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both his integrity and his piety; and will regard him as a timeserver, unfaithful to God, and interested only for himself. A Minister, labouring under these imputations, will neither be trusted, nor respected. Even those, who love the smooth things, which he utters, will despise him for uttering them.
The bold, independent, honest preacher will, on the contrary, be naturally and highly esteemed by his people ; even by those, who smart under the censures, which he directs against their sins, and tremble at the alarm, which he sounds in their ears concerning their future destiny. At the same time, he will enjoy the consolation of knowing, that he has faithfully laboured io discharge his duty: to promote the glory of his Maker, and the salvation of his flock, and to keep himself clear from the blood of all men. On a dying-bed he will be able to say, and find unspeakable hope in saying, with St. Paul, I have not shunned to declare the whole counsei of God, and have kept back nothing which was profitable to my people.
4. The Gospel ought to be preached Solemnly.
All things, pertaining to divine truth, are eminently solemn. Such are its Author and its End; the manner, in which it is communicated; the miracles, with which it was ushered into the world; the Redeemer, by whom it was disclosed; and the wonderful expense, by which it came to mankind. Of the same nature are the subjects, about which it is employed. Nothing ever appeared to the human mind of such import, as the character and actions of God; the excellencies of the Redeemer; the amazing work of Redemption ; the depravity, and condemnation, of men; the glorious exercise of mercy to our race; the renovation of the soul; the importance of life and death, of judgment and eternity, of Heaven and Hell.
In these things is involved our all. How, then, can a preacher commissioned by God to declare them to his fellow-men, fail to realize their immense importance and amazing solemnity? How can he fail of declaring them with a corresponding solemnity to his flock ?
" He that negociates between God and man,
If the nature of these subjects be duly considered ; if their importance be duly felt; it will be impossible for the preacher to fail of exhibiting them to his hearers with the deepest solemnity. Lightness of manner is always generated by lightness of mind.
He, who adopts it in the Desk, has forgotten, that his discourse is professedly derived from the Bible, employed about God, and directed to Eternity.
A trespass against this manner of preaching, not unfrequent, and highly reprehensible, is a mode, sometimes termed theatrical. It may be thus described. The preacher, if we may be allowed to judge from the result, sits down to write as finished a composition, and enters the Desk to speak it as gracefully, as he can.
His commanding object is to please, to excite admiration, and to gain applause. His proper business is forgotten. This is, to awaken, convince, and save, his flock. He has carved out for himself a new employment, of which the Scriptures know nothing. This is, to exhibit himself to advantage. Instead, therefore, of the plain, bold, and solemn, address, with which divine truth is instinctively preached, the audience is amused with a combination of brilliant images, and pathetic effusions, intended merely to excite admiration. To increase this effect, they are presented to the audience with such efforts of utterance and gesture, as are usually exhibited on the Stage. In truth, the desk is here changed, for the time, into a stage: and the Preacher, laying aside his own character, puts on ihat of an Actor. Like other actors, he intends merely to please those who hear him. Their souls, and their salvation, his own character, duty, and final account, he has forgotten. He has forgotten his Bible : he has forgotten his God.
The most solemn, the best, sermons may be, they usually are, marked with strong images, bold, figurative language, and affecting addresses to the heart. The whole energy of the mind is poured out in them by the preacher. But in such sermons all these things are adventitious. They grow spontaneously out of the solemn, and most affecting nature of the subject, the preacher's deep sense of its vast importance, and his earnest desire that his audience may feel it, as it is felt by himself. Here the subject is the only thing which is prominent. The preacher is in a great measure forgotten both by himself and his hearers. In the mode which I have reprehended, the Preacher is the only conspicuous figure; while the diminutive suhject is faintly sketched, and scarcely scen, in the back ground of the picture.
5. The Gospel ought to be preached Earnestly.
Every thing, which is felt by the mind to be deeply interesting either to its own welfare, or to that of its fellow-men, is by the mere prompting of nature expressed with earnestness, both in writing and speaking. So universally true, and so obvious, is this, that he who does not thus express himself in this manner, is never supposed to be interested at all. Accordingly, men who wish to persuade others, that they feel, when they do not, are obliged to counterfeit this mude of nature; that they inay thus be believed to feel. Hence all the assumed fervour of demagogues, separatical Preachers, and others of a corresponding character.
From this fact it is abundantly evident, that he, who would persuade others, that he is interested in the subjects, on which he descants, must originally feel them; and must also express his views of them in the native language of feeling. To a preacher, these rules are important in a degree which it will be difficult to estimate. The observance of them is necessary to convince his hearers, that he is an honest man. The truths of the Gospel are of such moment, as to render it impossible for him, who cordially believes them, to avoid being deeply interested; and, if thus interested, very difficult to fail of discovering that interest by the earnestness of thought, and utterance, in which it is naturally expressed. But a preacher of the Gospel, unless he prove the fact to be otherwise, is originally supposed io be deeply interested in its truths: and is regularly considered as professing by his very office cordial. ly to believe them. 1,' then, he brings them forth to his congre. gation in a combination of cold sentiments, lifeless phraseology and languid elocution; it will not be casy for them to be satisfied, that he feels what he professes to feel, or believes what he professes to believe.
Should he, however, escape this imputation, and, by a life of exemplary pic!; and beneficni pon, prove himself to be a good man; a case which, I acknowledy Hi frequently existed; his preaching will, to a great extent, be si.il unhappy. If from the force of a phlegmatic constitution, or a habit of moving heavily in the concerns of life, he should have derived a dull, drawling mode of thinking, writing, and speaking, he will spread a similar languor over his hearers; and lull their moral powers, if not their natural ones, to sleep. They may believe hiin to be sincere ; but they will never feel as if he were in carnest. From such preaching, no energy of affection, no solenın concern, no active fears, no lively hopes, no vigorous resolutions, no strenuous efforts about the salvation of the soul, can be ordinarily derived; and, certainly, can never be rationally expected.
He, on the contrary, who exhibits the doctrines and precepts of the Gospel in an carnest, fervid manner, will instinctively be regarded as being really in earnest. Religion from his mouth will appear as a concern of high moment; subject, in which every man is deeply interested, about which he is obliged to employ the most solemn thoughts, and the most efficacious exertions. All who attend on his ministry, will go to inquire, to listen, to feel, to act, and to be fervently employed in practising their duty, and obtaining their salvation.
Let no young preacher think himself excused for a moment, in neglecting to acquire such a manner of preaching. Every preacher is bound to use all the means in his power for the purpose of rousing the attention, and engaging the affections, of his florle to
in old age.
these mighty ohjects. Much more, at the same time, is in his power than he will casily believe. A too modest distrust of their own talents in this respect is perhaps the chief reason, why the eloquence of the desk is in so many instances, less earnesi, less animated, than a good man would always wish. All men will acknowledge this to be unhappy : often, there is reason to fear, it is criminal also. For he who has not laboured as much as is in his power to preach well, in this respect, has certainly not laboured to preach as well as he can.
Young men have a peculiar interest in this subject. A preacher who is unanimated in youth, will be heavy in middle life, and torpid
I know of no class of preachers, so prone to be defective in this particular, as those who are sometimes called Moral Preachers. By these I intend such as inculcate, not the morality of the Gospel, but such a course of external conduct, as merely secures a fair reputation, and renders the state of society agreeable: in other words, the morality of Zeno and Seneca. It is impossible that he who recommends this morality, and stops here, should be in earnest himself, or appear earnest to others.
6. The Gospel ought to be preached Affectionately,
generous emotions of the mind more than that of the preacher. He comes to his fellow-men with a message inlinitely more interesting, and more useful, than any other. He is sent on an errand, more expressive of tenderness and good-will. He comes to disclose the boundless mercy of God to mankind, as manifested in the condescension, life, and death, of the Redeemer; in the forgiveness of sin and the renovation of the soul ; in its safe conveyance through the dangers of this world, and its final admission into Heaven. This message he brings to his fellow-men, guilty and ruined in themselves, exposed to infinite danger, and hopeless suffering. What subjects can be equally affecting? What employment can equally awaken all the tenderness of virtue ?
An affectionate manner is in itself amiable and engaging. Men naturally love those, who appear benevolent and tender-hearted and, most of all, require, and love, this character in a Minister oi the Gospel. This character, or its opposite, can hardly fail to appear in his discourses. There are so many things in the subjects of his preaching, which naturally call forth tenderness and affection, that, if he possess this disposition, it cannot fail to appear in bis sentiments, in his language, and in his manner of utterance. Wherever it appears, it will be acknowledged, and loved : and the words of a beloved preacher will always come to his flock with a peculiar power of persuasion.
There is one class of Scriptural subjects, about which I wish especially to warn those of my audience, who may one day become preachers of the Gospel. This class involves all those, which re
spect the anger of God against sin, and his denunciations against simers: particularly the final judgment and reimbution, and the future sulierings of the impenitent. It is no unfrequent thing to hear these subjects discussed in that strong language, and that vehement utterance, with which an impassioned speaker labours to express bis own indignation, and to rouse that of his audience against atrocious crimes or invading enemies. Vehemence is not the manner of address, which is suited to subjects of this nature. The preacher ought to remember, that in disclosing the doom of the impenitent, he is, perhaps, pronouncing his own.
How few, even of the best men, are assured of their safety! Were this objection removed, how foreign, how unfilted, (10 say the least) is it to subjects so awful! I have heard sernions of this description. The emotions excited in my own mind, and abundantly expressed to me by others, were, I confess, a mixture of horror and disgust : feelings, from which good can hardly be expected in a case of this nature. I wish these subjects ever to be handled plainly and without disguise. Such a mode is equally essential to the integrity of the preacher, and the usefulness of his discourses. But I wish them to be always handled, also, with such a mixture of solemnity and affection, as shall wholly exclude vehemence on the one hand, and strongly exhibit tenderness on the other. The words of the preacher should be those of a guilly man to guilty men; of a dying man lo dying men; of a man, who humbly hopes, that he has found pardon for himself, and is most affectionately anxious, that his hearers may find the same blessings also.
There are two other subjects, which I think are often improperly handled in a different manner: a manner, which without much violence may be styled too affectionate : viz. the Love, and Sufferings, of Christ. These, many preachers labour to describe with as much strength and tenderness, as possible. In their efforts to be peculiarly pathetic, they often exhibit such images, and adopt such expressions, as have ever appeared to mie unsuited to the nature and dignity of the theme.. The love of Christ was wonderful in its degree. But it was attended with a glory; and a sublimity, which repel all familiar. views, all diminutive representations; and demand thoughts of the highest reverence, and language of the highest elevation. All those epithets, which are applied with the utmost propriety and force to human tenderness, and the soít affections of our race, are here, in my view, wholly misplaced. Even the epithet dear, when applied to the Saviour, although sanctioned in many Hymns; some of them written by persons of great respectability; has ever appeared to me too familiar, too colloquial, too diminutive, to be applied to this exalted Person : so that I never either hear, or read, it without pain. At the same time, many of the strong, impassioned exclamations, which are often employed in endeavouring to make deep impressions concerning the sufferings of the Saviour, produce, I acknowledge, on