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to promote the important objects for which such discourses were originally designed. Few things can É. more . and laudable than the institution which gives birth to them, or can serve to place the wisdom of our ecclesiastical polity in a more striking point of view. The mutual encouragement, support, and animation naturally to be expected from the stated meetings of a body of men, supposed at least to be engaged in the same great work —the countenance, the scrutiny, the counsel, and sometimes the reproof, proceeding from the superior, vested with visitatorial authority—the instruction, admonition, quickening, and comfort, to be derived from the preaching of a brother, as Mr. Vaughan well describes his character, “old enough to teach, yet still a learner like themselves, the partner of their corruptions and infirmities, of their toils and expectations,” cannot, one would inlagine, but be productive of the most important and beneficial consequences. When we thus reflect on the admirable order not only of visitations, but of every other part of our ecclesiastical establishment, as the whole is set forth in the work of the immortal Hooker, we can scarcely help exélaiming, concerning it, in the words of the royal visitor of King Solomon, “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee!”— But, alas! how frequently is a Christian observer compelled to confess, when too often witnessing the perversion, or the neglect, of the most wise and salutary appointments of our church, that, of ecclesiastical as of civil governments, there is a sense in which it may be justly asserted, that “whate'er is best admimister'd is best.” In our own establishment, all that is required to render it, what it is designed to be, the instrument of defending, diffusing, and cherishing real Christianity throughout the land, is the faithful and conscientious discharge of their duties by all its public functionaries.
While, therefore, we lament that in too o instances this is far from being the case, we rejoice whenever, as in the sermons now before us, we see an example of able and faithful conduct. From St. Paul's declaration to the Corinthians, that he preached not himself, “but Christ Jesus the Lord,” Mr. Vaughan takes occasion, in the first of his two visitation sermons, to consider the excellency of the institution of preaching—the best method of conducting it—and some reasons for the met thus recommended. Under the first of these divisions, what the Apostle once styled “ the foolishness of preaching,” is ably vindicated as the grand appointed instrument of instruction, conversion, atid edification in the church of God—on the ground both of Scripture and experience.
" If,” observes the pious author, “ous preaching be without efficacy, we must fear it is not that word which has the promise. “it shall not return unto me void;’ that we are not of those ministers to whom it is expressly declared, “And lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’— Let us inquire, my beloved brethren, whether we have been fully aware of the great importance of this part of our office? Does the institution of preaching, indeed, possess this efficacy? ... Then we must take heed how we preach. Every particular sermon which we hear or utter has its share of the general importance. To every particular sermon, which we hear or utter, we are to look for a saving efficacy. How should we watch unto prayer whilst making our preparation! how lift up our hearts whilst delivering the word! how renew our supplications when we have closed the book? How should we labour and strive, how should we believe and hope, desire and expect, that good may come."
After remarking, that it is not to every kind of proposition, much less to the mere moral disquisition, or to the assertion even of scriptural doctrine, in a tame and lifeless manner, that this energy belongs, Mr. Waughan proceeds to consider the best method of conducting the institution of preaching. Here, having laid down from various apostolic testimonies, that the subject-matter of it, must be “Christ Jesus the Lord,” he very justly describes the scriptural method of proceeding to be by laying the foundation in the natural sinfulness and misery of man, and building on this basis “ the unsearchable riches of Christ,” in his orson, character, offices, and work, e necessity of teaching the doctrine of Justification by faith only, as the gift of God through the operation of his Spirit, and that this spirit of faith, together with that of true repentance and obedience, must be sought by fervent prayer, by reading and meditation, by self-denial and watchfulness, is strongly incubcated, with reference to those who are not yet real Christians. Nor does he less insist on the duty of preaching Christ “ as the only source, the much needed, continually needed source of wisdom, strength, and joy,” to true believers. The necessity of obedience to the Divine precepts from regard to Christ, and of diligence, stedfastness, and vigilance, in their Christian course, is to be enforced on the same characters in the plainest and most forcible terms, at the same time that their present privileges and future hopes are fully set before them. The reasons which Mr. Vaughan assigns for the method of preaching thus recommended, are, first, the valedictory command of our Lord to his apostles, and consequently to all who derive authority from them, to preach “ the Gospel,” the “ good tidings of great joy,” which bring to us the knowledge of a Saviour— a command which binds them fully to unfold these truths, and to enforce them upon the understanding and the conscience;—secondly, the conformity of this method with the usage and practice of the apostles;— and, thirdly, its adaptation to the wants both of sinners and of believers. Such is the method of preaching recommended by the pious author of the sermons before us, which we agree with him in thinking calculated fully to accomplish the sublime
and gracious effects for which the institution itself was ordained. “The same thing,” he continues, “I will be bold enough to assert, cannot with truth be affirmed of any other method; of any method essentially different from this, in substance or in manner.” “I would, however,” says Mr. Vaughan, in a note upon the preceding passage, “ by no means be understood to assert, that the maintenance and declaration of every minute principle which I have stated is absolutely necessary to the faithful and useful discharge of our office. Ministers holding different sentiments, for example, ou the doc- . trines of election and final perseverance, may be counted equally faithful, and entertain similar expectations of success. Not so, if they should withhold a full and free statesment of the doctrines of man's entire guilt and depravity; of justification by faith only; and of the work of the Spirit in man's redemption.” We were particularly glad to observe this correct and candid declaration of the author, because, as even in the first of his sermons there are a few intelligible marks of his adoption of the doctrines usually, though improperly termed Calvinistic, that is, exclusively so, the want of such an admission, as we have just noticed, might have been a subject of complaint to many of his brethren who in essentials thoroughly agreed with his statement of Christian doctrine. In the second of his sermons, Mr. Vaughan has more explicitly avowed his sentiments on the controverted points in question; and we purposely reserve our remarks upon them for that fuller and plainer declaration. In the mean time, we recommend to all our clerical readers the conclusion of this excellent and useful discourse. * It is only by thus preaching Christ; it is only by making the peculiar and charaoteristic doctrines of the Gospel the main subjects of our discourses, and by commending them to every man's conscience in the sight of God; that we can hope to win, to keep, and to save souls. If we adopt a wholly
different outline, or omit main strokes of this; or if we trace this, but after an essentially different manner: we may avoid giving offence to any man; we may be admired as orators and scholars; we may be accounted wise, rational, candid, polite, conciliating: but shall the blessing of him that is ready to perish come upon us? shall Christ be magnified by our body? shall we pull down the kingdom of Satan? o “Brethren, I have not forgotten that I am now addressing myself to those, to whom the subject we have considered is peculiarly interesting and affecting. Preachers of the everlasting Gospel! is this your method of declaring it to your people? is it your habit thus to enforce its new-creating, sanctifying, enlivening truths, in all their fullness and variety, upon the understandings, affections, and consciences of men? “But there is a question yet prior to this, which I should deem myself unjustifiable in withholding, upon this solemn and pregnant occasion. Have we ‘seen' these principles
with our own eyes? are we verily “per
suaded’ of them? have we cordially embraced them? are we labouring to cherish, sustain, increase, and manifest their influence in our hearts and lives? are our spirit and conversation such as become the Gospel of Christ; yea, and the ministers of that Gospel? “ It is vain to expect that we should preach these truths in the manner I have described; and it were vain, if we should so preach them; unless we know them for our. selves: unless 'we having the same spirit of faith according as it is written, I believed and therefore have I spoken; we also believe and therefore speak:' unless we can say, ‘ I know whom I have believed;’ * now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." “Oh! let it be our first care to experience the vital energies of that Gospel, which is declared to be “the power of God unto salvation,' in our own souls. Then will it certainly be our second care, and not less our care, to declare it freely and faithfully to others; specially, to feed therewith that “flock of Christ, over which the Holy Ghost hath made us overseers.' We shall declare it, not arrogantly, fiercely, unfeelingly, but in teader love and compassion, as dying sinful inen to dying sinners: not in the spirit of self-seeking, but with a single eye to our Master's glory: not in the fear of man, but of God. “With the Bible in our heads and in our hearts; with warm and grateful remem
brance of our bleeding Saviour's love, who gave himself for us,’ and of the Father's love who sent him; waiting for the promise of the Spirit, as that which alone can make us effective workmen; and hastening unto the coming of that day of God, in which we shall be called to give an account of every sermon we have preached, of the truths we have declared, and of the truths which we have forborne to declare: we shall not be cold or careless preachers; we shall not be ostentatious, vain-glorious preachers; we shall not be unsuccessful preachers. The Lord shall own his word in the feebleness of the instrument: he shall cause it to be the “hammer which breaketh the rock in pieces; the thunder to alarm man's heart, the rain to “make it bring forth and bud; the mighty wind to shake; the consuming fire to purge; the bread to strengthen; the oil to gladden; the distilling dew to refresh his people.”
The second of these visitation sermons is on the words of our Saviour, Matt. ix. 38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers unto his harvest.” From this passage, after some introductory observations on the comparatively small number of real labourers in the Divine harvest, and the duty of prayer to its exalted Lord, that it may be abundantly enlarged, Mr. Waughan deduces, as the subject of his discourse, the two following general observations:— First, that “the office of a Christian minister is an office of labour;” and, secondly, “that the true and faithful minister is of the Lord.” The truth of the first of these observations is inferred from the names and titles (all of which imply, together with a degree of dignity, much laborious fidelity) by which the minister of Christ is characterized in Scripture; from considering the great end of the Christian ministry, which is no less than the salvation of men—and also from considering the means or instruments of such ministry. The view given by the preacher of the direct and indirect exercises and employments of the true Christian minister is peculiarly striking and elevated. We wish we could lay it entire before our readers; but we must content ourselves with an extract from that part of it which relates to the discharge of some of the most important ministerial functions, referring to the sermon itself for the indirect, but not less important and powerful, influence of the minister, by his spirit and conduct.
*** We are to do the work of an Evangelist?—to make full proof of our ministry;' — fully to preach the Gospel of Christ.’ What! in our own strength? God forbid! But not without our own labour. We look, indeed, for the promise of the Spirit; for his illuminating influences upon the understanding, as well as for his sanctifying energies in the heart. But we expect these influences in the application of patient labour. Before we presume to pass the threshold of the tabernacle, we submit our minds to the discipline of education. When we have made some attainments in theological knowledge, and have been “counted faithful, and “put into the inimistry, by those appointed to judge in these things; we preach, but it is with care and thought. We seek the enlargement of our capacities daily, by study and observation: not disdaining either the researches of the learned, or the improving conversation of wise and pious friends. Much caution indeed is necessary in the selection of our society: and much caution in the selection of our books for study, We must beware of literary trifling; and we must beware of theological trifling. ‘They have cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have fallen by them.’
“Our love of literature must be very sparingly indulged, when once we have entered into the ministry. It must be our recreation, not our labour: and some regard must be had to our peculiar cast of mind, in setting bounds to it. To some it will be necessary that they in pose very painful restraints upon themselves: but let them remember, they have higher objects.
“In our theological reading it will be necessary that we frequently ask the question, What end am I proposing to myself by such and such a course of study ? what good am I looking for, as likely to result from it, either to my own soul or to the souls of others 2
* Still, if we would preach, we must make reading and meditation our handmaids, whilst faith and prayer are as our rod and staff. . Especially, and above all other books, we must study the Bible; making ourselves fully acquainted both with its general outline and with all its parts. We are to remember always, that to this book of
Christ. Observ. No. 124.
God, and not to the writings of uninspired men, whether of ancient or modern times, our main application for instruction, and our last appeal for the confirmation of truth, must invariably he made. Let antiquity and authority, the traditions of age and the laboured reasonings of philosophical minds, have their weight, but no more than their just weight. What God spake by his Spirit to his Prophets and Apostles; as unfolded to us by the patient study of his word, under the implored and awaited guidance of the Spirit which dictated it: this is truth to us; this is that which we must embrace, ponder, digest, show forth to our people, as such. “We must also study and examine our own hearts; tracing there the original of that unsightly picture which is so fully pourtrayed in the Scriptures. We must also live with open eyes, with open ears, with opened understanding, heart, and conscience; so as to obtain a deep insight into the true character and state of man universally, and into the true character and state of our own people in particular. Thus, and thus alone, can we hope to become ' workmen which need not to be aslanued, rightly dividing the word of truth." “Now when we shall have added to this statement the labour of each particular sermon: the anxiety we must feel in the choice of our subjects, lest we should omit • to declare,” in its place and season, “all." and every part of “the counsel of God;’ the anxiety we must feel in the choice of materials for the setting forth of our subject, lest we should omit what is important, or introduce what is superfluous; the due control of our feelings in delivering it; the prayer, watchfulness, and earnestness, which are to precede; and the prayer, watch sulness, and earncstness, which are to follow us from the pulpit: we shall have made it sufficiently plain, that even the preaching of the word, which forms but one out of many arduous and important duties, is of itself sufficient to constitute the Christian uninistry an office of labour. “The same observations are applicable, in different degrees, to our other ministerial exercises; each of which requires its portion of time and strength in the actual performance, and most of them in preparation also. I cannot forbear naming our office of visiting the sick: a duty of great moment and of singular usefulness, but which requires much time, much knowledge, much skill, labour, and self-denial in performing it, as well as much previous exercise of mind in thought and prayer.” pp. 65–70. *
“Who then is sufficient for these 2 H
things?” To this question Mr. Waughan replies, by his second general observation, that “ the true and faithful minister is of the Lord.” He makes them willing, and makes them able. Study, and discipline, and self-culture are necessary; but “ the scribe” fully “instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven, is, also, enlightened from above.” The great Lord of the harvest, having shewn them that they must look simply to him for clear perceptions of truth, by a process more or less fool, by a greater or less degree of human intervention, unfolds to them the ample scheme of Revelation, that they may feed on this bread of life in their own souls, and break it in its due proportions to others. Thus, He displays to them the great “mystery of godliness;” the fall and ruin of man; the complete salvation which is in Christ; justification by faith only; regeneration; and sanctification by the Holy Spirit of God. Here, we doubt not, many of Mr. Vaughan's hearers, as well as readers, would have wished that he had stopped—and, as a matter of mere taste and judgment, exclusive of every other consideration, we should be inclined to be of their number. But the pious preacher seems to have felt it to be a point of duty and conscience to proceed as follows:
“All this He shows them : less than this He cannot show, to make the perfect scribe.
“But is this all He shows them? I would speak with candour, with moderation, with great respect and tenderness towards those who may differ from me. But I think He will show them something more. Not at once; it may be not till after the labour and pursuit of years; but at length. He is generally pleased to show them something more explicit, more animating, more humbling, yet more consolatory, respecting the evertasting origiu, redundant provisions, and indelible effects of the covenant of grace. He shows them, that the “heirs of promise' were loved of God, chosen out from their brethren, and ordained to everlasting life, before the foundations of the world were laid: that * they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's Purpose by his Spirit working in due season;
they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made the sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works, and at length by God's mercy they attain te everlasting felicity.” He shows them that this doctrine, soberly and judiciously administered, is so far from being inimical to godliness as to be its main-spring and support; is so far from hanging down the bands, that it lists them up; is so far from closing our mouths in persuasion, that it opens them more widely; is so far from kindling pride. that it generates the deepest humility; is so far from nurturing despondency, as to be the very joy and strength both of those who with understanding hear, and of those who with understanding declare it.
“I would speak with firmness here, as well as with forbearance. The Christian doctrine of Election is a practical experimental doctrine: “a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” Our Church, as we have seen, embraces and declares it. We beheld it written as with a sun-beam in the divine word. What if some of our brethren whom we affectionately love and esteem have not received this saying? They may receive it still. Many who had for years opposed, have died rejoicing in it. Many at this hour are preaching that very article of our faith, which, above all others, they once laboured to destroy. However this be, whilst we cordially give the right hand of fellowship to every sincere laborious brother. “who holdeth the Head; we must remember that “to our own Master we stand or fall.'" pp. 78–81.
It was with a view to the preceding passage, that we reserved a few observations on the points of doctrine to which it refers, and which are less plainly declared in the first of these discourses. Now, admitting, as we have seen that Mr. Vaughan does in the most explicit and candid manner, that a minister of the Gospel may both faithfully and usefully discharge his office, without holding or declaring the views which he himself adopts on the doctrines of election and final perseverance, we cannot but express our regret, that he should have thought it necessary to add the passage which is the subject of these remarks, and that for two reasons.