Sidor som bilder


Hon. SIR :—I am confident you will have the goodness to pass by my imprudence in my attempt to write to one so highly elevated by his country. I aim not at high things; my head is not formed for the cap of honor; but the good of that country which has given me birth, and nourished me more than eighty years, lies near my heart. Next to the salvation of the soul, I have advocated a scheme which would support the energies of government and secure the rights of the people. The given powers of the government in which you are now acting as legislator are few and defined. The powers granted and rights retained are so plainly stated in the charter, that those who read may understand; but, where honest men are agreed in the fundamental principles, they may widely differ in the agents and secondary measures which would be the most likely to establish those principles.

It seems probable that the admission of Michigan into the Union—the French question—the circulation of the writings of the abolitionists—the disposal of the surplus revenue, etc., will occupy some of your time. The expunging of senatorial foolery will not be hammered in your shop; but, in the Senate chamber, it is likely the furnace will be blown seven times hotter than usual, to kill that which never did any harm; the death of which will never bequeath a pair of shoes for a child, or an ear of corn for a pig. Should the record of the resolution of censure be expunged by a line drawn across it as black as tophet, it would not change the mind of any man, any more than the passing of the resolution did.

In the time of the revolution in England, it became proverbial, "strip a man of office, and he will talk like a whig; put him into office, and he will be a tory." It is too true, that when men possess power, they forget right, every man having a pope in his belly; but, true patriotism will rope the pope, and cause the patriot to seek the good of his country (of all the world) and not his own agrandizement.

According to our political calendar, this present year is leap year; the the thirteenth bissextile of our government. It is therefore probable that there will be some leaping in Washington this session; and pray how could the leisure hours of the members of Congress be spent better than in devising means for the good of their country for the four succeeding

years? Whether the committee of ways and means are appointed for the purpose of nominating and recommending a candidate for the next term, and whether the committee are likely to agree and report a bill, I do not know. My ardent desire is that there may be a fair expression of the will of the people in the choice of the eighth president; if so, whoever he be, I will acknowledge him as my president; whether he is the man of my choice or not; for in this case, and in all other cases like it, vox populi vox dei is a religious truth.

Representatives are not sent to Congress to think for their constituents, but to act for them, (the right of thinking being inalienable in its nature,) and he who acts contrary to the known will of a majority of his constit. uents, is a tyrant. When a question must be acted upon, and the repreresentative cannot in conscience vote for that which he knows is the will of his constituents, it becomes him to tender his reisgnation, and let another fill his place. Mr. Adams formerly, and Mr. Rives recently acted wisely on this true republican principle in the Senate; and Col. Johnson did the same in substance in the compensation law, in the House of Representatives.

I learn from the newspapers that you are on the committee of post-office and post-roads. This institution has grown to a giant, and I believe it is as much abused as any establishment in the government. To guarantee to men their liberty by an instrument that defends from licentiousness, and to give men power enough to do good, and have it so counterpoised that they cannot abuse it, is what the friends of man have been laboring for some thousands of years; and likely the consummation of all thingswill find men in the pursuit of it. But the profession is not an attribute. of men, yet every march towards it is praiseworthy.


The instructions of our Lord to the twelve when he sent them out to preach, his admonitions to them afterwards, the resolution of the apostles to give themselves to the ministry of the word and prayer—the address of Paul to the elders of Ephesus—the epistles to Timothy and Titus—with the exhortation of Peter to the elders, and many divine lessons scattered through the New Testament, draw the line of ministerial conduct and usefulness beyond what any man or set of men can devise. To this rule preachers should take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, for if they speak not according to the word, they have no light in them.

The faith and practice of the saints at large, is delineated in the Bible in a clear manner; yet the Lord sends forth preachers to explain what is revealed, and impress it on the minds of the saints, that they may have those things in remembrance, and be ready for every good work. So, also, preachers may be helpers to each other; each one communicating to others his best views on what God has revealed. Paul publicly blamed Peter for duplicity--exposed Barnabus for dissimulation—set a mark on Demas—reprobated the concision—rejected Hymenus, Philetus, and Alexander, and highly commended Timothy and many others for their purity and steadfastness of faith. Peter, James, John, and Jude, did likewise. When the Lord sent out his apostles, he perfectly knew every circumstance that ever they would be in, but he did not reveal the whole to them, but told them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. According to the wisdom given unto them, they said and did many things which incidentally fell in the way, which things were not expressly commanded in their commission. The convention and conference at Jerusalem—the sending of messengers to Antioch and Samaria—their accommodating their address to the circumstances and capacities of the people—theirwatching and improving the openings of providence, &c., were incidental to the great work of their commission, which was to preach repentance and remission of sins in the name of Jesus, to baptize those that believed, and to teach them to do all that God had commanded them.

The rule which God has given to men and to preachers is perfect; but there has never been but one man, but one preacher, since Adam's fall, whose words and actions were equal to the rule. This was realized in Jesus Christ, who was the faithful and true witness.

Every word of his

mouth was pure. But he had many things to say which his disciples were not able to bear while he was on earth, but after he ascended to his glory, he sent the Holy Ghost, which endowed them with power, insomuch, that when they were under the divine influence, they, like the holy prophets, spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and filled the Christian code, which was not completed by Jesus Christ.

Signs, wonders, divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, which the apostles had attending them for the confirmation of the great salvation, have ceased. If preachers of the present day were endowed like the apostles, they could decide, with certainty, what doctrine was true, and what mode of worship was required; but this is not the case. They have, however, the sure word of prophesy, (the Holy Scriptures,) which is a light to their feet and a lamp to their path; but such is the limitation of the human mind, and so strong is the force of tradition, that men, who equally believe in the divinity of the Bible, and acknowledge it as the only and complete rule of faith and practice, do, nevertheless, differ in many things. The question is often asked, "What kind of preaching and what measures of proceeding are most likely to make the gospel ministry useful?" An answer to this question is summarily given in the first section of this essay; but as events and circumstances are always changing, some little comment, (without placing it on a level with the text) may be profit. able.

The doctrine that all have sinned, fallen into guilt, pollution, and weakness; are children of wrath and dead in trespasses and sins; is abundantly confirmed by the scriptures, by the conduct of sinners, and by the experience of the saints. By these three witnesses the doctrine is supported, and it should be boldly preached.

The doctrine of redemption from the curse of the law by the blood of Christ; of repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus; of the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, of self-denial and good works; of the resurrection from the dead and eternal judg. ment; these doctrines, with their convictions and ramifications, may all be summed up in two words, ruin and recovery; or in other two, duty and grace and if preaching them is not calculated to make the ministry useful, I am at a loss to know what kind of preaching would.

Some preachers have deeper penetration and stronger logical powers than others, by which they dig so deep, reason so close, and fly so high, that they keep out of sight of most of their hearers. In the spirit, they speak mysteries, but those who occupy the room of the unlearned, are not edified. They speak wisdom to them that are perfect; but it is rare that any stupid sinner ever gets turned to righteousness by such preaching. That preaching which is plain and familiar, which awakens the sinner's attention, and arrests his conscience; which shows him his danger, and

points him to the remedy; which beats down his false hopes, and strips him of his own righteousness, is likely to be the most useful. The minister who wishes to be useful, must take heed to himself, as well as to his doctrine. A life of godliness and honesty is essential. A more hateful character cannot be seen, than the preacher who indulges himself in riot, intemperance, fraud, falsehood, and other foolish and sinful vices. If he preaches good doctrine, and his life does not correspond with it, his hearers will take no conviction, but reply, "Physician, heal thyself." Whatever natural talents the preacher may possess for husbandry, mechanism, merchandize, science, law, or physic, all must be subordinate to devotion, and not entangle him in his ministry.

It is of primary importance, that the preacher should be clothed with the garment of salvation; that he should be filled with a sense of the immense worth of the truth, the guilt, depravity and danger man is in; the unsearchable love of Christ in the bloody purchase, and his ability and willingness to save redeemed penitents. Without this robe, he will preach a distant Jesus, by an unfelt gospel, and with an unhallowed tongue. And all the self-made zeal, pretended piety, loud voice, hypocritical tears, and agonizing gesticulations that he may assume, will not supply the lack.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »