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pious and well informed, can feel nothing but grief and disappointment, when compelled to hear such empty, and often disgusting rant, under the name of preaching Christ and him crucified. It is wonderful how minds impressed, and subdued, and humbled with the gospel, can trifle in this manner; trifle, too, in the presence of God, and with the salvation of immortal souls. There are others, whose preaching is good sense and evangelical sentiments; but there is such a profusion of shining ornaments as to suggest, in the mind of the hearers, the idea of art employed for the sake of these ornaments. The gospel, indeed, is preached; but the hearers will find it difficult to banish the thought, that it is partly, if not chiefly, for the sake of an opportunity of presenting these elegancies of style; that the gospel is used merely as the canvass on which these splendid figures are to be drawn and exhibited. These embellishments are so numerous as to give character to the sermon; and it is called beautiful, elegant, and by some even eloquent. Multitudes, who reject the gospel, will be highly pleased with these decorations; this pleasure may be mistaken for religious feeling, and thus contribute to their self-delusion and their final perdition. If the truly humble and pious will draw aside this drapery, will remove this painting, they may find the gospel which will cheer the heart. If this drapery has to be drawn aside, then, is it not a hinderance to the gospel? to say the least, is it not useless!
We can think of nothing better for those ministers of the cross who
may be inclined to pursue this manner, than for them to sit at the feet of Jesus, and hear his words. He too was a preacher of the gospel, and as such has left an example worthy of the closest imitation. He knew perfectly the mind of man, and in what dress to present the truth, so as to render it most efficient. His style is simple and perspicuous, and yet dignified; full, and yet not redundant; brief and comprehensive, and yet not obscure. He employs a variety of figures; but they are like so many suns, shedding light on the truth which he taught. Not a word, not a phrase, not a trope is used merely for the sake of ornament. Every sentence is well adapted to answer the purpose of the speaker; and for this reason he is truly eloquent. In proof of this, the tears of the humble penitent, the bitter opposition of his enemies, may be adduced.
The truth may be obscured by the method of reasoning sometimes employed. The reasoning is perfectly correct, and the conclusion irresistible; but on account of its length it is too abstruse, and requires too much mental effort, to be easily comprehended. It, therefore, fails to enlighten the mind, or approve itself to the conscience. Preaching, indeed, requires reasoning, close and powerful reasoning; but such only should be employed as wilt render the truth more intelligible, of course, more forcible than it would otherwise be. Let it be powerful as the light
ning's stroke, but clear as the sunbeam. Such was the reasoning employed by our Saviour;-short, clear, and conclusive.
II. But the spirit with which the truth is delivered is of essential importance to give it its full effect on the conscience; and this is the spirit of love; of love unfeigned. No style, no manner will commend the truth or the preacher to every man's conscience, without love; sincere, ardent, constraining love; love which manifests itself by its own appropriate effects; love to God, to the Saviour, and to men. Nothing can supply the place of this holy ardor of soul. The style may be elegant, the manner may be graceful, genius and learning may exhaust their stores; but without love, all will be cold and lifeless; without it, there can be no genuine pulpit eloquence. Nothing else will bear the Christian minister through honor and dishonor, through evil report and good report, through all the nameless toils and anxieties and sacrifices of his office.
The voice of inspiration has clearly decided, that if we love God, it will lead us to obey his will. He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. If a man love me, he will keep my sayings. This is the love of God that we keep his commandments. We have decided, beloved brethren in the ministry, after much inquiry, much deliberation and prayer, that it was the will of God concerning us, that we should preach the gospel. This decision has been affirmed by those who were in the ministry before us, by the laying on of their hands. This is true of all whom the Head of the church has called to the sacred office.
We see, then, that this love will give a direction, different from that of other Christians, to the inquiries and labors of a minister. Both have to work out their own salvation; but in addition to this, the minister is bound, by preaching the gospel and administering its ordinances, to use his utmost efforts to secure the salvation of others. This is the will of God: which is peculiar to him, which love unfeigned will lead him to obey. Hence, his first inquiry will be that of Paul;—Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? What must I do, and what must I suffer to promote the salvation of perishing sinners! Love unfeigned will lead him to pursue this inquiry till he is fully satisfied; for it is not a blind instinct that urges him on to a course of action for which he can assign no reason; it is the holy fervor of an intelligent mind, under the influence of motives, acting with design, having a specific object to accomplish. It is not enough that he be actively employed; he must be satisfied that his efforts will meet the approbation of God; of course, that they are according to his will. With this view he will turn his attention to all those sources from whence information can be obtained. With deep interest he will consider the example of Christ, who taught as never man taught. How did he comfort and cheer the humble, the weeping penitent; how . did he direct the anxious inquirer, instruct the ignorant, and
give warning and reproof to the hardened and impenitent; how did he invite to the fountain of mercy; how did he pass
sentence on those who proved incorrigible! How did he feel and how did he act when the air was rent with hosannas to the son of David; and how, when the same air resounded with the cry of crucify him? To every Christian the information derived from this source will be liighly useful; to the minister of the gospel it will be of more value than half the wealth of the globe. It flows directly from the fountain of truth, from the Head of the church, from the Apostle and high priest of our profession. For the same purpose he will turn to the example of Paul, of whose ministry more is given than of any of the other apostles. If the perfect purity and wisdom of the Saviour should be supposed to place his example above the attainment of men, here is the example of one subject to like passions with himself, who has, by nature, the same wicked and deceitful heart, depending on the same mercy, influenced by the same motives, invested with the same office, accountable to the same Judge with himself. Two lessons, parti, cularly useful, may be learned from this example; first, the use that ought to be made of learning and talents, both of which Paul possessed in no common degree. He could have used the words which man's wisdom teacheth; have discussed the philosophical speculations of that age; have employed the eloquence then so much admired; and thus have gained the unhallowed applause of men. But he determined to know nothing, and to preach nothing but Christ and him crucified. It might be foolishness to the Greek; but on this course he staked his reputation as a man of learning and talents. The only use, then, which he made of his acquirements and abilities was, to explain the gospel and render it intelligible to the weakest capacity; to bring the truth to bear fully and powerfully on the conscience and the life. Such is the use which all, who are willing to learn from this example, will make of their learning and their talents. The second lesson is; a wise and careful adaptation of the truth to the character and condition
He reasoned with the Jews out of the scriptures, which they professed to believe; and with the Pharisees and Sadducees, according to the peculiar opinions of these two sects, into which the Jews were divided. When he addresses the great mass of the gentiles, who were devoted to the senseless rites of idolatry, he labors to convince them that the objects of their worship were dumb idols, without wisdom or power to help them; that they were the workmanship of men's hands, of course, no gods. When he meets the philosophers in Mars-hill, his address is different from both the former instances: he reasons with them from the altars at which they performed their devotion, and from their own poets. In this sense he became all things to all men, that he might, by all means, save some. He knew that the truth would not be received unless it was understood; and that it would most proba
bly be understood, if derived from principles acknowledged by cent:
those to whom it was presented. sentence
The minister of the gospel, at this day, who would make full how did of Datit proof of his ministry, must imitate this example; he must try all
means in his power. There is the same necessity now, as in the Ecrucis
days of the Apostle, for rightly dividing the word of truth, and From this
giving each his portion. It will not excuse him to say, that he el it will will preach the truth, regardless of the prejudices
, the errors and the ignorance of men. His object is to save them from this state
of mind by the most judicious exhibitions of truth which he can Che same
employ. He is to deal with men as he finds them, not as they ought to be. Besides, it is not the sacrifice of truth, but the skilful
adaptation of it to the minds of men, as they are, that is required. to place Paul, though made all things to all men, yet did not sacrifice a mple particle of truth; he was under the law to Christ. Whether he ure, lis preached to the Jew or the Greek, his object and his prayer to mercy God was always the same, that they might be saved. That ice, as preacher of the gospel, therefore, who desires to be useful, will pari be amply rewarded for the most persevering attention he can the pas pay to this instructive example, ch Pau We most earnestly insist, that supreme and ardent love to God
and the Saviour will lead the zealous herald of the cross to pur
sue this course. His first desire will be, to please God. He will hen so be deeply convinced that without the divine blessing, his ministry nuse o' will not be useful; and that this blessing need not be expected, othing unless his labors are according to the will of God. He can learn Greek this will, only from the precepts and examples, contained in the arning holy scriptures, relating to the ministry. He will, therefore, quire search the scriptures; for love rejoiceth in the truth. If there is one
inte manner of delivering the truth, better calculated than another, to e fully render it successful, he will endeavor to make that his own. He he use will not be as one who beateth the air; his efforts will be directed make to a specific object. He will endeavor to render his short and wise uncertain ministry as useful as possible. dition This unfeigned love to God will coexist with sincere love to hich all men, and, of course will lead the faithful minister to desire and cees labor 10 promote their salvation. It will exert a most happy inhich fluence on his own mind, sustaining him under those trials and ss of preserving him from the danger of those temptations, which are atry peculiar to his office. He may be tempted to spare the rich and vere those who are esteemed great in this world, supposing their inthes fluence and their approbation too valuable to be lost; and may Then fear that this would be the result of faithful and honest reproof. rent But if he loves their souls, this love will not permit-him to consult the with flesh and blood; it will overcome his timidity and give him own boldness in the discharge of his duty. His fidelity may commend ght
, itself to their conscience, though it wounds their pride. If by this be fidelity he should incur their displeasure, he will secure the approha bation of God, and of his own conscience. He may be tempted
to neglect the poor. But if he loves their souls, this love will
Every one who labors faithfully in the ministry will meet with
Even in the pulpit, a variety of events may try the spirit of the preacher. Some wantonly and shamelessly intrude themselves after the worship has commenced, and disturb the devotion of the whole assembly. Some, by their idle and indecent gazing, tell him plainly that not a word is understood or regarded. Some give decent attention from year to year, but remain unmoved as the rock. Some turn their pews into couches, and doze when they ought to pray. To resist these trials is not so easy as some, who are unacquainted with them, may suppose. He is but an earthen vessel, to whom the gospel is committed in trust. Some degree of impatience and irritation may be excited; and if the occasion, in his opinion, justifies reproof, this may be given with an asperity of temper and of language which cannot be concealed. This exhibition of unholy displeasure will operate differently on different classes of hearers. By some it will be turned into reproach; by others, into an excuse for their neglect; while the pious