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objection; you will say, This is almost impracticable, especially amongst persons of politeness and figure; these, alas! too rarely will use any such freedom with us, in laying open their hearts, and communicating their experience to us, as may give us the needful information. If we ever do arrive at any acquaintance with the experience of christians, little thanks are due to such as these; they expect we should preach suitably to them, and that with as much reason as Nebuchadnezzar demanded of the wise men to interpret a dream they knew not. The middle and lower sort of people, indeed, are more unreserved to grave ministers of age and standing, but will hardly use the same freedom with young men.
35. To help you over this difficulty, I would observe, that, as for the polite, and men of some thought and reading, your own experience, with the allowances and corrections a moderate skill in human nature will enable you to make, may lead you into happy conjectures at their way of thinking. Besides, in the time of their visitation, under some sore affliction, you will find them more communicative; and an hour's free discourse, with such as can give a rational and intelligible account of themselves, in a season when they are disposed to do it, is as valuable and useful, as it is rare and difficult to enter into.
§ 36. 3. Again, have an eye upon the serious youth, whom nature and providence has designed to place in a superior class; and especially at a time when the impressions of religion are new to them. You will find them more open than elder persons, if you court their intimacy, and relieve their bashfulness; and if you can see into the heart of a youth, then, with the proper allowances for alterations that age and business will make, you may pretty well guess at their turn of mind in more advanced years.
37. 4. With the generality of serious and more dvanced Christians, there needs not so much nicety to get into such a spiritual intimacy with them as we desire; the laying aside of nicety and ceremony, and get
ting into such a grave good-natured way as our character requires; is more than half-way to our purpose. Where this is insufficient to encourage the people to freedom, lead them into it by communicating first, either what yourselves have experienced, under the name of a third person (if modesty or prudence require it) or else what you have learned from others, without betraying the confidence they have put in you. By these methods we shall seldom fail of drawing serious people on to such a freedom, as will be of use to them and ourselves. If we heartily go about it, we are pretty sure to succeed.
38. 5. i may farther hint at a compendious way for gaining much knowledge of men's hearts in a little time, viz. If you have any tolerable skill in the different tempers and complexions of mankind, distribute, in your thoughts, your people into classes, according to their natural genius and temper, and select one of each class, with whom to be more particularly acquainted; for amongst those whom nature has formed alike, you will find, upon further inquiry, a striking uniformity in the Spirit's work and way of proceeding with them.
§ 39. 6. I might recommend a way of knowing these things at second hand, viz. from the most popular and experimental authors. But this way is far inferior to the other; we shall but faintly paint any phænomenon of the heart, by copying another picture; it is infinitely preferable to do it from the life. Yet would I earnestly recommend the perusal of such authors as deal much in an experimental strain, and have been very successful in it; but with a different design, viz. That we may learn from them, how to describe, in a discreet and lively manner, such cases as we ourselves have observed; and how to address properly to those cases, with the like thoughts and expressions, as have, in the course of their preaching happily answered the end.
§ 40. After all, rightly to divide the word of truth, with true wisdom, is a matter of no small difficulty; but if we carefully and diligently go about it-with a zeal for our Master's interest, and sensible of our own
insufficiency, asking wisdom of God we know he giveth liberally, and will surely make us wise to win souls, to the honour of his name, and our own rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus. To whom with the Father and Holy Spirit, that one God whom we adore, be paid the highest honours and praises to eternal ages. Amen.
CHRISTIAN PREACHER, &c.
OF THE MOST USEFUL WAY OF PREACHING.
§ 1. Introduction. The subject proposed. The supposed character of an useful preacher. § 2. Useful preaching requires that a minister lay down, very frequently, the distinguishing marks of the converted and unconverted, with plainness, and especially with justness. $3. Clearly distinguish betwixt mere morality and true religion. § 4. Instruct in, and exhort to the duty of self-examination. § 5. Shew the difference between what is legal, and what evangelical, in principle and practice. § 6. Shew men their native weakness, with the grace and strength of Christ. § 7. These last particulars further enforced. § 8. The necessity, nature and progress of conversion. § 9. A minister should take pains with his own heart and sermons, in order to bring sinners to Christ. § 10. Inculcate the necessity of prayer. § 11. Explain the gradual renewing of the mind. § 12. Represent the whole of christian faith and duty as amiable and attractive. § 13. Avoid prolixity in explaining the text, and hasten to the application.
14. Use the most winning argumeuts to bring souls to Christ. 15. Display the excellency of Christ's person and grace. § 16 Insist on the love of Christ. § 17. And see that you love Christ fervently yourself. § 18. Express it not only in words, but also by correspondent actions. § 19. Preach upon the duties of self denial and weanedness from the world. § 20. Recommend reading not only of the scriptures, but also of other good books. § 21. And H
practise the same for personal edification. § 22. Recommend converse with growing, praying christians. $ 23. Conclusion. A prayer.
§ 1. 1. IN answer to the question which you have proposed to me, viz. How a faithful minister, who earnestly desires to save and to edify the souls of his hearers, to gain sinners unto Christ, and to inflame their hearts with a growing love to their Saviour, may best adapt his preaching to these excellent purposes? I can only at present suggest a few things briefly; whereas, if I had more leisure, I should choose to write more copiously on so weighty a subject.
I must take it for granted that a minister, who sincerely desires and who is likely to do good by his preaching, is such a one, both in heart and life, as St. Paul describes, "Who holds fast the form of sound words (or the pure apostolic doctrine) which he has heard, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus; and who keeps that good thing which has been committed to him by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in him.*
§ 2. It will not a little subserve the good ends proposed in the question, for a minister, very frequently, to lay down in his sermons the distinguishing marks and characters both of the converted, and of the unconverted, and that with all possible plainness, that so every one of his hearers may be able to judge of his own estate, and may know to which of these two classes he belongs. But then great care must be taken that those distinguishing characters are justly drawn: for it may easily happen, through a preacher's unskilfulness in this affair, that the unconverted, on the one hand, may be deceived into a good opinion of their present state, and may grow thereupon more se
2 Tim. i. 13, 14.