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sages from the fathers, and delivering them so detached to their hearers. However, though they should do this, their flock would not be thereby less instructed; nor would their case be very hard, should they still have St. Ambrose, St. Austin, and St. Chrysostoin, for their pastors. I have heard a clergyman in Paris, who was very much followed and admired, though most of his sermons were borrowed from Mr. Tourneux and Mr. Nicole. And indeed, what need the people care whence what they hear is borrowed, provided it be excellent, and well adapted to their instruction; but a preacher is allowed to lend, or rather to join his Eloquence to that of those great men, by borrowing from them the substance of his proofs and arguments: and expressing them after his manner, without following them servilely. If he undertakes, for instance, to shew why God permits just men to be afflicted in this life, St. Chrysostom, in his first homily to the people of Antioch, supplies him with ten or twelve different reasons, all supported by texts of Scripture; and adds a great number in other discourses. St. Austin has also some wonderful passages on this subject, which he treated often, because this instruction and consolation have in all ages been necessary to the good and just. Can a preacher of genius and elocution, finding himself in the midst of these immense riches, of which he is allowed to take whatever he pleases, fail of delivering himself in a great, noble, majestic, and at the same time solid and instructive manner? A person, who is a little conversant with the fathers, immediately discovers whether a discourse flows from those sources; whether the proofs and principles were taken from thence; and though the preacher be ever so eloquent or solid in other respects, yet if he is deficient in this part, he wants something very essential.
I again repeat that this advantage is of inestimable value, and does not require infinite pains or time. Some years of retirement would suffice for this study, how extensive soever it may appear: and that man,
who should have made himself master only of the homilies of St. John Chrysostom, and St. Austin's sermons on the Old and New Testament, with some other little treatises of the latter, would find in them all that is necessary to form an excellent preacher. These two great masters would alone suffice to teach him in what manner he is to instruct his flock, by teaching them religion thoroughly and from principles, and by clearly explaining to them its tenets and morality; but above all, by making them perfectly acquainted with Christ, his doctrine, actions, sufferings, mysteries, and annexing these several instructions to the text of Scripture itself
, the explication of which is equally adapted to the capacities, and the taste, both of the learned and unlearned ; and fixes truth in the mind, in a more easy and agreeable
One cannot inculcate too much to young men, after St. Austin's example, the necessity they will be under, in case God should one day call thein to the ecclesiastical ministry, of going through a course of solid studies, of making the Scriptures familiar to themselves, and of taking the holy fathers for their guides and masters before they undertake to teach others.
OF THE ELOQUENCE OF THE SACRED WRITINGS.
WHEN I propose to make some reflections here on the Eloquence of the Scriptures, I am far from being willing to confound them with those upon profane authors, by making youth remark only such things as please the ear, delight the imagination, and form the taste. The design of God, in speaking to mankind by the Scriptures, was not undoubtedly to foment their pride and curiosity, or to make them orators and learned men, but to amend their hearts. His intention in those sacred books, is not to please the imagination, or to teach us to move
thens Or sendt
that of others, but to purify and convert us, and to recal us from abroad, whither our senses lead us, to our hearts, where his grace enlightens and instructs us.
It is certain that the Divine Wisdom has every kind of blessing in her train, and that all the qualities which the world respect, and can only receive from her, are at her disposal. And how would it be possible for her not to be eloquent, she who [m] opens the mouth of the dumb, and makes little children eloquent ? [n] Who hath made man's mouth ? says he, speaking to Moses, who thought himself not possessed of a good utterance, Who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind ? have not I, the Lord ?
But the Divine Wisdom, in order to make itself more accessible and more eligible, has condescended to stoop to our language, to assume our tone of voice, and to stammer, as it were, with children. Hence it is, that the chiet and almost universal characteristic of the Scriptures, is simplicity.
This is still more apparent in the New Testament, and St. Paul discovers to us a very sublime reason of it. The Creator's design, at first, was to win over men to the knowledge of himself, by the use of their reason, and by contemplation on the wisdom of his works. In this first plan, and manner of teaching, every thing was great and magnificent, every thing answered to the majesty of the God who spake, and the greatness of him who was instructed. But sin has destroyed that order, and occasioned a quite opposite method to be used. [o] For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. Now part of this folly consists in the simplicity of the evangelical word and doctrine. God was determined to discredit the vanity of Eloquence, of knowledge, and the wisdom of philosophers ; and to bring into contempt the pomp of human pride, in dictating the books of Scripture, by which only mankind are [m] Wisd. X. 2. [n] Exod. iv. 10, 11,
 1 Cor. i. 21.
to be converted, in a style quite different from that of the heathen writers. These seem studious only of heightening their discourses by ornaments, whereas the sacred penmen never endeavour to display wit in their writings, that they may bereave Christ's cross of the honour of converting the world, by giving it either to the charms of Eloquence, or to the force of human reason.
If therefore, notwithstanding the simplicity, which is the true characteristic of the Scriptures, we meet with such beautiful, such sublime passages in them; it is very remarkable, that this beauty, this sublimity, does not arise from a far-fetched, laboured elocution, but from the things, which are so great, so lofty in themselves, that they must necessarily appear magnificent when clothed in words.
Add to this, the Divine Wisdom has employed the same method in speaking to men, as it did in the incarnation, by which it wrought their salvation. It was indeed veiled and darkened by the disagreeable outside of infamy, silence, poverty, contradictions, humiliations, and sufferings : but then it always suffered
rays of majesty and power to escape through those veils
, which clearly discover the divinity. This double character of simplicity and majesty is conspi. cuous also in every part of the Sacred Writings: and when we seriously examine, what this Wisdoın suffered for our salvation, and caused to be wrote for our instruction, we discover equally in both, the eternal Word, by whom all things were made, In principio erat verbum; this is the source of its grandeur; but its assuming the flesh for our sakes, f verbum caro factum est; this is the cause of its weakness.
It was necessary to use these precautions, and to lay down these principles, before I undertook to point out in the Scriptures, such particulars as relate to Eloquence. For otherwise, by setting too high a value on these kind of beauties, we should expose young people to the danger of having less veneration for those passages of Scripture where it is more accessible
to little ones, although it be as divine in those places as in any other, and often conceals more profound things; or we should expose them to another danger, equally to be avoided, which is, to neglect those very things which wisdom says to us, and to attend only to the manner in which she says them; and by that means to set a less value on the salutary counsel she gives us, than on the strokes of Eloquence which fall from her. Now, it is injurious to her, to admire only her train, and not look upon herself; or to be more touched with the gifts she often bestows on her enemies, than with the graces which she reserves for her children and disciples.
I shall run over different matters, but not in a very exact order. I have observed elsewhere, that most of the reflections the reader will find here on the Scriptures, are not mine; which indeed their beauty of style will shew.
I. SIMPLICITY OF THE MYSTERIOUS WRITINGS:
* They crucified him there.
The more we reflect on the inimitable character of the Evangelists, the more we discover that they were not directed by the spirit of man. These barely say in few words, that their master was crucified, without discovering the least surprise, compassion, or gratitude. Who would have spoke in this manner of a friend, that had laid down his life for him? What son would have related in so short, so unaffected a manner, how his father had saved him from death, by suffering in his stead? But it is in this that the finger of God appears conspicuous; and the less man appears in a conduct so little human, the more evident is the operation of God.
[p] The prophets describe Christ's sufferings in a lively, affecting, and pathetic manner, and abound with sentiments and reflections; but the evangelists