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He is to preach affectionately and zealously: for the preaching of those who have been destitute of holy zeal in the discharge of their duty, has never proved useful. God has been pleased to put more honour upon the zealous exertions of those who have laboured in his cause for the good of souls, than upon the most eloquent and learned, who have been content only to obtain the praise of men.
By zeal in preaching is not meant an unmeaning vociferation, much sound with little sense; vox et præterea nihil; but that ardour of spirit, that deep sense of the importance of the object, that heavenly fervour, that affectionate and generous concern for the conversion and salvation of immortal souls.
But above all, the Christian preacher is to take heed to preach EVANGELICALLY. The great and important truths of the Gospel must be brought forward, faithfully stated, judiciously explained, and earnestly enforced, that the hearers may be able to render a reason of the hope that is in them. The doctrines of the Gospel should bear a prominent feature in every sermon.
Those great and essential truths of the Gospel must not be kept back, slightly or superficially treated;
but the whole counsel of God must be fully declared.
And also, the Christian preacher is to preach practically: not from the pulpit only; but his whole life must be a perpetual comhis
A pastor's life,” says one,
“ must be vocal.” Sermons must be practised as well as preached. The Apostle's exhortation to Timothy should be duly impressed on the heart of every minister, « Watch in all things.” He should depend on the grace of God to keep him, least he should contradict in his life what he proclaims with his lips. It is indispensably necessary, also, that the Christian minister should keep up personal religion; he must be duly impressed with the truths which he preaches to others. This will give weight to his instructions. It is very pleasing when people can derive profit from the life as well as the sermons of their pastor. *
The following comment of the pious and excellent Archbishop Leighton on these words, “ Apostle of Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet. i, 1.) is worthy of the serious attention of every Christian pastor.
6 Sent by HIM, (i.e. Jesus Christ,) and the message no other but his name, to make that known. And what this apostleship was then after some extraordinary way, befitting these first times of the Gospel, that the ministry of the word in ordinary is now; and therefore an employment of more difficulty and excellency than is usually conceived by many, not only of those that look upon it, but even of those that are exercised in it to be ambassadors for the greatest of kings, and upon no mean employmentthat great treaty of peace and reconcilement betwixt him and mankind. 2 Cor, v, 20.
It may be proper here to give a few directions to the hearers of the word preached. It must be allowed, that except the people hear the word in a proper spirit, the most faithful ministers will preach in vain to them. Jesus Christ, the great Bishop of souls, preached the everlasting Gospel to many who were not profited by it; and we are told that he departed from a certain place in which he could do no mighty works, because of the people's unbelief. Matt. xiii, 58. Hence we learn that the fault may not be in the preacher, nor
, in his sermons, but in the hearers. Therefore, in order to profit by the ministry of the word, endeavour to be an attentive hearer.
The habit of sleeping during any part of divine worship, is horrid and disgraceful. It is a public nuisance, and an offensive rudeness.* Some people hear with a kind of attention, but not of the right sort: some listen to hear some new thing; others bear
* See more on this disgraceful habit, p. 21.
in order what their captious minds may lay hold of; others eagerly attend to the eloquence and language of the preacher; and others listen attentively in order to find something that will go hard against their neighbour, rather than themselves. *
But this is not hearing to the purpose. The attention of the hearers should be directed to the importance of truth, the nature of the subject, and how it may promote their eternal interests. We are to hear the word preached with full purpose to reduce it to practice. The best eulogium people can give to a preacher, is to let him see that his sermons are published in their lives and conversations. It is not possessing a great memory, or merely retaining the several parts or divisions of the sermon; but feeling its effect upon our hearts, that is of the greatest consequence.”+
As often as opportunity of hearing the word of God preached, offers itself, be sure to
* Some people perhaps take home the text with them, but mind the sermon no more than if they had not heard one. “ Thus ***** ended his sermon. The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately went and practised the contrary. A happy and severe stroke upon the too-common neglect of sermons.
+ Buck's Christian Guide, p. 60.
attend : for it is written, “ faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. x, 17. It is both your duty and your interest to hear the word preached. Be diligent then in attending the public worship of God, and attentively hear what God by the mouth of his ministers has to say unto you. Those persons who do not attend public worship, shew that they have little or no reverence for God's holy name, and little regard for their own souls. The person, who has the opportunity, and does not attend public worship, cannot expect that God will so far depart from his own ordinance, as to bless him in private. “ The path of duty is the path of safety;” and “
they who wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength.” Is. xl, 31.
These directions may be summed up in the following most excellent form of sound words:
COLLECT FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY IN
“ Blessed Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them; read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that,