How to spot a good preacher

I picked this up from a tweet by a classicist.  It applies well to preaching.   Since it’s Sunday and you all had to sit and listen … and some of you had to stand and preach…

[200] itaque intellegens dicendi existumator non adsidens et adtente audiens sed uno aspectu et praeteriens de oratore saepe iudicat. videt oscitantem iudicem, loquentem cum altero, non numquam etiam circulantem, mittentem ad horas, quaesitorem ut dimittat rogantem: intellegit oratorem in ea causa non adesse qui possit animis iudicum admovere orationem tamquam fidibus manum. idem si praeteriens aspexerit erectos intuentis iudices, ut aut doceri de re idque etiam voltu probare videantur, aut ut avem cantu aliquo sic illos viderit oratione quasi suspensos teneri aut, id quod maxume opus est, misericordia odio motu animi aliquo perturbatos esse vehementius: ea si praeteriens, ut dixi, aspexerit, si nihil audiverit, tamen oratorem versari in illo iudicio et opus oratorium fieri aut perfectum iam esse profecto intelleget.

[200] A man, therefore, who is a real connoisseur in the art, can sometimes by a single glance as he passes by, and without stopping to listen attentively to what is said, form a tolerable judgment of the ability of the speaker. When he observes any of the jurors either yawning, or speaking to the person who is next to him, or looking carelessly about him, or sending to enquire the time of day, or pressing the quaestor to dismiss the court; he concludes very naturally that the cause upon trial is not pleaded by an orator who understands how to apply the powers of language to the passions of the judges, as a skilful musician applies his fingers to the harp. On the other hand, if, as he passes by, he beholds the judges looking attentively before them, as if they were either receiving some material information, or visibly approved what they had already heard- if he sees them listening to the voice of the pleader with a kind of ecstasy like a fond bird to some melodious tune;- and, above all, if he discovers in their looks any strong indications of pity, abhorrence, or any other emotion of the mind;- though he should not be near enough to hear a single word, he immediately discovers that the cause is managed by a real orator, who is either performing, or has already played his part to good purpose.”  [Translated by E.Jones (1776)]

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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