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Let him, then, pass judgment upon himself when quitting the pulpit, less by the report of others, than by his own observations.
OF MOTIVES TO EXCITE THE EMULATION OF
I AM aware that these multiplied corrections
occasion very painful labour to Christian preachers. Nevertheless, that which is really disheartening and seriously alarming to us in our ministry, is neither the study, which composition requires, nor the restriction, which memory imposes on us; but the discouragements increasing as we grow old in our profession; the lassitude, which perpetually attends the repetition of sermons, no longer delivered but with reluctance ; the certainty of discovering faults continually in our discourses, and of finding ourselves, thus, not only very much on this side perfection, but éven below the level of our own abilities; and, above all, the indifference of our age for religion. Hence it is, that persons attend to religious instruction, as they would to a profane spectacle ; that they are desirous of reducing our zeal to the sacrifice of the most important truths, and the most forcible Eloquence, to I know not what fri
is volous subject, or rhetorical flowers; and that,
in fine, it seems as if it were expected of us to degrade ourselves, both as Apostles and Orators, in order to please the multitude.
These draughts are no doubt bitter. It is, however, necessary to swallow them, should we only succeed in reclaiming one wicked man to virtue, of preserving one wretched man from despair ; in a word, of preventing one single crime from the earth.
Ah! what more can be necessary in order ta quicken our ardour? Is there a virtuous and feeling mind that can despise such a delightful re ward ?
We shall have fulfilled the end of our yocation, when we render ourselves useful to men ; in their felicity we shall receive an indemnification for all our sacrifices: the pleasing remembrance of our youthful labours will serve to delight the solitude, and to console the inactivity, of our advanced years ; and, when death shall lay his heavy hand
upon our eye-lids, we shall each be able to say to that great God, whose laws we have published, O my Father! thou hast given me thy
children to instruct. Irestore them to thee better, • Remember all the blessings, which thou hast poured upon thy people, through the instrumentality of thy ministering servant. Let the tears,
which I have dried up, the tears, which I have excited when pleading in thy name, plead with thee on my behalf. I have been the instrument of thy clemency: make me hereafter the object of thy tender mercies.'
Every other inducement, doubtless, dwindles to a point before these great objects.
If it were allowable, when entering upon this course of life, to hold human encouragements in any degree of estimation, I should say, without dread of contradiction, that, with a view of reviving the relish for Evangelical Eloquence, the same means are made use of among us, which excited so successful an emulation in the excellent days of the age of Louis XIV.
Never, in the record of ecclesiastical preferments, have Christian Orators found a more distinguished attention paid to their labours, nor a more marked good will to reward their talents.
After having, in this manner, unfolded the ideas, which have arisen in my own mind, on the subject of Eloquence, I am not afraid of being charged with having sacrificed the rules of taste to the purposes of my own vanity.
The theories of individuals, are for the most part, only indirect apologies for the compositions of their authors; and, despair of equalling the ancient models, often gives rise to extravagant systems.
But if my rhetorical writings be inferior to my theory, I can, at least, willingly bear this testimony, from the bottom of my heart, that, n deriving the Principles of Eloquence from nature, or from the chief performances of our greatest masters, I have been actuated by no other motive than a warm attachment to truth, and the most earnest solicitude to contribute to the advancement of science.