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hearers, and in making them in a great measure to understand, as well as to attend and hear. Surely it is our duty so to read the sacred Scriptures in the public worship, as to rouse the attention of the hearers to those Scriptures which testify of Jesus, and “which are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim. iii, 15. For, as it is expressed in Article vi, “ Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an Article of Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
Though it is an inestimable privilege that we possess the Scriptures in our own language wherein we were born, and that large portions of them are read publicly in the service of our Church, yet it will avail us nothing, but it will aggravate our sins and guilt, unless we give all diligence to profit by the word which is read. Since God has given us
ears to hear, let us hear:” and let us bless God for giving us the “ Holy Scriptures for our learning," and pray fervently that he would enable us by his Holy Spirit so to “ hear, read,
ON READING THE SCRIPTURES, &c. mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of his holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which he has given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.” *
* Second Collect in Advent.
Zuinglius was accustomed to begin his public loe. tares on the Bible with the following prayer: “ Almighty, everlasting, and merciful God, whose word is “
a lantern to our feet, and a light to our paths,” be pleased to open and enlighten our minds, that we may both understand these thine oracles piously and holily, and also be transformed into that we rightly understand, so that we may not in any thing displease thy majesty, through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." See“ Theologia Theologiæ, or The True Treasure," by John Trappe, M. A. 12mo. 1641, p. 325. a Beok which admirably points out the excellency of the sacred Scriptures, and gives useful hints and directions to study and read them profitably. It is rather of rare
2 Tim. iv, 2.
“ Preach the Word."
The origin of preaching from a text, probably arose from the custom of expounding the Hebrew Scriptures in the Chaldaic dialect, after the Babylonian captivity. they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” Neh. viii, 8.* Here we find the nature and the mode of preaching or expounding the word of God at that time: and this original mode of preaching is still necessary, as the ministers of Christ are commissioned and commanded to " preach the word” which is the only subject and matter of preaching, for it contains the wisdom of Jehovah, and reveals to man
+ See Dr. A. Clarke's Com. ad loc.
kind the only way of peace and salvation. Preaching is still the means appointed “ to save them that believe;" for the word, which is to be preached, is able to make men“ wise unto salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ." The ministers of Christ are then strictly charged to preach THE TRUTH, the WHOLB TRUTH, and NOTHING BUT the truth.
The Christian minister should duly consider the mode of preaching used by St. Paul and the Apostles in general, as a model to regulate his preaching by. The sum and substance of the preaching of St. Paul, was Christ as the only Saviour of sinners : his speech and his preaching was not “ with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power.” 1 Cor. ii, 4. Those preachers know little either of the spirit of St. Paul, or the design of the Gospel, who make the chief excellence of their preaching to consist in the eloquenoe of language, or depth of human reasoning. Great plainness of speech becomes all those who are commissioned to preach the Gospel of salvation to sinful and guilty men. Truth never needs any ornament. A preacher should never mount the pulpit to say fine or elegant things to entertain his hearers: he is there to proclaim the glad tidings of salvation to fallen man; to point out the way
of eternal life; to exhort, to cheer, and to persuade sinners to embrace the hope of eternal life. These essential truths should always be inculcated in terms which the poor and ignorant may comprehend. Let all preachers then beware, lest they fill any man's ear with sounding words, when they should be feeding his soul with the bread of life: let such fear, lest instead of honouring God, they honour themselves by seeking the praise of men. But the Christian minister should speak as, or according to, the oracles of God, that is, in such plain scriptural terms, as to be understood by the ignorant and illiterate poor, and yet in terms that would not offend the ears of persons of cultivated minds: this is the happy medium, which should be aimed at by all Christian preachers. *
* “ Half the skill of preaching is, to bring truth home to the lowest capacity of our hearers; and while we attempt to make them wise unto salvation, the world will certainly call it“ the foolishness of preaching ;” but still it will be widely different from foolish preaching. While we can preach with “ simplicity and godly sincerity, and not with fleshly wisdum,” we may expect the same blessing which attended the ministry of St. Paul.” See 1 Cor. ii, 1.-6.
Hill's Vill. Dial, xxxit,