Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/278

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264
PREACHING


the poor, withstood tyranny and preached with amazing power. His sermons, says Dr E. C. Dargan, “ show the native oratorical instinct highly trained by study and practice, a careful and sensible (not greatly allegorical) interpretation of Scripture, a deep concern for the spiritual welfare of his charge, and a thorough consecration to his work. His style is impetuous, rich, torrential at times; his thought is practical and imaginative rather than deeply philosophical. His knowledge of human nature is keen and ample, and his sermons are a remarkable reflection of the manners and customs of his age. His ethical appeal is constant and stimulating.”

In the West the allegorical method of Alexander had more influence g n

in Ambrose of Milan, with whom may be named Hilaiy of Poitiers and Gaudentius of Brescia, the friend of Chrysostorn, and a link between him and Ambrose. But the only name of first rank in preaching is that of Augustine, and even he is curiously unequal. His fondness for the allegorical and his manifest carelessness of preparation disappoint as often as his profundity, his devout mystic isms, his practical application attract and satisfy. Augustine's De doctrina Christiana, bk. iv., is the first attempt to formulate the principles of homiletics. 2. The Early Middle Ages, 430-1100.-After the days of Chrysostom and Augustine there was a great decline of preaching. With the poor exceptions of one or two names like those of Theodore of Mopsuestia and John of Damascus, the Eastern Church produced no preachers of distinction. The causes of the ebb were both internal and external. Within the Church there was a departure from the great experimental truths of the Gospel, their place being taken by the preaching of nature and morality on a theistic basis. To this we may add a fantastic and absurd allegorization, the indiscriminate laudation of saints and martyrs, polemical strife, the hardening of the doctrine into dogma, the development of a narrow ecclesiastic ism, and the failure of the missionary spirit in the orthodox section of the Eastern Church (as contrasted with the marvellous evangelistic activity of the Nestorians (q.v.). Outside the Church the breakup of old civilizations, the confused beginnings of medieval kingdoms, with the attendant war and rapine, the inroads of the Saracens and the rise of Islam, were all effective silencers of the pulpit. Yet the night was not without its stars; at Rome Leo the Great and Gregory the Great could preach, and the missionaries Patrick, Columba, Columbanus, Augustine, Wilfrid, Willibrord, Gall and Boniface are known by their fruits. The homilies of Beda are marked by a tender devoutness, and here and there rise to glowing eloquence. In the 8th century Charlemagne, through the Capitnlaries, tried in vain to galvanize preaching; such specimens as we have show the sermons of the times to be marked by superstition, ignorance, formality and plagiarism. It was the age when the papacy was growing out of the ruins of the old Roman Empire, and the best talents were devoted to the organization of ecclesiastic ism rather than to the preaching of the Word. Liturgies were taking shape, penance was deemed of more importance than repentance, and there was more insistence on discipline than on Christian morality. Towards the end of the period we note the beginnings of the triple division of medieval preaching into cloistral, parochial and missionary or popular preaching, a division based at first 'on audiences rather than on subject-matter, the general character of which-legends and popular stories rather than exposition of Scripture-was much the same everywhere. About this time, no doubt, some preachers began to use the vernacular, though no examples of such a practice have been preserved. There are few great names in the oth, 10th and 11th centuries: Anselm was a great Churchman, but no great preacher; perhaps the most worthy of mention is Anskar, the missionary to the Scandinavians. Rabanus Maurus published an adaptation of Augustine's De doctri na Christiana, bk. iv. But certain forces were at work which were destined to bring about a great revival, viz. the rise of the scholastic theology, the reforms of Pope Hildebrand, and the preaching of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II. (d. rogg) and Peter the Hermit.

than the historical exe esis of Antioch This is see 3. The Later Medieval Age, Iroo-1500.-In the 12th century the significant feature is the growing use of the various national languages in competition with the hitherto universal Latin. The most eminent preacher of the century was Bernard of Clairvaux (roor-1153), esteemed alike by gentle and simple, and summing up the popular scholastic and mystical types of preaching. His homilies, though tediously minute, still breathe a charm and power (see BERNARD, Sr).

Alongside Bernard may be placed the two mystics of St Victor, Hugo and Richard, and a little later Peter Waldo of Lyons, who, like Henry of Lausanne, preached a plain message to the poor and lowly. The 13th century saw the culmination of medieval preaching, especially in the rise of the two great mendicant orders of Francis and Dominic. Representative Franciscan names are Antony of Padua (d. 12 31), who travelled and preached through southern Europe; Berthold of Regensburg (d. 1272), who, with his wit and pathos, imagination and insight, drew huge crowds all over Germany, as in homeliest vernacular he denounced sin with all the severity of a John the Baptist; and Francis Bonaventura, the school man and mystic, who wrote a little book on The Art of Preaching. Of the Dominicans Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), the theologian, was perhaps also the greatest preacher. With the 14th century a new note, that of reformation, is struck; but on the whole there was a drop from the high level of the 13th. In Italy Bernardino of Siena on the scholastic side, Robert of Lecce and Gabriel Barletta on the popular, are the chief names; in Germany these phases are represented by John Gritsch and John Geiler of Kaiserburg respectively. Among the popular preachers vigour was often blended with coarseness and vulgarity. Mysticism is represented by Suso, Meister Eckhart, above all Johann Tauler (q.v.) of Strassburg (d. 1461), a true prophet in an age of degeneration. Towards the close of the century comes John Wycliffe (q.v.) and his English travelling preachers, who passed the torch to Hus and the Bohemians, and in the next age Savonarola, who was to Florence what Jeremiah had been to Jerusalem. 4. The Reformation Period, 1500-1700.-It is here that the story of modern preaching may be said to begin. The Reformers gave the sermon a higher place in the ordinary service than it had previously held, and they laid special stress upon the interpretation and application of Scripture. The controversy with Rome, and the appeal to the reason and conscience of the individual, together with the spread of the New Learning, gave preaching a new force and influence which reacted upon the old faith, as John Wild (d. 1554), one of the best Roman Catholic preachers of the day, a man noted for his “ emphasis on Scripture, his grasp of evangelical truth, his earnest piety, amiable character and sustained power in the pulpit, ” fully admitted Other famous preachers on the same side were the Spaniards Luiz of Granada and Thomas of Villanova, the Italians Cornelio Musso, Egidio of Viterbo and Carlo Borromeo, and the German Peter Canisius. Among the Reformers were, of course, Martin Luther and most of his German collaborators; the Swiss Zwingli, Bullinger, Farel and Calvin; the English Latimer, John Bradford, John Jewel; the Scot John Knox. Nor can even so cursory a sketch omit to mention Bernardino Ochino and the Anabaptist Hiibmaier. In all these cases fuller details will be found in the articles bearing their names. Most of the Reformation preachers read their sermons, in contrast to the practice of earlier ages. The English Book of Homilies was compiled because competent preachers were comparatively rare. I

The 17th-century preaching was, generally speaking, a continuation of that of the 16th century, the pattern having been set by the Council of Trent and by the principles and practice of the Reformers. In Spain and Germany, however, there was a decline of power, in marked contrast to the vigour manifested in France and England. In France, indeed, the Catholic pulpit now came to its perfection, stimulated, no doubt, by the toleration accorded to the Huguenots up to 168 5 and by the patronage of Louis XIV. The names of Bossuet, Fléchier, Bourdaloue, Fénelon and Massillon, all supreme preachers, despite a certain artificial pompousness, belong here, and on the reformed side