Images de page
PDF
ePub

ble dependence on the Spirit of God, with the lively exercise of devotion in our closets.

As for the reasoning part on the more agreed points of our religion, a young preacher sooner may get to considerable excellency; but the christian orator is longer in finishing. We may soon get necessary truths into our own minds, and come at minds of our size and taste; but by proper motives and ways to reach the souls of a different make and turn, even the lowest of the vulgar, is what very few quickly arrive at; but let us not despair; if we thus regard the Lord Jesus in our ministrations, we may very reasonably expect the assistance of his Spirit, and we shall be " able to do all things through Christ strengthening us.

THE

CHRISTIAN PREACHER, &c.

DISCOURSE III.

OF PARTICULAR AND EXPERIMENTAL
PREACHING.

$ 1. Introduction. The complaint of preachers dwelling in generals, too well founded. §2. (I.) WHEREIN CONSISTS the happy skill of DIVIDING THE WORD ARIGHT. 1. In going through the va riety of gospel subjects. § 3. Some err by neglecting to enforce holiness and christian duties. § 4. Others err by neglecting the doctrines of grace. § 5. 2. In putting a thought in several distinct views for different purposes. § 6. An apostolic instance of it on the doctrine of justification. § 7. Commonly such distinct views are united in the same paragraph; as election and sanctification, grace and works. § 8. Another instance, where the scripture speaks of power and duty. § 9. Unskilful preachers deal entirely in one of these, and neglect the other. § 10. 3. In distinctly explaining and enforcing particular duties, and opposing particular sins. § 11. This illustrated. § 12. 4. In particularly applying to the several cases of the hearers. § 13. This instanced in the prophets and apostles. As to men's knowledge and obedience. § 14. They reprove and confute $15. Denounce woe to them at ease. $ 16. Lead convinced sinners to Christ. § 17. They reason with the moralist. § 18. Rebuke and expose hypocrites. § 19. Encou rage the weak, and stimulate the slothful. § 20. Deal tenderly, yet faithfully, with several sorts of distempered christians $21. Alarm the declining. § 22. Awfully warn the falling. § 23. Com

fort the persecuted and afflicted. § 24. We have particular lessons for strong christians. § 25. And a suitable portion for those who groan under corruption. § 26. The humble and penitent are comforted. § 27. Those who want direction are counselled. § 28. The deceiver and the deceived are distinctly treated. § 29. And those under desertion, though the instances in primitive times are few, have proper hints given them. § 30. The Puritan wriers recommended. § 31. The necessity of applying to particular cases further urged and illustrated. § 32. (II.) How this valuable skill may be ATTAINED. 1. Study your own hearts, and preach over the ruder sketches of your sermons to yourselves. § 33. 2. Converse freely with serious people. § 34. To this the politer part may be backward; but, § 35. The difficulty may be in a measure obviated. § 36. 3. Have an eye upon serieus youth. § 37.4. Cultivate spiritual intimacy with more advanced christians. § 38. 5. Distribute, in your thoughts, your people into classes. § 39. 6. Study the most popular and experimental authors with this view. $40. Conclusion.

§ 1. RIGHTLY to divide the word of truth is the

necessary care of a minister, if he would be " approved "of God, and be a workman that needeth not to be "ashamed."* And it is a skill worth studying for, and labouring to attain: our success, and the good of souls, depend upon it more than is commonly imagined.

"

No doubt you may have heard many honest people express their dissatisfaction with some preachers, in such terms as these:- They go on constantly in a general way, that does not come close to the heart, reaches not my case and experience, and I am not edified by them.' Their complaint is not altogether with

* 2 Tim. ii. 15.

out meaning or reason, as I hope you will be convinced by and by.

"

§ 2. (I.) To keep a little in view that passage of scripture I have mentioned, DIVIDING THE WORD may mean these four things:-1. Going through the variety of gospel subjects: declaring the whole counsel of God, the doctrines of grace, threatenings, promises, and the duties of morality; and giving each its due proportion.

3. Some, finding their thoughts flow most readily and affectionately on the doctrines of grace, and that by these they best command the affections of the hearers, are altogether upon them; and neglect to teach the people to observe what Christ has commanded them. I bear many of them witness they have a zeal for God, but I wish it were more according to knowledge. They do not sufficiently consider, that holiness is the very design of christianity; and our preaching on other heads is in order the better to enforce duty, and render men like to Christ.

I am afraid, from what I have observed, that this strain of preaching will increase the number of those hearers, whom our Saviour describes by the "stony ground," in the parable of the sower; namely, such who though full of notions and transient affections, and forward in profession, yet have an unsubdued will, no root in themselves, and bring forth no fruit to God. This strain, I fear, though it may seem to bring many toward Christ, will bring but few safely to him. Many of their hearers, with Christ much in their mouths, will prove but hypocrites settled on their lees, and slaves to lusts. Nor is this strain more happy for the uniform growth of the sincere christian. They that sit under it are too frequently low, imperfect and partial in practical godliness; distempered with conceit and preposterous zeal for words and phrases, and things of little or no consequence; perplexed and perplexing others with a thousand groundless scruples; children in understand. ing, and it were happy were they so in malice too; but

alas! their narrowness of mind infects the heart with uncharitable affections.

§ 4. Others having not arrived at the relish of the doctrines of grace themselves, suppress them in their preaching and are altogether on morality; enforcing it with no motives of the gospel, except some of those addressed to fear. These, if they are masters of much fire, may be convincing to some; but it fares with most of their converts as with the man in the parable, out of whom the unclean spirit went for a while, who finding his house empty, returned with seven more; and the latter end of such is worse than the beginning. Or else, the awakened hearer either takes up with a proud dependence upon a mistaken, external, and pharisaical righteousness: or, not being by his teacher led to Christ, he proceeds not, settles. not; but abiding long under the doubtful concern, is wearied with it, weary of it, and comes to nothing; which seems to be the thought in Hosea;* "Ephraim is an unwise son; he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children." Or lastly, if any are truly converted under such ministry, it is very usual that they are forced to desert it, to find richer and sweeter pasture for their souls.

Some of their hearers may possibly prefer this strain of preaching; but it does not thence follow that they are the better for it. To illustrate this remark, I will recite a paragraph out of "Remarkable passages in the life of Ta private gentleman."-Spiritual searching discourses I did not so much savour as mere moral doctrines: though too immoral myself. The hopes I had conceived of the strength of my good resolutions rendered hem grateful. SENECA'S Morals I read with great pleaure. Mr. BAXTER'S Saint's Rest frighted me; so After reading a few passages, I threw it by.'-Thus with egret he tells us what little profit he had in that way, of his fondness for which he was ashamed, when he ame to be of Paul's mind, to count all dross and dung, hat he might win Christ.

* Hos. xiii. 13.

« PrécédentContinuer »