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is lefs profitable and more intricate and offenfive.
IT is as vain an Affectation alfo to draw out a long Rank of Particulars in the fame Sermon under any one General, and run up the Number of them to Eighteenthly, Seven-and-twentiethly. Men that take Delight in this Sort of Work will cut out all their Senfe into Shreds; and every Thing that they can fay upon any Topick fhall make a new Particular.
THIS Sort of Folly and mistaken Conduct appears Weekly in Polyramus's Lectures, and renders all his Difcourfes lean and infipid. Whether it proceed from a mere Barrennefs of Thought and a native Drinefs of Soul, that he is not able to vary his Matter and to amplify beyond the formal Topics of an Analyfis, or whether it arife from Affectation of fuch a way of Talking, is hard to fay; but it is certain that the chief Part of his Auditory are not over-much profited or pleafed. When I fit under his Preaching I fancy myself brought into the Valley of Ezekiel's Vifion ; it was full of Bones, and behold, there were very many in the Valley, and lo, they were very dry. Ezek. xxxvii. 1, 2.
IT is the Variety of Enlargement upon a few proper Heads that clothes the dry Bones with Flesh, and animates them with Blood and Spirits; it is this that colours the
Difcourfe, makes it warm and strong, and renders the divine Propofitions bright and perfwafive: It is this brings down the Doctrine or the Duty to the Understanding and Confcience of the whole Auditory, and commands the natural Affections into the Intereft of the Gofpel: In fhort, it is this that, under the Influence of the holy Spirit, gives Life and Force, Beauty and Success to a Sermon, and provides Food for Souls. A fingle Rofe-bufh, or a Dwarf-pear with all their Leaves, Flowers and Fruit about them, have more Beauty and Spirit in themselves, and yield more Food and Pleasure to Mankind, then the innumerable Branches, Boughs and Twigs of a long Hedge of Thorns. The Fruit will feed the Hungry, and the Flower will refresh the Fainting, which is more than can be faid of the thickeft Oak in Bashan, when it has lost its vital Juice; it may spread its Limbs indeed far and wide, but they are naked, withered and fapless.
The HARANGU E.
S it not poffible to forfake one Extreme without running into a worfe? Is there no Medium between a Sermon made up of fixty dry Particulars, and a long loose Declamation without any Diftinction of the
Parts of it? Muft. the Preacher divide his Work by the Breaks of a Minute-Watch, or let it run on inceffant to the laft Word, like the flowing Stream of the Hour-Glafs that measures his Divinity? Surely Fluvio preaches as though he knew no Medium; and having taking a Difguft heretofore at one of Polyramus's Lectures, he refolved his Difcourfes fhould have no Distinction of Particulars in them. His Language flows fmoothly in a long Connection of Periods, and glides over the Ear like a Rivulet of Oyl over polish'd Marble, and like that too leaves no Trace behind it. The Attention is detained in a gentle Pleafure, and (to fay the best Thing poffible of it) the Hearer is foothed into fomething like divine Delight; but he can give the enquiring Friend scarce any Account what it was that pleased him. He retains a faint Idea of the Sweetness, but has forgot the Sense.
TELL me Fluvio, is this the most effectual Way to inftru&t ignorant Creatures in the feveral Articles of Faith, and the various Duties of the Chriftian Life? Will fuch a long uniform Flow of Language imprint all the diftant Parts of chriftian Knowledge on the Mind, in their best Form and Order? Do you find fuch a gentle and gliding Stream up of Words, moft powerful to call the Souls of Sinners from their dangerous or fatal Lethargy? Will this indolent and moveless Spe
cies of Oratory make a thoughtless Wretch attend to Matters of infinite Moment? Can a long purling Sound awaken a fleepy Confcience, and give a perifhing Sinner juft Notices of his dreadful Hazard? Can it furnish his Understanding and his Memory with all the awful and tremendous Topics of our Religion, when it fcarce ever leaves any diftinct Impreffion of one of them on his Soul? Can you make the Arrow wound where it will not ftick? Where all the Difcourfe vanishes from the Remembrance, can you fuppofe the Soul to be profited or enriched? When you brush over the clofed Eyelids with a Feather, did you ever find it give Light to the Blind? Has any of your foft Harangues, your continued Threads of filken Eloquence ever raised the Dead? I fear your whole Aim is to talk over the appointed Number of Minutes upon the Subject, or to practise a little upon the gentler Paffions, without any Concern how to give the Understanding its due Improvement, or to furnish the Memory with any lafting Treasure, or to make a knowing and a religious Christian.
ASK old Wheatfield the rich Farmer, afk Plowdown your Neighbour, or any of his Family who have fate all their Lives under your Ministry, what they know of the common Truths of Religion, or of the fpecial Articles of Chriftianity. Defire them to tell you, what the Gospel is, or what is Salvation?
What are their Duties toward God, or what they mean by Religion? Who is Jefus Christ, or what is the Meaning of his Atonement or Redemption by his Blood? Perhaps you will tell me yourself, that you have very feldom entertained them with thefe Subjects. Well, enquire of them what is Heaven? Which is the Way to obtain it, or what Hope they have of dwelling there? Entreat them to tell you, wherein they have profited as to Holiness of Heart or Life, or Fitness for Death. They will foon make it appear by their awkward Anfwers, that they underftood very little of all your fine Discourses, and thofe of your Predeceffors; and have made but wretched Improvement of forty Years attendance at Church. They have now and then been pleafed perhaps with the Mufic of your Voice as with the Sound of a fweet Inftrument, and they mistook that for Devotion; but their Heads are dark still, and their Hearts earthly; they are mere Heathens with a Chriftian Name, and know little more of God than their Yokes of Oxen. In short, Polyramus's Auditors have fome Confufion in their Knowledge, but Fluvio's Hearers have fcarce any Knowledge at all.
BUT you will tell me, your Difcourfes are not all made up of Harangue: Your Defign is fometimes to inform the Mind by a Train of well connected Reafonings, and that all your Paragraphs in their long Order prove