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and solemn importance. To give||positively. I shall wave all strictGod's words a different meaning ures on the barbarism of “shewto what he intended to convey by ing negatively what a thing is them, or to put a construction upon not ;" and will only beg leave to them which we have not the full-state, that the following instances est proof he has intended, is of this injudicious and dangerous awful indeed ! 'Any person who is mode of handling the word of God but even a little acquainted with have fallen within the compass of spiritual things, may give a spiritual | my own observation. interpretation (according to his own A preacher took for his text, opinion) to any text: but it is not | Isa. xxviii. 16. He that believeth every person that can give the shall not make haste. On this he literal sense. The spiritual mean-l preached two sermons. His diing must ever be drawn from the vision was as follows : “I shall literal ; and indeed when the first first prove that he who believeth is well known, the latter, which shall make haste: and, secondly, is its use and application, will show in what sense he that benaturally spring from it: but, | lieveth shall not make haste." without all controversy, the literal|On the first, which was a flat conmeaning is that which God would tradiction of the text, he spent have first understood. By not more than an hour: and the conattending to this, heresies, falsegregation were obliged to wait a doctrines, and errors of all kinds, I whole month, before he could come have been propagated and multi-back to inform them that, he who plied in the world.
believeth shall not make haste. I 2. Remember you are called, would not be thought to insinunot only to explain the things of ate, that the first sermon was not God; but also the words of God. sound doctrine and good sense, as
The meaning of the thing is found to its matter ; but I say it was in the word: and if the word injudicious.-And besides, it was which comprises the original idea, absurd to found his work upon a be not properly understood, the text, the very letter of which it meaning of the thing can never be contradicted in the most palpadefined ; and on this ground the ble manner. edification of the people is impos Another, a citizen of no mean sible. We often take it for grant-city, not a thousand miles from ed, that the words which are in the place where I write, took his cominon use are well known, es-ll text from Psa. xxxiv. 19. Many pecially when we understand || are the afflictions of the righteous, them ourselves : but this is a very || but God delivereth him out of false opinion, and has bad conse-them all.
His division was as quences ; for elementary matters follows: “In handling this text, being not well known, it is no I shall first prove, that there is wonder if the intellectual im- none righteous. Secondly, That provement of the people do not the afflictions of the righteous are keep pace with our labours.
Noll many : and, thirdly, That the man can read a language, the al-|| Lord delivereth him out of them phabet of which he has never all." The honest man's meaning learned. Every mathematician and design were undoubtedly feels it a matter of imperious ne. ll good :--but who could hear his cessity to define all the terms he division, without trembling for uses in his demonstrations.
himself and his text! 3. Never appear to contradict Another took Luke xii. 32. the Holy Spirit by what is called || Fear not, little flock; for it is treating a subject negatively and your Father's good pleasure to
give you the kingdom. In oppo- | mean nothing.-I travelled once sition to the letter of his text, the with two preachers who trifled the preacher laboured to prove, that whole year in this way. Tneir the flock of Christ is not a little, I texts were continually such as but a very large flock : and in these. Adam, where art thou ? order to do this, brought in multi-1--I have somewhat to say unto tudes of pious heathens, vast|thee.--If thou wilt deal justly and numbers who sought and found truly with my master, tell me.mercy in their last hour, together I have put off my coat, how shall with myriads of infants, idiots, &c. I put it on ?--Thy mouth is most
Who does not see, that in each | sweet, &c. I need not add that of the above cases, ignorance of, these solemn triflers did the peoor inattention to, the literal mean-||ple no good: and it will not suring of the text, was the grand prise you to hear that they are cause of this absurdity and con- both, long since, fallen away. tradiction? Choose, therefore, Such texts as the foregcing may such texts as you understand ; be preached from without any and, after having conscientiously | study; for two reasons : first, given the literal interpretation, Because they are not subjects for improve the whole in the best study, and should not be studied ; manper you can, to the edifica- and, secondly, Because the pertion of
son who takes such, speaks on 4. Seldom take a very short | them whatever comes uppermost, text; because a short one may not as one explanation will suit them afford you sufficient matter to en- just as well as another : for, taken tertain and instruct your congrega- out of their proper connection tion. There are not many to be they mean—nothing.
Beware of found who have the ability to use a this, and never do violence to the few words of Scripture, as Addison word of God, by taking a text out and Steele did the Greek and of the connexion in which his Latin mottos of their Spectators : Spirit has placed it. Let God and those who have the ability, I speak for himself, and his words should not use it in this way, for will bear convincing testiinony this plain reason ; that in preach-to their own excellence. ing, God should be heard more 6. It might be very proper to than man.
But where imagina- say something here concerning tion and invention are put to the the abuse of Scripture, by what is rack to supply the place of the termed allegorical preaching ; but words of God, the hearers | as the good sense both of preachmay admire the address of theers and people has nearly banishpreacher, but are not likely to ed this deceitful handling of the be fed with the bread of life. word of God from the nation, In such cases man speaks most, observations on this head are renGod least. Suck preaching must dered comparatively unnecessarý. leave the people ignorant of the Yet the customi
still lives, Scriptures. With many at pres- though it does not prevail. A very ent, preaching is become more of great man, and one of the most a human art, than of a Divine learned of his day, ORIGEN, was science: and when this is consid- ll the father of this most thriftless ered, we need not wonder that and unedifying art. His learning the pulpit is so often employed, and reputation have gained it without becoming the mean of sal- sort of credit in the world with vation to them that hear. superficial people ; though every
5. Never take a text which scholar knows, that Origen himout of its proper connexion can || self, far from deriving any credit
from it, was degraded by the un- || but all that may read them, from substantial craft, which, with the a conduct as disgraceful in a litwisest and best men, ranks among || erary as in a moral point of view; the sullenly departing shades of and which, in the end, must inthe whole herd of “unreal mock- || volve its author in shame and
Mr. Benjamin Keach's highly merited reproach. work on Scripture Metaphors, has Independently of all this, the done more to debase the taste both principle is bad: it is degrading of preachers and people, than any to the dignified doctrines of the other work of the kind. Fortu-l gospel to be treated in a way by nately, some years ago, a large which no rational conviction was edition of this work was printed : ever produced ; and by which no it got thereby into the hands of truth was ever proved. many private individuals. Many Even Metaphors and Parables preachers in making a liberal use prove nothing : they only illusof it in the pulpit were, according trate ; and are never allowed to to the popular phrase, “found be produced in support of any out :” this has made them cautious, doctrine. This is a maxim in and Keach on Scripture Metaphors theology to which all polemick is now in less repute than former-divines are obliged to bow. Thely. Two instances of this find- ologia symbolica non est arguing out, came within my own mentativa.
Similia ad pompam, knowledge.
Mr. Wm. C. was non ad pugnam: illustrant, at nieminent for explaining Scripture hil probant. Added to all this, Metaphors and Allegories; the what is called Allegorical Preachpeople admired his deep knowl-ing, debases the taste, and fetters edge and ability in one of the the understanding, both of preachprincipal congregations where heer and hearers. frequently preached, a gentleman 7. But there is another species of luckily had in his library, Keach's preaching against which I would Scripture Metaphors, and found most solemnly guard you, viz. that it was from this publication, what is termed fine or flowery that Mr. Wm. C. derived all his preaching. I do not mean preachexcellencies—he spoke of this ing in elegant, correct and dignipublickly ; and an unlucky per-fied language; as every thing of son giving the name of Billy | this kind is quite in place, when Keach to the preacher, spoiled his employed in proclaiming and illuspopularity.
trating the records of our salvaAnother, having taken his text, tion : but I mean a spurious birth, said, “I shall divide this into which endeavours to honour itself twenty-one heads;" and so say-by this title. Some preachers ing, he produced them all in de- think they greatly iinprove their tail.--A gentleman in the con- own discourses, by borrowing the gregation said, “When I return fine sayings of others ; and when home, I shall examine Keach on these are frequently brought forthe Metaphors, and see whether ward in the course of a sermon, you
have missed any." He did the preacher is said to be a flowso, and found that he could speakery preacher. Such flowers, used more for the fidelity of the preach-in such a way, bring to my reer's memory, than he could for membrance the custom in some the honesty of his heart; as in countries of putting full blown this respect he had most servilely roses, or sprigs of rosemary, lavand disingenuously stolen the ender, and thyme in the hands of word from his neighbour. Let the dead, when they are put in these accounts not only deter you, their coffins. And inay I be per
CONCERNING BEHAVIOUR IN THE PUL
PIT, AND MODE OF CONDUCTING
mitted to say, that the unnatural || the work you gave me to spin." association of words and senten- The simplicity and ignorance of ces in a fine dignified style, with the poor woman, became a subject the general tenor of a discourse of innocent merriment; but a which is often of a widely differ- preacher who speaks thus, will ent character, is to me as ridicu- | not so easily escape : his affectalous and absurd as the union of a | tion and pedantry, will, among cart-wheel, with elegant clock- || sensible men, become the subjects work.
of the most caustick animadverBut the principal fault in this sion. kind of preaching is the using a vast number of words long and high-sounding, to which the preacher himself appears to have affixed no specifick ideas, and which are often foreign, in the connexion in which he places them, to the meaning, which they
1. Go from your knees to the radically convey.
house of God. Get a renewal of Such preachers are remarkable your commission every time you go for the multitude of words of a to preach, in a renewed sense of similar meaning, which they often the favour of God. Carry your auheap together. Their substan-thority to declare the gospel of tives are lost in the overbearing Christ not in your hand, but in crowd of adjectives brought to ex- || your heart. When in the pulpit, plain them and the case is not be always solemn : say nothing to rare, where two or three of these make your congregation laugh, epithets mean precisely the same Remember you are speaking for thing; only, unluckily for the per-eternity; and trifling is inconsisson who uses them, one happens to tent with such awful subjects as be derived from the Latin or Greek, the great God, the
and another from the French, and the death of Christ, the torments of third, the only one he appears to hell, and the blessedness of heavunderstand, comes from his mother's tongue; and perhaps, the most 2. Never assume an air of im. proper on the occasion.
Words | portance, while in the pulpit : you used in such a way, either lose all stand in an awful place, and God meaning, or, like equal antagonist bates the proud man. Never be forces, destroy another. || boisterous or dogmatical. Let Thus, 66
they draw out the thread your demeanour prove that you of their verbosity finer than the feel that you are speaking before staple of their argument.” They Him who tries the spirit; and to are precisely such as a good whom you are responsible for evwoman used, who having complet-ery word you utter. Self-confied a task of spinning, for a part dence will soon lead to a forgetfulof which she had been previously iness of the presence of God; and paid, returned to her employer, then you will speak your own who was himself a correct and words, and perhaps in your own elegant speaker, with a speech spirit too. which she thought would please 3. Avoid all quaint and fantashim, and in which she was, no tick attitudes. I once knew a doubt, greatly helped by her be- l young man who, through a bad nevolent neighbours : so Sir, I habit which he had unfortunately have brought back the rest, of the acquired, made so many anticks, residue, of the remaining part of as the people termed them, in the
pulpit, as to prejudice and grieve to the best of your knowledge, many. A very serious and sensi- | the whole counsel of God. ble person who constantly heard 7. Give out the page, and him, really thought he was aflict measure of the hymn, and the ed with that species of paralysis | hymn itself distinctly, and with a termed St. Vitus's Dance: and full voice ; always giving the hearing some blame him, entered | singers time sufficient to set seriously on his defence, on the suitable tune : and do not hold ground of its being the visitation the book before your face while of God! As there are a thousand giving out the hymn, for this bioreasons why a young man should ders the progress of the sound. not wish the people to form
8. While praying, keep your such an opinion of him, so there eyes closed: at such a time you is all the reason in the world why I have nothing to do with outhe should avoid queer noddings, ward objects, the most important ridiculous stoopings, and erections matters are at issue between God of his body, skipping from side to and you ; and he is to be contemside of the desk, knitting his plated with the eye of the mind. brows; and every other theatri- I cannot conceive how it is possical or foppish air, which tends to ble for a man to have the spirit of disgrace the pulpit, and to render devotion in prayer, while he is himself contemptible.
engaged in gazing about on his 4. Never shake or flourish congregation.
Such an one may your handkerchief; this is abomi- say his prayers, but he certainly nable ; nor stuff it into your bosom ; cannot pray them. this is unseemly. Do not gaze If you wish the people to join about on your congregation, be- with you in this part of the fore you begin your work : if you worship, speak so as to be heard take a view of them at all, let it be even at the beginning : whispering as transient as possible.
petitions to God, may be genteel 5. Endeavour to gain the at- for aught I know; but I am certention of your congregation.tain it is not to the use of edificaRemind them of the presence of tion. In your prayers avoid long God. Get their spirits deeply im- prefaces and circumlocutions :pressed with this truth, Thou, God, You find none of these in the Biseest me! and assure them, “ He is ble. Some have got a method of in the midst, not to judge, but to complimenting the Most High on bless them; and that they should the dignity of his nature, and the wait as for eternity, for now is the glory of his heavens: this you day of salvation." I have ever should studiously avoid. He that found that a few words of this cometh to God must know that kind spoken before the sermon, he is : and a proper consideration have done very great good. of his being, power, holiness, and
6. The pulpit appears to mercy, cannot fail deeply to imme analagous to the box in press your mind, and lead you at which the witnesses are sworn in once even to his seat. You should a court of justice, “ To say the never come into the congregation truth, the whole truth, and noth- but in the spirit of prayer. Let ing but the truth."You are a your mind be wound up into that witness for God; and are bound spirit in your closet; and then, in by more, if possible, than an oath, your prayers in the congregation, to speak the truth in righteous you will appear what you should uess and love; and to declare | be, a man fumiliar with God. Exfaithfully and solemnly, according amine the Scriptures, and you