Pulpit Eloquence As pulpits in churches are constructed for the convenience of preachers and preaching, so the term pulpit, by a common form of metonymy, is often used to signify the collective body of the clergy or those who use the pulpit. By a slight variation of the same principle, the term is also made to signify the collective agency of preaching, as seen in the phrases "influence of the pulpit" and "power of the pulpit." In a signification which, to some extent, blends both the above meanings, the term pulpit is often used in the figure of personification, as in the expressions "Let the pulpit speak," "The voice of the pulpit must be heard." The word is thus used in the well- known passage of Cowper:
"I say the pulpit (in the sober use Of its legitimate, peculiar powers) Must stand acknowledged while the world shall stand, The most important and effectual guard, Support, and ornament of virtue's cause."
From such uses as a substantive, the same word derives its significance as an adjective; it being often used in the expressions "pulpit orator," "pulpit eloquence," and the like. The term pulpit eloquence has, in fact, come into general use as designating (1) the quality and character of the eloquence produced from the pulpit, and (2) the body of eloquent productions now in preservation as representing the utterances of preachers of the present and past generations.
No just treatment of eloquence in any of its phases can ignore the fact that its highest character and results can only be secured from the expression of the living speaker. There must be voice for the ear, action for the eye, and a certain projection of the sentiments, the sympathies, and the emotions of an animated soul upon the minds and hearts of others. Nor can it be denied that the sympathy of numbers in an audience reacts upon a speaker and augments within him the power of moving those whom he addresses. Hence, whether eloquence be considered subjectively as that subtle power which enables an orator to influence men by uttered language, or objectively in the effects produced upon those to whom he speaks, it needs to be heard and felt in order to be appreciated in its completeness. Nevertheless, this fullest realization of eloquence has its limitations, for when once heard and felt it is in that sense ended. It can thenceforward only be remembered as a thing of the past. It can neither be repeated nor transferred to other persons, times, or places. In view of this condition of eloquence in its highest realization, we can more fully appreciate the eloquence of written or printed language, which is to some extent independent both of speakers and hearers, and which may, in a partial but yet not wholly unsatisfactory degree, represent to persons distant, both in time and space, the utterances of eloquent men. To this end, writing and printing are conservative agencies of essential importance and of inestimable value. By means of them the orations and sermons of one age are handed down to ages following, and, so far as reading is substituted for hearing, the audiences of orators and preachers are multiplied without limit. It is therefore to what is preserved in books that any article upon the eloquence of the past must chiefly refer.
In order to rightly comprehend the character and relative importance of pulpit eloquence, reference must be made to preaching (q.v.) as a divinely appointed agency for the promotion of Christianity in the world. When it was so appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ (see Mt 28:19; Mr 3:14; Mr 16:15), a new and peculiar field was opened for eloquence. Indeed, a new dignity was conferred upon human speech in making it the chief agency for the spread of that truth which was designed to make men free from sin and to prepare them for the heavenly world. The very nature of this high appointment indicates that the pulpit, as representing the public utterances of Christian ministers, affords unrivalled opportunities for the production and employment of eloquence in its best forms.
1. It demands capacity, convictions, and moral power on the part of preachers, which should go very far towards making them eloquent men.
2. It furnishes them with everrecurring and highly favorable occasions for addressing assemblies. For that object it avails itself of the consecrated time of the holy Sabbath and of the sanctuary as a hallowed place for the delivery of its message.
3. The themes which it appropriately discusses are all of an elevating and inspiring character, having an intrinsic importance superior to that of any earthly interest, being also invested with the authority of divinely revealed truth. It was in the light of such considerations that John Quincy Adams declared that "the pulpit is especially the throne of modern eloquence." Certainly, neither the bema of the Greeks nor the forum of the Romans ever afforded such an agency of power over human minds and hearts. Nor is this agency limited in its exercise to any narrow routine of forms or circumstances. It is as much in place and as full of power in the catacombs as in a cathedral; on the shores of Galilee as in the synagogues of the Jews; in the sequestered glens where persecuted worshippers gather as in churches where kings and magistrates assemble. Indeed, its greatest triumphs have often been in circumstances outwardly the most untoward and in which any earthly record was impossible. Hence, while the function of preaching has been in exercise for nearly nineteen centuries by countless thousands of preachers, but a very small proportion of the sermons that have been delivered have been, or could have been, preserved to the reading world; yet the combined literature of the ancient and modern pulpit is of immense extent.
It is by no means assumed that all printed sermons are eloquent in any superlative sense. Many, no doubt, are far less so than thousands that have vanished with the breath that uttered them, or have only lived in the memory and lives of those who heard them. Nevertheless, study and criticism are limited to those products of the pulpit which have been preserved from the oblivion of the past and made accessible to persons living in subsequent periods. But of these there is an ever-increasing abundance, so that the task of the student is necessarily one of selection. A general or comprehensive view of pulpit eloquence can only be obtained by the study of the subject in chronological order, beginning with the apostolic age and descending to the present period, with proper attention to the characteristics of successive periods. The limits of the present article only admit of a summary outline.
I. The Period of the Apostles and Early Fathers. — Notwithstanding the brevity of its record, the New Testament is by no means silent as to the subject of preaching. The Gospels not only contain our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, but many fragments of the addresses or sermons which he delivered to his disciples and the multitudes. The Acts of the Apostles report in brief several of the discourses of Peter and Paul, while the Epistles may be understood to be summaries of the discussions and instructions which the different apostles were accustomed to give in their discourses as preachers. The specimens of preaching contained in the New Testament are, in fact, more full and satisfactory than any found in ecclesiastical history for several centuries after the close of the sacred canon. Indeed, our chief mode of forming any jutdgment of the preaching of those early centuries is from the fruits following. Even Eusebiuls, who wrote in the early part of the 4th century, acknowledges himself indebted to tradition for all that he knew of those successors of the apostles who had "spread the seeds of salvation and of the heavenly kingdom throughout the world far and wide." During most, if not all, of this period, pulpits were not in existence, and even churches, as separate religious edifices, were unknown, or, at most, only beginning to exist. Worshippers, instead of assembling in large numbers, met by twos and threes wherever thev could escape the surveillance of persecutors. Such circumstances would necessarily control, to no small extent, the form of address employed by Christian ministers and teachers for the propagation of the Gospel, making especially necessary personal address to individuals wherever a listener could be found.
Moreover, as the New-Testament Scriptures only existed in fragmentary manuscripts, it would be necessary to employ a part of the time allotted to pastoral instruction in reciting and explaining such portions of them as were in the possession of the several pastors and teachers.
The prevailing form of ministerial address during the period referred to must, therefore, have been that of explanation and exhortation; but of its efficiency in the best result of eloquence — namely, that of persuading men to abandon error and embrace the truth — the progress of'Christianity during that period of abounding paganism is the best possible proof. The power of the early preachers of Christianity, like that of the apostles themselves, must have consisted chiefly in a straightforward utterance of the truth — the direct witness of the Gospel and its appeal to the human heart. There is no reason to think that oratory was studied, or perhaps thought of; but the influence of Christian truth and life was in plain words brought to bear upon the thoughts and lives of others, as well as upon the errors and superstitions of heathenism.
II. The Period of the Later Fathers, or the Oratorical Period of the Ancient Church. — During and following the age of Constantine, Christian churches became common, and the canon of Scripture having been completed, copies were multiplied by transcription. But as manuscripts were costly, they could rarely be possessed by individuals, not alinways even by churches; hence a great part of the work of preachers was to expound consecutively portions of the sacred text. Thus homilies or familiar expositions of Scripture became the form of pulpit alddress which primarily characterized that period. Volumninouss and valuable examples have come down to ius in the homilies of Athanasius, Ephraem Syrus, Basil, the Gregories, the Cyrils, Hilary, Ambrose, Chrysostom, mind Augustine.
The same period was also marked by the cultivation among the more prominent preachers, of the Grecian style of oratory. Several of the most distinguished fathers having not only been students, but teachers of rhetoric, they did not neglect opportunities offered them for sacred orations and panegyrics. The latter style of address, in fact, became very common in commemoration of the martyrs and in celebrations of the great feasts of the Church.
The best specimens of the Christian oratory of this period have been much eulogized, and having been often pointed out as models for study and imitation, have exerted no little influence on the preaching of modern times, more particularly in France and on the continent of Europe. Even the historian Gibbon, in a paragraph which severely, but not without justice, censures certain serious errors into which many of the teachers of the Church had already fallen, says, "But the compositions of Gregory and Chrysostom have been compared with the most splendid models of Attic, or at least of Asiatic, eloquence." That the mistakes of the preachers of the ancient Church came largely from ignorance, and that the tendency of education and enlightenment was to increase the influence of truth and the power of the pulpit, is sufficiently evident from the edict of the apostate emperor Julian, which prohibited the Christians from teaching or being taught the arts of grammar and rhetoric. The motives which prompted the edict are thus set forth by Gibbon: "Julian had reason to expect that (under the influence of his edict) in the space of a few years the Church would relapse into its primeval simplicity, and that the theologians who possessed an adequate share of the learning and eloquence of the age swould be succeeded by a generation of blind and ignorant fanatics incapable of defending the truth of their own principles or of exposing the various follies of polytheism." Notwithstanding the early death of Julian and the restoration of the civil rights of the Christians, yet, throughh a series of untoward events, to which prevailing corruption in the Church greatly contributed, the evils of general ignorance and the degradation of preaching and of the clergy came only too soon and remained too long.. From the first development of ceremonialism in the Church there was manifested a tendency to limit preaching to bishops only. This tendency grew with the multiplication of ceremonial observances, until it resulted in a general transposition of preaching from its primary design as an ever-active agency of evangelization into a ceremony itself, in which it was shorn even of its oratorical power. When the number of preachers was reduced to a minimum, the chances for the development of the talent of eloquence were correspondingly diminished, and the more so since an election to the office of bishop would do little towards conferring the gift of eloquence upon men previously unaccustomed to preach.. Thus it may be seen that what has been called the oratorical period of the ancient Church derived that character from a comparatively few men of extraordinary ability, rather than from the general prevalence of preaching power among the clergy. Moreover, the latter part of that period witnessed a serious decline in the spirit and practice of preaching, which was destined to project itself forward into centuries following.
III. The Period of the Middle Ages. — The terms "Middle Ages" and "Dark Ages" have long been nearly synonymous; but historians have not often pointed out with sufficient clearness the extent to which the darkness of those ages was chargeable to the incompetence and unfaithfulness of those who, as Christian teachers, ought to have been the light of the world. The causes of the prevailing ignorance and degradation were numerous and complicated, but nothing would have more certainly or powerfully tended to remove them than true and zealous utterances from the clergy in the character of Christian preachers. Churches, and even cathedrals, existed in great numbers, but the idea of preaching had fallen so low that postils came to be substituted for sermons. The term postil, primarily meaning a note upon a text or texts (postilla), came to designate a religious discourse following the reading (in Latin) of the Gospel and Epistle of the day at public mass. The term itself was diminutive, showing that preaching was regarded as of small account in comparison with the ceremonials of worship. The postil in its best form — that of a running comment on the verses of a Scripture lesson — resembled the homily. It continued in use, both among Roman Catholics and Protestants, for several generations after the dawn of the Reformation. Persons specially skilful in delivering postils were called postillists, or postillators. Specimens of the postil abound in the ecclesiastical literature of the period under consideration, but few of them are of much present value. The best sermons of the period that have come down to us are several discourses delivered by bishops in connection with the festivals of the Church, such as the Advent, Whitsuntide, Christmas, the Crucifixion, and the Ascension. As these topics involved Scripture narrations, they rose in character far above those treated in connection with the festivals of the saints, of which tradition furnished the staple material. The most tangible, though sinister, results of preaching in medieval times were produced by the so-called preachers of the Crusades. Those results were not the peaceable fruits of righteousness, but passion, strife, and bloodshed. Peter the Hermit, a fanatical monk of the 11th century, was the preacher and prime instigator of the first Crusade. On this warlike mission he traversed Europe from country to country, enlisting high and low in his desperate scheme. He even induced pope Urban II to join him in haranguing a vast multitude assembled at Clermont, in the south of France, preparatory to the first great movement towards the Holy Land. It was lunder the hortations of Urban that the multitude cried out Deus id vult, and thus initiated the war-cry of all the Crusades. Bernard of Clairvaux, subsequently canonized as St. Bernard, preached the second Crusade. He was not only appointed by Louis VII, king of France, for that purpose, but commissioned by pope Eugenuius III to offer plenary indulgence to those who would join the new Crusade. He also provided himself with badges in the form of a cross to be attached to the shoulders of all who would enlist. Whereas Peter stirred the lowest dregs of the populace, Bernard succeeded in enlisting kings, emperors, barons, and knights to attempt "to rescue the home and sanctuary of David from the hands of the Philistines." Parliaments and mass-meetings were held and addressed by Bernard from a lofty pulpit, and at:these the response to his appeals was the reiterated shoutt Deus id vult. In such circumstances, and backed by such influences, it was said that the eloquence of Bernard "raised armies and depopulated cities." According to his own statement, towns were deserted so that the only people left in them were widows and orphans whose husbands and fathers were yet living. The third and fourth Crusades were set in motion bv the ordinary influences of papal power and kingly atithority, without any special co-operation of the pulpit. The fifth, however, was brought into action by a preacher named Fulk, a Frenchman. As a result of previous disasters, the spirit of crusading had so far declined that for two years the preaching of Fulk seemed unavailing. But at length it began to be said that miracles attested his exhortations, and soon after pope Innocent III sent to his aid numerous nuncios, who traversed Europe offfering absolutions and indulgences to stimulate enlistments. Robert de Courpon, an Englishman by birth, was the preacher of the sixth Crusade. He had been an assistant to Fulk, tunder whom he had learned the art of exciting the people. Although inferior in talents to the earlier preachers of the Crusades, he was equal to any of them in zeal and fanaticism, and if history does not misrepresent him, he at length became so unscrupulous as to embezzle the alms of his followers. The seventh and eighth Crusades followed like receding waves of the sea, growing smaller and weaker as the impulses of fanaticism abated. They were without any preachers of distinction, and may be regarded as results of the earlier agitation.
The general decadence of preaching throughout the Roman Church became a pretext, during the latter part of the mediaeval period, for the organization of several preaching orders of monks. Had these orders devoted themselves to intelligent activity in proclaiming the truths of God's Word and the practical duties of Christianity, the best of results might have been expected. But their zeal was devoted to very different objects. It was, in fact, absorbed in efforts to excite persecution against the Albigenses and other supposed heretics, together with general exertions to promote the schemes of the papacy and the inquisition. Hence it is not surprising that the preaching orders as such failed to make any valuable contributions to the eloquence of the pulpit or to stimulate activity in preaching among the clergy at large. Of the ecclesiastical celebrities of the mediseval period, few can be mentioned on account of distinguished ability as preachers. The two men who, perhaps, more than others deserve such mention were Antony of Padua, subsequently canonized as a saint. ant the Jesuit Antonio Vievra, both natives of Portugal. Of the former, it has been said that "his rare talents as a preacher caused him to be employed on unceasing missions through the north and centre of Italy, especiallv in the neighborhood of Bologna and Padua." "We have the most ample testimony to the popularity of his sermons. The churches where he was to preach were thronged from daybreak. Multitudes were unable to force their way in at the doors. Often it happened that the preacher had to come out of the building and address his auditors in the open air. Shops were closed, thoroughfares deserted. The crowds that flocked to sermon were sometimes calculated at thirty thousand persons. Nor were the effects less striking — Italian hatreds reconciled; men that had prepared the stiletto for an enemy hurrying into his embrace, a forgiving and a forgiven friend; women leaving off their ornaments, and selling them for the benefit of the poor; old, hardened sinners brought to immediate confession" (Neale, Mediaeval Preaching). As in the case of many other popular preachers, Antony was greatly given to allegorizing, often introducing into his sermons animals, birds, and even fishes, and putting into their mouths quaint messages for human ears.
Vievra was born in 1608. later than the usual limit of the period under consideration; nevertheless, from his style and general character, he has been usually called "the last of the mediaeval preachers." The greater part of his life mwas spent in Brazil, though for a time he served as court preacher at Lisbon. During that period he visited various cities of Europe, and eveun preached at Rome in the Italian language. His labors as superior of the missions in Brazil were self-sacrificing, requiring him to travel thousands of leagues on foot through the wildest regions. and to traverse immense rivers in canoes; yet he was ever ready to preach to a few natives through an interpreter, or to persons of rank and influence in society. His great talent was satire, which he did not scruple to employ both in and out of the pulpit. At Maranham, one of the northern cities of Brazil, he preached a noted sermon "To the Fishes." after the method of Antony of Padua. It was based upon the text "Ye are the salt of the earth." In style and ingenuity it is not nnlike his book entitled The Art of Stealing, which is regarded as a species of classic in the Portuguese language. Vieyra lived to an advanced age and died at the city of Bahia, having, in circumstances where printing was difficult, published not less than thirteen volumes of sermons, which were followed by two others after his death.
IV. The Modern Period. — The beginning of the great Reformation was characterized by a revival of preaching. It was by preaching that the Reformers sought to expose the errors and corruptions into which the Church had fallen, as well as to set forth the doctrines of the Word of God. Thus PeterWaldo in the south of France, Wycliffe in England, Huss and Jerome of Prague in Bohemia, Savonarola in Italy, Luther and Melancthon in Germany, Zwingli in Switzerland, and Farel and Calvin in Switzerland and France. pursued similar courses and with similar success. Wherever such men were not overborne and crushed by opposition, they were sustained and folloswed by an ever-increasing number of preachers. Hence it may be said that since the Reformation preaching has been in all Protestant countries a universal accompaniment of public worship. It has not only been maintained at a single service on the Lord's-day, but usually twice or thrice in each church, and often at other times during the week. This custom has called into action a vast number of preachers, and developed the preaching talent of the Church more thoroughly than it had ever been previously cultivated subsequent to the apostolic age.
As attack prompts defence, so the zeal of Protestant preachers called out new activity and enlisted new talent among the preachers of the Rloman Catholic Church. The preaching orders became greatly stimulated. Preaching ceased to be confined to bishops. Priests and curates began to preach, at least to the extent of endeavoring to antagonize Protestant influeunces. Thus in the two great sections of Christendom a new prominence was given to the preaching office. It is true that among Roman Catholics the mass still held the precedence and preaching did not universally become a part of Sabbath services. Nevertheless. in Protestant countries Roman Catholics came by degrees to maintain preaching in about as great frequency as the Protestants around them. Even the seating of churches and cathedrals for the convenience of auditors — a custom still unklnown in Roman Catholic countries — has come to be common among the Roman Catholics of England and America.
It may thus be seen that the influence of the Reformation tended to increase in various ways the activity and power of the pulpit. It certainly secured for preaclhing a degree of prominence and frequency unknown to any previous period following the days of the apostles. While the impulse thus given to pulpit eloquence has never died out, its effects have been variable in different countries and at different periods. In Germany, for example, after the Reformation became so far established as to be incorporated into the political institutions of the people, the Protestant pulpit suffered a decline in its power from which it has not even vet fully recovered. The causes of that decline were numerous, invsoling the influence of Jesuitic opposition, false philosophy, scepticism in various forms, and, worst of all, a prevalent indifference to the power of religious truth and the necessity of a personal religious life.
In France the most celebrated epoch of pulpit eloquence occurred during the reign of Louis XIV, a monarch who, notwithstanding personal vices and official cruelties that have made his name detestable, wvas a zealous patron of preaching. Through his commandl and example, attendance upon court preaching wias made fashionable in a dissolute age, and it cannot be doubted that the influence of his patronage greatly stimulated the study and practice of pulpit oratory among the Catholic clergy of his day. It is not less true that his influence fostered among the preachers that appeared before him a spirit of servility and adulation wholly unworthy of the ministerial office. The extent to which such truly great men as Bossuet, Massillon, and even Bourdaloue carried personal compliment, not to say flattery, in their sermons before the king and the aristocracy, is equally offensive and amazing to readers of the present day. When to the names just mentioned that of Fenelon is added, we have a representation of the highest phase of pulpit oratory knoswn to the Catholic Church of France in any age. The Protestant Church of France, including Switzerland, has furnished nany distinguished preachers. Calvin and Farel, of the period of the Reformation, were worthily succeeded by such men as Du Moulin, Faucheur, Daille, Claude, Superville, Saurin, Vinet, Monod, and many others. The positions of these men were comparatively obscure, and their circumstances often greatly embarrassed by persecution; yet the specimens of printed sermons by which they are represented to succeeding generations compare favorably with any to be found in their own or other languages. During the current century. Roman Catholic preachers of great ability have been rare in France. Beyond Lacordaire, Ravignan, and Hyacinthe, few can be named as having attained a national reputation.
Great Britain may be said to be the home of modern pulpit eloquence. Talking England, including Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, into one view, it may be doubted if any country of the world has produced more or better sermons during the last three hundred years. Since the days of Wycliffe, preaching in Great Britain hal been common among "all classes and conditions of men." Successive generations have been educated to appreciate it, so that not only has the pulpit been free to speak, but the masses of the people have been disposed to hear. The British pulpit, moreover, has been favored above that of any other European country in two auxiliary conditions of great importance. namely, the free use of the Word of God and the religious observance of the Lord's-day. Without the former, there is no valid basis for pulpit instruction or appeal, and hence the sermon usually degenerates into a mere oration. Without the latter, hearers are wanlting, or at least irregular in attendance, a circumstance that deprives preachers of one of the most inspiring motives for diligent preparation and high effort. More truly than in any other country, unless possibly in the English-speaking portions of North America, the pulpit of Great Britain has been an exponent of the religious life and sentiments of the people. Its utterances have consequently been greatly diversified at different periods and in different circumstances. In times of religious indifference, and in those portions or branches of the Church in which religious sentiment has run low, preaching has declined to its lowest grade of influence; whereas in periods of religious awakening, and in the more evangelical sections of the Church, pulpit eloquence has attained its maximum power, not only in the sermons of a few men of extraordinary talent, but in the average ability and success of great numbers of preachers. England, having not only had a free pulpit, but also a free press, has furnished a body of sermon literature unsulrpassed in quality and extent by that of any other country in the world.
The more distinguished preachers of Great Britain may be classified by epochs and religious associations. The names of Wycliffe, Latimer, Knox, and Jewell represent the great preachers of the Reformation. A similar selection for the 17th century wnould embrace the names of Jeremy Taylor, Barrow, Baxter. Bunyan, Howle, Charnock, Tillotson, South, and possibly many others. In the 18th century, Wesley and Whitefield, as preachers of extraordinary zeal and effectiveness, wiere instrumental in awakening a religious movement which extended not only throughout Great Britain, but, in fact, throughout the English-speaking world. One of its effects was to improve the tone and quality of preaching in all the churches. The number of great preachers who have adorned the British pulpit in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries is beyond enumeration. The following are representative names, and associated with volumes of published sermons: Cecil, Robert Hall, Chalmers, Wardlaw, Richard Watson, Robert Newton, Duff, Guthrie, F. W. Robertson, Stanley, Melville, Punshon, and Spurgeon. To this list might be added the names of a large number of other preachers of no less moral and intellectual worth, and of nearly equal though somewhat more local celebrity.
The freedom of the English pulpit, and, in fact, a greater freedom than was enjoyed in Elngland at that flay, came to America with the Pilgrim Fathers. Having been by them established on the Atlantic coast, it hias been extended with the advance of civilization until the whole continent has felt its power. The pulpit in America, as in Great Britain, has been greatly aided in the accomplishment of its mission by the general observance of the Christian Sabbath and a free use of the Holy Scriptures. The importance of preaching has also been recognised from the first in the Church architecture of America. All edifices constructed as places of worship, from the log structures of the frontier to the great tabernacles of crowded cities and the Roman Catholic cathedrals, have been seated for auditors. In these and other conditions of society, not excepting that of all churches being alike thrown upon the voluntary system of self-support, the Christian pulpit has had in America one of its fairest and widest fields of effort. It would not have been creditable if in such circumstances pulpit eloquence had not been extensively and successfully cultivated. That it has been will appear from the long list of good and great preachers who have adorned the American Church, many of whom have given to the world volumes of published sermons. Probably in no country has the average grade of pulpit eloquence been higher than in the United States of America; and, owing in part to its vast extent, in no country is it more difficult to determine who may justly be said to have attained a national reputation as preachers. The truth is that each great denomination of Christians forms, in a certain sense, a world of itself, within which the principal preachers are far better known than in other similar worlds surrounding. Nevertheless, there have not been wanting a goodly number of men whose reputation for pulpit eloquence has transcended all denominational boundaries and become indeed national. Without attempting to make an arbitrary decision as to all whose names might be thought worthy of record in this category, it may be safe to designate a few both of the dead and the living. In eo doing we purposely limit our list to a careful selection, preferring for the most part to consider living men as candidates for a similar list in future years. If our selection is judiciously made, it will be sufficient to append in chronological order, without title or classification, the names of the men who may be pronounced as, thus far, the representative preachers of America: e.g. Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, Timothy Dwight, John M. Mason, John Summerfield, Edward Payson, John Newland Maffit. Lyman Beecher, William Ellery Channing, Francis Wayland, Stephen Olin, Henry B. Bascom, Charles P. M'Ilvaine, George W. Bethune, Stephen H. Tyng, and Matthew Simpson. No doubt the above list might be considerably increased even at the present time; but since there is no absolute standard of determination, it is deemed preferable to incur the risk of error by diminution rather than by excess.
In such a connection, it is only just to remark that in modern times the press serves as an important factor in the creation of public reputations, both local and national. Hence those preachers who have availed themselves of its agency as a means of giving their sermons to the public, and others whose friends have been zealous to do a similar office for them, have become much more widely known than many of equal and perhaps greater ability who have not been thus represented. But as mere publicity does not secure reputation, it is also true that the reputation of some men has been more damaged than helped by the publication of their sermons. It is, in fact, no uncommon thing that published sermons wholly fail to convey to readers the impression they produced upon their hearers when delivered. Hence, to form historic judgments of the ability of preachers, attention should be given both to the influence they exerted upon their auditors and to the matter they employed in their sermons, as tested by the established principles of criticism. It was not our in. tention to include among the preachers named above any who have not favorably passed the double test. That many others have already done so will no doubt be the opinion of some; but time, which tries all things, will enable readers at a future day better to determine.
Even a cursory survey of the varied character and results of pulpit eloquence during the nineteen centuries of its history is suggestive of important lessons. A few may be noted:
1. There are different kinds of pulpit eloquence. In order to be intelligently studied or judged, sermons must be classified. Some are didactic, having for their chief object instruction in Christian truth. Some are hortatory, having for their object the enforcement of truth already familiar. Some are exegetical, seeking to expound the meaning of the Scriptures. Some are illustrative, seeking to create an interest in Christian truth by exhibitions of its correspondences in nature, in human consciousness, and in the facts of history; while some are composite, seeking to blend two or more of the above characteristics into a harmonious whole. Each of these different kinds of pulpit address demands a style of language and discussion adapted to its special object. Inattention to this fact might lead to gross misjudgments on the part of critics, and equal mistakes on the part of preachers. A hortatory style of address might spoil a didactic discourse, while the coolness of didactic address would render an exhortation powerless. An essential element, therefore, in determining whether a given sermon is eloquent is a just consideration of its object. Accepting the etymological, and in fact the scriptural, idea of eloquence — namely, that of speaking well (Ex 4:14) — it must be conceded that a certain degree of eloquence must be recognised in sermons well adapted to the promotion of the most common and familiar objects of Christian discourse. But inasmuch as the higher and more difficult results of human effort challenge degrees of admiration not accorded to well-doing in more common matters, so it is customary to restrict the term eloquence to those higher and more unusual qualities of speech which excite emotions and control actions. In fact, one of the best definitions of eloquence states it to be the language of emotion. This definition implies that it is easier to instruct the mind and convince the judgment than to move the sensibilities of men. Nevertheless, instruction and conviction are essential conditions to the excitement of strong emotions. Few speakers accomplish the latter without the use of those conditions as antecedent agencies.
2. The natural temperament of speakers governs in a great measure the kind of eloquence in which they may excel. Sons of thunder and sons of consolation have each their mission; but for either to attempt the office or adopt the style of the other is to hazard failure. Nevertheless, mere natural endowments are insufficient to insure success without studious self-
cultivation; whereas laborious efforts in right lines tend to the highly successful developmentf of ordinary talents. An instance in point is that of Thomas Guthrie, the distinguished preacher of the Free Church of Scotland, than whom no man ever wielded the power of illustration more effectively. Yet, as shown in his biography, that power was acquired by diligent and continuous effort after his entrance into mature ministerial life, and as a result of personal experiences convincing him of its importance.
3. Successful pulpit address demands a wise choice of subjects, the vivid presentation of thought, and the use of language adapted to the comprehension of hearers. The character and influence of the Christian pulpit have at times been greatly lowered by the introduction of improper topics — topics either trivial in themselves or out of harmony with the spirit and truths of the Gospel. But even when the themes of discussion have been appropriate, the peculiar and more important objects of preaching have often been neutralized by languid utterances, or by styles of expression ill adapted to the comprehension of the hearers addressed. The expression of the apostle Paul, "In the Church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (1Co 14:19), elucidates an important principle of all true eloquence. No matter how eloquent a man may be in his own estimation, if others fail to comprehend him his efforts will be to them either an enigma, or at best a vain show. In short, all genuine pulpit eloquence must be in harmony with those principles of human nature on which the success of secular eloquence depends. It was critically and justly shown by lord Brougham that the triumphs in eloquence secured by Demosthenes were won by his "handling in succession a variety of topics all calculated to strike his audience." So the successful proclamation of the Gospel depends largely upon the capacity of its preachers to present in striking forms, and in proper succession, the great truths of God's Word and providence.
4. The higher degrees of pulpit eloquence are not attained apart from deep religious feeling on the part of preachers. Men who are secular in their lives and low in the grade of their religious opinions and experience neither choose the themes that strike the deep chords of the human soul, nor are capable of treating them in the most affecting and moving manner. Whereas men who have a profound sense of the divine presence and authority, who have a vivid conception of the realities of eternity, the value of immortal souls, and the power of Christ as the Saviour of the perishing, they, and they only, have the proper moral basis for effective, and hence, in the most important sense, eloquent religious address to their fellow-men. "Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh." When, therefore, the heart is full of God's truth and love, it gives forth its sentiments in impressive utterances, and makes objective to others the eloquent feelings that glow within it. When the emotions of the speaker are not enlisted — in other words, when subjective eloquence is wanting on his part — the objective results of eloquence cannot be produced in the minds and hearts of hearers.
5. The higher effects of eloquence depend largely upon accessories favorable both to speakers and hearers. It is not sufficient that an orator realize in himself the qualities and conditions essential to eloquence. He also has need of all available agencies as helps in the task of transferring his thoughts and emotions to others. His first requisite is language, as a common medium for the expression and reception of thought. But the force of the best language may be greatly weakened by indistinct articulation, by feeble utterance, by uncouth gestures, and other faults of delivery. On the other hand, it may be greatly intensified by a corresponding physical expression, in which not only the tongue addresses the ear, but the eye, the countenance, the attitudes, and the action of an earnest speaker fix the gaze of his auditors and concentrate the magnetism of his presence and purposes upon the perception and sympathy of his hearers. That the full effect of such an address may be realized, the auditors need to be comfortably placed, and within easy range of his voice, since any form of discomfort, or any' effort to understand, distracts their attention and weakens the impression they will receive. When, in circumstances like these, the thoughts and emotions of an eloquent man flow into the souls and kindle the emotions of a mass of hearers, their presence, in turn, reacts upon him, quickening his mental powers, and rousing his sensibilities to a degree unattainable in other circumstances. This mutuality of emotion rises with the increase of numbers and the unity of sentiment that pervades the mass. It may be said, therefore, that when speakers are equal to their task, large audiences are important, if not essential, to the higher effects of eloquence. Favorable expectancy on the part of hearers is also another condition greatly helpful to a speaker. It relieves him of the necessity of creating a bond of sympathy between himself and persons ignorant of him, or perhaps prejudiced against him. It is in this respect that a speaker's reputation may become to him an auxiliary of great value. While the conditions above specified, and others of like character, are not always within the control of ministers of the Gospel, and may sometimes be dependent on contingencies quite beyond their control, nevertheless a diligent discharge of ministerial and pastoral duty tends to create them. It was a precept of the ancient rhetoricians that the orator must be a good man, and a German writer has published a book to demonstrate that eloquence is a virtue. It is in accordance with principles thus sanctioned that extensive personal acquaintance, a high moral and religious character, and a reputation based on faithful labor and habits of doing good, all challenge sympathy, attract hearers, n a awaken hopeful expectations.
6. The influence of the Holy Spirit is the crowning auxiliary of pulpit eloquence. Apart from this the preacher is like any other man. But, over and above all merely human aids, a Christian preacher of the right character and spirit is entitled to expect the influence of the Holy Ghost to give to the truths he may utter increased impressiveness, and to his hearers increased sensibility.
It is only under this last-named condition that pulpit eloquence can be hoped to attain its highest power. But this is a condition that no indolent man can reasonably hope to enjoy. It neither follows in the train of religious presumption, nor of an undue reliance upon genius or personal ability, but rather comes in answer to "the fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man." He, therefore, who as a minister of the Gospel would, according to the apostolic injunction, study to show himself "approved, a workmana that needeth not to be ashamed," should be equally diligent in the acquisition of sacred knowledge, and in the highest possible cultivation of his powers of expression, that he may with confidence ask for the unction of the Holy One as a means of rendering his utterances as a preacher of Christian truth in the highest degree efficacious. In view of this supreme object, the diligent study of pulpit eloquence, whether in its history, its principles, or its diversified illustrations, both in the published sermons and in the biographies of distinguished preachers, is of equal interest and importance.
Literature. — Bingham, Christian Antiquities; Smith, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities; Paniel, Geschichte der christlichen Beredsamkeit und der Homiletilk; Villemain, Tableau de l'Eloquence Chretienne au IVe Siecle; Moule, Christian Oratory during the First Five Centuries (Lond.
1859); Neale, Medieval Preaching (ibid. 1856); Baring-Gould, Post- Medievil Preaching (ibid. 1865); Vinet, Histoire de la Predication parmi les Reformes le France au Dix-septieme Siecle (Paris, 1860); Rogers, The British Pulpit, in the Edinburgh Review, 1840; Vaughan, The Mlodern Pulpit (Lond. 1842); Turnbull, Pulpit Orators of France and Switzerland (N.Y. 1848); Bungener, The Preacher and the King, or Bourdaloue in the Court of Louis XIV (Bost. 1855); Spring, The Power of the Pulpit (N.Y. 1854); Fish, History and Repository of Pulpit Eloquence (N. Y. 1856, 2 vols. 8vo): Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit (ibid. 1850-60, 9 vols. 8vo); Potter, Sacred Eloquence (Dublin, 1868); Hall, God's Word through Preaching (N.Y. 1875); Taylor, The Ministry of the Word (ibid. 1876); Brooks, Lectures on Preaching (ibid. 1877); Dale, Seven Lectures on Preaching (ibid. 1878); Broadus, Lectures on the history of Preaching (ibid. 1876); Pettengill, Homiletical Index (ibid. 1878, 8vo). SEE HOMILETICS; SEE SERMON. (D. P. K.)