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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter 31. In a serious assembly, moreover, such as is spoken of when it is saidà

On Christian Doctrine In Four Books by St. Augustine

Chapter 31. In a serious assembly, moreover, such as is spoken of when it is saidà

31. In a serious assembly, moreover, such as is spoken of when it is said, |I will praise Thee among much people,| no pleasure is derived from that species of eloquence which indeed says nothing that is false, but which buries small and unimportant truths under a frothy mass of ornamental words, such as would not be graceful or dignified even if used to adorn great and fundamental truths. And something of this sort occurs in a letter of the blessed Cyprian, which, I think, came there by accident, or else was inserted designedly with this view, that posterity might see how the wholesome discipline of Christian teaching had cured him of that redundancy of language, and confined him to a more dignified and modest form of eloquence, such as we find in his subsequent letters, a style which is admired without effort, is sought after with eagerness, but is not attained without great difficulty. He says, then, in one place, |Let us seek this abode: the neighbouring solitudes afford a retreat where, whilst the spreading shoots of the vine trees, pendulous and intertwined, creep amongst the supporting reeds, the leafy covering has made a portico of vine.| There is wonderful fluency and exuberance of language here; but it is too florid to be pleasing to serious minds. But people who are fond of this style are apt to think that men who do not use it, but employ a more chastened style, do so because they cannot attain the former, not because their judgment teaches them to avoid it. Wherefore this holy man shows both that he can speak in that style. for he has done so once, and that he does not choose, for he never uses it again.
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