Page images
PDF
EPUB

3

God)." "We are laborers,” says he, "TOGETHER WITH Cod." Nor, did he fear to be suspected of boastful vanity, when, speaking of his own agency in the conversion of sinners, as though it were a thing not to be disputed, but legitimately, and confidently expected and asserted by the minister of Christ, in the prosecution of his trust. "For though,” says he, "ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet hare ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus ! HAVE BEGOTTEN you through the gospel.

In treating, therefore, on the subject of ministerial effciency, and in confidently asserting, that success is a thing 10 be expected, yea, and not without horrible guilt in any casc, 10 bc entirely wanting, we are not 10 be upderstood as invidiously exalting one class, and censuring another, of our ministerial brethren. We do but "magnify our office, it by any means we may provoke ourselves and brethren) to emulation, and might save some of them ---who now are at ease in their guilt and rebellion. As to othermen's labour, we "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God. And these things,” we desire to transfer to ourselves and others, "that (we) might learn not to think of men, above that which is written, that no one be puffed up for one against another."

There is a question very naturally rising out of the proposition advanced in this chapter, which leads directly to the merits of our subject, and to which we invite the readcrs candid attention, viz: is there such a mode of exhibiting the truth, by the ministry of reconcilialion, as that

1 2 Cor. vi. 1.
3 1 Cor. iv. 15.
5 1 Cor. iv. 5.

2 1 Cor. iii. 9.
4 Rom. xi. 13, 14

it shall prove the vehicle of the Spirit's efficacious influonce? If there is, how infinitely important is it for us to know it? And how awfully guilty must we be, if we labor not, in that very way, to exhibit it?

The observant reader will at once perccive, that the answer to this question, in a very great degree, turns upon the particular philosophical vicws, which may be held, as to the nature or character of the Spirit's agency. If we must believe, that regeneration, or conversion, or repentu. ance, or faith,--for we care not here, to distinguish between them, --is produced by an "immediate" aet of POWER on the soul, irrespectively, and without the intervention, of the truth as the means of its exercise and direction; then, it is manifest, that his heart, who thus believes and preaches the truth, cannot catch that fervent, lively, all-inflaming inspiration,—which he is likely to do, who speaks it as the very word of the Most High, by which the Spirit is to subdue his hearers, and save the perishing in view-and. which will cause the truth to flash from his eyes, kindle in: his looks, burn in his soul, and pour forth his impassioned torrents of warnings, arguments, appeals, entreaties and expostulations like the very fires of Heaven. indeed present the truth as the materials, and frame-work. for the building, and as he does this froin day to day, think that no other obligation rests upon him, than to have it ready at the call of the Great Builder, and prepared-aid to His hand, when He shall appear on the scaffold, and undertake to do the work; but not as a builder along with Him.

It is not in the nature of man, to feel a deep and lively interest in the mystic operations, which depend exclusively on the creative energy of God. The conjuror, and devotee of a degrading superstitution, who appeal, as they and others suppose, to some such inystic agency, may do

He may

it in all due form, and with great solemnity, and punc tilious accuracy as to tiines, seasons, and modes of operation; but there cannot, in the nature of things, be that intelligent and animated feeling of the heart, which could not fail to be awakened in view of something rational, feasible, and adapted to the capacities of man, to be effectuated through his own voluntary agency. Is there not reason to fear, that to this philosophy or superstition, call it which you please,--for they are nearly allied, -may be referred the cold didactic discussions often introduced into the pulpit, where divine truth, shorn of all its beamy glory, is exhibited as a mere abstraction, altogether devoid of reality, save as it exists in the intellections of speaker and hearers? And that to the same, must be assigned, as to its appropriate cause, much of that un meaning, punctilious, pharisaically solemn observance, of outward rites and forms of worship, traditions of the elders, and usages of the fathers, to venture beyond which, is quickly repelled, as though it were an impious, or sacrilegeous tresspass, on the province of the Holy Spirit? One thing is certain, that the man who interprets literally, in application to his hearers, Ezekiel's vision of the valley filled with dry bones, i. e. who has no hope of their revivification, but by some physical, mystic efficiency of God, will have very different feelings from him, who regards it as an allegorical description of that moral death and desolation, which are to be counteracted, by the agency the Divine Spirit, through the preaching and the prayers of the prophet. Both may feel, and feel intensely; but the feelings of the latter, will, from the very laws of human thought and emotion, be of a much more active, energetic, exciting character, leading to prolonged and multiplied exertions to bring, in every varied form, the truth,

of

1. Ezek . Xxxvii.

through which the Spirit works, to bear upon the rational mind, and feeling heart of the hearers, while those of the former, will vary from the most intense and painful anxieties, to calm and patient waiting, or despondence, or indifference, as to the result of the regular, solemn, and stated presentation of the truth.

Rejecting therefore as we do, the mystic philosophy, which talks about the “immediateand physical efficiency of God, in the conversion of sinners, as degrading this marrellous work to the level of mere operations in nature by creative energy; and believing, that the Spirit's agency is in, and through the suasive or motive influence, of His v own Iruth, as addressed to rational, and feeling creatures, we descry a light, which relieves the darkness of our path, and reveals somewhat of high concernment to us, as we essay,“ in Christ's stead,” to beseech men, “to be reconciled to God.

1. It is essential that there should be the exhibition of SCRIPTURAL truth. It is not all truth the Spirit deigns to bless. Much valuable information may be obtained from the light of nature, and the wonders of providence. The treasures of science may enrich the mind; and, through the wide fields of matter, mind, and morals, we may range, with profit and delight. But whatever truth may be discovered, by the mere general observation, or the exercise of reason, it is totally insufficient for the conversion of the soul. Philosophy, in different ages and nations, has framed her systems, and diffused her light, but not one solitary beam, falls upon the pathway of the sinner from deatby She may attend his steps, and cheer him in life; but at the grave's mouth, she bids the weary traveller adieu, nor throws one flickering ray upon the dark bosom of that eternity, into which he enters. She has never get convert. ed a sinner from the error of his ways, and saved a soul from death. In this work the gosp:l of the grace of God

stands pre-eminent and alone. It hath brought life and immortality to light. The word of God, reveals the only truth, which is, or can be efficacions for the rescue of the sinner from the dominion of his sins, and for his recorery to the forfeited bliss of fellowship with the Most High. It is " sure," "converting the soul," and therefore, if this be the end we design, it behouves us to see to it, that what we preach, can be confimed by a.“THIS SAITH THE LORD.” We are to come, as clothed with full authority, to make known what he has revealed; and, although we cannot say it as miraculously taught in the manner of Paul, yet still, drawing from the fountain of all saving truth-the sacred Scriptures," which are able to make(us) wise unto salvation;"- we must, in all our solemn appeals to our hearers, be able to declare with Him, "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which (is) preached of me, is not after men. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.':3

Now this mode of preaching stands opposed to many, which at different periods, have been approved. To exhibit scriptural truth, is not to discuss questions in philosophy, or philology-nor to induige in metaphysical disquisitions-nor to elaborate learned arguments-nor to cull the flowers of rhetoric--nor to soar in the regions of fancy; but to REPORT the awfully solema and tremendous facts revealed in the Bible, and press them, in the simplicity of its own diction, and by the commanding authority of God Himself, on the consideration and the consciences of the hearers. “For God hath not giren us the Spirit of fear, but of power," and therefore, we must not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord.” In order to this, it is of moment, that we learn to discrim.

1. Psalm xix, 7. 3. Gal. ii, 12.

2. 2 Tim. iii, 15. 4 2 Tim. i. 7, &

« PreviousContinue »