תמונות בעמוד

wisdom, their minds and their wills, are all in accordance with the scheme of doctrine maintained by the institutions to which they owe their authority. What must we naturally expect from such teachers ? Answer: they will feed the people with all the inconsistencies and contradictions, all the partiality and vindictive wrath, which are maintained in the schools where they were educated. As an example of what we here state, we refer you to the theological institution at Jerusalem ; at the head of which was placed Dr. Gamaliel. Saul, the persecutor, was a pupil of this school of divinity; and he was according to the spirit, wisdom, and disposition of that institution. In perfect accordance with the interest of that wisdom in which he had been taught, he was exceedingly mad against Christ and his religion ; and breathed out threatenings and slanghter against his disciples. By the authority which stood in support of the institution, at which this persecutor was doctrinated, he was authorized to take all that believed in the name of Jesus, and commit them to prison, whether men or women. But when this same person was appointed a minister of Jesus Christ, it was the work of no theological school of human establishment; it was the work of that God, who says in our text," I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." What an amazing change is this, which was effected in this infuriated persecutor ! He is no longer in the spirit and interest of the school where he had obtained his education ; but he is now in the spirit and interest of the gospel of Jesus Christ, whom he had before persecuted.

Had it been left to the Jews and Gentiles to have set up a ministry, and to appoint ministers, the doctrine of Jesus would not have been their scheme ; nor would men, such as were the apostles of the Saviour, been appointed to its public labours.

From motives, by which the human heart is susceptible of influence, individuals may take it upon themselves to become pastors or teachers. They may be deceived, and believe that God has sent them, when it is only the desire of their own hearts, occasioned by a zeal which is not according to knowledge: or they may appoint themselves to this work, because they desire those honours and emoluments which they find are attached to the profession. But my friends, there is not the least difficulty in determining whether a man be appointed by himself, or whether he be sent of God. If he has appointed himself, he will preach himself. But he will endeavour, first of all, to make you believe that he is sent of God. To do this, he will talk much about his love of, and concern for your poor souls. He will appear to be in an agony for the salvation of precious, immortal souls. He wlll solemnly declare how much he prays for your conversion, and that you may have an interest in the Saviour. He will inform you, that he weeps for you in the silent hours of the night ; ard that he is willing to spend and be spent for your salvation. When people hear all this, they say, this must be a good man, a good minister ; how he loves our souls ! This, my friends, is just what he wishes you to think and say. His object is now obtained. Your minds are placed on him; you love him in return for his loving you, or saying he loves you; and this is the object he had in view when he told you all these things. If he had been appointed by our heavenly Father, if he had been a minister of Jesus Christ, he would have employed his arguments to persuade you to believe in the love of God, manifested through his Son to a sinful world. But he will not allow that God is as much engag. ed in the salvation of your souls as he is. If you ask him if he would save all men, if it were in his power, he would answer, Yes ; even if it cost my life. If you ask him whether God has power

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to save all men, he will very coolly answer in the affirmative ; but will not allow that he loves his creatures enough to exert this power for their salvation. Now which is the best being, this minister, who would save all men if he could, or his God, who has this power, and yet will not do it ? The minister, be sure. Which do the people love the best ? Him, who they believe loves them the best. Our subject is now perfectly clear. The preacher appointed himself, and he preaches himself: he stands directly between God and the people, and their eyes are on him, and not on God, they love him, but do not love God: they put their trust in him, but not in God. Jesus said, “ He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory ; but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, the same is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him." Ministers who directly, or indirectly imply, in their preaching, that they are better than our Father in heaven ; and talk of their own love and zeal, certainly seek their own glory ; and to exalt themselves in the estimation of the people.

The attention of the audience is now invited to the consideration of the holy things which are to be ministered to the people. Remember, our text says, “which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." This, we have already observed, gives us to understand, that the preachers sent of God, preach what they know and understand; and what the people can know and understand.

We shall here take the liberty to call up a few leading articles in the orthodox creed, which for ages have been considered as indispensable truths: a deviation from which, excludes from the Christian communion and fellowship. We shall not, at this time, undertake to disprove those inventions of human wisdom ; but only to inquire whether they are facts which are known and understood. If they are, then they are the proper subjects to be ininistered as spiritual, food to the people: but

if not, then the conclusion is unavoidable, that those who preach them, do not, in so doing, feed von with knowledge and understanding.

The first particular which we will at this time, call in question, is what is called the fall of man. This doctrine supposes that Adam, by one transression, effected a radical change in his natural constitution, and in the natural constitution of all his numerous posterity ; so that whereas he was a holy being before, he and all his postertiy were unholy ever after this first transgression. We say nothing concerning the natural absurdity of this sentiment, nor shall we labour, at this time, to prove it false ; but we would ask whether those divines, who have inculcated such a sentiment, know it to be a fact ? Suppose it were true, how do preachers know it? Is it so written in the scriptures ? No; there is not a word of this sort in the sacred writings. The fact is, if this notion be true, no man knows it to be so ; there is no possible way that he should know it; and therefore, it does not belong to the labours of the true ministry. You have heard this doctrine laboured by learned divines; did you ever understand it? You answer, No. Then you were never fed, by such preaching, with knowledge and understanding.

Another subject, which has been held in equal veneration as the former, is the sentinent that all mankind, by the fall, became liable to the pains of hell for ever.

We ask, do preachers know this to be a fact ? Do we read this sentiment in the holy scriptures ? These questions must be answered in the negative. We read nothing of it, nor does any man know it to be a fact. Then we say, it does not belong to those provisions which the true ministry is designed to minister to the people. Those divines who found it convenient to insert this tenet in the creed which has been so long worshipped, also stated, that God, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life. My friends, did they understand

themselves ? How could Adam's sin render those liable to the pains of hell for ever, whom God had elected to everlasting life, from all eternity? These statements are in close connection in the creed, but it is certain that they are diametrically opposed to each other. Can you, my friends, understand how Adam's sin could render those liable to the pains of hel} for ever, whom God elected to everlasting life from all eternity? You answer, that you never understood it. Then by such preaching you were never fed with knowledge and understanding.

Respecting this particular election of some to everlasting life; do you believe that those preachers who hold up this sentiment, and endeavour to persuade you to believe that our Creator made a distinction among men, from all eternity, designing some to everlasting life, and predestinating others to endless destruction, know this to be a fact ? Aster all-you have heard them say on this subject, do you believe that they could state, with perfect safety, that they know this doctrine to be true ? Have they so instructed you, that you can say that you know it to be a fact? You must answer these questions in the negative ; and therefore, those who have preached it, have not fed you with knowledge and understanding.

Another very important tenet, contained in orthodox divinity, and which has been for a long time held most sacred, is the notion, that what the scriptures mean by regeneration, or a new birth, is a radical change of our nature ; which change is an instantaneous work of the divine spirit, wrought in the soul, by which change the subject is brought back to that holy state in which God created man. There is scarcely any subject more insisted on than this, by ministers of our schools. But do they certainly know this to be a fact ? Do they know that they are changed as to their nature? Do they know for certainty that any body else is? It is not customary to allow a person to be his own judge

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