Schott’s Treatise On The Subject-Matter Of Sermons. -- By: Edwards A. Park

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:11 (Aug 1846)
Article: Schott’s Treatise On The Subject-Matter Of Sermons.
Author: Edwards A. Park

Schott’s Treatise On The Subject-Matter Of Sermons.

Edwards A. Park

Professor At Andover.

[A brief notice of the writings of Henry Augustus Schott was given in the Bib. Sac. Vol. 2. pp. 12, 13. The notice was introductory to an abstract of the first volume of Schott’s Theorie der Beredsamkeit. The second volume of that work is condensed into the following Article. The title of the second volume is, The Theory of Rhetorical Invention, with especial reference to

Discourses from the Pulpit. Among the reasons for publishing an abstract of this treatise are the following: It exhibits in a good degree the spirit, the guiding principles of the German pulpit; and the preachers of every land are profited by an acquaintance with the homiletic literature of other nations. It is a celebrated volume, and we naturally feel some measure of interest in any work, whatever may be its intrinsic worth, which has exerted a perceptible influence upon a large and learned community. It is in itself a valuable treatise. It suggests many accurate distinctions of words and ideas which are frequently confounded. It affords proof that German scholars can write with sound judgment and without visionary hypotheses. It exhibits a pleasing degree of honest and sober piety, of purity of intention, of freedom from rhetorical artifice, and from the extravagances both of rationalism and fanaticism.]


1. Use Of The Term, Invention, In Sacred Rhetoric.

The ancient rhetoricians gave to the term Invention, inventio, εὕρεσις, a more limited meaning than is assigned to it in modern treatises on homiletics. It included the selection of arguments, of illustrations and of appeals, by which the address of the orator might be made effective, but it did not include the selection of the subject of the address. It was according to Cicero, (De Inventione L. i. c. 7.) excogitatio rerum verarum aut verisimilium, quae causam probabilem reddant. Comp. Auctor ad Herennium L. 1. c. 2. 3, and Cicero, Partitiones Oratoriae, c. 2. But in modern homiletics, the term Invention includes the choice of the subject, as well as of the proofs, modes of explanation and of appeal by which the subject is enforced. There is indeed, in some cases, a restriction of the preacher to one prescribed text for each sermon of the year, but this text may allow him to write on either of several themes; and in other cases, there is given him a free choice, not only of his theme, but also of the text which suggests it. In treating of Invention, therefore, with special reference to sacred oratory, it is important to consider, first, the general classes ...

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