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my own mind the contrary effects. The death of Christ onght never to be lamented in such language, as may very properly exhibit our feelings for the intense suflerings of a beloved child, or a darling friend. How difierently has evci St. Paul, who, among the writers of the New Testament, and David, who, among those of the Old, have expressed the strongest emotions concerning this affecting subject, exhibited, each; his own views! Although they are intense, they are yet always dignitied, and very often sublime.
7. The Gospel ought to be preached Acceptably. '
It is a common opinion, that all the censures, thrown out against what is said by an orthodox preacher, arise either from his want of talents, from some prejudice against the man, or from the hatred of the human heart to the truth which he utters. Either of these attributions, particularly the last, may serve as a convenient shelter for the preacher's faults; but is not a fair account of the fact. That the heart is naturally opposed to divine truth, and that those who declare it honestly are for this reason often censured, I have not a doubt. But the preacher not unfrequently occasions the censure by his own fault; and ought never lo shun the blame, which he has merited.
Solomon has taught us, that a word filly spoken is like apples, or citrons, of gold in a net-work of silver : a beautiful object beautifully erhibited, and iherefore, making an impression remarkably delightful. of Solomon, also, styled T'he preacher by the Spirit of God, it is recorded, that he sought to find out acceptable words; and that, while writing a part of the Scriptural Canon. Who, with these considerations before him, can doubt, that this is universally the duty of such as preach the Gospel?
But there are men, who in the desk appear to choose the character, and attitude, of Polemics. This character is sometimes rendered necessary, and is then defensible; but, when taken up of choice merely, is always disagreeable and disadvantageous.
There are others, who, when particular terms, or phrases, have become odious by being used, and marked, in the progress of a vehement dispute, adopt them still, either from choice or negligence; and thus warn their hearers, beforehand, to dislike whatever they are prepared to say.
A third class select a phraseology, calculated to persuade an audience, that they hold unheard of, and unwarrantable, opinions : when, if they would use customary language only, their tenets would be found to differ in nothing from those which are commonly received. In this manner the preacher alarms his hearers, not concerning their sin and danger, but concerning his own heresy; and occasions an opposition, literally causeless and useless.
Some attack, from the desk, such as have personally offended them; and thus make it a rostrum of satire and revenge ; instead of a pulpit, where the tidings of salvation are to be published.
To preach acceptably demands all the characteristics, already insisted on in this discourse : Plainness, Variety, Boldness, Solemnity, Earnestness, and Affection. It also demands something more. It requires, that the preacher should avoid all these irregularities; that he should be cautious of pushing his sentiments to rank extremes; that he should wantonly give no offence to any man; that he should select, as far as he can, acceptable words; and that he should appear wholly engaged in promoting the salvation of his flock. His discourses ought to be the result of solid thought, careful study, and complete conviction of the truth and importance of Christianity. .
Finally; they ought to appear fraught with piety to God, and integrity to men.
. In this manner the Gospel, unless I mistake, was originally preached. In this manner it will, I think, be preached by every Minister, who unites the wisdom of the Serpent wilh the innocence of the dove. In this manner, particularly, it will be preached by him, who, comprehending thoroughly the nature of his office, and feeling the necessity of discharging the duties of it faithfully, designs, in the end, to give a joyful account of his stewardship to God.
THE EXTRAORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.–VARIOUS DUTIES OF
1 THESSALONIANS ii, 2-And sent Timothy, our brother, and minister of Goil, and our fellow-labourer in the Gospel of Christ, lo establish you, and comfort you concerning your faith
HAVING examined, at length, the great duty of Preaching the Gospel in the two preceding discourses, I shall now proceed to a summary consideration of other Ministerial duties.
In the text Timothy is said to be sent to the Thessalonians, to establish them, and to comfort them concerning their faith. What was here the business of Timothy, is the proper business of every minister of the Gospel. From the text, therefore, I derive this doctrine;
Thal every minister of the Gospel is appointed for the establishment of Christians. This truth will not be questioned. I shall, therefore, enter immediately upon the consideration of the principal remaining methods, in which the duties, specified in the text, are to be performed.
1. Every minister is bound to give himself diligently to Study.
This duty is abundantly enjoined in the Scriptures. Medilate, says St. Paul to Timothy, upon these things. Give thyself wholly to them ; that thy profiting may appear unto all. Å Bishop, he further says, must be apt to teach. Plainly, therefore, he must learn the things, which he is to leach. He must not be a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil. That these precepts require of every minister the diligent study of the Scriptures, will not, I suppose, be disputed. This, however, is far from being all that is required. Every minister is bound to enable himself to study the Scriptures with success. Unless this is done, the thing, directly commanded, can never be done to any valuable purpose. A child may study them with great diligence throughout his childhood; and an ignorant man throughout his life; and yet both be novices, in the end. A novice, here, denotes a new convert to the faith ; and by Chrysoslom is said to mean one newly instructed, or one, who has been instructed but a little time. The original word denotes a plant, lately sel out, or planted. Its real import is a person, who knows lillle about what he pretends to teach. Timothy, at the writing of this Epistle, was about thirty-two years of age; had been long, even from a child, Vol. IV
acquainted with the Holy Scriptures ; had been a convert about twelve or thirteen years; had been continually instructed in the Gospel by St. Paul, and had enjoyed the benefit of his wisdom, learning, and inspiration, throughout this period. Besides, he appears to have possessed superior talents, a good education, and supernatural endowments in a high degree. Still, all these directions Paul judged to be necessary for him. For he expressly cautions him not to let.any man despise his youth. How much more are the same directions necessary to a youth, who is only preparing himself for the Ministry of the Gospel !
To every man, who would well understand any complicated subject, comprehensive views, clear discernment, and the art of arranging his thoughts with skill and perspicuity, are indispensable. These attainments are the result only of long-continued study, habits of exact discrimination, and extensive practice in the art of methodizing his thoughts.
To a Minister, all this is peculiarly necessary. His prime husiness is to teach; and he must therefore have learned. “An ignorant teacher is a contradiction in terms.
The prime object of study to a Minister is the Bible. In order to understand this sacred book, it is necessary not only to study it intensely, and abundantly, but to become acquainted, also, with the languages, in which it was written. The importance of this knowledge is completely seen in the fact, that the Scriptures are ultimately what they were, as they came from the hands of the writers; nol as they came from the hands of the translators.
Another requisite is an acquaintance wilh Ecclesiastical history. This will teach him the sins and virtues, the errors and sound doctrines, the prosperous and the adverse circumstances, which have existed in the Church, in its various ages; together with the causes, by which they have been produced. Generally, he will derive from this source the same advantages, in the Ecclesiastical sense, which the statesman derives, i, a political sense, from Civil history. He will learn what the Church has been ; why it has thus been ; and how in many respects it may be rendered better and happier.
Another requisite to the same end is an acquaintance with wise and learned commentators on the Scriptures. The authors of these must in many instances, have understood this sacred book better than himself. By a prudent recurrence to their explications, he will be enabled to gain a knowledge of it, which, otherwise, would be impracticable.
The Science of Ethics is only a branch of theology,
Logic is indispensable, to make him a sound reasoner; and Rhetoric to teach him how to write, and how to speak, with skill, and success.
The knowledge of History and Geography is indispensable to all men, who would make contemplation, or instruction, any serious part of their business.
The Book of Man is to every minister a necessary object of investigation, that he may know to wbat beings he preaches; how to preach to them in an interesting and useful manner; and how to understand, explain, and impress, a multitude of Scriptural passages.
Generally, all that knowledge, which will enlarge and invigorate his mind, will, so far as he can attain it, contribute to render him a more able and judicious preacher, and his discourses more instructive, interesting, and edifying to his hearers.
A considerable number of persons, professing to believe the Bible, are found in this and other countries, generally persons remarkably ignorant, who have pronounced learning, or as they have termed it, book-learning, to be a disqualification for the Ministerial office. Ignorant as they are, they have, still, understanding enough to perceive, that ignorance itself cannot furnish a man for the business of teaching. They have accordingly provided a substitute for learning; which, in a preacher, they could not otherwise avoid acknowledging to be indispensable. The substitute is this. Their preachers, as they profess to believe, are supplied, directly from heaven, with supernatural light and power; so as to enable them clearly to understand, and profitably to expound, the Word of God. They further declare, that men destitute of these endowments, cannot even understand his Word; that the real, and only, profitable, sense of the Scriptures is mystical, and not at all discern. ed by common eyes; thal, lo understand it at all, the supernatural endowments, which they claim, are absolutely necessary; and that learning, therefore, is of no use to this end. This is the substance of their doctrine ; although expressed by them, as every thing else concerning religion is expressed by ignorant and enthusiastic men, with much uncertainty and confusion.
This scheme deserves a sober examination on two accounts only. One is, that it is seriously adopted by ils votaries. The other is, that these are considerably numerous. For these reasons I shall animadvert upon it in the following observations.
1. The Scriptures give us no reason to conclude, that Inspiration mould continue after the Apostolic age.
The endowment, challenged by these men, appears to be that kind, and degree, of Inspiration, which was formerly given to those, whose business it was to interpret unknown tongues. I do not mean, that they directly challenge this character in express terms; but this is what they mean, if they mean any thing. The Scriptures they declare to be written in language, which, as to its true and useful meaning, is unknown to mankind at large. They, as they profess, are endowed by Heaven with the power of interpreting it to others. But the Scriptures give us no reason to be. lieve, that any such Inspiration exists. The burden of proof plain