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tematic treatise upon the fame subject, for the use of learners, would most naturally take a method the very reverse of Mr. Harris's. For example, he would, in the first place, enumerate the several classes into which words may be distributed, and show the modifications that each of them admit. After this he would show in what manner these words, according to their different fpecies, sentences, and how these sentences are combined into periods. This is the method of the General Grammar of Meffieurs de Port Royal, and others.

Divines conduct their inquiries into the sense of the sacred writers upon any controverted fubject in a method nearly analytical. For, in order to give their readers intire satisfaction with regard to their impartiality, they produce all the texts of scripture relating to the question in debate, ranging them under such proper heads as the nature of the undertaking requires, and ascertaining the meaning of every paffage they quote with all possible accuracy; and they deduce the doctrine they contend for as an inference fairly drawn from the texts thus collected and compared.

It makes no material difference in the method of these inquiries, if the opinion of the writer be advanced in the entrance of the work, and the texts be afterwards produced as proofs of what he advances. All such propositions require to be proved by an induction of particulars ; and it is a


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capital thing, in the conduct of these inquiries, that the induction be as complete as possible.

Our beit SERMONS, with respect to the method of their composition, are of two kinds. Some are intended to be a demonstration of some doctrine of religion, or a discourse upon some religious duty, with proper inferences, in the regular synthetic method. Others are usually called textual, because the writers, assuming some text of fcripture, endeavour to extract from it all the useful information and direction it contains. They accordingly, in this latter method, divide their subject into as many parts as their text contains diftinct articles, and treat of each separately, according to its nature. The method of this kind of sermons admits of endless variety, but the text cannot be changed.

To the former the text serves only as a motto, and may be changed at pleasure; the method being suggested by the subject, and not at all by the text. It follows, likewise, from the account given in the preceding lectures of the best method of conducting a demonstration, that there must be a great uniformity in the plan of these difcourses, and that each will exhaust the whole subject.

To remedy this inconvenience, it is usual, and it introduces an agreeable variety into this kind of sermons, to take only some part of such a scheme of synthesis into one discourse. Some intire discourses, for instance, are usefully taken up in definition only, or in determining the sense of terms of considerable consequence; such as faith, grace, &c. and, where wrong fenses have been affixed to such terms, it hath a good effect, in giving the sense of them, to do it, as it is usually termed, both negatively and positively; that is, to explain, in the first place, what the sense is not, . and then what it is. But let every interpretation that is distinctly refuted and rejected be such as either actually is, hath been, or very probably may be adopted. Otherwise the negative definition is fuperfluous and ridiculous. Indeed, in many circumstances, to take notice of several that do fall within the above-mentioned limitations would be trifling and useless.

Besides, in order to avoid unnecessarily opposing popular prejudices, it is generally adviseable to define important words justly, without taking the least notice of other senses that have long been affixed to them. The very mention of them, though with a view to refute them, will very often only tend to strengthen the mechanical afsociation by which the words and the


fenfe have been connected. These strong associations are like habits, which require to be treated with great caution, and must not be combated by bringing the ideas belonging to them frequently before the mind. Opposite ideas must be intro



duced, and they be suffered to disappear, as it were, gradually, and of themselves.

Other discourses present us with the proof only of

any doctrine or duty with one distinct set of arguments, or even illustrate one particular proof. Others are employed in answering objections, or only some particular objections. In others again, after a brief explication, we are shewn the effects of a doctrine, duty, or habit of mind in speculative or practical inferences.

In short, as either a single part, or any combination of the parts of a complete synthesis may be usefully employed to form a discourse, the variety that may be introduced in those discourses, which are not confined to any particular text, but which relate to the subject, is prodigious. And, in general, it will be found to be much more agreeable to an auditory to hear a subject treated in a variety of discourses, from different texts, and at different times; each of which, by this method of distribution, may appear to be complete of itself, than to have their minister make use of the fame text, and the same heads of discourse, till the whole subject is exhausted.

The above processes, of Synthesis and analysis, are calculated either to demonstrate truth unknown to others, or to set one that is known in the strongest point of light; and when a person proposes to treat a subject fully, with either of these views, he cannot do better than to take


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one or other of those methods, according as the nature of the case will direct. But supposing the subject a person writes upon be familiar, and his sentiments be so generally received, that he need be under no concern about the proof of them; he may, for the sake of an agreeable variety, adopt almost whatever method he pleases. In such a case there is no part of a discourse, and no sentiment belonging to it, but what may, by the address of the composer, be introduced in almost any place whatever, and the rest of the discourse be so adjusted, as to occasion no sensible confusion or disorder. To see this executed in the happiest manner, consult the Spectator, and other celebrated familiar essays.

To illustrate this in one instance. Mr. ADDIson's beautiful essay on omens, Spectator, No. 7,

is introduced by a very diverting account of some incidents that happened in a visit which he made. These occasion a reflection on the folly of adding to the reál evils of life by such superstitious fears and supernumerary duties. To confirm this he recites a variety of other instances similar to those that occurred to him upon his visit. These introduce other observations on the folly of that kind of superstition; and the essay closes with the proper method of fortifying the mind against those terrors, and an account of his own temper and practice with respect to them.



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