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your Wetstein's Greek Testament refers to.
If you are still at a loss for the interpretation, apply to Lightfoot and Le Clerc's Notes, Bowyer's Conjectures, and last of all to Clarke's Paraphrase. In this train of inquiry, when you are once satisfied, stop, and by these means furnish an interleaved Greek Testament with notes.
In the Acts of the Apostles, besides the above mentioned books, except the Harmony, and Clarke's Paraphrase, read as you go along, Benson's History of the Christian Religion.
When you undertake the Epistles, pursue the same method with them, with this single addition, of writing down the argument or subject of each section. Read them in the following order, and let your commentators be upon, James,..............
should afterwards desire a more exact and critical knowledge of the Greek Testament, or of any particular passage, you may best attain it by comparing the senses in which a dubious word or expression occurs, in different places of Scripture; for which purpose Schimidius's Concordance for the New Testament, and Trommius's for the
Septuagint, are complete. The folio edition of Wetstein supplies quotations from profane authors; whilst the English Concordance of Cruden is wanted for a thousand purposes. In examining any point of controversy, (which, by the bye, may be deferred till you have made a consid. erable progress in the above prescribed course,) before you take up a book on either side of the question, read the New Testament from beginning to end, with a view solely to that one subject, and collect all the texts as you go along, which have any, even the most distant relation to it. Afterwards reduce the number of these texts, by striking out such as are found, upon a second examination, to have no real connexion with the subject, and then carefully pursue the remainder, with the notes, commentaries, and other assistances, which you may now be supposed to be possessed of. Thus you will be enabled, either to form a judgment of the question from what you have before you, or at least to read the books that are written upon it, with edification and pleasure.
As to preaching, if your situation requires a Sermon every Sunday, make one and steal five; for which latter purpose
I recommend Conant's Sermons, which are easily abridged, by selecting the most important out of the many heads into which he has divided them ; the few of Scougals, bound up with his Life of God in the Soul of Man, and Ostervald on the Causes of the Corruptions of Christians, which you may easily break into Discourses for the pulpit. Accustom yourself to insert additions and alterations of your own; and make it a point of conscience to reject what you disbelieve or disapprove.
In order to compose Sermons, furnish yourselves, in the first place, with Limborch de Religione Christianâ; get also Enfield's Preacher's Directory, which I would wish you
to interleave, and make, from time to time, additions to it of your own; and, unless you are possessed of copious notes of our Lectures, have by you Rutherford's Institutes of Natural Law.
The first rule I give you in the composition of Sermons, is to confine your Discourse to one single specifick subject, a vice, for instance, which actually prevails; an excuse or evasion, which is in fact made use of; or a duty which you observe to be unnoticed, mistaken, or transgressed. When your own thoughts or observations fail to furnish you with such subjects, then, but not till then, have recourse to Enfield's Directory, or the scheme of that work, p. 1-8, or to the index at the beginning of Limborch.
In treating any such subject first or early in your Discourse, state distinctly and clearly, the point or proposition which you mean to discuss, and then describe, with all the particularity and minuteness which decency admits of, what you observe or suppose to be the thoughts and conduct of mankind, especially those you have to do with, in respect of it. If you should hit upon a train of thought which has actually passed in the minds of your audience, or a description which exactly reaches their case, you will probably be of service.—In the next place, set forth in order, and with the good old fashion of firstly and secondly, what may
be said upon the subject from the law and light of nature. This you must draw principally out of your own head, but you will frequently receive the most excellent hints from Limborch, and may often find a full and just account of the matter in Rutherford. In the last place, produce and explain the several texts and declarations of Scripture, always reserving the strongest for the last. Enfield will generally supply the texts, but Limborch always, together with some useful observations upon them; and when your Greek Testament is stocked with notes, the interpretation is at hand.
When these sort of subjects are exhausted, another spe. cies of preaching is, to give abstracts of select portions of sacred history, in a familiar narrative, interspersed with a few reflections. For a collection of such subjects, see Enfield, page 6; and for suitable observations upon them, the first volume of Collyer.
You may likewise have recourse to paraphrases on particular portions of the New Testament, a parable for instance; a single head of Christ's Sermon on the Mount; the history of some noted miracle; a speech in the Acts; or a detached section of an Epistle ; only take care not to improve too much on the text: i. e. do not, in order to make your Discourse, as you may think, more useful, put meanings into it, or make an application of it which were never intended. In this respect, Doddridge's Family Expositor is very valuable.
The Attributes of God, as discovered in the works of the Creation, and described in Scripture, such as his goodness, compassion, placability, omnipresence, particular providence, &c. are excellent and easy topicks. The description of these Attributes in Search's Light of Nature pursued, are inimitable, and the texts relating to them are well collected in Enfield.
The Evidences of Christianity, particularly those which arise from the Morality of the Gospel, the seeming, though minute differences, but real and substantial agreement of the several historians, the candour and simplicity of their narrative, the inimitable zeal and affection of St. Paul's Letters, particularly the earnestness, and therefore the authenticity of them, the sufferings, disinterestedness, and low stations of the Apostles and first teachers of Christianity, the success of their ministry, and the good effects it produced, the originality of Christ's character and pretensions, the value and importance of his mission, the explicit proph
ecies fulfilled in him, his own predictions of the persecution of his followers, and the destruction of Jerusalem, may all be modelled into useful and popular sermons.
For your manner of writing sermons, take the following directions : Let
your text relate to your subject without doing violence to the words, and choose one, if you can, which re- : quires and admits of an explanation; in which case, as a general rule, and not whether it wants it or not, begin your Sermon with an explanation of the text, and if you can make use of the context or connexion of the words, repeat entire the whole passage to which they belong, otherwise you will not be understood.
When you produce a text of Scripture to prove any thing, repeat the chapter and verse; if it be only by way of accommodation, i. e. to express your own meaning in Scripture words.
The best way of writing upon any subject, is to put down or settle it, at least in your own mind first, and consult books upon it afterwards. In every discourse let your first care be truth and information, your last ornament and exactness of language. The good old way of expounding the Scriptures in the place of a sermon, or on that part of the day when you have no sermon, especially if you can persuade your congregation to follow you with their Bibles in their hands, is the very best service you can do them, because it will be a means of making them read the Scriptures to themselves, and in their families.
If you should have Dissenters in your parish, make it your business by your behaviour, conversation, and preaching, to possess both them and your own congregation, with a sense of the importance of those points which divide you ; and of the convenience, and consequently the duty, of giving up such points to one another, for the sake of one com