Sermon On From Revaluation To Revolution

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countries attempted to make concrete the scriptural message, accommodating it to the understanding of the 'people'. The sermon evolved into a vehicle of communication reflecting - and thus also propagating - in both form and content new ideas on social order, improvement and polite society. There was also a growing regard for the sermon as a literary product, as a discourse requiring literary craftsmanship in addition to professional competence; the rising medium of the periodical devoted considerable space to reviews of sermons.22 Pulpit oratory profited from the eighteenth-century revaluation of rhetoric as a tool to study human nature, drawing specific attention to the effects of oral discourse - words and arguments and gestures - upon an audience.

The call for simplicity and clarity, and the positive appraisal of a more 'synthetic' method of preaching, thus found growing resonance among the clergy of west and central Europe. The effort to reach the audience was not limited to the use of elegant speech and the appeal to reasonableness and common sense. Sermons became shorter and pithier, while the thematic rather than analytic design prevailed. Reformers generally agreed that successful eloquence reflected the moral disposition of the orator, and that due attention had to be given to the passions as 'the springs of action'. Proponents of the 'pathetic' style gave particularly serious consideration to the emotions. They asserted most emphatically the ancient adage that a preacher must feel for himself what he intends his audience to feel; only he who speaks the language of the heart is able to touch the hearts of others. In transferring their own religious enthusiasm to their hearers, James Hervey (1714-58) and JohannCaspar Lavater (1741-1801) employed familiarity of speech, an emotive style and such rhetorical means as monologues, exclamations, and 'sentimental' perorations.

Writers on homiletics argued forcefully that competent preaching depended more than ever on the social experience of the sermonizer and on his ability to make pertinent psychological observations. Eighteenth-century homiletic theorists believed (to paraphrase Alexander Pope) that the proper study of preachers, next to the Bible, is man. The more radical elements of the Protestant Aufklärung -the so-called 'neologians' - gave the sermon a distinctly moral character. They limited doctrine to knowledge of God, virtue and immortality, and hailed, as the general aim ofthe sermon, the inculcation ofwisdom, morality and religious bliss (Glückseligkeit). Johann Joachim Spalding, one of many avid readers of Tillotson and the writer of the bestselling Von der Nutzbarkeit des Predigtämtes und deren Beförderung (1772), argued that a sermon could only be useful when it 'led the Christian to godliness and peace ofmind'. Such notions were not restricted to Germany. The French literary critic Jean-Francois

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