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professors glorify God at a card-table? Can they glorify Gol at a dance or a playhouse? Can they even ask God's blessing to attend them to these places and employments ? for there is no' path safe in which we cannot ask his presence and blessing.
When David was out of the path of duty he fell into awful sins, destroyed his own happiness all his days, and caused the enemy to blaspheme *. Let such' professors remember, that life is very uncertain ; and ask themselves, Should the Lord see fit, when in these gay circles, to cut the thread of life, how they should feel in the prospect of being summoned from the playhouse, or card-table, to his judgment bar! Their own consciences must confess, that it would be awful indeed! : There are other professors who, perhaps, will not themselves join in the pleasures of the world, but then, as if their dear children's souls were of nó valae, will permit them to associate with the world, in all their vanities and amusements. Is it not enough, that they are contaminated and depraved, and in danger of being banished from the presence of God for ever,
but will professing parents quietly permit their children 10 mix with such company, and attend such amusements as tend to fan all the latent sparks of corruption to a fame? How different is such a line of conduct to that of the good patriarch Abraham, of whom the Lord says, “ For I know that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord +!” The souls of our dear children are an important charge ; and if we teach them not by precept and example, we are accessary to their ruin. Oh, remember what an awful account you have to give of your stewardship!- dread nothing so much as the idea of your dear children dwelling in eternal torments, and reproaching you for their eternal misery! We cannot give our children grace, it is true ; that is the gift of God; but there is much required of those who have the charge of young persons; and it is the incumbent duty of parents to restrain, reprove, and, above all, to exemplify before them in practice, the truth, the beauty, and the pleasantness of the ways of religion.
If the real Christian's offspring die in sin, he may mourn their hapless fate; but his conscience testifies that their ruin is neither chargeable to his neglect, nor the fatal influence of his example. The history of good old Eli is left upon record as a warning to all parents in after-times; for by neglecting to restrain bis sons, who made themselves vile, he displeased his God, and hastened their destruction .
Sam. xii. 11, 12
of Gen. xviii. 19.
I. 1 Sam. iii. 11, 14
THE MOTIVES OF MINISTERS.
To the Editor. Though the following passage may be known, in substance, to some of
your readers, yet, as many others may have never seen it, the insertion may be useful both to ministers and hearers.
A. Z. An old divine, preaching before an association of ministers, and desiring to quicken them in their regard to the principal end and motive froin which they acted, pointed them to the last and awful day of judgment; and having considered Christ the Judge, as seated on his throne, he then, by an elegant prosopopaia, represented him as calling his ministers to an account, enquiring how they had preached; and with what views. He calls one first, and puts this question to bim :
" What did you preach for :" He answers, 'I preached, Lord, that I might keep a very good living left me by my father; and which would have been lost to the family if I had not taken orders Christ says to him, “Stand by; thou hast had thy reward."
The question is put to another : -" And what did you preach for:” He replies,'' Lord, I was applauded as a very learned man; and I preached to keep up the reputation of an eloquent orator, and an ingenious preacher. Christ's answer to him also was, “ Stand by ; thou hast had thy reward.”
The Judge puts the question to a third :-And what did you preach for?” • Lord,' says he, “I neither aimed at the great things of this world, though I was thankful for the conveniences of life which thou gavest. me; nor did I preach to acquire the character of a wit, or a scholar, – but I preached in compassion to souls, and to please and honour thee. My design in preaching was, Lord, 'that I might win souls to thy blessed Majesty !' - Upon this, the Judge called out,“ Room, men! Room, angels ! Let this man come, and sit down with me on my throne, as I am set down with my Father on his throne: he has owned and honoured me upon earth, and I will own and honour him through all the ages of eternity!"
The result of this representation was, that all the ministers went home much affected; resolving, that, through the help of God, they would mind their work more, and look better to their aims and ends ever after *.
That such may be the effect of this paragraph on the mind of every clerical reader, is the prayer of
yours, A. Z.
• See a Sermon by the late Rev. T. Hall, at the ordination of the late Dr, Gibbons, 1743.
PULPIT ELOQUENCE DEFENDED.
Ir is no uncommon thing, in circles of professing Christians, to incet with persons who assert, that literature is of little or no service to the interests of Christianity; and they appear to be particularly inimical to that part of liberal education which teaches a public speaker to court the graces of language, and to employ the charms of eloquence. That this should be a sentiment easily adopted, and strenuously supported, by those who either are strangers to science, or unable to relish the beauties of compositiori, I do not wonder; but the sentiment is far from being confined to these; it is sometimes held by persons of good sense, who themselves are indebted for the superiority they possess, to those very sources of information which, in the ministcrial character, they undervalue. It may be a matter of surprize, but the fact is indisputable, that there are many persons of respectability who prefer hearing an uneducated man, to one of very superior talents and equal soundness, merciy because the first is unletiered, and the other has had the temerity to join the aids of human science to the inexhaustible stores of divine knowledge. It is a sentiment but too generally embraced by a certain class of conscientious, scrious Christians, tat divine teaching is totally incompatible with hunan literature; and that human eloquence is inconsistent with the simplicity of the gospel. The advantages arising to a Christian minister from a knowledge of the learned languages, as they are termed, and from general science, has often been discussed; therefore I wish to contine my remarks principally to that branch of literary employment which · relates to composition, and which goes under the general name of Eloquence. Our object is to shew that the use of it in the pulpit is lawful and expedient; in order to which, for the sake of perspicuity, we shall attend.
1. To the natural power of eloquence as seen in its effects in various instances; and,
2. To some general objections against the use of it in preaching: in answering which, we trust, it will be evident that it is far from being inimical to the interests of Christianity.
1. It is sufficiently evident, that eloquence has a strong influence over the ininds and passions of men.
I do not call the attention of the reader to those compositions which filled Athens with valour, which agitated or calmed, at the will of the orator, the bosoms of a thousand warriors, and which, all nations have consented to immortalize. The thunder which Demosthenes hurled at the head of Philip, continues to roll to the present hour; and his eloquence, stripped as it is of action and utterance, mutilated by time, and enfeebled by translation, is yet powerful enough to kindle in our bosons, at this remote age, a fire, which the hand of Death has extinguished in the hearts of those who were originally addressed! We pass over, also, the eloquence which Cicero poured out, in a torrent so resistiess, that the awful senate of Rome could not withstand its force : an eloquence that could break confederacies, disarm forces, control anarchy! - an eloquence that
years cannot impair, age cannot weaken, time cannot destroy! But we appeal to its influence, in an age not very remote, nor very unlike the present, in a neighbouring country, in the ministerial profession. I am anticipated to mean the distinguished eloquence of such French preachers as Massillon, Bourdaloue, Bossuet, and many others. I think it is incontestable that these were the pillars npon which the unwieldy fabric of papal power stood, througli so many ages; and that, had it not been for the support afforded that enormous system of priesteraft, by the talents and eloquence of such men, it must have fallen, ages before its ruin was actually effected. Calculated as the ceremonies of that church were, to strike the senses, to captivate the imagination, and to awe the illiterate, Time would have destroyed their effect, and the mind would have palled upon them, had not Science, and her sister Eloqnence, daily decked them with new charms, and, with magic band bestowed upon them new fascinations. Not the splendid altars adorned by the matchless execution of a Raphael's inasterly pencil; but the fire of genius blazing upon those altars, secured dignity. The name of Massillog was more attractive than all the perfumes that Arabia could furnish ; and this was the incense that filled the churches of Spiritual Babylon. The theatre was forsaken, while the church was crowded : the court forgot their amusements, to attend the preacher; and his spirit-controliug accents drew the monarch from his throne to his feet; stopped the impetuous stream of dissipation, and compelled the mocking world to listen! This is not a picture delineated by fancy, but a representation of facts; and it is well known, that no fashionable amusements had attractions when the French Bishop was lo ascend the pulpit. While he spoke, the King trembled; while he denounced ine indignation of God against a corrupted court, nobility shrunk into nothingness; while he described the horrors of a judgment to come, infidelity turned pale, and the congregation, unable to support the thunder of his language, rose from their seats in agong! Let these instances suffice to shew the power of eloquence, the influence which language well-chosen has upon the mind of man, who alone, of all the creatures of God, is able to transmit bis thoughts through the medium of speech, to know, to relish, and to use the charins of language. We have stated the power of eloquence; it remains that we atteinpt to answer,
2. Some general objections against the use of it in preaching, -I am well aware that an argument is deduced from the power of eloquence against the use of it in the pulpit. It is liable to abuse ;' say they, it tends to impose upon the understanding, by fascinating the imagination. Most true! it is liable to abuse; and what is there so excellent in its nature that is not? The doctrines of grace have been abused to licentiousness; and the liberty of Christianity “used as a cloke of maliciousness." This, however, is no refutation of those doctrines, no argument against that liberty Because eloquence has been abused, because it has served Antichrist, or rendered sin specious, is it, therefore, less excellent in itself? or is it, for that reason, to be rejected from the service of holiness ? No; let it be employed in the service of God, and it is directed to its noblest ends; it answers the best of purposes !
• But it is, notwithstanding its natural power, inefficient in the work of God; unable to save one soul from death ; or, of itself, to impress one truth upon the heart.' Who doubts it? This is a power which God has reserved to himself; and when we defend the use of eloquence as a substitute for divine teaching -away with it! If it were opposed to the operations of God the Spirit, no one would sooner renounce its cause than the writer who now attempts to defend it. But shall we reject the use of the means, because, considered in themselves, they are inadequate to the end proposed? Or can it be said, that eloquence is not a mean to some classes of hearers, at least; and that it never has been blessed ? or is there any thing in the inode of preaching that addresses itself at once to the understanding, and to the imagination, — to the judgement, and to the heart,
to reason, and to taste, - inimical to conviction? Must we not reach the heart, speaking after the manner of man, through the judgment? and must not the attention of the man be excited to judge, by striking the more susceptible powers of the mind, and by captivating the fancy?
• But the most eloquent are not always the most useful; and God hath chosen the ignorant, in various instances, to confound the wise. It is granted. But does God uniformly work one way! when he sends, it is by whom he will send ; and he can qualify, and dives qualify those whom he raises up for himself. He can give powers as a substitute for literature, and by his own enersy etlect that which eloquence alone cannot. But we set not up this attainment against his energy, we know that it is useful only in dependence upon it. We know, too, why the ignorant are frequently exalted in the scale of usefulness, to shew that " the power is not of man, but of God;” and “ that no flesh should glory in his presence.” But has he not blessed talents also, for the same important purpose ? Has he never employed eloquence usefully? Has his favour been uniformly