SERMONS. Orations or discourses, delivered by the clergy of the Christian Church in their religious assemblies. In the ancient Church it was one of the chief offices of a Bishop to preach, and it was only in the lesser churches of the city and country that the office of preaching devolved upon presbyters. Deacons were never allowed to preach, and they are only permitted to do so now by special licence of the Bishop (see Ordination Service.) St. Augustine has laid down excellent rules for the practice of Christian eloquence. The subject is to be weighty, the style answering to the subject. It was no part of the ancient oratory to raise the affections of the congregation, either by gesticulations, or the use of external shows. Scarcely any of their sermons would last an hour, and many not half the time. Many of St. Augustine's might be preached in eight minutes. They always concluded their sermons, as we do now, with a doxology to the Holy Trinity. The preacher usually sat, and the people stood.

The sermon in the Church of England is enjoined after the Nicene Creed, according to ancient custom; but nowhere else. (See Preaching.)