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recurrence of the same idea, though generally expressed in different language, and with some new speciality, either in its bearing or in its illustration. And he further knows, that the habit of expatiating on one topic may be indulged to such a length, as to satiate the reader, and that, to a degree, far beyond the limits of his forbearance.
And yet, if a writer be conscious that, to gain a reception for his favorite doctrine, he must combat with certain elements of opposition, in the taste, or the pride, or the indolence, of those whom he is addressing, this will only serve to make him the more importunate, and so to betray him still farther into the fault of redundancy. If the lesson he is urging be of an intellectual character, he will labour to bring it home, as nearly as possible, to the understanding. If it be a moral lesson, he will labour to bring it home, as nearly as possible, to the heart. It is difficult, and it were hard to say in how far it would be right, to restrain this propensity in the pulpit, where the high matters of salvation are addressed to a multitude of individuals, who bring before the minister every possible variety of taste and of capacity; and it it no less difficult, when the compositions of the pulpit are transferred to the press, to detach from them a peculiarity by which their whole texture may be pervaded, and thus to free them from what may be counted by many to be the blemish of a very great and characteristic deformity.
There is, however, a difference between such truths as are merely of a speculative nature, and such as are allied with practice and moral feeling; and much ought to be conceded to this difference. With the former, all repetition may often be superfluous; with the latter, it may just be by earnest repetition, that their influence comes to be thoroughly established over the mind of an inquirer. And, if so much as one individual be gained over in this way to the cause of righteousness, he is untrue to the spirit and to the obligations of his office, who would not, for the sake of this one, willingly hazard all the rewards, and all the honours of literary estimation.. .
And, if there be one truth which, more than another, should be habitually presented to the notice, and proposed to the conviction of fallen creatures, it is the humbling truth of their own depravity. This is a truth which may be recognized and read in every exhibition of unrenewed nature ; but it often lurks under a specious disguise, and it is surely of the utmost practical importance to unveil and elicit a principle, which, when admitted into the heart, may be considered as the great basis of a sinner's religion.
The Necessity of the Spirit to give Effect to the Preaching of the Gospel.
“And my speech, and my preaching, was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration
of the Spirit and of power : that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man but in the power of God."-i Corinthians, ii. 4, 5,
PAUL, in his second epistle to the Co- the reach of human power and human wisrinthians has expressed himself to the same dom; and to obtain which, immediate reeffect as in the text, in the following words: course must be had, in the way of prayer “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to and dependence, to the power of God. Withthink any thing as of ourselves; but our out attempting a full exposition of these difsufficiency is of God; who also hath made ferent verses, we shall, first, endeavour to us able ministers of the New Testament; direct your attention to that part of the work not of the letter, but of the Spirit."
of a Christian teacher, which it has in comIn both these passages, the Apostle points mon with any other kind of education ; and, to a speciality in the work of a Christian secondly, offer a few remarks on the speteacher,--a something essential to its suc- ciality that is adverted to in the text. cess, and, which is not essential to the pro- I. And here it must be admitted, that ficiency of scholars in the ordinary branches even in the ordinary branches of human of education, --an influence that is beyond learning, the success of the teacher, on the
one hand, and the proficiency of the scho-| the business of education, and conspires to
human TV imatate de Voi prime God of these idearou Tor the wears hes in
in the uniformity of nature; and forgetting give you a clear view of what that is which that it is the inspiration of the Almighty constitutes a speciality in the work of a which giveth and preserveth the understand - Christian teacher. And to carry you at ing of all his creatures, might be tempted to once by a few plain instances to the matter repose that confidence in man, which dis- we are aiming to impress upon you, let us places God from the sovereignty that belongs suppose a man to take up his Bible, and to him. But what we wish to prepare you with the same powers of attention and un for, by the preceding observations, is, that derstanding which enable him to compreyou may understand the altogether peculiar hend the subject of any other book, there call, that there is for dependence on God in is much in this book also which he will be the case of a Christian teacher. We have made able to perceive and to talk of intelligently. a short enumeration of those talents which Thus, for example, he may come, by the a teacher of Christianity might possess, in mere exercise of his ordinary powers, to common with other teachers; but it is for understand that it is the Holy Spirit which the purpose of proving that he might pos- taketh of the things of Christ and showeth sess them all, and heightened to such a de-them to the mind of man. But is not his gree, if you will, as would have made him understanding of this truth, as it is put illustrious on any other field, and yet be ut-down in the plain language of the New terly destitute of powers for acquiring him- | Testament, a very different thing from the self, or of experience for teaching others, (Holy Spirit actually taking of these things that knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ and showing them unto him? Again, he will which is life everlasting. .
be able to say, and to annex a plain meanWith the many brilliant and imposinging to what he says, that man is rescued things which he may have, there is one from his natural darkness about the things thing which he may not have, and the want of God, by God who created the light out of that one thing may form an invincible of darkness shining in his heart, and giving barrier to his usefulness in the vineyard of him the light of the knowledge of his glory Christ. If, conscious that he wants it, he in the face of Jesus Christ. But is not his seeks to obtain from God the sufficiency saying this, and understanding this, by takwhich is not in himself, then he is in a likely ing up these words in the same obvious way of being put in possession of that power, way in which any man of plain and honest which alone is mighty to the pulling down understanding would do, a very different of strong holds. But if he, on the one hand, thing from God actually putting forth his proudly conceiving the sufficiency to be in creative energy upon him, and actually himself, enters with aspiring confidence into shining upon his heart, and giving him that the field of argument, and think that he is light and that knowledge which are exto carry all before him, by a series of invin-pressed in the passage here alluded to? cible demonstration; or, if his people, on Again, by the very same exercise wherethe other hand, ever ready to be set in mo- with he renders the sentence of an old aution by the idle impulse of sovelty, or to be thor into his own language, and perceives seduced by the glare of human accomplish-the meaning of that sentence, will he annex ments, come in trooping multitudes around a meaning to the following sentence of the him, and hang on the eloquence of his lips, Bible--"the natural man receiveth not the or the wisdom of his able and profound un- things of the Spirit of God, for they are derstanding, a more unchristian attitude foolishness unto him; neither can he know cannot be conceived, nor shall we venture them, because they are spiritually discernto compute the weekly accumulation of ed." By the mere dint of that shrewdness guilt which may come upon the parties, and sagacity with which nature has enwhen such a business as this is going on. | dowed him, he will perceive a meaning How little must the presence of God be felt here which you will readily acknowledge in that place where the high functions of could not be perceived by a man in a state the pulpit are degraded into a stipulated ex-of idiotism. In the case of the idiot, there change of entertainment on the one side, is a complete barrier against his ever acand of admiration on the other; and surely quiring that conception of the meaning of it were a sight to make angels weep when this passage, which is quite competent to a a weak and vapouring mortal, surrounded man of a strong and accomplished underby his fellow sinners, and hastening to the standing. For the sake of illustration, we grave and the judgment along with them, may conceive this poor outcast from the finds it a dearer object to his bosom, to regale common light of humanity, in some unachis hearers by the exhibition of himself, than countable fit of attention, listening to the to do in plain earnest the work of his Mas sound of these words, and making some ter, and urge on the business of repentance strenuous but abortive attempts to arrive and of faith by the impressive simplieities at the same comprehension of them with a of the Gospel.
man whose reason is entire. But he canII. This brings us to the second head of not shake off the fetters which the hand of discourse, under which we shall attempt to nature has laid upon his understanding ;
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and he goes back again to the dimness and ions. How natural to think that the same delirium of his unhappy situation; and his powers and habits of investigation which mind locks itself up in the prison-hold of carried him to so respectable a height in its confined and darkened faculties; and if, the natural sciences will enable him to clear in his mysterious state of existence, he his way through all the darkness of theformed any conception whatever of the ology. It is well that he is seeking for words now uttered in your hearing, we may if he persevere and be in earnest, he will rest assured that it stands distinguished by obtain an interest in the promise, and will a wide and impassable chasm, from the at length find ;-but not till he find, in the conception of him, who has all the com- progress of those inquiries on which he en mon powers and perceptions of the species. tered with so much alacrity, and prosecuted
Now, we would ask what kind of con- with so much confidence, that there is a ception is that which a man of entire facul- barrier between him and the spiritual dislies may form? Only grant us the unde- cernment of his Bible, which all the powers niable truth, that he may understand how of philosophy cannot scale,-not till he find, he cannot discern the things of the Spirit, that he must cast down his lofty imaginaunless the Spirit reveal them to him; and tions, and put the pride of all his powers yet with this understanding, he may not be and his pretensions away from him,-not till one of those in behalf of whom the Spirit he find, that, divested of those fancies which hath actually interposed with his peculiar deluded his heart into a feeling of its own office of revelation; and then you bring sufficiency, he must become like a little into view another barrier, no less insur-child, or one of those babes to whom God mountable than that which fixes an immu- reveals the things which he hides from the table distinction between the conceptions wise and from the prudent,-not till he find, of an idiot and of a man of sense,-even that the attitude of self-dependence must be that wonderful barrier which separates the broken down, and he be brought to acknownatural from the spiritual man. You can ledge that the light he is aspiring after, is conceive him struggling with every power not created by himself, but must be made which nature has given him to work his to shine upon him at the pleasure of anway through this barrier. You can con- other,—not in short, till, humbled by the ceive him vainly attempting, by some en- mortifying experience that many a simple ergies of his own, to force an entrance cottager who reads his Bible and loves his into that field of light where every object Saviour has got before him, he puts himself of faith has the bright colouring of reality on a level with the most illiterate of them thrown over it-where he can command a all, and prays that light and truth may clear view of the things of eternity, --where beam on his darkened understanding from spiritual truth comes home with effect upon the sanctuary of God. his every feeling and his every conviction,- We read of the letter, and we read also where he can expatiate at freedom over a of the spirit, of the New Testament. It scene of manifestation, which the world would require a volume, rather than a sinknoweth not,--and breathe such a peace, Igle paragraph of a single sermon, to draw and such a jov, and such a holiness, and the line between the one and the other. such a superiority to time, and such a de- | But you will readily acknowledge that there votedness of all his affections to the things are many things of this book which a man. which are above, as no man of the highest though untaught by the Spirit of God, may natural wisdom can ever reach with all his be made to know. One of the simplest inattention to the Bible, and all the efforts of stances is, he may learn the number of his sagacity, however painful, to unravel, chapters in every book, and the number of and to compare and to comprehend its pas- verses in every chapter. But is this all ? sages. And it is indeed a deeply interest- No,--for by the natural exercise of his meing object to see a man of powerful under-mory he may be able to master all its hisstanding thus visited with an earnest desire torical information. And is this all ? No. after the light of the gospel, and toiling at for by the natural exercise of his judgment the entrance with all the energies which he may compare scripture with scripture, belong to him,--pressing into the service | he may learn what its doctrines are the all the resources of argument and philoso- may demonstrate the orthodoxy of every phy,--mustering to the high enterprise, his one article in our national confession, he attention, and his conception, and his rea- may rank among the ablest and most judison, and his imagination, and the whole cious of the commentators, he may read, host of his other faculties, on which science and with understanding, too, many a ponnas conferred her imposing, names, and laid | derous volume, -he may store himself with before us in such a pompous catalogue, as the learning of many generations, --he may might tempt us to believe that man, by one be familiar with all the systems, and have mighty grasp of his creative mind, can mingled with all the controversies,--and make all truth his own, and range at plea- yet, with a mind supporting as it does the sure over the wide variety of her domin-1 burden of the erudition of whole libraries,
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he may have gotten to himself no other the Spirit worketh. He does not tell us any wisdom than the wisdom of the letter of thing that is out of the record; but all that the New Testament. The man's creed, with is within it he sends home, with clearness all its arranged and its well weighed arti- and effect, upon the mind. He does not cles, may be no better than the dry bones make us wise above that which is written; in the vision of Ezekiel, put together into a but he makes us wise, up to that which is skeleton, and fastened with sinews, and written. When a telescope is directed to covered with flesh and skin, and exhibiting some distant landscape, it enables us to see to the eye of the spectators, the aspect, what we could not otherwise have seen; and the lineaments of a man, but without but it does not enable us to see any thing breath, and remaining so, till the Spirit of which has not a real existence in the prosGod breathed into it, and it lived. And it pect before us. It does not present to the is in truth a sight of wonder, to behold a eye any delusive imagery,-neither is that a man who has carried his knowledge of fanciful and fictitious scene which it throws scripture as far as the wisdom of man can open to our contemplation. The natural carry it, to see him blest with all the light eye saw nothing but blue land stretching which nature can give, but labouring under along the distant horizon. By the aid of all the darkness which no power of nature the glass, there bursts upon it a charming can dispel,--to see this man of many ac- variety of fi lds, and woods, and spires, and complishments, who can bring his every villages. Yet who would say that the glass power of demonstration to bear upon the added one feature to this assemblage? It Bible, carrying in his bosom a heart un- discovers nothing to us which is not there; cheered by any one of its consolations, un-nor, out of that portion of the book of namoved by the influence of any one of its ture which we are employed in contemtruths, unshaken out of any one attachment plating, does it bring into view a single to the world, and an utter stranger to those character which is not really and previously high resolves, and the power of those great inscribed upon it. And so of the Spirit. and animating prospects, which shed a glory He does not add a single truth, or a single over the daily walk of a believer, and give character, to the book of revelation. He to every one of his doings the high charac-enables the spiritual man to see what the ter of a candidate for eternity.
natural man cannot see; but the spectacle We are quite aware of the doubts which which he lays open is uniform and immuthis is calculated to excite in the mind of table. It is the word of God which is ever the hearer,--nor is it possible within the the same;—and he, whom the Spirit of God compass of an hour to stop and satisfy them has enabled to look to the Bible with a clear all; or to come to a timely conclusion, with and affecting discernment, sees no phantom · out leaving a number of unresolved ques- passing before him; but amid all the visiontions behind us.
| ary extravagance with which he is charged, There is one, however, which we cannot can, for every one article of his faith, and pass without observation. Does not this every one duty of his practice, make his doctrine of a revelation of the Spirit, it may triumphant appeal to the law and to the be asked, additional to the revelation of the testimony. word, open a door to the most unbridled We trust that this may be made clear variety ? May it not give a sanction to any by one example. We have not to travel conceptions of any visionary pretenders, out of the record for the purpose of having and clothe in all the authority of inspira- this truth made known to us,--that God is tion a set of doctrines not to be found within every where present. It meets the obserthe compass of the written record ? Does vation of the natural man in his reading it not set aside the usefulness of the Bible, of the Bible; and he understands, or thinks and break in upon the unity and consis- he understands, the terms in which it is tency of revealed truth, by letting loose delivered ; and he can speak of it with conupon the world a succession of fancies, as sistency; and he ranks it with the other endless and as variable as are the caprices attributes of God; and he gives it an avowed of the human imagination ? All very true, and formal admission among the articles did we ever pretend that the office of the of his creed; and yet, with all this parade Spirit was to reveal any thing additional to of light and knowledge, he, upon the subthe information, whether in the way of doc-ject of the all-seeing and ever-present Deity, trine or of duty, which the Bible sets before labours under all the obstinacy of an habitus. But his office, as defined by the Bible ual blindness. Carry him abroad, and you itself, is not to make known to us any truths will find that the light which beams upon which are not contained in the Bible; but to his senses, from the objeet of sight, commake clear to our understandings the truths pletely overpowers that light which ought which are contained in it. He opens our to beam upon his spirit, from this object understandings to understand the Scrip-of faith. He may occasionally think of it tures. The word of God is called the sword as he does of other things; but for every of the Spirit. It is the instrument by which one practical purpose the thought aban