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you may see, when such proper motives are not at hand, they take, without any scruple, common or general ones, which will equally enforce any duty whatsoever.
And wThy should not we introduce the peculiarities of the gospel on all occasions, as frequently as the apostles did? If our schemes of theology will not allow us, we have reason to suspect we are in a different scheme from the apostles. Are we afraid that men will make perverse use of such doctrines as the apostles used for motives? The apostles chose to venture it, and why should not we? If we will not dare to preach such a gospel as may be perverted by men of corrupt minds to their own injury, we must not expect to be instruments of any good. If we are a "savour of life" to some, we must expect to be the " savour of death" to others, or not preach at all.
§ 22. I confess even the Remonstrant scheme (which, I think, considerably sinks the doctrines of grace") does allow room to regard Christ abundantly more than most preachers of that denomination do. I would meet them on their own principles; what hinders their frequently inculcating the merits of Christ, the depravity of our nature, the necessity of regeneration, the aids of grace, union and communion with Christ? These topics, it were to be hoped, might have their effect: but alas! how few of the Remonstrants improve, to advantage, so much of the gospel as they hold and receive. And it makes me less inclined to this scheme, that it so generally draws those that embrace it into a strain of preaching, even on practical subjects, so different from that of the apostles; and inclines them, I know not how, to suppress those glorious motives (which yet their own principles'might allow) by which the apostles enforced gospel duties.*
§ 23. 4. So only shall we deserve the name of Christian preachers. Only did I say, I am afraid this may
sound'too harsh. Come, let us put the matter as
soft and candid as common sense will allow us. So shall
* What our author considers as what might be done on the Remonstrant scheme, is actually done by the Arminian Methodists. we most evidently cr best, deserve this honourable title.
Whilst a preacher keeps off from the peculiarities of the gospel, and says nothing but what the light of nature would also suggest and authorize, give me leave to say, a stranger might possibly doubt whether he is a deist or a christian; the question is like an imperfect mathematical problem, which equally admits of different solutions.
Suppose the ghosts of Paul and Seneca to come, mere strangers, into an assembly, where one is harranguing the people in this abstracted manner; I am apt to think Seneca would claim him as a philosopher of his own sect and religion. Now if Paul should also make his claim to him as a minister of Christ, how could the question be decided, without allowing SeneCa to be a preacher of Christ also?
§ 24. On the other hand, if a preacher insists upon even the peculiar and glorious truths of christianity, but so unhappily manages them, as not to lead people to holiness, and the imitation of Christ thereby; what is this to the grand and full purpose of preaching; or, to the ultimate design of the gospel? Such preachers are> quite off that divine system which is calculated to destroy the works of the Devil, and to teach men sobriety, righteousness, and godliness. It is not only Christ without us we are to preach, but also Christ in us, and our putting on Christ Jesus, by a holy heart and life.
If the apostle James should come again, and make a visitation to our churches, and hear such a preacher, he would imagine himself among such people as he writes against in his epistle; he would be apt, when the miaister had done, in his zeal for Christ, to take the text in hand again, and supply what the preacher had omitted, viz. the application: and to sav to the auditors, "Know ye not that faith without works is dead?" If the preacher should here interrupt him saying, 1 Hold, spare your pains, the Spirit of God will make the application, and teach men holiness;'—would not James reply, 'I and the rest of the apostles were taught to preach otherwise, and to give particular exhortations to duty; we judged we might as well leave it to the Spirit, without our pains, to reveal the doctrine, as to instruct men in the practice of the gospel.'
§ 25. Upon the whole, brethren, let it be our resolution to study and preach Christ Jesus., On this subject, there is room for the strictest reasoning, and most sublime philosophy; it deserves, invites, and inspires the. strongest fire of the orator; in extolling Christ, we cannot shock the most delicate taste by over-strained hyperboles; here the climax may rise till it is out of sight; our imagery cannot be too strong and rich.
Should our Lord himself appear, and give you a charge at your entrance on the ministry, would he not say (what indeed he has said already) "As the Father hath sent me, so send I you to preach the kingdom of God; that every knee may bow to me, and everv tongue confess me. Teach them to observe all, things whatsoever I have commanded you: and tell them, that without me they can do nothing; that when they have done all, they are unprofitable servants, and must be found in my righteousness. Become all things to all men; seek words which the Holy Ghost teacheth; that you may gain souls, and bring in my sheep, for whom I have laid down my life. If ye love me, feed my sheep. I have called you friends;' do all in my name, and to my honour: so I will be with you always; and if you thus watch for souls, you shall give up your account
with joy, at my appearing. This is the preaching
which, though it seem foolish to many, shall prove the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Cast forth the net on this side, and so may you expect to catch many souls. Be ye followers of my apostles, as they are of me, and in my name shall ye do wonders; if you preach me, I and mine shall therein rejoice; be not ashamed of my gospel, and I will not be ashamed of you."
§ 26. But to arrive at any tolerable perfection in preaching Christ, is a work of time, the result of a careful perusal of the scriptures, and studying the hearts of men. It requires the mortifying of the pride of carnal reason, a great concern for souls, and a humble dependence on the Spirit of God, with the lively exercise of devotion in our closets.
As for the reasoning part on the more agreed points of our religion, a young preacher sooner may get to considerable excellency; but the christian orator is longer in finishing. We may soon get necessary truths into our own minds, and come at minds of our size and taste; but by proper motives and ways to reach the souls of a different make and turn, even the lowest of the vulgar, is what very few quickly arrive at; but let us not despair; if we thus regard the Lord Jesus in our ministrations, we may very reasonably expect the assistance of his Spirit, and we shall be " able to do all things through Christ strengthening us.
CHRISTIAN PREACHER, &c.
OF PARTICULAR AND EXPERIMENTAL
$ 1. Introduction. The complaintof preachers dwelling\n generals,