« PreviousContinue »
ety. He was the better qualified my public testimony to his exfor the duties of a higher scene. cellence. He was the better prepared for "The young man, whom I now heaven. “He pleased God, and commemorate, I rejoice to say it, was beloved of Him, so that, liv was one of ourselves. Here he ing among sinners, he was trans was presented at the baptismal lated. Yea, speedily was he font, here he made his own protaken away, lestwickedness fession, and here, on the day of should alter his understanding, his introduction to the sacred or deceit beguile his soul. For desk, he appeared as a public his soul pleased the Lord, there- advocate for christianity, and fore hasted he to take him a. exhibited, in a most striking and
impressive manner, its reasona. of this nature are the conso bleness and its value. lations which the blessed gospel, “When he was about to enter revealing to us a Saviour, who on the study of theology, I had died for our sins, and rose again a long conversation with him, on for our justification, enables us the nature of the profession, on to possess ourselves, and to offer its labors and cares, its encour. to afflicted parents, under the loss agements and hopes. He open. of a pious child.
ed his heart to me; he exhibited 6Of this nature are the conso the motives which prompted his lations we can offer to those
decision. They were of the ents, who, during the past week, purest and most exalted kind. have been deprived of a child, His subsequent conduct, his in. whose talents, whose learning, tense application to his studies, uncommon for his years, whose his diligent cultivation of chrisamiable character and ardent tian graces, and the exhibition piety, had excited the fondest he gave of his improvement, con: and most sanguine hope and ex- firmed my belief of his sincerity. pectation.
You have heard him preach, and “It is not my practice, as you you cannot forget the simplicity know, on ordinary occasions to of his manner, the chasteness eulogize the dead. Often would and elegance of his style, the my heart prompt me to dwell, soundness and clearness of his in this place, on the character of reasoning, and the fervency of departed worth, to hold up its his devotion. But you knew not most striking features to your half his worth. To his near view, and to urge your imitation. friends it belongs to dwell on the But I am forbidden. It would remembrance of his virtues, and be imprudent; it might often be to them, too, it belongs to peruse unjust to discriminate. When, with delight and admiration the however, a young man is remov memorials of talents and piety, ed, who was not only a member he has left behind him. of my church, but a fellow la “His character, I hope I shall borer in the gospel of Christ, I be pardoned for saying it, was feel myself more at liberty to not fully developed, even to his indulge my feelings, and to bear nearest relations, till his death.
Among his papers were found destroyed; but they are support-
"As the hope of man is so of"In the period of sickness, he ten destroyed, as the objects of was calm and resigned. Though this world are fading, its blesshe undoubtedly must have often ingsuncertain, its pleasures suffered, yet so fearful was he transitory, let us fix our hopes of disturbing his friends, that he on heaven, and seek, through suppressed the rising emotion, the merits and mediation of Je. and uttered scarce a groan or a sus, to obtain an inheritance in.
corruptible, undefiled, and that The earthly hopes of his fadeth not away." friends with respect to him are
SERIOUS PREACHING. PREACHING is one of the most the hearts of his hearers. effectual methods of promoting subject so interesting, a few rereligion. To the greater part of marks may not be unacceptable. the world, tráth is never so im Serious preaching has its founpressive as when it comes to dation in seriousness of characthem from the lips of a fellow. ter. It is not an art to be learnbeing. To many persons, books ed by rules. The be school for are wearisome; but to all, the it is the school of meditation, of human voice is a powerful ex- devotion, and of habitual obedicitement. Religion, when she ence to the divine commands. speaks with earnestness and se The man, who would communi. riousness through her ministers, cate seriousness to his preachfinds her way to the attention of ing, must begin with his own those, whom no other mode of character. He must endeavour instruction would awaken. This to acquire continually more clear consideration gives inexpressible and affecting views of religion, importance to the office of min
must open his heart to its influ. isters, and should lead them ence, must learn by experience anxiously to inquire in what way its power and happiness, must its objects may most effectually cherish within himself the imbe secured.
pressions which he wishes to comIt is agreed on all hands, that municate. preaching, to be aseful, must be One great cause of that defiserious, i. e. the preacher inust ciency of seriousness, which is be in earnest, must feel deeply sometimes observed in ministers, the importance of the message is, that their studies and meditahe bears, must speak from the tions are not sufficiently employed heart, and must propose to reach on the practical truths of religion.
They are laborious inquirers, form the christian temper; the but their labors are very much example, and offices, and beneconfined to the difficult, disputed, fits of Jesus Christ; the motives and I had almost said the barren he has offered to piety and virparts of theology. They are tue; and especially the animatanxious to acquire precise views, ing views of life and immortality on subjects which have embar- which he has given; these and rassed the most profound; or to similar topies, which have a digive consistency to a theory, the reet bearing and a powerful injarring materials of which no fluence on character, deserve the ingenuity can reconeile. The first and principal attention of most important truths of religion, the religious teacher. These he those which awaken the heart, should bring home to his own which are the very springs of a heart, and his study should be to holy life, because so common and present them most powerfully to plain, are comparatively over- the hearts of others. looked. Religion is considered The minister must not forget, a subject for study and specula- that his business is, not to amuse tion, not a system of motives and men with subtleties of specularules to be felt and obeyed. tion, much less to make them fieHenee the heart is cold, whilst ry and angry advocates of doubt the understanding boasts of its ful dogmas, but to save their light. Perhaps the preacher is souls, to guide them to eternal warm enough in enforcing his happiness; and he must never peculiarities, but is languid in forget, that he can contribute to unfolding and urging those prin- this end in no other way, than ciples of holy living, on which by operating ou their characters, the salvation of the soul de- tempers, and lives, by making pends.
them devout, benevolent, and I would by no means repress pure, the true followers of Jesus in ministers the spirit of inqui. Christ, the obedient children of ry. To them it particularly be- God. Every thing depends, he longs to search the scriptures, must remember, on the characto rescue from oblivion neglected ter which his hearers form. truths, to clear away the rubbish His great object therefore of human additions and misin- should be to acquire just, clear, terpretations, to expose the er- and enlarged conceptions of the rors, which so much disfigure the character which Jesus Christ gospel, and to show that chris- requires, of all the means and tianity is a reasonable service. motives by which it is formBut ministers should not forget ed, of all the dangers to which it that the plainest truths are after is exposed, and of the various all the most important. The methods, by which it may be moral attributes of God; his rendered most attractive and inclaims to the affection and rev- teresting to men. erence of his creatures; the va think that this part of christian rious duties of life; the various truth is easily and universally affections and dispositions which acquired. They mistake. There
is not a virtue, which, if traced Some new views, some new ar. back to its origin and causes, and rangements of thought should, if followed through all its motives, possible, be formed. The hearconnexions, and effects, does not er should be assailed, if possible, spread out into a wide field of from some new points. This I thought. By how many is this know is severe labor, perhaps field unexplored! Have
the severest a man can bear. never found ministers, who are But a
But a serious preacher will animated enough, when treat. prove himself in earnest by subing of dark and doubtful doc- mitting to this toil. He will not trines; but who become dry, dull, show his seriousness by vociferaand insipid, the moment they tion in the pulpit. He will not detouch on those fruitful and de- pend on the strength of his lungs, lightful subjects, the spirit and or the violence of his gestures to virtues of christianity? You keep a congregation from sleepwould suppose from their preach. ing. This is a very cheap way ing, that the science of chris. of gaining the reputation of a tian morals was a barren region, serious preacher. His serious. on which not a flower expands, ness will exert itself in his study, through which_not a stream where no eye but God sees him. flows; and yet Paradise was not It will there excite him to pray, more blooming, or watered by and to unite with prayer the fresher and more copious springs. most intense labor which his in
The serious preacher, in choos- tellect will endure, that he may ing his subjects, will select such acquire the most striking and
are suited to make on his valuable thoughts which his subhearers deep practical impres. jeet will admit. sions. To make men better will The serious preacher, having be the end deliberately proposed thus acquired thoughts, will next in every discourse; and he will labor to express them with the pray to God for light and aid in greatest effect; and here he will the accomplishment of this most call in the aid of imagination. important work. Having with He will endeavour to borrow such views chosen his subject, the from nature, and every scene apreacher should awaken his in- round him, similitudes and allutellect, and concentrate his atten- sions, which will throw light, and tion, that he may conceive of it beauty, and animation on his with clearness and force. He discourse. I know that some should endeavour to spread it consider seriousness in the pulout in his mind, to view it in a pit as inconsistent with ornagreat variety of lights and con ment. If they mean that it is nexious, that he may furnish a inconsistent with a light and variety of useful and interesting frothy style, with an accumulathoughts. Dull, languid, trite, tion of pretty comparisons and and frigid refections, such as high sounding words, designed pall upon the ear from endless for self-display, they are right. repetition, should not content The flowery preacher, who aims him. His mind should toil. to play the orator, is unworthy
the sacred place he fills. But preacher, that he will possess a do not therefore suppose, that a high degree of this quality. But man to be serious must renounce he ought to cultivate, and to imagination, and clothe religion turn to account, whatever powin the homeliest garb. Chaste ers be possesses:
The art of ornament, designed to enliven communicating his thoughts with and recommend instruction, is felicity and vividness is an innot misplaced on the holiest valuable qualification for a pubtheme. It is the proper attire of lic instructer. These remarks piety and virtue. 'The nature are important, especially in the of man is ever to be consulted present discussion, because some by preachers. He is not pure think, that to preach seriously is intellect. He has fancy, and de- to preach without ornament. lights in its exercise. Naked Preaching, we are told, cannot truth may suit the philosopher; be too plain. If by plainness is but the multitude of men wish to meant perspicuity, the maxim have it arrayed in happy sim- cannot be urged too often on ilitudes. They cannot seize it, ministers. But it means somewhen it presents itself in the ab- thing more. Perhaps we shall stract propositions of the meta- not be uncharitable in supposing, physician. It inust be embodied, that in some cases this love of brought down to their senses, by plainness is the refuge of sloth. illustrations and resemblances No little labor is required to from visible objects. Let none collect striking illustrations, and say, that this propensity of our to place subjects in interesting nature is not to be gratified. lights; whilst nothing is easier Who cver gratified it more than than to repeat continually comJesus Christ? I know not in any nion ideas in worn out language. age or nation a teacher, whó The serious preacher will desire so tenderly adapted himself to no such plainness as this. Feelthe frame of the human mind, ing that the eternal interests of and who has adorned his instruc men are in a measure dependent tions with such variety and fe on his instructions, and that all licity of figurative language, as instruction is unavailing, unless Jesus. I do not refer merely to attention be attracted and securhis exquisite parables. Take ed, he will spare no effort to any of his discourses; take his give to the truth an attractive sermon on the mount. You can form. Having collected the best hardly find a truth, to which he thoughts, he will conscientiously has not communicated life and convey them in the best manner impressiveness by the aid of which his powers and improvemetaphor. Among the qualifi. ments will admit. eations of our heavenly Teacher, Much renains to be said, to I should certainly reckon the complete the delineation of serichness and exuberance of his rious preaching, but it must be imagination. It ought not in- deferred to a future number of deed to be expected of every the work.