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COMPOSITION OF A SERMON,
AS ADAPTED TO
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
SO many are the Treatises on the Composition of a Sermon, produced by the wisdom of the learned, and the zeal of the pious, that to attempt to add to their arguments, or to illustrate their positions, may subject me to the imputation of overweening vanity, and intolerable arrogance. But by such motives, I can solemnly assure my readers, I am riot, in the remotest degree, actuated. Some observations contained in this Essay may perhaps, be useful to those who have not an opportunity of consulting the elaborate and philosophical writings, which accurately examine, and clearly explains the several parts of which a Sermon is composed; my intention being merely to submit a few observations, to the young and inexperienced, and make, at the same time, such reflections, as may, if duly considered, tend to introduce among such, whose mode of writing and speaking is not unalterably fixed, some improvement in the art of public preaching in the Established Church.
Whoever sits down to write a Sermon should first examine, whether he is possessed of the various requisites; which will enable him to produce a composition, creditable to himself, and advantageous to his hearers? Has he a thorough knowledge of the Sacred Writings? Is he able to apply them with exact judgment, and uninterrupted facility, in the support of an evangelical truth, and in the extirpation of a pernicious error? And are they so familiar to him, that he can *, by incorporating their language with his own, give vigour to his thoughts, and ornament to his style; convey information to the mind, delight to the imagination, and piety to the heart? Can he, by a diligent study of the best writers in divinity, adduce the strongest arguments, and combine the clearest ideas, which the nature of the subject requires? I speak not of taste, philosophy, logic, philology, and classical learning—with each of which, I suppose him to have become, to a certain extent, acquainted in the University. I speak not of a knowledge of the human heart, it being a book, which a young man cannot, in general, have very diligently inspected.
* The admirable Sermons of Archbishop Seeker, are, in this respect, the very best models: it is peculiar to that distinguished Prelate, to express his thoughts in the beautiful language ©f the Sacred Writings.