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Unction in the Pulpit - by Alexander Vinet (1797-1847)

Pastoral Theology and Expository Preaching Articles

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Unction. This word, taken in its etymology, and in its primitive acceptation, denotes no special quality of preaching, but rather the grace and the efficacy which are connected with it by the Spirit of God; a kind of seal and sanction which consists less in outward signs than in an impression received by the soul. But as, in ascending to the cause of this effect, we distinguish particularly certain characters, it is to the reunion of these characters that we have given the name of unction. Unction seems to me to be the total character of the Gospel; to be recognized, doubtless, in each of its parts, but especially apprehensible in their assemblage. It is the general savor of Christianity; it is a gravity accompanied by tenderness, a severity tempered with sweetness, a majesty associated with intimacy; the true contemperature of the Christian dispensation, in which, according to the Psalmist’s expression, “Mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” (Psalm 85:10). It is so proper a thing to Christianity and to Christian matters, that we scarcely can think of transferring the term to other spheres, and when we meet with it applied to other things than Christian discourse, or Christian actions, we are astonished, and can only regard it as an analogy or a metaphor.

Unction, then, is that mild, soft, nourishing, and, at the same time, luminous heat, which illumines the spirit, penetrates the heart, moves it, transports it, and which he who has received it conveys to the souls and the hearts which are prepared to receive it also.

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