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“ The spirit of life suddenly enters into the dry " and withered bones. A gentle but powerful “ motion is communicated to all the members of " this vast wasted body; all the parts reunite, " and adapt themselves to each other : and the “ bones come together, bone to its bone.”
In this funeral Oration there are many admirable traits, equally sublime, and pictures of the finest Eloquence, worthy of the Orator, who had deservedly obtained universal applause, in his celebration of the Queen and the Dauphin.
OF THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH.
CHRISTIAN Orators! Ye are the Ministers
, to draw the substance of your discourses from the sacred books, and to speak the language of the invisible Preacher whom ye represent. If it be true that your lips are the depositaries of science, how will ye be instructive, if ye be not yourselves instructed ? Ye will at best preach a morality merely human ; ye will never, when discoursing on divine truths, impart to your style the energy of apt expression, if, to the study of the sacred volumes, ye do not join the reading of tradition.
Fenelon, in his Dialogues concerning Eloquence,' hath characterized, with equal precision and taste, the Fathers of the Greek and Latin Church ; and the opinion of the Archbishop of Cambray ought to be law.*
We reckon among the Fathers many very learned writers in profane antiquity, such as CLEMENT of Alexandria, Origin, EUSIBIUS. of Cæsarea, JEROM, and AUGUSTINE.
I am aware, that in their writings, the purity of style doth not always correspond with the extent of erudition, especially if we compare them with Cicero and Demosthenes. But according to the judicious observation of the Abbé de
* See in the English translation of Fenelon's Dialogues, on this point, p. 128, 130, and 142.
See also M. ROLLIN's sentiments on this head, and his recommendation to the study of the Fathers, in his Belles Lettres, vol. ii. c. 3, 94, p. 354.
Dr. Blair makes the following judicious remark respecting those authors denominated Fathers of the Church'
• Among the Latin Fathers, Lactantius and Minutius Fe. • lix are the most remarkable for purity of style ; and, in a • later age, the famous St. Augustine possesses a consider• able share of sprightliness and strength. But none of the * Fathers afford any just models of Eloquence. Their lan
guage, as soon as we descend to the third or fourth cen'tury, becomes harsh ; and they are, in general, infected ' with the taste of that age, a love of swoln and strained * thoughts, and the play of words.' BLAIR, vol. ii. p. 36.
Fleury* when it is intended to appreciate the merits of the Fathers of the Church, we must not forget the time when, nor the country where, they lived ; nor to contrast them with their most celebrated contemporaries, AMBROSE with SymMACHUS; BASIL, with LIBANIUS; and then we perceive how much superior they have been to
It is not, however, requisite that a Preacher should read all tradition. For this, his life would scarcely suffice. But, by making a selection of two or three Fathers of the Church, the most consonant to his genius ; by confining himself, moreover, to their rhetorical writings, he will find in them ideas sufficiently striking to embellish and give weight to his sermons.
St. John CHRYSOSTom is principally deserving of having the choice of a Christian Orator fixed upon him. His diction is pure and splendid ; his eloquence is tender and persuasive ; and he abounds so much in sublime descriptions, or ingenious ideas, that we find passages to quote in every page of his writings.
Pope CLEMENT XI. who, during his Pontificate, preached yearly at Rome on Easter and Christmas days, and the feast of St. Peter, had the art of making an admirable use of Chrysostom's writings. His homilies are an excellent assemblage of the most striking thoughts and pathetic sentiments of the Fathers of the Church.*
* Second Discourse.
* As to the style of sermons, it offends against all rules, • if it be not pathetic, nervous and sublime. The path hath • been pointed out by St. Chrysostom. He who was always
with God, always fed by the milk of the word, and perfectly acquainted with the human heart, speaks, thunders, shakes, and leaves to sinners no other answer but cries < and remorse,'
Pope GANGANELLI's Letters, vol.iii. p. 82.
Abp. Fenelon thus characterizes Chrysostom.- His 'style is copious, but he did not study false ornaments. • All his discourse tends to persuasion : he placed every
thing with judgment, and was well acquainted with the "holy scriptures, and the manners of men. He entered in"in their carte; o reo:lerce things farviliats sensible
to them. He had sublime and solid notions; and is sometimes very affecting. Upon the whole, we must own he is a great Orator. Dialogues concerning Eloquence, dial. iii. p. 143, 144.
Among the Greek Fathers,' says Dr. BLAIR, 'the most • distinguished by far, for his oratorial merit, is St. Chrysos
His language is pure ; his style highly figured. He is copious, smooth, and sometimes pathetic. But he re
tains, at the same time, much of that character, which has 'been always attributed to the Asiatic Eloquence, diffuse * and redundant to a great degree, and often overwrought • and tumid. He may be read however, with advantage, for • the Eloquence of the pulpit, as being freer of false ornaments than the Latin Fathers.' BLAIR's Lectures, vol. ii.
BOSSUET, who, himself, may be reckoned among the Fathers, and whom, in the present day, we quote in our sermons, as we do them, sufficiently testifies, by his example, how advantageous it is for a Christian Orator to study the Fathers. He draws from their writings the most profound maxims, the most convincing arguments, sometimes even sublime comparisons, which enrich the Eloquence of his discourses.
Who would not be ambitious to have borrowed, as he did, this admirable description from St. AUGUSTINE, which represents the troubles of human life? Worldlings do not think that they
use exercise, unless they disquiet themselves ; nor that they move, unless they make a noise. That man, who is complaining of too much labour, were he delivered from that trouble, could not endure his repose. At one time the day's work appears to him too short; at another time 'lis leisure would appear to him a burthen : he loves his servitude, and is pleased with his
weight ; and this constant impulse, which in(volves him in a thousand embarrassments, prevents him from gratifying himself with the image of unrestrained liberty. As a tree, says St. Austin, which the wind seems to caress, when sporting with its leaves and branches, although this wind only bends it with the agitation, and • tosses it, sometimes on one side, sometimes on • the other, with vast caprice; you would say,