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the whole counsel of God, without concealing or disguising any part of it. This is a branch of a minister's duty, of the utmost importance; and much judgment and experience are requisite to conduct it with propriety. A minister ought not to preach his own fancies or sentiments, nor present the people with novel schemes, curious plans, or specious theories, to gratify his own pride, or excite the hearer's curiosity. It is a most awful thing to aggrandize self at the expense of truth. Be it your study, therefore, to select and discuss such subjects as you think will most effectually promote God's glory and the eternal interests of your people.
SUBJECT OF PREACHING.
Two methods of preaching have been adopted,-one to preach the doctrines of the Gospel, the other its duties, or a system of morality. Both of these are right, but right only by halves. The minister of Christ who rightly divides the word of truth, will preach both. While he makes the doctrines of the Gospel hold a prominent part in his sermons, morality will by no means be neglected. All holy duties are to be inculcated, but it must be in connexion, with faith in Gospel promises for assistance, and in the merits of Christ for acceptance.
Though all the doctrines of Scripture bear the signature of the Divine authority, and none of them are without their use, yet as there are some truths of greater magnitude, and have a more apparent tendency to promote the power of godliness than others, such important truths should occupy a minister's chief attention in his study, and constitute a principal portion of his public ministrations. There is one subject, however, more prominent than any other in the sacred Scripture; one which meets the eye, at every part; one to which the inspired writers continually direct our attention; on which they insist, with holy fervour and delight, and with diction peculiarly sublime it is that, compared with which all others are but trifling, or, rather, are intended to be subservient unto it,-the redemption of fallen man by Jesus Christ. This is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the sum and substance of revealed religion. For a sermon to want that subject, which occupied the eternal mind from everlasting ; to mature and execute which the world was created; which has been declared to man by so many signs from heaven above and on earth beneath, by the tongues of so many prophets; to announce which, angels have descended from their
thrones; to accomplish which, God was made manifest in the flesh; the sermon which wants this subject, (salvation exclusively through the atonement of Christ,) is a body without a soul, a shadow without substance. This was the theme on which Christ and his Apostles dwelt: it should also be the theme on which his faithful follower now should dwell. But, while he dwells on the doctrines, he will by no means neglect the duties of religion. He will preach faith in Christ, and friendship with Christ, as inseparably connected, and he will openly declare, that faith without works is dead.
MANNER OF PREACHING.
Whilst you are thus careful to preach both the doctrines and duties of religion, you must preach them with simplicity. The attempt to excite astonishment by distinctions too minute, and speculations too refined for ordinary minds, is not preaching the Gospel aright;-the more simply its great truths are stated, the more irresistible is their force, the more clearly they can be displayed, the more will their native beauty be apparent. Paganism might veil in mystery, what, if openly disclosed, would shock the public eye. The truth, as it is in Jesus, needs no such shelter. To the minister of Christ belong not those airy visions which aim only at charming the fancy; to him belong not those nicely-drawn distinctions which flatter the understanding by the exercise of its acuteness. His object should be, not to amuse, but instruct,-not to excite admiration of himself, but hatred of sin, and love of holiness, not to train the understandings of his hearers in the exercises of subtlety, but to store their minds and hearts with that heavenly wisdom which may guide them through life, and prepare them for eternity.
The nature of your duty, and your solemn responsibility, require that you preach faithfully. The ministers of Christ should remember that they are stewards of the mysteries of God, and that it is required in stewards that they be found faithful. Every one of their flock is entitled to the portion most suitable for him, and in the proper season," milk to babes, and strong meat to them that are of full age." In various ways may a steward be found unfaithful. be negligent, and then the household runs into confusion, and every evil work. Every one does that which is right in his own eyes, and, of consequence, every thing goes wrong; he
may withhold what is due, and the family starves; the food may be improperly mixed, and thereby be converted into poison; he may be injudicious, and the aliment of the healthy and vigorous is administered to the puny and feeble, while the delicate nourishment which suits sickliness and imbecility, is presented to maturity and strength. He may be deliberately wicked, and betray the trust which he was appointed to guard. The malady of human nature assumes so many shapes, and exhibits such a variety of symptoms, as to demand a proportionate variety in the method of treatment. The same prescription will not suit all cases. A different set of truths, a different mode of address, is requisite to rouse the careless, to beat down the arrogance of the self-justifying spirit, from what is necessary to comfort the humble and contrite heart. A loose and indiscriminate manner of applying the promises and threatenings of the Gospel, is ill-judged and pernicious, and most effectually deprives the sword of the Spirit of its edge. A minister may as well not preach, as adopt a lax generality of representation, which leaves the auditory nothing to apply. A minister should not be personal; but his sermons should be so characteristic, that the conscience of every hearer may feel the hand of the preacher searching it: he should try so to insulate his hearers, as to place each apart, rendering it impossible for him to escape by losing himself in the crowd, and oblige him to turn the eye of examination in upon himself.
"I paint for eternity," replied the great artist of antiquity, when reprehended for an over curious and laborious attention to the more delicate touches of his favourite pieces. What an admonition and reproof to Christian ministers! They are, indeed, acting for eternity; not, like the painter, pursuing the empty bubble, reputation, but aiming at the end of their faith, even the salvation of their own souls, while they are continually striving to bring a new tribute of praise to God, and to promote the everlasting happiness of mankind. The very summit of a minister's ambition ought to be, to acquit himself as a zealous ambassador of the Prince of Peace, and to see the interests of the everlasting Gospel crowned with prosperity in the conversion of souls to God. The true, minister of Christ, who exhibits a disinterested concern for the cause of vital godliness, an assiduous watchfulness over his own conduct, and the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made
him an overseer, will be admired, revered, and loved. His people will listen to his instructions with attention, will follow his example, and he will train up saints for heaven, with whom he will rejoice eternally. The best definition I could give of zeal, or the most striking picture I could draw of a zealous minister, is a delineation of the conduct of Moses, as in it you will see how real zeal exerts itself. This quality appeared in that eminent servant of God and friend of man, early, and it continued to the close of life. When he was come to years, he chose affliction with God's people, rather than the pleasures and honours of a court. For Israel's sake he was willing to encounter a thousand dangers, to endure a thousand hardships; for them he braved the wrath of a king, sacrificed his ease, and consented to be blotted out of God's book. For them he laboured, fasted, prayed. If it went well with Israel, he cared not how it went with himself. When they rebelled, he was grieved; when they were threatened, he trembled; when they suffered, he bled; when they were healed, he rejoiced. In their service was his life spent, and his dying breath was poured out in pronouncing blessings upon them. What a pattern of zeal for every succeeding minister to copy. In Moses, we see a mind intent only on usefulness. We find him shrouding his face in a veil, and changing his appearance as the occasion required. This was not in him versatility and address, a cunning accommodation to circumstances for selfish ends, but a compliance with wisdom and necessity, in order to be more extensively useful. Paul, likewise, became all things to all men, to gain some; and a greater than Moses, a greater than Paul, disdained not the festivity of a marriage solemnity, refused not the invitation of one ruler, nor rejected the invitation of another,-abhorred not to eat with publicans and sinners, if by any means the ignorant might be instructed, the proud and selfish checked and reproved, and the mourner comforted. For such conduct, our Divine Master was called a glutton and a wine-bibber, the friend of publicans and sinners; but, by his example, he hath taught his disciples to seek and to take opportunities of being useful, whatever construction may be put upon their conduct by malignant observers.
A harsh and unfeeling manner of announcing the threatenings of the Word of God, is not only barbarous and inhuman, but calculated, by inspiring disgust, to rob them of all their efficacy. If the awful part of our message (which may be
styled the burden of the Lord,) ever fall with due weight upon the hearers, it will be when it is delivered with a trembling hand and faltering lips; and we may then expect them to realize its solemn import, when they perceive that we ourselves are ready to sink under it. Our Lord and his apostles, even when they used the greatest faithfulness, never once forgot the law of kindness, and, therefore, "their doctrine dropped as the rain, their speech distilled as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." How many hard and obdurate hearts must have softened and dissolved at the recollection, that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and prayed on the cross for the very persons who were imbruing their hands in his blood. When the apostle Peter, having charged the Jews with the murder of the Prince of Life, added, "and now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers," we are told that many of them which heard the word believed. See the tenderness of Paul," of whom I have told you before, and now tell you weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.'
VISIT FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE.
In addition to the duties now pointed out, you ought to watch for, and seize upon, every promising opportunity of doing good; and such occur every day, I believe I might say every hour of our lives. One of the most effectual ways by which you can benefit your people, is by visiting from house to house; and I assure you the good resulting from it will amply repay your toil. The more frequently you can visit your parishioners at their own houses, provided your visits be of a ministerial character, the more will your person be respected and endeared, and your ministry accepted. The seasonable introduction of religious topics is of such admirable use, that there are few qualities more enviable than the talent of teaching from house to house. The modern state of manners has rendered this branch of the pastoral office much more difficult than in former times; and to such a pitch of refinement, I am credibly informed, in some instances, is the mode of ministerial visitation, in large towns, arrived, that an elegantly embossed and gilt card, with the minister's name beautifully engraved upon it, left at the mansion, passes for the clerical visit. That your visits, as a minister, among your people, on the high errand of their salvation, should be of a very different character, I need not spend time in proving. In a country parish, where there is more simplicity, less dis