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not be named ot mentioned, though these terms are scriptural, lest it should be hissed out of the church, like the garb of a round-head or a puritan.
Some of our fathers have multiplied their partieulars under one single head of discourse, and run up the tale of them to sixteen or seventeen. Culpable indeed, and too-numerous ! But, in opposition to this extreme, we are almost ashamed in our age to say thirdly; and all fourthly's and fifthly's are very unfashionable words.
Our fathers made too great account of the sciences of logic and metaphysics, and the formalities of definition and division; syllogism and method, when they brought them so often into the pulpit ; but we hold those arts so much in contempt and defiance, that we had rather talk a whole hour without order, and without edification, than be suspected of using logic or method in our discourses.
Some of our fathers neglected politeness perhaps too much, and indulged a coarseness of style, and a rough' or awkward pronunciation ; but we have such a value for elegancy, and so nice a taste for what we call polite, that we dare not spoil the cadence of a period to quote a text of scripture in it, nor disturb the harmony of our sentences to number or to name the heads of our discourse. And for this
reason, I have heard it hinted, that the name of CHRIST has been banished out of polite sermons, because it is a monosyllable of so many consonants, and so harsh a sound.
But, after all, our fathers, with all their defects, and with all their weaknesses, preached the gospel of Christ to the sensible instruction of whole parishes, to the conversion 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 established church, that in too many pulpits now a days there are only heard some smooth declamations, while the hearers that were ignorant of the gospel abide still without knowledge, and the profane sinners are profane still. O'that divine grace
„would descend and reform what is amiss in all the sanctuaries of the nation !
Of writing Books for the Public. In the explication and distinction of words and things by definition and description, in the division of things into their several parts, and in the distribution of things into their several kinds, be sure to observe a just medium. We must not always explain and distinguish, define, divide, and distribute, nor must we always omit it: sometimes it is useless and impertinent, sometimes it is proper and necessary. There is confusion brought into our argument and discourse by too many, or by too few of these. One author plunges his reader into the midst of things without due explication of them; another jumbles together without distinction all those ideas which have any likeness ; a third is fond of explaining every word, and coining distinctions between ideas which have little or no difference : but each of these runs into extremes ; for all these practices are equal hindrances to clear, just, and useful knowledge. It is not a long train of rules, but observation and good judgement, can teach us when to explain, define, and divide, and where to omit it.
In the beginning of a treatise, it is proper and necessary sometimes to premise some præcognita or general principles, which may serve for an introduction to the subject in hand, and give light or strength to the following discourse: but it is ridiculous, under a pretence of such introductions or prefaces, to wander to the most remote or distant themes, which have no near or necessary connexion with the thing T 3
in It appears by the date at the bottom of this paper in the MSS. that it was written in the year 1718. The first, and perhaps the second section of it may seem now to be grown in a great measure out of date ; but whether the third is not at least as seasonable now as ever, may deserve serious consideration. The author, since this was drawn up, hath delie vered his sentiments more fully in the first part of that excellent piece, entitled, An humble Attempt for the Revival af Religion, &c.
in hand ; this serves for no other purpose but to make a gaudy shew of learning. There was a professor of divinity, who began an analytical exposition of the epistle to the Romans with such præcognita as these : first he shewed the excellence of man above other creatures, who was able to declare the sense of his mind by arbitrary signs; then he harangued upon the origin of speech; after that he told of the wonderful invention of writing, and inquired into the author of that art which taught us to paint sounds : when he had given us the various opinions of the learned on this point, and distributed writing into its several kinds, and laid down definitions of them all, at last he came to speak of epistolary writing, and distinguished epistles into familiar, private, public, recommendatory credentials, and what not? Thence he descended to speak of the superscription, subscription, &c.; and some lectures were finished before he came to the first verse of St Paul's epistle; the auditors, being half starved and tired with expectation, dropped away one by one, so that the professor had scarce any hearers to attend the college or the lectures which he had promised on that part of scripture.
The rules which Horace has given in his Art of Poetry would instruct many a preacher and professor of theology, if they would but attend to them. He informs us that wise author, such as Homer, who writes a poem of the Trojan war, would not begin a long and far-distant story of Jupiter, in the form of a swan impregnating Leda with a double egg ; from one part whereof Helen was hatched, who was married to Menelaus, a Greek general, and then stolen from him by Paris, son of Priam king of Troy, which awakened the resentment of the Greeks against the Trojans.
Nec gemino bellum Trojanum orditur ab ovo.
But the writer, says he, makes all proper haste to the event of things, and does not drag on slowly, perpetually turning
aside from his point, and catching at every incident to prolong his story, as though he wanted matter to furnish out his tale.
Semper ad eventum festinat.
Though, I must confess, I cannot think Homer has always followed this rule in either of his two famous epic poems : but Horace does not hear what I
There is also another rule near a-kin to the former.
As a writer or a speaker should not wander from his subject to fetch in foreign matter from afar, so neither should he amass together and drag in all that can be said, even on his appointed theme of discourse ; but he should consider what is his chief design, what is the end he hath in view, and then to make every part of his discourse subserve that design. If he keep his great end always in his eye, he will pass hastily over those parts or appendages of his subject which have no evident connexion with his de. , sign, or he will entirely omit them, and hasten continually towards his intended mark; employing his time, his study, and labour, chiefly on that part of his subject which is most necessary to attain his present and proper end.
This might be illustrated by a multitude of examples ; but an author, who should heap them together on such an occasion, might be in danger of, becoming himself an example of the impertinence he is cautioning others to avoid.
After you have finished any discourse which you design for the public, it would be always best, if other circumstances would permit, to let it sleep some time before you expose it to the world, that so you may have opportunity to review it with the indifference of a stranger, and to make the whole of it pass under a new and just examination'; for no man can judge so justly of his own work, while the pleasure of his invention and performance is fresh, and has engaged his self-love too much on the side of what he has pewly finished.
If an author would send a discourse into the world, which should be most universally approved, he should consult persons of very different genius, sentiment, and party, and endeavour to learn their opinions of it. In the world it will certainly meet with all these. Set it therefore to view amongst several of your acquaintance first, who may survey the argument on all sides, and one may happen to suggest a correction which is entirely neglected by others; and be sure to yield yourself to the dictates of true criticism, and just censure, wheresoever you meet with them ; nor let a fondness for what you have written blind your eyes against the discovery of your own mistakes.
When an author desires a friend to revise his work, it is too frequent a practice to disallow almost every correction which a judicious friend would make; he apologizes for this word, and the other expression ; he vindicates this sentence, and gives his reasons for another paragraph, and scarcely ever submits to correction; and this utterly discourages the freedom that a true friend would take in pointing out our mistakes. Such writers, who are so full of themselves, may go on to admire their own incorrect performances, and expose their works and their follies to the world without pity *,
Horace, in his Art of Poetry, talks admirably well on this subject :
Quinctilio si quid recitares, Corrige, sodes,
Let * To cut off such chicanery, it may perhaps be the most expedient for a personi consulted, on ch an occasion, to note down on a distinct paper, with proper references, the advised alterations, referring it to the author to make such use of them as he, on due deliberation, shall think fit,