and to incou­rage those young Declamators; they raise their Eyes to Heaven with a feigned complaisance and counter­feit admiration, when they have pronounced two or three ill ar­rang'd periods without stumbling; [Page 72]and when they have a little confi­dently said what possibly them­selves have not the courage to act; when these trifling Orators have done what they can, they are but pittied by those who judge with­out preoccupation, even in those performances wherein they think they have reason to triumph. They have a very false Idea of so holy a Function; if they think to ad­vance its reverence by such preach­ings, a Preacher must have other qualities to enable him to represent with success the Sword of Gods word like a flame to the Eyes of the Offendors, to reduce, Libertines under the sacred Yoke of the Gos­pel, and to cast into our Spirits the terrour of the last Judgement, by a vigorous representation of the pains of Hell, and the dreadful consequence of our unbeleif, and to sustain in some sort the Dignity, Grandeur and Majesty of the Sub­jects, [Page 73]whereof our Religion makes profession. It is also without doubt for this reason, that the two Apo­stles of our Lord were called the Children of Thunder: for the word of God which they proclaimed, with that dignity which it merited, was bright and terrible in their Mouths. Few of our Declamators are thus qualified, they usually Preach for their recreation, or to per­form the Injunctions of their Phy­sicians, to discharge themselves of some troublesome Fat: these are profanations so deplorable that we should with great difficulty beleive it, had we not so many examples of it in this Age.

§. 2.

We do not enough consider that it is on Gods account we speak when we Preach, by which means we deprive the Word of its weight [Page 74]and authority; for the greatest part of Preachers speak only of their Patrons; to whom they make a merchandise of themselves, and extinguish in some manner the Spi­rit of God, to give place entirely to their own exorbitant and extra­vagant, Fancies. This was not the practice of the antient Prophets, who were the Preachers of the old Law, they spoke not as private men to the People,Pro Chri­sto legati one fungi­mur tan­quam deo exhor­tante per nos, 2 Cor. 5. but as men sent from God; and the grandeur of that Master whose commands they delivered, attracted the respect of their Auditors. I have some­time seen an Ambassador of a petty stranger Prince, who had no Talent in speaking, but because he was to speak on the account of his Master, he assumed on himself an air of authority by which he procured at­tention, and perswaded meerly by the address he had to make himself considered: What weight then [Page 75]should we give to the Word of God, if we know the Art to treat of it as the word of God, and not as a pure invention of the wit of man? he therefore that would Preach the Word with success, must do as Saint Paul did, Per arma Justitiae in verbo veritatis in virtute Dei, Cor. 2.

§. 3.

As this sacred Eloquence travels in a Feild infinitely more large than Eloquence profane; It proposes an eternal Kingdome for the object of our hopes; and tor­ments which indure for ever, of our fears and caution. The sanctity of our mysteries, the purity of our morality, the Majesty of the God which we adore, of whom we find so many great Idaea's in the holy Scripture, and all those glorious Truths which render our Religion so august, are the most ordinary Subjects wherein this divine Elo­quence [Page 76]is exercised. It demands also, to work the effects which it proposes to it self, greater natural qualities, and a genius more eleva­ted than is required in humane Elo­quence. A Preacher therefore ought to have great exteriour qua­ties, Gravity in all his Person, Dig­nity in his countenance, Devotion in his Eyes, a certain ardeur in his Pronunciation, a Freedome in all his Action, and the Air of a Pro­phet; but a sole assembly of these exteriour qualities, is so rare, that I have not known a Preacher in this Age that came near this descrip­tion, except one; this one had an excellent natural disposition for Preaching joyned with the vivaci­ty of imagination, and a fineness of Spirit, which he possessed in a soveraign degree, and which gave him a wonderful facility in expres­sing himself, the greatest that I have ever seen in any person; he [Page 77]had yet a Talent in pronunciation the most extraordinary in the world, that one might say that he was an Orator in his countenance, in his voice, in his gesture, and in all his actions; he could make his Eyes with an easie motion speak any thing, give an inflection to his voice, an air to his visage, any grace to his gesture, and an agreement to to his discourse, such as he pleased; and all these in such a degree as ne­ver had Orator an equal power to him to raise attention, and as ne­ver any person was more Master of what he said, nor of the manner wherein he spoke; he could give to the Spirits of his audience what impressions he pleased. The great­est places where he Preached was too little to hold the concourse of those that followed him. Though this great facility he had in speaking betrayed him into a neglect of preparing himself, yet by [Page 78]the mere power of his action in the most indifferent and neglected dis­courses, he could impose upon the People by his manner of speaking: the most common things that he said, were listend to with the same applause and admiration, as those which were the most extraordinary things the choisest Preachers could say. He had certainly been the most accomplished Preacher that ever was, had his judgment and his capa­city answered to his other Talents; and if he had not been so excessive in his action, which was too signifi­cant, and besides had not all the gra­vity that the sanctity of the place required.

§. 4.

These natural Talents sometimes exert themselves in so much splen­dor, that they rob (if it be lawful so to speak) the word of God of [Page 79]that esteem & veneration which we ought to have for it; they often pro­cure themselves attention, not for that it is on Gods account they speak,Non in sapientia verbi, ne. vacuetur crux Christi. 1 Cor. 3. but because they speak a­greeably, because they are Elo­quent, Preach novelties, or bear some Character of dignity or ad­vancement in the Church, or for some other out [...]ard qualities, like the People of Jerusalem, who went to hear Ezekiel because he was Elo­quent. For this reason it was that Saint Austine went first to hear Saint Ambrose before he was converted. The Preacher ought to shun, as a thing too humane, and too sensual, the giving place in his discourse to the curiosity of the people; which he may easily do, in taking the resolu­tion to profit, rather than please. He cannot faile too of success, if he know how to speak of good things, and to speak them with judgement and knowledge.

§ 5.

I do not intend that it is necessa­ry for all those that are called to the ministry to have all those great qualities that I have numbred; 'tis good that in the Church there should be men of different capaci­ties, to be accommodated to those of their Auditors, which are so va­rious: It suffices to a Preacher that preaches to the common People, to know the principal duties of Christianity. An indifferent Preach­er is sufficiently qualified to enter­tain Religion, and make it subsist in a Village, maugre the ignorance and stupidity that reigns amongst us; for that mediocrity of genius, may always be in an estate to instruct, especially if it have joyned with it any Talent inspeaking; and though he want the Genius to raise deep concernments, yet he may be [Page 81]numbred amongst those Preachers who have the power to make a great noise by an animated manner of speaking, which oftentimes works the same effect upon the hearts of the People, as the Drums and Trumpets do upon the Soul­diers in a Battel: The noise asto­nishes them, and makes them run with precipitation upon the Enemy, without any reflection whither they go. It is not the impulse of Reason which moves the grosser Spirits and awakens them to their duty, for they understand it not; but it is the emotion and ardeur with which they speak, and the loudness of their Exclamations, which makes the impression; it is not the things themselves that move, but the manner of delivering them, because the manner is sensible, and the things are not: It is also manifest that the People judge not so much by the reasons (as hath been said) [Page 82]as by the tone of the voice; they beleive him that speaks most loud, and with most confidence; and it is to this boldness that they owe the success of their perswasions: for the truth is, the Soul is not ordinarily moved, than by what first vigo­rously strikes the sense. But after all this, these popular Preachers must be let to understand, that they become ridiculous when they strive to be numbred amongst the fine Spirits, and endeavour rather to please, than to edifie; it suffices in Preaching to the People, to pro­pose simply to them the great veri­ties of Religion, and the sanctity of its morals, without labouring so much for Forms and Ornaments, which oftentimes serve only to bur­then the Preacher as well as his Au­dience.

§ 6.

The most part of Preachers are rendred very ignorant, by mingling themselvs too much in the commerce of the world, neglecting to apply themselves (with that diligence that is required) to the work of the Ministry; 'tis this reduces them [...]oa necessity, to copy one from another, to furnish themselves with matters for their Sermons. They take not the pains to fetch it from the Sources, nor indeed have they any knowledge of them; this is the cause that they use such ill Reasons to perswade to vertue, for they have not a capacity for good reasons, nor the Art to make them understood when they have them. They usually ruine themselves by this copying from other men, and extinguish their own Genius, by striving to assume that of others: From hence [Page 84]I may say, all those deformities which are so ordinary amongst them, first receive their birth; & that which makes so many ill Preachers, is the false method they choose; they ought not to serve themselves with the designs, nor the thoughts of others, till they be able to trans­form them and make them proper to their own Spirits.

§. 7.

This Eloquence only becomes solid in a great capacity, nor can any hope to be fortunate in this Art, who has not before replenished his mind, with all the knowledges necessary to treat the word of God with dignity: The most important is that of Divinity, without which a Preacher cannot with that confi­dence and authority give clear re­solutions in the subjects whereof he treats. It is a great weakness in him [Page 85]that preaches, when he cannot de­termine precisely what is of Faith, and what is not, or to hesitate, when he should decide. But we know that there is nothing more great, necessary or agreeable in this Eloquence of the Pulpit, than Divinity, which is the Science of Religion, and there is nothing more miserable and disgusting, when it is not treated with that sufficien­cy and dignity with which it ought to be.

§. 8.

A too frequent commerce with the Schoolmen, brings a much greater prejudice than advantage to the Preacher, when he knows not how to make use of it as he ought, and wants Wisdome or a necessary pre­caution in the reading of them; for there is nothing so contrary to Elo­quence, as the learning of the [Page 86]Schools, and I am perswaded that the Lecture of Thomas Aquinas, how solid and methodick soever he be, hath made more ill Preachers than good, for he writ in a very mise­rable age, whose gust was universal­ly corrupted; and that difficult man­ner that he hath to express things, is as much opposed to Eloquence, as the things themselves are proper; for though a simple and plain stile is fittest for instruction, yet it be­comes very much contrary to what we ought to use in publick, if we take not great care. The Divines which succeeded him, have imitated the same manner, and it is now be­come the general method of the Schools, and so dangerous to this kind of Eloquence; it is busied only in desertations and subtilties, which may perhaps give the Nerves and force to discourse, but deprives it of the grace and beau­ties; hence it appears that Logick [Page 87]though it teach the Art of reason­ing, yet it is not absolutely necessa­ry to Eloquence; for though with­out it a discourse is but a pratling in the Air, which signifies nothing: yet its succours are not to be received in that naked manner which is usual; they must be clad in the Ornaments of Eloquence, to add a grace to its discourses.

§. 9.

There may be made the same ob­servations upon the writings of the Latin Fathers, which are also much contrary to Eloquence, by reason of the miserable estate of those times, in which they writ; every one knows to what extremities, all that which was call'd good sense, was reduc'd to at the time of the departure of the Barbarians from Italy: All the Fa­thers of the first age, even to Saint Bernard, have writ after this hard [Page 88]and dry manner, excepting a very little number which are not corrup­ted, by this Gusto, by reason of some tincture which they have conserved, as Minutius Felix, Sal­vian, Arnobius▪ & St. Jerom; to which we might add some places in the works of Saint Ambrose and Saint Austin. The Greek Fathers are more Eloquent than the Latine Fa­thers, though the order of their designs, and the matters which they treat on are very little just or conformable to the precepts of Art; for they have taken an Air of Elo­quence, more natural and easie, but thereby they become more apt to be abandoned to their Genius, as we may observe in Saint Basile, and in Saint Chrisostome; Saint Gre­gory of Nazianzen is indeed more po­lished, and without doubt has more of Art; but when I advertise the Preachers of the danger of reading of the Latine Fathers (by exposing [Page 89]their Eloquence) to the end to ob­lige them to take caution that they ruine not themselves on that part, I pretend not to decry all commerce with them, which is not only pro­fitable, but absolutely necessary for a Preacher to furnish his Spirit with Idea's of sanctity, and of the Gran­deur of our Religion, which we find in all the works of these Authors. In the reading of these, the most pure of the Christian morality is to be found; from whence the Preacher may draw it, as from the proper source, the most clear and undisturbed, The Fathers are the Interpreters of the Evangelists, and the Church honours them with the Title of holy, because their works are as a heritage and patrimony which they have bequeathed to the faith­ful, as to their true Children.

§. 10.

'Tis not enough that the Prea­cher lay a foundation by a long study of Divinity, and a frequent reading of the Fathers, which he ought to do with method; but he must also study a Rhetorick proper to the Pulpit, whereof we find not any Character amongst the Anti­ents, who have not had any perfect Idea of it; nor amongst the Moderns, who have only copyed from the Antients. The Majesty of our Re­ligion, the Sanctity of its Laws, the purity of its Morality, its exalted Mysteries, and the importance of all its Subjects, ought to give it an elevation which cannot be sustain'd by the weakness of a spirit purely humane. It is in vain to search for it in the Rhetorick of Aristotle, in the Idea's of Hermogenes, or in the Institutions of Quintilian, even [Page 91]that sublime kind which Longinus hath formed of all the great expres­sions of the Antients which he hath collected, are feeble, and low in comparison of that which our Preacher ought to possess to main­tain the dignity of his Character. That divine Air which the grandeur of Christian Religion, and the In­comprehensibility of our Faith de­mands, is only to be sought in those excellent Idea's which are to be found in the holy Scripture by those who know the secret to penetrate into the depth thereof. This is that pure and plentiful Spring from whence all those magnificent expressions flow, whose Author is the holy Spirit. It is from hence he ought to take those glorious Images, and that e­levation which makes up the essen­tial Character of this Eloquence▪ he must read with diligence the Prophets, and lay out his time in hourly meditations of them, if he [Page 92]would preach terror,Naturali­ter plus valet a­pud pluri­mos malo­rum timor quam spes bonorum Fab. l. 3. c. 8 which must be his most general practice; for to preach well, he must terrifie the Sinner, and awaken him from the Lethargy & softness of a vitious age, by casting a terror into his Spirit. To this I add, that the Scripture is a Fountain abounding with all the Riches, and all the Ornaments, whereof this Eloquence is formed; and that all kinds of writing are there to be found: Esaiah is elevated, Jeremiah moving, Eze­kiel terrible, Daniel tender, and all the other Prophets in general contain something so great and ex­cellent, as is not in any measure to be equall'd by what is most esteemed in prophane Orators. Good sense and right reason, was never so clearly unvayl'd in any work of morality, as in the Books of Solo­mon; never hath any History been writ with an Air more simple and elevated, mixed together, nor in a manner more perfect than that [Page 93]of Moses, whereof Longinus only cites two words in the beginning of Genesis, [...]. c. 8 to give the greatest and most sublime Idea that con­ception is capable of, so far above the highest elevation of profane Authors. Never was any thing writ more tender or delicate, for the thoughts of Devotion & Piety, than the Psalms of David: the most refined politicks and worldly wisdom, are to be found in the Book of Wisdom and Proverbs: Finally, nothing has been ever conceived in the utmost extent of humane capacity, more profound and penetrating than those sacred and adorable mysteries of Grace, and predestination, which Saint Paul hath delivered in his Epistles. And to say a word of the New Te­stament, which is the most essen­tial Book of our Religion, to which all that hath been writ by the Prophets is but Preface and Intro­duction; what can one say more great or expressive than what our [Page 94]Saviour himself said in two words, Verba quae locutus sum vobis Spiritus & vita sunt? Job. 6. all the other Books may be said to contain only words, but this is a rich Treasury of things: And as it is the Character of the Spirit of man, to speak much, and in effect to say little; so 'tis the Character of the holy Spirit to speak little, and therein to compre­hend much: all the holy Scripture hath in it most excellent things couch'd in the most humble and simple expressions, which ordinarily enlarge our conceptions beyond the Letter. What is more plain and more succinct then these words, Verbum caro factum est, Joh. 1. Joh. 19.& cruci­fixerunt eum? how many Commenta­ries hath been made upon these words, how many dissertations at this day? how great must then be the penetration of Spirit, which is ne­cessary to discover the depth of These Mysteries? We stay our selves [Page 95]upon the superficies of words with­out searching to the bottom, by meditation. Who is at this day a Preacher so illuminated, to pene­trate into all these mysterious dark­nesses and holy obscurities of sa­cred Scripture, to discover the hid­den Treasures thereof? alass our want comes from our little meditation thereof.Parvuli petierunt panem, & non erat qui fran­geret cis. Lament. Jer. c. 4. It is the unhappiness of this age, that there are so few per­sons found capable to break the ho­ly Bread of Gods word, which ought to be the most ordinary nou­rishment of the faithful; that is to say, there are few Preachers so illuminated, as to unfold the whole sense of the holy Scripture to the People; or who know how to make use of Art, which is the most certain means to succeed in their Preaching; they Preach their own Imagination and thoughts, a­bandoning the thoughts of the ho­ly Spirit. Is not this to be wanting e­ven [Page 96]in the principals? for we can­not have a true Idea of Christian Eloquence, but from the holy Scrip­ture, which is the first original.

§. 11.

There is required (besides this reading of the Fathers, & a diligent study of Divinity, joyned with that Art of Eloquence, which is formed upon that of the Prophets, that the Preacher forms a morality, whereof the principles must be taken from the Gospel; for all other morality is no more than a certain Pagan pro­bity, and pure Philosophy. This is not only to be found by the stu­dy of the Evangelists, but as well in the Epistles of Saint Paul, and in the Homilies of Saint Chrysostome, where it is so well explained: These Ho­milies ought to be the most ordina­ry study of the Preacher, whereof also he will find great instructions in Saint Austin, Saint Jerome, Saint [Page 97] Gregory, the great, in Saint Bernard. This diligence ought not to be in the search after beautiful thoughts, and shining words, which is the fault of most young Preachers, which in truth conduce little to the edifica­tion of the People, or true com­punction of heart.

§. 12.

This true morality cannot be taken then from these pure and ho­ly sources, whereof I have spo­ken, especially in these times, where every one frames to himself morals according to his own fantasie; and we find so many extravagant Prea­chers, who impose from the Pulpit their own morose humours and sour temperaments for pure morality, which are accompanied with the ri­diculous Visions, which their Spirit of novelty, or their preoccupation in­spires. Have we not seen some Prea­chers, [Page 98]who notwithstanding their profound ignorance in all that a Preacher ought to know, under­take a decision of all things, with the utmost rigour, and deliver, with the assurance of a Prophet and an unparalel'd confidence, the great­est absurdities in the World, and in matters of morality to hazzard every novelty, when the Smoak of their Zeal has once mounted to their heads

'Tis the custome of our Nation to run after all that is new, or that has any air of singularity; but when we have sounded the depth of those Preachers, who practice (to derive respect on their discourses) an affectation of severity on them­selves, we shall find that they are not altogether so hard to them­selves, as they are to others. Such a one was a young Doctor, who Preached five years ago before an honourable Audience; who who commenc'd his Sermon by [Page 99]promising in a tone of a Reformator that he would Preach nothing but severe morality, and the pure ri­gour of the Gospel; and a little after he canted forth the story of the new Pope, wherein he forgot nothing that might rejoyce or give a subject for entertainment to the more sportive part of his Au­dience. Those that would Preach this severity must do as Jesus Christ has done, that is to say, Preach by his example. The Character of Chri­stian severity is to be sweet to others and hard to our selves; to do other­wise is to play the Impostor or Co­moedian, not a Preacher. We have seen in this past age, false Zealots who made profession to preach [...]n morality more rigid than others; during which they were lifting up their impure hands to Heaven, and fomenting errour upon Earth. Final­ly, these Preachers who are so exces­sive, only because they are igno­rant, and who make Enormities [Page 100]and abominations of mere trifles, who will damn a Woman for wearing of Lace or colour'd Rib­bonds, or for having been a prome­nading upon a Festival day; these Preachers I say dishonour their mi­nistry, by the excess of their sottish exaggerations; they discourage the faithful by making false Images of crime, and authorize Libertinism by these terrible Ideas they give of Vertue; whereby they render it more dreadful and salvage than it is.

§. 13.

The little success that most Prea­chers meet with, comes from the little care they have to understand the morals of our Religion; and the small Talent they have in dis­pensing it for nothing, so sensibly touches the Spirits, as the pourtracts which we make, when we make them well, in which we are oft rendred [Page 101]wanting by a vain curiosity, and a too scrupulous kind of ratiocinati­on. This way we take to shun the difficulty we find in the well painting of manners, whi [...]h is a thing not only the most capable to attract admiration to the Orator, but also the most difficult to suc­ceed in this, he must commence by a perfect knowledge of the heart of man, he must know the particular of all its motions; to make a true pourtraict, and to paint men so na­turally that they may know them­selves in the Pictures that are made of them. 'Tis in this that almost all Preachers are wanting, who re­present false Images of manners to their Auditors, in making them too difficult, or too easie, so that they faile of the intended ef­fect, for that the Images being false we know them not; and what he sayes is quite lost, because no person can take it as spoken to [Page 102]himself; they Preach to the rich as to the poor, to the Courtier as to the Citizen, they make the mo­rals of a City the Subject of a Village Sermon; and they make elaborate Sermons, where simple Catechismes and naked instructions are most proper. Every one knows the story, of the Preacher, who preach­ed all the species of sin against the sixth Commandment, to a house of Religion. This is the most ordinary defect of the whole Cler­gy, because the necessary discern­ment, and understanding of the persons to whom they speak, and the perfect knowledge of the man­ners of men are Talents very rare; for the great experience of the world which he must have, joyned with the light of Phylosophy and Divinity, (which are the first sour­ces of this discernment) are the most essential to a Preacher, and I am [Page 103]perswaded that none can succeed, but according to the proportion of his knowledge of the manners and heart of man.

§. 14.

The heart of man is an abysm of unknown Depth; whatsoever dis­coveries we make, still there re­mains somthing not yet discovered. It is not alone sufficient to make a true picture, though we had so much power of penetration, as to know its impostures, deceits, dissi­mulations, weaknesses, suspitions, its distasts, jealousies, irresolutions, its several Meanders, and inequalities, its delicatesses which surmount inte­rest, its pride, presumption, and that confus'd Miscellany of all its affections, and finally, its natural and inconceivable propension to malice and disguisement. He must yet know how to take off the mask [Page 104]of vertue, of candor, and sincerity, which are used in the more success­ful and refined exercises of dissimu­lation; he must make him see that by his self love (against which all the Fathers have declaimed with so much heat) and by a false mode­sty which he conceales from him­self, the evil of his own intentions, to shun under this disguise the con­fusion that it would bring him. And as man hath not any vertue of himself, but on the contrary, his nature is corrupted with vice, he must shew him that the joy which he seems to have in the exercise of vertue, is but a counterfeit joy; that he flatters himself with a false appearance of sorrow and Repen­tance in the exercise of Repen­tance; that his Faith, his Hope, his Charity, and his other vertues, are no other than imaginary, where­with he amuses himself, and a de­ceitful tranquility amidst the vain [Page 105]and confused projects that he frames of his salvation. Finally, for to discover him wholly, and to give him a full prospect of his de­formities, he must depaint to him his false modesties in the things he seeks after, his artificial excuses in what he flies, the perversity of his Judgment in what he esteems, the frailty of his resolutions, and the continual agitation and inquie­tudes in the pursuance of any good: I should never find an end, if I would discover all the changes and varieties of his thoughts. I have said enough to make out in gene­ral the principal sourse of all its motions, which ought to be the subject of a perpetual meditation to him who pretends to be distinguish­ed from other Preachers: For in effect, the knowledg of this heart of man, more or less great, is al­most the sole thing which makes the true distinction of the different [Page 106]Talents of Preaching, in the infi­nite number of divers manners that there are of preaching. The little care that most Preachers take to gain a perfect knowledg of man, is one of the most ordinary causes that there are so few in number of those that succeed; for that when they speak things so much in the general, and descend not in the particular enumeration of Manners, none seem to be inte­ressed in what they say. It is this particularizing of morals, when it is natural, which gives success to the Preacher; and as this se­cret is rare, so is the success also.

§. 15.

Besides this Morallity which is a part of Eloquence, which contri­butes the most to render it admira­ble; the Art to excite the Passions contributes also not a little: For it [Page 107]sufficeth not to a Preacher to speak good things, but he must speak them well, and with a moving air; for when he sayes any thing thats touching, without seeming moved himself, 'tis only taken for a Gri­mace, wherewith he mocks his Audience. I once heard a Do­ctor, who preached with words very well chosen, and all that he said was very good; but he spoke it so coldly, without that action and heat that is necessary to work con­cernment, that he gave cause to the pleasant to say, that he could not be so calm, without being in some fashion resigned to the Reprobati­on of his Auditors, since he appear'd to take so little interest in what he said. And in truth, this cold and languishing manner of speaking up­on the great subjects of the Gospel, is a great obstacle to the vertue of the Word of God, the which be­ing not delivered at least with some [Page 108]sort of zeal and ardeur, failes of his expected fruit. But alass, how few Preachers are there, who at this day can boast that they have mov­ed the least of their Auditors, by representing the horrour of sin, and the greatness of the pains to which he is destined? Though we have known a Jerome Savan. in Flor. one Lewis of Grenada in Sevil, and one Delingendes in Paris, (not to exclude som famous men of our own nation) who have made all their Auditors tremble whensoever they opened their mouthes of matters so terrible. Whence proceeds this, but from that languishing way of Preaching, whereof the manner is so little touching. It is remembred of a Ca­pucin named Philip of Narny, who under the Pontificate of Gregory 15. preached at Rome with so much power, so much of action, and so much of zeal, that he never spoke in publick, that he made not mer­cy [Page 109]to be cryed to the people through the streets when they went from the Sermon. It is likewise said, that having one day preach't before the Pope of the obligation that Bishops have to reside, he so terrified by the vehemence of his discourse, thirty Bishops who were at the Sermon, that the very next day they posted to their seve­ral Diocesses. These great effects are wrought by an extraordinary talent in pronunciation, to which eloquence oftentimes owes all the doing of its miracles, especially a­mongst the common people, whose apprehensions are too gross to be moved by Eloquence, but only as it is sensible: Such is this ardent and pathetick kind of declamati­on: this is a thing very little studied because it demands so much dili­gence and application, whereof very few persons are capable, and for which reason the greatest part of Preachers scarce ever think on't.

§. 16.

It is but too true, that few Prea­chers allow themselves time to the exercise of pronunciation to form it true, and to grace it with sutable action; they think altogether on other things; they study the Fathers, they study Rhetorick, they study the Tongues, but they neglect the study of this Art of action, which only hath the power to animate what he says, and to give an agreement necessary to ingage the attention of the Au­ditor. The negligence of this part is alone capable to render all the o­ther unprofitable; but yet after all this, there are in this, as in other things, some extremities to be fear'd and avoided: For those Preachers who are all passionate, and who begin their Exordiums in thunder, least they should seem to be want­ing in any thing, ruine all by giving themselves too much to their [Page 111]humour. It is good to make them comprehend that they never were less capable to move, than when they most striv'd to do so. I have sometimes seen a Preacher who was of this humour, who not­withstanding preach't with very good success: indeed he had a rare talent, and many tracts in his dis­course which did exceedingly affect the spirits: His way of speaking was very strong, and his whole aire was vehement, but he lost these great advantages by a too great passion that he had to move, and to make vehement discourses against the Times, so that his declamation became too full of Transport, his gestures too expressive, and his countenance too Comaedian; final­ly, his manner was so very much corrupted by the Grimaces, and vi­olent agitations and constraints of his whole body, that all his motions became so many real Convulsions. A [Page 112]Preacher must shun these extrava­gant transports of zeal, which be­come blameable as oft as they are excessive; he must therefore con­sider well this rule, that he never moves less, than when he betrays this too earnest desire to his Audi­tors: it seems but a false passion which indures so long; and that zeal becomes suspected which is con­tinued with so much heat, and whereof the Preacher makes too great ostentation.

§. 17.

There is in most a too great desire to please without putting them­selves to the trouble of working real concernments in their Audi­tors; this is another extremity which ought to be avoided: For he that would perfectly succeed in preaching must commence by mo­ving first the heart before he think [Page 113]to please: What way he should take to effect this, I have already de­scribed. I deny not but that there may be found in this Age a species of good sense joyned with excel­lent things, but by a too great pas­sion that most have to please, they bring themselves in danger to loose the true fruit of things, by a too careful search after the flower: For that which pleases opens the heart and dissipates the spirits, which only profits by its close entertain­ment, and he looses what is solid by a too eager pursuit of what is agree­able. It is without doubt from that disposition of spirit that there are so many Preachers who endea­vour more to please than to per­swade, and who introduce into the Pulpit all those various gusto's which reign in the world, which they make their study, that they may appear the more al a mode. We have lately seen many Preach­ers [Page 114]of this kind, who prepare themselves to go to a Sermon, as to a Ball; where he meets all the fair world assembled, whom he en­tertains with the morality in fashi­on, delivered in an amorous stile, and with an aire very lascivious: What is the effect of these agree­able Sermons but the dissipation of the spirits, than which there is no­thing more opposed to devotion. Unhappiness be to these Preachers al a mode: The Evangelists nor the Apostles did not thus: What in­decence is it to preach the severi­ties of our Religion, the abjection of Christianity, and the contempt of the Cross with an aire undistur­bed, and with fine and studied ex­pressions, and to mix these feeble ornaments with the greatness and majesty of our Religion? This is the most ordinary defect of those who preach to persons of Quality; they amuse themselves to make [Page 115]Religion agreeable to the manners of those, whom they ought to ter­rifie, in letting them understand that their condition hath an essen­tial opposition to Salvation, and that they find not any tract or foot­step of the Gospel, or of true Chri­stianity in the life that they lead at Court. It is true, he ought to have compassion on their blindness, who are poyson'd with a pestilential aire which reigns amongst them. But this ought so much the more to ex­cite the Preacher to speak the Truth: For we are taught by the Fathers, that the Court alwayes followed the manners of their Prea­chers; if they were holy, it fail'd not to be holy also.

§. 18.

There are some others who fail of success, because their respects are too humane and too interess'd; [Page 116]they are more attentive to their own establishment, than to the Sal­vation of their Auditors; they preach themselves, and not Jesus Christ. Let those Preachers reflect, that the great success the of Apostles came (as St. Chrisostome saith) from their disinteressment. St. Paul per­fected an entire conversion upon the people, because he pretended no benefit by his Sermons: But it hap­pens sometimes to those who have resigned all their temporal hopes in renouncing the world, yet have no power to subdue this foolish va­nity, which makes the Preacher la­bor too much after reputation; who after he has renounced all, cannot, without much pain [...], renounce the pleasure of being prais'd. Let the Preacher that would cure himself of this weakness, consider (if all these praises that are given him were sincere, which they scarce ever are,) that he has but preach't very [Page 117]indifferently, whilst he has left still a liberty to his Auditors to say that he has done well, and that his preaching is not to much purpose; whilst he hath given them leave to say that he hath preached agree­ably, he has only given them a little pleasure, but no fruit. The great­est praises of a Preacher is the si­lence of his Auditors, and when they rise all pensive from their seats after Sermon, and depart from the Church without speaking a word, this is a sure mark that they are nearly touched. and that they think on what they heard. This agrees with what the Great Symachus in one of his Epistles said to the Em­perours Theodosins and Arcadius: Magnitu­do stupo­ris locum plausibus non re­linquit. Lib. 10. Epist. 22. (The greatness of our admiration and astonishment seals up our tongues, and deprives us of the po­wer to praise) An example of this I have seen at the Sermon of a Preach­er, who preach't in a manner so ve­hement [Page 118]and touching, that when they departed from the Sermon, and astonishment of the Auditors, and the compunction of heart which they suffered, imposed a general si­lence, which spoke loud to his ad­vantage. I cannot forbear the re­lation of an Adventure which hap­ned to me a few years ago. I went to hear a Sermon one day in Lent to the Court; the Preacher that day preach't upon the passion of our Lord with an aire very brisk and polish't: The Ladies from time to time lift up their eyes to heaven during his discourse, saying, that was excellently express'd! that was graciously spoken! whilst I was al­most mad with indignation to hear him discourse so pleasantly in a sub­ject so worthy compassion, and take so much pains to please his Au­ditors, whom he ought to have en­deavoured to affect with grief and compunction. There is one other [Page 119]vanity yet more foolish and deplo­rable. When those that have gain­ed a reputation of good men, and to be excellent in this Art, they at­tribute to themselves the glory and success of their perswasions, when they have done no more than what is effected by the impression of the voice, and the exterior part of speech upon the heart: Our Reli­gion teaches us, that it is the holy Spirit alone which does the rest.

§. 19.

Another cause of the ill success in preaching, is the Preachers being too much abandon'd to himself, without ever thinking to implore the assistance and succours of hea­ven; whereby he is driven to mix his own imaginations and weak­nesses with the grandeur and sancti­ty of our Mysteries: like that im­pertinent Preacher, who preach't [Page 120]one day very miserably before a re­verend Bishop, making this comple­ment after Sermon, that he was forced to abandon himself to the holy Spi­rit, because he had been allowed but a little time for preparation: Adding that hereafter he hoped to acquit himself better. There is something so great and elevated, which I know not how to name, in our Mysteries, that it suffices to ex­pose them simply, and without Art, to the people, to merit all the glory that can be hoped from Eloquence, (were it honest to preach for Repu­tation.

§. 20.

He treats unworthily the Word of God, who debases himself to the childish amplifications of petty sub­jects, and to meer trifles, amongst the great number of important mat­ters which furnish our Religion; [Page 121]following the example of those trifling Preachers, who spend their Zeal against Paintings, Garnitures, Dresses, and other vanities of Wo­men. A good man begins by throw­ing a terror into our Souls, by a re­membrance of the Judgments of God, and making us tremble by proclaiming the dreadful conse­quences of our Sins; this is the most powerful means to extirpate Luxury, and the most capable to introduce Modesty in our Habits and Behaviour: He does but trifle, that thinks to effect it any other way. And in truth, in so great and rich abundance of great matters which the Gospel affords, he must have a very low spirit who can stay and busie himself about such trivial subjects. I know not by what un­happiness our Preachers become so nugatory in the great subjects they have to treat; when the antient Pagans were even great and eleva­ted [Page 122]in the least things that they had to say.

I am ashamed when I read the Oration of Eschines against Ctesi­phon, where that Orator makes shine with so much Art the power of a Pagan Eloquence in these Trifles. We (says he) are come to the Feast of Corbeils; the Victims are upon the Altars, the Sacrifice is ready, and you are all prepared to beg of the Gods what is necessary for the State: But consider before with what voice, with what spirit, and with what assurance you can pre­sent your Vows, if you leave the Impiety of those who have viola­ted their Mysteries, unpunish'd. See how much spirit, and how much greatness there is in solittle a sub­ject, in comparison of that languor and weakness of most part of our Preachers; who instead of being elevated by the Majesty and Great­ness of our Mysteries, amuse them­selves [Page 123]in little things, because they have not that force of spirit to fa­sten upon the greater; The grave and serious kind is the character most essential to the Pulpit, which admits of nothing that is low, cold, trivial, or childish; to obtain this he must imitate the Apostle, who in lieu of busying himself in the search of prophane Ornaments, made all his Art and all his Eloquence out of the continual meditation of the greatness of Jesus Christ: Non do­ctas fabulas seculi, notam fecimus no­bis Jesu Christi virtutem, speculatores facti illius magnitudinis.

§. 21.

The most refined and sublime matters are not the most proper for preaching; but on the contrary, those that are the most edifying and simple: For these reasons we ought to blame that extravagancy of wit [Page 124]which reigns in this age, and labours after curious designs, and ingenious distributions and division of dis­course, which gains so much appro­bation from the Ladies. Such was that division of the Preacher, who preaching on the suffering of our Saviour, thought he had acquitted himself very dexterously, when he had shown in two parts of his dis­course, The pleasures in sufferings, and the sufferings in pleasures. This affectation in discourse appears so childish, smells so much of the Schol­ler and Declamator, and so little of the gravity of the Pulpit, that it is pittied by every one who has the least use of their reason; for in those studied oppositions there is seldom any thing that is solid; though sometime possibly they may be witty, yet the parts are oftentimes comprehended the one in the other, when they are exactly discuss'd: And this contains but one and the [Page 125]same thing in effect, though they are two in appearance. Beside, they often weaken the Subject by this too curi­ous care to give it an agreeable variety, which would be more strong if it were more natural.

It is for the most part the young­er Preachers who seek after this fineness in the division of their dis­courses. It was not the manner of St. Chrysostome, nor those great men of the Church; they found the most common distributions, as being most natural, alwayes the best; they had a noble contempt of the reputation of being witty in these kind of things, which only can succeed by being natural, by their simplicity, and by the strength of the reasons that recommend them.

§. 22.

Nothing so much contributed to the great success the Apostles had in preaching the Gospel, than their own practise of it; their ex­ample was the best instruction, and their preachings were rendred more powerful by their humility, by their mortification, and by their poverty, than by their reaso­nings or Discourse. And indeed the most effectual way of perswa­sion to Christianity, is by the Life and Manners of those that preach. It was the Eloquence of Jesus Christ, first to practise himself what he taught. He that preaches a se­vere morality, with a cheerful and vermilion countenance, will not easily perswade to what he ex­horts; for he gives cause to believe that he practiceth not what he teacheth, and his visage destroyes [Page 127]his Reasons. All the world hath seen the little success of some, who could not by all the emotion of their zeal, make the least impressi­on, because the rigour of their mo­rality had diminished nothing from their thriving Carkases; for the Auditors oftentimes regard more his Countenance, than his Reasons. The Countenance of the Preacher gives not a little consolation to those who cannot accommodate themselves to that severity, which these sanguine Complexions dis­pence with so much zeal. I do not say but that the people whose un­derstandings are dull, may be im­posed upon; but the exteriour part cannot do it, for they judge according to appearance; and though the Preacher may speak never so great a truth, if his Man­ners be suspected, his Reasons will be so also. It is somtimes necessa­ry to speak little, to perswade [Page 128]much; for all appears false that a Preacher sayes, if he have once the reputation of one that will amplifie.

§. 23.

Imposu­mus popu­lo oratores visi sumus. Cic. in Brut.Every one is very well perswa­ded of the Reflection that I come to make, That the most ordinary Artifice of Preachers is to impose on their Auditors, and to make themselves appear what they are not. The morality that they pra­ctise is so much the more severe, as that which they practise is sweet and commodious; and because in preaching the Gospel he must ne­cessarily edifie his Auditors to maintain the dignity of his Ministry, he is constrained to take upon him at least the appearances of severity; whilst the sweetness of the life he leads, convinces us of the little disposition he hath to a real Morti­fication. [Page 129]But of all these preten­ded Zelots, who would be distin­guished by the severity of the mo­rals they deliver, the most dange­rous sort are those shallow and pre­sumptuous Devot's, who preach to the people Chimerical Devotions, and their own Fantastick Visions, who without distinguishing what is essential from what is not, they bring all things to the last extremi­ty. I know some that have this Art to impose, without understand­ing any thing of fineness or subtle­ty, by a strong natural imagination, which is fed by the little Light they receive from the reading of the Gospel: So that it is not the Spirit that is alwayes Master; it re­signs it self up to the conduct of the Imagination; and as oft as that is transported, all that the Spirit saith by its impression, is so also. A Preacher must avoyd this with a particular care, or else he will [Page 130]make very strange disorders a­mongst the people, but especially amongst the Women, who are na­turally feeble and ignorant; for the more extravagant a Preacher is, and the more extraordinary his Con­duct, by so much he is rendred more capable to make the greater distur­bance: This disorder is but too frequent in this Age, as well as in that of the false Devot's whose vertues were all counterfeit, which hath given occasion to decry so ve­ry much that devotion, whereby they have made at present in the world a species of Intrigue, and a manner of profession to be distin­guish't from others. But they can­not be very devout, who seek only to distinguish themselves by a bare profession, that they make to be so.

§. 24.

How many Preachers are there, who by the vehemence of their dis­course, seem to throw stones at the heads of their Auditors, to com­pel them to amend their faults, and scarce ever think of preaching those to which themselves are subject? They study the Fathers Divinity and Rhetorick, and all things else that may contribute to render them renowned. In fine, they study all things, but the knowledge of them­selves: Their ill pronunciation, their minds, their grimaces, their action, their gestures so little conformable to a true decorum, and whatsoever else that is violent in their persons and outward behaviour, to suffer to stick to them, they, without any care of Reformation, by this negli­gence of their persons: they corrupt oftentimes their best natural quali­ties, [Page 132]which possibly might contri­bute to render them more successful and profitable, if they would give themselves the trouble to think on it: For how can they so much neg­lect this, without making it be­lieved, that they yet more neglect their Auditors? what respect can we have for what they say, when we have no difference for their persons. We have seen not long a­go, a Preacher of this kind, who could not put off his air of the Vil­lage, whereby he corruped his other talents, because he would not take the pains to amend it.

§. 25.

A Christian Preacher ought to shun nothing so carefully as that which is too glistring, either in words or thoughts; he must know how to speak in a stile polish't with­out affectation. All that is studi­ded [Page 133]and artificial is false, and little agreeable to the eloquence of the Pulpit; his discourse ought to be simple, reasonable, and natural, to which the commerce with the Itali­lian and Spanish Simonists, is very contrary. This reading of the Mo­derns does but amuse him, because he knows not the Antients; and he frames to himself a false Idea of that Eloquence, whose true Character is very much opposed to what is stu­died, dazeling and witty. The true Eloquence of the Pulpit ought not to endeavour to sustain it self but by the greatness of the Subjects of which it treats, by its simplicity, and by its reasons: He does but weak­en it, who pretends to adorn it with the Riches of the Pagans. The Preacher ought to banish from the Pulpit all Citations of prophane Authors, all reflections upon their Maximes, and all their stories, as unworthy of so sacred a Subject. [Page 134]The holy Scripture is rich enough to furnish him with Ornaments of all kinds which are of use to this Elo­quence; when he has well medita­ted it, he will find plenty of Rea­sons and Examples to strengthen and establish his discourse; all o­ther Authorities ought to have no place in the Pulpit, as too estrang­ed, and too little conformable to the Sanctity of his Character. A Preacher, which ought not to put in usuage any thing, but what is ho­ly, ought to be extreamly scrupu­lous in serving himself with any thing that is not so: He must also fly the affectation of making the entrance of his discourse too gli­string, whose fair thoughts surprize and dazle the spirits of their Audi­tors, but are very far from having that junction which accompanies the Word of God, reducing it to a dry­ness, which renders it sterile, and un­fruitful.

§. 26.

Finally, the most essential cha­racter of this Eloquence, which we likewise so miserably neglect, is the Art to allot divers dayes to the same thoughts, which is done by varying them after different man­ners; for that the common people, which usually makes the greater number, whereof every Audience is composs'd, wants prompt and easie conceptions: So that it is to great purpose (if the Preacher would have them reap any fruit or profit) that he propose the truth of the Gospel in such a manner as may insinuate little by little into their spirits, and to dispose in order their impressions upon their hearts and resolutions; which cannot be effect­ed, but by those variations that he must give to the same proposition, to imprint them more deep in the [Page 136]spirits of his Hearers, insinuating by frequent repetitions the same things under different forms of speech. It was thus that St. Chry­sostome preach't in the first Ages of the Church, and the famous Gre­nade in this last Age: Bo [...]h which have been the most perfect models that can be proposed to a Preacher. A discourse (to answer this Chara­cter) must not be over-charg'd with matter, lest it too much oppress the Auditor. That rapid Eloquence, which so much pleases the lesser wits, and is only recommendable for its impetuosity and transport, is not at all proper for the people, who have neither so much penetration of spirit, or promptitude to keep pace with it, and retain its fruit. I cannot forbear to note, that some Preachers owe all their success to the weakness and ignorance of the Auditors; but that success ought not to authorize an evil custom, be­cause [Page 137]that it happens only from the little reason and stupidity of those to whom they speak.

§. 27.

The choice of matters we ought to treat of in the Pulpit, is of a great­ter importance than we commonly think it is. We seldom consider the great Importance in the choice of matters which ought to be treat­ed of in the Pulpit: They fall into an ill custom, who upon that porti­on of the Gospel which they pro­pose, preach only what others have done before: The choicest Preach­ers know how to distinguish them­selves from the indifferent; in ef­fect it is one of the essential talents of great Genius's to make choice of great Subjects in all the matters that they treat of, to which they know how to add that natural variety that it ought to have: For as every [Page 138]Subject is only great so far as it is solid: All that passes the test of a Preacher, who hath a great and firm Judgment, becomes proporti­onably solid, and whatsoever is so, is alwayes proper to preach. But be­cause this talent is rare, and com­mon Preachers are much wanting in the choice of worthy Subjects, I have thought it not unprofitable to propose some of them, that may be the most proper to this Elo­quence of the Pulpit.

1. The Greatness and Majesty of God, as it is described in the Prophets, and in other places of Scripture. To give an Idea of him to the greatest part of Christians, who know so little of him, the Preacher must render him terrible to the wicked, and amiable to the good; and so (by making him ap­pear such as he is) they both may be equally edified.

2. The truth of our Religion, which has been attested by the wi­sest men of the world, and those which were most exempted form Interest or Passion, and has never been contested but by those whose sentiments were corrupted by the contagion of their manners.

3. The necessity and importance of Salvation, and the difficulty to attain to it, by reason of the uncer­tainty of death, which oftentimes surprizes us in our disobedience.

4. The greatness of the act of Redemption, and the unspeakable bounties of our Saviour, the ac­knowledgments and thanks that we owe to him, and which he hath merited of us by his Sufferings, and by the effusion of his Blood.

5. The unprofitableness of the life of most part of Christians, espe­cially the rich, who do so little to gain Heaven; which being proposed only as a conquest, cannot be gain­ed [Page 140]by sloth and softness of life, as is that of Courtiers and Ladies.

6. The terrible account that he must render to God of his mispent life, and the use of those graces that he bestowed on him, when he re­ceives from death his last arrest.

7. The Sanctity of the Myste­ries of our Religion, as that of the Resurrection, which is the esta­blishment of our Faith: the Ascen­tion, which is the motive of our Hope, by the assurance of a Me­diator with God; the descent of the Holy Spirit, which is the ground of our Charity, and the love we owe to God, by a bond so holy.

8. The greatness and dignity of the name of Christian, which we receive at our Baptism; which con­sists in the honour we have to be­come the Children of God by A­doption, and in the right to inhe­rit the Kingdom of Heaven: This [Page 141]right, and that honour is a thing so glorious, that we cannot given an Idea great enough to a Christian, nor make him well comprehend the obligation that such a name layes upon him, to lead his life an­swerably in all purity and holi­ness.

9. The frequent Elogy of our Faith, which only can calm the in­quietudes, and the eternal Agita­tions of curiosity, to which the spirit of man is subject, and which is capable to sweeten the perpetual troubles of this life, by giving us a clear prospect of the Recompences which we hope for, fide speranda­rum substantia verum.

10. The holy use that we ought to make of the Sacraments, which are the most essential things in our Religion; he must show in that usage, what perfection the quali­ty of a Christian (which we re­ceive by our Baptism) doth ob­liege [Page 142]us; he must make him under­stand that penitence is a sincere Re­conciliation with God, which ob­lieges us to a true Repentance for our offences, and a firm resolution to offend no more: He must ex­plain, that the Eucharist is not on­ly the sacred nourishment of souls, but that it ought to be taken as a lively Image to refresh in us the memory of that great act of Re­demption which ought never to be effaced from the heart of a Christian: That Marriage is not only a Christian society of man and woman, but also a means to ele­vate Christians to acknowledg and honour God: And in this manner to explain all the Sacraments.

11. The sufferings, humiliations, contradictions and poverty, which are the blessings of Christian Re­ligion, and the mosts certain pathes that lead to Heaven; as wealth and greatness are the greatest obsta­cles.

12. To stir up in the faithful that spirit of fear and trembling, in which they must travel to their salvation, according to the adver­tisement of the Apostle: It is good to proclaim in the eares of sinners the terrour of the Judgments of God, to awaken them from that sleepiness into which their crimes have plunged them; and to raise a fear even in the better Christians, by representing the peril to which they expose themselves, by negle­cting the least Graces which they receive from God, who severely punisheth the least contempt or mis­imployment of them.

13. The confidence in God which he must excite by frequent Discourses upon his Providence, which we are not very apt to ac­knowledg, by reason of the ill ha­bitude we have got to impute all evenements to Chance, or to our own industry, without reflecting [Page 144]on what we are taught in the Go­spel, that there falls not a hair of our Heads, that is to say, there arrives nothing in the world, how indiffe­rent soever it appears to our eyes, but by order of Providence, which we ought to acknowledg and adore in whatever comes to pass, if we would render our Duty and Obe­dience compleat.

14. The obedience and perfect submission we owe to the Church, and the authority of its Decisions; without which no society can sub­sist; and because it is the Rule of what we ought to believe, and of what we ought to practise, with­out which we are alwayes exposed to the mercy of our extravagant imaginations, and our changeable and unbridled desires; and Reli­gion, which ought to be the most sure and establisht thing in the World, becomes the most light and inconstant.

15. The vertue of the Word of God, which converts sinners, and humbles the wise of the World by the mouth of Babes and Igno­rants.

16. The Panegyricks of the Saints, which they must propose to the Faithful as the true Models of that perfection which God de­mands of them according to their divers Conditions and Vocati­ons.

17. Finally, the strange misery of the most part of Mankind, espe­cially of great men, who run after falsity and mistake, and who oc­cupy their minds in Chimera's and illusions, whereof they serve them­selves to maintain the Maximes of their Libertinism.

There are a great number of other Subjects of equal importance with these, as that essential Chara­cter of a Christian, which is the Iove of our Neighbour, with an [Page 146]universal Charity, which doth not exclude our greatest Enemies; the pardon of injuries; conformity to the Will of God in our adversity; alms; the distrust of our selves; the good use of our time, and a faithful employment of our Graces, penitence, humane respects, which are so contrary to the profession of Christianity, the horrour of sin, the care of our salvation, the omni­presence of God, fervency in his Service, prayer; and all things that are most capable to move the hearts, and contribute to the edi­fication of the people, we must a­bove all things endeavour: He cannot too often propose to the people the innocence of manners, which the sanctity of our Religion requires, which cannot easily be attained, but a by holy retreat, and a love of solitude. The commerce of the world, how holy so e're it be, infects the heart with a conta­gion, [Page 147]which will corrupt our man­ners in spite of all our precaution. The purity of Christian Religion is so great, that we cannot attain any perfection in it, but by a desertion and holy separation from the world, and from men. This is that which the great Martyr of Sieily Saint Agatha had so well learned, when she bless'd God with all her heart, that he had taken from her the spirit and care of the world. (Qui tulisti a me amorem seculi.) In effect there is no man so good as he that lives conceal'd; and the most secret way is the most secure to ar­rive at Heaven.

It remains (to atchieve fully these Reflections) that I propose some Model (Those who have good na­tural disposition for this Eloquence, may frame themselves.) To effect this, I have given two examples of the most perfect Preachers that I have known in this Age; though [Page 148]their accomplishments may appear miraculous, yet those who have heard them speak, will acknow­ledge, that I have not represented them greater than they really were; and that those whom I have descri­bed are not only Preachers in Idea, but such as were so indeed, with­out which I might be suspected to impose and amplifie.

The first had the greatest natural disposition for Eloquence that I have seen; his person was graceful, his visage was very agreeable, he was grave and modest, and all his outward behaviour was very ta­king: his voice was not the most excellent, but very clear and intel­ligible, and I know not, so insinu­ating, as irresistably ingaged the at­tention. The qualities of his spirit were answerable; he had a great pe­netration and exquisite understand­ing, a strong reason, an easie com­prehension, a fine imagination, and a [Page 149]judgment very solid; his learning consisted in a perfect knowledge of Divinity, which enabled him to de­cide all matters clearly, and with­out ambiguity: To this he had joyned a perfect knowledge of the Fathers, of which he made use with so much happiness and address, that they seem'd to have been writ pur­posely for him: But nothing contri­buted so much to the renown of his learning, as that admirable Elo­quence, wherein he was extreamly happy; he could make what im­pression he pleased upon his Audi­tors, by a pleasing variety he gave to every thing: His reasons so mutu­ally supported each other, that the last was alwayes more strong than the first; and besides, he had no­thing false or sophistical in his rea­sonings, but all exceeding solid; the force of his discourse increasing by degrees, the nearer it approach'd to the end, striking the spirit with more [Page 150]vigour at the conclusion, than at the beginning. Finally, his true talent was to enlighten fully the understanding, and to touch yet more sensibly the heart: all his dis­course was a marvelous illuminati­on of the matters whereof he trea­ted; and after he had cast into the spirit the seed of the movements that he proposed; by the wonder­ful power that he had, he set in an instant all the engines of the soul on work, by those movements that he judg'd most capable to be touched, and inflamed the heart by all the heat and ardeur of the passions, whereof he perfectly knew the art by a peculiar Rhetorick that he had formed; they hearkned to his Ser­mons with pleasure, because it en­ter'd into their minds by this plea­sing artifice; and he never preach't so long, but his Auditors could have wished his Sermon longer; and they never apprehended him near his [Page 151]conclusion without a very sensible Regret: For in those moments that he took possession of their hearts, he became absolute master to do what he pleas'd; he had this Art in so eminent a degree, that I have known some Libertines, who could not resolve to hear him, out of fear of being constrained to render themselves to his reasons; for who­soever heard, became without re­sistance, his captive: But nothing spoke so much to his advantage, as the profound silence of his Audi­tors. When he had finished his Ser­mon, one might alwayes have seen them rise from their seats with their countenances pale and disfi­gured, with their eyes heavy and dejected, and to depart from the Church strangely moved, and pen­sive, without saying a word, especi­ally in the most touching Subjects; and when he took occasion to speak of what was terrible he shewed, that [Page 152]he had the same reflections with that great Master of this Art, Na­turaliter plus valet apud plurimus timor malorum, quam spes bono­rum. The spirits of the people are less sensible to the hopes of good, than to the fear of evil: This made him alwayes say, that a Preacher should generally preach terror, and this indeed was his chief Character; but as he sometimes preached out of humour, to which the greatest men are subject, he had in certain subjects such a heaviness of spirit as would not have without difficulty been understood, with out that touching and pathetick Air, which was his first talent.

The other Preacher that I have known, had an equal natural dispo­sition, and I dare say all the learning of the former, but he possess't it in a very different manner: I never saw more of Art in any Orator, nor ne­ver more diligence to conceal it; for under the appearance of a sim­plicity [Page 153]and negligence, he cover'd the greatest Art that ever was. This negligence was accompanied with so many graces, that alwayes charm­ed, because his Auditors were per­swaded by his manner of speech, that he thought of nothing less. His soveraign Talent, was the secret that he had found to make it be­liev'd that all his Art was natural, because that it was couched under the most studied negligence in the world, so that his Audience easily a­bandoned themselves to the plea­sure that they took in hearing him; they suffer'd themselves to be lead without caution, or any resistance; as his reasons were strong, and as he knew how to expose them with all their powers, they made extraordi­nary and proportionable impressi­ons; but his manner of delivering them was so pleasing, that they could not understand them without being ravished: This was the ordi­nary [Page 154]effect of that Eloquence which was less in the words and things, than in the manner of ordering and speaking them: And as he had an Art to please in all that he said, and that when he spoke he seem'd sea­son'd with the graces which he had delivered; he became soveraignly Eloquent, for thereby he never fail­ed of perswading; he knew how to mix the force of his reasons with Authority, and with a temper which adorned all that he said, insomuch that he led the spirit of his Auditors in Triumph which way he pleased, because they could not defend themselves from the pleasure by which he surprized them: All his Morals were correct, because his reason was so; the Subjects that he treated of were alwayes rendred great by the importance of those Truths whereof they were compo­sed; he had nothing false in his thoughts, nor superfluous in his [Page 154]words; and when he made any di­gression, he alwayes returned to his Subject with all imaginable facility, and without the least maim in the sense or connexion. By these agree­able wayes he went more directly to the heart, than the other, who fetched a larger circuit, making his way first through the Spirit: One was indeed more moved and struck by the force and vehemence of the former; but more charmed, pene­trated, and surprized by the graces and agreements of the second. Af­ter all, both the one and the other were fully accomplished in the Cha­racter that they assumed, and in that Eloquence which they had formed to themselves. A Preacher so per­fect as these were, whose Images I have drawn, is one of the greatest gifts that God can bestow on his Church, because it is a means to san­ctifie whole Provinces and Realms, by reforming the Licentious, and [Page 156]the irregularity of manners which reigns amongst the People. This is that sacred leaven, which God by the care of his Providence hath op­posed to all the corruptions which have course in the world. So that I believe the few good Preachers that we find in these dayes proceeds from the little care they take to ask of God these kind of Graces, which cannot be sought with too much passion. Let us then pour out our tears at his holy Altars with a Live­ly Faith, with ardent Vows, and with a long perseverance. Let us alwayes make to God that Prayer that he commended to his Apostles, which after their example we are bound to practice.

Messis quidem multa operarii vero paucirogate; ergo Dominum Mes­sis ut mittat operarios in messem suam, Luke cap. 10.

Thus I have finish'd these few Re­flections. I have chosen this Method, that I might not seem to speak like a Master of a Science which is no less universal than delicate: I might be justly accused of presumption, if I pre­tended to give my Opinions as Rules from my self; on the contrary, I con­fess I have drawn some of them from the writings of the best Oraors, and some I may modestly challenge as the result of my own observation upon the little conformity I have found amongst the Orators of this Age, to those anti­ent Precepts of Demosthenes, Cice­to, and Quintilian; whom if I have not cited so often as I approved their Opinions, it is not that I would have attributed to my self any part of the glory that is their due, but to avoid breaking the thred of my Discourse by too frequent Citations. The death of the most excellent Mr. Cowly is very much to be lamented, which with that of his Life, gave an unhappy peri­od [Page 158]to the design he had conceived to give us the pattern of several Stiles fit­ted for several Subjects: His example might have put some bounds to that Poetick rage, from whose invasion our holy places have not escaped: Certain­ly none knew better than he, how mo­destly to confine that Wanton: And in this it may be truly affirmed, he hath lefvery few successors. The Stiles of our most witty men, seem the dictates of the same spirit which inspires them in their raptures. Though our Common Laws allow but very little place to this Art, yet methinks the desire of glory should inflame them; and the care to support the Majesty of our Law, and the Dignity of its Professors, should ingage the Students to lay out some time in the acquisition of this Art, and those gentler Sciences that compleat an Orotar. But so far are they now from it, that when they en­ter upon that Study, they think it ne­cessary to bid adien to all those Sci­ences [Page 159]which teach Humanity, Mo­desty, and sweetens Conversation. How miserable a thing is it, and how ridi­culous to hear in common discourse Plato and Cicero cited out of Cook and Plowden; as if the trea­sures of the Greek and Roman wisdom were to be found couched in those mangled fragments. I know not why it should be inconsistent in a well formed and tempered mind to mix these beau­tiful Studies with those which are more severe; this I am sure would add to the honour of our Laws, the want of which renders them deform­ed and despised. For though our Law deserves those just commendations, by which it is prefer'd to all the Laws of the world, yet lex est mutus Magi­stratus, saith Cicero, the Law of it self is dumb, and speaks not, but by the tongue of a learned and eloquent Lawyer. Much might be said in commendation of our Language, which possibly equals the most ce­lebrated [Page 160]in Europe in the plenty of soft, grave and majestick expressions, fit for all arguments: But since it is a Subject fit for another Discourse, I omit further enlarging upon it.

FINIS.

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