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stractions, but in its subjects: not in its speculative opinions, but in its practical principles : not in its distant generalities, but in its appropriated and particular influences.
He has always endeavoured to follow it out, from its too common confinement in certain notions, seasons, and services, into actual and ordinary life; and to esteem and applaud it only in proportion as it exerts and displays itself in that “wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."
This may in some measure account for the desire which has given rise to the publication. For it is to be presumed, that there will be some considerable conformity between the views of a minister and the people of his charge after a voluntary, long, and perfectly affectionate connexion. It is certain that these Lectures would not have been completely congenial with the taste of some hearers. They would in any course of religious discussion have said, “We want more of doctrine, and more of Christ." Now we are far from treating these terms themselves with contempt or disrespect. We love the doctrines of the Gospel; and believe that it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. We attach importance to evangelical truth ; and have no notion of piety without principle, or of good fruit but from a good tree- This is our creed: “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Yet, we cannot be ignorant that the complaint we have supposed, is too often the whining and seditious jargon of a party; and the very last party in the world we should ever consult with regard to preaching. These desperate adherents to something not easily fixed and definable in sentiment, but always accompanied with a spirit as well known and invariable in its operation, as any of the laws of nature, are, in spiritual things, what some discontented zealots are in political ; and as the latter render the cause of rational liberty suspicious and despicable, so the former disserve and disgrace the cause of evangelical religion—They are gospel radicals. They are not always even moral: they are never amiable. They neither pursue, nor think upon the things that are lovely, and of good report. They set at nought all sacred relations, proprieties, and decencies; while many of them abandon family worship, and leave their children without any attempts to bring them into the way everlasting, not knowing but they may be some of those against whom God “has sworn to have indignation forever," and not daring to go before him, or to be profane enough to take the work out of his hands. Self-willed are they; self-confident; presumptuous; censorious; condemnatory of all that are not initiated into their temper and exclusions. With regard to their ministers, they are not learners, but judges; and often make a man an offender for a word. In hearing, all is fastidiousness. Appetite has given place to lusting. They go to the house of God, not for wholesome food —they want something to elevate and intoxicate. The preacher is nothing, unless he can make them drink and forget their duty, and remember their danger no more. Their religion is entirely an impersonal thing, any further than as it consists in belief and delusion. They look for all in Christ, not as the only source from which it can be received into us—this is truth: but as the only residence in which it is to remain, while they themselves continue the same. They are complete in himnot as to the all-sufficiency provided in him for their actual and entire recovery ; but without their being new creatures. They look after nothing in themselves—and nothing in themselves should be looked for as the ground of their acceptance with God, or as self-derived or self-sustained: but they look after nothing in themselves even as the effect of divine agency and communication-forgetful of the inspired prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me:" regardless of the assertion, “ It is God that worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure:” subverting the promise, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; and from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you ; a new heart also will I give unto you, and a new spirit also will I put within you; and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.” Their state is not a condition to be submitted to any process of trial, as those enemies to Christian comfort would have it, who admonish persons to examine themselves whether they are in the faith; and to prove their own selves; and to give
all diligence to make their calling and election sure. Their peace requires that all this should, without hesitation, be taken for granted; while every thing is to be cried down as unbelief that would dare to lead them to question for an instant their security, or to keep them from being at ease in Zion. The sinner is not only guilty, but diseased; but they are concerned only to remove the sentence of condemnation, while the disorder is left. They absolve, but not heal: they justify, but not renovate. The king's daughter is all glorious within, while her clothing is of wrought gold: with them the righteousness of Christ is a fine robe to cover a filthy body. All their sin, past, present, and future, is so completely done away, that it were folly to feel anguish on the account of it. Their miscarriages are not theirs ; but those of sin that dwelleth in them. Their imperfections are regretless, because unavoidable: no man can keep alive his own sou).
Now we are willing to concede that all those from whom we occasionally hear complaints, do not go into these lengths; and we are persuaded that were these worthier individuals perfectly informed concerning the men we have very truly but inadequately sketched, they would exclaim, “My soul, come not thou into their secret; and mine honour, to their 'system' be not thou united.” Yet they sometimes murmur, as if in sympathy with them; and borrow their language, unconscious whose technicality it is : and are in danger that their good should be evil spoken of. To be strenuous for evangelical preaching is commendable; but they view the desideratum in too confined an import. They think it, if not improper, yet needless, for a minister to inculcate many things which he must feel to be binding upon him. “Oh!" say they,
of God will teach people all this.” The grace
of God will incline, and enable us to do all this : but it is the Bible that teaches. This contains all our religious information; and we only want to be led into all truth. The sacred writers never left these things to be taught by the grace of God, without instruction. They never intrusted them to inference. They particularized and enforced them. There is not one of Paul's Epistles, a large proportion of which might not have been spared as impertinent, upon this plea: for as surely as the former parts lay the foundation doctrinally, the latter labour to build us up on our most holy faith. But these would
restrain a publick teacher from the extensiveness of the Gospel itself; and oblige him to hold forth Christianity only in the first rudiments, not in the advanced science. They would confide him to a kind of abstract inculcation of a small class of principles; which principles are indeed unspeakably important, yet lose much of their importance itself, by being unaccompanied with certain alliances, and developments, and applications. Yea, they would not willingly allow him to do more than constantly iterate from Sabbath to Sabbath, a few well-known and favoured sentiments, in a manner the most undeviating, and in phraseology the most hacknied. They prefer a scheme of divinity drawn up by some fallible fellow-creature, to the Scripture at large, which, like God's other works, no one can perfectly systematize; but in which, as in Nature, we have, instead of mechanism, infinite freshness, and richness, and variety, and irregularity: that is, order beyond our reach.
They are sure, if not to oppose, yet not to aid ; if not to stigmatize, yet not to countenance and applaud any attempt, the preacher shall make to extend the views of his hearers; to improve their understandings; to lead them through the whole land of Revelation in the length and breadth thereof; in a word, to do anything that would follow up the recommendation of the Apostle, “Leaving therefore the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.”
Here the Lecturer is unspeakably happy in being able to say to the people he addresses, “Ye have not so learned Christ.” He therefore felt no embarrassment in the study or in the delivery of these discourses. He had only to consult his own convictions, and was not necessitated to think of the likings or dislikings of a sickly fancy, a perverted orthodoxy, a party spirit, or an anathematizing bigotry. Neither would he ever consent to officiate in any congregation where he could not stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free. This freedom he thinks a preacher cannot too highly value and assert in the discharge of his work-A freedom from the fear of man that bringeth a snarc-inducing and enabling him to say, as he rises from his knees to enter the pulpit,
“ Careless, myself a dying man,
“Of dying men's esteem;
“ Though all beside condemn.”
A freedom (whatever advantages they may afford him by their collectiveness and arrangements) from the fetterings and exclusiveness of human systems of theology—a freedom from the least sense of any obligation requiring him, in the interpretation and improvement of any passage of Scripture before him, to force its natural and obvious meaning into any frame of Arminian, or Calvinistic theory or authority—a freedom also from spiritual favoritism, and which might lead him, from partiality, to shun to declare all the counsel of God, as well as from timidity.
May the Author be permitted to plead for a freedom of another kind ?--An exemption from a wish to gratify a few, at the expense of the profit of many: an exemption from fastidiousness of composition and address : an exemption from such a primness of diction, as admits of the introduction of no anecdote, however chaste, and shuts out the seizure of all hints suggested by present feelings and occurrences: an exemption from the too serious apprehension of little faults in seeking to secure great impressions. To the intimidation, and checking of the preacher here, how often is he told of the dignity of the pulpitas if there was any worthy or real dignity in a case like this, separate from utility! What is the highest, and should be the most admired dignity in the preacher, but an apparent forgetfulness of every claim, but his object; and such an absorbing solicitude for the attainment of it, as leaves him unable to notice inferior things? Without such an impression, no man can do a great work gracefully; for if in the execution he is observed to be alive and attentive to any littleness, it will revolt the beholder, instead of pleasing him. An officer in the midst of action, will be all occupied in urging and completing the conflictwhat should we think of him if he turned aside after a butterfly, or showed himself at liberty to mind and adjust his ring, or his dress? Let a preacher be as correct as possible; but let him think of founding his consequence upon something above minuteness and finesse. Let him never imagine that his influence, or dignity, will ever be impaired by his feeling and displaying a noble elevation ; an indifference to every thing else—while the love of Christ bears him away; and he is lost, in endeavouring to save a soul from death, and to hide a multitude of sins. There is nothing with which a preacher should be less satisfied than a tame correctness, or his producing something that will