« AnteriorContinuar »
There are occasions, however, when an Orator becomes himself the subject of an argument, which interests the public, and when he may speak of himself, without being personal. Where can I find a better example to illustrate this precept, than in the following passage of Fontenelle, in his treatise, on Happiness';' (a work written
• authority but that of God, nor obey any voice but that of s the common Master of all creatures. We preach not out• selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your serSvants, says the apostle elsewhere. Herein he resembles
the prophets, who, when they advanced any thing, always • used this preface, Thus saith the Lord.'-CLAUDE's Essay on the composition of a sermon, vol. ii. p. 316.
. Let young and fashionable divines take care, as they will answer it to Him in whose name they ascend the pulpit, ' not to preach themselves, but the Gospel; not to be so so. • licitous in the display of a white hand, as of a pure
heart, of a diamond ring, as of a shining example.'--Knox's Es
says, No. cxxiii.
A celebrated Preacher among the Dissenters, now de. ceased, the Rev. Mr. K_n, in a Charge, which he deliv. ered to a young minister at his ordination, thus addressed him: “Let me remind you, Sir, that when you come into
this place, and address this people, you are never to bring your little self with you. I repeat this again, Sir, that it may more deeply impress your memory: I say, that you are never to bring your little self with you : No, Sir, when you stand in this sacred place, it is your duty to hold up 'your great Master to your people, in his character, in his
office, in his precepts, in his promises, and in his glory. • This picture you are to hold up to the view of your hear'ers, while you are to stand behind it, and not so much as * your little finger must be seen."
with distinguished and vast precision :) 'It is ' necessary, first of all, to investigate the pre• tensions of that which boasts of contributing to * our happiness. Wherefore is this dignity I am 'pursuing so necessary for me?-it is so that I
may have the pre-eminence before others.But • wherefore should this be necessary ? - That I
may receive their respect and homage.—But of what service to me is this homage and res*pect?—They will very much caress me. But « in what estimation can I hold those caresses, • which are paid to my dignity, and not to 'myself ?'
In thus making application to himself of a general maxim, the Christian Orator reasons in the name of his auditory. All other egotism is forbidden him.
Bossuet affects me when he speaks of his white hairs. Bourdaloue penetrates me with a sacred veneration when he apologizes for his sermon,
on Impurity,' in his “homily of Magdalen.' But it is the privilege of these great masters to fall into such sort of digressions; and yet they never allow themselves in them unnecessarily. nor without attaining a vigour of genius, which renders all excusable.
HAT I am chiefly pleased with, and ad
mire in Bourdaloue, is his keeping himself out of sight ; that with a style too often sacrificed to declamation, he never strains Christian duties, never converts simple advices into positive precepts, but his morality is such as can always be reduced to practice. It is the inexhaustible fertility of his plans which are never alike, and the happy talent of arranging his arguments with that order of which Quintilian speaks, when he compares the merit of an Orator, who composes a discourse, to the skill of a general, who commands an army ;* it is that accurate and forcible logic, which excludes sophisms, contradictions, paradoxes ; it is the art with which he establishes our duty upon our interest, and that valuable secret, which I seldom see, but in his sermons, of converting the recital of conversations into proofs of his subject; it is that redundancy of genius, which, in his discourses leaves nothing farther to be supposed, although he composed at least two, often three, sometimes even four ser
* Est velut Imperatoria virtus. Instit. 2.
mons on the same subject, without our even knowing, after having read them, to which to give the preference; it is the simplicity of a style, nervous and affecting, natural and noble: the profoundest knowledge of religion ; the admirable use which he makes of the scriptures, and of the Fathers; these are the talents, which never permit me to think of this great man, without saying to myself, “See then, to what an elevation genius
may be rised, when it is invigorated by sudy! What
more beautiful and inimitable in Christian Eloquence, than the first parts of the sermons of Bourdaloue on the Conception, the Passion, and the Resurrection'!*
IS rival MASSILLON seldom hath sublime
strokes ; but if he be inferior in his peculiar fame as an Orator, he is, doubtless, of
* • Among the Roman Catholic Preachers, the two most eminent are BOURDALOUE and MASSILLON. It is a sub. ject of dispute among the French critics, to which of these' • the preference is due, and each of them have their several partizans. To Bourdaloue, they attribute more solidity "and close reasoning; to Massillon, a more pleasing and engaging manner : Bourdaloue is indeed a great reasoner,
the first rank as a writer. No one has carried the excellence of style to a higher degree of perfection. He attended to this branch of Eloquence to the latest period of his life.
There were found in his port-folio, after his death, twelve transcripts of his sermons, which he revised with unwearied pains after his advancement to the episcopacy, and which of course, have never been delivered from the pulpit, such as we now read them.
Massillon retained in his old age all the purity of his taste, although he had lost the vivacity of
and inculcates his doctrines with much zeal, piety, and * earnestness; but his style is verbose, he is disagreeably * full of quotations from the Fathers, and he wants imagina«tion. Massillon has more grace, more sentiment, and, in 'my opinion, every way more genius. He discovers much • knowledge both of the world and of the human heart; he is pathetic and persuasive ; and, upon the whole, is per. haps, the most elegant writer of sermons, which modern • times have produced.'-Blair's Lectures, vol. č. p. 120.
M. CREVIER, in his Rhetorique Francoise, makes the fol. lowing critical comparison of celebrated French Orators : • Bossuet is sublime, but unequal; FLECHIER is more equal, but less sublime, and often too flowery; BOURDALOUE is solid and judicious, but he neglects the lighter ornaments. MASSIllon is richer in imagery, but less cogent in reasoning. I would not, therefore, have an Orator content himself with the imitation of one of these models, but rather that he strive to combine in himself the different qualities of each.'-Vol. ii. ad. fin.