Friday, March 12, 2010

Edward Charles Dargan, The Art of Preaching in the Light of Its History

Edward Charles Dargan, The Art of Preaching in the Light of Its History, George H. Doran Company, New York, 1922.

In 1453 the city of Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks. In part due to that fact, but largely to other causes also, there began about that time a movement westward of Greek scholars and a consequent revival of interest in the Greek language and literature. (93)

The contribution of Humanism, or the Revival of Learning, to homiletical theory may be best exhibited by considering first the general influence of that great movement on Homiletics, and then the definite homiletical work of two great Humanists—Reuchlin and Erasmus. (93)
In the most general aspects of the matter we may observe several lines of humanistic influence upon the development of Homiletics..., which partly produced and fruitfully accompanied and characterized the Eevival of Letters, inevitably worked its effects in the department of preaching and its theory. (2) The more accurate scholarship which came in with the movement, with its enthusiastic attention to the details of literary acquisition and expression, was a force of no little importance in the same way. (95)
Several things of a general sort are to be noted in regard to Erasmus' rhetorical and homiletical work. His own (Latin) style was admirable, its chief fault being verbosity. During his residence in Italy it is known that he gave instruction in rhetoric to a young illegitimate son of James IV. of Scotland, who held the appointment of archbishop of St. Andrews. Besides this instance of special teaching of the subject there may have been others. That he was deeply interested in general rhetoric and thoroughly versed in it as well, appears from the publication in 1511 of his book De duplici copia verborum et rerum, or more commonly briefly called his Copia. It is a text-book on rhetoric intended to aid, as the title indicates, in the finding of both words and material. It was a very popular work, passing through nearly sixty editions during the lifetime of the author. In his famous satire The Praise of Folly (Encomium Moriae, or Laus Stultitiae) and in other writings Erasmus frequently and sharply criticizes the faults of the preaching of the day and inculcates sound homiletical principles. All this was excellent preparation for the production of his monumental work on Homiletics, to which we must now give attention. (98)
The most important work on the theory of preaching since Augustine, and one of the most important of all times, is this long and labored treatise of Erasmus. It bears the title, Ecclesiastes, sive Concionator Evcmgelicus (Gospel Preacher), and was published at Basel during the last year of the author's life—the dedication being dated Aug., 1535, and his death occurring in Feb., 1536. (98)
The book shows some weariness of mind, the material is not reduced to orderly and compact shape; but it does contain a wealth of thought, information, illustration and suggestion on the subject of preaching which is all but exhaustive for the age in which the work was prepared. The general plan, as announced in the preface and adhered to in the treatment, is simple enough: He will treat the subject in four books. The first will discuss the dignity of the preaching office and the virtues and character appropriate to the office. The second and third books will consist of doctrines and precepts on the art of preaching derived from rhetoricians, logicians, and theologians. The fourth book will be devoted to the suggestion of particular subjects for pulpit treatment and the best ways of handling them. (101)
According to this previously announced plan Erasmus discusses in his first book the dignity, purity, prudence and other virtues of the preacher. He distinguishes preaching from other oratory as to its contents and aim, and this leads to a consideration of the dignity of the work of the preacher. This greater dignity requires a corresponding elevation and purity of character. As the preacher is the dispenser of the divine word he should be like to him who is the Word, and should like him be filled and led by the Holy Spirit. He who would teach others must himself be divinely taught. The preacher is in peril on theone hand from the Scylla of pride and on the other from the Charybdis of despair. "I know not whether he has most to fear from those temptations which flatter or those which terrify."...Faults and sins weaken his message and his power. He, must be above suspicion and live prudently as well as purely. (103)
In the Second and Third Books of his treatise Erasmus comes to the main portion of his work: Precepts and teachings of Rhetoricians, Logicians and Theologians as to the things required in preaching. ... I confess I found it a wearisome task to toil through these lengthened and repetitious pages, and I do not profess to have read every one of them with close attention. Erasmus is as vexatious as Aristotle in his involved order of discussion. ... Moreover there is a deal of wordiness and refining which produces satiety. All that is really worth while in the book can be now more easily gotten elsewhere. (104)
One of the most significant, far-reaching and abiding effects of the Eeformation on preaching was that it brought in and established a better interpretation and application of Scripture in sermons. On this point I venture to quote at length a paragraph from Lectures on the History of Preaching by Dr. John A. Broadus, where, speaking of the Eeformation and preaching, he says (p. 114): "It was a revival ofBiblical preaching. Instead of long and often fabulous stories about saints and martyrs, and accounts of miracles, instead of passages from Aristotle and Seneca, and fine-spun subtleties of the Schoolmen, these men preached the Bible. The question was not what the Pope said; and even the Fathers, however highly esteemed, were not decisive authority—it was the Bible. The preacher's one great task was to set forth the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Word of God. And the greater part of their preaching was expository. Once more, after long centuries, people were reading the Scriptures in their own tongue; and preachers, studying the original Greek and Hebrew, were carefully explaining to the people the connected teachings of passage after passage and book after book. (122)
[126-30] It was more didactic than evangelistic. Naturally this reacted strongly upon the form of preaching, and the reaction was not entirely wholesome, tending to produce a scholastic style of preaching rather than that which was evangelistic and popular. In the homiletics of the Eeformation and of the following period this tendency to scholastic treatment of sermon-making shows itself. Among some of the Germans it went to ridiculous extremes, as we shall see in a later lecture.
None of the great outstanding leaders of the Reformation—Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox— left any treatise or definite instruction on the art of preaching. But all of them had something to say about the practice of preaching, and so their example and instructions had much to do in helping others to formulate principles into theory.
Careful and admiring students of Luther have collected and put together a number of the sayings of the great reformer which show that on homiletical subjects as on others he did not lack clear and strong convictions nor the faculty of giving them vigorous expression. These utterances are gathered from Luther's sermons, from his Table Talk, and a few from his correspondence. Following chiefly the discussion of Dr. A. Nebe1 I offer the following brief summary as presenting at least isome of Luther's teachings on Homiletics.
(1) Luther held it as a fundamental conception that preaching must have the central place in worship as being the veritable and living Word of God coming through the preacher. ...
(2) In regard to the training and skill of the preacher as speaker he should be master of the art of public address. In several places Luther declares that the preacher should be master of both logic and rhetoric. Thus again in the Table Talk he says: "A preacher should be a logician and a rhetorician; that is, he must be able to teach and to admonish. When he preaches touching an article he must, first, distinguish it. Secondly, he must define, describe and show what it is. Thirdly, he must produce sentences out of Scriptures, therewith to prove and strengthen it. Fourthly, he must with examples explain and declare it. Fifthly, lie must adorn it with similitudes; and, lastly, he must admonish and rouse up the lazy, earnestly reprove all the disobedient, all false doctrine, and the authors thereof."
(3) Luther repeatedly teaches that the aim of preaching is the spiritual good of the hearers. The preacher therefore must reach his hearers with his message. His art and skill must be such as to enlighten and persuade those who listen. He must use words which they can understand; a method of speech adapted to the particular audience and occasion, as these may vary. He must have a deliberate utterance, so as to give the hearer time to catch what is said. Yet the preacher should not draw out his discourse to such length as to weary his hearers. He must speak with authority, yet not sharply nor angrily; with courage, yet not boastfully; cheerfully, not gloomily.
(4) In regard to the general form of discourse the main thing in Luther's esteem was the subject, or proposition. This should of course be Biblical in substance and definite in the preacher's own mind. ... Introductions and conclusions should not be too elaborate, but brief and pointed.
(5) As to preparation and delivery Luther's own practice varied, and his suggestions to others seem to have been in line with his own methods. Two things, however, stand out clearly: There must be careful preparation of some sort; and there must be freedom in delivery. A few of his sermons were written out beforehand, many were spoken from more or less full notes, but all (it appears) werespoken and not read.
In the case of Calvin we have less information on the point of his homiletical opinions and teachings than in that of Luther. In the long lists of Calvin's works I have not found any titles to indicate that he wrote definitely on the art of preaching or gave it special attention in his writings on other subjects. Nor have I found that any of his many students and admirers have culled out from his works and put together, as in Luther's case, any summary of his views on the theory of preaching.
Calvin's own views and practice in regard to preaching are easily discovered and well known. Like all the great reformers he gave to preaching the central place in worship and taught that it must be in spirit and in fact an exposition and application of the Word of God. His sermons were chiefly expository, and his exposition was wonderfully acute, clear, reasoned and sound. In form his sermons are like the ancient homily, consisting of verse by verse comment, but his logical and trained intellect gave both unity of theme and connection of thought to his discourses. In style Calvin was later criticized by some famous Frenchman—Bossuet, I think—as triste, that is, so serious as to be heavy, wanting in charm and cheerfulness. The point is probably well taken, but other critics have much to say in commendation of the clearness, force and power of Calvin's style. His main object was to explain and convince, and his manner of speaking was eminently suited to this purpose. He does not seem to have written his sermons before or after delivery, but they were taken down by reporters and preserved in that way. His delivery has been described as deliberate and forcible, not glowing but earnest and impressive.
As to the Swiss Eeformers, I do not recall any definite homiletical teaching from my slight reading in the works of Zwingli or Bullinger. Yet it cannot be supposed that Bullinger could wholly have neglected this element of teaching in his work with the young preachers at Zurich. And both of them agreed with the other reformers in their estimate of preaching as being the main element in worship, and as consisting chiefly of explanation and enforcement of Scripture.
[131-135] Among the English Eeformers the subject received some attention, for as early as 1613 we find a translation into English of a Latin treatise on "The Art of Prophecying," which was of course written earlier and shows a good grasp of the matter. The book was written by William Perkins, and appears to have been the first homiletical treatise by an English author. It will receive fuller notice further on. Here it is sufficient to remark in general terms that the leaders of the Reformation in England were in accord with their brethren on the Continent in their foundation principle as to what true Christian preaching ought to be. I venture to quote here words of my own in another place: * i History of Preaching, Vol. I., 378. "In 1534 a set of instructions was drawn up (probably by Cranmer himself) and sent to all the bishops for the guidance of the clergy. One of the items is as follows: 'That from henceforth all preachers shall purely, sincerely, and justly preach the Scripture and "Word of Christ, and not mix them up with man's institutions, nor make them believe that the force of God's law and man's law is like; nor that any man is able or hath power to dispense with God's law.' Latimer, in his third sermon on the Lord's Prayer, thus speaks: 'And because the Word of God is the instrument and fountain of all good things, we pray to God for the continuance of His word; that He will send godly and well learned men amongst us, which may be able to declare us His will and pleasure; so that we may glorify Him in the hour of our visitation, when God shall visit us, and reward every one according unto his desert.'
By far the most original and significant work by any early Protestant writer on homiletics is that of Andrew Hyperius (1511-1564).* Andrew Gerard (Andreas Gerardus), better known as Hyperius from his birth-place, was born at Ypres in Flanders, May 16, 1511, to a lawyer of learning and distinction, whose name he inherited. His mother was of an excellent family of Ghent. The boy enjoyed the best early advantages of education, worked for awhile in his father's office, and then took his degree at the University of Paris, where rhetoric and logic were among his favorite studies. After taking his degree he took postgraduate work in theology at the Sorbonne, intending to enter the church. But he had become touched with the ideas of the Eeformation, and the archbishop of Louvain refused to confirm his appointment to a professorship at the University. On this Hyperius went to England and taught there for four years. As yet Henry VIII. had not broken with Eome, and the young Hollander's infection with Luther's doctrines being suspected he was required to leave England. In some way he was led to Marburg in Hesse, where an old friend of his, Geldenhauer, was one of the leading teachers in the Protestant school. Here Hyperius was welcomed, and found his life-work. On Geldenhauer's death he succeeded to the principalship, and remained at Marburg during the rest of his life, a beloved teacher and preacher and leader in the religious affairs of Hesse. His type of theology was more Calvinistic than Lutheran, and he was therefore somewhat underestimated among the rigid Protestants, but he was much beloved and very influential in the church life of the principality.
[137-40]On the Maleing of Sacred Discourses, was and remains a work of the first importance in the development of Homiletics.

Book I. Here without a heading the general principles of Homiletics are presented. Chapter 1 sets forth the distinction between the "popular" interpretation of Scripture and the "scholastic." The latter has place in the schools, as academic discussion for students and teachers. The popular method is for the instruction of the common people and has place in the pulpit and must be adapted to its end. The author has treated the academic method in other works—this is given to the popular. But before going into the discussion he proceeds (after Erasmus) to consider the dignity and value of the preacher's office. Chapter 2 takes up this topic and points out three requisites in the preacher: (1) Knowledge (doctrina), and not only of Scripture and theology, but of all truth and current affairs. (2) Purity of morals. His life must be a seal to his teaching. (3) Ability to teach—power to set forth sound doctrine clearly and attractively. Chapter 3 takes up the aim of preaching, which is none other than to labor with all zeal and energy for the salvation of sinners and their reconciliation to God. Chapter 4 discusses the points which the preacher has in common with other public speakers. The author refers to Augustine's treatment and names the five elements (inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, pronunciatio), the three aims of discourse(docere, delectere, fleetere), and the three kinds of eloquence (sublime, humble, medium). These general principles of discourse must be wisely applied to the peculiar needs of preaching. Chapter 5 tells of the choice of texts. The servant of the word is compared by Christ to a wise householder, and by Paul to a steward of divine mysteries. Hence the main principle in his choice of Scriptural themes must be what is useful, easy and necessary.

Chapter 6 treats judiciously the form of sermons, and points out that they should be (1) short, (2) clear in language, (3) well outlined. Hard study and careful previous preparation are needed. Chapter 7 discourses of the kinds of sermons, of propositions, of the forms of themes. Hyperius rejects, as unmeaning for the preacher, the accepted division of rhetoric into judicial, deliberative, and demonstrative, and seeks to found his division upon Scripture as given in 2 Tim. 3: 16 and Eom. 15:4. From these passages he works out a scheme of the kinds of pulpit discourse into five, which he gives in both Greek and Latin terms, but which we may translate as follows: Doctrinal (or Didactic), Argumentative, Institutive,1 Corrective, and Consolatory. These may be reduced to three, which he names in Greek terms as they relate to Knowledge, Practice and Comfort ; but it is better for clearness to retain the five as pointed out, and even to add a sixth, the Mixed, according as two or more of these may be combined in one discourse. Proceeding to discuss propositions and their statement he shows that these are merely brief statements of the whole matter to be discussed, and that their kinds necessarily correspond to the kinds of discourses just considered. Themes may in their statement be either "simple" or "composite," according as they are put in one or more dictiones or terms. Chapters 8 and 9 treat of the parts of sermons, or rather of the sermon service, since he includes the reading of the Scripture and the invocation. After these come the exordium, the proposition or division, proof (confirmatio),refutation, and conclusion. Chapters 10 to 14 discuss these in the order given. Chapter 15 treats of amplification. Hyperius does not highly regard the rhetorical devices usually practiced here, since the preacher must not exaggerate nor diminish the truth for effect. But amplification for emphasis, for getting things in their right proportion, for impressing the importance of neglected truth, etc., is highly important and should be carefully studied and practiced. With caution the usual rhetorical methods may then be employed. Chapter 16 gives careful and admirable treatment to the matter of moving the feelings in preaching. The aim of the preacher should of course be not mere excitement, but the production of spiritual fruit and the awakening and improvement of the spiritual life. He gives an enumeration of the feelings usually sought to be aroused by orators. Some of these the preacher should leave alone. He is naturally concerned chiefly with those which stand in closest relations with the subjects which he discusses. The preacher must keep close to life. He has more freedom than the advocate. He must himself feel what he urges, getting in full (141-145) touch with his subject. His manner must be controlled and appropriate. Hyperius shows how the various kinds of feeling may be properly approached and aroused. The preacher must be master in the use of the various figures of speech, which help in this matter. Many examples are given from Scripture of proper appeal to feeling. Book II. takes up the subject of Particular Application of General Principles. Eeally this is a discussion of the various kinds of sermons, as pointed out before, and the best methods of composingand delivering them. Chapter 1 treats of the importance of having clear ideas of which kind the particular sermon belongs to. Chapter 2 teaches that in each genus one must seek the things peculiar to that genus, finding the appropriate arguments, illustrations, etc. Chapter 3 shows how the various kinds of sermons may be preached from the same passage of Scripture, using Mark 8 as an example. Chapters 4 to 7 give a number of excellent hints on the interpretation and handling of Scripture themes and texts. "One of the chief virtues of the preacher is to explain the Scripture with his eye on the circumstances of the times." Thus the allegorical interpretation is discredited. He must be sure that the theme is really derived from the text, and that its lessons are correctly applied. Chapter 8 exemplifies how a "simple" theme of the "didactic" sort may be handled. Chapter 9 does the like for a "complex" theme. Chapter 10 discusses at length and with excellent judgment how a preacher should apply Scripture themes and texts to his own times. This is really his main business. He must avoid far-fetched and strained applications, and deal honestly both with the word of God and his audience. The author also takes occasion to give a sharp and deserved rebuke to plagiarism. Chapters 11 to 14 treat with care and sense examples of preaching under the genera Argumentative, Institutive, Corrective and Consolatory. Chapter 15 treats of the genus mixturn,where two or more of these kinds are exemplified—as must often happen—in one sermon. Chapter 16 closes the work in emphasizing three very necessary things which the preacher must ever have in mind: (1) The needs of his hearers; (2) decorum in speech and conduct; (3) the peace and unity of the church. The earnest prayers of both preachers and hearers for God's blessing on the work are urged.

This truly great work of Hyperius marks an epoch in homiletical writing. As a fact the book does not seem to have had as wide use as its merits demanded. Yet there are traces of its influence upon other writers, and no doubt its principles found some dissemination in the teaching of the schools. The Humanists, including Melanchthon, had criticized and rejected the errors and extremes of the scholastic homiletics, but they had taught rhetoric as applied to preaching. Hyperius went further and taught preaching only as related to rhetor
After him, especially in the seventeenth century, Protestant Homiletics fell into the slough of scholasticism. Cold and minute analysis and refinement, with little adaptation to life and need, was the order of the time. Traces of this degeneracy appear already in some of the books of the latter part of our period. Christlieb, Lentz, Biesterveld and others mention various works (which I have not seen) as having some vogue in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Among them those of Hieronymus Weller (1562), Nic. Hemming (1556), Andrew Pancratius (1574), L. Osiander (1582), Jac. Andreae (1595), Aegidius Hunnius (1604). Of these one of the most important was that of Pancratius, who taught the distinction of "textual" and "thematic" sermons, and seems to have given start and vogue to the scholastic tendency which reigned soon after him. Next in value was the work of Hunnius, who set himself against this trend, and taught a more reasonable and Scriptural method of making sermons. But none of these treatises can be compared in value with that of Hyperius.

In England, as we have already seen, the theory of preaching received some notice at the hands of the reformers, and there was at least one treatise devoted to the subject. It was written in Latin and early in the seventeenth century done into English. But because of its date and the fact that Latin was deemed the suitable language for its promulgation it clearly belongs to the reformatory period. The author, William Perkins (15581602), was an eminent scholar and divine of the English Church. He had been wild in youth, but was a brilliant student and received his university training at Cambridge. He was thoroughly converted while at the University and gave himself to the ministry, receiving ordination at the age of twenty-four. He became rector of the parish of St. Andrews at Cambridge and was recognized and esteemed as a devoted pastor and faithful preacher of the Word. It was said of him that "while his discourses were suited to the capacity of the common people, the pious scholar could not but admire them." Certainly this was no slight qualification for writing a book on the art of preaching.
I have seen neither the Latin original nor the English translation, and am indebted to Kidder for what is here stated. It appears that the book is now very rare even in its English dress. The full title page is: "Arte of Prophecying, or a treatise concerning the sacred and only true manner and method of preaching; first written in Latin by Mr. William Perkins, and now faithfully translated into English (for that it containeth many worthy things fit for the knowledge of men of all degrees) by Thomas Tuke. Motto, Nehemiah 8:4-6. Cambridge, 1613." In the dedication the author thus speaks of the "Science" of preaching: "The dignitie thereof appeareth in that like a Ladie it is highly mounted and carried aloft in a chariot; whereas all other gifts, both of tongues and arts, attend on this like handmaides aloofe off." There are eleven chapters, of which the subjects are as follows: The Art or faculty of prophecying is a sacred doctrine of exercising Prophecie rightly; Of the Preaching of the Word; of the Word of God; Of the Interpretation of the Scriptures; Of the waies of expounding; Of the right dividing of the Word; Of the waies how to use and apply doctrines; Of the kinds of application, either mental or practical; Of memorie in preaching; Promulgation or uttering of the Sermon; Of conceiving of prayer. From this list we judge that the book treats more of the interpretation and use of Scripture than of the rules and principles of sermon composition and delivery. But it must be said that the author's interest in the subject was rather practical than academic, and that his book, though now valuable only as a historic relic, no doubt served useful purposes in its day.
[146-150] The Seventeenth Century. The conditions of thought and of preaching during this century varied much with the different countries. There was not much worth noting in Spain. In Italy the elder Segneri introduced a new mode of preaching, after the French models. Germany was desolated by the Thirty Years' War, and yet Pietism arose with its new impulse upon Christian life and preaching. Holland showed activity in theological thought, but not remarkable results in preaching. In England it was the turbulent era of the Stuarts and the Commonwealth, and yet of the great classic preachers among Churchmen, Puritans and Dissenters. In France the Edict of Nantes gave impulse to Protestant preaching, and this stimulated the Catholic pulpit which reached its classic glory in the age of Louis XIV. Among all these peoples there was development of theory as well as practice in the art of preaching, as we shall now see.
In neither Spain nor Italy was there any work of especial importance, but several, either in Latin or the vernaculars, of Spanish or Italian authorship are mentioned by the authorities* as falling within the seventeenth century. One of these was by Joseph of Segovia (date unknown), On Evangelical Preaching, and one by F. B. Ferrario of Milan (1620), On the Bite of Sacred Discourse. Mention is also made of an.Apparatus Concionatorum by Labata Francesco, a notable Spanish preacher, who died in 1621. Besides these, several works with Italian titles are mentioned by Kidder and others as having appeared during the seventeenth century.
It thus appears that the Catholics of Spain and Italy during this period did not wholly neglect homiletical writing, but as their treatises were few and have never become distinguished we may safely infer that they were of no great value or originality.
In France the case is quite different; for while the number of treatises is not great there are several of exceptional value. Etienne Gaussen, a notable Eeformed theologian and professor at Saumur (died 1675), published among other valuable theological works a treatise in Latin, De Ratione Concionandi, which has been highly praised for good sense and sound principles. The famous and beloved Protestant preacher, Jean Claude, produced an Essay on the Composition of a Sermon, which was first published after his death in 1688, and has been much used and translated. Claude (1619-1687) was one of the greatest and best of the early French Protestants. ... His Essay on the Composition of a Sermon, in spite of some faults, had a great vogue in its time and for many years afterward. It was translated into English by Eobert Eobinson, the famous Cambridge preacher, and has been widely influential in both England and America.
The substance of the work is as follows: There are three principal parts of discourse—exordium, discussion and application. To these should be added connection and division, making five in all. Some preliminary words are spoken on the choice of a text: "(1) It must have a complete sense; (2) the sermon should stop with this; both too much and too little are to be avoided; (3) it should be suitable to the occasion." On this last point the preacher should consider times and places, and for the latter should not choose odd texts for display, nor too profound ones, nor those which imply censure. Then follow some general rules as to explanation of Scripture. Next he says: "One of the most important precepts for the discussion of a text and the composition of a sermon is above all things to avoid excesses." He goes on to specify that there must not be too much genius, that is, of intellectual display. The sermon must not be overcharged with doctrine, nor strained on particular points. Figures must not be overstrained, nor should reasoning be carried too far. Neither should there be too much of the minutiae of grammar, criticism, language, etc., for this makes sermons pedantic and tiresome.
In Germany, though the times were distressing, there was among all three of the leading branches of Christian opinion—Catholic, Lutheran and Eeformed—a good deal of homiletical teaching and writing.
[156-60] In England, as we saw in the last lecture, what appears to have been the first treatise on the art of preaching was that of William Perkins, which was originally written in Latin but translated into English and published in 1613 by Thomas Tuke. Several other works of less interest followed this, and in 1667 there was published a work which bore the title, Ecclesiastes, or a Discourse on the Gift of Preaching as It Falls Under the Rules of Art, by John Wilkins, D.D., Lord Bishop of Chester.1 Bishop Wilkins (1614-1672) was a notable man. He entered Oxford at the age of thirteen, and took his M.A. degree in regular course. In the great struggle between king and parliament he sided against the king and married a sister of Cromwell, by whom he was restored to his position in the Church of England. At the restoration he was ejected, but later reinstated and made Bishop of Chester in 1668. ... As to method he describes it as: "An art of contriving our discourses on such a regular plan that every part may have its due place and dependence. This will be a great advantage both to ourselves and our hearers." He discusses these advantages briefly, and under the second says: "An immethodical discourse, though the materials of it may be precious, is but as a heap, full of confusion and deformity; the other as a fabric or building much more excellent both for beauty and use." Further, on method he says: '' The principal scope of a divine orator should be to teach clearly, convince strongly and persuade powerfully; and suitable to these are the chief parts of a sermon: explication, confirmation and application. Besides these more essential parts which belong to the very nature and substance of a sermon there are less principal parts not to be included, which concern the external form of it— such as the preface, transitions, and conclusion." The author has some wise things to say about these, and then takes up and discusses with sound judgment and very clearly the main points of Explication (or interpretation of Scripture), Confirmation (or argument), and Application, which he declares to be: "The life and soul of a sermon; whereby these sacred truths are brought home to a man's consciousness and particular occasions, and the affections engaged in favor of any truth or duty." He distinguishes applications as doctrinal and practical and gives a few good precepts on the Conclusion.
As to Matter the good bishop says the preacher must consider the conditions of his people and give himself to prayer, reading, meditation and study. As to Expression he says: "There are two things to be considered—phrase and elocution," by which, of course, he means style and delivery. He says: '' The phrase should be plain, full, wholesome and affectionate." By the last he means full of feeling, and describes it "as proceeding from the heart and an experimental acquaintance with those truths which we deliver." As to the Elocution (or delivery) he cautions that there are two extremes to be avoided—too much bluntness and too much fear.
[161] The last important English work of this century was an Essay Concerning Preaching, written for the direction of a young divine by Joseph Glanvil Prebendary of Worcester and published in 1678. Kidder calls it "a plain and sensible treatise," but gives no particulars. I have not seen this work. / Besides these few treatises there were other homiletical instructions in English during the seventeenth century. In their charges to the clergy the bishops gave general advices on preaching with frequent particular hints, but not properly technical teaching of Homiletics. Thus Jeremy Tajlor in a charge (See The Christian Preacher, a collection by Ed. Williams, Duties), Oxford, 1843, p. 99ff. 2 Id., p. 206ff.) gives such hints as follow: "Let every minister be careful that what he delivers be the Word of God; that his sermon be answerable to his text. . . . Do not spend your sermons in general indefinite things. . . . Let your sermons teach the duty of all states of men to whom you speak . . . and in all things speak usefully and affectionately. ... In your sermons and discourses of religion use primitive, known and accustomed words, and affect not new fantastical or schismatical terms. . . . Let the preacher be careful that in his sermons he use no light, immodest or ridiculous expressions, but what is wise, grave, useful and for edification; that when the preacher brings truth and gravity the people may attend with fear and reverence."
Bishop Burnet gives in one of his charges a chapter on Preaching with many excellent and sensible observations on making sermons. He urges attention to style. It must not be too pretentious. The preacher should know his Quintilian and Cicero. The good advice of the famous bishop is sadly marred by suggesting the use of other men's sermons when necessary or desirable. It is not to be wondered at that occasionally among English clergymen this evil practice found vogue, since it was commended by such high authority. It appears from the brief discussion that we have been able to give to it that English homiletical literature in the seventeenth century was of no great value or originality, but followed rather the traditional rhetorical and sometimes scholastic methods. Although in some respects the seventeenth century was the classic age of English preaching, its homiletical literature is scanty and is not distinctly great.


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