« PreviousContinue »
the natural tendency of such a course would be to make himself, and those of his party, proud, bigoted, censorious, and persecuting; the very sins so often reproved by the inspired preachers. He should rather endeavor to make himself and his hearers, humble, candid, forbearing, forgiving, and benevolent. And he should ever remember that he has one master, even Christ, and that all Christians are brethren. This course was recommended by the example and precepts of our acknowledged Teacher.
4. I think finally, that preaching should be practical. Our Saviour came to reform the world. He has accordingly given us a peculiar system of morality. Its peculiarity consists in this. It contains general principles of conduct which may be extended to every particular word, action, thought, and motive. He summed up all human duty in love to God and love to man; and these two fundamental principles include all the acts of piety, benevolence, and self-government. Practical preaching, therefore, consists in minutely unfolding these general principles, and earnestly urging their cordial reception as rules of action. In this way, the preacher may persuade his hearers to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. This method of dispensing religious truth does not, however, preclude the necessity of occasionally introducing the leading doctrines of the gospel; for they are eminently calculated to promote christian holiness. How often did our Saviour allude to the paternal character of God, and his providential government of the world! I think, therefore, we can adopt no better rule as to the selection of topics for public instruction, than to follow his example. But
pray show me the chapter and verse in which he discoursed of a trinity of persons in the Godhead; of his own self-existence and equality with his Father; of the total depravity of man; of moral inability, unconditional election, and an infinite atonement; of
special grace, miraculous conversion, and the damnation of infants. On the contrary, how plainly did he teach that God is One; that our heavenly Father is the only true God; that he was dependent on his Father for his existence and all his powers; that of such as children consisted the kingdom of heaven; that he who asketh, seeketh, and knocketh, shall obtain salvation; that our Father in heaven is more ready to give his holy spirit to those who desire it, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children ; that whoever would inherit eternal life must keep the commandments; and that every one will be rewarded according to his deeds. Now we must all acknowledge that Jesus knew what was in man; knew what instructions were necessary to effect his salvation. So long therefore as the minister confines himself to such topics as those mentioned by our Saviour, his preaching will be practical and evangelical. And when he presents such subjects in an intelligible, explicit, charitable, pungent manner, his sermons will accomplish the great ends of gospel preaching, and meet the wants of all serious Christians.
Such is the minister's duty in relation to the public instructions of the church. What then are the corresponding duties of a people? Hearers are bound to listen candidly, to judge charitably, and to apply faithfully. They will hear with candor. They will remember that their preacher thinks for himself; that he addresses hundreds more, who also think for themselves; and that it is absolutely impossible for him so to think on all subjects as to coincide in opinion with every hearer. They will doubtless agree with the minister of their choice in everything essential to good morals and final salvation; otherwise they would not attend upon his ministrations.
his ministrations. But on the endless variety of topics which come under discussion, unity of belief is not to be expected. Whenever, therefore, he advances opinions inconsistent with their present views, they will honestly endeavor to learn his true meaning, to refrain from drawing unjust inferences, and ever abstain from magnifying real or apparent differences.—They will also exercise a charitable judgement. Before they accuse him of promulgating hurtful errors, they will carefully compare his statements and conclusions with the unerring scriptures. And if, after impartial examination, they are compelled by evidence to dissent from his peculiarities, they will still have sufficient charity to believe his heart may be right, though they consider his head to be wrong. They will cheerfully concede to him the same rights which they claim for themselves, and imitate the commendable example of the Bereans.-- They will likewise endeavor to make a faithful application of the public instructions to their own hearts and consciences. This is absolutely necessary to give them any efficacy ; to make them answer the design of the christian ministry. Unless they perform this duty, their preacher may as well address the stones of the street, or the trees of the forest. But if they co-operate with him, the fruits of his labors will appear in their increasing piety, benevolence, and holiness.
A SISTER'S GIFT; consisting of conversations on sacred subjects,
intended for the instruction and amusement of the younger branches of her family, on Sundays. 2 vols.
We have read these unpretending little volumes with entire approbation. They were written by an English lady, an Episcopalian, but are wholly free from anything exceptionable in doctrine or expression. They are written with correctness and in a style of pleasing simplicity, and contain many just and striking views and observations fitted to make a salutary impression on young minds. We are particularly gratified with the
pure and elevated tone of moral and religious feeling which pervades the work. It is a book of precisely the character wanted for families and juvenile libraries. It consists, as stated in its title, of conversations on several religious subjects, among which are the conduct of Jonah, and of Daniel; the second commandment; the destruction of Jerusalem; the conduct of the disciples in forsaking Jesus; the persecutions of the early Christians; the origin of monkish retirement; the Emperor Constantine; the Passover; prayer ; domestic unity ; truth; the appearance of Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection; a taste for devotion ; observance of the Sabbath ; and several others of an interesting and practical nature.
The present edition was published by the Boston Sunday School Society in connexion with the American Unitarian Association, and forms one of a series, original and selected, which the society proposes to publish, suitable for juvenile readers. The society deserves the thanks of the public for what it has already done, and we hope that it will be enabled to succeed in its truly laudable design. Besides the intrinsic merit of its publications, they are very neatly printed, and come recommended for their remarkable cheap
The Private Correspondence of Dr Doddridge, Edited from the Originals, by his great-grandson, John Doddridge Humphreys, Esq.' has been recently published in England. This work belongs to a class of writings of a peculiarly attractive, and often of a very in