Page images

Can any

for rhetorical ornament and effect; who would not, at once perceive, that his own heart attached very little consequence to the message of the Lord, which he was professedly de: livering? It would be utterly in vain to tell us, that he did indeed feel, and that he was a faithful, and learned, and pious minister of Christ. We could not resist the evidence of our senses, and to deliver the truth, in a dull and heartless, or careless and indifferent manner, could scárcely fail, according to the very laws of human feeling, to prejudice the hearer's mind in some degree either against the speaker, or against it. Nothing, as has already been intimated, can make amends for the actual want of feeling on the part of the ministry of Christ. Where however, it does exist, it cannot fail to exhibit itself. private christian, much more any minister of Christ, be free from blame, when destitute of all feeling appropriate to the truths of religion? It is the very evidence, requisite in the nature of things, to demonstrate to others the reality of his faitl, profeso:d, and to bring the truth, under cireumstances favorable for its reception, to bear upon the minds or others? This is the demonstration of the Spirit-the convincing evidence of its being truth, which the minister of Christ publishes,-the very truth and message of God, of which he has no doubts,-through which the Spirit mores and excites, and stirs his own spirit within him,--and which thus, by the very laws of human sympathy, and through the energy of the Spirit, present at the time, comes with convincing light and power to the minds of the hearers. Who can fail to see, and to feel, the immense necessity of this thing, in order to the successful administration of the word?

This decp, heart-felt, moving, spirit-stirring, belica of the truth, on our part, as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, is necessary to prove to those that hear us, that we do indeed believe the messages of God by us. If wanting, it willeseite in others the suspicion, and indeed gencratethe

presumption, that as we, who profess to have the message from God, give so little proof, of its being believed by

us, the thing after all is not as we represent it. It is, necessary also, to conciliate and engage the attention of our hearers; for all men naturally refuse to attend to, and do actually, turn away with disgust from, the man that does not, at the time, believe what he is saying. And it is necessary, still further, to give that sort of sensible exhibition of the reality, of what we preach, which, according to the laws of human emotion and sympathy prevailing among creatues of sense, is requisite, in the very nature of things, for effectively, and successfully, inducing the minds of others to believe it.

In all this, there is nothing but what may be most appropriately demanded of every minister of Christ. It eannot, in any case, be wanting, without guilt on his partywithout endangering the souls of his hearers--and without his being, inore likely, the instrument of their unbelicf, than of their faith. Oh, have we not reason to fear, that our exhibitions of truth, may sometimes be made, in any other way than in the demonstration of the Spirit?" If our hearers remain, from year to ycar, unbelieving, and unconverted, ought we not to institute a strict inquiry, whether we may not in some way conduce to it? Surely, if the demonstration of the Spirit,” were with us, it would not, could not be thus! And can that be long, and totally, wanting, without guilt on our part, when it is most reasonable, and natural, and of rightful obligation, that we should cordially believe, and be fully and powerfully assected, by the great facts of religion, which we teach, and when God, is ever willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Ilim?” Ah, will we not have rcason to dread the disclosures of eternity, if our own hearts and souls, are not fully imbued with the truth we preach? Hovy can we look our Master in the face, or how can we ever think of mecting with our hearers at His bar, if we have not admonished, rebuked, instructed, exhorted, entreated, and expostulated; as those that fully, and cordially believed the truth themselves. Our religion does not consist of merc abstractions; nor is that preaching the gospel, and watching for souls, which consists in exhibiting mere doctrinal propositions, that may engage and instruct the intellect, instead of asserting facts which we know and feel, have a direct and solemn bearing on the character, experience, and destiny of our hearers. This can never be done, where our own hearts have pot beliered, and felt, and we have thus been practically taught by the Spirit of God. We must speak from experience--from our personal experimental sense, and knowledge of the truth, or our preaching will be more human science--the theology of the schools,—the wisdom of philosophy,—the tradition of the elders,-the opinions of the fathers, -and the like matters, in which we cannot bear wilness, as those who knolo The truth as iuusktof God. Thus Paul was taught, and thus he preached, whether he addressed the unconverted, or belicvers. “Knowing thercfore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men, " said he, as realizing the awful condition of the im.penitent. And when addressing the people of God, still he ventured not beyond his own experience, teslifying in all cases, as to what he know to be matters of fact. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."2

And thus ought the minister of Christ, ever to preach. Ile professes to believe, that there is a Hell of unutterable and unalterable woc, where the wicked shall be forever made to endure the unmingled and unmitigated wrath of

1. 2 Cor. v. 11.

2. 2 Cor. i. 4.

God that whosoever does not repent of his sins, and ber lieve on Jesus Christ, is, at the present moment, a candidate for that Hell; yea, that even now, "he wrath of God abideth on him;">I that life is extremely uncertain and precarious; that death at once, and forever, determines the state and destiny of men; and therefore, that any and every one of his hearers, who does not repent and believe, is at every moment trembling, as it were, m the dery vortex of the bottomless abyss! Ilow, can a man look into the face of his hearers, whom he knows to be impenitent, and at the same time, believe these things, and not feel? The very heart of adamant, we should think, must be broken and melted in such a case; and warning, exhortation, and entreaty, clothed as it were in the very "terror of the Lord,” be resorted to, as the most appropriate method of obtaining relief, under the painful agonizing burden of distress. An immortal soul, is of value too immense, and the injury done to the blessed Saviour, by unbelief, and impenitence, too shocking and malignant for any minister of Christ, to remain a calm, indifferent and callous spectator. Paul, could not. Stephen, could not. The apostles, could not. The blessed Jesus Himself, could not. And shall we? Shall the fear of reproach, or shame, or death, or the fancied danger of incurring our hcarer's displeasure, or a tame and courteous compliance with irre soul-clestroying maxims of men of ungodly minds, ani! with the usages of society adopied or approved by the encmies of God, be allowed to enter, and chill the gencrous compassions of the soul? Shall we fear to be accountcd mad-men, and fanatics in consequence of our lettirg such truths take full possession of our minds ---of being "filled with the Spirit?” Paul was pronounced a mad-man, for this very reason. But, as with a "rcalizing scusc of

1. Jolin iji. 30.

[ocr errors]


the truth he preached, he was made manifest unto God, and in (the) consciences”! of his hearers. He cared not what they thought. He sought not to commend himself to them: but "whether we be beside ourselves," said he, it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for your

13266Would to God y'e could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me." Let no man think me a fool, if otherwise, yet as a fool, receive me." Be it our endeavor to catch the spirit of Paul, and to consent, to be accounted fools, and mad-men, rather than contribute to form the minds of our hearers to unbelief, and countenance their rebellion against the light, by preaching to them with calm indifference, a "dignified" religion, which will pass current with the rich, and gay, and lordly sons of pride, self-righteousness, and soul-destroying pharisaism.

If we are "filled with the Spirit," and preach "in the demonstration of the Spirit," we must expect to be mocked, and ridiculed, and accounted insane, and worse, by

The whole company of apostles were reported to be drunk, by the infidel ways, and pharisaic elders' of Jerusalem. The Master Ilimsell, was said to have a devil." Ilis very friends, said that He was beside llimself, because of Ilis devotion to the work of Ilis ministry; and it is saying vcry little for our zeal, or faithfulness, if we escape such reproach. Never, ought we to be satisfied, or think we are sufficiently engaged. The wondrous iacts of our religion, should possess our minds; and zeal, for the glory of our laster, and love for the souls of men, should ever lead us to exhibit the truth,"in the demonstration of the Spirit.




1. 2. Cor. v. 11.
3. S Cor. xi. 1.
5. Acts ï. 13.
7. Mark ii. 21.

2. 2 Cor. v. 13.
4. 2 Cor. xi. 16.
6. John vii. 48.

« PreviousContinue »