Click here to learn more!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
is the science of Christian address. The term is derived from ὁμιλία , converse, which, in early Christian usage, signified a religious address; or, more directly, from the adjective ὁμιλητικὀς, conversational, or pertaining to verbal communion. It came into permanent use during the 17th century, at a period when, under the influence of the scholastic method, the principal branches of theology received scientific designations derived from the Greek language: e.g. Apologetics, Dogmatics, Hermeneutics, Polemics. Although promptly naturalized on the continent of Europe, the term Homiletics was not for a long time generally adopted in England. In fact, its present accepted use in the English language is largely due to American authorship. — In Germany some attempts have been made to introduce other terms also derived from the Greek. Stier proposed Keryktics, from, κήρυξ a herald; and Sickel Halieutics, from, ἁλιεύς a fisherman; the latter being used tropically in the Gospels in application to the disciples as "fishers of men." Both of these terms have been regarded as fanciful and undeserving of perpetuation, even though limited to missionary preaching. The term Homiletics is not entirely unexceptionable, but is retained and employed for lack of a better.
I. History. — With some authors, especially in Germany, the use of a scientific term to designate the theory of preaching has seemed to extenuate, if not to suggest, some practical errors in its treatment. Setting out with the idea of exhibiting a science in a scientific manner, not a few writers have ignored the proper origin and the religious design of preaching. They have treated it exclusively from the rhetorical and human point of view. They have cumbered it with artificial and arbitrary rules, apparently not having conceived of it as an agency specially and divinely appointed for the moral renovation of the world. But a perverted use of terms was not the origin of mistakes on this subject, nor was error in reference to it first developed in modern times. Indeed, misconceptions of the true design of preaching, as well as of the Christian truth it had been appointed to propagate, became common at a very early period in the history of the Church.
1. The true scriptural idea of preaching was corrupted in the ancient Church by (1) ritualistic tendencies; (2) rhetorical ambition. No sooner had the idea that the Christian ministry is a priesthood gained prevalence in the Church than preaching became secondary to sacerdotal rites, and the power of the Gospel waned under an increasing array of forms and ceremonies. Instead of being foremost as the grand agency of Christian propagandism, it became an appendage to public worship. Instead of going forth to find hearers in the marketplaces and by the wayside, preaching began to be regarded as one of the mysteries of the Church from which the heathen, and even catechumens of the first degree, were excluded. Catechumens of the second degree were called by the Greek Church ἀκροώμενοι, and by the Latin audientes, "from their being admitted to hear sermons and the Scriptures read in the church; but they were not allowed to stay during any of the prayers, not even during those that were said over the rest of the catechumens, or energumens, or penitents; but before these began, immediately after the sermon, at ‘ the word of command then solemnly used — ' Ne quis audientium; Let none of the hearers be present — they were to depart the church" (Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. 10, c. 2, § 3).
Preaching, having become a ceremony, was next corrupted by embellishments, and an artificial style adopted from the Greek rhetoricians. Exhortations and sermons of a scriptural character began to be substituted by formal orations, and panegyrics upon martyrs and confessors subsequently worshipped as saints. Nevertheless, homilies, or familiar expositions of Scripture, were maintained by the ablest of the fathers, and were sometimes furnished for the use of clerics incompetent to produce original addresses (see Augustine, Doctrina Christiana, lib. 4). The 5th century has been called the oratorical period of the Church, with reference to the distinguished preachers who then flourished, such as Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom, and Augustine. Two books which have come down to us from the last-named fathers are often quoted as containing the best specimens of homiletical literature that appeared both in the Greek and Latin churches during the long period of a thousand years, if indeed they have ever been excelled in those churches; yet neither of these words formally or fully discussed the subject of preaching. Chrysostom's περὶ ῾Ιερωσύνης , being devoted to the subject of the priesthood, only alluded to preaching incidentally; nevertheless, it embodied some excellent precepts concerning it, such as may be supposed to have governed the studies and the habits of the writer himself, and by means of which he obtained his wonderful success.
Yet no estimate of Chrysostom (the golden-mouthed) can be accepted as just which does not concede to him extraordinary genius and transcendent abilities as an orator. Augustine, in his Doctrina Christiana, treated the subject of preaching more fully, and discussed it more systematically. He divided his treatise into four books. Three of them are entitled De inveniendo, and treat of invention in a broad sense, including the interpretation of the Scriptures. These books have not in modern times been very highly valued. The fourth relates to expression, De projerendo. Although a brief fragment, it has been pronounced the best homiletical production that appeared between the days of Paul and Luther. It has been translated into various languages, and its most important precepts have often been quoted, and in various forms reproduced.
The chief intrinsic interest of this fragment from the pen of Augustine consists in its showing the best views of an eminent Christian bishop of the 4th century, who, after his conversion, made his Roman rhetorical education in a high degree subservient to the promulgation of Christian truth. Well would it have been for the Church of the following centuries had the spirit and power of Augustine's instructions to preachers been held in remembrance and kept in practice. But, unhappily, even this light became obscured. The Scriptures of truth having lapsed out of use, ceremonies became multiplied more and more. The doctrine of Christ's eternal sacrifice for sin having become corrupted by incipient theories of transubstantiation, the pretended sacrifice of the Mass rose to greater prominence, and so far usurped the time of public worship that sermons and homilies gave place to a diminutive form of public religious address called postils. Even the function of postillating was chiefly confined to bishops, the common clergy not attempting or being allowed to preach. As if such a degradation of one of the highest offices ever committed to men was not sufficient, preaching sank still lower by being employed for the promotion of error under the guise of truth. Medieval preaching was largely occupied in eulogizing the Virgin Mary, and in exciting reverence for the pictures and images of saints. Thus preaching was made to corrupt the very religion it was designed to promote. Beyond this, it even became the agency of exciting millions of men to war and bloodshed. Successive crusades were preached by popes and friars, and even the cruel persecutions of the Albigenses were stimulated by the preaching of vengeance against innocent men, who sought to follow Christ in sincerity. For such ends, more than for the promulgation of truth, were several orders of preaching and mendicant monks established in the 13th century. Among these, the Dominicans were the founders and principal abettors of the Inquisition, while others, of less cruel temper, went about to harangue the masses in the interests of papal supremacy, and to promote the sale of indulgences.
2. It was not till medieval superstition had culminated in the grossest abuses, and the Reformation had begun to exert a counter influence, that the Scriptures began to be restored to their proper supremacy. From that period the original design and true character of preaching came to be better comprehended. Much of the preaching of the Reformation was indeed controversial, but so far as it was founded on the Word of God it tended to revive scriptural conceptions of the preaching office. The diligence of the Protestant reformers in promulgating their views made preaching also necessary to Roman Catholics, among whom, from that time, it became more common, and, especially in Protestant countries, it was no longer confined to bishops, but enjoined upon the clergy of all grades.
II. Literature. — The inspired Scriptures, especially those of the New Testament, must ever be considered the primary and most valuable source of homiletical instruction. Patristic literature on this subject, as already shown, is meager and fragmentary. Homiletical literature, in following ages, may be classified in four principal departments:
1. Treatises on preaching;
2. Aids to preaching, so called;
3. Sermons, or the products of preaching;
4. Biographies of preachers and miscellaneous articles relating to the objects and manner of preaching.
The first only of these departments will be particularly considered in this article. Immediately consequent upon the revival of preaching in the 16th century, there also occurred a renaissance of homiletical productions, which have continued to multiply ever since. Prior to the middle of the 17th century there were extant some seventy different treatises, "writ particularly upon this subject," chiefly in the Latin language. These books were classified by Draudius in his Bibliotheca Classica, under the head of "Concionatorum instructio," and by Molanus, in his Bibliotheca Materiarum, under the head of "Concionandi munus." To these, bishop Wilkins remarks, "may be added those many other discourses wherein these things have been largely handled by the by, though not chiefly intended, in all which many learned men have laid down such rules as, according to their several geniuses and observations, seemed most useful." In the enumeration of works referred to, no proper distinction was made between the office of preacher and pastor. Hence we find enumerated in the list the works of Bowls and Hemingius, both entitled De Pastore; also that of Hen. Diest, styled De ratione studii Theologici. Some of the earlier books on the subject of preaching by English authors were written in Latin, e.g. that of William Perkins, entitled "Arte of Prophecying, or a treatise concerning the sacred and only true manner & method of preaching. First written in Latin by Mr. William Perkins, and now faithfully translated into English (for that it containeth many worthy things fit for the knowledge of men of all degrees) by Thomas Tuke. Motto, Nehemiah 8:4-6 (Cambridge, 1, 613)." Cotton Mather's Malnductio ad Ministerinum, written about 1710, in addition to a Latin title, had a very formal and sonorous Latin preface. In the text of his treatise the learned author makes this remark concerning homiletical literature prior to the period in which he wrote: "There is a troop of authors, and even an host of God, who have written on the Pastoral care from the days of Gregory down to the days of Gilbert; yea, and since these, every year some to this very day. I cannot set you so tedious a task as to read a tenth part of what has been offered on the art, and the gift, and the method of preaching."
In modern times, several different epochs of homiletical literature may be recognized corresponding to the character of preaching at different periods and in different countries. In Germany, the Lutheran reformation was characterized by great earnestness and even bluntness in the mode of preaching, not only in controversial discourses, but even in the proclamation and enforcement of evangelical truth. Luther wrote no work on preaching, but by his example and occasional precepts, some of which are recorded in his Table Talk, he greatly influenced his coadjutors and followers as to their theory and practice as preachers. The following are some of Luther's characteristic sayings. Portrait of a good preacher: "A good preacher should have these virtues and qualities:
1. He should be able to teach plainly and in order;
2. He should have a good head;
3. A good voice;
4. A good memory;
5. He should know when to stop;
6. He should study diligently, and be sure of what he means to say;
7. He should be ready to stake body and life, goods and glory, on its truth;
8. He should be willing to be vexed and criticized by everybody."
Advices to young preachers: "Tritt ferisch auf, this maul auf, hor bald auf;" i.e. Stand up cheerily, speak up manfully, leave off speedily. "When you are about to preach, speak to God and say, ‘ My Lord God, I wish to preach to thine honor, to speak of thee, to praise thee, and to glorify thy name." "Let all your sermons be of the simplest. Look not to the princes, but to the simple and unlearned people. We should preach to the little children, for the sake of such as these the office of preaching is instituted. Ah! what pains our Lord Christ took to teach simply. From vineyards, sheep, and trees he drew his similes; anything in order that the multitudes might understand, embrace, and retain the truth." "If we are found true to our calling we shall receive honor enough, not, however, in this life, but in the life to come."
After Luther's death a reaction occurred, in which there was a return to scholastic formulas and other objectionable features of the mediaeval homilies and postils. This second period has sometimes been called that of the postilists, in allusion as well to Protestants as Catholics. In the following period the pietism of Spener and Francke promoted a healthful reform in the Protestant pulpit of Germany, although the reform was to some extent neutralized by the nearly simultaneous development of the Wolfian philosophy, which gloried more in logical forms than in the power of the cross. This philosophy was fascinating to students, and, having gained an ascendency in the universities, it antagonized the plainer and more evangelical mode of preaching commended by Luther and Francke.
Mosheim, the Church historian of the middle of the 18th century, was also a celebrated preacher, and is regarded as having introduced another homiletical epoch in Germany. His style was majestic and oratorical, similar to that of Tillotson in England, and Bourdaloue in France. By him it was well applied to religious instruction, but after him it greatly degenerated — many of his imitators being more noted for the form of sound words than for the spirit of vital piety. By degrees, preaching declined in its religious power, until sermons scarcely aimed at being more than didactic or rhetorical entertainments.
Reinhard, court preacher in Dresden about 1800, not only inaugurated a better style of preaching, but illustrated his theory in numerous published sermons (a collection of his sermons was published at Sulzb. 1831-7, in 39 vols. 8vo), and also in a series of letters entitled his "Confessions." His style was characterized by richness of thought, clearness, definiteness, force, and dignity of expression. It prevailed both among the rationalists and the orthodox to the time of Schleiermacher. The power of Schleiermacher as a preacher corresponded to his great influence as a theologian, and his example is regarded as having introduced another period in German homiletics, although he did not write specially on that topic. In the course of his life his own style of preaching improved, rising from the moralisms with which he commenced to a more evangelical tone in subsequent years.
Apart from those who have treated of preaching as a branch of practical theology, the more prominent German authors on homiletics during the current century have been Schott, Reinhard, Marheinecke, Theremin, Stier, Lentz, Paniel, Palmer, Ficker, and Schweitzer.
In France the golden age of pulpit oratory occurred about the close of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century. It was the age of Bossuet, Bourdaloue, Massillon, and Fenelon, among the Roman Catholics, and of Claude, Superville, and Saurin, among the Protestants. Fé nelon and Claude became representative authors of the two churches: the former by his Dialogues on Eloquence, particularly that of the Pulpit; the latter by his Essay on the Composition of a Sermon. These valuable contributions to homiletical literature are still read with interest, not only in the French, but also in the English language. Even the former has been more appreciated and oftener reprinted by Protestants than by Romanists. France, in the 19th century, has also produced many examples of great preachers and good writers on homiletics. Without attempting to enumerate the former, the principal authors are Vetu, Martin, Bautain, and Mullois, of the Catholics, and Vinet, Vincent, and Coquerel, of the Protestants.
In Great Britain, the principal homiletical writers of the 18th century were John Edwards, 1705; Dr. Doddridge, 1751; Fordyce, 1754; and George Campbell, 1775.
Apart, however, from the influence of any of these writers, there arose during that century a style of Christian address destined to have a great influence upon the subsequent preaching of English-speaking countries. Allusion is made to the reformation that commenced in connection with the labors of Wesley, Whitefield, and others about 1740. The preaching of these men was characterized by a return to scriptural simplicity and fervor, and was followed by extensive religious awakenings, which in due time extended a quickening influence to ministers of all the churches. The Wesleyan reformation was further characterized by field-preaching, and by the employment of unordained men as lay preachers, who gave evidence of a divine impulse to call sinners to repentance. John Wesley, like Luther, though he wrote no treatise on preaching, gave numerous advices and some rules to preachers, which largely influenced the practice of those who became associated with him, and which did not, as in the case of Luther, soon after become obsolete under the influence of formalistic reaction. In the minutes of one of his early conferences, Wesley gave rules for his preachers which have been officially perpetuated in Methodist societies and churches ever since. These rules pointed out in the briefest words the grand objects and essentials of preaching, regarding all rhetorical precepts and "smaller advices" as merely auxiliary. "Quest. What is the best general method of preaching? Ans. 1. To invite. 2. To convince. 3. To offer Christ. 4. To build up." Here was the essence of the evangelical idea of preaching, and its fruits followed. Fletcher's portrait of St. Paul expanded and illustrated the same idea; but no extended work on preaching was produced by any Methodist of that period.
The early part of the 19th century witnessed the publication in England of but few, if any, homiletical works of permanent value. Between 1808 and 1819 the Rev. Charles Simeon, of Cambridge, laboriously developed the system of Claude on the composition of a sermon in a series of plans of sermons on the principal texts of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. This work, which attained the magnitude of twenty-one octavo volumes, was designed to be a thesaurus of help and guidance in sermonizing. It contained no less than 2536 "skeletons," enough to supply two sermons each Sabbath for nearly a quarter of a century. What more could a minister want? Such a wealth of supply would not have been provided had there not been a demand. The demand may have been healthy as far as it indicated a disposition on the part of the English clergy to escape from the still more indolent practice, not yet entirely extinct, of copying sermons in full, and reading manuscripts prepared for market, and sold in the shambles. Nevertheless, the idea that sermon plans for use, any more than sermons for delivery, could be an article of merchandise, was inherently wrong, and, as far as adopted, could only tend to mental torpor, and a servile dependence on the brain-work of others. Yet pulpit assistants, pulpit cyclopedias, books of sketches, and other devices for "preaching made easy," have had their day in England, as well as in Germany and France. Simeon's Horae Homileticae, notwithstanding inherent faults, was by far the noblest of its class. It may now be pronounced obsolete in reference to its primary design, yet one of its features is imitated in some of the best commentaries of the present day, by the insertion in a less formal manner of homiletical notes on important texts and passages. Several valuable works on preaching have been published in England during the last thirty-five years. The following deserve mention: The Ministerial Character of Christ practically considered by Charles R. Sumner, bishop of Winchester (London, 1824, 8vo); Apostolical Preaching considered, by John Bird Sumner, lord bishop of Chester (1839; 9th ed. 1850); Ecclesiastes Anglicanus, a treatise on preaching as adapted to a Church-of England congregation, by W. Gresley (London 3rd edition 1844, 12mo); Preaching, its Warrant, Subject, and Effects, by W. S. Bricknell (London, 1845); The Modern Pulpit, viewed in Relation to the State of Society, by Robert Vaughan (London 1842, post 8vo); Paul the Preacher, by John Eadie, D.D. (London 1859, post 8vo; reprinted, N. Y. 12mo); Thoughts on Preaching, specially in Relation to the Requirements of the Age, by Daniel Moore (London 1861, cr. 8vo); The Duty and Discipline of Extemporary Preaching, by F. Barham Zincke (reprint, N.Y. 1867, 12mo); Sacred Eloquence, or the Theory and Practice of Preaching, by Thomas J. Potter (Roman Catholic) (Dublin, 1868).
As to homiletical authorship in America, Cotton Mather's Manductio ad Ministerium, or Angels preparing to sound the Trumpets, although rare and little known, had the pre-eminence of being the first and only work of its class up to 1824. At that date Henry Ware, Jun., of Cambridge, Mass., published his Hints on Extemporaneous Preaching, a truly valuable work. In 1819 Ebenezer Porter, of Andover, republished Fé nelon's Dialogues, Claude's Essay, and several minor works, under the title The Young Preacher's Annual (Boston, 1839, 8o). Subsequently the following principal works have appeared: Lectures on Homiletics and Preaching, by Ebenezer Porter, D.D. (And. and N. Y. 1834, 8vo); — Sacred Rhetoric, or Composition and Delivery of Sermons, by Henry J. Ripley (N. Y. 1849, 12mo); The Power of the Pulpit, Thoughts addressed to Christian Ministers, by Gardiner Spring, D.D. (1854); Preaching required by the Times, by Abel Stevens, LL.D. (N. Y. 1856, 12mo); The Model Preacher, a Series of Letters on the best Mode of Preaching the Gospel, by William Taylor, of California (Cincinnati, 1859, 12mo); Preachers and Preaching, by Nicholas Murray, D.D. (1860); Thoughts on Preaching, by James W. Alexander, D.D. (1861, 12mo); A Treatise on Homiletics, by Daniel P. Kidder, D.D. (1864, 12mo); Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, by W. G. T. Shedd, D.D. (1867, 8vo); Office and Work of the Christian Ministry, by James M. Hoppin (1869, 12mo). The larger part of the last-named work is devoted to the subject of homiletics, although not so indicated in the title.
From the foregoing lists it may be seen that recently American authorship on this subject is somewhat in excess of English. Several of the last-named books have been written by teachers of practical theology representing different churches, and have the merit of discussing the subject not only from an evangelical point of view, but in the light of the most modern developments and applications of Christianity. The state of society in the United States of America is favorable to the illustration of the true theory of preaching, as well as to its most efficient practice. All the churches, as were those of primitive times, are dependent on voluntary support. Neither their congregations nor their success can be maintained without attractive, and, in some degree, effective preaching. Even the Roman Catholic Church has adopted regular Sunday sermons and weekday missions, a species of revival efforts. Contrary to its universal custom where maintained as a religion of the state, it here builds its churches and cathedrals with pews or sittings for audiences instead of open naves for processions and moving crowds. The people of America, of whatever class, are free to hear whom they choose, or not to hear at all, unless addressed in a manner adapted to please or profit them. Corresponding to this state of things, the preachers of all churches, together with errorists of every description, are in active competition for the ears and hearts of the masses. The people, too, having great advantages for education, and no reverence for prescriptive authority, demand the best forms of Christian address, and such appeals to their reason and their emotions as challenge their respect. To none of these conditions does a true Christianity object since it relies for its propagation upon truth and legitimate persuasion. Nevertheless, these circumstances make it obligatory on preachers of the Gospel to comprehend well their vocation, and the manner of "rightly dividing the truth." That this necessity is more and more recognized is an omen of promise to the Church of the future, especially as facilities for the easier and better comprehension of this branch of the minister's work increase.
III. Principles. — Homiletics, in a human point of view, may thus be considered a progressive science. It grows with the growing experience of the Church, and becomes enriched with the ever-accumulating examples of good and great preachers. It avails itself of the agency of the press to perpetuate specimens of the ever-multiplying homiletical productions of successive generations, and also to discuss the great problems of human destiny and influence. Thus the modern study and discussions of homiletics have had a tendency to place the subject in a clearer light, and to make it more justly comprehensible than it has been at any former period since the days of the apostles. This result has not been attained by means of modern inventions, but rather by a return to the original idea of preaching, as indicated and illustrated by the author and finisher of the Christian faith; at the same time, all science is made auxiliary to the Savior's grand design in the appointment of preaching as an instrumentality for the diffusion of truth and the salvation of men. Space only remains for a brief summary of demonstrated and now generally accepted homiletical principles.
1. The true Idea of Preaching. — Preaching is an original and peculiar institution of Christianity. It was not derived from any pre-existing system. It had no proper counterpart even in Judaism, although a limited teaching office was committed to both the priests and prophets of the Jewish dispensation. (See PROPHET). Old Testament examples of persons called preachers, like Noah, Solomon, and Ezra, fall far below the idea of preaching as appointed by Christ. (See APOSTLE). Only in the Messianic prophecies was the office of Christian evangelism clearly foreshadowed (see Isaiah 61:1-2). (See GOSPEL). In the fullness of time, the Lord Jesus Christ, recognizing his predicted mission, authoritatively established and appointed the office and work of preaching as a principal means of evangelizing the world. (See PREACHING).
In preparation for this office he instructed his disciples both by precept and example, giving them before his ascension a worldwide commission to "go and teach all nations," and "preach the Gospel to every creature." In this appointment the Savior availed himself of no pre-existing rhetorical system, but rather a universal capacity of the human race now for the first time specially devoted to the divine use, and consecrated to the propagandism of revealed truth. (See JESUS CHRIST). Yet he left his followers free to adopt, as auxiliary to their great work, whatever good thing might be derived from human study, whether of logic, rhetoric, or any other science. Thus, as Christianity multiplied its achievements and extended its influence along the ages, facilities for comprehending the philosophy and the art of preaching would of necessity increase.
The peculiarity of the preaching office is seen in the specialty of its address for moral ends, not merely to the judgment, but to the consciences of men; also in the grandeur of its aims, which are nothing less than the salvation of the human soul from sin in the present life, and its complete preparation for the life everlasting. As the objects of preaching are peculiar, so are the necessary prerequisites. Of these a true Christian experience and a special preaching may be taken up and laid aside as easily as other forms, but true preaching, the preaching that Christ instituted and designed to be maintained in the Church, demands the constant power of an active faith, a holy sympathy, and a conscious mission from God.
2. The Subject Matter of Preaching. — In secular oratory, themes are perpetually changing with circumstances. In preaching, the theme is one. Nevertheless, the one theme prescribed to the preacher is adapted to all circumstances and all times. It may be summarily stated to be God manifested in Christ Jesus for the redemption of men. This central truth, which is the special burden of revelation, embraces in its correlations all other truths, natural as well as revealed. The word of God should be considered not only the textbook, but the grand treasury of truth for the preacher. In it he is furnished with history, poetry, experience, and philosophy, as well as perceptive instruction and full statements of the Gospel scheme; nevertheless, he may bring to its illustration whatever truth will aid in its corroboration and comprehension. Still, the preacher's great work must be to publish the doctrine of the cross, "the truth as it is in Jesus." To do this effectually, he not only needs an intellectual perception of its excellence, but the consciousness of its power as bestowed by the baptism "of the Holy Ghost and of fire." Thus the persecuted disciples "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4), and Paul, as a representative apostle, emphatically declared, "We preach Christ crucified;" "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord;" "Christ in you the hope of glory whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28).
3. Agencies of Homiletical Preparation. — In addition to the essential preliminaries of character and experience heretofore alluded to, the preacher must bring to bear on his theme such mental exercises as will enable him to elaborate it appropriately and to the best effect. The following are indispensable
(1.) Interpretation, by which the true meaning of God's word is elicited.
(2.) Invention, by which suitable materials, both of fact and of thought, are gathered from the universe of matter and of mind. Invention is exercise.
(3.) Disposition, by which all material employed is arranged in the most appropriate and effective order, whether in the introduction, argument, or conclusion of the discourse.
4. Different Forms of Homiletical Production. — The proclamation of Christian truth is not confined to any one form of address. Our Lord opened his public mission by a sermon-the Sermon on the Mount. Most of his other discourses were brief and informal, and many of his most important utterances fell from his lips in parables and conversations. The reported addresses of the apostles were exhortations rather than sermons according to the modern idea. In the early patristic age explanatory and hortatory addresses prevailed, resulting in the homily as the leading product of that period. As preaching declined in mediaeval times, the homily dwindled into the postil. The Reformation brought the sermon again into use, and secured for it the prominence, which it still maintains. In addition to re-establishing the sermon in its original prominence, modern Christianity has developed the platform address, in which a semi secular style of oratory is made auxiliary to various phases of Christian benevolence. At the present time, it is essential to both ministers and laymen, who would participate in the most prominent activities of the Church, such as Sunday-schools and missionary efforts, that they should cultivate the talent of effective platform speaking. Nevertheless, the sermon is likely to remain as it was in the beginning, the first and most important of homiletical productions. ‘ Hence it should be specially studied, and thoroughly comprehended in all its capacities and bearings, as the standard form of clerical Christian address. (See SERMON).
5. Style and Qualities of Sermons. — It is due to the dignity of Christian truth that the words in which it is uttered should be well chosen and fitly arranged. Hence the general qualities of a good style, such as purity, precision, perspicuity, unity, and strength, should be regarded as of primary and absolute necessity in pulpit style. At the same time, Christian discourse sternly rejects all the faults of style, which rhetorical laws condemn, such as dryness, tautology, floridity, and bombast. Preaching also requires more than mere rhetoric. In order to its higher objects, it demands certain peculiar combinations, such as a blending of dignity with simplicity, of agreeableness with pointedness, and of energy with love. The style of the sermon should at once be fully within the comprehension of its hearers, and yet elevated by a certain scriptural congruity, which shows that it emanated from communion with God, and a familiarity with his inspired word.
Beyond mere verbal expression, sermons should possess several important qualities.
(1.) They should be evangelical, setting forth the unadulterated truth of the Gospel in its just proportions, and in an evangelical spirit.
(2.) Sermons should be interesting. To this end, the preacher must be deeply interested himself. He must utter his thoughts with clearness and vividness. He must use frequent illustrations. He must group things new and old in just and graphic combinations.
(3.) Sermons should be instructive. The minister of the Gospel must never forget the Savior's command to TEACH. Hence every sermon should be tributary to the diffusion of knowledge as well as holiness.
(4.) Sermons should be efficient. Failing to accomplish some of the special objects of preaching, they are failures themselves. Hence their great essentiality must be considered an adaptation to high and true religious results. If possible, all these qualities should be combined in every sermon, though in proportions to suit occasions.
6. Delivery. — Four different modes of delivery are recognized in Christian oratory:
(1.) the extemporaneous;
(2.) the recitative;
(3.) that of reading;
(4.) the composite, in which two or all of the foregoing are blended. The last finds little favor among theorists, and is rarely practiced with any high degree of success.
The first is the normal mode of human speech. No other was practiced by the Great Preacher, the apostles, or the early fathers. Recitative came into the Church in the 4th and 5th centuries, and reading in the 16th. Few questions pertaining to Homiletics have during the last 300 years been more zealously discussed than the relative advantages and disadvantages of the different modes of pulpit delivery. While it may justly be conceded that each mode has both advantages and disadvantages, especially when considered in reference to the peculiar capacity of individuals, yet it may be affirmed as the result of all discussion and experience that the primitive mode of extemporaneous address is commended by the best modern opinion as a gift to be earnestly coveted by every minister of the Gospel, and as a result of proper effort within the reach of most, if not all earnest preachers.
7. Conditions and Elements of Success in Preaching. Mere eloquence, although a great auxiliary, is not of itself a guaranty of success in the proclamation of God's word. There is an infinite difference between the form and the power of preaching. The form is easy; the power is the gift of God crowning the highest human effort. To attain this great gift various conditions are prerequisite. A preacher must have clear and abiding conceptions of the dignity and overwhelming importance of his sacred vocation. With these must be associated a consuming love for his work, evidenced by tireless diligence and unslumbering faithfulness in its discharge. He must make preaching his great business, his absorbing employment. He must have discretion in the adaptation of his subjects, and style of address both to his hearers and to occasions. He must cultivate the habit of making all his observations, reading, and experience subservient to his capacity of instruction and religious impression. Above all, he must aim at the supreme glory of God, and at the end of his most earnest efforts depend with trustful confidence upon the divine blessing to give efficiency to his labors, and crown them with success. (See PASTORAL CARE). (D.P.K.)
IV. Additional Treatises. —
1, Foreign (Latin. French, and German): Lange (Joannes), Oratoria sacra (Frankf. and Lpz. 1707, 8vo; Halle, 1713, 8vo); Vitringa (Camp.), Animadversiones ad Method. homiliar. ecclesiasticar. rite instituendar. (Jena, 1722, 8vo); Maitre (J. H. Le), Rè flexions sur la maniè re de prê cher (Halle, 1745, 8vo); Hollebeck (Eberhard) De Opft. Concionum genere (Leycd 1768, 8vo); Ammon (C. F.), Handbuch d. Anleit. z. Kanzelberedsamkeit (Gö tt. 1799; 3rd edit. Nü rnb. 1858, 8vo); Gesch. d. Homiletik 5. Huss b. Luther (Gö tt. 1804,8vo); Tittmann (J. A. H.), Lehrb. d. Homiletik (Breslau, 1804; 2nd ed. Lpz. 1824, 8vo); Schott (A. H.), Entw. einer Theorie d. Beredsamkceit, imit besonderer Anwenmd. a. d. Kanzelberedsamrkeit (Lpz. 1807, 1815, 8vo); Theorie d. Beredsamkeit (Lpz. 1815-28; 2nd edit. 1828-47, 3 vols. in 4 pts. 8vo); Fé nelon (Fr. Salignac de la Motte), Dialogues sur l'é loquence de la chaire (Paris, 1714, 8vo; translated by Stevens, London 1808; Bost. 1832, 12mo); Dahl (J. Ch.W.), Lehrbuch d. Homiletik (Lpz. and Rost. 1811, 8vo); Marheinecke (Ph.), Grundleg. d. Homiletik (Hamburg, 1811, 8vo); Theremin (F.), Die Beredsamkeit eine Tugend; oder. Crundlinien e. systemat. Rhetorik (Berl. 1814; 2nd ed. 1837, 8vo), Kaiser (G. Ph. Ch.), Entwurf e. Systems d. geistlichen Rhetorik (Erlangen, 1816, 8vo); Grotefend (J. G.), Ansicht. Gedank. Eu Efahrungen ü. d. geistl. Beredsankeit (Hannov. 1822); Ziehnert (J. G.), Casual-Homilet. und Liturg. (Meissen, 1825); Schmidt (A. G.), Die Homilie (Halle, 1827); Van Hengel (W. A.), Institutio oratoris sacri (Lugd. 1829); Sickel (G. A F.), Grundr. d. christlichen Halieutik (Lpz. 1829, 8vo); Stier (Rudolf), Kurz. Grundriss e. bibl. Keyltik (Halle, 1830); Cheneviere (J. J.), Observations sur l'é loquence (Gen. 1834); Brand (J.), Handb. d. geistl. Beredsamk. (edit. by Hahn, Frankf. 1836, 1839; new ed. Const. 1850, 2 vols.); Zarbl (J. B.), Handb. d. Kathol. Homiletik (Landsh. 1838); Alt (J. K. W.), Kurze Anleiturg z. Kirchl. Beredsamk. (Lpz. 1840); Palmer (Ch.), Evang. Homiletik (Stuttgard, 1842; 4th edition, 1857, 8vo); Ficker (Ch. G.), Grundlinien d. evang. Fomilet. (Lpz. 1847, 8vo); Schweizer (A.), Homilet. d. evang. prot. Kirche (Lpz. 1848, 8vo); Baur (Gustav,) Grundzü ge d. Homilet. (Giessen, 1848, 8vo); Gaupp (K. F.), Pract. Theol. (Berl. 1848, 1852, 2 vols. 8vo; vol. 2:pt. 1, Homiletics); Lutz (J.), Handbuch d. Kathol. Kanz Beredsamk. (Tü bing. 1851); Vinet (A.), Homiletique on theorie de la predication (Paris, 1853); Beyer (J. H. F.), Das Wesen d. christl. Predigt. n. Norm u. Urbild d. apostol. Predigt (Gö ttingen, 1861, 8vo); Hagenbach (K. R.), Grundlin. d. Lit. u. Homiletik (Leipzig, 1863, 8vo); Lang (Gust.), Handb. z. homilet. Behandl. d. Evangelien und der Episteln (Bresl. 1865. 1869, 8vo); Wapler, Disposit. ü. d. evangel. Perikopen (Stendal, 1865, 8vo); Prö hle, Predigt Entwü rfe (2nd ed. Nordhausen, 1865, 8vo); Roder (Max), Homilet. Handbuch z. Gebr. b. Predigten (a very superior work, to be in 5 volumes when completed, Nü rnburg, 1863 sq. 8vo); Thym, Homilet. Handb. (lst part, Gratz, 1866, 8vo; 2nd part, 1868, 8vo); Zimmermann (Karl), Beitr. z. vergleichenden Homilet. (Darmst. and Lpz. 1866, 8vo); Palmer (Chr.), Evangel. Homilet. (5th ed. Stuttg. 1867, 8vo); Geissler (M.), Pred. — Entwü rfe mit Anleit. z. Predigt-Ausarbeiten (Hamb. 1867, 8vo); Meineke (J. H. F.), Tä gl. Handb. Fü r Prediger, edited by Dr.,Wohlfarth (Quedlinburg and Lpz. 1867, 8vo); Stock (Prof. Chrn.), Homilet. Real- Lexikon (new edit. St. Louis, Mo;, and Lpz. 1867, 4to); Wallroth, Ged. und Anl. z. Predigten (Oldenb. 1868, 8vo); Sommer (J. L.), Predigtstudien (Erlangen, 1868, 8vo).
2. In English: Barecroft (J.), Ars Concionandi, or, Preaching, etc. (London 1715; 4th ed. 1751); D'Oyley (Samuel), Christ. Eloquence in Theory and Pract. (London 1718, 1 2mo); Henley (John), On Action in Preaching (London 1730); Blackwell (S.), Method of Preaching (London, 1736, 24mo); Jennings (John), Discourses (London 1754, 12mo); Fordyce (David), Theodorus; Dialogue on the Art of Preaching (London 1755, 12mo); Glanville, Essay concerning Preaching (London, 1768,12mo); Franke, The most useful Way of Preaching (London 1790, 8vo); Claude (John), On the Composition of A Sermon (5th ed. Cambr. 1827, 8vo; edited by the Rev. Chas. Simeon, N. Y. 1849, 18mo); Bickersteth (Edward), On Preaching and Hearing (4th ed. London, 1829,12mo); Close (Francis), Sermons on the Liturgy (London, 1835, 12mo); Williams, Christian Preacher (collection of treatises by Wilkins, Jennings, Franck, Claude, etc., London 1843, 12mo); Beveridge (Bp.William), Sermons (vol 1-4 of his Works, Oxford, 1844-45, 8vo); Thesaurus Theologicus (vol. 9 and 10 of his Works, Oxford, 1847, 8vo); Ryland, Pulpit and People (1847, 8vo); Gouldburn (Edward M.), Sermons (London 1849, 8vo); Russell (W.), Pulpit Eloquence (2nd ed. Andover, 1853); Short Sermons (London, 1855, 2 vols. 12mo); Styles, Nature and effect of Evangelical Preaching (London 1856, 2 vols. 12mo): Moore, Thoughts on Preaching (London 1861, cr. 8vo).
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Homiletics'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/homiletics.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.