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its importance and worthiness of affection, and there be no appearance of its being feigned or forced, has so much the greater tendency to beget true ideas or apprehensions in the minds of the hearers of the subject spoken of, and so to enlighten the understanding; and that for this reason, that such a way or manner of speaking of these things does in fact more truly represent them, than a more cold and indifferent way of speaking of them. If the subject be in its own nature worthy of very great affection, then a speaking of it with very great affection is most agreeable to the nature of that subject, or is the truest representation of it, and therefore has most of a tendency to beget true ideas of it in the minds of those to whom the representation is made. And I do not think ministers are to be blamed for raising the affections of their hearers too high, if that which they are affected with be only that which is worthy of affection, and their affections are not raised beyond a proportion to their importance or worthiness of affection. I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with. I know it has long been fashionable to despise a very earnest and pathetical way of preaching; and they, and they only, have been valued as preachers, that have shown the greatest extent of learning, and strength of reason, and correctness of method and language; but I humbly conceive it has been for want of understanding, or duly considering human nature, that such preaching has been thought to have the greatest tendency to answer the ends of preaching; and the experience of the present and past ages abundantly confirms the same. Though, as I said before, clearness of distinction and illustration, and strength of reason, and a good method, in the doctrinal handling of the truths of religion, is many ways needful and profitable, and not to be neglected, yet an increase in speculative knowledge in divinity, is not what is
so much needed by our people, as something else. Men may abound in this sort of light, and have no heat. much has there been of this sort of knowledge, in the Christian world, in this age! Was there ever an age wherein strength and penetration of reason, extent of learning, exactness of distinction, correctness of style, and clearness of expression, did so abound? And yet was there ever an age wherein there has been so little sense of the evil of sin, so little love to God, heavenly mindedness, and holiness of life, among the professors of the true religion? Our people do not so much need to have their heads stored, as to have their hearts touched; and they stand in the greatest need of that sort of preaching that has the greatest tendency to do this.
Those texts, Isa. lviii. 1. "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." And Ezek. vi. 11. "Thus saith the Lord God, Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas, for all the evil abomination of the house of Israel !" I say these texts (however the use that some have made of them has been laughed at) will fully justify a great degree of pathos, and manifestation of zeal and fervency in preaching the word of God: they may indeed be abused, to justify that which would be odd and unnatural, amongst us, not making due allowance for difference of manners and custom, in different ages and nations; but let us interpret them how we will, they at least imply, that a most affectionate and earnest manner of delivery, in many cases, becomes a preacher of God's word.
Preaching of the word of God is commonly spoken of in scripture in such expressions as seem to import a loud and earnest speaking; as in Isa. xl. 2. "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her iniquity is pardoned." And v. 3. "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord." v. 7. "The voice said cry. And he said, what shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof, as the flower of the field." Jer.
ii. 2. "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, &c." Jonah i. 2. "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it." Isa. lxi. 1, 2. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me, to preach good tidings to the meek, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the year of vengeance of our God." Isa. lxii. 11. "Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy slavation cometh, &c." Rom. x. 18. "Their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." Jer. xi. 6. "Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them." So chap. xix. 2. and vii. 2. Prov. viii. 1. "Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice?" v. 3, 4. "She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors; unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men?" And chap. i. 20. "Wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets." chap. ix. 3. "She hath sent forth her maidens, she crieth upon the high places of the city." John vii. 37. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”
It seems to be foretold, that the gospel should be especially preached in a loud and earnest manner, at the introduction of the prosperous state of religion, in the latter days. Isa. xl. 9. "O Zion, that bringeth good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain! O Jerusalem, that bringeth good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength! lift up and be not afraid! Say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God!" Isa. lii. 7, 8. "How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice.", Isa. xxvii. 13. “And it shall come to pass, in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish." And this will be one
way, that the church of God will cry at that time, like a travailing woman, when Christ mystical is going to be brought forth; as Rev. 12. at the beginning. It will be by ministers, that are her mouth and it will be this way that Christ will then cry, like a travailing woman, as in Isa. xlii. 14. "I have long time, holden my peace: I have been still and refrained myself; now will I cry, like a travailing woman." Christ cries by his ministers, and the church cries by her officers. And it is worthy to be noted, that the word commonly used in the new testament, that we translate preach, properly signifies to proclaim aloud like a crier.
Ministers blamed for speaking terror to those who are already under great terrors.
ANOTHER thing that some ministers have been greatly blamed for, and I think unjustly, is speaking terror to them that are already under great terrors, instead of comforting them. Indeed, if ministers in such a case go about to terrify persons with that which is not true, or to affright them by representing their case worse than it is, or in any respect otherwise than it is, they are to the condemned; but if they terrify them only by still holding forth moré light to them, and giving them to understand more of the truth of their case, they are altogether to be justified. When sinners' consciences are greatly awakened by the Spirit of God, it is by light imparted to the conscience, enabling them to see their case to be, in some measare, as it is; and if more light be let in, it will terrify them still more: but ministers are not therefore to be blamed that they endeavor to hold forth more light to the conscience, and do not rather alleviate the pain they are under, by intercepting and obstructing that light
that shines already. To say anything to those who have never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, to represent their case any otherwise than exceeding terrible, is not to preach the word of God to them; for the word of God reveals nothing but truth, but this is to delude them. Why should we be afraid to let persons that are in an infinitely miserable condition, know the truth, or bring them into the light, for fear it should terrify them? It is light that must convert them, if ever they are converted. The more we bring sinners into the light, while they are miserable, and the light is terrible to them, the more likely it is, that by and by the light will be joyful to them. The ease, peace, and comfort, that natural men enjoy, have their foundation in darkness and blindness; therefore as that darkness vanishes, and light comes in, their peace vanishes, and they are terrified but that is no good argument why we should endeavor to hold their darkness, that we may uphold their comfort. The truth is, that as long as men reject Christ, and do not savingly believe in him, however they may be awakened, and however strict, and conscientious, and laborious they may be in religion, they have the wrath of God abiding on them, they are his enemies, and the children of the devil; (as the scripture calls all that be not savingly converted, Mat. xiii. 38. 1 John iii. 10.), and it is uncertain whether they shall ever obtain mercy God is under no obligation to show them mercy, nor will he be if they fast and pray and cry never so much; and they are then especially provoking God under those terrors, that they stand it out against Christ, and will not accept of an offered Savior, though they see so much need of him and seeing this is the truth, they should be told so, that they may be sensible what their case indeed is.
To blame a minister for thus declaring the truth to those who are under awakenings, and not immediately administering comfort to them, is like blaming a surgeon, because when he has begun to thrust in his lance, whereby he has already put his patient to great pain, and he shrinks and