Imágenes de páginas

unto life; and few there be that find it. Nay, he Swill approve it:-"The minister is in the desk: he

is reading the lesson of the day.” But this very man-were I to go home with him, and tell him in his parlor that most of those whom he knows and loves are going on in that road to eternal destruction-this very man would brand the sentiment as harsh and uncharitable. Though uttered by Christ himself, it is a declaration as fanatical and uncandid,

in the judgment of the world, as could be put · together in language.

MANY hearers cannot enter into the REASONS of the Cross. They adopt what I think is Butler's grand defect on this subject. He speaks of the Cross as an appointment of God, and THEREFORE to be submitted to; but God has said much in his word of the reasons of this appointment: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth.

SEVERAL things are required to enable a minister to attain a proper variety in his manner. He must be in continual practice: if I were to preach but once a month, I should lose the ability of preaching. He must know that his hearers are attached to him that they will grant him indulgences and liberties. He must, in some measure, feel himself above his congregation. The presence of a certain brother chills me; because I feel that I can talk on no one subject in the pulpit, with which lie is not far better acquainted than I am.

The first duty of a minister, is, To call on his hearers to turn to the Lord. “We have much to speak to you upon, We have many duties to urge on you

We have much instruction to give you-but all will be thrown away, till you have turned to the Lord;Let me illustrate this by a familiar comparison. You see your child sinking in the water: his education lies near your heart: you are anxious to train him up so, that he may occupy well the post assigned to him in life. But, when you see him drowning, the first thoughts are-not how you may educate him, but how you may save him. Restore him to life, and then call that life into action.

Á DISINTERESTED regard to truth should be what it very seldom is, the most striking character in a Christian minister. His purpose should be to make proselytes to truth, and not to any thing which may be particular in his views of it. “Read my books,” says one. “No!” says another, *read mine." And thus religion is taken up by piece-meal; and the mind is diverted from its true nature by false associations. If the teacher whom this man has chosen for his oracle, disgrace religion by irreligious conduct, he stumbles. He stumbles, because he has not been fixed upon the sole and immoveable basis of the religion of the Bible. The mind, well instructed in the Scriptures can bear to see even its spiritual father make shipwreck of the faith and scandalize the gospel; but will remain is self unmoved. The man is in possession of a treasure, which, if others are foolish enough to abandoni, yet they cannot detract any thing from the value attached to it in his esteem.

That a minister may learn how to magnify his office, let him study the character, the spirit, and the history of St. Paul. His life and death were one magnifying of his office: mark his object--50

win souls!--to execute the will of Gorl! As the man rises in his own esteem, his office sinks; but, as the office rises in his view, the man falls. He must be in constant hostility with himself, if he would magnify his office. He must hold himself in readiness to make sacrifices, when called to do so: he will not barter his office, like Balaam; but will refuse to sell his service, like Micaiah. Like Ezra and Nehemiah, he will refuse to come down from the great work which he has to do. He may be calumniated; but he will avoid hasty vindications of his character: it does not appear that Elisha sent after Naaman to vindicate himself from the false hoods of Gehazi: there appears to me much true dignity in this conduct: I fear I should have wanted patience to act thus..

SOME young ministers have been greatly injured, by taking up their creed from a sort of second or third rate writers. Toplady, perhaps, has said that he has found his preaching most successful, when it has turned on the grand doctrines of Calvinism. A young man admires Toplady, and adopts the same notion concerning his own ministry. But let him turn to a master on the subject. He will find such a man as Traill handling the sovereignty of God, and such high points of doctrine, with a holy and heavenly sweetness; which, while it renders it almost impossiblenot to receive his sentiments,leaves. nothing on the mind but a religious savor.

The grand aim of a minister must be THE EXHIBITION OF GOSPEL TRUTH. Statesmen may make the greatest blunders in the world, but that is not his affair. Like a King's Messenger, he must not stop to take care of a person fallen down: if he can render any kindness consistently with his. duty, he will do it; if not, he will prefer his office,

Our method of preaching is not that by whicli Christianity was propagated: yet the genius of Christianity is not changed. There was nothing in the primitive method set or formal. The primitive bishop stood up, and read the gospel, or some other portion of Scripture, and presseil on the hearers, with great earnestness and affection, a few plain and forcible truths evidently resulting from that portion of the Divine Word: we take a text, and inake an oration. Edification was then the object of both speaker and hearers; and, while this con. tinues to be the object, no better method can be found. A parable, or history, or passage of Scripture, thus illustrated and enforced, is the best method of introducing truth to any people who are ignorant of it, and of setting it home with power on those who know it; and not formal, doctrinal, argumentative discourses. TRUTH and SIMPLICITY are the soul of an efficacious ministry.

The Puritans were still farther removed from the primitive method of preaching: they would preach fifteen or sixteen sermons on a text. A ji primitive bishop would have been shocked with one of our sermons; and, such is our taste, we should be shocked with his. They brought forward Scrip. ture: we bring forward our statements. They directed all their observations to throw light on Scripture: we quote Scripture to throw light on our observations. More faith and more grace would inake us better preachers, for out of the abundancer of the heart the mouth speaketh. Chrysostom's was the right method. Leighton's Lectures on Peter approach very near to this method.

In acting on matter, the art of man is mighty. The steam-engine is a mighty machine. But, in religion, the art of man is mere feebleness. The armor of Suulis armor in the camp of the Israelites,

or in the camp of the Philistines-but we want the - sling and the stone. I honor Metaphysicians, Los

gicians, Critics, and Historians in their places. Look at facts. Men, who lay out their strength in statements, preach churches empty. Few men have a wisdom so large, as to see that the way which they cannot attain may yet be the best way. I dare not tell most academical, logical, frigid men how little I account of their opinion, concerning the true method of preaching to the popular ear. I hear them talk, as utterly incompetent judges. Such men would have said St. Paul was fit only for the Tabernacle. What he would have said they were fit for, I cannot tell. They are often great men-first-rate men-unequalled men in their class and sphere:-but it is not THEIR sphere to manage the world.

Ir a minister could work miracles, he would do little more than interest the curiosity of men I want to eat, and I want to drink, and I do it, I get on with difficulty enough, as things are; and you talk about treating with heaven! I know nothing of the matter, and I want no such thing"--This is the language of man's heart. A FUTURE thing! An INDEFINITELY FUTURE thing! No! if a man could even authoritatively declare, that the day of judgment would be this day seven years, he would have little influence on mankind. Very few would be driven from the play-house--very few from the gaming-tablevery few from the brothel. The din on 'Change would be very little diminished. I frequently look back on the early periods of my life, and imagine myself treating with such a character as I know I then was. I say to myself, “What now can I possibly say, that will affect and intcrest that young fellow of eighteen?”

« AnteriorContinuar »