« FöregåendeFortsätt »
DESIGNED TO RELIEVE THE
DIFFICULTIES OF A FRIEND
BY T. CARLTON HENRY, D.D.
ẢN IN T R 0 D U Ở T 0 R Y ? s A Ý,
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year eighteen hundred and thirty-three, by Key & Biddle, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Printed by J. Crissy and G. Goodman, 4, Minor street
THERE are few among ministerial anxieties more intense, than those which relate to the proper course to be pursued towards persons, in an inquiring state as to the interests of their immortal souls. To one in the ministry of the everlasting Gospel, whose heart is right in the sight of God, there is no difficulty in pla-, cing out before the people the great plan of salvation, and in giving the right proportion of doctrinal statement and practical application. But when, as a blessing upon the word preached, God in his mercy to minister and people, sees fit to pour out his spirit, and bring men to ask in deep anxiety of soul, “What shall we do to be saved?”-it is then, that the real difficulties and the painful anxieties of the ministry commences. It is easy in private conversation with an inquirer, to explain with the most perfect clearness the terms of the
Gospel-to state the necessity of repentance to tell him what repentance is—to urge the necessity of faith, and to explain its character. But these are the generalities of the Gospel which must be urged indiscriminately upon all, let the difference be ever so great in the ina. tellectual or moral character of the individual inquirers. The grand difficulty exists, in the nice adjustment of the general requirements of the Gospel to the shades of individual character. And it is here, judging by our own experience, and the experience of many with whom we have conversed, that the difficulty principally lies. The inquirer will ask, how am I to know that the feelings which now rise up in my bosom, correspond with what the Gospel means by repentance? How am I to ascertain whether the emotion which now engages me towards the Lord Jesus Christ, is faith? How am I to tell whether the new set of affections with which I seem to be animated, do in reality constitute that change of heart, without which no man can see the kingdom of God? I am agitated alternately with hopes and fears—to deceive myself is ruinous—I know not how to go on, to recede 1 dare not-I come to have all my perplexities resolved. This at once is almost like throwing the weight of a human being's eternity upon the counsel which shall be given. Improper encouragement may make an individual
a mere formalist for life, and he may therefore, die deceived. If the feelings are repressed, and the individual left in doubts and hesitation, the inquiry may be abandoned, and he may fall into a state of entire neglect or apostacy. In this situation the temperament and moral habits should be understood, in order that the truth may be applied with the best success; and yet, during the urgency of an inquiring state, how is this knowledge to be acquired? Besides this, in a season of religious excitement, well understood · under the title of a revival of religion, it most generally happens, that full conversations with all who seek instruction can not be expected. It is under these circumstances, that some experimental treatise which shall assist the minister himself, or which may be put into the hands of inquirers, becomes truly desirable, and will be hailed as a valuable auxiliary to the ministerial work. Just such a book we apprehend the letters of Dr. Henry constitute; indeed, it is one which leaves very little yet to be desired. It is true, that there are works intended for religious inquirers which, by long possession of the public confidence have, as it were, already occupied this ground, and our remarks on the value of Dr. Henry's letters, may seem to detract from the merits of these previous efforts. This, however, is not intended. Edwards on the Religious Affections, though