Page images

They that have perished have perished for ever, and are far beyond the reach of our labours and our prayers.

other, and to keep to it statedly for one half of the year at least: and that it is probable, future counsels may ripen some scheme for carrying on this viork in a manner which may tend greatly to the propagation of real, vital, catholic Christianity, in the rising generation.

V. That there is reason to apprehend, there are in all our congregations some pious and valuable persons, who live in a culpable neglect of the Lord's supper; and that it is our duty, particularly to inform ourselvs who they are, and to endeavour by our prayers to God, and our seriou3 addresses to them, to introduce them into communion; (to which, I question not we shall all willingly add) cautiously guarding against any thing in the methods of admission, which may justly discourage sincere christians of a tender and timorous temper.

VI. That it is to be feared, there are some, in several of our communions at least, who behave in such a manner as to give just offence; and that we may be in great danger of making ourselves

partakers of other men's sins," if we do not animadvert upon them: and that, if they will not reform, or if the crime be notorious, we ought, in duty to God, and to them, and to all around us, solemnly to cut them off from our sacramental communion, as a reproach to the church of Christ.

VII. That it may, on many accounts, be proper to advise our people to enter into little bands, or societies, for religious discourse and prayer; each consisting of six or eight, to meet for these good purposes once in a week or a fortnight, as may best suit with their other engagements and affairs.

VIII. That it might be advisable, if it can be done, to select out of each congregation under our care a small number of persons remarkable for experienced prudence, seriousness, humility, and zeal, to act .as a stated council for promoting religion in the said society: and that it would be proper, they should have some certain times of meeting with each other and with the minister, to join their counsels and their prayers for the public good.

IX. That so far as we can judge, it might by the divine blessing conduce to the advancement of these valuable ends, that neighbouring ministers, in one part of our land and another, (especially in this county) should enter into associations to strengthen the hands of each other by united consultations and prayer: and that meetings of ministers might, by some obvious regulations, be made more extensively useful than they often are. In which view it was farther proposed, (with unanimous appropation) That these meetings should be held at certain periodical times: That each member of the association should endeavour, if possible, to be present, studying to order his affairs so as to guard against unnecessary hindrances: That public worship should begin and end sooner, than it

commonly has done on these occasions:—That each pastor preach


But multitudes to this day surround us, who stand exposed to the same danger, and on the very brink of the same ruin. And besides these dying sinners, who are the most compassionable objects which the eye of man or of God beholds on this earth of ours, how many languishing christians demand our assistance? or, if they do not expressly demand it, appear so much the more to need it? Let us look round, my brethren, I will not say upon the nation in general, but on the churches under our immediate care; and say, whether the face of them is such as becomes the societies of those, whom the Son of God has redeemed with his own blood; and

at these assemblies in his turn:—-That the minister of the place determine who shall be employed in prayer:—That after a moderate repast, to be managed with as little trouble and expence as may be, an hour or two in the afternoon be spent in religious conference and prayer, and in taking into consideration (merely as a friendly council, and without the least pretence to any right of authoritative decision) the concerns of any brother, or any society, 'which may be brought before us for our advice:—And finally, that every member of this association shall consider it as an additional obligation upon him, to endeavour to'be, so far as he justly and honourably can, a friend and guardian to the reputation, comfort, and usefulness of all his brethren..

X- That it may be proper to enter into some farther measures, to regulate the admission of young persons into the ministry.—I will take leave to add one particular more, which has since occurred to my thoughts, and which I here submit to your consideration, and to that of my other Reverend Brethren, into whose hands they may fall, especially those of our own association, viz.

XI. Whether something might not be done, in most of our congregations, towards assisting in the propagation of Christianity abroad, and spreading it in some of the darker parts of our onm land? In pursuance of which it is further proposed, that we endeavour to engage as many pious people of our respective congregations as we can, to enter themselves into a society, in which the members may engage themselves to some peculiar cares, assemblies, and contributions, with a regard to this great end. A copy of such an association I am endeavouring to introduce among my own people, and several have already signed. It is a feeble essayj and the effects of it in one congregation can be but very small: But if it were generally to be followed, who can tell what a harvest such a little grain might at length produceJ May God multi.*. ply it a thousand fold!

P. Doddridge,

Northampton, Feh. 1, 1741-&,

of those that call themselves the disciples and members of a once crucified and now glorified Jesus? Is their whole temper and conduct formed upon the model of his gospel. Are they such, as we would desire to present them before the presence of his glory? What is wanting cannot be numbered; and perhaps we may be ready, too rashly to conclude that what is crooked can-' not be made straight. Nevertheless, let us remember, it is our duty to attempt it, as prudently, as immediately, and as resolutely as we can. Many admirable advices for that purpose our fathers and brethren have given us; particularly Dr. Watts, in the first part of hie Humble Attempt for the Revival of Religion,* and Mr. Some in his sermon on the same subject: excellent treatises, which, reduced into practice, would soon produce the noblest effects.

That those important instructions may be revived, and accommodated to present circumstances, with such additions as those circumstances require, we are this day, having united our prayers, to unite our counsels. I will not anticipate what I have to offer to your consideration in the more private conference, on which wc are quickly to enter. To form proper measures will be comparatively easy; to carry them strenuously into execution, will be the greatest exercise of our wisdom and piety. May proportionable grace be given to animate us, and to dispose them that are committed to our care, to fall in with us, in all our attempts for the honour of God, and for their edification and comfort!

* The Vth Disc, in this Volume.






J 1. On the Choice of texts; as to completeness of sense, and quantity of matters as referring to certain times, or to places and auditories. § 2. General Boles of sermons. $ 3. This great importance of avoiding excest; and §4. Of abstaining front

observations foreign from theology. $ 5. On finding the ConNection between the text and context. § 6. Of Division in general. In what cases the division of a discourse is proper. § 7. Of dividing the text. § 8. Of rendering a division more agreeable,"and of subdivisions. § 9. Of observing well the nature of a text, and the consequent manner of composing; whether by explication, or observation. § 10, (L) Of texts to be discussed by way of Explication. Of the explication of terms; and § 11. Things. § 12. Two sorts of explication; that of mere proposal, and that of proof or confirmation. § 13. Of simple terms. $ 14. Concerning expressions peculiar to scripture; and § Syncategorematica. § 16. How to explain a text, when the matter to be explained consists of a proposition. $ IT. (II.) Of texts tobe discussed by way of Observation. Some general directions. § 18. Some Sources of invention and observations. Genius and species, characters of virtue or vice, relation and supposition. J 19. Cautions in treating supposed truths. § 20. Person and state, time and place. § 21. Persons' addressed, and their particular state; principles and consequences. §22. The end proposed, and the manner, similarity, differences, and contrast. § 23. The causes, the good and bad in expressions and actions; supposition and prevention. § 24. Consider characters, of majesty, meanness, &c. §25. Remark degrees, and different interests; distinguish, define, and divide; and compare the different parts of the text together. J 26. (III.) Of texts to be discussed, by way of Continued Application, § 27. (IV.) Of texts to te discussed in Propositi Ons. § 28. These four ways may be sometimes mixed. § 29. Of the Exordu M. It» design. Partly to promote suitable affections and attention; but,§ 30. Principally, to prepare and conduct the mind to the subject. § 31. On the qualities of an exordium. § 32. On the vices of exordiums. $ 33. The best sources. §34, Of the Conclusion,

$i. We can properly reckon only three parts of a sermon, exordium, discussion, and application; we will, however, just take notice of connection and division, after we have spoken a little on the Choice of texts,* and on a few General Rules of discussing them. We begin with the former of these.

* The present custom of reading a text of scripture, to serve for the ground of a discourse, is derived from the time of Ezra. Before that time the prophets, and before them the patriarchs, delivered in public assemblies sometimes prophecies, and sometimes moral instructions for the edification of the people. We are told that Ezr A, accompanied by several Levites, in apublic congregation of men and women, ascended a pulpit, opened the book of the law, (the people all rising from their seats on his opening tlu; book) addressed a prayer to God, to which the people said, Amen, and read in the iaw of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading, Kefi. viii. 6—8 In later times, Mw ses was thus read in the synagogues every sabbath-day, Acts xv. 21.

To this laudable custom our Saviour conformed; and, in the synagogue at Nazareth, read a passage in Isaiah, closed the book after he had read it, returned it to the minister, sat down, and preached from the text, Luke iv. 16, kc. The apostles followed

« PreviousContinue »