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duce all his Actions, and all his Virtues to one Point ?
A. That shews the Orator's Invention and refin'd Sense.
B. I understand you. It seems you don't like that Method.
A. I think it wrong in most Cases. He must put a Force upon Things, who reduces thein all to a single Point. There are many Actions of one's Life that flow from diverse Principles, and plainly shew that he possess't very different Qualities. The way of referring all the Steps of a Man's Conduct to one Cause, is but a scholastick Subtilty, which shews that the Orator is far from knowing Human Nature. The true way to draw a just Character, is to paint the whole Man, and to set him before the Hearer's Eyes, speaking and acting. In describing the Course of liis Life, the Preacher Thou'd chiefly point out those Passages wherein either his natural Temper, or his Piety best appear'd. But there shou'd always be something left to the Hearer's own Observation. The best way of praising holy Persons is to recount their laudable Actions. This gives a Body and Force to a Panegyrick : this is what instructs People; and makes an Impression upon their Minds. But it frequently happens that they return home without knowing
any thing of a Person's Life, about whom they have heard an Hour's Discourse : or at least they have heard many Remarks upon a few separate Facts, related without any Connection. On the contrary a Preacher ought to paint a Person to the Life; and thew what he was in every Period, in every Condition, and in the most remarkable Junctures, of his Life, This cou'd nor hinder one from forming a Character of hiin: nay it might be better collected from his Actions, and his Words than from general Thoughts, and imaginary Designs.
B. You wou'd chuse then to give the History of a holy Person's Life, and not make a Panegyrick. A. No: you mistake me.
I wou'd not make a simple Narration. I shou'd think it enough to give a coherent View of the chief Facts in a concise, lively, close, pathetick Manner. Every thing shou'd help to give a just Idea of the holy Person I prais'd; and at the same time to give proper Instruction to the Hearers. To this I wou'd add such moral Reflections, as I shou'd think most futable. Now don't you think that such a Difcourse as this wou'd have a noble and amiable Simplicity ? Don't you believe that the Lives of holy People wou'd be better understood this way, and an Au
dience be more edify'd, than they generally are? Do you not think that according to the Rules of Eloquence we laid down, such à Discourfe would even be inore eloquent than thofe over-strain'd Panegyricks that are commonly made ?
B. Pin of opinion that such Sermons as you speak of would be as instructive, as affeding, and as agreeable as any other. I'm now fatisfy'd, Sir : 'tis time to release you. I hope the Pains you have taken with me will not be loft : for I have refolv'd to part with all my modern Collections, and Italian Wits; and in a ferious Manner to study the whole Conne&tion and Principles of Religion ; by tracing them back to their Source.
C. Farewell, Sir: the best Acknowledgment I can make, is to assure you that I will have a great Regard to what
you have faid.
; A. Gentlemen, good night. I'll leave you with these Word of S. JEROM to NEPOTIAN:“ When you teach in “ the Church; don't endeavour to draw
Applause, but rather Sighs and Groans “ froin the People: let their Tears praise you.
The Discourses of a Clergyman é shou'd be full of the Holy Scripture. “ Be not a Declaimer, but a true Teacher “ of the Mysteries of God.
L E T T E R
From the late
Archbishop of CAMBRAY
A N D
A COMPARISON between the ANTIENTS