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modest man is silenced, if he sees one of these critics before him. He should say, “ I am God's servant. To my own Master I stand or fall. I will labour according to the utmost ability which God giveth, and leave all consequences to him.”
We are especially taught in the New Testament, to glorify the Spirit of God: and, in his gracious operations in our ministry, we are nearer the Apostolic Times than we often think ourselves.
But this assistance is to be expected by us, as labourers in the vineyard; not as rhapsodists. Idle men may be pointed out, who have abused the doctrine of divine assistance; but what has not been abused? We must expect a special blessing to accompany the truth: not to supersede labour, but to rest on and accompany labour.
A Minister is to be in season, and out of season; and, therefore, every where a Minister. He will not employ himself in writing secular histories: he will not busy himself in prosecuting mathematical enquiries. He will labour directly in his high calling; and indirectly, in a vast variety of ways, as he may be enabled: and God
bless that word in private, which may have been long heard in public in vain.
A Minister should satisfy himself in saying, " It matters not what men think of my talents. Am I doing what I can?"--for there is great encouragement in that commendation of our Lord's,
She hath done what she could. It would betray a wrong state of mind to say, “ If I had discharged my duty in such and such a way, I should have succeeded." This is a carnal spirit. If God bless the simple manner in which you spoke, that will do good; if not, no manner of speaking could have done it.
There is such a thing in the religious world as a cold, carnal wisdom: every thing must be nicely weighed in the scales : every thing must be exactly measured by the rule. I question if this is not worse, in its consequences, than the enthusiasm which it opposes. Both are evil, and to be shunned. But I scarcely ever knew a preacher or writer of this class who did much good.
We are to go forth, expecting the excellency of God's power to accompany us, since we are but earthen vessels: and if, in the Apostolic days, diligence was necessary, how much more requisite is it now!
But, to the exercise of this diligence, a sufficiency in all things is promised. What does a Minister require? In all these respects the promise is applicable to him. He needs, for instance, courage and patience: he may, therefore, expect that the Holy Spirit will enable him for the exercise of these graces.
A Minister may expect more superintendence, more elevation, than a hearer. It can scarcely be questioned that he ought to pray for this: if so, he has a ground in Scripture thus to pray.
I have been cured of expecting the Holy Spirit's influence without due preparation on our part, by observing how men preach who take up that error. I have heard such men talk nonsense by the hour.
We must combine Luther with St. Paul“ Benè orasse est benè studuisse" must be united with St. Paul's Meditate upon these things: give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all. One errs who says, “I will preach a reputable sermon:" and another errs who says, “ I will leave all to the assistance of the Holy Spirit,” while he has neglected a diligent preparation.
“We preach Christ Crucified." 1 Cor. i. 23.
CHRIST is God's great ordinance. Nothing ever has been done, nor will be done to purpose, but so far as He is held forth with simplicity. All the lines must centre in Him. I feel this in my own experience, and therefore I govern my Ministry by it: but then this is to be done according to the Analogy of Faith—not ignorantly, absurdly, and falsely. I doubt not, indeed, but that excess on this side is less pernicious than excess on the other; because God will bless His own especial Ordinance, though partially understood and partially exhibited.
There are many weighty reasons for rendering Christ prominent in our Ministry:-
1. Christ chears the prospect. Every thing connected with Him has light and gladness thrown round it. I look out of my window:
is scowling--dark--frigid-forbidding: I shudder: my heart is chilled. But, let the Sun break forth from the cloud-I can feel I can'actI can spring
2. God descending and dwelling with man, is a truth so infinitely grand, that it must absorb all other. ." You are His attendants! Well! But the KING! There be is!-the KING !"
3. Out of Christ God is not intelligible, much less amiable. Such men as Clarke and Abernethy talk sublime nonsense. A sick woman said to me -Sir! I have no notion of God. I can form no notion of Him. You talk to me about Him, but I cannot get a single idea that seems to contain anything—But you know how to conceive of Jesus Christ as a man! God comes down to you in Him, full of kindness and condescension." Ah! Sir, that gives me something to lay hold on. There I can rest.' I understand God in His Son.' But if God is not intelligible out of Christ, much less is He amiable, though I ought to feel Him so. He is an object of horror and aversion to me, corrupted as I am! I fear-I tremble-I resistI hate- I rebel.
4. A preacher may pursue his Topic, without being led by it to Christ. A man who is accustomed to investigate topics is in danger. He takes
up his topic, and pursues it. He takes up another, and pursues it. At length Jesus Christ becomes his topic, and then he pursues that. If