Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

been maintained, that if Jesus Christ be the proper Son of God, then he must possess the same nature and perfections as the Father, and, therefore, he is truly and properly God, equal with the Father. It seems to me, however, that this position involves many inextricable difficulties. It involves the absurdity that one God has generated another God, or that God generated himself, and, consequently, acted before he existed, and yet, at the same time, was self-existent. The position also affirms that there is no difference between a selfexistent, unoriginated, independent, and eternal being, and one who is begotten, derived, and dependent. The Father is a self-existent, independent, and unoriginated being, but the Son is a begotten, derived, and, consequently, a dependent being; therefore they, in some respects, must necessarily differ; and whosoever, in any respects, differs from God, cannot be God. As the Son of God, in some respects, differs from God, therefore he cannot be God.

To maintain that God is self-existent, and at the same time begotten; eternal, and at the same time born ; unoriginated, and at the same time derived, would be undeifying the Deity, and representing him to be the most changeable being in the universe.

We have already explained the sense in which we understand Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. He is the Son of God by deriving his existence from God, the Father, without the intervention of any ministering agent, or means of that derivation. And this is not true with reference to any other being whatever, for all other beings derived their existence from God by the Son as a ministering agent. According to this view of the subject, the supreme and underived majesty of God, the Father, remains unimpaired, and, at the same time, the glory of the Son remains equally unobscured.

ARTICLE VII.

An Address to the Ministers of the Christian Connexion. “No professors of the genuine gospel,” says the pious Booth, in his Pastoral Cautions, “have more need to be on their guard against self-deception, respecting the state of religion in their own souls, than those who statedly dispense the gracious word of truth. For as it is their calling, and their business, frequently to read their Bibles, and to think much on spiritual things, to pray, and preach, and often to converse about the affairs of piety, they will, if not habitually cautious, do it all ex officio, or merely as the work of their ministerial calling, without feeling their own interest in it.” If these sentiments are correct, if such is the tendency of the exercise of the ministerial office, we should not only do well to guard

[ocr errors]

and fortify our minds against it, but also use all the means in our power to stir up each other's minds to a greater degree of engagedness in the important work of saving souls. Indeed, this should be one of the great objects of our coming together in our yearly and quarterly conferences. It has been too much, and too often neglected. And would to God that, on the present occasion, one stood before you more capable of imparting instruction, of kindling a brighter flame of devotion, and of exciting a more intense and ardent desire for the salvation of perishing sinners. To accomplish this object shall be the aim of this address.

When the Romans heard Cicero, says Fenelon, they cried out, "O, what a fine orator !" But when the Athenians heard Demosthenes, they called out, “Come on; down with Philip !" If I can excite within you, my brethren, that determination to attack the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to overthrow the dominion of sin in the hearts of men, which Demosthenes excited in the breasts of his fellow-citizens to oppose the invaders of his country, I shall have gained my object in this address. And, indeed, these should be the kindling desires, the ardent aspirations, of all our hearts. To awaken these emotions in our souls, permit me to call your attention to a few important considerations. And,

I. A minister of the gospel should be deeply impressed with the importance and responsibility of the station he occupies. This state of feeling should be constant and abiding, in his study, in his closet, in his parochial visits, and in the pulpit. And except these be the all-absorbing feelings of the soul, no man will be likely to discharge the functions of the ministerial office, with either pleasure to himself, or profit to his people. It is to be feared that many young men enter the ministerial office, and take upon themselves the vows of God, without due consideration, that they are influenced by other motives than the love of souls and the glory of God. But such men seldom fail to dishonor their calling, and uniformly prove a curse to the people. When a man enters into the ministerial office under proper influences, he will be led to consecrate himself wholly to God-he will employ all his talents and all his learning to promote the welfare of souls, and to advance the cause of the Redeemer. When the celebrated George Herbert informed a court friend of his resolution to enter into sacred orders, he endeavored to dissuade him from it, as too mean an employment, and too much below his birth, and the excellent abilities and endowments of his mind. To whom he replied: “It hath been formerly, judged that the domestic servants of the King of heaven should be of the noblest families of the earth ; and though the iniquity of the late times have made clergymen meanly valued, and the sacred name of priest contemptible, yet I will labor to make it honorable, by consecrating all my learning, and all my poor abilities, to advance the glory of that God who gave them, knowing that I can never do too much for him, that has done so much for me, as to make me a Christian.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

And I will labor to be like my Saviour, by making humility lovely in the eyes of all men, and by following the merciful and meek example of my dear Jesus.” What a noble determination—an example worthy the determination of an angel.

Our office, my brethren, is no ordinary one. We are ambassadors from the King of kings and Lord of lords, to a revolted world. Never had men committed to them an embassy of so deep, so important, and so everlasting moment. No work ever undertaken by mortals was so solemn, or connected with such amazing consequences. Among all the thousands to whom we preach, not one but will take an impression from us that will never wear out. The fate of millions, through succeeding generations, depends on our faithfulness. Heaven and hell will for ever ring with recited memorials of our ministry. And 0, our own responsibility! There is for us no middle destiny. Our stake is for a high throne of glory, or for a deeper hell; for, to say nothing of the souls committed to our care, our work leads to the altar. Our home is by the side of the Shechinah. We have daily to go where Nadab and Abihu went, and to transact with him who darted his lightning upon them. It is a solemn thing to stand so near that holy Lord God. Let us beware how, by unhallowed fervor, we bring false fire before the Lord. Let us not fail to devote to our work our best powers, an unceasing application, consecrated by unremitting prayer. Anything but a careless preparation for the pulpit, and a sleepy performance in it. Forget your father, forget your mother, but forget not this infinite work of God.

Soon we shall appear with our respective charges before the judgment-seat of Christ. What a scene will then open between a pastor and his flock; when all his official conduct towards them shall be scrutinized, and all their treatment of him and his gospel shall be laid open; when it shall appear that an omniscient eye tollowed him into his study every time he sat down to meditate, to read, or to write, and traced every line upon his paper, and every motion of his heart; and followed him into the pulpit, and watched every kindling desire, every drowsy feeling, every wandering thought, every reach after fame. Ah! my dear brethren, when you hear on the right hand the song of bursting praise that you ever had existence, and on the left behold a company of wretched spirits sending forth their loud lamentations that you had not warned them with a stronger voice, will you not regret that all your sermons were not more impassioned, and all your prayers more agonizing? But what is that I see! A horrid shape, more deeply scarred with thunder than the rest, around which a thousand dreadful beings, with furious eyes and threatening gestures, are venting their raging curses. It is a wicked pastor, who went down to hell with most of his congregation ; and these around him are the wretched beings he decoyed to death. My soul turns away, and cries, Give me poverty, give me the curses of a wicked world,

1

give me the martyr's stake; but O, my God, save me from unfaithfulness to thee and the souls of men!

When a minister feels the importance of his station, his reflections, on his way to the sanctuary, will run thus: “I am now going to the sanctuary-going to meet God-going to engage in his

worship-going to preach his word; that word by which myself and all my hearers must be finally judged. I shall soon be surrounded by a number of beings, whose existence is never to terminate ; but who, after millions of millions of ages, will be still immortal. Every man, woman, and child among them, will dwell in everlasting misery or endless joy. As soon as they have passed the bounds of this life, they must rise to the companionship of the highest order of beings, or sink to the doom of the lowest.

“ Providence has appointed me to declare to them the misery of their condition as sinners, and to direct them to that blessed way which infinite mercy has opened for their restoration and happiness. I am to represent to them the character of a Saviour, who is waiting to be gracious. I am to show them the utter impossibility of their being saved by any other means. I am to watch for their souls; to labor, that I may be instrumental in their everlasting welfare ; and when I have finished the short period allotted to me on earth, I am to appear before the tribunal of my Creator, to give in my account—to say how I have used, and how I have improved my talents—what exertions I have made in the office I sustain, and what effects have resulted from them. What responsibility attaches itself to my situation! If I am not faithful, how shall I appear at that solemn season? If I am ashamed of the faces of men, I shall be confounded before them; and, what is still more awful, shall be punished with the divine displeasure, and with misery in my soul.

“ The condition of my hearers may be various. Some will need comfort and encouragement; some may have backslidden, and will require admonition to return; some may be less attached than they should be, to rules of moral obligation; some may be questioning the evidences of Christianity; some may be discouraged with doubts and fears; some may be much exposed to the agency and artifice of the devil; and some may have their hearts and affections in heaven, and be waiting for fresh discoveries of the love of Christ to their souls. To all these I must administer a portion in due season.

“Some, perhaps, will be wishing for doctrinal, some for practical, and others for experimental discourses. If I am very practical, many may think I am legal; if I am general in my invitations, some may be weak enough to imagine that I set aside the necessity of the influence of the spirit: many may differ widely from me in their views of the gospel. But if these things move me, or make any alteration in my public addresses, I am not a faithful servant of Christ: I shall be guided by the opinions of men. It will be as if they weighed more with me than the Bible. I shall expose myself

to the censure of my conscience, and to the curse of God. I will, therefore, endeavor to follow the directions of the highest authority. Whatever may be the result, I will strive to be faithful to my views and to truth, and leave the event with God. I will exert myself to the utmost of my power, to turn sinners from darkness to light. I know that the co-operation of divine influence is necessary to make my exertions effectual; but I recollect that all means are to be employed, while the effect rests upon the sanctions of heaven."

Such are the reflections of a faithful pastor; and such, my brethren, have been our reflections when our minds have been deeply imbued with the spirit of piety, and when we have realized the responsibility that rested upon us as ministers of the everlasting gospel.

II. Ministers should make preparation for the pulpit. All must agree that some preparation is necessary; but as to the kind and degree of preparation, there is a great diversity of opinions among able and faithful ministers of the gospel. Perhaps different methods of preparation may be adopted with success, by ministers of different powers and acquirements. Much, very much, depends upon the course adopted in early life, and pursued through a series of years. When our habits are formed, in this as in other respects, it is difficult to change them. An aged and faithful minister, after trying various methods, and acquiring much experience on this subject, expresses himself thus: “In my public discourses, I feel more of the unction of the Holy Spirit, and have a more single eye to the glory of God. I am led to study my own heart, my own experience; to depend more on the teachings of the Spirit ; and I believe my preaching is rendered more edifying. I now seldom Write a sermon: in general, I think as much as possible on the text andthe context, arrange the order of the subject and ideas well, dwell upon the truths till I am properly affected with them, and, ascending the pulpit in the spirit of prayer, I speak to the people out of the abundance of my heart. I have found this way of preaching most profitable to myself and them. When one understands a subject, and is interested in it, we are at no loss for words, if we wish to deliver our sentiments upon it. To get a sermon by heart, and speak it verbatim, is, I believe, destructive of all genuine eloquence. "To be eloquent, the heart must be fired with passion or sentiment; and how can this be the case, when the speaker's attention is tied and bound, as it were, to what he has committed to memory? This power of the mind alone is engaged, while the noblest faculties of the soul are excluded from all participation of the subject, however important or interesting; it is delivered without animation : a dull and tiresome uniformity of sound supplies the place of that pleasing variety of tone and emphasis, cadence, and expression, which give life and energy to discourse."

One thing should never be forgotten or neglected, in preparing for the pulpit; and that is, humble and devout prayer to Almighty

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »