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dition to this, on account of their singular abuse of their religious privileges, their depravity at this period had risen to a higher pitch, and consequently, their condition was more deplorable and calculated to excite the commiseration of the Saviour than that of any other nation. Theirs, if experienced, was to be a condemnation of the most woful and aggravated description. By making the restriction in question, it is probable, also, that our Saviour designed at the very outset to preclude an objection which infidelity might otherwise have started, that christianity, shrinking from difficulties with which it had not been able successfully to conflict at home, had sought for an easier conquest over the credulous abroad, who had not the same opportunity for sifting its pretensions as those with whom it originated. To cut off at once all cavils of this kind, and to evince that christianity could force its way against obstacles the most formidable, its Divine Author directed that it court inquisition in the first place at home ;—that its establishment be effected among its most bitter despisers ;and those who had been his most virulent and bloody persecutors.
By this invidious restriction, however, with which the Apostolic commission was originally fettered, we have reason to bless God that the ministers of the gospel are no longer bound. The middle wall of partition is at length completely broken down, so that now there is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but all are admitted to a full and an indiscriminate participation in the blessings of redemption. Instructions of a liberal and expanded nature are now to prompt and control the exertions of the ministers of Jesus. The wide world
they are to consider as their field of labour; and to every creature under heaven they are to aim, as far as practicable, to extend the glad tidings of salvation. By a fair and obvious construction of the commission from which their ministerial authority is derived, they are required to be missionary, if not in their actual operations, at least in their spirit and design-to consider themselves to be the property of the church universal, and not the exclusive possession of any particular and minute section of it.
By these observations it is not intended to ques. tion either the propriety or the wisdom of the arrangement which assigns to some of the ministers of Christ a stated charge, to the spirital improvement of which their efforts are principally to be directed. If judicious and faithful, the stationary labourer will acquire and exert over the flock a salutary influence, which an itinerant sojourner cannot possibly gain. Regularity will be observed in his administration of divine ordinances. Appropriate and systematic instructions will be communicated. Order and discipline will be more likely to be main. tained; and the word sown will be watched and watered with deeper solicitude and more fervent prayer. But while these concessions in favour of permanent charges are cheerfully made, we would at the same time strenuously insist, that the arrangement which supplies one congregation while others are left entirely destitute, can be defended only in cases where its operation is clearly for the general good. Whenever it can be shown that the labours of a minister will probably be more useful to the church at large on a different plan, and in a different place, he is bound by the spirit of his commission immediately
to abandon the post which he is occupying and to go somewhere else. The reluctance which some congregations of our own denomination discover to being occasionally deprived of the services of their pastor to break to a destitute and famishing flock the bread of life, with which themselves, perhaps, have been fed from sabbath to sabbath till they are surfeited, is an evil of no uncommon occurrence, and merits a severe reprehension.
V. The next particular which we are to notice, is, the duties which the Apostles were to perform.
Of these, preaching, as it is the most important, is the principal that is expressed, while there are others that are obviously implied, in the concise terms in which their instructions are necessarily couched. And as ye go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand ;-that is, say, that the period for setting up the gospel dispensation is near. That these terms admitted of great latitude in their interpretation, and that the Apostles did not consider themselves as bound to adhere to their literal signification, is evident from the fact that when they went forth they preached every where that men should repent.
The term “preach” was originally employed to describe the office of a public crier, and in its appropriation to the ministers of the gospel, denotes the earnestness and energy which should accompany the delivery of their message. They were to cry aloud—to spare not,-and to lift up their voice like a trumpet. It may not be in the power of every preacher to speak in a loud tone of voice. Nor is vociferation either necessary or proper. But it is in the power of every preacher and this is demanded of him to evince by his manner, that he is in sol
emn earnest, and zealous for the Lord of Hosts. If he take for his models—as he should do—the primitive preachers of christianity, in his address he will be bold, plain, natural, affectionate and solemn.By boldness, I do not mean that he will be assuming or self-confident; but divested of the fear of man which bringeth a snare, and impressed with an absorbing consciousness that he stands as “the Legate of the skies," to propose from the King Eternal the conditions on which he will be reconciled to his revolted subjects. By plainness, I do not mean that he will be harsh, or abrupt and offensive; but pointed, discriminating, and intelligible. A studied attempt to excite the irascible feelings of men, and to court opposition, as is sometimes done by presenting the truth in a rough and repulsive garb, is one of the worst of ministerial miscarriages, and is a proof of folly instead of faithfulness. When I add, that, in his address, the preacher should be natural, affectionate, and solemn, I mean that in his action and intonations he should follow the promptings of nature-should be free from affectation and rantshould be governed by a tender solicitude for the souls of his hearers,—and appear to be awed by a consciousness of the Divine presence. It has been said by an acute observer of human nature, that a tone in the performance of religious exercises is a mark of hypocrisy. But whether this observation be strictly correct or not, there can be little doubt that it is unfriendly to true devotion, disgusting to persons of judgment and taste, and indicative at least of a deficiency in deep and powerful feeling of any kind. An individual in pleading for his life, would as soon fall into a sleep as into a tuneful monotony.
Therefore avaunt all attitude, and stare,
Through the press'd nostril, spectacle-bestrid. Of the subjects of preaching, which are numerous and important, the plan which we have proposed to pursue will permit us to take but a cursory view. They consist of the doctrines which are to be explained, and the precepts of divine revelation which are to be enforced. Of the former, the most essential are those which relate to the existence, the attributes, and the purposes of God—the mode of the Divine subsistence, and the distinct Personality, and perfect Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—the guilty and helpless condition of man - the method of his recovery by the atonement of Christ-the nature and necessity of regeneration, repentance, and faith—the progressive sanctification and final perseverance of all true believers—the inspiration of the Scriptures—the immortality of the soul-the resurrection of the dead, and the certainty and solemnity of a future judgment, when the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal. To each of these doctrines their appropriate place is to be assigned. All are to receive a distinct recognition, and no one is to be dwelt on to the exclusion of the rest. With the whole of these, the perceptive parts of divine revelation are to be intermingled; and every doctrinal illustration should be made subservient to some im