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the mighty power by which the noble faculties of the human "soul are to be freed from moral darkness; and inspired with that light and energy, which will enable man to secure and retain his spiritual liberty, to clothe himself with moral dignity; and to "lay hold on eternal life," and glory. Gospel truth is adapted to the capacity and state of man, and calculated to lead him to happiness both present and eternal. The Gospel, accompanied by the influences of the divine Spirit, pours light into the mind of man, and convinces him of his sin and danger—it points him to the grand means for the removal of his guilt, and for securing to himself the pardon and acceptance of his God, —it points him to faith in the precious blood of Christ and to the influences of the Holy Spirit as the grand means for the renewal of his nature, and strengthening his soul in the practice of righteousness and holiness—and it holds out to view the rich reward of eternal glory to the righteous—and shows with awful clearness, the eternal misery which awaits the disobedient and wicked. Thus the soul of man is irradiated with heavenly light, his guilt removed, his nature renewed, his mind and affections fixed upon spiritual, heavenly, and eternal things, and his energies roused to resist the devil, to deny himself of all ungodliness, and to struggle for the ultimate and eternal enjoyment of heavenly glory. God's design is that the Gospel should produce those blessed effects upon all mankind: and to accomplish this object, he has instituted, and perpetuates the gospel ministry. Gospel truths, however, may fail in producing its desired effects from two causes—first, from the obstinate and wilful resistance of men to the operation of that truth, upon their minds; and refusing to be guided by the light which it pours into their understandings. For such resistance and abuse, and for their awful consequences, such infatuated men are individually responsible. But there is another cause which may produce a failure in the grand and benevolent design of the Gospel: and that is the minister of the Gospel himself; either from his ignorance and want of capacity for the important work—his coldness and apathy in the exercise of the sacred functions of the ministry—or the want of strict practical holiness in his own life. A consideration this, amply sufficient to rouse the energies of every minister of the Gospel to the highest pitch—to make him prayerfully diligent in his studies of the sacred oracles—to lead to him wrestle for the promised fulness of the Holy Ghost to his own soul—to inspire him with fervent, holy zeal in his public ministrations—and to lead him to cultivate holiness of the highest order in his own deportment. The thought, that immortal souls may be lost and made miserable for ever, through the inefficiency, coldness, or unholiness of the minister, is one which stamps a tremendous awe upon the gospel ministry; and one which ought to deter presumptuous and unholy hands, from laying hold on the Holy Ark of gospel truth, and from attempting to dispense the mysteries of God to the people.
3. It is the imperative duty of the minister of the Gospel, to make himself well acquainted with the nature and divine authority of these truths which he is called of God to preach to the world; and on the knowledge of which the salvation of men depends. It is admitted on all hands that the system of divine truth contained in the Gospel, embraces some subjects which are too mysterious for the most enlightened, perfect, and vigorous human mind to comprehend fully. But even on these subjects, higher and deeper degrees of knowledge may be continually acquired, by prayerful and diligent investigation and study; and even those truths which are more easy to be understood, will ever be throwing out new beauties, before the mind of the diligent searcher after right knowledge of the things of God. God himself is the foundation of Gospel truth; its doctrines are rays of light and glory emanating from him, for the right instruction of mankind in the way of salvation: and although we can, as far as is necessary for our guidance and happiness, comprehend the nature and feel the power of those truths; yet tracing them upward to their source, they swell in magnitude and increase in brightness, until the mind becomes enraptured and overpowered by the splendour of their glory: and to soar in the region of this glory is the delight of the minister who has a truly studious mind. In order rightly to understand divine truth the minister must feel its influence upon his own heart. There are some secrets in the system of divine truth; in which nothing short of actual personal experience can rightly instruct the christian minister; and it is absolutely necessary that those truths should be clearly known and faithfully preached by him. They are, the actual reception of the pardon of sin from God—the witness of the Spirit of God attesting adoption and sonship—the comforts of the Holy Ghost—the peace and joy of believing—communion with God—and strength under afflictions and trials, &c. A minister, it is true, may discourse on these points in the language of a well constructed, but yet, a cold and unmoving theory. But when a minister feels the experimental force of these doctrines on his own heart; his feelings will throw holy fire and energy into his oral descriptions; and his sentiments will meet with a ready response from the hearts of his hearers.
The minister of the Gospel must also study the doctrines of divine truth with constancy and intensity. By study something more is meant than mere diligence in reading, and a common current of thought, which, while it lays hold on some correct and useful knowledge, only skims the surface of the depth of that truth which is unfathomable. Study implies a vigorous, intense, and constant application, of the perceptive, comprehending, reasoning, and retentive faculties of the mind; to the investigation, understanding, and retention of the great doctrines involved in the system of Gospel truth, in order that tangible, clear, and correct ideas may be formed by the mind, of the great subjects of man's present and eternal salvation; and those ideas laid up in the store-house of the memory, as treasures ready to be brought out and set before the people, in all their fascinating beauty and utility. Study, then implies the utmost possible exertion of the faculties of the mind, in order to a right understanding of the divine science of salvation: acquiring right and extensive ideas of that science, and a knowledge of the best modes of applying its doctrines, to the various human states of those who are under ministerial charge. The mind properly disciplined to this study feels it to be its element and delight; for divine truth is a mine in which the diligent student may perpetually dig, and always find something new: and thus feel that by its pleasurable toils it acquires new and additional treasure, both for the advancement of its own comfort and dignity; and the advancement in knowledge and happiness of thousand of others.
The christian minister must connect with the earnest endeavours, of his own mind, to pry into the heights and depths of divine truth, fervent prayer to God, the author of Gospel doctrine and the source of divine light to the human understanding, for the illumination and assistance of his Holy Spirit. That system of truth which has emanated from God, and the doctrines of which were originally recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, cannot be fully understood but by the assistance of that divine light or influence which proceedeth from God; and which guides the minds of men upwards through the avenues of divine truth to God himself, and to that fulness of glory which he hath promised to bestow upon the faithful. The influences of the Holy Spirit are promised to them who ask them; the christian minister must therefore fervently and constantly pray, for this divine light to assist him in his diligent researches after correct knowledge, of the nature of the doctrines of divine truth. But while the christian minister labours, with all possible diligence, in the study of the Holy Scriptures, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, he must also avail himself of all the aid which he can derive from the numerous and valuable volumes which have been written, and published by learned and pious men. These works will be great helps to him, in the attainment of right and clear knowledge, of these sublime and interesting truths, which it is his duty to teach and enforce upon the minds of others. He must not study those authors merely to acquire their language, and repeat their sentiments by rote; but as far as their ideas agree with the infallible oracles of divine truth; he must by deep thought and mental digestion, make those ideas his own, moulded into a form suited to the capacity of his own mind; and clothed, when brought out publicly, in his own language. This is the fair way of making the views of other authors his own; and of legitimately bringing them forward in public, as the acquired stores of his own mind. The system of merely composing a sermon from the writings of others, and delivering it as being of native growth, is deception—it is plagiary and parrot like—it argues either sterility, or gross indolence in the mind of such a minister; and such an imposition is sure to meet with detection, from intelligent auditors, to the disgrace and confusion of the mimicking preacher. The christian minister, then, must labour with all diligence, in the exercise of his mental powers, with every help of which he can avail himself; and in fervent prayer for the enlightening influences of the Holy Ghost, to make himself useful to men, and approved of God. I may here add, that it is not only the duty of the christian minister to preach the doctrines of the Gospel with the utmost clearness and force; but it is also his duty to defend the Gospel system against all assailants. It is therefore absolutely necessary that the christian minister should make himself acquainted with the nature and force of the arguments by which Christianity has been, and is still, attacked; and to qualify himself for meeting and refuting those arguments. It will also be necessary for the minister of the Gospel to study the character of the human mind, upon which the force of the truths which he preaches is designed to bear—the faculties of that mind—the avenues which lead to operations upon them—and the nature and strength of those prejudices against divine truth, ,with which the natural mind is fortified. Some knowledge on these points is necessary, in order that Gospel truth may he brought to bear upon the heart, in a way which will lead to man's salvation. On these grounds, deep, prayerful, and constant study, is absolutely necessary, on the part of the christian minister, in order that he may be successful in his glorious, but awful undertaking.
4. The christian minister must ever bear in mind, the great objects to be accomplished by his ministry. And those objects are, not merely the keeping up of an order of men, or a distinct office in the Church of God—not merely filling up certain portions of time by talking on religious subjects—not the mere performance of a duty—not pleasing the human ear with fine words, and correct and well arranged sentences—not the gratification of his own vanity, by raising himself into popularity as a good sermonizer and public speaker. But the conversion of sinners to God—the building up the people of God "on their most holy faith"—the advancement of the divine glory in the world; and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. To effect these objects, his aim must be to convince the human judgment of the truth and adaptation of Gospel doctrine—to awaken the conscience to a sense of guilt and misery—to arouse the affections to a love of truth and salvation—and to engage all the energies of the immortal spirits of men in the pursuit of salvation and eternal happiness. And all this he must do in despite of Satanic influence and power; and in despite of the natural unbelief and prejudice of mankind. In order to this he must have knowledge of the structure of the human mind; and of the avenues which lead to the heart; and through these avenues he must pour in that pure divine truth, which maketh wise unto salvatiou. He must be clear in his definitions and statements, and forcible in his arguments; spreading out saving truth in all its perspicuity, beauty, and utility; in language solemn, correct, and forcible; and within the range of the comprehension of all his hearers. He must show by his manner that he loves the souls of the people; that be is intent upon promoting their salvation; and that he believes and feels the truth of those doctrines which he preaches to others. He must place himself as upon the verge of the eternal world; with the awful verities of that world in view; and in this position he must exert all his talents to persuade men to be reconciled to God, and to serve Him in righteousness and true holiness. He must, however, bear perpetually in mind, that his own most vigorous and diligent endeavours will not produce the desired effect without the influence of God's Holy Spirit: this influence is promised unto him; for this he must pray; and under this divine influence he must live and labour, in order to be a successful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. The christian minister must follow up his public ministrations by Pastoral visitation. He must visit the people of his charge at their houses, not merely in the way of friendly compliment, or for casual and trifling conversation, but to inquire into the state of their souls, and to give them suitable advice; to ascertain what they have learned from the preaching of the word; and to impress what they have heard more deeply upon their minds; to comfort them under their afflictions and trials, and to pray with them and for them, that they may grow in grace, and in the knowledge and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus he must watch and water the seed which he has sown, that it may take root in the heart, spring up, and bring forth in rich abundance, the fruits of righteousness and holiness in the life. For these purposes he must be diligent in going from house to house, exhorting, reproving, and comforting the people, that he may at last present them perfect before the throne of God.
6. The christian minister must give effect to his public ministrations by a holy life. The practical holiness of the Gospel of Christ, ought to be seen in perfection in the lives of the ministers of the gospel, and when it is thus seen it will give convincing force to the minds of others of the truth of the doctrines which those ministers preach. The christian minister, by thus living, will show to the world, that there is no command or precept in the Sacred Oracles but which may be reduced to practice, and thus overthrow the objection—that the righteousness of the gospel is of too high an order to be practised by weak and imperfect man. If the minister's life be tarnished by, immorality, he will be a curse instead of a blessing to the Church of God; for his example will diffuse a poisonous influence through the minds of others, and harden their hearts against the truths of the gospel; and this would make the minister of the gospel, not the promoter of men's salvation, but the cause of the destruction of immortal souls:—not the promoter, but the hjnderer of the spread of the glory of God in the world. Every christian is required by Christ to let the light of his religion shine in his deportment, and thus be a light for God in the world: but, in practical holiness, the minister ought to be the brightest luminary in the Church, and shine out with the greatest brilliancy upon the world at large.
7. The christian minister will have bis trials; not only such trials as are common to every sincere follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also those trials which are peculiar to his character and office in the Church of God. The devil will tempt him, and the world will persecute him; but the grace of God will be sufficient for him. A sense of his own insufficiency will frequently oppress him; but he will be given to feel, that through Christ strengthening him, he can do all things. Various matters in the Church will, perhaps, frequently occasion him pain of mind; but while he acts uprightly as an overseer of God's heritage, and maintains a good conscience before his Lord and Master, he will always be divinely supported in the discharge of his duties. He may be tempted to imagine himself an unsuccessful minister; but he must remember that the full fruit of a minister's faithfulness is not always made manifest in this life, Conscious of the sacred character and importance of his work; of his divine call to that work; and of the promises of divine support in the performance of it: he must steadfastly continue going forth sowing the precious seed of divine truth, if it he even with weeping; for the day will come when he will return with "rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
8. Into this ministry our brother before you is now admitted. Let him have your prayers. Let all your ministers have your fervent prayers. If the inspired Apostle Paul felt it necessary, how much more is it not now necessary for us, to urge upon our Churches the exhortation, "Brethren, -pray for us." The more fervently you pray for your ministers, the more you will prosper by their ministrations; for your prayers will bring down the blessing of God upon them, in more efficient qualification for the duties of their sacred and awful office: and while you reap the advantage of their more enlightening and forcible instructions, the fruit of your own prayers will return into your own bosoms. To all my dear brethren in the ministry, I would say; Let us labour to get our minds more deeply and strongly impressed, with the awful dignity and tremendous responsibility of our sacred office. Let us devote ourlelves afresh to God, and to the work with which he hath honoured us. Let us pray to be filled with the Holy Ghost—and let us exert ourselves more than ever for the salvation of our fellow men.
ON AN EFFICIENT ITINERANT MINISTRY.
To The Editor.—Sir,
Bin devoting himself entirely to the work of the sanctuary, and preparing for an acceptable and profitable exercise of his office, the Christian minister should not exclude from his pursuits any of the various branches of knowledge, the cultivation of which would be calculated to aid him in the great business of his life, the promotion of the salvation and happiness of his fellow creatures.
Before all other things, however, the Bible—emphatically containing the science of salvation—claims the attention of a preacher of the Gospel. Its contents, and especially its doctrines, precepts, and examples, should be perfectly familiar to him, as they must necessarily constitute the main topics of his pulpit addresses; and from it he will derive his most cogent and irresistible arguments, by which to "persuade men." But a correct and intimate acquaintance with Divine truth, it is hardly possible can consist with a loose and desultory mode of reading the Sacred Scriptures. It will not do, therefore, for a minister of God's word, and especially one who is altogether devoted to the work, to content himself with occasional and immethodical reading of the Bible; nor to be satisfied with merely such readings of that book as his family, and more public duties, may require from him. If the practice of searching the Scriptures be obligatory upon all Christians, how immeasurably more so upon ministers of the Gospel. A regular and systematic studying of the word of God, without note or comment, will be within the plan of the student as indispensable to an extensive acquaintance with the Divine oracles, as well as a comprehension of its various parts as a whole; and it must be followed out in such a manner, and at such stated seasons, as cannot fail, except under extraordinary circumstances, to secure its punctual performance. I would not be supposed to offer discouragement to the use of any of the various commentaries upon the sacred writings, as aids to a right understanding of that inestimable book; on the contrary, so important