PASSING TO THE SECOND PART OF HIS WORK, THAT WHICH TREATS OF EXPRESSION, THE AUTHOR PREMISES THAT IT IS NO PART OF HIS INTENTION TO WRITE A TREATISE ON THE LAWS OF RHETORIC. THESE CAN BE LEARNED ELSEWHERE, AND OUGHT NOT TO BE NEGLECTED, BEING INDEED SPECIALLY NECESSARY FOR THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER, WHOM IT BEHOVES TO EXCEL IN ELOQUENCE AND POWER OF SPEECH. AFTER DETAILING WITH MUCH CARE AND MINUTENESS THE VARIOUS QUALITIES OF AN ORATOR, HE RECOMMENDS THE AUTHORS OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES AS THE BEST MODELS OF ELOQUENCE, FAR EXCELLING ALL OTHERS IN THE COMBINATION OF ELOQUENCE WITH WISDOM. HE POINTS OUT THAT PERSPICUITY IS THE MOST ESSENTIAL QUALITY OF STYLE, AND OUGHT TO BE CULTIVATED WITH ESPECIAL CARE BY THE TEACHER, AS IT IS THE MAIN REQUISITE FOR INSTRUCTION, ALTHOUGH OTHER QUALITIES ARE REQUIRED FOR DELIGHTING AND PERSUADING THE HEARER. ALL THESE GIFTS ARE TO BE SOUGHT IN EARNEST PRAYER FROM GOD, THOUGH WE ARE NOT TO FORGET TO BE ZEALOUS AND DILIGENT IN STUDY. HE SHOWS THAT THERE ARE THREE SPECIES OF STYLE, THE SUBDUED, THE ELEGANT, AND THE MAJESTIC; THE FIRST SERVING FOR INSTRUCTION, THE SECOND FOR PRAISE, AND THE THIRD FOR EXHORTATION: AND OF EACH OF THESE HE GIVES EXAMPLES, SELECTED BOTH FROM SCRIPTURE AND FROM EARLY TEACHERS OF THE CHURCH, CYPRIAN AND AMBROSE. HE SHOWS THAT THESE VARIOUS STYLES MAY BE MINGLED, AND WHEN AND FOR WHAT PURPOSES THEY ARE MINGLED; AND THAT THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME END IN VIEW, TO BRING HOME THE TRUTH TO THE HEARER, SO THAT HE MAY UNDERSTAND IT, HEAR IT WITH GLADNESS, AND PRACTISE IT IN HIS LIFE. FINALLY, HE EXHORTS THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER HIMSELF, POINTING OUT THE DIGNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OFFICE HE HOLD TO LEAD A LIFE IN HARMONY WITH HIS OWN TEACHING, AND TO SHOW A GOOD EXAMPLE TO ALL.
CHAP. 1.--THIS WORK NOT INTENDED AS A TREATISE ON RHETORIC.
THIS work of mine, which is entitled On Christian Doctrine, was at the commencement divided into two parts. For, after a preface, in which I answered by anticipation those who were likely to take exception to the work, I said, "There are two things on which all interpretation of Scripture depends: the mode of ascertaining the proper meaning, and the known, the meaning."(1) As, then, I have already said a great deal about the mode of ascertaining the meaning, and have given three books to this one part of the subject, I shall only say a few things about the mode of making known the meaning, in order if four books.
In the first place, then, I wish by this preamble to put a stop to the expectations of readers who may think that I am about to lay down rules of rhetoric such as I have learnt and taught too, in the secular schools, and to warn them that they need not look for any such from me. Not that I think such rules of no use, but that whatever use they have is to be learnt elsewhere; and if any good man should happen to have leisure for learning them, he is not to ask me to teach them either in this work or any other.
CHAP. 2.--IT IS LAWFUL FOR A CHRISTIAN TEACHER TO USE THE ART OF RHETORIC.
3. Now, the art of rhetoric being available for the enforcing either of truth or falsehood, who will dare to say that truth in the person of its defenders is to take its stand unarmed against falsehood? For example, that those who are trying to persuade men of what is false are to know how to introduce their subject, so as to put the hearer into a friendly, or attentive, or teachable frame of mind, while the defenders of the truth shall be ignorant of that art? That the former are to tell their falsehoods briefly, clearly, and plausibly, while the latter shall tell the truth m such a way that it is tedious to listen to, hard to understand, and, in fine, not easy to believe it? That the former are to oppose the to melt, to enliven, and to rouse them, while the latter shall in defence of the truth be sluggish, and frigid, and somnolent? Who is such a fool as to think this wisdom? Since, then, the faculty of eloquence is available for both sides, and is of very great service in the enforcing either of wrong or right, why do not good men study to engage it on the side of truth, when bad men use it to obtain the triumph of wicked and worthless causes, and to further injustice and error?
CHAP. 3.--THE PROPER AGE AND THE PROPER MEANS FOR ACQUIRING RHETORICAL SKILL.
4. But the theories and rules on this subject (to which, when you add a tongue thoroughly skilled by exercise and habit in the use of many words and many ornaments of speech, you have what is called eloquence or oratory) may be learnt apart from these writings of mine, if a suitable space of time be set aside for the purpose at a fit and proper age. But only by those who can learn them any one who cannot learn this art quickly can never thoroughly learn it at all.(1) Whether this be true or not, why need we inquire? For even if this art can occasionally be in the end mastered by men of slower intellect, I do not think it of so much importance as to wish men who have arrived at mature age to spend time in learning it. It is enough that boys should give attention to it; and even of these, not all who are to be fitted for usefulness in the Church, but only those who are not yet engaged in any occupation of more urgent necessity, or which ought evidently to take precedence of it. For men of quick intellect and glowing temperament find it easier to become eloquent by reading and listening to eloquent speakers than by following rules for eloquence. And even outside the canon, which to our great advantage is fixed in a place of secure authority, there is no want of ecclesiastical writings, in reading which a man of ability will acquire a tinge of the eloquence with which they are written, even though he does not aim at this, but is solely intent on the matters treated of; especially, of course, if in addition he practise himself in writing, or dictating, and at last also in speaking, the opinions he has formed on grounds of piety them, and who speak with fluency and elegance, cannot always think of them when they are speaking so as to speak in accordance with them, unless they are discussing the rules themselves. Indeed, I think there are scarcely any who can do both things--that is, speak well, and; in order to do this, think of the rules of speaking while they are speaking. For we must be careful that what we have got to say does not escape us whilst we are thinking about saying it according to the rules of art. Nevertheless, in the speeches of eloquent men, we find rules of eloquence carried out which the speakers did not think of as aids to eloquence at the time when they were speaking, whether they had ever learnt them, or whether they had never even met with them. For it is because they are eloquent that they exemplify these rules; it is not that they use them in order to be eloquent.
5. And, therefore, as infants cannot learn to speak except by learning words and phrases from those who do speak, why should not men become eloquent without being taught any art of speech, simply by reading and learning the speeches of eloquent men, and by imitating them as far as they can? And what do we find from the examples themselves to be the case in this respect? We know numbers who, without acquaintance with rhetorical rules, are more eloquent than many who have learnt these; but we know no one who is eloquent without having read and listened to the speeches and debates of eloquent men. For even the art of grammar, which teaches correctness of speech, need not be learnt by boys, if they have the advantage of growing up and living among men who speak correctly. For without knowing the names of any of the faults, they will, from being accustomed to correct speech, lay hold upon whatever is faulty in the speech of any one they listen to, and avoid it; just as city-bred men, even when illiterate, seize upon the faults of rustics.
CHAP. 4.--THE DUTY OF THE CHRISTIAN TEACHER.
6. It is the duty, then, of the interpreter and teacher of Holy Scripture the defender of the true faith and the opponent of error, both to teach what is right and to refute what is wrong, and in the performance of this task to conciliate the hostile, to rouse the careless, and to tell the ignorant both what is occurring at present and what is probable in the future. But once that his hearers are friendly, attentive, and ready to learn, whether he has found them so, or has himself made them so the remaining objects are to be carried out in whatever way the case requires. If the hearers need teaching, the matter treated of must be made fully known by means of narrative. On the other hand, to clear up points that are doubtful requires reasoning and the exhibition of proof. If, however, the hearers require to be roused rather than instructed, in order that they may be diligent to do what they already know, and to bring their feelings into harmony with the truths they admit, greater vigor of speech is needed. Here entreaties and reproaches, exhortations and upbraidings, and all the other means of rousing the emotions, are necessary.
7. And all the methods I have mentioned are constantly used by nearly every one in cases where speech is the agency employed.
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