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C. I must confess I always dislik't a forca Text. Have you not observ'd that à Preacher draws from a Text, wliatever Sermons he pleases? He insensibly warps and bends his Subject to make the Text fit the Sermon that he has occasion to préach. This is frequently done in the Time of Lent. I cannot approve of it.
B. Before we conclude, I must beg of you to satisfy me aś to one point that still puzzles me, and after that we'll let you go.
Ă. Come then; let us hear what it is. I have a great mind to satisfy you if I can. For I heartily wish you wou'd employ your Parts in making plain and per(wasive Sermons.
B. You wou'd have a Preacher explain the Holy Scriptures with Connection, according to the obvious Sense of thei.
A. Yes : that wou'd be an excellent Method.
B. Whence then did it proceed that the Fathers interpreted the Scripture quite otherwise? They usually give a spiritual, and allegorical Meaning to the sacred Text. Read S. AUSTIN, S. AMBROSE, S. JEROM, ORIG EN and others of the Fathers : They find Mysteries every where, and feldoin regard the Letter of Scripture.
A. The Jews that liv'd in our Sa. viour's Days abounded in these mysterious allegorical Interpretations. It seems that the Therapente who livd chiefly at Alexandria, (and whom Philo reckon’d to be philosophical Jews, tho’EuSEBIUS supposes they were primitive Christians,) were extremely addicted to these mystical Interpretations. And indeed it was in the City of Alexandria that Allegories began to appear with Credit among Christians. ORIGEN was the first of the Fathers who forsook the, literal Sense of Scripture. You know whát Disturbance he occasion'd in the Church. Piety it-self seem'd to recommend these allegorical Interpretations. And besides there is foinething in thein very agreeable, ingenious, and edifying. Most of the Fathers to gratify the Humnour of the People (and probably their own too) made great Use of thein. But they kept faithfully to the literal, and the prophetical Şense (which in it's kind is literal too) in all Points where they had Occasion to shew the Foundations of the Christian Doctrine. When the People were fully instructed in every thing they cou'd learn from the Letter of Scripthe Fathers gave
thein those inyltical Interpretations to edify and comfort them. These Explications were exactly
adapted to the Relish of the Eastern People, among whom they first arose : For, they are naturally fond of mysterious and allegorical Language. They were the more delighted with this Variety of Interpretations, because of the frequent preaching, and almost constant reading of Scripture, which was usd in the Church. But ainong us the People are far less instructed: we must do what is most necessary; and begin with the literal Sense; without despising the pious Explications that the Fathers gave. We must take care of providing our daily Bread; before we seek after Delicacies. In interpreting Scripture we cannot do better than to imitate the Solidity of S.CHRYSOSTOM. Most of our modern Preachers do not study allegorical Meanings, because they have sufficiently explain’d the literal Sense; but they forTake it, because they do not perceive it's Grandeur; and reckon it dry and barren in comparison of their way of Preaching: But we have all the Truths and Duties of Religion in the Letter of the Scripture, deliver'd not only with Authority, and a singular Beauty, but with an inexhaustible Variety : So that without having recourse to mystical Interpretations, a Preacher may always have a great Number of new and noble Things to say. It 0
is a deplorable Thing to see how much this facred Treasure is tieglected even by those who have it always in their Hands. If the Clergy apply'd themselves to the antient way of making Homilies, we shou'd then have two different forts of Preachers. They who have no Vivacity, or a Poetical Genius, wou'd explain the Scriptures clearly, without imitating it's lively noble Manner : and if they expounded the Word of God judicioully, and supported their Doctrine by an ex. emplary Life, they wou'd be very good Preachers. They wou'd have what $. AMBROSE requires a chast, fimple, clear Stile, full of Weight and Gravity ; without affecting Elegance, or despising the Smoothness and Graces of Language. The other Sort having a poetical Turn of Mind wou'd explain the Scripture in it's own Stile and Figures; and by that means become accomplish't Preachers. One Sort wou'd instruct People with Clearness, Force, and Dignity : And the other wou'd add to this powerful Instruction, the Sublimity, the * Enthusiasm,
Inspiration may be justly callid Divine ENTHUSI' ASM- For Inspiration is a real Feeling of the Divine Presence ; and Enthusiasm a false one.
CHARACTERISTICKS, Vol. I. p. 53. This is what our Author advances, when in Behalf of Enthusiasm he quotes its formal Enemies, and shews that
and Vehemence of Scripture : So that it wou'd (if I may fo say) be intire, and living in them, as much as it can be in Men who are not miraculously inspir'd from Above
B. Oh, Sir : I had almost forgot an important Article. Have a Moment's Patience, I beseech you : a few Words will satisfy me.
A. What now ? have you any-body elfe to censure?
B. Yes : the Panegyrists. Do you think that when they praise a Saint, they ought so to give his Character, as to re
they are as capable of it as its greatest Confeffors and Martyrs. So far is he from degrading Enthusiasm, or disclaiming it in himself, that he looks on this passion fimply confider'd, as the most natural; and its Object, the justeft in the World. Even VIRTUE it-self he takes to be no other than a noble Enthusiasm justly directed, and regulated by that high Standard which he supposes in the Nature of Things Nor is thorow Honesty, in his Hypothesis, any other than this Zeal, or Passion, moving strongly upon the Species, or View of the DECORUM, and SUBLIME of Actions. Others may pursue diferent Forms, and fix their Eye on different species, as all Men do on one or other :) The real Honest Man, howezer plain or simple he appears, has that highest Species, [the Honeftum, pulchrum, to relo nav, opémy] Honesty it-felf, in view ; and instead of outward Forms or Symmetrys, is struck with that of inward Character, the HARMONY and Numbers of the HE ART, and BEAUTY of the AFFECTIONS, which form the Manners, and Conduct of a truly social Life - Upon the whole therefore, according to our Author, ENTHUSIAS M is in it-self, a very natural, honeft Passion, and has properly nothing for its Object but what is GOOD and HONEST.
CHAR, Vol. III. Miscel. 2, ch, !,