« PreviousContinue »
church, under the grace and providence of God, which has enabled us to refiit all the shocks we have lately felt from the satani. cal spirit of division, and to remain firm as a rock.
We may just add, that it is customary for the presiding elders, or in their absence the preachers who have the charge of circuits, to hold quarterly, or half-yearly conferences with the local preachers and exhorters respectively under their care, to examine into their grace, gifts and usefulness, and into the state of the work of God a custom of exceeding great utility, and, therefore, such as, we trust, will never be neglected.
SE C T I O N XI.
of the Trial of those who think they are move
ed by the Holy Ghost to preach. Quest. 1. OW shall we try those who profess to be
moved by the Holy Ghost to preach? Answ. 1. Let the following questions be asked, viz. Do they know God as a pardoning God? Have they the love of God abiding in them? Do they desire and feek nothing but God? And are they holy in all manner of conversation ?
2. Have they gifts (as well as grace) for the work ? Have they (in fome tolerable degree) a clear, found understanding, a right judgment in the things of God, a just conception of salvation by faith? And has God given them any degree of utterance? Do they speak justly, readily, clearly?
3. Have they fruit? Are any truly convinced of fin, and converted to God, by their preaching ?
As long as these three marks concur in any one, we believe he is called of God to preach. These we receive as sufficient proof that he is moved by the Holy Ghost.
N O T E S.
We have enlarged on the present subject in our notes on the 8th fection of this chapter. Every reader may from hence pera ceive the care we take in receiving our preachers and ministers. As the presiding elders, or those who have the charge of cir
cuits, are attentive to the examination of the local preachers and exhorters, so the yearly conferences are attentive to the gifts, grace, and usefulness of all the travelling preachers and minifters. Nothing will do for us without the life of God. Brilliant parts, fine address, &c. are to us but tinkling cymbals, when deftitute of the power of the Holy Ghost.
At the same time we are far from despising talents which may be rendered useful to the church of Christ. We know the worth of improved abilities: and nothing can equal our itinerant plan, in the opportunity it affords of suiting our various societies with men of God, who are endued with gifts agreeable to their respective wants.
The following texts may illustrate the present subject. Gal. i. 15, 16. “ When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal bis Son in me, that I might prcach him among the heathen; imniediately I conferred not with Mesh and blood.” You may here observe, that Christ was revealed in St. Paul, that he might preach. This is an essential requisite for every preacher of the gospel :- and he who attempts to enter into the sheepfold by any other door, than Christ-Christ revealed in him, and moving him by his Spirit to preach the word, is a thief and a robber; but, blessed be God, “the sheep will not follow him, but fiee from him !"'! See the roth chapter of St. John. Again, St. Paul desires his Ephe- Jians to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and” to watch “thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all faints; and for me,” adds he," that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds; that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak, Eph. vi. 18—20. If the apostle had need of the prayers of the faints, that he might have the spiritual gift of utterance, how much more need, alas ! have we? Once
“ Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men; for- asmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart, 2 Cor. iii. 2, 3. Here was fruit! The Lord grant us much of this fruit !
Of the Matter and Manner of Preaching,
and of other public Exercises. Quest. 1. HAT is the best general method of W
fure in every
Anfw. 1. To convince: 2. To offer Chrift: 3. To Invite : 4. To build up: And to do this in some mea
fermon. Queft. 2. What is the most effectual way of preaching Christ?
Answ. The moft effe&tual way of preaching Christ, is to preach him in all his offices; and to declare his law, as well as his gospel, both to believers and unbelievers. Let us ftrongly and closely infift upon inward and outward holiness in all its branches.
Queft. 3. Are there any smaller advices, which might be of ufe to us?
Answ. Perhaps these: 1. Be sure never to disappoint a congregation. 2. Begin at the time appointed. 3. Let your whole deportment be ferious, weighty, and folemn. 4. Always fuit your subject to your audience. 5. Choose the plainest text you can. 6. Take care not "to ramble, but keep to your text, and make out what you take in hand. 7. Take care of any thing aukward or affected, either in your gesture, phrase, or pronunciation. 8. Print nothing without the approbation of the conference, or of one of the bishops. 9. Do not usually pray ex tempore above eight or ten minutes (at most) withont intermission. 10. Frequently read and enlarge upon a portion of fcripture ; and let young preachers often exhort without taking a text. 11. Always avail yourself of the great festivals, by preaching on the occafion.
The preaching of the gospel is of the first importance to the welfare of mankind; and, confequently, the mode of preaching inust be of confiderable moment. It is not the fine metaphysical reasoning: it is not the philosophical difquisitions of the works of nature under the pretext of raising up our minds to the great Creator, which regenerate the heart, and stamp the image of Ged upon the soul. No. The preacher must,
1. Convince the finner of his dangerous conditiān. He mult
break up the fallow ground." “Cry aloud, spare not,” says the Lord to his prophet, “ lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and fhew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their lins,” Ifai. Iviii. 1. He must set forth the depth of original fin, and thew the finner how far he is gone from original righteousnefs; he must describe the vices of the world in their juft and niost striking colours, and enter into all the finner's pleas and exauses for fin, and drive him from all his subterfuges and strongholds. He must labour to convince the formalist of the impofiibility of being justified before God by his ceremonial or moral righteousness. Myriads are continually perishing, yea, thousands of-thofe who acknowledge in speculation the great truths of the gospel, through their dependance upon ordinances or upon an outwardly moral life. “ In Christ Jesus neither circumcision · availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature," Gal. vi. 15. See the texts on the 8th and 9th articles of religion.
2. He must set forth the virtue of the atoning blood. He must bring the mourner to-a prefent Saviour : he must few the wil. lingness of Christ this moment to bless him, and bring a present salvation home to his soul. Here he must be indeed a son of confolation. He rast say nothing which can keep the trembling mourner at a distance: he must not provide for him a rich feast, and hand it up to him in dishes too hot to be touched. There must be nothing now held forth to the view of the penitent but the everlasting arms, and the mercy which is ready to embrace him on every side. “ Come unto me,” says our Lord, “ all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," Matt. xi. 28. “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wife cast out,” John vi. 37. “ Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart, in full affarance of faith,” &c. Heb. x, 19-22.
3. He must, like a true thepherd, feed the lambs and sheep of Christ. He must point out to the newly justified the wiles of Satan, and strengthen them if they stagger through unbelicf. He must set before them the glorious privileges offered to them in the gospel. He must nourish them with the pure milk of the word. Those who are more adult in grace, he must feed with strong meat. He must shew them the necessity of being crucified to the world, and of dying daily: that“ if they mortify not the deeds of the flesh, they shall die.” He must not spare the remaining man of fin: he must anatomize the human heart, and follow self-will and self-love through all their windings. And all this being addressed to the children of God, he must do it
with great tenderness. “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily,” says the apostle, I.. Cor. xv. 31.
“ If ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live," Rom viii. 13. “ Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. iii. 18.
And now he must again turn the son of consolation. He must hold forth Christ as an all-sufficient Saviour, as “able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Heb. vii. 25. He must describe to them, in all its richest views, the blessing of perfect love. He must now declare how our great Zerubbahcl is this morrent able and willing to reduce the mountain into a plain. And all the above he must endeavour more or less to introduce into every sermon which he delivers to a mixed congregation. “ The very God of peace fan&ify you wholly, and I pray God. your whole spirit, soul, and borly be preserved blameless unto the conring of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it," I Theff. v. 23. “ This is the will of God, even your fanctification," iv. 3.
He must preach the law as well as the gospel. He must hold forth our adorable Redeemer as a prophet to teach, a priest to atone, and a king to reign in us and over us. He must break the sony heart, as well as bind up the broken. But still boliness inward and outward must be his end : holiness must be his aim : and antinomianism and every doctrine which opposes holiness, he inust contend with, till he gain the victory, or render his hearers utterly inexcusable. Who is fit for these things ?' O Lord: God, help us all! Let us do our utmost, and leave the blesing to the Lord.
Acts iii. 22.“ A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren." Heb. v. 6,“ Thou art a
Priest for ever.” Isai. xxxii. 1.“ Behold. a king shall reign in righteousness.” O let us never be wearied, of exalting Christ, as living in us, well as dying for us.
Some useful smaller advices are now given, I. Never break an engagement. This we have enlarged upon under the 8th section of this chapter.
2. The second advice belongs only to town-congregations, where they have clocks and watches to direct them. In such cases, if_they attend not exac2ly at the appointed time, they will be equally tardy, if the preacher habitually wait for them ever so long. But every wliere let him be always at the time. It is inexcusable in one to make a thousand, or even a hundred, wait for him. Lec"no inan put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way,” Roni. xiv. 13.