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ly important to extensive ministerial success. We shall be traduced and slandered, if men will propagate such inferences, from our remarks. They are not legitimate, and we disavow them. But the very fact of such allegations, being whispered, and circulated to the injury of their ministerial reputation,--and consequently the success of their ministerial labors,—who look beyond the boundaries of sect, and aim at the conversion of the world to Christ, is sufficient proof to us, that one cause of the comparative inefficiency of ministerial labor, in many cases, is to be found in the narrow and restricted aim which die rects the efforts of some, and, their not coming up directly, and fully, "to the help of the Lord,” in His design to subjugate the whole earth. We are not the ministers of a sect. Nor do our commissions carry us within the range exclusively of a particular church, or denomination. We are ambassadors for God to a guilty world, and the terms of our commission direct us to go into all the world, and preach (the) gospel to every creature." Till we act in the spirit of that commission, and with the design of Him who gave it, we must expect but partial success.
Where the grand and immediate business of the ministry is lost sight of, and men begin to contend about forms of expression, and phrases, and subordinate matters, carnal contentions, and strife and schisms will prevail,—and though they may attempt to apologize for these things by alleging that they do but contend "earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and that it is of consequence to maintain "orthodoxy," against error, yet is it found to be the fact, that they who are perpetually testifying against error, and build their ramparts, and walls of defence, high around them to keep it out, and who fulminate their excommunicating anathemas, against those who differ from them, are neither the sects, nor the men, whom God, in His providence, at this day, is leading forward in grand and successful plannings and labours for the spread of the gospel and the conversion of the world.'
1. Mark xvi. 15.
But there are other modes of co-operating with God, beside the adoption, and prosecution of His catholic design in the preaching of the gospel. There must also be a participation of His Spirit, i. e. the exhibition of those affections, which He represents as characterizing Him, more especially in this work. He is fraught with compassion for the souls of men. He is intently, and incessantly occupied in His endeavours for their conversion “rising up early,” as He says, and sending His prophets, pleading and expostulating with them,--now with tenderness and pity, and now with authority and power-now with love and grace, and now with solemn fore-warnings and threatening denunciations, &c. It would be well for us to study the example and spirit of our blessed master, and address ourselves to the work of preaching His göspel as He did. No toil, no fatigue, no privation, no opposition, no reproach, no fear of ecclesiastical censures or of criminal prosecution, diverted Him from His work. His whole heart was in it. He delighted to do His father's will; and so must we. Days spent in preaching, must be followed by nights spent in prayer. We must be careful to "let (the same) mind he in (us) that was also in Christ Jesus," and to put on bowels of mercics, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another, and above all these things, charity, which is the bond of persectness."? To preach Christ in any other spirit,-out of envy or of strife, is not to co-operate with God. He calls us not to draw the sword, sare it is the sword of the Spirit, and if we will, like Peter make use of carnal weapons, we shall, like Peter, be presently left to deny our Lord and master. The holy God can hare no
1. It would be well for ministers and christians generally at this day, to read the discourses of Dr. John Howe, on the carnality of religious contention, and of union among protestants. We give the reader one or two extracts.
“All are for the truth, and they are all for peace and union. By which some indeed, more gently, mcan, they hope all will quit their former mistaken opinions and ways, (as in great kindness to themselves, they take for granted, all men’s are but their own,) and come wholly over to them. Others that have not breasts capable of even so much charity as this, not only are as much lovers and admirers of themselves, but so vehement haters of all that presume to differ from them, that they think them not fit to live in the world, that durst not adventure to do so. The mcaning therefore, of their being for peace, is that they would have destroyed them that are not of their minds: and then, (as the Roman Historian speaks,) quando solitudinem, feccre appellant pacem. When they have made a desolation, so that they themselves, are left alone in the world, that they will call peace.”—Howe's works, v. ii. p. 217.
“Our famous Davenant, speaking of the noted controversy between Stephen, bishop of Rome, (who he says, much as in him lay, did with a schis. matical spirit, tear the church; and Cyprian who, with great lenity and christian charity, professes, that he could not break the Lord's peace, for diversity
of opinion, nor temore any from the right of communion,) concudes that erring Cyprian, deserved better of the church of Christ, than Oriko laz Stephen. He thought him the sc hisnatic, whom he thought in the right, and that his Orthodoxy, (as it was accompanied,) was more mischierous to the church, than the other's error, nor can a man do that hurt to others without suffering it more principally; the distemper of his own spirit, what can recompense! And how apt is it to grow in him, and while it grows in himself, to propagate itseif among others! Whereupon, if the want of love, linders the nourishment of the body, much more do the things which when it is wanting, are went to fill up its place. For 25 na. turally as love begets love, so do wrath, enry, malice, caluniny, begct one another, and spread a poison and virulency, through the body whichnecessa. rily wastes, and tends to destroy. How soon did the christian church cease to be itself, and the early vigor of primitive christianity degenerate into in. sipid spiritless formality, when once it became contentious! It broke into parties, sects multiplied, animosities grew hig!', and the grieved spirit of love, retired from it."—Howe's works, vol. il. p. 232, 233.
1. Phil. i. 5.
2. Col. 1. 12-14.
communion with us in unhallowed affections. We must imbibe His Spirit, and like the holy Jesus, at one time weep over lost sinners, and at another, sternly reprove the carnality of professors. Oh, if the ministry in the discharge of their high and holy functions, were but a mirror to reflect the affections of God, upon a lost and guilty world, convulsed and torn with selfish strifes, and dissentions; how amazing and rapid would be the success, and spread of the gospel!
We only add to the above, that in order to co-operato with God, we must beware how, in cur exhibitions of truth, we violate any of the known and established laws, by which He governs mind. God's gracious constitution, is not at war with Ilis natural. The laws by which lle reg. ulatcs human thought and emotion remain unchanged, and when Ile brings the sinner to Himself, it is noi in violation of any one. For He does not work against Himself. It is essential, therefore, to the success of our ministrations, that we should know the ordinary principles which regulate the operations of the human mind and heart, lest through ignorance we may be found opposing our own dcsign. It is one of the laws of human thought and action, that distinct or clear and vivid perceptions of truth, must be had, in order to its assuming a powerful, or permanent influence. You need not pretend to influence a man, by addressing him in a language or style, which he cannot understand. We must therefore, see to it, that our preaching is plain, intelligible, and adapted to the apprehension of coinmon sense. Vague and incoherent declamation obscure and unintelligible expressions, must be carefully avoided, and the most casy, and familiar illustrations employed. Thus did He, "who spake as never man spake." Inattention to this, oft-times, renders the ministration of the word, perfectly unprofitable; and no more effectual method can be adopted, to beguile the minds of men, into
listless, dreaming, indifference, and stupidity, than the perpetual use of hackneyed phrases, in which, if there is truth at all, it is imperceptibly presented. What ideas will ninc-tenths of ordinary hearers of the gospel be likely to obtain from such expressions as “implanting in the heart, the principles of grace,"-"the application of Christ's righteousness to the heart by the Spirit of God,"_"infusing life into the soul,”—“injecting grace,”—“standing in our law,”—and others which we might mention? The reproof of the apostle, is as deserved in reference to much of what is charitably passed to the account of depth, or prefundity in theology, as it was to the abuses in preaching, which first elicited it. “If the trumpet give an uncertais sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you. except ye utter by the tongue, words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air." We have already noticed the inevitable effect which, a certain mode of exhibiting the sinner's inability, must have, as being at war with one of the benevolent provisions of the Great Creator. We might also notice how the want of a due respect to the operation of human sympathy, and the established modes, by which one mind influences another, 'cannot fail to neutralize, and vitiate much of ministerial effort; but it would be dilating, and digressing too far. We pass to still more important considerations.
1. 1 Cor. iv. 8, 9.