« VorigeDoorgaan »
The greater probability is justly infer- These thoughts on a subject red, agreeably to the promises of scrip, which has engaged no inconsiderature, from the prayer's being accepted ble attention in our own day comand heard. But a great deal of caution and circumspection must be used would rest their faith on the word
mend themselves to those who in drawing inferences of this nature. Persons may in many ways be deluded. of God, as its exclusive foundation. The ground on which some expect that They justify the general conclusion they shall receive the thing they have that in regard to the most imporasked for, is rather a strong imagina- tant blessings, if we receive not, it tion than any humble faith in the divine is because we ask not; or do not sufficiency. They have a strong per- ask with that degree of humility and suasion that the thing asked will be simplicity of faith which becomes granted, (which they can give no rea
us. But they do not justify the son for) without any remarkable discovery of the glory and fulness of God unqualified assertion so often made, and Christ, that is the ground of faith. that if any person, or body of men, Sometimes the confidence which per- receive not a particular blessing gons have, that their prayers shall be which is not specifically promised answered, is only a self-righteous con- to believers, it is because they have fidence and no true faith. They have no faith. The highest degree of a high conccit of themselves as emi. faith in the judgment of Edwards, nent saints and special favourites of is connected with only the probaGod, and have also a high conceit of the prayers they have made, because ble experience of such a blessing, they were much enlarged and affected thouch particularly implored. The in them, and hence they are positive in withholding of it therefore does not it, that the thing will come to pass. certainly prove that those who seek And sometimes when once they have it have not faith eren in its highest conceived such a notion, they grow exercise; and much less that they stronger and stronger in it, and this have no evangelical faith. they think is from a divine hand upon
Errors in conduct had arisen altheir minds to strengthen their confidence; whereas it is only by their so, the author remarks from the dwelling on their own excellencies and principle that whatever is found to high experiences. In order to our be of present and immediate benefit, drawing a just inference from the sup- may and ought to be practised, posed assistance we have had in prayer without looking forward to future for a particular mercy, and judging of consequences.”' In opposition to the probability of the bestowment of this principle, he insists that, in rethat individual mercy, many things must be considered. We must consid- gard to measures not particularly er the importance of the mercy sought, enjoined in the Scriptures, we are and the principle whence we so earn
to be governed by discretion, and estly desire it, how far it is good and that sound di:cretion requires us agreeable to the mind and will of God; to look not only at the immediate the degree of love to God that we ex- effect, but also at the probable remoercised in our prayer, the degree of ter consequences—particularly that discovery that is made of the divine suf- ministers should be cautious of unficiency, and the degree in which our necessarily ruffling the minds, and assistance is manifestly distinguishing with respect to that mercy. And there exciting the opposition of those is nothing of greater importance in the whom they consider unconverted, argument, than the degree of humility, --of introducing things new and poverty of spirit, and resignation to strange which have a tendency to the holy will of God, which God gives surprise and shock men--and genus the exercise of, in our seeking that erally, of hasty zeal and violent meamercy. Prayer for a particular mercy
What he would have said with much of these things I have often seen blessed with a remarkable bestow- concerning the practice of persual ment of the particular thing asked for." ding the unconverted to enter into
engagements respecting their re- gain them in some form) let there pentance, we cannot certainly de- be a fair and full understanding of cide ; but that he would not have the nature of the promise sought. adopted it, merely because it might Under the head of “ things to be prove in many instances success- corrected or avoided,” the practice ful, his general principle decides ; of " lay-exhorting,” has an imporand the only remark which I would tant place; and amidst the disputes make respecting it, is, that in a which had arisen on that subject, concern of this moment, whatever the author supposes that all were is done, should be clearly defined agreed to as to these two things-and well understood. If it be in- that all exhortation of one another tended only to persuade impenitent by laymen is not improper, but on sinners to promise that they imme- the contrary some kind of exhortdiately begin to carry into effect ing is a Christian duty, and that those general purposes of seeking there is also some kind or way of God at some undefined period, exhorting and teaching others, that which most impenitent sinners un- belongs only to the office of teachder the gospel adopt, they shoulders. These two ways of teaching understand that this is all that is and exhorting may be expressed meant. Or if the design be to in- by the two names of preaching duce them to promise that within and Christian conversation. But a specified time, they will turn to then a great deal of difficulty and God, in evangelical repentance, controversy arises to determine what this also should be understood : is preaching and what is Christian and they should also be taught the conversation. His thoughts, on this nature of that repentance which view of the subject, are expressed they engage to perform, and be under two general remarks. made to perceive that at the moment of their making the promise, horting one another ought not to clothe
“ First, the common people in exthey have no intention of fulfilling themselves with the like authority with it, and no reasonable ground for that which is proper for ministers. In the belief that they will fulfil it, but order to a man's preaching, special autheir fulfilment of it depends en- thority must be committed to him. tirely upon the sovereign pleasure How shall they preach except they be of God, without respect to any pre
sent? Ministers, in this work of teachvious wishes, intentions or promis- ing and exhorting, are clothed with aues of their own. Paul appealed to
thority as Christ's messengers, as rephis brethren that his ministrations resenting him, and so speaking in his
name and in his stead. And it seems had been without guile. Every to be the most honourable thing that semblance of duplicity, or artifice belongs to the office of a minister of is most abhorrent to the work of the Gospel, that to him is committed winning souls, and when suspected the word of reconciliation, and that he can hardly fail of confirming ihe ob- has power to preach the gospel as duracy of those whom it is employ
Christ's messenger." ed to gain. No instances of its ap- This rule, however, he observes, parent success can justify it. It is is violated not by the circumstance in itself odious to the God of truth, of “the numbers in whose hearing totally uncongenial to the gospel, a layman speaks ;” or “ of his loud and, in its general tendency, favour- and earnest voice ;” or “ of the able only to the kingdom of darkness. public place in which he happens to If therefore any choose to gain be;" but by “his setting himself up promises from the impenitent, (and as a public teacher ;” or “the auihere are few faithful ministers it thoritative language and manner is believed, who never endeavour to which he assumes.” Vol. I.--No. VI.
" And then may a man be said to set there was an unhappy stop put to the up himself as a public teacher when in joy of the congregation of Israel, in a set speech, of design, he directs him- bringing up the ark of God because self to a multitude, as looking that they others carried it besides the Levites. should compose themselves to attend And therefore David, when the error to what he has to say; and much more was found out, says, “None ought to when this is a contrived and premedi- carry the ark of God but the Levites tated thing, without any thing like a only: for them hath the Lord chosen constraint by any extraordinary affec- to carry the ark of God and to minis. tion that he is then under; and more ter unto him for ever." And because still, when meetings are appointed on one presumed to touch the ark, that purpose to hear lay persons exhort and was not of the sons of Aaron, the Lord they take it as their business to be made a breach upon them and covered speakers, while they expect that others their day of rejoicing with a cloud in will come and attend as hearers. When his anger." private Christians take it upon them in private meetings, to act as the masters Never was there a time, it should or presidents of the assembly, and ac
be remarked, when there was a cordingly, from time to time, to teach and exhort the rest, this has the ap
greater demand for Christian inpearance of authoritative teaching."
struction and exhortation, than that -Secondly, no man but only a min
in which these thoughts were pubister that is duly appointed to that sa
lished ; and never were complaints cred calling onght to follow teaching of the negligence, blindness and unand exhorting as a calling. If a lay faithfulness of constituted teachers man does not assume authority in his more common. Whatever circumteaching, yet ir he forsakes his proper stances can be supposed to justify a calling, or doth so at least in a great departure from the order of the gosmeasure, and spends his time in going about from house to house, to counses pel on this subject, then existed. In and exhort, he goes beyond his line and the view of many the existing circumviolates Christian rules. Those that stances did justify such departure ; have the office of teachers or exhort- and the disunion, error and misrule ers, have it for their calling, and should which resulted, the lapse of eighty make it their business as a business years has not been sufficient to reproper to their office; and none should make it their business but such. Rom. warned by experience so painful!
move. Happy if we are efl'ectually xii. For I say through the grace given unto me, to every man that is
To these remarks already extend
among you, not to think more highly of him- ed beyond my original design, I self than he ought to think, but to shall subjoin only a single selection think soberly, according as God has from the “Thoughts” of Edwards dealt to every man the proportion of concerning the importance of pasfaith. For as we have many members, toral zeal. There is perhaps no in one body, and all members have not part of the work which so much as the same office, so we being many are
This deserves the frequent contemone body in Christ. He that teacheth let him wait on teaching, or he that ex
plation of the ministers of Christ. horteth on exhortation. 1 Cor. xii. 29.
It is far easier to descant upon the Are all apostles? Are all prophets? extravagances of the favoured inAre all teachers ? 1 Cor. vii. 20. Let struments of divine grace in winevery man abide in the same calling ning souls, than to summon one's wherein he was called.--It will be self to a decided and patient zeal a very dangerous thing for layınen, in in prosecuting his work. It is either of these respects, to invade the possible that ihe greater part of the office of a minister. If this be common among us we shall be in danger of hav. prejudices which are felt and uttering a stop put to the work, and the ed against those whom God honark's turning aside from us, before it ours, will be found to have originacomes to Mount Zion, and of God's ted in a spirit of indifference to the making a breach upon us; as of old object of their toil. It is scarcely
to be doubted that if the sweeping as he who by a wise selection of violence of ignorance and misgui- means, devotes himself to the or ded zeal is deplorable, the dead dinary objects of human pursuit. calm of a timid, self-indulgent, worldly-wise, luke-warmness is far “Two things,” says Edwards in the
Too many of the minis- passage to which I referred, “that are ters of the gospel, it is to be feared, exceeding needful in ministers, as they are satisfied with the soundness would do any great matters, to advance of their doctrine, and the regular- the kingdom of Christ, are zeal and
resolution. The influence and power ity of their ministrations ; and
of these things, to bring to pass great when their people are still slumber
effects, is greater than can well be iming in death, with the convenient re
agined: A man of but an ordinary caference of the event to Him who pacity, will do more with them, than “ will have mercy on whom he will one of ten times the parts and learning have mercy." Without controver- without them: More may be done with sy salvation is of the Lord. No them, in a few days, or at least weeks, human power can convert a soul.
than can be done without them, in maBut neither the freeness of divine
ny years. Those that are possessed of
these qualities, commonly carry the grace, nor the sovereignty of divine day, in almost all affairs. "Most of the operations, supersedes the neces
great things that have been done in the sity, nor affords a reasonable dis- world of mankind, the great revolucouragement, in the application, of tions that have been accomplished in the appointed means of salvation. the kingdoms and empires of the earth, When a minister of the gospel has
have been chiefly owing to these things. sought a revival of religion among
The very sight or appearance of a thorthe people of his charge ; when he oughly engaged spirit
, together with has made the awakening and con
fearless courage and unyielding resolu
tion, in any person, that has undertaken version of sinners a distinct object the managing any affair amongst manof persevering prayer and strenuous kind, goes a great way towards accomeffort; when he has prosecuted this plishing the effect aimed at. It is evobject by a patient application of ident that the appearance of these all divinely appointed means “ both things in Alexander, did three times as publicly and from house to house ;"
much towards his conquering the world, and when for a series of years, bis
as all the blows that he struck. And zeal for it has been a principle of Oliver Cromwell did, owing to these
how much were the great things that action, paramount to his love of things? And the great things that Mr. ease, of esteem, of worldly conveni. Whitefield has done, every where, as ence, and literary gratification, if at he has run through the British domin. last he have entirely failed of suc- ions, (so far as they are owing to means) cess, then he may take up the la- are very much owing to the appearance mentation - I have laboured in
of these things, which he is eminently vain—I have spent my strength for possessed of. When the people see
these things apparently in a person, nought and in vain.” It would be
and to a great degree, it awes them, presumptuous to say that the case
and has a commanding influence upon supposed has never even in this their minds; it seems to them that they favoured period of the most fa- must yield; they naturally fall before voured dispensation of God, been them, without standing to contest or realized ; but of all matters which dispute the matter; they are conquerexperience has sanctioned, nothing
ed as it were by surprize. But while is better established than the prin. on in a dull manner, in an old formal
we are cold and heartless, and only go ciple, that the man who, by the use of round, we shall never do any great matdivinely appointed means seeks the
ters. Our attempts, the appearance of conversion of souls, may proceed such coldness and irresolution, will not with as cheering hope of success, so much as make persons think of yield
ing: They will hardly be sufficient to “Zeal and courage will do much in put it into their minds; and if it be put persons of but an ordinary capacity; into their minds, the appearance of such but especially would they do great indifference and cowardice, does as it things, if joined with great abilities. were call for, and provoke opposition. If some great men, that have appearOur misery is want of zeal and cour- ed in our nation, had been as eminent age; for not only through want of them, in divinity, as they were in philosophy, does all fail that we seem to attempt, but and had engaged in the Christian it prevents our attempting any thing cause, with as much zeal and fervor as very remarkable, for the kingdom of some others have done, and with a proChrist. Hence, oftentimes it has been, portional blessing of heaven, they that when any thing very considerable, would have conquered all Christendom, that is new, is proposed to be done, for and turned the world upside down. We the advancement of religion, or the pub- have many ministers in the land that lic good, many difficulties are found out, do not want for abilities, they are perthat are in the way, and a great many sons of bright parts and learning; they objections are started, and it may be, should consider how much is expected, it is put off from one to another; but and will be required of them, by their nobody does any thing. And after this Lord and master, and how much they manner good designs or proposals have might do for Christ, and what great oftentimes failed, and have sunk as soon honour, and how glorious a reward they as proposed. Whereas if we had but might receive, if they had in their hearts Mr. Whitefield's zeal and courage, an heavenly warmth, and divine heat, what could not we do, with such a proportionable to their light.” blessing as we might expect ?
A FRIEND TO REVIVALS..
The Death of Christ; being the death, Christ had actually done in
Substance of several Sermons de- the way of personal service, to the livered in Park Street Church, cause in which he was engaged, Boston, in the month of January, and what fair prospects of future 1826. By S. EDWARDS Dwight. usefulness, in the way of personal Boston : Crocker & Brewster. labours, he relinquished, when he
devoted himself so early to death. (Continued from page 277.) We cannot forbear to quote it as a 11. His death was voluntary. specimen of the happy, simple, and Under this head, the circumstances forcible method of writing, which are brought together, which go to Mr. D. exhibits in various parts of prove, that Jesus might at the time the Tract which is under considerof his final apprehension, have es
ation. caped the hands of his enemies, as
“ He entered on his ministry after he had often done before. But the
he was thirty years of age. The preappointed hour was now come ; the vious part of his life was passed in hour too when he was voluntarily such absolute obscurity at Nazareth, a to deliver himself up to death. This village in the remote parts of Galilee, he did. The whole is appropriate that, notwithstanding the remarkable ly and forcibly illustrated.
scenes of his infancy—the annuncia12. His death took place early tion to the shepherds
, the offerings of after he entered upon his public min- and Anna, the murder of the infants, istry. Under this head, Mr. D.
and the conversations with the doctors shows how little at the time of his in the temple he lived there all this