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runs throughout the whole ; can such a Sermon be good ?
B. By no means: But I don't think that the Sermon I heard is of that fort.
A. Have patience, and I doubt not but you and I shall agree. When the Preacher chose these words for his Text, I have eaten ashes like bread, ought he to have ainus'd his Audience with observing some kind of relation between the mere Sound of his Text, and the Ceremony of the Day? Shou'd he not first have explain’d the true Sense of the Words, before he apply'd them to the present Occasion?
B. It had been better.
A. Ought he not therefore to have trac'd the Subject a little higher, by entering into the true Occasion and Design of the Psalm ; and explaining the Context? Was it not proper for him to enquire whether the Interpretation he gave of the Words was agreeable to the true Meaning of them, before he deliver'd his own Sense to the People, as if it were the Word of God?
B. He ought to have done fo : But what Fault was there in his Interpretation? A. Why, I'll tell you.
DAVID (who was the Author of the CIId Psalm) speaks of his own Misfortunes: he tells us, that his Eneinies insulted him cruelly, when they saw himn in the Dust, hunbled at their Feet, and reduc'd (as he poetically expresses it) to eat ashes like bread; and to mingle his drink with weeping. Now what relation is there between the Complaints of DAVID, driven from his Throne, and persecuted by his Son ABSALOM; and the Humiliation of a Christian, who puts Ashes on his Forehead, to remind him of his Mortality, and disengage hiin frein sinful Pleasures ? Cou'd the Preacher find no other Text in Scripture ? Did CHRIST and his Apostles, or the Prophets, never speak of Death, and the Dust of the Grave, to which all our Pride and Vanity must be reduc'd ? Does not the Scripture contain many affecting Images of this important Truth? Might he not have been content with the words of Genesis, Gen. iij. which are so natural and proper for this Ceremony, and chosen by the Church it self? Shou'd a vain Delicacy make hiin afraid of too often repeating a Text that the Holy Spirit has dictated, and which the Church appoints to be used every Year? Why should he neglect such a pertinent Passage, and many other Places of Scripture, to pitch on one that is not
proper ? This must flow from a depraved Tafte, and a fond Inclination to say something that is New
B. You grow too warın, Sir: supposing the literal Sense of the Text not to be the true Meaning of it, the Preacher's Remarks might however be very fine and folid.
C. As for my part, I don't care whether a Preacher's Thoughts be fine or not, till I ain first satisfied of their being true. But, Sir, what say you to the rest of the Serinon?
A. It was exa&ly of a piece with the Text. How cou'd the Preacher give such mispiac'd Ornaments to a Subject in itself so terrifying; and amuse his Hearers with an idle story of Artemefia's Sorrow when he ought to have aların'd them, and given them the most terrible Images of Death?
B. I perceive then you don't love Turns of Wit, on such occasions. But what wou'd become of Eloquence if it were stript of such Ornaments? Wou'd you confine every body to the Plainness of country Preachers ? Such Men are useful among the common People ; but Persons of Distinction have inore delicate Ears; and we must adapt our Discourses to their polite Taste.
A. You are now leading me off from the Point. I was endeavouring to convince you, tlrat the Plan of the Sermon was ill said; and I was just going to touch upon the
Division of it : but I suppose you already perceive the Reason why I dislike it; for, the Preacher lays down three quaint Conceits for the Subject of his whole Discourse, When one chuses to divide a Sermon, he shou'd do it plainly, and give such a Division as naturally arises from the Subject itself, and gives a Light and just Order to the several Parts ; such a Division as may be easily remeinber'd, and at the same tiine help to connect and retain the whole; in fine, a Division that shews at once the extent of the Subject, and of all its parts. But, on the contrary, here's a Man who endeavours to dazzle his Hearers, and puts them off with three Points of Wit, or puzzling Riddles, which he turns and plies so dexterously, that they must fancy they saw some Tricks of Legerdemain. Did this Preacher use such a serious
grave inanner of Address as might make you hope for something useful and iinportant from him? But, to return to the Point you propos’d; did you not ask me whether I meant to banish Eloquence from the Pulpit ? B. Yes, I fancy that is
Drift. A. Think you so? Pray what do you mean by Eloquence ?
B. It is the Art of Speaking well.
A. Has this Art no other End, besides that of Speaking well? Have not Men
fome Design in Speaking ? or do they talk only for the sake of Talking ?
B. They speak to please, and to perfuade others.
A. Pray let us carefully distinguish these two things. Men talk in order to persuade; that is certain: and too often they speak likewise to please others. But while one endeavour's to please, he has another View; which, tho' more distant, ought to be his chief Aim. A Man of Probity has no other Design in pleasing others, than that he may the more effectually inspire them with the Love of Justice, and other Virtues; by representing them as most amiable. He who seeks to advance his own Interest, his Reputation, or his Fortune, ftrives to please, only that he inay gain the Affection and Esteem of such as can gratify his Ambition, or his Avarice : So that this very Design of pleasing is still but a different Manner of Perswasion that the Orator aim's at; for he pleases others to inveigle their Affection ; that he may thereby persuade them to what advance's his Interest,
B. You cannot but own then that Men often speak to please. The most ancient Orators had this View. CICERO's Oz rations plainly shew that he labour'd hard for Reputation : and who will not believe the fame of ISOCRATES, and D.E mor