On Certain Elements Oe Success In Pulpit Eloquence -- By: Nehemiah Adams

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 002:8 (Nov 1845)
Article: On Certain Elements Oe Success In Pulpit Eloquence
Author: Nehemiah Adams


On Certain Elements Oe Success In Pulpit Eloquence

Rev. Nehemiah Adams

Whoever undertakes to address the members of his profession on the subject of eloquence seems to think it modest and proper to deprecate the expectation of a perfect conformity in him to his own rules and precepts. Such a graceful and concilatory exordium, though approved by the masters of rhetoric, is peculiarly needless in addressing an assembly of preachers, who never profess to have themselves attained to the high standard of moral excellence which they preach, but would be considered as yet striving after it;—and who also know that bitter experience, and a consciousness of inward evil qualify them to speak with the greater confidence against sin. Being, therefore, defended by the good sense, not to say the consciences, of those of my hearers to whom I owe the greatest deference, from being dealt with by them as they are never willing that their hearers should deal with them, I proceed at once to the main subject of my address.

The world has always assigned a high place and great honor to the employment of public speaking. The savage, even, feels reverence for that member of the tribe who by his skill and power is the most effective orator at the council fires. The nations which have attained to the highest point of cultivation have put the employment and the art of public speaking at the head of human accomplishments. Two great names of distinguished orators first present themselves, like mountain summits, when we look towards Greece and to its rival in the West. Philip of Macedon owes much of his celebrity to the orator who inveighed against him, and Catiline, through the eloquence of Cicero, enjoys the good fortune of that one insect in a swarm for whom a drop of amber makes a transparent and imperishable tomb. The speeches of the chieftains of hell do not yield in their power over us to any part of Milton. The conference of the Grecian heroes by night in the tent of Achilles, the fierce and stormy accusations and replies of Achilles and Ulysses, of Agamemnon and Ajax, excite as much interest, as the death of Hector; and when that

garrulous old Nestor, the statesman and hero, composes the strifes of the chieftains, his eloquence is to your mind what Homer beautifully says it was on the assembled warriors, like the composing effect of the soft falling snow. Men never read anything with more of a thrill than the description of a powerful speech, and of its effect at the time of its delivery. Indeed no man ever occupies a more sublime and honorable place than when, for a good purpose, he stands up to address his fellowmen.

When the God of nature determined to give the world a sign of his covenant with the earth, instead...

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