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read it, wonderful, counsellor, mighty potentate; and would refer the expression to the power that was imparted to Jesus by the Father for the instruction, salvation, and judgement of the world.
At the same time, if any prefer the common translation, it may be explained in the manner above mentioned, in perfect consistency with the derived power, and entire dependence of Jesus upon his Father and our Father, his God and our God.
The next epithet, applied to our Saviour in the text, is that of Everlasting Father, by which is meant that he will be the perpetual father, or friend, of his people; just as a good prince or ruler, who has conferred great benefits upon the land of his birth, is said to be the father of his country. The term, everlasting, has no reference to the past, but only to the future. It means, ever-enduring, or perpetual, as in the phrases, everlasting happiness, everlasting mercy. Jesus, then, according to the promise, will be the perpetual father of his people. He will watch over the interests of the church, as a father over the interests of his children. He will strengthen their weakness; he will console their sorrows; he will animate their fainting spirits, and he will even make intercession for them at the right hand of God. This prophecy, that he will be the everlasting or perpetual father of his people, appears to mean nearly the same thing as the promise of Christ, when he says, 'Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Whether he is personally employed as the invisible agent of the Most High for the benefit of the church, or only by means of the instructions, hopes, and consolations of his religion, is a question which it is not important to determine. In either case we regard him with affection and interest, as the everlasting or perpetual father of his people.
The last epithet bestowed upon Jesus is, Prince of peace. And a prince of peace he was in three different senses. First, he came to make us at peace with God, to reconcile us to his Father, to purify us from the sins that have separated us from God. Thus it is said by the apostle, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, he is the prince of peace, as he came to promote peace between man and man; to subdue those passions, whence come wars and fightings; and to establish in the souls of men those feelings of justice, kindness, forgiveness and humility, which are calculated to maintain perpetual peace. Only let nations and individuals be deeply imbued with the principles of the prince of peace, and the sword will be beaten into the ploughshare, and the spear into the pruning hook, and men will learn war no more.
Lastly, he is the prince of peace, as he is the author of inward peace, or tranquillity of heart. It is only by coming to him, and imbibing his piety, his benevolence, his meekness and lowliness of heart, that we can find rest unto our souls. Thus alone can we find
peace; the peace which the world can neither give nor take away. It is pride, selfishness, irreligion, envy, malice, and revenge, that are the sources of most of the miseries of the human heart. When these demons have been expelled from the soul through the aid of christian precepts, hopes and promises, and when faith, hope and charity have taken their place, then at length we shall be at peace with God, at peace with man, and at peace with our own souls. This glorious effect Jesus came to produce; and he has produced it in the hearts of thousands. Well then may he be styled, the prince of peace.
Such is the character of him, upon whose shoulder the government of the church is laid. He is wonderful in all his attributes. He is a counsellor, who resolves all our doubts, who alone can show us the way to eternal happiness; he is a mighty potentate, who is endowed with all the powers necessary for the establishment and security of his kingdom; he is the everlasting or perpetual father of those, who put themselves under his government; and he is the prince of peace to all his obedient followers.
What reason have we, therefore, as Christians,to rejoice that such a child was born, that such a son was given; one that can dissipate our darkness, and illumine our minds; can calm the conscience and make us at peace with God, with man, and our own souls; can free us from the misery of tyrannical passions ; can encourage, with paternal tenderness, our feeble steps; can deliver us from the sting of death, and the terrors of the grave, and discover to us immortal happiness. With what alacrity should we embrace the privilege of being subjects of his kingdom! With what fidelity should we follow him as the captain of our salvation! With what, ardent zeal should we heed bis admonitions ; listen to his instructions; mark his example, and obey his laws; and with what earnest gratitude should we thank God who laid help upon one that was so miglity to save ! With what joy should we regard the fulfilment of this prophecy,
For unto us a child is born,
RECIPROCAL DUTIES OF MINISTER AND PEOPLE.
MESSRS EDITORS,—In my present communication, I wish to invite the attention of your readers to those duties which relate to the public instructions of the church. The minister is expected to preach the gospel. But in what manner?
1. I think preaching should be intelligible. Religious instruction can do but little good, unless it is clearly apprehended by the hearers. Now our audiences are commonly composed of persons of all ages and ranks, and of very different degrees of mental cultivation and improvement. In order, therefore, to have our discourses generally useful, they must be adapted to
the comprehension even of children. I know it is difficult to have them so elevated in style and sentiment as to please the best educated, and still so simple as to be understood by the most unlearned. But I believe this possible attainment, is of the first importance, is the perfection of pulpit composition, and is also scriptural. Yes. Jesus spake as man never spake. He addressed the learned scribes as well as the unlettered multitude. Yet his discourses are direct, perspicuous, and intelligible; and at the same time, pure, refined, and sublime. They enable us to give a correct definition of sermonizing. It is nothing more than manly conversation. They also exhibit the most perfect model of dispensing religious truths ever given to the world; a model which has been too much neglected, to the disgrace of the clergy and the injury of their hearers.
Other modes have indeed been more fashionable. Some of our fathers were forever discoursing concerning the secret will of the Almighty, and those dogmas which they pronounced mysterious and unintelligible. Now if God has a secret will, it must be unknown to his dependant children. And if there are any mysterious doctrines, they can constitute no part of revelation; for revelation means the explanation of unknown and mysterious truths. And if any fact is unintelligible, it cannot be believed; for we can neither understand nor believe any farther than we have ideas. Such trifling therefore about things unknown, must be a perversion of the ministerial office. Other modes may also be