but ye have received the spirit of are still going on in trespasses adoption, whereby eve cry, Abba, and sins. O God of boundless father. The spirit itself beureth love and compassion, have pity witness with our spirit, that we on such as are so far sunk in igare the children of God;) was norance, blindness, and infidelibrought to my mind in the same ty, as not to discover the infinite manner. And immediately Eph. obligations they lie under to thee, i. 13, 14, In whom ye also trust- as their continual preserver and ed, after that ye heard the words benefactor, and who hast not of truth, the gospel of your salva- withheld thine only Son, but derion ; in whom also after thut ye liveredst him up to be crucified believed, ye were sealed with that and slain, that we rebels should holy spirit of promise; which is live for ever. Lord, give them the carnest of yur inheritance, un hearts susceptible of light and til the redemption of the purchased truth; and do thou, who com frossession unto the praise of his mandedst the light to shine out of glory.

darkness, shine into their souls, I stood no longer wondering to give the light of the knowl: what it should mean, but seem- edge of the glory of God in the ed convinced by an intuitive face of Jesus Christ; to whom knowledge, that it was none oth- with God the Father, and God er than the Holy Spirit, sealing the Holy Ghost, le rendered age me to the day of redemption, criptions of glory and honor, and and filling me with that peace majesty, and dominion, for ever and joy in believing, which pas- and ever. Amen. seth all understanding. And

F. A. Jest some should think this was April 15, 1794: only a sudden flight of imagination, ict me tell them this frame and temper continued most of the week in a very great degree, From the Christian Observer. causing me frequently to shed fioods of tears for joy, and being Remarks on the Nature of Minisovercome with such astonishing terial Faithfulness, drawn from grace!

the example of John the BapThus I have endeavored, thro' tist. divine assistance, to give, though

in a poor, weak, and incoherent Chand the ministers of the

divine compassion towards the gospel in particular, may derive chief of sinners. And I do now some useful and important hints beseech the Father of mercies, respecting the nature of ministhat he would be graciously terial faithfulness, from the acpleased to cause his blessing to count which is given in scriprest upon this attempt to show ture of the preaching of John the forth his praise, and proclaim Baptist. He is there characterthe riches of free grace in Christ ised as a preacherof repentance; Jesus : That he would cause it and he unquestionably was very to be made subservient to the faithful in this duty. He ancomfort of his children, and the nounced, at the same time, the awakening of some of those who l approach of Jesus Christ, from



whence it may be inferred, that sect preferred, and the doctrines the doctrine of repentance ought on which they already dwelt conalways to accompany the publi-firmed by the prophet. “ Is tation of the glad tidings of sal- this, then, all that you have to vation.

say to us? Have we been at the Repentance is not a popular pains of travelling thus far into topic. Nevertheless, a large con- the wilderness, in order merely gregation comes even into the to be told to part with one of our wilderness to listen to John, and coats and with half of our meat to be baptized of him. Does he to our poor neighbors ? Is this proceed to flatter those who are the gospel ? Can such an ordinthere gathered round him? Does ary teacher be John the true he intimate that the duty of re- prophet, the forerunner of him pentance, though neglected by who is to be the Saviour of the others, may be presumed to world ?” have been already sufficiently “ Then came also publicans to fulfilled by the generality of his be baptized, and said unto him, audience? Does he inveigh a- master, what shall we do ? And gainst the absent, and spare his he said unto them, Exact no more own hearers ? “O generation than that which is appointed of vipers,” said he, “ who hath you.” The publicans were the wårned you to fiee from the tax-gatherers of those days, and wrath to come ;'- say not they were notorious for extorwithin yourselves we have Abra- tion. ham to our father ;" boast not " And the soldiers likewise of your privileges as Jews ; demanded of him saying, And bring forth fruits meet for re- what shall we do? And he said pentance "_" for now is the unto them, Do violence to no axe laid to the root of the tree. man, neither accuse any falsely, Every tree, therefore, that bring- and be content with your waeth not forth good fruit is hewn ges." The Roman soldiers were down and cast into the fire." remarkable for their insubordin

The people after this awful ation. A few of them were placed warning draw near, and ask, in each of the conquered provinwhat shall we do then? How ces, where they committed perdoes the Baptist reply? What petual acts of violence; and, in doctrine of the gospel does he order to justify their rapacity, urge? Which of its essential they raised many false accusatruths does he unfold ? His an- tions against the poor natives, swer is, “ He that hath two whom it was their duty to protect. coats let him impart to him that The prophet shewed remarkahath none, and he that hath meat ble courage in this last reply. let him do likewise."

Cæsar would not have dared to I have no doubt that the mul- administer the same rebuke to a stude were much disappointed party of soldiers. It would have by this reply. Probably many endangered his throne. But of them came to see some strik- the unarmed Baptist feared the ing exhibition, and to hear some face of no man ; and with the wonderful revelation ; many, no

same boldness with which he doubt, hoped to have their pres- told king Herod that it was not rent character approved, their lawful for him to have his broth

Vol. VI. No, 3.


er's wife (a saying for which he cannot make good. And, inwas beheaded,) he uttered before deed, they ill understand both the ferocious Roman soldiery the gospel and their own hearts those truths which, though eve- who have not learnt the importry one knew, no one except ance of paying regard to circumlimself ventured to declare to stances of time and place ; and their face.

who fancy that a zeal, which The diversity of these answers hurries them on in one strait unis a proof that John had consid- accommodating course, is charered the several vices of his acteristic of Christianity. Zeal hearers. Many a rebuke is mis- of this sort is soon learnt. It is placed, perhaps inany a sermon easy to contend for any doctrines is without effect, on account of with vehemence, but it is not so its being ill-accommodated to the easy to bend our humor, and to case of the auditors. There are suit our conversation, to all the some who think it is sufficient variety of cases which come beto preach the gospel in general, fore us ; to be mild when we or if they touch on repent should be mild, and bold when ance, to treat of it in general, we should be bold; to speak without pointing out the partie. when we should speak, and to ular sins to be repented of. If be silent when it is more prua certain number of general dent to restrain our tongues. It truths are delivered, God, as is far more agreeable to human they assume, will bless his own nature to be always bold, or alword as far as he sees fit; and ways timid, or always talkative, should no good be done, the fail-or always silent, as our tempers ure is accounted for by God's may chance to be. It is also not having been pleased to add more pleasant to confine ourhis blessing. This may be partly selves to one doctrine, or to one admitted, bat it may also hap- view of doctrines, than to direct pen that care has not been ta- our observations to the precise ken rightly to divide the word case of the auditors before us. of truth. The preacher may not It is more easy to give one anhave assailed his hearers on that swer to all men, than a separate side, on which they might have reply to the several individuals been attacked with most advan- who make their application to tage. He may have been gen-us. In the one instance a large eral, when he should have been acquaintance with human naparticular ; or he may have been ture, a deep knowledge of our timid, when boldness would have own hearts, a great superiority become him; or possibly he may to prejudice, and a careful attenhave been bold even to rudeness: tion to the case before us, are he may have been too unmea- requisite ; in the other, it is on. sured in his words ; he may, ly necessary to be furnished with in his heat, have charged some a few general truths, to have at sin on the conscience more ve- hand a certain stock of sayings hemently than the case admit- which may be learnt almost even ted ; and thus instead of con- by rote. demning others, he may have The true preacher of the gosstood condemned himself as a pel will, especially, direct his man who utters that which he aim against the reigning preju

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

dice, error, temptation, or sin, Herod cut off the preacher's whatever it may be. In one head. So it is now, men may, circle it will be of one kind, in with comparative ease, be bro't one of another. The soldier to hear any truths, and even to inust be attacked on the ground be fond of hearing them ; but of his insolence, the tax-gather- while the preacher rests in gener for his oppression, and the erals, the sinner is not reprovmultitude for their general sel- ed. Why have we so many fishness; and in this consists, mere hearers who seem to know indeed, one of the great difficul- every truth that is to be known, ties of preaching.

and yet are nearly as ungovernThe idle and superficial prea- ed in their tempers and as lax in cher, on the other hand, has their lives as a great part of the learnt to shine on a particular unbelievers ? One of the reatopic. Some doctrine which he sons I apprehend to be this, that can handle well is always his congregations are too seldom inchosen ground. Say what you structed in the nature of their will, he returns to this subject. own particular faults. There He thinks of no heresy, but that are few John the Baptists to spewhich he haś skill to combat. cify their sins; there are few Other errors as pernicious gain who like Nathan apply the parground without being noticed. able, and say, “ Thou art the Sometimes it even happens that man.” these superficial teachers agree- Let me not, however, be ing in this respect with their thought to discourage a due proequally superficial hearers, as- portion of doctrinal preaching, cribe to timidity, or to want of or to undervalue evangelical light, the procedure which I am truths. By no means. This is recommending, and venture to the very way in which those judge and condemn the minister truths are found to take effect. who has a larger knowledge of Would you invite a man to behuman nature and of the gospel. lieve in Christ ? first convince Would not such men have blam- him of sin. Would you coned the Baptist on the same vince him of sin ? name then ground ? Had the soldiers ask some particular sin, and prove ed them, What shall we do? that sin upon him. When bro. Would they not have affirmed ken under a sense of it, he will

doctrinal point, in the be more disposed to confess his preaching of which they con- general iniquity, and to acknowceive all boldness to consist ? | ledge, like David, recollecting But was there not more cour- his act of murder and adultery, age

in exhorting the soldiers to “ Behold I was born in sin and be content with their wages and shapen in iniquity, and in sin to do violence to no man, than did my mother conceive me." in proclaiming to them the most This is also a mode which private repulsive general truth? When Christians may sometimes adJohn preached generully to Her- vantageously follow in their reliod, the king "heard him glad- gious conversation with individly ;” but John descended

When a man is curious to particulars, and said it is not about doctrines, reply to his relawful to have thy brother's wife, I ligious questions as John an

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


swered those of the publicansmitted to return from that un. and soldiers, by pointing to his known country to satisfy our own besetting sin. Do not in- curiosity, and to answer the nudulge in doctrinal disputation. merous questions we should be Enter not the thorny path of eager to make concerning its controversy. Beware of meta nature and enjoyments. The physical niceties and of deep and book of God, indeed, which in. abstruse questions. These, in forms us of every thing that is deed, are topics on which he will most necessary for man to know, be glad to enter, and perhaps has partly removed the vail ; your skill in such disquisitions and though it has not told us may tempt you to accompany enough to satisfy curiosity, it him into this field of debate. has done what is far more im. But remember that all doctrine portant : it has given us such a is ill understood, while the con representation of the glory of science is unfeeling. Prove then the world to come as, without his sin upon him, and though explaining its precise nature, you proceed no further, you will may serve to elevate our expect: send him away prepared for the ations to the highest pitch, kinreception of further truth. Some dle our warmest desires, inspire other person, as I admit, may us with fortitude to bear the enter into your labors; but that evils of this transitory life, and ought to be a consideration of dispose us to consider the attain: little moment. There is, indeed, ment of heaven as the only. ob.. no want òf men who are ready ject which may justly claim our to administer the consolations of anxious solicitude and most Christianity, or to become in- strenuous endeavors. structors of others in the more But let us consider what those high and disputable points. circumstances are which consti

S. P. tute the happiness of heaven.

1. It is the peculiar residence of the Almighty. There will be

exhibited open displays of the From the Christian Observer. divine glory. There also will be

exhibited ihe most stupendous Reflections on the Nature and acts of divine power ; there the

Happiness of the Heavenly mind will be continually astonWorld.

ished, delighted, and elevated by

proofs of wisdom, not obscure, or THE mind of man is natur- sparing, or dubious, but clear

ally impressed with and manifest ; and there also anxious desire of knowing what will be poured forth in the richwill be his future state when he est variety and abundance the is removed out of this transitory treasures ofdivine goodness, withlife. We see our friends taken out any mixture of alloy or reaway from us to behold them no straint of enjoyment. In the more in this world; we know most striking and expressive that in a short time we ourselves way will the love of the Father shall be summoned to depart and of Jesus Christ, his only behence and be no more seen. gotten Son, be manifested in all And no one has yet been per- ! its fulness of good. There too

« VorigeDoorgaan »