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and fupport each other; and though you do not diftinguish your Difcourfe into Particulars, yet you have kept fome invifible Method all the Way, and by fome artificial Gradations, you have brought your Sermon down to the concluding Sentence.
IT may be fo fometimes, and I will acknowledge it: But believe me Fluvio, this artificial and invifible Method carries Darknefs with it instead of Light; nor is it by any Means a proper Way to instruct the Vulgar, that is, the Bulk of your Auditory: Their Souls are not capable of fo wide a Stretch, as to take in the whole Chain of your long connected Confequences: You talk Reason and Religion to them in vain, if you do not make the Argument fo fhort as to come within their Grafp, and give a frequent Reft for their Thoughts: You must break the Bread of Life into Pieces to feed Children with it, and part your Difcourfes into distinct Propofitions, to give the Ignorant a plain Scheme of any one Doctrine, and enable them to comprehend or retain it.
EVERY Day gives us Experiments to confirm what I fay, and to encourage Minifters to divide their Sermons into feveral diftinct Heads of Difcourfe. Myrtilla, a little Creature of nine Years old, was at Church twice Yesterday: In the Morning the Preacher entertain'd his Audience with a running Oration, and the Child could give her Parents
no other Account of it, but that he talked fmoothly and fweetly about Vertue and Heaven. It was Ergates's Lot to fulfil the Service of the Afternoon; He is an excellent Preacher, both for the Wife and Unwife: In the Evening, Myrtylla very prettily entertained her Mother with a Repetition of the moft confiderable Parts of the Sermon; for "Here, faid fhe, I can fix my Thoughts upon First, Secondly, and Thirdly, upon the Doctrine, the Reasons, and the Inferences, " and I know what I must try to remember, "and repeat it when my Friends fhall afk "me: But as for the Morning Sermon I "could do nothing but hear it, for I could "not tell what I fhould get by Heart."
THIS manner of talking in a loose Harangue, has not only injured our Pulpits, but it makes the feveral Efays and Treatifes, that are written now-a-days lefs capable of improving the Knowledge, or enriching the Memory of the Reader.
I WILL eafily grant, that where the whole Difcourfe reaches not beyond a few Pages, there is no Neceffity of the formal Proposal of the feveral Parts, before you handle each of them diftinctly, nor is there need of fuch a fet Method: The unlearned and narrow Understanding can take an eafy View of the Whole, without the Authors pointing to the feveral Parts. But where the Effay is prolonged to a greater Extent, Confufion grows upon
upon the Reader almoft at every Page, without fome Scheme or Method of fucceffive Heads in the Discourse, to direct the Mind and Aid the Memory.
Ir it be answered here, That neither fuch Treatifes nor Sermons are a mere Heap, for there is a juft Method obferved in the Compofure, and the Subjects are ranked in a proper Order. It is eafy to reply, That this Method is fo concealed, that a common Reader or Hearer can never find it; and you must fuppofe every one that perufes fuch a Book, and much more that attends fuch a Difcourse, to have fome good Knowledge of the Art of Logic before he can distinguish the various Parts and Branches, the Connections and Tranfitions of it. To an unlearned Eye or Ear it appears a mere Heap of good Things without any Method, Form or Order; and if you tell your young Friends they should get it into their Heads and Hearts, they know not how to fet about it.
Ir weenquire, how it comes to pafs that our moderu ingenious Writers fhould affect this Manner? I know no jufter Reafon to give for it, than a humorous and wanton Contempt of the Customs and Practices of our Fore-fathers; a fenfible Difguft taken at fome of their Miftakes and ill Conduct at first tempted a vain Generation into the contrary Extreme near fixty Years ago; and now even to this Day it continues too much in Fashion,
fo that the Wife as well as the Weak are afhamed to oppofe it, and are borne down with the Current.
OUR Fathers formed their Sermons much upon the Model of Doctrine, Reafon and Ufe; and perhaps there is no one Method of more univerfal Service, and more eafily applicable to moft Subjects, though it is not neceffary or proper in every Difcurfe: But the very Names of Doctrine and Ufe are become nowa-days fuch stale and old-fashion'd Things, that a modifh Preacher is quite afhamed of them, nor can a modifh Hearer bear the Sound of thofe Syllables: A direct and diftinct Addrefs to the Confciences of Saints and Sinners, muft not be named or mentioned, though thefe Terms are Scriptural; left it should be hifs'd out of the Church, like the Garb of a Round-head or a Puritan.
SOME of our Fathers have multiplied their Particulars under one fingle Head of Difcourfe, and run up the Tale of them to fixteen or ferventeen. Culpable indeed, and too numerous! But in Oppofition to this Extreme, we are almoft afhamed in our Age to fay Thirdly; and all Fourthly's and Fifthly's are very unfashionable Words.
OUR Fathers made too great account of the Sciences of Logic and Metaphyficks, and the Formalities of Definition and Divifion, Syllogifm and Method, when they brought them
fo often into the Pulpit; but we hold thofe Arts fo much in Contempt and Defiance, that we had rather Talk a whole Hour without Order and without Edification, than be fufpected of ufing Logic or Method in our Difcourfes.
SOME of our Fathers neglected Politeness perhaps too much, and indulged a Coarfenefs of Style, and a rough or awkward Pronounciation; but we have fuch a Value for Elegancy, and fo nice a Tafte for what we call Polite, that we dare not fpoil the Cadence of a Period to quote a Text of Scripture in it, nor difturb the Harmony of our Sentences, to number or to name the Heads of our Difcourfe. And for this Reafon, I have heard it hinted, that the Name of CHRIST has been banished out of polite Sermons, because it is a Monofyllable of fo many Confonants, and fo harth a Sound.
BUT after all, our Fathers with all their Defects, and with all their Weakneffes, preached the Gospel of Chrift to the fenfible Inftruction of whole Parishes, to the Converfion of Sinners from the Errors of their Way, and the Salvation of Multitudes of Souls. But it has been the late Complaint of Dr. Edwards, and other worthy Sons of the establish'd Church, that in two many Pulpits now-a-days, there are only heard fome smooth Declamations, while the Hearers that were ignorant of the Gofpel, abide G 2 ftill