« PreviousContinue »
3. The deepest seriousness at all times becomes the minister of the gospel : but in the pulpit there should not be even the appearance of a deviation from it. An ambailador of an earthly government, when immediately engaged in the duties of his enbassy, would be far from trifling: how much more should an ambassador of God? Do the work," therefore, “ of an evangelif, make full proof of thy ministry," 2 Tim. 4• 5.
4. A preacher who feeks the honour which comes from God, and not that which comes from man, will consider the spiritual wants of his audience, and choose his text and fubject accordingly. He will not preach to fhew his own abilities, but merely to do good. And indeed, if he preach not from this pure motive alone, he has no right to expect the blessing of God upon his labours. Sce Luke xii, 42–44.
5. Be cautious of allegorizing. It seldom informs the judge ment, and still feldomer warms the heart. It may be called a pretty way of talking. The preacher may be admired, but the hearer will be little edified. And what is applause, or any thing but the falvation of fouls, to the faithful minister of Chrift? The genuine language of his heart is, 'I aik not riches, honours, or pl-asures, gain or applause; I ask only for the salvation of souls!' " And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified," 1 Cor. ii. I, 2.
6. When the preacher has fixed upon the fubject which he jadges most suitable to the states of the fouls he is going to adctress, he must keep to his point. He muft labour to arrange his ideas, and to speak to the understanding as well as the heart.. He must first endeavour fully to explain, and then to apply, to « fhew" himself “ a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Tim. ii. 15.
7. He must take care, that his good be not evil fpoken of, or laughed at, if poffible, through any awkward or unmeaninge gestures in the pulpit. When the instruction of immortal fpirits is his employment, he should mind every thing little and great, which can assist hin in this glorious work, in which angels would envy him, if it were poffible for them to indulge fo base a passion. “ These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee," Tit. ii. 15.
8. Be not too forward in writing for the press. Nothing difgraces à cause so much, as to attempt to defend it in a feeble manner. Let not a few friends who are attached to you, and are not in the least degree judges of composition, prevail upon your to become an author. To write well requires a life devoted in a great measure to close and severe study. Preaching the everlast... ing gospel and spiritual instruction in seafon and out of seafon,
are your grand objects. There are fo many excellent publications already in the world, which by the means of the press may be put into every hand, that there are fewer neceffary to be written than many imagine. A few good writers in one church are quite sufficient, especially in ours, which has already been honoured with a Welley and a Fletcher. But particularly comply with our express rules on this fubject:
“ Of making many books there is no end,” says the wise man; Ecclef. xii. 12.
9. Scarcely any thing tends to damp divine service more than to be praying too long, and in a languid manner. Few things more tend to bring a congregation into a formal spirit. Somctimes indeed the minister is led within the vail in an unsual way, and may then justly give full vent to the holy flame. But on other occasions let the prayer be very fervent, and of a moderato length. “When ye pray” says our Lord, “ use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be- not ye therefore like unto them, Matt. vi. 7, 8.
10. A comment on a portion of fcripture is sometimes very profitable to the congregation, especially when a warm application is adjoined. And it is exceedingly useful for young preachers to habituate themselves to the giving of warm exhortations, otherwise they may get into a formal way of preaching without a due application of the subject. A fervent exhortation is preferable to a fermon without application. “ Till I come,” says St. Paul to, 'Timothy, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doce trine,” i Ep. iv. 13.
II. Souls are of so much value, that we should improve every: opportunity for their good. Shall the men of the world have carnal festivals on their birth-days, and shall we not commemorate the birth-day of our Lord ? The prinitive fathers of the church observed the day, which is now kept facred by most of the churches of christendom. Irenæus who was one of the fathers, was a disciple of St. Fobn; and the mother of Jesus lived with that apostle from the crucifixion of our Lord. There cannot therefore be a doubt but St. John knew, and of course his discia ples, Irenæus, Ignatius, and Polycarp, the day of our Lord's nativa, ity; and from them all the fathers of the church. Again, shall ftates and nations celebrate the day of liberation from Navery or oppression, or some other glorious event, from year to year? And shall we not celebrate by a holy festival the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord, and the mission of the Holy Spirit, to which we are indebted for blessings infinitely, more valuable than any which the revolution of states can poslibly afford.
Of the Duty of Preachers to God, themselves,
and one another.
H his charge
Queft. 1. OW fall a Preacher be qualified for
? Answ. By walking closely with God, and having his work greatly at heart : And by understanding and loving discipline, ours in particular. Queft
. 2. Do we sufficiently watch over each other? Antw. We do not. Should we not frequently ask each other, Do you walk closely with God? Have you now fellowship with the Father and the Son? At what hour do you rife? Do you punctually observe the morning and evening hour of retirement ? Do you spend the day in the manner which the conference advises ? Do you converfe feriously, usefully, and closely? To be more particular: Do you use all the means of grace yourself, and enforce the use of them on all other perfons? They are either instituted or prudential.
1. The instituted are,
1. Prayer; private, family, public; consisting of deprecation, petition, interceffion, and thanksgiving. Do
you use cach of these? Do you forecast daily wherever you are, to secure time for private devotion ? Do you practise it every where ? Do you ask every where, Have you family-prayer? Do you ask individuals, Do you ufe private prayer every morning and evening iif particular?
2. Searching the scriptures, by
(1) Reading; constantly, fonie part of every day; regularly, all the bible in order ; carefully, with notes a feriously, with prayer before and after: fruitfully, im: trediately practiling what you learn there?
(2) Meditating: At fet times ? By rule?
(3) Hearing : Every opportunity ? With prayer before, at, after? Have you a bible always about you ?
3. The Lord's fupper: Do you use this at every
opportunity ? With folemn prayer before! With earneft and deliberate felf-devotion ? 4. Fasting:
Do use as much abstinence and fait. ing every week, as your health, strength, and labour will permit?
5. Christian conference: Are you convinced how important and how difficult it is to order
converfa. tion aright? Is it always in grace? Seasoned with falt? Meet to minister grace to the hearers? Do you not converse too long at a time? Is not an hour commonly enough? Would it not be well always to have a determinate end in view ? And to pray before and after it?
II. Prudential means we may use, either as chriftians, as Methodists, or as preachers.
1. As christians: What particular rules have you in order to grow in grace? What arts of holy living? 2. As Methodists: Do you never miss your
3. As Preachers : have you thoroughly confidered . your duty ? And do you make a conscience of executing every part of it? Do you meet every society? Alfo, the leaders and bands? . These means may be used without fruit. But there are some means which cannot; namely, watching, denying ourselves, taking up our cross, exercife of the presence of God.
1. Do you steadily watch against the world? Your felf? Your besetting fin?
2. Do you deny yourself every useless pleasure of sense ? Imagination? Honour? Are you temperate in all things ? Instance in food. (1) Do you use only that kind, and that degree, which is best both for your body and foul? Do you see the neceffity of this? (2) Do you eat no more at each meal than is necessary? Are you not heavy or drowsy after dinner? (3) Do you use only that kind and that degree of drink which is bet both for your body and foul? (4) Do you chufe and use water for your common drink? And only take wine medicinally or sacramentally?
Wherein do you take up your cross daily? Do you cheerfully bear your cross, however grievous to rature, as a gift of God, and labour to profit thereby ? 4. Do you endeavour to set God always before you? Ꭰ
? To fee his eye continually fixed upon you? Never can you use these means, but a blessing will ensue. And the more you use them, the more will you grow in grace.
N o T E S.
The prefent section is full of matter. Sermons might be writoten upon it without exhausting it. It includes the whole of christianity. We can only give a few leading ideas on each article.
1. A minister of the gospel, who has consecrated all he is and has, and all he can do and suffer, to the fervice of his God, fhould: consides himself as eminently called to walk with God. His pe. culiar calling is of the most public nature. It is a public profeffion, that he is a reformer of mankind : it says more loudly than any words, “ I am, or ought to be, one of the best of men; fole: low me as I follow Christ.” It is the very depth of hypocrisy to preach and not live the gospel. Of all hypocrites such a one is the greatest. Nay, it is in vain to preach, it is in vain to fhew forth the most shining talents, if the life of the preacher correspond not with his doctrines. He may possibly have the. seward he seeks for here below : but the approbation of God he never will receive. “Many will say to me in that day," obferves our Lord, “ Lord; Lord, have we not prophesied in thy: name? and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will. I profess unto: them, I never knew you : depart from me, ye that work iniquity,'* Matt. vii. 22, 23.
The work of God must also lie near his heart : yea, his very foul must enter into it. "Nor must he be contented to preach, and then leave the souls he has been blessed to at the mercy of the world. He must seek out the awakened. He must fence in the flock. He must not only love, but, according to his sphere of action, recommend and enforce christian discipline, especially: the discipline of that church of which he is a member; without which there would be nothing but anarchy and confufion; and the word of God would in general become “ like water spilt upon the ground.” “ Neither count I my life dear unto myself," says St. Paul, “so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God," Ads xx.: 24.