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to eloquence will hardly bear a dispute. It is not possible however, that so great a defect in modern education should be supplied by a few cursory directions, which is all that your leisure and the prosecution of the other and still more important branches of my plan will here give scope for. To attain a mastery in the art of speaking would require much study, improved by exercise and corrected by conversation. But though we cannot do all that we would, let us not for this think ourselves excused from doing what we can.
The first thing then I would advise the young preacher at his setting out, in regard to the management of his voice, is cautiously to avoid beginning on too high a clef. His natural tone of speaking in conversation is that which will always succeed best with him, in which, if properly managed, he will be best heard, be able to hold out longest, and have 'most command of his voice in pronouncing. Let it be observed, that in conversing (according as the company is large or small) we can speak louder or softer, without altering the tone. Our aim therefore ought to be, to articulate the words distinctly, and to give such a forcible emission to the breath in pronouncing, as makes the voice reach farther without raising it to a higher key. Every man's voice has naturally a certain compass, above which it cannot rise, and below which it cannot sink. The ordinary tone, on which we converse, is nearly about the middle of that compass. When we make that therefore, as it were, the key-note of our discourse, we have the power with ease of both elevating and depressing the voice, in uttering particular words, just as the sense requires, that they be uttered emphatically or otherwise. When we recommend the ordinary tone of the voice in conversation, as that on which we ought in public to attempt to speak, we would not be understood to recommend an insipid monotony; we only mean to signify, that this should serve as the foundation note, on which the general tenour of the discourse should run. On the contrary, it being one of the best preservatives against that egregious fault in speaking, by giving the voice the greatest latitude both in rising and falling with facility, is one reason that I so earnestly recommend it. Every body must be sensible, that when the voice is at an unnatural stretch, it can give no emphasis to any word whatever without squeaking; so that the speaker, for the ease of his own lungs, is forced to take refuge, either in a tiresome monotony or a drowsy cant. Besides, it deserves to be remarked, that most men, when earnest in conversation on an affecting subject, naturally, without any study, give their voice the proper inflections which the import of what is said requires. When, therefore, we speak in public, if we ourselves enter seriously into the subject, and are as it were interested in it, we shall without any effort, being taught by nature and assisted by habit, give such an emphasis to the words which require it, and such cadence to the sentences, as in conversing on serious and moving subjects we never fail to employ. Whereas if we speak on a forced key, we cannot have the same assistance either from nature or habit.
A second direction I would give, is to be very careful in proceeding in your discourse, to preserve in the general tenour of it the same key on which you began. Many, who begin right, insensibly raise their voice as they advance, till at last they come to speak in a tone
that is very painful to themselves, and by necessary consequence, grating to their hearers. It will require much care, attention and even practice to prevent this evil. It will not a little contribute to this end, that
di. ligently observe the following direction, the third I am to give on this subject, which is that ye always begin by speaking very deliberately and rather slowly. Even a drawling pronunciation, in the introduction of a discourse, is more pardonable than a rapid one. Most subjects will require that ye grow somewhat quicker as you advance. But of all things be careful to avoid that uniform rapidity of utterance, which is very unattractive, as having the evident marks of repeating a lesson by rote, which is so great an enemy to all emphasis and distinction in pronouncing, and which, besides, even to the most attentive 'hearer, throws out the things delivered faster than his mind is able to receive them. The fourth and last direction I shall give, is what was hinted already, frequent practising in reading, speaking and repeating before one sensible companion at the least, or more where they may be had, who should be encouraged to offer with freedom and candour such remarks and censures as have occurred. So much for the general rules of rhetorical pronunciation in preaching. A great deal more might be profitably offered; but where such a multiplicity of subjects demand our attention and a share of our time, a great deal on each must be left to your own application and diligence.
Discourses distributed into various kinds, as addressed to the Understand.
ing, the Imagination, the Passions, and the Will. I
PROCEED, in the third place, to inquire into the various kinds of discourses, which the christian eloquence admits, and the rules in regard to composition, that ought to be followed in each. Before I enter on it, I will take the freedom to digress a little, and give you a brief account of the origin of the plan, that I am going to lay before you, which may be regarded as the outline of an institute of pulpit eloquence. When I was myself a student of divinity in this place, there were about seven or eight of us fellow students, who, as we lived mostly in the town, formed ourselves into a society, the great object of which was our mutual improvement, both in the knowledge of the theory of theology, and also in whatever might be conducive to qualify us for the practical part or duties of the pastoral function. We added to our original number, as we found occasion, from time to time, for our society subsisted a good many years. Several valuable members have already finished the part assigned them by Providence on this stage. As to those who remain, I shall only say, in general, that they are all men of consideration and character in the church. I should not
have been so particular, but that I would gladly by the way recommend the practice of forming such small societies, when it can conveniently be accomplished. I can assure you from my own experience, that when there is a proper choice of persons, an entire confidence in one another, and a real disposition to be mutually useful, it is one of the most powerful means of improvement that I know. Amongst other things discussed in this small society, one was, an inquiry into the nature of sermons and other discourses proper for the pulpit, the different kinds into which they might fitly be distributed, and the rules of composition that suited each. - On this subject we had several conversations. When these were over, I had the task assigned me to make out a short sketch or abstract of the whole. This, I the more readily undertook, as it had been, for some time before, a favourite study of mine, having, when qualifying myself for another business, given some attention to the forensic oratory of the ancients, and having afterwards remarked both the analogies and differences between it and the christian eloquence. Of this abstract, every one who chose it took a copy; and as we had no object but general usefulness, every one was at liberty to communicate it to whom he pleased. I have a copy of this still in my possession, and as in the main I am at present of the same sentiments, I shall freely use it in the lectures I am to give on this subject. At the same time I do not intend servilely to follow it, but shall make such alterations as I shall see cause ; for I acknowledge; that further experience hath made me in some particulars change my opinion. Besides suggesting to you the advantages that may redound from such small societies form