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Unfaithfulness in the work of the ministry may proceed from the intention of accommodating religious instruction to the prevailing vices of an audience; when therefore it is the principal object in the preacher's view, to please his hearers, by affording them entertainment suited to their vicious state, he becomes a man pleaser, which is the highest unfaithfulness in the ministerial office. If the preacher aim to impress his hearers with a sense of his own greatness, or by sonorous expressions and fine turned periods, to tickle their ears, he sinks below the dignity of a faithful ambassador of Christ, and loses sight of the object which ought to oceupy his mind in every sentence which he utters.
If he calculates his instruction, mainly and chiefly to secure his own fame, or if he condescends to accommodate his doctrine to the pride and irreligious practice of his hearers, he is surely guilty of unfaithfulness in the ministry.
The same charge lies against the preacher for delivering the truth, and then furnishing sinners with an excuse for not complying with it. Whoever first states the sinner's duty and obligations to the Deity, and then releases him from all that is binding upon him, completely withdraws all that he advances, and acts an unfaithful part to his fellow men. It is also unfaithfulness in a preacher to present to his hearers, something for divine truth, which might as well be collected from any other book as the bible. There is a fashionable mode of preaching in modern times, which places heathen and christian morality upon a level. This is saying good things with no special regard to divine revelation. Such preachers may be popular declaimers, but they forfeit the character of being faithful ministers of Christ.
The preacher who takes particular care to tell his hearers that it is immaterial what a man believes, provided his external conduct be virtuous and good, only exerts his influence to make them infidels. For christian piety and morality rest wholly upon a cordial belief in the doctrines of the gospel.
Moreover, unfaithfulness in the ministerial office, is found among preachers, who furnish their hearers with instruction, which leaves them in a perishing state; a mode of preaching which directs sinners to religious performances without parting with their sins.Whoever gives his audience to understand that by doing certain actions in a state of impenitency, they will secure their salvation, deals unfaithfully with them. When people are frequently told their duty, without being told what the motives are, which ought to influence them in performing their duty, they are misguided and treated with unfaithfulness. The bible requires no action to be done with a wicked heart, and if the preacher give sinners such directions, as make them believe, they can be saved, in sin, he is unfaithful.
An indiscriminate mode of preaching is certain evidence of deficiency in ministerial fidelity. When the preacher hides behind his own words, and does not communicate distinguishing ideas, he wastes his time in unfaithfulness. Plain, faithful instruction will
present truth in a manner which will render the preacher conspicu ous in every sentence he delivers. But when a man, in his public ministry, leaves his audience in doubt whether one thing or another be intended, he certainly acts the part of an unfaithful messenger.
All preachers of the gospel ought to understand the nature of revealed truth, and present it to their hearers, as the bible presents it. It is of infinite moment to gospel preachers to behave themselves as faithful ministers of the new testament.
It cannot be improper or unreasonable, to inquire of the younger brethren in the ministry, especially, whether they are acting as faithful ambassadors of Christ? Are you exhibiting the moral charof the Deity in the same light in which it is revealed in the holy scriptures? Do you lead your people to consider, that nothing avails them but a practical conformity to the rules of God's word? Do you frequently display to your hearers the reasons of the great controversy between God and sinners; that it arises from disaffection to the holiness of God; that sinners are strongly inclined to choose a god who is friendly to their lusts? And have you been assisting them in removing the offensive part of the bible? Has it been your object to make your people sensible, that the doctrines of divine grace were agreeable to unholy hearts? And have you taken particular care to preach against the doctrines of divine sovereignty, decrees and election? Have you been making it appear to carnal men that you were as much opposed to these doctrines as they are? And have you been attempting to render gospel truth palatable to the vicious and ungodly, without any change in their temper of mind? And do you think that in this manner of treating things you have been a faithful witness for God? In preaching smooth things, you have made it easy hearing. Are you right in so doing? Your office binds you to declare to sinners all the main doctrines of godliness, and particularly to insist that the only reason, why sinners cannot repent and obey the gospel is their being obstinately averse from a reconciliation to God. Neither can you satisfy your own conscience, unless you urge the absolute necessity of a moral change in the sinner, to prepare him for glory. HONESTUS.
From the Christian Mirror.
It has been often asserted, that man is passive in regeneration. What is the idea intended to be communicated? Is it that the sinner is acted upon by a divine influence in this moral change? No Calvinist will deny this truth. But is it properly expressed by the term passive? In any case where we are active it is improper to
say we are passive, though we are inclined to action by foreign influenee. In the commencement of holiness man is active, as much so as in his after holiness; and it is an abuse of language to say, that he is both passive and active in the same operation. Are not saints acted upon by divine agency in sanctification? But are they therefore passive in progressing in holiness? If, as many believe and as seems evident from the reason and nature of things, creatures cannot act independently of divine influence, men on this account are no more passive in their first holy act than in all their moral actions.
Does the term as used on this subject imply, that there is no cause in the sinner of his first holy exercise? Then in this sense men are passive in all their exercises; for they are not the causes of them. They are agents, they act, but they do not produce action by previous action.
Many who suppose men are passive in the commencement of holiness, believe, that there is a depraved nature, principle, or constitution of soul, totally distinct from affection or exercise of human agency; and that regeneration consists in the change of their nature from sin to holiness. Now if there be such a depraved natural principle or constitution of soul, it must be admitted, that man is altogether passive in its change, as much so as he would be in the creation of a new faculty, or the immediate recovery from sickness to health. The beginning of holiness, consisting in the change of his nature, would be no act of his, no exercise of his agency. would be a mere recipient, a patient altogether acted upon. this theory of a sinful nature distinct from all voluntary affection or exercise is a mere hypothesis unsupported by a particle of evidence from reason, facts, or Scripture; it is a figment of the imagination. The supposition that all virtue and vice radically consist in the nature, or constitution of the soul, and not in voluntary exercise, is repugnant to common sense. We never consider men, either virtuous or vicious, praise or blameworthy for dormant inactive constitutions of nature; but for their voluntary affections, exercises and actions. A change of their nature would be a physical change, wholly excluding virtue and vice, praise or blame.
Regeneration is the beginning of holiness, of benevolent love, in man, and this is as really his act, as any of his exercises whatever. The Spirit of God in causing him to exercise holy love does not suspend or interrupt his agency, but only gives it a right direction. Divine influence in this case induces him to be active in the right way, and not passive. There is no conceivable moment in which the sinner neither hates nor loves God, neither exercises sinful nor benevolent affection; and therefore there is no moment in which he is passive in all the processes of conviction and conversion.
To teach men they are passive in their return from sin to holiness encourages them to continue in sin, under a pretence of natural inability and of waiting God's time to act upon them. It tends to make them feel excusable for living in an unconverted unholy state,
and to quiet their consciences in spiritual slumber. Every truth respecting regeneration can be taught them in plain perspicuous language, without using the ambiguous term, passive. From this most interesting subject, then, is it not desirable this term should be banPHILALETHES.
From the Philanthropist.
NOT GOOD TO DRINK TOO MUCH.
Who ever saw a drunkard, that was not friend enough to temperance, to say that "no man ought to drink too much?" We must confess, that we have never seen such an one. But we have seen many, who were the professed friends of temperance, and who, no doubt, were in the habit of drinking, but temperately, that go no further in expressing their disapprobation of the use of ardent spirits, than the drunkard. Should any of these friends of temperance, or otherwise temperate drinking, become drunkards, and it is almost certain that some of them will, how much will their opinions and language on the subject of drinking, be changed from what they now are? None at all; for there is now no difference. The drunkard and these entertain the same views, and speak the same language, and only carry the drunkard back a few years, and it will be seen, that his practices were the same then, that theirs are now. All the difference, then, between the friends and advocates of temperate drinking, and drunkards, is that the latter are a little in advance of the former, in the practical part of their system. The barrier, which separates the temperate drinker from the condition of the drunkard, is a slender one, it is easily broken through, and why do they not tremble at the thought, that they are continually exposed to this worst of evils? Ah! The reason is plain. They are under the influence of a "strong delusion." In exact proportion to the advanced stage of the habit, they are incapable of judging of their own state. Long before a man suspects he has even taken one step towards the habits of the drunkard, it is known by his friends, that he is far gone in the road to ruin, How often has the fond relative, perhaps a parent, perhaps a wife, witnessed with indiscribable pain, the sure indications of departing reason; but from a false regard for the feelings of their friend, have withheld the needful warning, till all was lost. Now we need not possess the spirit of prophesy, to say, and that too, with unwavering confidence, that many of those, who now cherish the views, and speak the language of drunkards, will, hereafter, either find themselves sustaining the character, and suffering the miseries and degradation of the drunkard, or witness it, as a consequence of their own errors, in some of their relatives. If there be any middle road between the
one, which leads most directly to drunkenness, and that pursued by those, who practise total abstinence, we know not where it is, and would thank any one to point it out to us. The fact is, there is no such road. And this accounts for the similarity of views and language between those, who advocate temperate drinking, and those, who are confirmed in intemperance. They are all in the same road, but some having set out before others, or travelled with greater rapidity, have advanced farther towards their destination, than their fellows. We know that this is a hard saying, but it is so true, and so necessary, that we cannot forbear. Gladly would we admit the distinction, so much contended for between the case of the temperate drinker and the drunkard, did we not know it was imaginary, and were we not so fully convinced, that it is this admission, more than any other, which leads to confirmed drunkenness. But we must deal faithfully with men, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. The present is no time for "daubing with untempered mortar." We dare not be guilty of crying "peace, peace, when there is no peace." Though, many, very many, of those who have long practised temperate drinking, are awakened as it were from a profound sleep, yet the number, who still sleep on, constitute by far the greatest portion of the community. Shall we fear to disturb the deadly slumbers of those, who are "lying on the top of a mast," or who have made their bed among the rocks on the sea shore,where the waves are foaming and dashing around them? Shall we forbear to speak out plain truth, because interest, and prejudice, and every vile appetite, will be arrayed against us? Humanity and every benevolent and kind principle of our nature forbid it.-o.
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