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from the same principles. The scriptures were written in distant ages, and allude to many transactions, then, but not now, familiarly known in the world, addrest to people who differed from us, as much in manners, ceremonies, customs, and opinions, as in language. An acquaintance with these transactions and differences therefore, as far as we can attain it, is in effect, as hath been often hinted already, a more thorough acquaintance with the scriptural idiom and dialect. If after this we proceed to the study of systems and commentaries and controversies, we have acquired a fund of our own, from which we may form a judgment in regard to their jarring sentiments. But if without any such fund for judging, without a competency of knowledge either in scripture-language or scripture-history we have immediate recourse to system-makers and expositors and controversialists, we are perfectly bewildered, and must therefore either deliver ourselves up implicitly to the guidance of some one or more whom we pitch upon at random, or be lost in absolute scepticism. The study of language and history doth not indeed present you with particular opinions, formed upon particular passages of scripture ; it is for that very reason quite above the suspicion of partiality. But it doth what is much more valuable. It furnishes us with those first principles of knowledge, from which an attentive and judicious person will be enabled to draw proper conclusions, and form just opinions for himself. The other way is indeed better adapted to gratify the laziness of the sciolist, who would be thought learned, but cannot bear, even for the sake of learning, to be at the least expense of thought and reflection.
The man who advises such an easy method, which I acknowledge is by far the commonest, is like one who tells you, “ This writing, the contents of which you are anxious to be acquainted with, you need not take the trouble to peruse yourself. It is but dimly written, and we have now only twilight. I have better eyes, and am acquainted with the character. Do but attend, and I shall read it distinctly in your hearing.' On the other hand he who with me advises the other method is like one who says, “ Take this writing into your own hand. I shall procure you a supply of light, and though the character is rather old, yet with some attention, in comparing one part with another, you will soon be familiarized to it, and may then read it for yourself.” In a matter of little moment, and where there can be no danger of deception, it may be said,
, and justly said, the first method is the best, because the easiest and quickest. But suppose it is an affair of great importance to you, and that there is real danger of deception ; suppose further, that your anxiety having led you to employ different readers, the conse- ; quence hath been, that each reader, to your great astonishment, discovers things in the writing, which were not discovered by the rest; nay more, that the discoveries of the different readers are contradictory to one another ; would you not then be satisfied, that the only part a reasonable man could take, would be to recur to the second method mentioned ? Now this is precisely the case with the point in hand.
I shall illustrate the difference between these methods by one other example, and then have done. You intend to travel into a foreign country, where you propose to transact a great deal of business with the
I shall first suppose, without knowing any thing of the language of the country. In all the affairs you have to transact with the inhabitants, as you find yourself unable to convey to them directly your sentiments, or to apprehend theirs, in the only manner they are able to communicate them; as you daily receive letters, which you cannot read, or give a return to, in a language that can be read by them, you are compelled every moment to have recourse to interpreters, a method extremely cumbersome, tedious, and dangerous at the best. You are entirely at the mercy of those interpreters; their want of knowledge, or their want of honesty, may be equally prejudicial to you. A very slight blunder of their's, arising from an imperfect acquaintance with either language, may be productive of consequences the most ruinous to your affairs. Let us now again suppose you take a different method. You make it your first object to study the language, and are become a tolerable proficient in it, before you go abroad, or at least before you enter on any important business with the natives. This, though a harder task at first setting out, greatly facilitates
your intercourse with the people afterwards, and gives you a certain security and independence in all your transactions with them, which it is impossible you could ever have otherwise enjoyed. You may then occasionally and safely, where any doubt ariseth, consult an interpreter; the resources in point of knowledge, which you have provided for yourself, will prove a sufficient check on him, to prevent his having it in his power to deceive you in a matter of moment. I shall leave you, gentlemen, to make the application of these two suppositions at your leisure.
ON PULPIT ELOQUENCE.
Importance of the Study, and Objections against it answered...Helps for
the attainment of the Art.
It is not enough for the christian minister, that he be instructed in the science of theology, unless he has the skill to apply his knowledge, to answer the different purposes of the pastoral charge. And the first thing, that on this article seems to merit our attention, is the consideration of the minister, in the character of a public speaker; and that, both in his addresses to God on the part of the people in worship, and his addresses to the people on the part of God in preaching. Of the importance of this last part of the character, as a public teacher, no one can reasonably doubt, who considers that it was one great part, if not the principal part of the charge which the apostles received from our Lord, Math. xxviii. 19, 20, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." And again, Mark xvi. 15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And without derogating from those solemn institutions of our religion, which in after times came to be denominated sacraments, preaching may in one view, at least, be said to be of more consequence than they, in as much as a suitable discharge of the business of a teacher undoubtedly requires abilities superior to those requisite for the proper performance of the other, a part in comparison merely ministerial or official. It is besides the great means of conversion as well as of edification. “Faith cometh by hearing,” says the apostle. The ministry of our Lord, to his kinsmen the Jews, consisted chiefly in teaching; for the evangelist John iv. 2, expressly tells us that Jesus baptized none; this, as comparatively an underwork, was entrusted entirely to his disciples. And the apostle Paul acquaints the Corinthians i. 1, 17, that Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel ; that the latter and not the former was the principal end of his mission. When it pleased God by the conversion of Cornelius the Roman centurion to open the door of faith to the Gentiles, no less a person than Peter the first of the apostolical college was selected for announcing to him and his family the gospel of Christ ; but after they were converted by his preaching, the apostle did not consider it as any impropriety to commit the care of baptizing them to meaner hands. “He (that is, Peter,) commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Acts x. 48. What hath been said however, is by no means intended to arraign the propriety of limiting to a lower number, in churches which are already constituted, the power of dispensing the sacraments, than is done in regard to the power of preaching. The near connection which the former has with discipline