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We have here an elucidation that is thoroughly sane of the art of expression by one who has made himself master of his task by careful study and training as a teacher of students of preaching. Professor Kleiser is quite right in his opinion that ministers "have not yet come to realize to any appreciable extent the value of thorough training in the art of expression." The writer is able to confirm this judgment by many years of experience as a teacher of homiletics. There is doubtless a well-grounded prejudice against certain methods of teaching "elocution" so called that have prevailed in time past. But intelligent preachers and students of the art of preaching should know, and in fact do know, that such methods are obsolescent and that modern methods of teaching the art of expression are rational and normal.
The task that every public speaker has to master is the task of handling himself. No man can accomplish that task without thorough training in the art of expression, and every student of his art should be eager to avail himself of the best that can be done for him in securing such thorough and facile handling of himself. "What we need," says Emerson, "is vent." But this depends on the kind of vent.
Untrained vent, like that of a wild locomotive that has lost control of its forces and has left the rails, is of little avail. Training in a normal method of expression will not fail to have a reactionary effect upon the activities of the mind as well as upon the emotions, the imagination and the will. Such training enables one to coordinate the products of the mind with the emotional and ethical activities.
What a man says is not the speaker's entire problem, and in and for itself alone is after all not the supreme interest . The literary and artistic form of thought is part of its very life, and the form which speech takes in vocal utterance and in the manifestation of other forces of the physical personality is proportionately important . A preacher's delivery is the transmission of his message through the potencies of his personality. It is the expression of himself, and at its best it must be the trained self. It is the speaker's method of uttering to best advantage the physical, mental, emotional and moral forces of his personal being. The free normal expression and interpretation of great truth is a genuine inspiration which every preacher should know. It is not a credit to any man's intelligence, and much less to his moral purpose, that he treats with contempt so important an art as that which would train his personality as the organ of religion and would equip him for the expression of its great realities with dignity, grace and strength. The dramatist spares himself no toil in the culture of self-expression. His success depends upon it. Preaching is an art, but it is a moral art, and on moral grounds the preacher should train himself assiduously and laboriously in the exercise of it.
Professor Kleiser has done well to direct attention once more, and in so forceful, attractive and practical a manner, to the importance of the art of which he is at once the master and the servant. It is to be hoped that through this volume he may secure new incentive to the study of this art, and that he may find the realization of his most ardent desires.
Lewis O. Brastow.
New Haven, Conn., 1908.