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20. Though the diligent reading of the scriptures themselves, even the inspired writings of the prophets and apostles, and the very words of our Saviour Christ, should be chiefly recommended, as they are undoubtedly far preferable to any books of mere human composition; yet, besides these, a minister may very profitably recommend to his hearers some other good books of religion, both ancient and modern, to be read by them at home, in their own closets or families; such books, I mean, as are written in a truly evangelical strain, and with a spirit of lively devotion and piety, which would be no inconsiderable means, both of preserving and nourishing the fire of divine love in their hearts. I might mention, by way of instance, MARTIN STATIUS'S Lutherus Redivivus, which is nothing else but an abridgment of Luther's works, in which the most considerable passages are collected into a narrow compass, and such passages, more especially, as have the most direct and powerful tendency to awaken, and to excite the minds of men to lively, practical religion. However, I mention this but as one instance, out of a great many very excellent and useful books with which the providence of God has now furnished his church, and which we ought to account as a precious treasure to it.

21. And further, let not any minister think that the people only are to be profited in their souls by reading such good books, while all the use that he is concerned to make of them for himself, is only to form his stile by reading them, or to borrow thoughts from them, or, it may be, to steal sermons out of them, (which is shamefully the practice of too many preachers) but he should read them, chiefly and in the first place, with a view to his own spiritual edification. He should endeavour so to use and improve the gifts which God has bestowed on other men, as that his own soul may be the better for them, as well as the souls of the people to whom he preaches.

§ 22. Once more, let faithful ministers by no means forget to recommend to their hearers, that they would



familiarly acquaint themselves and converse with serious, lively, and growing christians, and with such more especially as excel in the gift and spirit of prayer; for as a live coal kindles another that is cold and dead, so will the savoury discourse, the fervent prayers, and the holy conversation of warm and lively christians, be a probable means of kindling the same fire of divine love in the souls of dead sinners; or, at least, of nourishing and improving the sacred flame in the hearts of their more intimate christian friends. Ministers should therefore do all they can to promote such christian conversation, amongst the more serious part of their hearers: observing, however, the rules of necessary prudence; particularly that of the apostle, "Let all things be done decently and in order." They should exhort them, as St. Paul does the Colossians, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord:" to which pious purpose, that large and rich treasure of sacred hymns, both ancient and modern, with which God has graciously blessed his church, is not a little conducive, for which therefore we are bound to render him immortal praises.

23. Thus I have briefly answered your question, and given you my thoughts on the most useful way of preaching. May God, for Christ's sake, attend what I have written with his effectual blessing. To him I would now offer up the following prayer.

"O Lord God! give, I beseech thee, both now and at all times hereafter, to thy church, pastors and teachers after thine own heart, even such as shall bring the sheep of Christ into his fold, and who, through the influence of thy good Spirit, shall feed them with saving knowledge and understanding. Make every preacher of thy word to know and always to remember, that neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but thou art all in all, who alone canst give the increase. Let none of them vainly presume on their own skill * 1 Cor. xiv. 40.

and ability to do any good by their preaching, and obtain any good success; but let them all humbly wait upon thee, and by fervent daily prayer let them seek for and obtain the aids of thy grace, to enable them to dispense the word of life; and let thy blessing render their preaching happily successful to the souls of those that hear them. Amen."

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§ 1. Introduction. The subject stated. § 2. (I.) Take heed to your PERSONAL RELIGION. § 3. As to its reality and evidence, liveliness and power, growth and increase. § 4. Which will have many happy effects. § 5. (II.) Take heed to your PRIVATE STUDIES. General studies. § 6. Particular studies. § 7. ParticuIar rules in preparatory studies. 1. In choosing a text. § 8. 2. In handling a text. § 9. 3. In speaking of the things of God § 10. Of duties. § 11. Of grace. § 12—16. The gospel is the only effectual means of salvation. § 17. 4. Distinguish the different characters of hearers. § 18. 5. Teach them to build their faith on solid grounds. § 19. 6. In every sermon bring some thing practical. § 20. 7. Impose nothing on them but what Christ hath imposed. $21. 8. Remember you have to do with each of the human faculties. The understanding and § 22. The reasoning powers. § 23. The imagination. § 24. The memory. § 25. The conscience, will and affections. § 26. 9. Borrow the art of reasoning and persuasion from the holy scriptures. § 27. 10. Be not slothful or negligent in your weekly preparation for the pulpit. § 28. (III.) Take heed to your PUBLIC LABOURS. 1. Apply to the work with pious delight. § 29. 2. Get the heart into a temper of divine love. $30. 3. Go forth into the strength of Christ. § 31. 4. Get the substance of your sermon wrought into your head and heart.

§ 82. 5. Do not confine yourself precisely to private preparations. § 33. 6. Proper attention should be paid to elocution. $34.7. Be very solicitous about success. § 35. (IV.) Take heed to your WHOLE CONVERSATION in the world. I. Let it be blameless and inoffensive. § 36. 2. Exemplary in all duties. § 37.9. Grave and manly, yet pleasant and engaging. 38. 4. Atttended with much self-denial and meekness. § 39. 5. Fruitful and edifying. § 40. (V.) These duties ENFORCED. §. 41. By the decaying interest of religion. § 42. By the awful circumstances of a dying bed. § 43. By the solemn account we must give of our ministry. $44. By all the terrors of the sacred volume, and, § 45. By all the joys of paradise.

§ 1. WHEN true religion falls under a general and

remarkable decay, it is time for all that are concerned to awaken and rouse themselves to fresh vigour and activity, in their several posts of service. If the interests of piety and virtue are things fit to be encouraged and maintained in the world, if the kingdom of the blessed God among men be worthy to be supported, surely it is a necessary and becoming zeal for every one who hath the honour to be a minister of this kingdom, to take alarm at the appearance of such danger: and each of us should inquire, What can I do to strengthen the things that remain and are ready to die, as well as to recover what is lost? Let my brethren therefore in the ministry forgive me if I presume, at this season, to set before them a plain and serious exhor. tation. What I have to say on this subject shall be contained under four general heads.

I. Fake heed to your own personal religion, as absolutely necessary to the right discharge of the ministerial office.

II. Take heed to your private studies, and preparation for public service.

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