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portant practical purpose, that the word of God may be rightly divided. The grand aim of the preacher should be, to make men holier as well as wiser-to make them do better as well as feel happier. To accomplish this desirable object, care must be taken that he be correct in his representations of the character of God, whom he must exhibit not as an austere tyrant, who is to be dreaded, but as a kind and compassionate Father, who is to be loved. The sacrifice of Christ, as the constraining motive to obedience, must be uppermost in his ministrations, and form the foundation for every thing that is desirable in the character and conduct of men.
In opposition to a latitudinarian spirit on the one hand, which annihilates all distinctions between truth and error, and is ready to hold communion with every thing but orthodoxy, and against sectarian bigotry and intolerance on the other, he is to bear a decided testimony ;-while of the hurtful extremes of formality and fanaticism, into both of which there is a powerful propensity in human nature to run, he must admonish his hearers to beware-apprising them that the sacrifice which God demands of them, is a rational as well as a living one.
On the distinguishing evidences of grace and its counterfeits, he must frequently insist, and be clear in discriminating the one from the other-proposing, at the same time, as the only sure test of a gracious condition, a life of obedience to the commandments of Christ. By their fruits shall ye know them. In a word, the aim of the preacher should be, to make christians intelligent, liberal, benevolent, and active. The religion, which consists altogether in talking and mere flashes of feeling, he should teach them is worth no
thing. To “be pure and undefiled before God and the Father," it must be willing to make sacrifices for Christ. It must fall in with the benevolent operations of the day, and do something to help them forward. I have often been surprised, that covetousness, which the apostle calls idolatry, has never been made a disciplinable offence in members of churches. The notorious miser should no more be allowed to sit at the communion table, than he who should bow down to his god in “the house of Rimmon.” This is a sore evil ;-indeed, it is the root of all evil,—is the besetting sin of professing christians,—and impedes, more than all other causes combined, the conversion of the world. Perhaps, however, there is a neglect of discipline in this particular, because each is so much convicted of guilt in his own conscience, that there is a general reluctance at casting the first stone.
For all his religious opinions and practices, it is obvious to remark, that the preacher must be able to adduce a–Thus saith the Lord, and to show their accordance with the declarations of the Bible. We live at too late a period of the world for discoveries in theology. The canon of scripture has long since been closed-is without deficiency or redundancy-is a sufficient and infallible directory for our faith and practice ;-and, therefore, if men have superior endowments, they must display them in some other way than by attempting to improve on the system of faith which is disclosed in the scriptures ; for an inspired Apostle has declared, that though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. All, then, that superior abilities can do, to impart interest to religious discourses, is,
to illustrate and enforce old truths in a new and engaging manner. It is perfectly idle to talk, as some do, when captivated by a favourite preacher, about his advancing religious sentiments which they never thought or heard of before. If what they say is true, either the preacher's discourse had little or nothing to do with the gospel of Christ, or, his admiring hearers were grossly ignorant of its truths.
For success in his ministrations, it is not to be forgotten, that the christian preacher is wholly dependent on the special influences of the Holy Spirit, which he may reasonably expect will be bestowed in the humble, prayerful, diligent and judicious use of those' means, and those only, which are of Divine appointment. An extraordinary multiplication even of authorized means, but especially of those that are merely of human invention, for the purpose of producing or promoting a revival of religion, while a sort of mechanical power is attributed to them, as though the desired result will certainly follow, and be proportionable to the amount of instrumentality employed, it seems to us, is an error of no inconsiderable prevalence in our day, and that is fraught with incalculable mischief. It is perfectly possible for a minister to preach too much as well as too little, both on his own account, and that of his hearers : too much for himself, because by an extraordinary multiplication of religious services, he will be subjected to the necessity of preaching without a due regard to his preparation, and will be in danger of falling into a loose and slovenly performance of the duties of his sacred profession ;—and too much for his hearers, because they will be apt to regard with indifference, if not with dislike, those services, however excellent,
which are so common, and dealt out with such cheapening prodigality. Were the heavens to be constantly filled with peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, “the dread artillery of Jehovah” would soon cease to excite emotion. We may surfeit the mind as well as the body. Manna is loathed when the supply is profuse.
From an inattention to this feature in the constitution of our nature have probably arisen, in no small degree, those seasons of spiritual declension, those dreadful collapses which have spread the chill of the second death over whole congregations, after a period of feverish and forced excitement has been produced by an injudicious use either of authorized, or unauthorized means of grace, or perhaps of both combined.
To suppose, as some appear to, that revivals of religion are liable to no evils that can form a reasonable ground of complaint, and that any, and every thing that is done to promote them must either be warmly applauded, or silently acquiesced in, betrays, to say the least of it, a censurable ignorance of human nature, a culpable inattention to the experience of the past, and, above all, an inexcusable disregard of the plain instructions of God's word. The heavenly spirits of Dwight and Edwards, who, when in the flesh, were the active promoters and the able de-' fenders of revivals of religion, thought differently from the ardent abettors of the sentiment to which we have just adverted; and each, in his day, during a season of unusual religious excitement, raised a warning voice against extravagancies that seemed to them to threaten the church. Nor let it be thought that the present generation is so much wiser and bet
ter than any that has preceded it, that, on this subject, there is no longer any room for apprehension. Even at this moment the Grand Adversary, who is not yet bound, is busily employed in attempting to introduce unauthorized and unscriptural practices into the church of Christ; and spirits similar to those of Dwight and Edwards have risen up and sounded the alarm. We hope that our American Zion will listen to their voice, and that proving all things, she will hold fast that only which is good. If determined to try the spirits whether they are of God, and to bring all opinions and practices to the touchstone of Eternal Truth, revivals of religion, which we doubt not are the work of God's Spirit, we may confidently anticipate, will have a deserved and an increasing popularity. Disencumbered of all inventions of men, and freed from fanaticism and folly, by their purity and their power, they shall commend themselves to the judgments and consciences of the wiser as well as the weaker class of minds, and those animating predictions concerning the prosperity of the church in the latter day, will receive their accomplishment, when “the glory and the honour of the nations” shall be brought into her,—when kings' daughters shall be among her honourable women, and upon her right hand shall stand the queen in gold of Ophir,--when the kings of Tarshish and of the Isles shall bring presents, and the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts—when these shall become her fostering fathers, and queens her nursing mothers.
But there are other duties besides preaching, that devolve on the ministers of Christ, that are implied in the text. Reading the scriptures, prayer, singing,