« PreviousContinue »
of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” What can God say more to encourage a people cheerfully to run the venture of expending what is necessary for the comfortable and honourable support of the ministry ?
And here let me warn you in particular, that you do not only do pretty well by your minister for a while at first, while the relation between you and him is a new thing, and then afterward, when your minister's necessities are increased, begin to fail, as it too frequently happens.
Some may be ready to say, it is no wonder ministers should be forward to urge such a duty as this, wherein their own temporal interest is so much concerned, a covetous disposition will make them love to harp upon this string. ---I have not been much in insisting on this duty in my own pulpit, where it would especially concern my temporal interest, and blessed be God that I have had no more occasion.—But whatever any may judge of the secrets of my heart, with regard to the principles that I have been influenced by, in what † have now said; it is enough for you to whom I have spoke it, that I have demonstrated that what I have delivered is the mind of God; and also (if there be any truth in his word) that what I have recome mended is not only for the temporal interest of your minister, but also for your own both temporal and spiritual interest.
Another article of advice that I would give you, is, to beware that you do not weaken your minister's hands, and wound yourselves by contention. You are but a small people, and you will be a very foolish people indeed if you are divided against yourselves. Contention among a people hinders all manner of comfort and prosperity either of soul or body; it makes them a torment to themselves and one another ; it puts them every way under disadvantages, and weakens the whole body like a consumption.
There are two sorts of contention I would warn you against.
1. Avoid contention among yourselves about your own temporal affairs : this will exceedingly tend to render a minister's labours ineffectual; and it is what greatly damps the spirit and discourages the heart of a minister, to see his people divided into parties, and envying one another, and entertaining mutual prejudices, jealousies and grudges, and so backbiting and reproaching one another, and carrying on secret plots and designs one against another.
2. Avoid quarrelling with your minister in matters of church discipline. This is a common thing, but a most unchristian thing, and tends greatly to weaken the hands of a minister in the whole of his work, and render all to no purpose.
The exercise of the discipline of God's house is the most difficult part of that great work that a minister has to do; and it becomes a
christian people to their utmost to strengthen their minister's hands in this difficult business, and say as the people said to Ezra the priest, with respect to the affair of purging the church of Israel from the scandal of those that had married strange wives, Ezra x. 4. Arise, for this matter belongeth to thee; we also will be with thee : Be of good courage and do it.
To conclude, If you would have your minister successful among you, and a blessing to you, and if you would be a happy people, then love one another and love your minister. There are some professors, in some of our towns, that are anti-ministerial men; they seem to have a disposition to dislike men of that order; they are apt to be prejudiced against them; and to be suspicious of them, and talk against them; and it seems to be as it were natural to them to be unfriendly and unkind towards their own ministers, and to make difficulty for them. But I do not believe there is a true christian on earth that is of this character; on the contrary the feet of them that bring good tidings, and publish the Gospel of salvation are beautiful in the eyes of all the true children of Zion; and every one that receives Christ, and whose heart is governed by a supreme love to him, has a disposition to receive, love, and honour his messengers. It was the distinguishing mark by which God manifested the person he had chosen to be the wife of Isaac, that type of Christ, that it was the damsel that should give kind and friendly entertainment to Abraham's servant or steward that was sent to espouse her and bring her home to Isaac; and therein was a type of the Gospel ministry, Gen. xxiv. 14, &c. See to it that you thus entertain the steward of the house of God that comes on this blessed errand to you.
If you and your minister thus live in peace, it will be the way for you to be a happy society, to flourish and prosper with all manner of prosperity, to have Christ dwelling among you; and for things to be brought to so blessed an event at last, as that he that is the great shepherd of the sheep, that purchased the souls of men with his blood, and your pastor that has the care of your souls committed to him, and yourselves and children, all shall rejoice together in another world, agreeable to John iv. 36. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
ADVERTISEMENT TO THIS EDITION.
The judiciousness of the “advice” given to Dr. Edwards, and with which he complied, may be justly questioned, respecting the “large quotations” referred to by Dr. Erskine, as they greatly swelled the publication, and thereby impeded the circulation of the President's original and very valuable thoughts. However, in the present edition of his works, it would be extremely improper to insert “ long quotations” out of Tillotson, Jones on the Canon, &c. indiscriminately, and without abridgment; not only because these authors are so common in England, compared with America, but also be. cause it will be more satisfactory to the biblical student to consult the originals themselves, and to see the arguments in their proper connexion. This equally applies to the senses of “Observations," and to that of the subsequent “ Remarks.” The latter of these were before cast into distinct chapters, and the former are now reduced to their proper heads, by which they acquire a more interesting aspect, and from the circumstance of an easy connexion, an additional persuasive force.
It is certain that many of the original “ Observations” and of the “ Remarks on important Theological Controversies," were inserted in the author's common-place book prior to the composition of some of his elaborate publications on the same subjects, when his thoughts appear in a more mature state, and in a more connected form. Of course, where the subjects coincided, he would avail himself of the substance of such adversaria in those treatises. On these grounds, independent of other considerations and especially from a due regard to the author's reputation, which is deservedly high-it is obviously necessary, that a selection more choice and scrupulous be now made. And it may be confidently asserted that these two series, as they now stand, form a very valuable part of the author's work.
President EDWARDS has left many manuscript volumes of observations, on almost all subjects in divinity, which either occurred to him from his own meditation, or from the books he read. He wrote these volumes, not with any design they should ever be published in their present form, but that he might retain thoughts which appeared to him worth preserving, both for his own improvement, and for the instruction and edification of others. The judicious author of the life of this great and good man, gave his opinion, that, from these manuscripts, a number of volumes might be published, which, though more imperfect than if the author had prepared them for public view, would afford much new light and entertainment to the church of Christ. The high and well-merited reputation, not only of the books prepared for the press of the President, but of the sermons published since his death, have occasioned many solicitations to his son, Dr. Edwards, of New Haven, to collect and print such part of those manuscripts as might be generally useful. In compliance with these requests, he has not grudged the labour of transcribing this volume of miscellanies, which, if it prove acceptable, will be followed by more, as the Doctor's health and leisure permit.
Many important and original thoughts occur, on the evidences of Revealed Religion.—Moral and religious knowledge only from revelation.-Christ and his apostles taught not that the last judgment was near.- Jesus's prophecies, a proof that he was the Christ, and that he was God.- Propriety of the general judgment.--Reasonableness of some particular doctrines.Miracles of Jesus not opposed by counterfeit miracles.- Miracles of Jesus superior to those under the old testament.—Much instruction concisely conveyed by scripture metaphors.--Excellencies of scripture history.—The propriety of gradual improvement in understanding the scriptures. The propriety of room being left for discovering truth by scripture consequences.--The necessity of divine revelation vindicated.- Jesus proved the Christ, from his destroying heathen idolatry according to scripture prophecy.-Propagation of Mahometanism not parallel to that of christianity. --State of the Jewish nation, an evidence of revealed religion.—Observations on Christ's miracles.-Equally striking and judicious are many of the reflections on the mysteries of revelation--On the trinity and the divinity of Christ