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insufficiency, asking wisdom of God—we know he giveth liberally, and will surely make us wise to win souls, to the honour of his name, and our own rejoic* ing in the day of the Lord Jesus. To whom with the Father and Holy Spirit, that one God whom we adore, be paid the highest honours and praises to eternal ages. Amen.
CHRISTIAN PREACHER, &c.
OF THE MOST USEFUL WAY OF PREACHING.
§ 1. Introduction. The subject proposed. The supposed character of an useful preacher § 2. Useful preaching requires that a minister lay down, very frequently, the distinguishing marks of the converted and unconverted, with plainness, and especially with justness. § 3. Clearly distinguish betwixt mere morality and true religion. § 4. Instruct in, and exhort to the duty of self examination. § 5. Shew the difference between what is legal, and 'what evangelical, in principle and practice. § 6. Shew men their native weakness, with the grace and strength of Christ. § 7. These last particulars further enforced. J 8. The necessity, nature and progress of conversion. § 9. A minister should take pains with his own heart and sermons, in order to bring sinners to Christ. § 10. Inculcate the necessity of prayer. § 11. Explain the gradual renewing of the mind. § 12. Represent the whole of christian faith and duty as amiable and attractive. § 13. Avoid prolixity in explaining the text, and hasten to the application. § 14. Use the most winning arguments to bring souls to Christ. § 15. Display the excellency of Christ's person and grace. § 16 Insist on the love of Christ. § 17. And see that you love Christ fervently yourself. § 18. Expresi it not only in words, but also by correspondent actions. § 19. Preach upon the duties of self-denial and weanedness from the world. § 20. Recommend reading not only of the scriptures, but alsoof other good books. §21. And practise the same for personal edification. § 22. Recommend converse with growing, praying christians. § 25. Conclusion. A prayer.
§ 1. In answer to the question which you have proposed to me, viz. How a faithful minister, who earnestly desires to save and to edify the souls of his hearers, to gain sinners unto Christ, and to inflame their hearts with a growing love to their Saviour, may best adapt his preaching to these excellent purposes? I can only at present suggest a few things briefly; whereas, if I had more leisure, I should choose to write more copiously on so weighty a subject.
I must take it for granted that a minister, who sincerely desires and who is likely to do good by his preaching, is such a one, both in heart and life, as St. Paul describes, "Who holds fast the form of sound words (or the pure apostolic doctrine) which he has heard, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus; and who keeps that good thing which has been committed to him by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in him.*
§ 2. It will not a little subserve the good ends proposed in the question, for a minister, very frequently, to lay down in his sermons the distinguishing marks and characters both of the converted, and of the unconverted, and that with all possible plainness, that so every one of his hearers may be able to judge of his own estate, and may know to which of these two classes he belongs. But then great care must be taken that those distinguishing characters arc justly drawn: for it may easily happen, through a preacher's unskilfulness in this affair, that the unconverted, on the one hand, may be deceived into a good opinion of their present state, and may grow thereupon more se
cure and careless; and that some converted persons, on the other hand, may be unreasonably disquieted, and filled with groundless and fruitless fears. However, a prudent minister, who has experienced a work of grace upon his own heart, will have no great difficulty so to describe it to others, as sufficiently to guard against the mistakes on both sides; and to lead both the one and the other, by the unerring light of scripture, into the knowledge of the true state of their own souls.
§ 3. For this purpose also let a minister carefully and clearly distinguish, in his preaching, betwixt mere morality and true religion; betwixt the morally honest man and the sound believer, who, from a deep conviction of die depravity of his nature and the errors of his life, has learned to hate sin from his heart, and lives by the faith of the Son of God. For it is hardly credible what multitudes of persons there are, even in christian countries, where the gospel is publicly and faithfully preached, who, though they are wise enough in other matters, yet in this they are grossly ignorant, and thereby miserably deceive their own souls.
§ 4. And, because this kind of self-deceit is so very common, it is highly necessary for a minister to instruct his hearers, with all possible plainness in the duty of ^self-examination; and very often to exhort them to it: as more especially to inquire, if ever they were awakened from their natural sleep of sin? If they have escaped out of the snare of the Devil? Jf ever they have had a lively and affecting sense of the corruption of their own hearts, and of the misery of their natural state? And, in short, whether they have good and solid reasons to conclude that they are regenerate persons? Whether they can find in themselves the genuine marks of a true conversion to God, and a living faith in Christ? &c. Or whether, on the other hand, they do not conclude that they are true christians, and in a state of salvation, merely from their being moral, honest men, and their not living in any gross and scandalous sin? And, perhaps too, from their saying prayers, hearing sermons, and frequenting the places of public worship, and from theii; practising such like outward duties of religion? Or, again, whether they do not flatter themselves that their eternal state is safe, merely because their lives are not altogether so bad as the lives of some others?
§ 5. It would also be of very considerable use for a minister often to explain, and to shew the difference betwixt a legal and an evangelical frame and principle of religion; or betwixt that slavish fear, by which alone it is that some persons, even of a serious turn of mind, are forced and dragged, as it were, to their duty,—and that evangelical newness of spirit, that filial love to God; and delight in his service, which usually grows and flourishes in the soul where it is once planted, and which produces.a free, unconstrained, and acceptable religion. This would be an excellent means, not only of awakening sinners out of their carnal security; but of turning them fully to God, to a holy walk, and to a pleasurable converse with him, even such as becomes his children.
§ 6. And for this end it is of very great moment, that a minister not only instruct his hearers what they must do, and how they ought to act, but that he also labour fuHy to apprize and to convince them bv the evidence of scripture, of their own native weakness and impotence for all that is spiritually good; and that he further shew them, by the same word of truth, from whence they must look for, and from whom they may hope to receive all grace and strength, not only to renew their souls in their first conversion, but also afterwards to enable them to perform every duty, as well of outward as of inward religion. They must be told that they can do nothing without Christ, according as he has assured us; " Without me ye can do nothing/'* And, again, that by the help of his grace they may do all things; according as St. Paul writes, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.' f Thus should gospel ministers constantly make it the aim and drift of their preaching, to lead their hearers to Christ and