or deliciae. Growing interest in education eventually resulted in expositions of simple homiletic rules and in magazines and journals devoted to the sermon.
A sermon failing to appeal to the emotions was considered barren. That conviction was shared by the evangelicals of the age, who used every homiletic device at their disposal (rhetorical question, antithesis, sheer repetition) to achieve their one great aim: saving men and women from hell by confronting them with their own iniquity, awakening their consciences and bringing them to conversion. Such preaching, couched in simple language, was all the more effective for being delivered extemporaneously; success in spontaneous delivery might indicate divine inspiration. George Whitefield was one master preacher who delivered some 18,000 sermons off-hand with the skill of a great actor, keeping a goodly stock of anecdotes at hand. He possessed a voice of such amplification that (according to Benjamin Franklin's computations) it was theoretically capable of reaching an audience of several tens of thousands in the open field. Some groups, Dutch Arminians and Scottish Calvinists for example, were unanimously and adamantly opposed to sermons being read verbatim from the pulpit. By contrast, many reformers (Hugh Blair was a notable exception) increasingly favoured the memorized or even the read sermon, since preaching extempore hardly vouchsafed eloquence. Most Catholic theorists apparently preferred sermons to be memorized, but it is questionable whether more than a minority of French cures or Austrian Pfarrer ever did so. Bossuet, after all, had not learnt his sermons by heart, and Fenelon objected to the practice. All writers on the topic, however, agreed that even when a speaker planned to improvise, he should assiduously prepare himself beforehand in his study.
The prayer-day sermon was probably the most common occasional Protestant sermon, held at the behest of the secular authorities in times of war and disaster, in order to implore divine help, confess communal sins and ward off divine punishment. The popularity of these 'jeremiads' declined only towards the end of the period; rather than reflect on the sins of the people and prophesy immediate divine intervention, the later sermons discussed society's moral deficiencies and the providential threat of imminent, immanent national decline. Prayer sermons fulfilled a similar 'nationalizing' role in Protestant Europe as did the festive sermons of the Catholic Baroque. In Austria after 1663, the so-called Leopold sermons held in honour of the Austrian patron saint spread among the populace a consciousness of Austria as a cohesive national unit subordinate to one reigning house.11 Specific kinds of sermons had specific aims. The purpose of the Catholic Heiligenpredigt or
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