« הקודםהמשך »
Narration of facts should always be as concise, as the nature of them will admit.. They are always very necessary to be remembered; consequently unnecessary minuteness in relating them overloads the memory. Whereas, if a pleader omit all fuperfluous circumstances in his recital, he adds strength to the material facts; gives a clearer view of what he relates, and makes the impression of it more lasting. In argumentation however' a more diffuse manner seems requisite at the bar, than on fome other occasions. For in popular assemblies, where the subject of debate is often a plain question, arguments gain strength by conciseness. But the intricacy of law points frequently requires the arguments to: be expanded, and placed in different lights, in order to be fully apprehended.
Candor in stating the arguments of his adversary, cannot be too much recommended to every pleader, If he disguise them, or place them in a false light, the artifice will soon be discovered ; and the judge and the hearers will conclude, that he either wants discern-ment to perceive, or, fairness to admit the Atrength of his opponent's reasoning, But, if he state with accuracy and candor the arguments used against him, before he endeavour to combat them, a strong prejudice is created in his favor. He will appear to have entire confidence in his cause, since he does not attempt to fupport it by artifice or concealment. The judge will therefore be inclined to receive more readily the impref fions, made upon him by a speaker, who appears both. fair and penetrating.
Wit may sometimes be serviceable at the bar, particu. farly in a lively reply, by which ridicule is thrown on what an adversary has advanced. But a young pleader should never reft his strength on this dazzling talent., His office is not to excite laughter, but to produce conviction ; nor perhaps did any one ever rise to eminence in his profession by being a witty lawyer..
Since an advocate personates his client, he must plead his cause with a proper degree of warmth. He must be cautious however of prostituting his earnestness and sensibility by an equal degree of ardor on every subject. There is a dignity of character, which it is highly important for every one of this profession to support. An opinion of probity and honor in a pleader is his most. powerful instrument of perfuafion. He should always. therefore decline embarking in caufes, which are odious and manifestly unjust ; and, when he supports a doubtful cause, he should lay the chief stress upon those arguments, which appear to him to be most forcible ; reserv.. ing his zeal and indignation for cases, where injustice and iniquity are flagrant.
ELOQUENCE OF THE PULPIT.
11AVING treated of the eloquence of popular af. semblies, and of that of the bar, we shall now consider the strain and spirit of that eloquence, which is suited to the pulpit. This field of public speaking has several advantages peculiar to itself. The dignity and importance of its subjects mut be allowed to be superior to any other. They admit the higheit embellishment in description, and the greatest warmth and vehemence of expression. In treating his subject the preacher has alfo peculiar advantages. He speaks not to one or a few judges, but to a large assembly. He is not afraid of interruption. He chooses his subject at leisure ; and has all the affistance of the most accurate premeditation.
The disadvantages however, which attend the eloquence of the pulpit, are not inconsiderable. The preacher, it is true, has no contention with an adversary ; but debate awakens genius, and excites attention. His fubjects, though noble, are trite and common. They are become so familiar to the public ear, that it requires no ordinary genius in the preacher to fix attention. Notlıing is more difficult, than to bestow on what is common the grace of novelty. Beside the subje&t of the preacher usually confines him to abstract qualities, to virtues and vices ; whereas that of other popular speakers leads ihem to treat of persons; which is generally more interesting to the hearers, and occupies more powerfully
the imagination. We are taught by the preacher to de test only the crime ; by the pleader to detest the criminal. Hence it happens that, though the number of moderately good preachers is great, fo few have arrived at eminence. Perfection is very distant from mod. er preaching. The object however is truly noble, and worthy of being pursued with zeal.
To excel in preaching, it is necessary to have a fixed and habitual view of its object. This is to persuade men to become good. Every fermon ought therefore to be a persuasive oration.' It is not to discuss some abftrufe point, that the preacher ascends the pulpit. It is not to teach his hearers fomething new, but to make them better ; to give them at once clear views and perfuafive impreslions of religious truth.
The principal characteristics of pulpit eloquence, as, distinguished from the other kinds of public speaking, appear to be these two, gravity and warmth. It is neither easy, nor common to unite these characters of eloquence. The grave, when it is predominant, becomes a dull, uniform folemnity. The warm, when it wants gravity, borders on the light and theatrical. A proper union of the two forms that character of preaching, which the French call Oudion ; that affecting, penetrating, and interesting manner, which flows from a strong fense in the preacher of the importance of the truths, he delivers, and an earnest desire, that they may make full impression on the hearts of his hcarers.
A fermon, as a particular species of composition, res quires the strictest attention to unity. By this we mean that there should be some main point, to which the whole tenor of the fermon shall refer. It must not be a "pile of different subjects heaped upon each other ; but one object must predominate through the whole. Hence however it must not be understood, that there should be no divisions or separate heads in a discourse; nor that one fingle thought only should be exhibited in different points of view. Unity is not to be understood in so limited a sense ; it admits fome variety ; it requires only that union and connection be so far preserved, as to - make the whole concur in fome one impression on the
mind. Thus, for instance, a preacher may employ sev. .eral different arguments, to enforce the love of God; he may also inquire into the causes of the decay of this virtue ; still one great object is presented to the mind. But,
if because his text says, “He, that loveth God, must love *6 his brother also,” he should therefore mix in the same discourse arguments for the love of God and for the love of our neighbour ; he would grossly offend against unity, and leave a very confused imprellion on the minds of his hearers.
s Sermons are always more striking, and generally more useful, the more precise and particular the subject of them is. Unity can never be so perfect in a general, as in a particular subject. General subjects indeed,