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The following selection of Tracts on the duties, 
difficulties, and encouragements of the Christian 
Ministry, was made at the request of a few re- 
spected friends, to serve a particular purpose, 
which appeared to them highly important, bv 
private and gratuitous circulation within a com- 
paratively confined sphere. It occurred, how- 
ever, in the course of preparing the volume for 
the press, that, by general pubhcation, a variety 
of useful ends might be gained, without in anv 
degree interfering with the primary object for 
which the selection was made. 

To enter into a particular detail of the claims 
which the following Tracts have on the atten- 
tion of the public at large, and especiallv of 
those who are preparing for, or invested wiih, 
the sacred office, is unnecessary, as the most of 
them have been long highly valued by the best 
judges, and would, on the part of the Editor, be 
unbecoming, as the strongest proof he could 


give of his approbation has already been given 
in their insertion in this selection, so that any 
lengthened eulogium on them might seem an 
encomium on his own judgment. This would 
be the more obviously unnecessary and unbe- 
coming from the attestations annexed, which, 
proceeding from men whose talents and worth 
are so generally known, and so highly appre- 
ciated, may be expected to create a confidence 
in the public mmd, to which no statement of his 
could have been entitled. To have such men 
in the number of his friends, he accounts a great 
happiness, and, to be allowed to tell the world 
so, a great honour. 


Edin. Feb. 1826. 



Hope Park End, 20{k Dec. 1825. 

My Dear Sir, 

I RETURN the volume which you were so good as 
send me. It appears to me to be a most happy selec- 
tion, presenting in a very striking light the duties and 
the responsibility of the ministerial office, and forming 
just such a work as every Christian Pastor ought to 
have by him. I hope it will find its way into the hands 
of many, especially young IMinisters ; and I pray that 
the solemn and weighty considerations which it sets 
forth, may be accompanied with the divine blessing. 
I am. My Dear Sir, 

Yours most truly, 

Robert Gordon. 


Edinburgh, 9th Jan. 1826. 
My Dear Sir, 

I HAVE read with much pleasure, and I trust with 
some profit, the pieces contained in the Christian 
Pastor's Manual, and cannot but hold the Ministers 


of the Gospel indebted to you for the pains and judg- 
ment that have thus laid before them^ in a commodi- 
ous compass, the matured and faithful suggestions of 
so many Divines of unquestionable experience, and 
of highest reputation in the Christian world. To have 
been the Pupils of such men as Doddridge, H atts, 
Erskine, — to have received ordination at their hands, 
with such admonitions as are here addressed to us, 
would by most be esteemed a privilege : and this the 
devout Preacher, or aspirant to the work of the Minis- 
try, may, in the serious perusal of these addresses, in 
a good degree, appropriate to himself. If it occur to 
us in the perusal, that the greatest prominence is not 
in every instance given to those which are the most 
important parts in the character and duties of the 
Christian ^Minister, it is to be recollected, that person- 
al piety and zeal for the progress of the Redeemer's 
kingdom are invariably presupposed in the individuals 
to whom these counsels are addressed, — in whose 
work no completeness of education, superiority of ta- 
lent, or strenuousness of application, can supersede 
the exercise of humble faith, or give success \nthout 
the blessing that cometh from on high. 
I am. Dear Sir, 

With much esteem. 
Yours, &c. 

Henry Grey. 


Glasgow, January Ip, 1826". 
My Dear Sir, 

The Tracts contained in the volume you left with 
me, have been selected with judgment, and are en- 


titled to an attentive and serious perusal. They ex- 
hibit, in a very impressive manner, the duties, and 
difficulties, and temptations of the ministerial office ; 
and are calculated to excite all who are invested with 
it, to watchfulness, diligence, and fervent prayer for 
dinne direction and assistance. They promise to be 
particularly useful to those who are entering upon the 
sacred function, by putting it in their power to avail 
themselves of the counsels and admonitions of men 
distinguished by their character and talents^ in whom 
piety and learning were conjoined with the wisdom of 
experience. So far as my recommendation may con- 
tribute to the circulation of the Christian Pastor's 
Manual, it is most cordially given. 
I am. Dear Sir, 

Your's truly, 

J. Dick, 


Glasgow, February \, 1826. 
Rev. and Dear Sir, 

" The Christian Pastor's Manual," with the peru- 
sal of which you have favoured me, and of which you 
request my opinion, has my decided and high approval. 
It contains much that is exceedingly valuable, as the 
record of the judgment and experience of men of de- 
served eminence in the church of God, a subject 
of very deep practical interest — the character and 
duties of a Christian Minister. O what blessed effects 
might we expect to see resulting, were all of us, who 
bear the sacred office, more thoroughly imbued, in 
mind, and heart, with the principles and spirit which 


are here illustrated and enforced ! Were we enabled 
consistently to exemplify them in all our personal 
deportment, and in the discharge of every function of 
our Ministerial trust ; were we, with " singleness of 
eye," to make Christ's object ours, pursuing, as the 
end of our ministry, the end of his mission — " to seek 
and to save that which was lost." No conscientious, 
right-minded servant can satisfy himself with any 
end different from, or inferior to, that of his Master. 
And it is my prayer, arid my hope, that this publica- 
tion may, by the blessing of God, eminently contri- 
bute to prepare for the good work those who have in 
purpose devoted themselves to it, and to stimulate to 
renewed earnestness of effort, and self-improvement, 
and supplication, such as are already engaged in its 

I ever am. 

Rev. and Dear Sir, 

Yours most cordially, 

Ralph Wardlaw. 



The Evil and Danger of Ne- 
glecting Souls, . P. DoDDaiDGE, D. D. 1 

Of Preaching Christ, . Rev. Johx Jennings, 32 

Of Particular and Experimen- 
tal Preaching, . Rev. John Jennings, 47 

Pastoral Cautions, . Rev. Abraha3i Booth, 63 

On the Qualifications Neces- 
sary for Teachers of Chris- 
tianity, . . John Erskine, D. D. 100 

Ministers of the Gospel Cau- 
tioned against giving Of- 
fence, . . John Ekskine, D. D. 141 

Difficulties of the Pastoral 

Office, . . John Ekskine, D. D. 176 

Rules for the Preacher's Con- 
duct, . . Isaac Watts, D.D, 198 

The Student and Pastor, Rev. John 3Iason, A. AI. 244 

The Character and Duty of a 

Christian Preacher, . Rev. D. Bostwick, A. M. 338 

Letter on the Propriety of a 
Ministerial Address to the 
Unconverted, . . Rev. John Newton, 368 

Thoughtsonl Timothyiv.l3. Rev. T. Scott, A. M. 376 

On the Snares and Difficulties 
attending the Ministry of 
the Gospel, . . Rev. John Newton, 3S5 

Remarks on Subjects connect- 
ed with the Christian 3Iin- 
istry, . . Rev. R. Cecil, M. A. 392 

Questions Proper for Voung 
Ministers frequently to put 
to themselves, chiefly bor- 
rowed from the Epistles to 
Timothy and Titus, Isaac Watts, D. D 408 


Page 5, line 12 from the foot, for way read may 
220, line 21, for reasons read reason 
263, line S,for impertinence read impertinences 
— line 4, note, for monoplize read monopoliz« 
312, line 7, for as are as read as are 
321, line 4, note, /or Ecclesiastiae read Ecclesiastae 
Archbishop Sharp, mentioned in p. 278, was Archbishop of 
York, and the ancestor of the late Philanthropist, Granville 




If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn 
unto death, and those that are ready to be slain ; if 
thou sayest. Behold, we knew it not,— doth not he that 
pondereth the heart consider it ? and he that keepeth 
thy soul, doth not he know it ? and shall not he render 
to every man according to his works ?" 

For the explication of these words, I would oiFer 
three plain and obvious remarks : — 

(1.) That the omission, which is here charged as so 
displeasing to God, though immediately referring to 
men's natural lives, must surely imply that the neglect 
of their souls is much more criminal. 

The text strongly implies, that we shall be exposed 
to guilt and condemnation, before God, hy forbearing 
to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that 
are ready to he slain. This must directly refer to in- 
nocent persons, brought into visible and extreme dan- 



ger by some oppressive enemy^ either by the sudden 
assault of a private person, or by some unjust prosecu- 
tion under forms of law ; and may particularly extend 
to casesj where we have reason to believe a capital sen- 
tence has been passed, in consequence of false witnesses, 
detected before execution is done ;* and if the neglect 
of that be (as you see it is) represented as highly cri- 
minal, it must be a much more heinous crime, by any 
neglect of ours, to permit the ruin of men's souls, with- 
out endeavouring after their recovery, when they are, 
as it were, drawn away to the extremest danger of eter- 
nal death, and are ready to be slain by the sword of di- 
vine justice. 

(2.) The text seems to suppose that men would be 
ready to excuse themselves for this neglect. It is true, 
indeed, that at the first sight of a miserable object, we 
naturally find a strong impulse to endeavour to relieve 
it. Our hearts, as it were, spring in our bosoms, and 
urge us forward, to -exert ourselves on such an occasion ; 
which seems to be intimated by that word, which we 
Tender forbear, which often signifies to check, restrain, 
and hold back a person from what he is eager on doing ; 
but the ^vise man intimates, there may be danger of 
suppressing these generous sallies of the soul, on the 
first view of the object ; of sufl^ering our charity to cool, 
and then of searching out apologies for our inactivity. 
You may be ready to say. Behold, ive knen it not. " I 
did not particularly see the danger : I did not, how- 

* It ^^•as allowed amongst the Jews, that if any person could 
oflPer any thing in favour of a prisoner, after sentence u-as passed, 
he might be heard before execution was done ; and therefore it 
was usual (as the Mischna says) that when a man was led to ex- 
ecution, a cryer went before him, and proclaimed " This man is 
now going to be executed for such a crime, and such and such 
are witnesses against liim ;'^whoever knows him to be innocent, 
let him come forth and make it appear." 


ever, apprehend it to be so extreme ; or, I did not 
know the innocence of the person in danger ; or, if I 
did believe it, I knew not how to deliver him. I did 
not think the interposition of such a person as myself 
could be of any importance in such an affair. I was 
sorry to see innocence overborne, and weakness op- 
pressed ; but I was myself too weak to contend with 
the mightier oppressor ; too poor, too ignorant, or too 
busy, to meddle in an affair where those who were 
much my superiors were concerned, and had determined 
the case. I had no obligations to the person in danger ; 
I had no concern M-ith him, nor any thing to do to em- 
barrass myself with his affairs." — If these excuses be 
just, it is well. Nevertheless, the text supposes, 

(3.) That these excuses might often be overruled, 
by an appeal to men's consciences, as in the sight of 

Doth not he that pondereih the heart consider it ? As 
if he should have said, " It is an easy thing to excuse 
omissions, so that a fellow-creature shall have nothing 
to reply ; but whoever thou art that readest these Avords, 
I charge thee to remember, that it is comparatively a 
very little matter to be judged of man's judgment ; he 
that judgeth thee is the Lord ; and he pondereth the 
heart : he weighs, in a most accurate balance, all its 
most secret sentiments. I there cut off all chicane and 
trifling debate at once, by placing thee in his presence, 
and laying open thy conscience there. Thou canst an- 
swer nie ; but canst thou answer the heart-searching 
God .'' Does not He, the great Father of spirits, see, in 
everj' instance, how inferior spirits conduct themselves ? 
Does he not precisely know the situation in which thy 
heart was, at the very moment in question ? Thou 
sayest thou knewest it not ; but he is witness whether 
thou indeed didst, or didst not know it ; and he also 
sees all the opportunities and advantages which thou 


hadst for knowing it ; all the hints which might have 
been traced out to open a more explicit and particular 
knowledge; every glimpse which thou hadst when thou 
wast (like the priest, when he spied at a distance the 
wounded traveller) passing by on the other side, and 
perhaps affecting to look the contrary way." 

Nor was it in vain that the mse man renewed his 
expostulation in a different form. He that keepeth thy 
soul, doth )iot he knoic it ? As if he had said, " Consi- 
der God, as keeping thine own soul ; as holding it in 
life ; as preserving thy spirit, by his continued visita- 
tion ; and then say, O thou that neglectest the life of 
thy brother, whether he must not be highly displeased 
with that neglect ? May he not reasonably expect, that 
while He, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, condescends 
to become thy guardian, thou shouldst learn of him, 
and be according to thine ability, and in thy sphere, a 
guardian to the whole human race, and shouldst en- 
deavour, in every instance, to ward off danger from the 
life, from the soul of thy brother !" 

And that these thoughts may enter into thy mind 
with all their weight, it is added once more, in this 
pointed form of interrogation. Will not he render tu 
evei'i/ man according to his works ? " I appeal to thine 
own heart. Is he not a Being of infinite moral, as well 
as natural perfections, and will he not, as the Judge of 
all the earth, do right? Would he not have remembered 
and rewarded thy generous care for the preservation of 
the miserable creature in question ? And, on the other 
hand, ^^-ill he not reckon with thee for such a failure ? 
Human laws, indeed, cannot punish such neglects ; 
but the Supreme Legislator can, and will do it. Think 
of these things, and guard against such fatal negligence 
in every future instance. I hink of them, and humble 
thyself deeply before God, for every past instance in 
which such guilt has been incurred." 


God is my \vitness, that I mean not to insinuate the 
^east disrespectful thought, with regard to anj- one of 
you. Nevertheless, permit me to say it without offence 
(for I say it in the fear of God, and with the sincerest 
deference and friendship to you) I am afraid, the ex- 
tensive and important obligations of the ministerial of- 
fice are not generally considered and remembered 
among us as they ought. I apprehend, much more 
might be done for the honour of God and the good of 
souls than is commonly done, even by those who, in 
the main, have a principle of true religion in their 
hearts ; by those who keep up the exercise of public 
worship in a regular and honourable manner, and ap- 
pear not only irreproachable in their conversation, but, 
if considered as in private life, bringing forth the fruits 
of righteousness. The learned, the wise, the virtuous, 
the pious minister, is, I fear, often negligent of a con- 
siderable part of his trust and charge ; and therebv 
fails to deliver, as he might, those that are drawn unto 
death, atid perhaps are just ready to be slain. 

To awaken our spirits, therefore, from that insensi- 
bility, in this respect, into which they are so ready to 
fall, I shall take the liberty, 

I. Briefly to consider, what excuses we way be most 
ready to offer, for neglecting the souls of men. 

II. Seriously to represent the great evil of that ne- 
glect in the sight of God, notwithstanding all those ex- 
cuses. After which, 

III. I shall add a few hints, by way of reflection, as 
the time may admit. 

(I.) I am to consider, what excuses we may be ready 
to make, for neglecting to do our utmost for the salva- 
tion of men's souls. — Particularly, 

1. That we do something considerable for that pur- 
pose ;— that we take care for their instruction in pub- 


lie ; reading the word of God to them, when they are 
assembled together in his house ; explaining and en- 
forcing it, in our expositions and sermons ; presenting 
prayers and praises to God, in their name ; and, at pro- 
per seasons, administering the sacraments, in such a 
manner as we judge most agreeable to the institution 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

And so far indeed it is well ; and a most wise and 
gracious appointment of our blessed Redeemer it is, 
that such ordinances should be administered on solemn 
stated days, and by men appropriated to that employ- 
ment ; in consequence of which, such knowledge is dis- 
persed, as is, through the divine blessing, eifectual for 
the salvation of many souls ; and I am not afraid to say 
that this would make the Christian ministry, even in 
the hands of ignorant, careless, and vicious men, a 
blessing to the nation where it is settled, so long as 
reading the scriptures, and almost any kind of prayers 
in an inteUigible language, make a part of divine 
service in their assemblies. Much more, then will it 
be so in the hands of wise, sober, and religious men. 

But while we are thus pleading our diligence and 
care in the administration of public ordinances, it will 
be kindness to ourselves, seriously to ask our own 
hearts, at least, how they are administered, it is a 
very important trust to have the management of men's 
religious hours committed to us ; their seasons of social 
Avorship being, comparatively, so short, and so infinitely 
momentous. Methinks, we do almost, as it were, put 
our own lives in our hand while we undertake it, and 
may justly tremble on the view of that awful account 
which we are to give of it. 

I hope, Sirs, we have the testimony of our own con- 
sciences before God, that we do not, on these solemn oc- 
casions, content ourselves with cold essays on mere mo- 
ral sujects, however acute, philosophical, or polite ; nor 


make it our main business, in our sermons, to seek the 
ornament and elegance of words, the refinements of cri- 
ticism, or the nice arrangement of various complex and 
abstruse argumentations. When we speak, in the name 
and presence of God, to immortal creatures, on the bor- 
ders of eternity, I hope we entertain our hearers with 
plain, serious, and lively discourses, on the most import- 
ant doctrines of Christianity, in their due connexion 
and their relation to each other, in such a manner as 
we, on mature consideration, do verily believe may 
have the most effectual tendency to bring them to God 
through Christ, and to produce and promote in their 
hearts, through the divine blessing, the great work of 
regeneration and holiness. I hope and trust that God 
is our witness, and that the people of our charge are 
witnesses, that not one of those who diligently attend 
on our ministry, though but for a few succeeding Sab- 
baths, can fail to learn the way of salvation, as exhibit- 
ed in the gospel ; and that we speak of it as those that 
are in earnest, and do, from our very souls, desire to 
answer the great ends of our ministry, in the prosperity 
of the Redeemer's kingdom, and the eternal happiness 
of those invaluable souls whom he has committed to our 
care, — otherwise, we may incur great and fatal guilt, 
though public worship be constantly and decently 
carried on, and though a reasonable proportion of time 
be employed in it, with numerous and attentive audi- 
tories ; to whom we may be as the lovely song of one that 
has a pleasant voice, while in the ears of God, for want of 
that fervent charity, which should dictate and animate 
all, we are but as sounding brass, or as a tinkling cym- 

But granting, as I would willingly suppose, and as 
with relation to you, my brethren, I do firmly believe, 
all these reflections can be answered with satisfaction, 
— here is indeed a part of your duty honourably per- 


fonned, and an important part of it too ; — but is that 
partj though ever so important, to be substituted for 
the whole ? The diligent inspection of our flock, pas- 
toral visitSj the observation of the religious state of fa- 
milies, personal exhortations, admonitions, and cautions, 
by word or letter, as prudence shall direct, catechizing 
children, promoting religious associations among the 
younger and the elder people of our charge, and the 
strict and resolute exercise of discipline in the several 
churches over which we preside,— are these no parts of 
our oflice? Will we say it -n-ith our dying breath ? — will 
we maintain it before the tribunal of Christ, that they did 
not belong to the Christian ministry? — and if not, will our 
care in other parts of it be allowed as a sufficient ex- 
cuse before him for our total omission of these. We 
have preached, and prayed, and administered the sa- 
craments. These things we should indeed have done ; 
and when we had taken the care of congregations up- 
on us, we could hardly avoid it ; but surely our omi 
consciences will, now or hereafter, tell us that we ought 
not to have left the others undone ; — but we may, per- 
haps, for a while elude the conviction, by pleading, 

2. That the care of particular persons more proper- 
ly belongs to others ', and especially to heads of families, 
who have more opportunities of being serviceable to 
those under their charge, and indeed have the most im- 
mediate concern in them. It certainly does. But does 
it belong to them alone ? — or if it did, do not they be- 
long to us and to our care ? — and is it not the part of 
every superior officer of a society to see to it, tliat the 
subaltern officers be careful and diligent in the discharge 
of their duty ? — and in this case, are we to take it for 
granted that, in our respective congregations, heads of 
families are so of course ? — that they pray in their fami- 
lies ; that they read the Scriptures and other good books 
there, especially on the evening of the Lord's Day ;— 


that they catechize their children ; and solemnly press 
upon them, and upon their servants, the serious care of 
practical religion. Are we roundly to conclude, with- 
out any farther inquiry, that all this is done, and done 
in so diligent and so prudent a manner as that there is 
no need of any particular exhortations, instructions, or 
admonitions from us ? Would to God there were any 
one congregation in the whole kingdom of which this 
might reasonably be presumed to be the case ! But if 
it were indeed so, would not our concurrence with these 
wise and pious heads of families, in so good but so diffi- 
cult a work, encourage and strengthen them to prose- 
cute it with greater cheerfulness and vigour ? \\'ould 
it not quicken both their cares and their endeavours ? 
And might it not, by the divine blessing, promote the 
success of them ? iMight it not gain on the minds of 
children and servants, to see that we do not think it be- 
neath us, tenderly to care for their souls ? And might 
not our tender and condescending regards to them in 
private, by convincing them how well we mean them, 
render our public labours more acceptable and useful to 
them ? Now, we well know that the children and ser- 
vants of the present generation are the hopes of the 
next ; as they are probably those that, in their turns, 
^vill be parents and governors of families, whose children 
and servants, when they arise, will one way or another 
feel the happy or unhappy consequences of our fidelity 
or neglect ; — and when such affairs are in question, shall 
we allow ourselves to plead, 

3. That we have so much other business, and such 
various engagements of a different kind, that we cannot 
possibly attend to these things ? 

But give me leave, my brethren, to observe, that the 
question here is not, Whether we can find out other a- 
greeable ways of filling up our time ? but. Whether 
those other ways are more important ? and. Whether 


that different manner of employing it be more ac- 
ceptable in the sight of God, and will turn to a better 
account in that great day, when our conduct is to be 
iinally reviewed by Him ? We must indeed have our 
seasons of recreation, and our seasons of study : but it 
will easily appear, that no regards to either of these 
will vindicate or excuse our neglect of the private du- 
ties we o^ve to our flock, in giving diligence to know 
their state ; and being careful to teach them, not only 
publicly, but from house to house. 

Recreation, to be sure, can afford no just apolog\' for 
neglecting it ; since to follow this employment prudent- 
ly, might be made a kind of recreation from the labours 
of a sedentary and studious life. A grave and severe 
recreation ! you will perhaps say. Grave indeed, I 
will acknowledge it to be ; but not therefore to a seri- 
ous mind less delightful. So much of those two noblest 
and sweetest exercises of the soxil, devotion and bene- 
volence, would naturally mingle with these pious cares 
and tender addresses, as would renew the strength 
which had been exhausted in our studious hours, and 
the manly, shall I say, or rather the God-like joy it 
would administer, would quite discountenance that 
which we find in the gay indulgences of a humorous 
and facetious conversation ; though I see no necessity of 
forbidding that, at proper intervals, so far as its cheer- 
fulness is consistent with wisdom and religion ; and I 
am sure, that if we can turn our seasons of recess from 
study to so profitable an account as would be answered 
by the duties which you know I have now in view, it 
will be a most happy art, well becoming one who is tru- 
ly prudent, and would therefore husband his time to 
the best purposes for eternity ; in which view, it is evi- 
dent that the smallest fragments of it, like the dust of 
gold, are too valuable to be lost. 

The great proportion of time to be given to our stu- 


dies will, no doubt, be urged, as a yet' more material 
excuse ; but here it is obvious to reply, that a prudent 
care in the duties I am now recommending, is very con- 
sistent with our employing a great deal of time in study; 
and particularly, ^vith our giving it, what I hope we 
sliall always learn to value and redeem, our morning 
hours, to which some of the evening may also be added ; 
and if these will not generally suffice, give me leave to 
ask. What are those important studies that would thus 
ingross the whole of our time, excepting what is given 
Devotion, and to what is generally called Recreation '^ 

I have had some little taste of the pleasures of litera- 
ture myself, and have some reason to hope I shall not 
be suspected of any prejudice against it ; nor am I at 
all inclined to pass those contemptuous censures on the 
various branches of it, in which ignorance and sloth are 
often, ^vith strange stupidity, or with yet stranger as- 
surance, seeking, and it may be finding a refuge ; but 
on such an occasion 1 must freely say that I fear many 
things, which employ a very large portion of our re- 
tired time, are studied rather as polite amusements to 
our own minds than as things which seem to have any 
apparent subserviency to the glory of God and the edi- 
fication of our flock ; and consequently, I fear, they will 
stand as articles of abatement, if I may so express it, in 
our final account ; and when they come to be made 
manifest, will be found works that shall be burnt, as 
being no better, in the divine esteem, " than wood, 
hay, and stubble," how beautifully soever they may 
have been varnished, or gilded over. 

Let me here, in particular, address myself to my 
younger brethren, with a frankness which may be to 
them more excusable, while I urge them to a Christian 
self-denial upon this head, where perhaps it may be, of 
all others, the more difficult. I do not apprehend per- 
sons of your approved character to be in danger of any 


Other kind of luxury and intemperance ; but there is, if 
you will permit me so to call it, a sort of refined, intel- 
lectual luxury, with regard to which I am jealous over 
you, lest you should be seduced into it, or rather, lest 
some of you be already ensnared by its specious charms. 
I would not, my young friends, be so severe and cruel 
as to desire you should be confined from that high and 
elegant entertainment, which a person of genius and 
taste will find in the masterly writings of the ancient 
orators, historians, and poets ; or in those polite and ele- 
gant pieces which our own and other modern languages 
may afford ; from which the wise man and the Christian 
■will learn many things of solid use, as well as matters 
of most delightful amusement. Neither would I pre- 
tend to forbid some mathematical and philosophical re- 
searches, into which you are initiated in your academi- 
cal course, and with which you will do well to retain 
and improve your acquaintance in the progress of life ; 
both to strengthen your rational faculties by that strenu- 
ous exercise, and to improve your knowledge of the 
^vorks of God ; which will appear great, A^onderful, and 
delightful, in proportion to the degree of sagacity and 
diligence Avith which they may be searched out ; but 
it is one thing to taste of these poignant and luscious 
fruits, and another to feed and live upon them ; one 
thing to make the most noble and substantial parts of 
them our entertainment and refreshment, — and quite 
another to make their circumstantial curiosities the 
chief business of our study, and the favourite subjects 
of our most attentive inquiry. That true greatness and 
elevation of mind, wliich the gospel is so admirably cal- 
culated to produce, would teach us a much sublimer 
science ; and if, for the sake of these little things, we ne- 
glect to pray for those whom God hath committed to our 
care, to inquire into their religious state, to pursue them 
with suitable applications and addresses, the time will 


-come when we shall assuredly own that we dearly pur- 
chased the most refined pleasures they could possibly 
•give us ; not to say how much greater and nobler 
pleasure we even now resign, while our dutv is neglect- 

Oh ! my brethren, let us consider how fast we are 
posting through this dying life which God has assigned 
us, in which we are to manage concerns of infinite mo- 
ment ; how fast we are passing on to the immediate pre- 
sence of our Lord, to give up our account to him. You 
must judge for yourselves ; but permit me to say, that, 
for my own part, I would not, for ten thousand worlds, 
be that man who, when God shall ask him at last, how 
he has employed most of his time Avhile he continued a 
minister in his church, and had the care of soiils, should 
be obliged to reply, " Lord, I have restored many cor- 
rupted passages in the ancient classics, and illustrated 
many which were before obscure ; I have cleared up 
many intricacies in chronology or geography; I have 
solved many perplexed cases in algebra ; I have refined 
on astronomical calculations ; and left behind me many 
sheets on these curious and difficult subjects, where the 
figures and characters are ranged with the greatest ex- 
actness and truth : and these are the employments in 
which my life has been worn out while preparations 
for the pulpit, or ministrations in it, did not demand 
any immediate attendance." Oh, sirs, as for the waters 
which are dra^^-n from these springs, how sweetly soev- 
er they may taste to a curious mind that thirsts for them, 
or to an ambitious mind, which thirsts for the applause 
they sometimes procure, I fear there is often reason to 
pour them out before the Lord, with rivers of peniten- 
tial tears, as the blood of souls A^-hich have been forgot- 
ten, while these trifles have been remembered and pur- 

Nor am I uithout mv fears that a great deal of stu- 


dious time is lost in an over-artful composition of ser- 
mons, and in giving them such polish and- ornament as 
does not conduce to their usefulness, nor any way bal- 
ance the labour employed in the work. If we do not 
diligently watch over our hearts, this wiU be an incense 
offered to our owti vanity, which will render our sacri- 
lice less acceptable to God, however we and our hear- 
ers may be delighted with the perfume. 

Greater plainness and simplicity of speech might 
often be more useful to the bulk of our auditory, and per- 
haps more acceptable too ; and, on the whole, it might 
be at least equally beautiful ; for all that are not chil- 
dren in understanding, know that there is a natural and 
manly kind of eloquence, arising from a deep sense of 
the subject, and an ardent love to the souls of our hear- 
ers, which is of all others the most to be desired and es- 
teemed ; and though such discourses may be attended 
with some little inaccuracies, and may want something 
of the varnish which exacter preparation might set on, 
— yet, surely, where a habit of speaking is formed by 
proper application, and the materials of a sermon are 
well digested in the mind, it will rise above a reason- 
able contempt ; and if, where more exact preparation is 
made, a care to preserve those niceties of composition 
deaden the maimer of the delivery, and take off either 
its solemnity, its vigour, or its tenderness, I cannot but 
apprehend it as injurious to the character of the orator 
as to that of the Christian. The most celebrated speak- 
ers, in judicial courts and in senates, have in all nations 
and ages pursued the method I now recommend ; and 
the most acceptable preachers have successfully attempt- 
ed it. 

On the whole, permit me to say, it would be a fatal 
thing to barter away the souls of our people for the 
highest and justest reputation of speaking well ; yet I 
fear there are many who, in this view, do it for nought. 


and have not, in any sense, increased their wealth by 
the price. But perhaps, after all, the most plausible 
excuse may be that which I have reserved as the last I 
shall mention, viz. 

4. That the attempts I am proposing might displease 
those that attend upon our ministry ; upon which ac- 
count it may seem, both with respect to them and our- 
selves, a necessary precaution of prudence to decline 
them. This is the lion in the street, Avhich we often 
plead, slothful as we too naturally are, for staying with- 
in doors, when our duty calls us abroad on these chari- 
table errands ; but I hope, on a nearer approach, it will 
not be found so fierce, or so invincible, as a timorous 
imagination paints it. 

Methinks, brethren, we make a very unfavourable re- 
presentation of the temper and character, not to say of 
the breeding and understanding of our people, when we 
so readily take it for granted that they will be displeas- 
ed with us for addressing those exhortations to them in 
private, which they seem so desirous of receiving from 
us in public. Let us ask our own consciences. Would 
they all be displeased ? If not, the displeasure it might 
give to some, can be no excuse for neglecting it with re- 
gard to others ; and are we indeed so miserable as to be 
situated among whole congregations, in whom ignorance, 
pride, and profaneness prevail to such a degree, that a 
minister who would be welcome among them, if he 
came only as a common visitant, should be looked upon 
with contempt or indignation, when he came expressly 
as a " friend to their eternal interests," and would step 
a little out of the common way for their salvation ? 

Jf this were really our case, who would not say with 
the prophet. Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging- 
place of wayfaring men, though it were but such a 
wretched cave as travellers find in a desert, that I might 
leave my people, and go from them ; for they be all an 


assembly of treacherous men !— of treacherous men in- 
deedj if, while they call themselves Christians and Pro- 
testants, they should think themselves injured and 
atFronted by the exhortations of their ministers, 
while they would warn every man, and teach every 
man in all wisdom, that they might present them 
perfect in Christ ; but, blessed be God, bad as the world 
is, there is no room to imagine this to be the case, or any 
thing like it. Perhaps, while we are delaying, and 
coldly deliberating about it, many lively Christians under 
our care are earnestly praying that God may put such a 
thing into our hearts ; and should we attempt it, I doubt 
not but they would receive us as angels of God, or even 
as Christ himself ; their love to us would be more abun- 
dantly confirmed, and their heart cemented in closer 
bonds than they have yet known ; and many others 
v/ould at least own that we acted in character, and main- 
tained a more apparent consistency of behaviour, if the 
affair were properly conducted. 

Did we indeed pretend to control them in the man- 
agement of their temporal affairs, or to exercise a lord- 
ly dominion over their faith and their conscience, they 
might justly be displeased ; or did we craftily demand 
that they should lay open to us the secrets of their 
breasts in confession, their suspicions were pardonable, 
and their resentments reasonable ; but it must be great 
malice and folly to suspect any design of that infamous 
nature from our visiting them as pastors, with pious ex- 
hortations and affectionate prayers, as those who are 
concerned for them and their children and servants, that 
their souls may prosper and be in health. A solicitude 
for the health of their bodies is esteemed friendship and 
gratitude, and inquiries concerning it seem but common 
decency ; and can it offend them to find we are solici- 
tous about that welfare which is infinitely more import- 
ant, and by virtue of our office, our peculiar charge ? 


YeSj you will say, in one instance it will displease ; 
for when we are obliged to blame any thing which we 
see amiss in them, their pride will naturally take tire 
on such an occasion ; and perhaps those whom we have 
thought our best friends will become our enemies, if we 
will venture to tell them such disagreeable truths as 
fidelity may extort in some circumstances. This is, after 
all, the main difficulty ; and, as I cannot wonder if it 
impress our minds, I pray God to forgive the perverse- 
ness of those that make it so great. Yet, surely, it is 
possible to manage reproof so as that in most instances 
it shall oblige rather than provoke. If we tell our hear-* 
ers of their faults privately ; and if we do it with ten- 
derness and respect ; if we show by our manner of speak- 
ing, that what we say proceeds from an humble fear 
lest we should displease God, betray our trust, and in- 
jure their souls by neglect ; if at the same time our be- 
haviour to them be, as it surely should be, constantly 
obliging; if we do our utmost, so far as truth and jus- 
tice will permit, to guard and shelter their character in 
the world ; and bring our complaints of them to none 
but themselves, — bad as the world is, I believe few will 
quarrel with us upon this account ; but we shall see, 
as Solomon observed. That " he who rebuketh a man, 
will afterwards find more favour than he that tiattereth 
with his tongue." 

But supposing the worst that can happen, that folly 
and wickedness should prevail so far over all the tender 
and prudent address of the friend and the pastor, as to 
render us evil for so great a good, and hatred for so ge- 
nerous and so self-denying an instance of love, how 
could that hatred be expressed ? Seldom in any more 
formidable manner than by withdrawing from our mi- 
nistry, and discontinuing what they have done for our 
support ; for the revilings of persons of such a charac- 
ter can seldom hurt any but themselves. 


Now I hope, brethren, we shall always retain so much 
of a manly, not to say a Christian spirit, as to choose to 
retrench some of our expenses, to forego some of the 
entertainments of life, to cast ourselves and families on 
Providence, or even, if it were necessary, to subsist in 
an honest and creditable poverty by the daily labour of 
our own hands, much rather than meanly to crouch to 
such haughty sinners, and sacrifice duty, honour, and 
conscience to the arrogance of their petulant temper. 
Let us fear God as we ought, and we shall find nothing 
to fear from them ; but we should be willing to imitate 
the fidelity and courage of the Baptist, though the \vrath 
of a king might be provoked by it, and imprisonment 
or martyrdom might be its reward. I hope such consi- 
derations as these may effectually obviate the excuses 
which indolence or cowardice may be ready to form for 
our neglect of men's souls, especially when we go on, 

(II.) To consider the great evil of that neglect, as 
it appears in the sight of God, notwithstanding all 
these excuses, or any of the like kind, with which we 
may endeavour to palliate it. 

But who can fully represent it, as it appears to his 
capacious and all-penetrating view ! What human mind 
can conceive the infinite evil ! It is not, sirs, a subject 
on which to display the wantonness of wit, or the co- 
lourings of artificial harangue ; a terrible kind of so- 
lemnity attends it, and I attempt the display of it Avith 
fear and trembling. If it seems a light matter to us to 
forbear to deliver those that, in this sense, are drawn 
unto death, and them that are thus ready to perish, 
consider, my brethren, and oh ! may my own conscience 
always consider, what the death of the soul is ! How 
many wretched souls are continually dying around us ! 
What gracious provision God has made to prevent it ! 
and what peculiar obligations we are under, to labour 
to the utmost for the preservation of their Hves ! 


1. Let us think what the death of the soul is. 
The apostle James intimates, that it is a thought of 
great importance, when he says, " He that shall turn 
a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul 
from death." As if he had said. Do but reflect what 
that is, and you ^vill find your success is its own re- 
ward. We well know that to save a soul from death is 
not merely to prevent the extinction of its being, though 
even that were much ; but to prevent its positive, its 
lasting, its eternal misery. It is to prevent its being 
slain by the pointed and flaming sword of divine 

It is a tragical spectacle to behold a criminal dying 
by human laws, even where the methods of execution 
are gentle ; as, through the lenity of ours, they gene- 
rally are amongst us ; and I doubt not, but it v.ould 
grieve us to the heart to see any who had been under 
our ministerial care in that deplorable circumstance ; 
but oh ! how much more deeply must it pierce our very 
souls to see them led forth to that last dreadful execu- 
tion, with those of whom Christ shall say, " As for 
these mine enemies, who would not that I shoidd reign 
over them, bring them forth, and slay them before me !" 
Oh, how will it wound us to hear the beginning of 
those cries and wailings which must never end ! How 
shall we endure the reflection, " These WTetches are 
perishing for ever, in part because I would not take 
any pains to attempt their salvation !" — and is this so 
strange a supposition, that some, once under our mini- 
stry, may then perish in our sight ? Would to God 
that it were only less probable ! But, on the contrary, 
let us, 

2. Consider, how many souls, precious and immortal 
as they are, seem to be continually dying around us ! 

Are there but few that miscarry i* Let Peter inform 
us, when he says. That " the righteous scarcely are 


saved." Yea, let our Lord himself inform us, when he 
says, " Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that 
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it ; where- 
as %vide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth 
to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat." 
We grieve to see epidemical distempers prevailing 
around us j we are ready, as Providence calls us, to visit 
the sick and the dying ; and could take little pleasure 
in our health, if we did not endeavour to succour them, 
as we have opportunity. 

But let us look round and see whether that distem- 
per which threatens the death of souls^ be not epide- 
mical indeed. With all the allowances which that 
charity can make which believeth all things, and hopeth 
all things, which it can with any shadow of reason hope 
and believe, — must we not own that there are marks 
of eternal death on many ?— and that there are many 
more in whom we can see nothing which looks like a 
token of spiritual life ? So that the best we can say of 
them is, that possibly there may be some latent sparks 
of it concealed in the heart, which as yet produce no 
effect to the honour of their profession, or the benefit 
of the world. In the mean time, sinners are spreading 
the infection of their infidelity and their vices far and 
wide ; as if, like some illustrious uTetches that have 
been miscalled Heroes, they accounted the destruction 
of numbers their glory. Can we behold such a conta- 
gion spreading itself even in the Christian church, 
which ought to be healthful as the regions of Paradise, 
and not bitterly lament it before God ? — or can we se- 
riously lament it, and not endeavour its redress } — es- 
peciaDy when we consider, 

3. What gracious provision God hath made to pre- 
vent their death. " Is there not indeed balm in Gi- 
lead ? Is there not a Physician there ? — even this glo- 
rious gospel of the blessed God, whose efficacy we have 


SO often heard of and seen ! And shall they yet perish ? 
Adored be the riches of divine grace, we know (and it 
is infinitely the most important part of all onr know- 
ledge) that there is a rich and free pardon proclaimed 
to aU that will sue for it, and accept the benefit in a 
proper, that is, a grateful manner ; for cordial accept- 
ance and real gratitude are all it demands. One Avould 
expect the tidings should be as life to the dead ; but 
we see how coldly they are received — how shamefully 
they are slighted — how generally, yea, how obstinately 
they are rejected ; and what is the consequence ? Re- 
fusing to believe on the Son of God, they shall " not 
see life, but the wrath of God abiding on them," with 
an additional weight of vengeance, as it well may. 

Now, is not this enough to make our very hearts 
bleed to think that immortal souls should die under the 
gospel ! yea, die under aggravated guilt and ruin ! So 
that, instead of being any thing the better for this de- 
lightful message of peace and grace, they should be 
for ever the worse for it, and have reason to wish, 
throughout all eternity, they had never seen the faces, 
nor heard the voices of those that brought it, but had 
been numbered among the sinners of Tyre and Sidon, 
of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

If we do not, on the express authority of our Lord, 
believe this to be the case with regard to impenitent 
sinners under the gospel, we are not Christians even 
of the lowest class ; but if we do believe it, and are 
not affected with it so far as to endeavour their recovery, 
I see not how any regard to our own temporal interest, 
or that of others, can entitle us to the character, either 
of prudence or humanity ; even though we had not been 
distinguished by a public office in the church, but had 
passed through life in the station of the obscurest among 
our hearers ; but it is impossible I should do justice to 
my argument, if I do not urge. 


4. The consideration of the peculiar obligations we 
are under to endeavour the preservation of souls, not 
only in virtue of our experience as Christians, but of 
our office as ministers. 

if we were only to consider our experiences as we 
are Christians, if we have any thing more than the 
empty name, that consideration might certainly alFord 
us a very tender argument to awaken our compassion 
to the souls of others. We know what it is ourselves 
to be upon the brink of destruction, and in that sad 
circumstance to obtain mercy ; and shall we not extend 
mercy to others .'' \^'e have looked to Jesus, that we 
might live ; and shall we not point him out to them ? 
We have tasted that the Lord is gracious ; and shall 
Ave not desire to communicate the same happy relish 
of his grace to all about us ? He has magnified the 
riches of his pardoning love to us ; and shall we not, 
with David, resolve that we will endeavour to teach 
transgressors his ways, and labour to promote the con- 
version of sinners unto him .'' Even now he is keeping 
our souls, his visitation preserves our spirits ; and, as 
it is bv his grace that we are what we are, it is by 
having obtained help from him that we continue unto 
this day ; and shall his grace daily bestowed upon us 
be in vain ? — shall not we have compassion on our 
fellow-servants, as the Lord continually hath pity on 
us ? 

But our office as ministers completes the obligation, 
when we consider the view in which the word of God 
represents that office, and the view in which we our- 
selves have received it. 

As for the former of these, we are aU acquainted Avith 
those representations ; and it is greatly to be wished, 
for our own sake and that of our people, they may be 
very familiar to our minds. Let us often listen Avith 
becoming attention to the blessed God as speaking to 


US in those words which he once addressed to the pro- 
phet Ezekiel, that faithful approved servant of the 
Lord : " Son of man, I have made thee a watchman to 
the house of Israel ; therefore, hear the word at mv 
mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say 
to the wicked. Thou shalt surely die ; and thou givest 
him not warning, nor speakest to warn the A^dcked from 
his evil ways to save his life, — the same wicked man 
shall die in his iniquity ; but his blood will I require 
at thine hand :" — and \vith apparent reason may the 
sentinel be punished for the desolation which the ene- 
my makes, while, instead of watching, he sleeps. 

We are elsewhere represented as men of God, as sol- 
diers of Jesus Christ, as made overseers or bishops by 
the Holy Ghost, as under-shepherds in subordination 
to Christ, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls ; and 
should not the thought, gentle as it is, awaken us to 
diligent inspection over the sheep he has committed to 
our care ? Otherwise, we are but images of shepherds, 
as it is represented in those lively and awful words of 
God, by Zechariah, which methinks might strike terror 
and trembling into many, who, in the eye of the world, 
may seem the happiest of their brethren : — " Woe to 
the idol-shepherd that leaveth the flock." The sword 
of divine vengeance, which, by his negligence, he has 
justly incurred, " shall be upon his arm, and upon his 
right eye ;" upon that ei/e which should have watched 
over the flock, and that arm which should have been 
stretched out for its rescue ; so that he shall be deprived 
of those capacities he abused, and be made miserable in 
proportion to that abuse ; for " his arm shall be clean 
dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.' 
Such we know are the pathetic \-iews which the scrip- 
ture gives us of our oflice, and of the guilt and danger 
attending the neglect. 

I might, if my time would admit, farther urge the 


views with which we have ourselves received it, and 
engaged in it. IMost of us, when Me undertook the 
pastoral charge, solemnly recorded our vows before God ; 
" that we would endeavour, ^vith all diligence and zeal, 
to attend to the services of this holy function ; that we 
would be instant in season and out of season, and la- 
bour to discharge the private as weW. as public duties of 
the ministerial life." 

These vows of God are upon us ; and every ordina- 
tion of any of our brethren at which we assist, adds a 
farther and solemn obligation to them. Let us there- 
fore take the greatest care that we do not deal deceit- 
fully and unfaithfully both with God and man. For 
it is most evident, that though the neglect of immortal 
souls is very criminal in every rational creature, it is 
most of all so in us who have so deliberately and so 
publicly undertaken the charge of them. 

It would indeed, in this case, not only be cruelty to 
them, but the basest treachery and ingratitude to our 
great Lord, who has lodged such a trust in our hands : 
a trust which evidently lies so near his heart. Having 
redeemed his people with his own blood, he commits 
them to our care ; and having acquired to himself the 
most tender claim to our love that can be imagined, he 
graciously requires this evidence of it. That we should 
feed his sheep, yea, his Iambs ; so putting our office in 
the most amiable and tender view, and l)ringing in 
every sentiment of grateful friendship to excite our di- 
ligence in it. 

However we may regard it, I doubt not but our bless- 
ed Redeemer considers it as the greatest favour, and 
the highest honour he could have conferred upon us ; 
that, being returned to his throne in the heavens, he 
should choose us to negotiate his cause and interest on 
earth, and should consign over to our immediate care 
that gospel he brought down from Heaven, and those 


souls wliicli he died to save ; and that he should make 
it the delightful labour of our life to follow him in his 
o\vn profession and employment, to be, of all our fellow- 
creatures, his most immediate representatives, and in 
humble subordination to him, saviours of men. Does 
not the very mention of it cause our hearts to glow ^Wth 
a fervent desire and generous ambition of answering so 
high a confidence ? Could any one of us endure the 
thought of betraying it ? 

How could we, in that case, lift up our faces before 
him when we shall, as we certainly must, see him, eye 
to eye ! Yes, my brethren, let us every hour recollect 
it ; our Master will ere long come and reckon with us : 
he will "render to every man according to his works," 
as mv text expresses it, in exact harmony ^ath the lan- 
guage of the New Testament ; and which of us would not 
then wish to appear before him, as those that have been 
faithfully attached to his cause, and have distinguished 
themselves by a zeal for his service .'' Shall we then, 
any of us, repent of our activity in so good a work ? 
Shall we wish that we had given more of our time to 
the pursuit of secular interest, or the curiosities of liter- 
ature, and less to the immediate care of souls ? Oh, 
my brethren, let us be wise in time ! We have but one 
life to spend on earth, — and that a very short one too ; 
let us make the best of it ; and lay it out in such kind 
of employments as we verily believe will give us most 
satisfaction in the closing moments of it, and when 
eternity is opening upon us. It is easy to form plausible 
excuses for such a conduct : but our own hearts and con- 
sciences would answer us, if we would seriously ask 
them what the course of life in the ministerial office is 
which will then afford the most comfortable review, and 
through the riches of divine grace, the most pleasing pro- 
spect. — I should now proceed. 


(III.) To the farther application of these things, in 
some practical inferences from them : — 

1. You have all, I doubt not, prevented me in re- 
flecting on the reason we have to humble ourselves deep- 
ly in the presence of the blessed God, while we remem- 
ber our faults this day. I do not indeed at all question, 
but that many of us have set before our people life and 
death ; and have in our public addresses urged their 
return to God, by the various considerations of terror 
and of love, which the thunders of Mount Sinai and 
the grace of Mount Zion have taught us. We have on 
great occasions visited them ; and entered into some se- 
rious discourse with them ; and have often, and I would 
hope more or less daily borne them on our hearts before 
God in oux seasons of devout retirement. Blessed be 
God that in these instances we have, in any degree, ap- 
proved ourselves faithful ! It must give us pleasure in 
the review ; but, oh, why have not our prayers been 
more frequently presented, and more importunately en- 
forced ? WTiy have we not been more serious and more 
pressing in our private addresses to them, and more at- 
tentive in our contrivances, if I may so express it, to 
catch them* in the net of the gospel ? Let us ask our 

• On June the 30th, 1741, a meeting of ministers had been 
held at Denton, Huntingdonshire, and after that a private con- 
ference, in which Dr. Doddridge presented hints of a scheme 
for the Revival of Religion ; and which was approved not only 
at the Denton conference, but also by some of the most eminent 
of the London ministers, of different denominations, and at a 
meeting of ministers which was held at Northampton the August 
following. Then it was agreed to take them into a more particu- 
lar consideration, in a conference at the next assembly, to be 
held at Kettering, the 1 5th of October. To that conference thi* 
discourse was introductory. The result was, that the scheme 
was approved with a few other particulars which had not before 
occurred, and measures were taken to carry them into execution ; 


own consciences this day, as in the presence of God, if 
there be not reason to apprehend that some who were 

and as they were printed originally with the discourse in the 
form of Resolutions, we subjoin them here :— 

I. That it may tend to the advancement of religion, that the 
ministers of this association, if they have not already done it, 
should agree to preach one Lord's day on family religion, and 
another on secret prayer; and that the time should be fixed, 
in humble hope that concurrent labours, connected with concur- 
rent petitions to the throne of grace, may produce some happy 

II. That it is proper that pastoral visiting should be more so- 
lemnly attended to ; and that greater care should be, taken in 
personal inspection than has generally been used ; and, that it 
may conduce to this good end, that each minister should take an 
exact survey of his flock, and note down the names of the heads 
of families, the children, the servants, and other single persons 
in his auditory, in order to keep proper memorandums concern, 
ing each ; that he may judge the better of the particulars of his 
duty with regard to every one, and may observe how his visits, 
exhortations, and admonitions, correspond to their respective 
characters and circumstances. 

III. That consequent on this survey it will be proper, as soon 
as possible, and henceforward at least once a year, to visit, if it 
be practicable, every head of a family under our ministerial care, 
with a solemn charge to attend to the business of rehgion in 
their hearts and houses, watching over their domestics in the fear 
of the Lord, — we, at the same time, professing our readiness to 
give them all proper assistance for this purpose. 

IV. That it will be highly expedient, immediately, or as soon 
as may be, to set up the work of catechising in one form or an- 
other, and to keep to it statedly for one half of the year at least ; 
and that it is probable, future counsels may ripen some scheme 
for carrying on this work in a manner which may tend greatly 
to the propagation of real, vital, catholic Christianity, in the 
zising generation. 

V. That there is reason to apprehend, there are in all our 
congregations some pious and valuable persons, who hve in a 
culpable neglect of the Lord's Supper ; and that it is our duty, 


once our hearers,- and it may be our dear friends too, 
have perished through our neglect ; and are gone to 

particularly to inform ourselves who they are, and to endeavour 
by our prayers to God, and our serious addresses to them, to in- 
troduce them into communion (to which I question not we shall 
all willingly add) ; cautiously guarding against any thing in the 
methods of admission which may justly discourage sincere Christ- 
ians of a tender and timorous temper. 

VI. That it is to be feared, there are some, in several of our 
communions at least, who behave in such a manner as to g^ve 
just offence ; and that we may be in great danger of making our- 
selves " partakers of other men's sins," if we do not animadvert 
upon them ; and that, if they will not reform, or if the crime be 
notorious, we ought, in duty to God, and to them, and to all 
around us, solemnly to cut them off from our sacramental com- 
munion, as a reproach to the church of Christ. 

VII. That it may, on many accounts, be proper to advise our 
people to enter into little bands, or societies, for religious dis- 
course and prayer ; each consisting of six or eight, to meet for 
these good purposes once in a week or a fortnight, as may best 
suit with their other engagements and affairs. 

VIII. That it might be adviseable, if it can be done, to select 
out of each congregation under our care, a small number of per- 
sons remarkable for experienced prudence, seriousness, himiility, 
and zeal, to act as a stated council for promoting religion in the 
said society : and that it would be proper they should have some 
certain times of meeting with each other and ^v^th the minister, 
to join their counsels and their prayers for the public good. 

IX. That so far as we can judge, it might, by the divine bless- 
ing, conduce to the advancement of these valuable ends, that neigh- 
bouring ministers, in one part of our land and another (especially 
in this county) should enter into associations, to strengthen the 
hands of each other by united consultations and prayer : and that 
meetings of ministers might, by some ob\-ious regulations, be 
made more extensively useful than they often are. In which 
view it was farther proposed (with unanimous approbation) That 
these meetings should be held at certain periodical times : Tliat 
each member of the association should endeavour, if-possible, to 
be present, studying to order his affairs as to guard against un- 
necessary hindrances : —That public worship should begin and 


eternal destruction for want of our more prudent, more 
affectionate, and more zealous care for their deliver- 
ance P 

In these instances, mj' brethren, though it is dread- 
ful to say it, and to think it, yet it is most certain that 

end sooner than it commonly has done on these occasions : — 
That each pastor preach at these assemblies in his turn : — That 
the minister of the place determine who shall be employed in pray- 
er : — That after a moderate repast, to be managed with as little 
trouble and expense as may be, an hour or two in the afternoon 
be spent in religious conference and prayer, and in taking into 
consideration (merely as a friendly council, and without the least 
pretence to any right of authoritative decision) the concerns of 
any brother, or any society, which may be brought before us for 
our advice : —And fineilly, that every member of this association 
shall consider it as an additional obligation upon him to endea- 
vour to be, so far as he justly and honourably can, a friend and 
guardian to the reputation, comfort, and usefulness of all his 

X. That it may be proper to enter into some farther measures 
to regulate the admission of young persons into the ministry. I 
will take leave to add one particular more, which has since oc- 
curred to my thoughts, and which I here submit to your consid- 
eration, and to that of my other Reverend Brethren, into whose 
hands they may fall, especially those of our own association, viz. 

XI. Whether something might not be done, in most of our 
congregations, towards assisting in the propagation of Christian- 
ity abroad, and spreading it in some of the darker parts of our 
own land ? In pursuance of which it is further proposed, that we 
endeavour to engage as many pious people of our respective 
congregations as we can, to enter themselves into a society, in 
which the members may engage themselves to some peculiar 
cares, assemblies, and contributions, with a regard to this great 
end. A copy of such an association I am endeavouring to intro- 
duce among my own people, and several have already signed it. 
It is a feeble essay ; and the effects of it in one congregation can 
be but very small ; but if it were generally to be followed, who 
can tell what a han-est such a little grain might at length produce. 
May God multiply it a thousand-fold ! P. Dodbbidge. 

NortJiampton, Feb. 1, 1741-?. 


we have been, in part, accessary to their ruin ; and have 
reason to say, with trembling hearts, and with weeping 
eyes, Deliver us from blood-guiltiness, from the blood 
of these unhappy souls. Oh God, thou God of our sal- 
vation ! And we have need, with all possible earnest- 
ness, to renew our application to the blood and righte- 
ousness of a Redeemer; not daring to mention any 
services of our own as matter of confidence in his pre- 
sence ; how highly soever others may have esteemed 
them, who candidly look on the little we do, and per- 
haps make more charitable excuses for our neglect than 
we ourselves can dare to urge before God. Let the re- 
membrance of these things be for a lamentation ; and 
while it is so, 
2. Let us seriously consider what methods are to be 
taken to prevent such things for the time to come. 

They that have perished have perished for ever, and 
are far beyond the reach of our labours and our prayers ; 
but multitudes to this day surround us, who stand ex- 
posed to the same danger, and on the very brink of the 
same ruin ; and besides these dying sinners, who are 
the most compassionate objects which the eye of man or 
of God beholds on this earth of ours, how many languish- 
ing Christians demand our assistance ? or, if they do not 
expressly demand it, appear so much the more to need 
it ! Let us look round, my brethren, I will not say 
upon the nation in general, but on the churches under 
our immediate care, and say, whether the face of them 
is such as becomes the societies of those whom the Son 
of God has redeemed with his o\A'n blood ; and of those 
that call themselves the disciples and members of a once 
crucified and now glorified Jesus ? Is their whole tem- 
per and conduct formed upon the model of his gospel ? 
Are they such, as we would desire to present them be- 
fore the presence of his glory ? What is wanting can- 
not be numbered ; and perhaps we may be ready, too 


rashly to conclude, that what is crooked cannot be made 
straight. — Nevertheless, let us remember, it is our duty 
to attempt it, as prudently, as immediately, and as re- 
solutely as we can. Many admirable advices for that 
purpose our fathers and brethren have given us ; par- 
ticularly Dr. Watts, in the first part of his Humble At- 
tempt for the Revival of Religion, and Mr. Some in his 
sermon on the same subject : excellent treatises, which, 
reduced into practice, would soon produce the noblest 

That those important instructions may be revived, 
and accommodated to present circumstances, with such 
additions as those circumstances require, we are this day, 
having united our prayers, to unite our counsels. I will 
not anticipate what I have to oflfer to your considera- 
tion in the more private conference, on which we are 
quickly to enter. To form proper measures will be 
comparatively easy ; to carry them strenuously into ex- 
ecution, will be the greatest exercise of our wisdom and 
piety. May proportionable grace be given to animate 
us, and to dispose them that are committed to our care 
to fall in with us, in all our attempts for the honour of 
God, and for their edification and comfort ! 




Professing ourselves Christians, I hope, we are satis- 
fied, upon careful and rational inquiry, that the religion 
of Jesus comes from God ; and that it is a most glorious 
dispensation, no less for the sublime wonders of its doc- 
trine, than the divine purity of its precepts. Now in 
all the peculiar glories of this religion, Christ is inter- 
woven like Phidias's name in the shield, which could 
not be effaced without destroying the shield itself ; so 
that preaching Christ and preaching the gospel are, in 
Scripture style, synonymous terms. 

(I.) To preach Christ, therefore, is our charge, our 
business, and our glory. But, " who is sufficient for 
these things i" Give me leave, then, my dear brethren 
and friends, to remind myself and you, what regard a 
minister should have to our Redeemer in his preach- 

1. Let us make Christ the end of our preaching. If 
we seek principally to please men, then are we not the 
servants of Christ. If we look no farther than our own 
reputation, or temporal advantage, appropriating our 
talents to our own private use, how shall we make u^) 
our accounts to our divine Master .'' 


Our ultimate end should be the personal glon- of 
Christ. That the glory of Christ, as God, is the ulti- 
mate end of the gospel, none can doubt ; so that it is 
said of this divine Person, "All things are for him, as 
well as by him ;" Is he not worth ten thousand of us ? 
Of more worth than the world ; the only begotten Sou 
of God, Avhom the highest angels adore ? Now if the 
glory of Christ's person be the principal end in the di- 
vine schemes and actings, it should also be our high- 
est view and design. 

Again, as the glory of Christ's person, should be our 
ultimate end, so the advancement of his kingdom of 
grace among men should be our subordinate end. 
The immediate design of the gospel is the recovery of 
fallen creatures to holiness and happiness. Christ is 
" come into the world to save sinners ;" and he sends 
us to preach his gospel, in order " that men might live 
soberly, righteously, and godly, looking for the blessed 
hope." We should not think it enough to inform, to 
amuse, to please, to affect, but we must aim farther to 
bring them to trust in Christ, to be penitent and holy ; 
and every subject must be managed with this view. 
And let it be our great care, on a speculative subject, 
stiU to keep the end in view, and apply it practical- 

Let us by all means endeavour to save precious souls, 

but yet aim at a higher end, that we ourselves may 
be " a sweet savour of Christ unto God ;" and then, 
though we miss of our secondary end, and are not as \^e 
could wish, " the savour of life unto life" to any great 
number, yet in being " the savour of death unto death 
to them that perish," we shall be the instruments of 
glorifying the justice and long-suffering of Christ, and 
be witnesses for God, " that there has been a prophet 
amongst them." Our primary end is answered, " our 
labour is with the Lord," and we in the mean time 


are supported, " though Israel be not gathered," for 
" the word shall not return empty." 

Nay, further, it is not enough that the strain of our 
preaching be adapted to the true design of the gospel, 
but we must at heart sincerely intend it ; otherwise, 
though our discourses be unexceptionable, and others 
be saved through our ministry, yet if our designs be 
wrong and base, we " shall be castaways." 

2. Let Christ be the matter of our preaching. 
Let us display the divine dignity and loveliness of his 
person, as " God manifest in the ilesh," — unfold his 
mediatorial office, the occasion, the design, and pur- 
port of his great undertaking, — remind our hearers of 
the particulars of his incarnation, life, death, resur- 
rection, ascension, and intercession, — set forth the 
characters he bears, as a prophet, priest, and king ; 
as a shepherd, captain, advocate, and judge. Let us 
demonstrate the sufficiency of his satisfaction, the te- 
nor and excellence of the covenant confirmed with and 
by him, our justification by his righteousness, adop- 
tion through our relation to him, sanctification by his 
spirit, our union with him as our head, and safe con- 
duct by his providence ; and how pardon, grace, and 
glory accrue to the elect through his suretyship and 
sacrifice, and are dispensed by his hand. Let us de- 
clare and explain his most holy laws in his name, and 
teach the people Avhatever duties he has commanded 
to God, our neighbour, and ourselves ; — quicken the 
saints to duty, raise their hopes, establish and com- 
fort their souls, by the exceeding great and precious 
promises of the gospel, which in him are " yea and 
amen." — I give but short and imperfect hints of these 
things, and refer to the apostolical writings, which 
are made up of discourses on these and such like to- 

3. Let a continual regard to Christ distinguish 


our sermons on any subject from discourses on mere 
natural religion. If we speak of the perfections of 
God, let us consider them as shining in his Son, " who 
is the brightness of his Father's glory, and express 
image of his person," and exemplified in his undertak- 
ing. If we set forth gospel blessings and promises, 
let us consider them as purchased by a Saviour's blood, 
and distributed by his bounty ; for " by his own blood 
he has obtained eternal redemption, and from him 
the whole body is supplied." If we take notice of 
the providence of God, let us not forget that " all 
power is given to Christ, in heaven and in earth," and 
that " he is head over all things to the church." If 
by the terrors of the last judgment we persuade men, 
let " the wTath of the Lamb" be denounced, while the 
reckoning is represented as most dreadful for abused 
grace and a slighted Saviour ; for " this is the con- 
demnation." And when we are assisting the devotions 
of the people, the same regard to Christ should be ob- 

When we are discoursing on the subject of duty, 
Christ, as the most powerful motive, is by no means 
to be forgotten ; for to persuade men to practical god- 
liness is one of the most difficult parts of a minister's 
work. Men will hear a speculative discourse -^vith a 
curious satisfaction, and attend to the displays of 
God's grace with some joy ; nay, a Felix may trem- 
ble when judgment is preached. Many, indeed, will 
bear to hear of duty too ; but to induce them to prac- 
tise it, Mc labor, hoc opus. Here we have need to 
call in all helps, and take all advantages, which the 
gospel, as well as the light of nature, can furnish. In 
other discourses we are rather attacking Satan's out- 
works, a blind and prejudiced understanding ; but, in 
practical subjects, we assault his strongest fort, cor- 
rupted will. We may gain the understanding on our 


sidcj wdth some share of the affections ; but to sub- 
due a perverse will, in favour of practical Christianity, 
is not so easy a thing, that we can afford to spare any 
important motive or quickening consideration.* But 
here I must be more particular in explaining how we 
should regard Christ in preaching duty. 

(1.) We should represent diiti/ as the fruit of faith 
in Christ, and love to him. When by faith we behold 
a crucified Jesus, do we not tremble at the severity of 
God's justice, and hate those sins that occasioned his 
sorrows ? \Mien we consider that " by his stripes we 
are healed," can we forbear to love him who first loved 
us ? Shall we not live to him that died for us ? Can 
we have the heart to crucify him afresh ? 

From such actings of faith and outgoings of love, 
riows that divine temper which constitutes the new 

" In reference to what is advised in this and the following 
sections, a young preacher will do well to read, with devo- 
tion and care, those parts of Mr. IMatthew Henrj-'s practical 
and incomparable Exposition, which relate to the subject he 
would preach upon. He will also find in the works of Mr. 
Arthur Hildersham, his Exposition of Psalm i. and John iv. 
an uncommon degree of sacred skill, in recommending duty and 
practice from Christian motives, worthy of assiduous imita- 

Perhaps this may be the most proper place to recommend a 
work lately published, ^■^z. A Practical Viezn of the prevailing 
Religious System of professed Christians, in the higher and mid. 
die Classes in this Country^ contrasted •xith real Christianity, by 
W. Wilberforce, Esq. — a work which, for excellency of plan, 
a strain of masculine eloquence, acuteness of discernment, and 
force of reasoning, and above all, a spirit of subhme devotion, 
is not perhaps equalled in our language ; nor is it a small part 
of its excellence that it represents duty, according to our author's 
advice, as the fruit of faith and love, enforcing ol>ediencc with 
motives respecting Christ, to be performed by his grace, and 
acceptable through his merits.— dr. williajis. 


creature, and lays the foundation of all right gospel 
obedience. Thus, therefore, let us continually trace 
gospel duties up to their fountain head, that the peo- 
ple may learn, that it is not outward reformation 
which will stand the test in the day of judgment, but 
an inward renewal of the soul ; that " the tree must 
first be made good, before there can be any good fruit ;" 
and that all must be done for Christ's sake, and flow 
from " faith working by love." 

(2.) Let us enforce duties with motives respecting 
Christ. As grateful love to him should constrain us, 
fear of his wrath should awe us, if we would approve 
ourselves the disciples and followers of Christ, and en- 
joy communion with him ; if we Avould promote his 
honour and interest, and possess joy and not confusion, 
at his appearing. Not that we should neglect any 
motives which the light of nature can furnish, and are 
level to the capacities of the people; for we have need 
enough of all ; but if we go no further, our exhorta- 
tions will want far the greatest part of their weight. 
We must " beseech and exhort by the Lord Jesus." 

(3.) Let us inculcate duties, as to be performed by 
the grace of Christ ; telling the people that our fruit- 
fulness depends on our being ingrafted into this vine : 
that there is no holy walk without being " led bv the 
Spirit, and when we do good, it is not we, but the 
grace of God that is in us ; that out of a sense of 
weakness we are to be made strong, through Christ 
strengthening us." 

(4.) Let us consider all good works as acceptable 
through the merits of Christ ; and remind our hear- 
ers, that could we do all, we were but " unprofitable 
servants ;" and that we must seek to be found at last, 
not having our own righteousness, but that which is 
of God by faith. 

4. Let us express ourselves in a style becoming 


the gospel of Christ ; not with great swelling words 
of vanity, or in the style of the heathen sophists, or 
words that man's Avisdom teacheth, and perhaps sound 
best in our own ears ; but let us use " great plain- 
ness of speech/' and seek to find out such " accepta- 
ble words" as may best reach the understanding and 
affections of the bulk of an auditory. 

As for the affectionate part of a discourse,, brethren, 
I suppose you allow, upon a view of ancient and mo- 
dern learning, that the men of the east, and next to 
them the ancient Greeks, excelled in fire, and works 
of imagination ; and yet the moderns, inhabiting 
milder western climates, even the French, from whom, 
on many accounts, we should expect the most of this 
sort, produce but an empty fiash, in comparison with 
the solid heat of the ancients ; and rather amuse us 
with little delicacies, than, by masterly strokes, com- 
mand our whole souls. Now the Scriptures are the 
noblest remains of what the east has produced, and 
much surpass the best of the Greeks in the force of 
their oratory. Let us, therefore, take their spirit and 
stvle, and thence borrow bold figures and allusions, 
strong descriptions, and commanding address to the 
passions ; but I am prevented in all I would say on 
this important head, by the Archbishop of Cambray's 
Dialogues concei-niug Eloquence, which I am as little 
capable of improving upon, as I am of commending 
them as they deserve."* 

• The sublime Fenelon's Dialogues on Eloquence are deserv- 
edly mentioned, by many %\Titers of eminence, with a sort of 
respect bordering on veneration ; and no wonder, for such a 
union of the sublime and simple, of learning and familiarity, of 
judicious criticism and happy illustration ; such unaffected hu- 
mility and warm benevolence, delicate taste and solid sense ; 
and above all, such reverence for sacred things, blended with a 


(II.) And now, brethren, let me lay before you 
some reasons and motives, to back this friendly admo- 
nition concerning preaching Christ. 

1. It is the only way to have our labours accepted 
of Christ, and to have communion with him in our 
work. — Even Paul cries out, " Who is sufficient for 
these things .''" With how much more reason mav we 
do so } Does not our cheerful progress in our work 
depend on a din'ne afflatus, and the spirit dispensed 
by Christ } but if we take little notice of him in our 
preaching, and do not distinguish ourselves from the 
moral philosophers of the Gentiles, how can we ex- 
pect any more of this enlivening and encouraging pre- 
sence of Christ than they had .'* Xav, we have less 
ground to expect it, if we slight wilfully so noble a re- 
velation, with which thev were never favoured. 

2. It is the only way to win souls to Christ, and to 
make them lively Christians. The success of the gos- 
pel is o^^•i^g, certainly, no less to the power of its mo- 
tives, than to the clearness, fulness, and purity of its 
precepts. These peculiar motives of the gospel have 

subject so often employed bv human vanity and pride, are su- 
perior excellencies very rarely found. 

Dr. Doddridge (Fam. Expos, on John xiv. 2. Improvem. 
Note) having alluded to a beautiful observation of this author, 
says, " This is the remark of the pious Archbishop of Cambray. 
in his incomparable Dialogues on Eloquence ; which, may God 
put it into the hearts of our preachers often and attentively to 
read !"— Another able judge on this subject thus expresses him- 
self :—" But what need I enter further into the detail of pul- 
pit-eloquence ? If you want to see the whole machinery and 
apparatus of it displayed in the completest manner, I refer you 
to the great and good Prelate of Cambray's Dialogues on that 
subject ; who was himself the justest critic, and one of the best 
models of eloquence that I know." Fordyce^s Theodoras ^-p. 150. 
Lond. 1755. For a brief but striking character of the eloquence 
of Fenelon, see the Ahbi Maury s Principles of Eloquence, 

sect. Iv DR. WILLIAMS. 


all such a respect to Christ, that they are enervated 
if HE be disregarded. The gospel is what God in his 
unfathomable wisdom has fixed upon, as the grand 
mean to reform mankind, and save them ; and he 
seems in honour concerned to crown it with greater 
success than any other scheme whatsoever. " The 
preaching of Christ crucified is the power of God." 
If, by suppressing a part, we maim the gospel, we can 
expect, in the nature of things, but a very defective 
success. Nay, may we not fear that God's honour is 
concerned, in such a case, to blast us while we labour 
almost in vain .'' 

Observation agrees with this theory. The great 
masters of reason, who have less regard to Christ in 
their preaching, may, indeed, have a charm for one of 
an hundred, who have a taste for the beauties of fine 
reasoning, and be of use to them, while the bulk of an 
auditory is asleep. Alas ! with what heart can Ave go 
on, entertaining two or three, while starving most of 
the souls in an auditory ? May we not also observe a 
happier efi^ect of a strain prudently evangelical on 
Christians themselves : that they who sit under it are 
more lively, zealous, ready to every good work, and 
heavenly-minded, than those Christians who have 
heard less of the gospel ? 

3. It is a direct imitation of the Apostles of Christ. 
Christ himself, whilst upon earth, preached the gos- 
pel in parables, in a concealed manner, distantly, and 
with reserve. He could not so fully take the advan- 
tage of his resurrection, satisfaction, ascension, and 
the like, not yet done, made or proved. He had many 
things to say, which his disciples could not then bear ; 
but he declares them afterward by his Spirit in his 
Apostles. They therefore are the true pattern of our 
preaching now, after the mystery of redemption is 
brought to light, and hath its full evidence. 


How then did the Apostles preach Christ ? It is end- 
less to attempt a full detail of particulars ; any part of 
the apostolical writings is authority sufficient to our 
purpose ; and therefore I have been sparing in quo- 
tations all along, as needless to those who will look 
into these writings with this view ; and here we do 
not desire to insist upon any passages in their writings 
which may be supposed to be written for reasons pe- 
culiar to that age and country in which the Apostles 
wrote, and in which perhaps we are not so much oblig- 
ed to imitate them in our preaching ; for what will 
remain, after all these are put out of the account, will, 
I am satisfied, be as full to our purpose as those that 
are struck off. 

1 shall then, by way of specimen, select some of 
the Apostles' discourses on moral duties, where we 
are most apt to forget Christ, or a due respect 
to him ; that it may at once appear that the Apos- 
tles neither shunned the pressing of such duties, 
nor disregarded Christ in treating of them. 

Honesty is pressed by these motives : — " The un- 
righteous, thieves and extortioners shall not inherit 
the kingdom of God" (which, in the style of the New 
Testament, is Christ's kingdom of grace and glory.) 
That Christians are " converted by the Spirit of Christ, 
and justified by his righteousness." Chastity is en- 
joined, as "■ our bodies are members of Christ, as we 
are one spirit with him, temples of the Holy Ghost, 
and bought with a price." Alms-giving is recommend- 
ed, as it brings a large tribute of "^ praise to God for 
our subjection to the gospel of Christ — and Christ be- 
came poor for our sakes." — Evil-speaking is forbidden, 
because " we were foolish and wicked ; but the grace 
of God has made the diflference ; not for our righteous- 
ness, but of his free mercy he has regenerated us, and 
given us his Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, by 


whom we are justified and heirs of glory." — Subjects 
are commanded to obey magistrates, because " the gos- 
pel is come, and we should put on Christ Jesus." — 
Husbands are charged " to love their wives, as Christ 
loved the Church." — The obedience of wives is urged, 
because " the husband is the head of the mfe, as Christ 
is the bead of the church." — Servants are exhorted to 
their duty, as they would " adorn the doctrine of 
Christ, because grace so teacheth, and that we look 
for Christ's appearance, who gave himself for us that 
we might be holy."— Now what is there in these mo- 
tives peculiar to one age or nation ? Are not all these 
as good now as formerly .'' And are men so ready in 
their duty, that we have no need of them ? 

Nay, it is worthy of observation, that the Apostles 
do not confine themselves to motives peculiarly adapt- 
ed to the duty they are pressing, and which serve to 
enforce one duty rather than another ; but, as you may 
see, when such proper motives are not at hand, they 
take, without any scruple, common or general ones, 
which wi\l equally enforce any duty whatsoever. 

And why should not we introduce the peculiarities 
of the gospel on all occasions, as frequently as the 
Apostles did ? If our schemes of theology will not al- 
low us, we have reason to suspect we are in a differ- 
ent scheme from the Apostles. Are we afraid that 
men will make perverse use of such doctrines as the 
Apostles used for motives ? The Apostles chose to ven- 
ture it, and why should not we ? If we will not dare 
to preach such a gospel as may be perverted by men 
of corrupt minds to their own injury, we must not ex- 
pect to be instruments of any good. If we are a " sa- 
vour of life" to some we must expect to be the " sa- 
vour of death" to others, or not preach at all. 

I confess, even the Remonslrant scheme (which, I 
think, considerably sinksthe doctrines of grace) does al- 


low room to regard Christ abundantly more than most 
preachers of that denomination do. I would meet 
them on their own principles ; what hinders their fre- 
quently inculcating the merits of Christy the depravity 
of our nature, the necessity of regeneration, the aids 
of grace, union and communion with Christ ? These 
topics, it were to be hoped, might have their effect : 
but alas ! how few of the Reiuonstrants improve to ad- 
vantage, so much of the gospel as they hold and re- 
ceive ; and it makes me less inclined to this scheme, 
that it so generally draws those that embrace it into a 
strain of preaching, even on practical subjects, so differ- 
ent from that of the Apostles ; and inclines them, I 
know not how, to suppress those glorious motives 
(which yet their own principles might allow) by which 
the Apostles enforced gospel duties. 

4. So only shall we deserve the name of Christian 
preachers. Onli/ did I say ; I am afraid this may sound 
too harsh. — Come, let us put the matter as soft and 
candid as common sense will allow us. So shall we 
most evidently or best deserve this honourable title. 

WTiilst a preacher keeps off from the peculiarities of 
the gospel, and says nothing but what the light of na- 
ture would also suggest and authorize, give me leave 
to say, a stranger might possibly doubt whether he 
is a Deist or a Christian ; the question is like an im- 
perfect mathematical problem, which equally admits 
of different solutions. 

Suppose the ghosts of Paul and Seneca to come, 
mere strangers, into an assembly, where one is haran- 
guing the people in this abstracted manner, I am apt 
to think Seneca would claim him as a philosopher of 
his own sect and religion. Now if Paul should also 
make his claim to him as a minister of Christ, how 
could the question be decided, without allo'wing Sene- 
ca to be a preacher of Christ also ? 


On the other hand^ if a preacher insists upon even 
the peculiar and glorious truths of Christianity, but 
so unhappily panages them, as not to lead people to 
holiness, and the imitation of Christ thereby, — what 
is this to the grand and fuU puqiose of preaching ; or, 
to the ultimate design of the gospel ? Such preachers 
are quite off that divine system which is calculated to 
destroy the works of the devil, and to teach men so- 
briety, righteousness, and godliness. It is not only 
Christ without us we are to preach, but also Christ in 
us, and our putting on Christ Jesus, by a holy heart 
and life. 

If the Apostle James should come again, and make 
a visitation to our churches, and hear such a preacher, 
he would imagine himself among such people as he 
\\Tites against in liis epistle ; he would be apt, when 
the minister had done, in his zeal for Christ, to take 
the text in hand again, and supply what the preacher 
had omitted, viz. the application : and to say to the 
auditors, " Know ye not that faith without works is 
dead?" If the preacher should here interrupt him, 
saying ' Hold, spare your pains, the Spirit of God will 
make the application, and teach men holiness,' — would 
not James reply, " I and the rest of the Apostles were 
taught to preach otherwise, and to give particular ex- 
hortations to duty :— we judged we might as well leave 
it to the Spirit, without our pains, to reveal the doc- 
trine, as to instruct men in the practice of the gos- 

Upon the whole, brethren, let it be our resolution 
to study and preach Christ Jesus. On this suhject, 
there is room for the strictest reasoning, and most su- 
blime philosophy ; it deserves, invites, and inspires 
the strongest fire of the orator ; in extolling Christ, 
we cannot shock the most delicate taste by over-strain- 
ed hyperboles : here the climax may rise till it is out 


of sight ,• our imagery cannot be too strong and 

Should our Lord himself appear, and give you a 
charge at your entrance on the ministry, would he not 
say (what indeed he has said already) " As the Father 
hath sent me, so send I you to preach the kingdom of 
God, that every knee may bow to me, and every tongue 
confess me. Teach them to observe all things whatso- 
ever I have commanded you : and tell them, that with- 
out me they can do nothing ; that when they have done 
all, they are unprofitable servants, and must be found 
in my righteousness. Become all things to all men ; 
seek words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, that you 
may gain souls, and bring in my sheep, for whom I 
have laid down my life. If ye love me, feed my sheep. 
I have called you friends ; do all in my name, and to 
my honour : so I will be with you always ; and if you 
thus watch for souls, you shall give up your account 
with joy, at my appearing. — This is the preaching 
which, though it seem foolish to many, shall prove the 
power of God, and the wisdom of God. Cast forth the 
net on this side, and so may you expect to catch many 
souls. Be ye followers of my Apostles, as they are 
of me, and in my name shall ye do wonders ; if you 
preach me, I and mine shall therein rejoice ; be not 
ashamed of my gospel, and I will not be ashamed of 

But to arrive at any tolerable perfection in preach- 
ing Christ is a work of time, the result of a careful 
perusal of the Scriptures, and studying the hearts of 
men. It requires the mortifying of the pride of car- 
nal reason, a great concern for souls, and a humble de- 
pendence on the Spirit of God, with the lively exer- 
cise of devotion in our closets. 

As for the reasoning part on the more agreed points 
of our religion, a young preacher sooner may get to 


considerable excellency ; but the Christian orator is 
longer in finishing. We may soon get necessary truths 
into our own minds, and come at minds of our size 
and taste ; but by proper motives and ways to reach 
the souls of a different make and turn, even the low- 
est of the vulgar, is what very few quickly arrive at ; 
but let us not despair : if we thus regard the Lord 
Jesus in our ministrations, we may very reasonably ex- 
pect the assistance of his Spirit, — and then we shall 
be " able to do all things, through Christ strengthen- 




Rightly to divide the word of truth is the neces- 
sary care of a minister^ if he would be " approved of 
God, and be a workman that needeth not to be asham- 
ed."— And it is a skill Avorth studying for, and la- 
bouring to attain : our success and the good of souls 
depend upon it more than is commonly imagined. 

No doubt you may have heard many honest people 
express their dissatisfaction Avith some preachers in 
such terms as these : — " They go on constantly in a 
general way, that does not come close to the heart, 
reaches not my case and experience, and I am not 
edified by them." Their complaint is not altogether 
without meaning or reason, as I hope you will be con- 
vinced by and by. 

1 . To keep a little in view that passage of scrip- 
ture I have mentioned, dividing the word may mean 
these four things:— 1. Going through the variety of 
gospel subjects ; declaring the whole counsel of God, 
the doctrines of grace, threatenings, promises, and the 
duties of morality ; and giving each its due propor- 


Some, finding their thoughts flow most readily and 
affectionately on the doctrines of grace, and that by 
these they best command the affections of the hearers, 
are altogether upon them, and neglect to teach the 
people to observe what Christ has commanded them. 
I bear many of them witness they have a zeal for 
God, but 1 Avish it were more according to knowledge. 
Thev do not sufficiently consider that holiness is the 
very design of Christianity ; and our preaching on 
other heads is in order the better to enforce duty, and 
render men like to Christ. 

I am afraid, from what I have observed, that this 
strain of preaching will increase the number of those 
hearers whom our Saviour describes by the " stony 
ground," in the parable of the sower ; namely, such 
who, though full of notions and transient affections, 
and forward in professing, yet have an unsubdued will, 
no root in themselves, and bring forth no fruit to God. 
This strain, I fear, though it may seem to bring many 
toward Christ, Avill bring but few safely to him. 
Many of their hearers, with Christ much in their 
mouths, will prove but hypocrites settled on their lees, 
and slaves to lusts. Nor is this strain more happy for 
the uniform growth of the sincere Christian. Tliey 
that sit under it are too frequently low, imperfect, and 
partial in goodness ; distempered with con- 
ceit and preposterous zeal for words and phrases, and 
things of little or no consequence ; perplexed and per- 
plexing others with a thousand groundless scruples ; 
children in understanding, and it were happy were 
they so in malice too ; but alas ! their narrowaiess of 
mind infects the heart with uncharitable affections. 

Others, having not arrived at the relish of the doc- 
trines of grace themselves, suppress them in their 
preaching, and are altogether on morality ; enforcing 


it with no motives of the gospel, except some of those 
addressed to fear. These, if they are masters of much 
fire, may be convincing to some ; but it fares with 
most of their converts as with the man in the parable, 
out of whom the unclean spirit went for a while, who, 
finding his house empty, returned with seven more ; 
and the latter end of such is worse than the begin- 
ning. Or else, the awakened hearer either takes up 
with a proud dependence upon a mistaken, external, 
and Pharisaical righteousness ; or, not being by his 
teacher led to Christ, he proceeds not, settles not ; 
but abiding long under the doubtful concern, is 
wearied with it, weary of it, and comes to nothing ; 
which seems to be the thought in Hosea ; " Ephraim 
is an unwise son ; he should not stay long in the place 
of the breaking forth of children." Or lastly, if any 
are truly converted under such ministry, it is very 
usual that they are forced to desert it, to find richer 
and sweeter pasture for their souls. 

Some of their hearers may possibly prefer this strain 
of preaching ; but it does not thence follow that they 
are the better for it. To illustrate this remark, I will 
recite a paragraph out of Reinarkable Passages in the 
Life of a Private Gentleman: — " Spiritual searching 
discourses I did not so much savour as mere moral 
doctrines, though too immoral myself. The hopes I 
had conceived of the strength of my good resolutions 
rendered them grateful. Seneca's Morals I read with 
pleasure ; Mr. Baxter's Saint's Rest frightened 
me ; so after reading a few passages, I threw it 
by." Thus with regret he tells us what little profit 
he had in that way, of his fondness for which 
he was ashamed, when he came to be of Paul's mind, 
to count all dross and dung, that he might win 

2. The putting of a thought in several distinct views 



and lights, for different purposes and designs. The 
sacred writers are herein our pattern, and that not 
by chance, but for wise reasons. One view is de- 
signed to raise one affection ; another view, to excite 
another of a different sort ; and, finally, one of the 
views is designed as an antidote against the poison 
which the corruption of men's hearts might draw out 
of the other. 

For instance, the terms and way of our justification 
and salvation are frequently stated thus : — " That we 
must be found in Christ, having on the righteousness 
which is of God by faith," and " we must be made 
the righteousness of God in him." And this view is 
exquisitely adapted to humble us, to draw forth love 
and gratitude, and encourage our hopes and depend- 

But lest this phraseology, if used alone, should be- 
get security, at other times we are told, that " by 
works a man is justified, and not by faith only ; and 
that faith without works is dead;" and that the in- 
quiry at the last day shall be. Who has " fed the hun- 
gry, clothed the naked ?" &c. 

And most commonly these two views are united in 
the same paragraph ; that one may prevent the ill 
consequences man's perverseness would draw from the 
other. As physicians, finding some dangerous effect 
likely to follow from a drug of sovereign virtue, 
mix some other with it, to prevent the fatal conse- 

So we are said to be " elect, according to the fore- 
knowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spi- 
rit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Je- 
sus." Again, we are told, that " by grace we are 
saved through faith, the gift of God, not of works , for 
we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto 
ijood works." 


I may give another instance, in the different ways 
the Scripture speaks of power and duty. Sometimes 
we are told that " we cannot come to Christ except 
the Father draw us." That " without Christ we can 
do nothing." That " if we live, it is not we, but 
Christ that liveth in us." Now these views tend to 
hide pride from man, to create a diffidence of ourselves, 
and to centre our hopes and dependence on Christ ; 
but lest the slothful and wicked servant should make 
his impotence his excuse, we are called upon to " turn 
and make us new hearts," exhorted to " ask and we 
shall receive," and are assured " God ^v^ll give the Spi- 
rit to them that ask him ;" and how happily are these 
two views united in this passage ! " Work out your 
own salvation with fear and trembling ; for it is God 
that worketh in you to will and to do." 

Now, less skilful dividers of the word deal entirely 
in one of these views, and neglect the other ; and while 
they are labouring to excite one good affection, they raise 
another of a bad tendency together ^vith it. To this 
in part it is owing that there are so many low or dis- 
tempered Christians. Nor is this partiality more hap- 
py in effecting the real conversion of sinners, who ge- 
nerally, under such management, are either left asleep, 
and settled in a fond conceit of their own righteous- 
ness, or else stumble at the rock of oft'ence (in a differ- 
ent manner indeed from ^A'hat the Jews did) thinking 
to find by Christ a way to Heaven, without holiness or 
moral honesty. 

3. Distinctly explaining and enforcing particular 
duties, and opposing particular sins. It is true, the 
whole scheme of gospel duty is deducible from the ge- 
neral heads of faith and love ; but, alas ! most men's 
minds are slow, confused, and erroneous in long de- 
ductions ; and it is our business to lead them on in 
every step, and to show what particular duties to God, 


our neighbour, and ourselves, will flow from these 
principles, and are necessary to make the man of God 
perfect. We must particularly teach them to " add 
to their faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, 
godliness, brotherly kindness, and charitv," if we 
would not leave them blind and unfruitful ; and we 
should, in a particular manner, speak of " the fruits 
of the Spirit, as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gen- 
tleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance ;" 
and at proper seasons explain and enforce each of 
them. We should apply the lamp of the word to de- 
tect and disgrace all the particular " works of dark- 
ness," and to make manifest " the fruits of the flesh ; 
such as adultery, lasciviousness, wrath, strife, sedi- 
tions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, rev- 
ellings, and such like." 

If I should read to a sick person a learned lecture 
on the benefit of health, and exhort him to take care 
to recover it, but never inquire into the nature of his 
disease, or prescribe proper methods and medicines 
for the cure, he would hardly acquiesce in me for his 
physician, or resign to me the care of his bodily health. 
Nor is it a more likely way to the soul's health, to 
rest in mere general exhortations to holiness, without 
distinctly handling the several branches thereof, and 
the opposite sins. 

•i. Particularly applying to the several cases, tem- 
pers, and experiences of the hearers. Besides many 
thoughts suited in general to all cases, there might 
properly arise in the application of most subjects, 
thoughts distinctly proper to the converted and un- 
converted ; to notional hypocrites and mere moralists, 
to mourners, to backsliders, and lazy Christians ; and 
at several times to a much greater variety of charac- 
ters and persons. Now such particular addresses, 
when the case is dra^^Ti in a lively manner, and in the 


natural language of the sort of men intended, and ju- 
diciously and artfully treated, are the closest, most 
weighty, and most useful parts of the application. 

That this is the true way of addressing an auditory^ 
viz. to divide th«m into several classes, and distinctly 
speak to each, Avill be plain, if we look through the 
apostolic writings, and, I might add, the prophetic al- 
so, with this view ; and we shall find that both pro- 
phets and apostles frequently take care to distinguish 
the holy and the vile, the converted and the uncon- 
verted. As for instance, as to their knowledge and 
apprehension of things : — " The natural man receiv- 
eth not the things of the Spirit, they are foolishness 
to him, he cannot know them : but the spiritual judge 
all things." And also as to their obedience to the 
law, " The carnal mind is enmity against God, is not 
subject to God's law, nor can be subject, or please 

They particularly reprove scoffers, and confute gain- 
sayers ; " Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and pe- 
rish." For instance, those who denied or caviUed at 
the resurrection : " Thou fool, that which thou sow- 
est is not quickened except it die," &c. And also 
those that were for a faith without works : " Wilt 
thou know, vain man, that faith without works is 
dead }" &c. 

They address carnal stupid sinners in an awful way ; 
denounce " woe to them that are at ease ;" as Paul, 
when he made Felix tremble , or as Stephen, " Ye 
stiffnecked and uncircumcised," &c. 

They lead convinced sinners to Christ ; to those 
that are inquiring they say, " If ye will inquire, in- 
quire ye, return, come ; turn to the strong hold ; if 
the Lord hath torn, he will heal." " Repent and be 
baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the re- 


mission of sins/' &c. " Believe on the Lord Jesus 
Christ/' &c. 

They reason with the moralist, and those that 
" trust in themselves that they are righteous /' show- 
ing their righteousness is " as filthy rags." " The 
law saith, there is none righteous, but all the world 
are guilty before God ; therefore by the deeds of the 
law shall no flesh be justified ; but the righteousness 
of God is manifested, that God might freely justify 
them that believe on Jesus, therefore man is justified 
by faith ; boasting is excluded by the law of faith. 
And ye received the Spirit by the hearing of faith ; 
the gospel was before preached to Abraham ; they 
that are of the works of the law are under the curse. 
But the law could not disannul the covenant confirm- 
ed before, but was a schoolmaster to bring us to 
Christ, that we might be justified by faith ; they then 
that are Christ's are Abraham's seed, and heirs accord- 
ing to the promise/' 

They sharply rebuke and expose pretending hypo- 
crites, shonang them their abominations, detecting and 
confounding the wretches that " delight to know God's 
way, and hear his word, but will not do it." As Pe- 
ter : " Thou hast no part in this matter ; thy heart is 
not right in the sight of God j" and James ; " Show 
me thy faith without thy works ; — the devils believe 
and tremble." 

They rouse and encourage Christians who have but 
little strength, and persuade them to make farther ad- 
vances in religion, — that he that is " feeble may be 
as David." " Ye are dull of hearing, for the time 
ye ought to have been teachers ; strong meat be- 
longeth to them that are of full age ; therefore 
leaving the first principles, let us go on to perfec- 


They deal with the several sorts of distempered 
Christians tenderly, and yet plainly and faithfully ; 
as particularly, Avith those who idolize one minister, 
and despise others ; telling them it is not by might 
and power of man, but by God's Spirit, that the gos- 
pel is successful. " While one saith, I am of Paul, 
and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal ? Who 
is Paul or Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believ- 
ed ? It is God that giveth the increase ; Paul, Apol- 
los, Cephas, all are yours." — Thev endeavour to soften 
those of too rigid a temper, exhorting them not to 
.speak to the grief of those whom God hath smitten : 
as " Ye ought rather to forgive and comfort him ; I 
beseech you confirm your love towards him," " If a 
man be overtaken in a fault, restore him in the spirit 
of meekness, considering lest thou also be tempted." 
They talk roundly to those who are apt to make God 
the author of sin : who say " We unavoidably pine 
away in our iniquities, and how can we then be 
saved ?" As in James, " Let no man say I am 
tempted of God ; for God tempteth not any man." 

Declining Christians are quickened, awakened, and 
put in mind of the love of their espousals ; " Be 
watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that 
are ready to die." 

They awfully warn those who are in danger of sin- 
ning and falling back to perdition ; telling them, "the 
righteousness they have done will be remembered no 
more :" and " God's soul will have no pleasure in 
them." " It is impossible for those who were once en- 
lightened, &c. if they fall away, to renew them again 
to repentance, seeing they crucify the Son of God 

They encourage the persecuted and afflicted ; tell- 
ing them, " UTien they pass through the fire and wa- 
ter, God will be with them," and that " when thev 


are tried they shall come forth as gold, and be the 
Lord's in that day when he maketh up his jewels." 
" The sufferings of this present time are not worthy 
to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed." 
" We are compassed with a cloud of Avitnesses ; Jesus 
endured the cross, and is set down at the right hand 
of the Majesty on high ; whom the Lord loveth he 
chasteneth, and that for our profit ; chastening yields 
the peaceable fruits of righteousness." And more par- 
ticularly, those that lament relations dead in Christ, 
are told they shall go to be happy with them, though 
the dead shall not return ; " Sorrow not as do others 
that have no hope ; for those that sleep in Jesus will 
God bring with him." 

There are also particular lessons for strong Chris- 
tians, viz. to be tender to the weak, and to be public- 
spirited, that as " Ephraim should not envy Judah, 
so neither should Judah vex Ephraim." " Him 
that is weak in the faith receive ; — let not him 
that eateth despise him that eateth not ; — let none put 
a stumbling-block in his brother's way ; — let not your 
good be ill spoken of ; — hast thou faith .'' have it to 
thyself; — bear the infirmities of the weak ;— let every 
one please his neighbour for his good to edifica- 
tion. Knowledge puffeth up ; but charity edifieth ; 
—let not your liberty be a stumbling-block to the weak, 
— nor through thy knowledge let thy weak brother 
perish, for whom Christ died; — if meat make my bro- 
ther to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world stands." 
Again, they are told that " a mark is set upon the men" 
that deplore the sins of the times ; and " a book of re- 
membrance is written" for those who distinguish them- 
selves by their piety in times of abounding wickedness. 
" Thou hast a few names who have not defiled their 
garments ; and they shall walk with me in white, fur 
they are worthy." 


You find also a suitable portion for those who are 
groaning under corruption ; who complain they were 
" shapen in iniquity/' and their actual " errors are 
past understanding ;" although " I am carnal, sold un- 
der sin, and what I would I do not, aud what T hate 
that do I ; in my flesh dwells no good, and to perform 
good I find not, yea, with the flesh I serve the law of 
sin, (Oh wretched man that I am !") yet, " I consent 
to God's law, and delight in it after the inner man ; it 
is not then I that do this evil, but sin that dwelleth 
in me. I thank God through Jesus Christ : Avith my 
mind I serve God's law, and God will deliver me 
from the body of this death." And they are told how 
God hath " laid on Christ our iniquities ;" and he will 
be " the Lord our righteousness and strength." " If 
any man sin, we have an advocate \vith the Father, 
Jesus Christ the righteous." 

The Humble and Penitent, who are of a contrite 
spirit, and tremble at God's word, are comforted ; 
" Ye were sorry indeed, it was but for a season ; — it 
was after a godly manner ; — I rejoice in it ; — such sor- 
row worketh repentance not to be repented of; — it 
wrought in you carefulness, fear, desire, zeal, and re- 
venge ; you have approved yourselves clear in this 

They who want Direction, and cry out, " Oh that 
my ways were directed to keep thy statutes !" are sent 
to God for counsel. " If any man lack -wisdom, let 
him ask it of God, and it shall be given him." 

The Deceiver and the Deceived (viz. those of evil 
minds, who seduce others, and those that are misled 
in the simplicity of their hearts) are to be distinctly 
and differently treated ; " On some have compassion, 
and others save with fear." 

As for those of the house of Israel in desertion, Avho 
mourn after the Lord, who walk in darkness and see 


no light, and say, " the Lord hath forsaken me," there 
were, I believe, few, if any, in those days of the plen- 
tiful effusion of the Spirit, when the gospel church was 
in its infancy, and " a nation was to be born in a day ;" 
but few, I say, who had doubts about their sincerity ; 
they had persecutions, distress, and exercises of an- 
other sort ; and those were sufficient. I am apt to 
think such cases were also rare in the beginning of the 
reformation from popery ; which seeuis to be the occa- 
sion of some of the tirst reformers confounding faith 
with assurance. However, there are laid up in the 
New Testament, some proper hints of counsel for such 
as should in after-times labour under the hidings of 
God's face ; as " To examine themselves ; — for this to 
beseech the Lord ; — to clear themselves of sin ; — not 
to faint in well-doing ;" and the like. 

Brethren, from your acquaintance with the Scrip- 
tures, yon will easily perceive that I could run this 
specimen much farther through the sacred writings ; 
and if you peruse the writings of the most powerful 
and successful preachers, particularly the Puritan Di- 
vines, you vdW. see that they herein imitated the great 
leaders of the Christian profession ; and were large in 
their particular application to several sorts of persons ; 
suiting their discourses to all the variety of the hearts 
of men, and sorts and frames of Christians, according 
to the precepts of Christianity, and I may add of true 
oratory. In this way they found their own hearts 
warmed, and thus they reached the hearts of their 
hearers ; whilst many were imagining the minister had 
been told of their case, and made the sermon for them ; 
and so was verified that passage, — " The word of God 
is quick and powerful, a discerner of the thoughts 
and intents of the heart." 

Now, what success can we reasonably expect, if we 
do not take into close consideration the cases of our 


several spiritual patients? If a man, professing physic, 
should administer or prescribe one constant medicine 
for fevers, and another for consumptions, and so for 
other distempers, without considering the age, consti- 
tution, strength, and way of living of his patient, 
and not vary his method and medicines as those vary, 
we should hardly call this the regular practice of phy- 
sic. Nor can I think this general and undistinguishing 
way will be more safe, or likely to answer its end, in di- 
vinity than in medicine. 

II. Now I rest persuaded, brethren, the thing is so 
evident you cannot but allow it is best to suit ourselves 
to all the variety of tempers and experience of the 
hearers, if it can be done ; and I hope some thoughts 
may be successfully offered upon the way how this skill 
may be attained. 

1 . Above all, then, carefully study your own hearts, 
and preach over the ruder sketches of your sermons to 
yourselves first ;* by which means the correspondent 
workings of your own hearts and affections may fur- 
nish you with proper thoughts wherewith to apply close- 
ly to all, whose temper, experience, and case are like 
your own : for what is supplied to your imperfect notes, 
out of the appHcatory meditations of your own minds 
on the subject, ^vill very probably, according to the 
usual way of the spirit, happily and powerfully reach 
those of the same make in like circumstances. 

2. But, alas ! one man's experience falls far short of 
all the variety of men's hearts, and of the Spirit's 

* The method recommended here by the Tutor, was, we are 
informed by Mr. Orton, exemplified by the pupil, Dr. Dod- 
dridge, with great advantage. I would here insert the passage, 
but that I take it for granted the Christian Preacher will have 
in his library the valuable publication referred to, — Orton'' s Me- 
moirs of the Life, Character, and Writings of Dr. Doddridge, 2d 
edit. p. 26, &c. 


work ; nay, those whose heads are turned for close and 
regular thought, and whose time has been spent in 
study and letters^ as they go on more rationally and 
evenly in religion, have less variety of experience than 
many of a different mould and way of thinking. Here 
it will be needful then to look out of ourselves, and 
take a large view, in order to be acquainted with cases 
and tempers different from our own ; and with such 
methods of the Spirit's work, as we ourselves have ne- 
ver experienced, but many others have. Now the 
best and original way of getting this acquaintance with 
men, and with God's workings in them (and I may 
add, of Satan's workings also) is by conversing freely 
with the serious people of our flock. 

I know your thoughts will prevent me with an ob- 
jection ; you will say. This is almost impracticable, 
especially amongst persons of politeness and figure ; 
these, alas ! too rarely will use any such freedom with 
us, in laying open their hearts, and communicating 
their experience to us, as may give us the needful in- 
formation. If we ever do arrive at any acquaintance 
with the experience of Christians, little thanks are due 
to such as these ; they expect we should preach suit- 
ably to them, and that with as much reason as Ne- 
buchadnezzar demanded of the wise men to interpret 
a dream they knew not. The middle and lower sort 
of people, indeed, are more unreserved to grave minis- 
ters of age and standing, but will hardly use the same 
freedom with young men. 

To help you over this difficulty, I would observe, 
that, as for the polite, and men of some thought and 
reading, your own experience, with the allowances 
and corrections a moderate skill in human nature will 
enable you to make, may lead you into happy conjec- 
tures at their way of thinking. Besides, in the time 
of their visitation, under some sore affliction, you will 


find them more communicative ; and an hour's free 
discourse with such as can give a rational and intelli- 
gible account of themselves, in a season when they are 
disposed to do it, is as valuable and useful as it is rare 
and diflicult to enter into. 

3. Again, have an eye upon the serious youth, 
whom nature and providence has designed to place in 
a superior class ; and especially at a time when the 
impressions of religion are new to them. You will 
tind them more open than elder persoiLs, if you court 
their intimacv, and relieve their bashfulness ; and if 
you can see into the heart of a youth, then, with the 
proper allowances for alterations that age and busi- 
ness will make, you may pretty well guess at their 
turn of mind in more advanced years. 

4. With the generality of serious and more advanced 
Christians, there needs not so much nicety to get into 
such a spiritual intimacy with them as we desire ; the 
laying aside of nicety and ceremony, and getting into 
such a grave good-natured way as our character re- 
quires, is more than half-way to our purpose. WJiere 
this is insufficient to encourage the people to freedom^ 
lead them into it by communicating first, either what 
yourselves have experienced, under the name of a 
third person (if modesty or prudence require it) or else 
what you have learned from others, without betravinj; 
the confidence they have put in you. By these me- 
thods we shall seldom fail of drawing serious people 
on to such a freedom as will be of use to them and 
ourselves. If we heartily go about it, we are pretty 
sure to succeed. 

5. I may farther hint at a compendious way for 
gaining much knowledge of men's hearts in a little 
time, viz. If you have any tolerable skill in the dif- 
ferent tempers and complexions of mankind, distri- 
bute, in your thoughts, your people into classes, ac- 


cording to their natural genius and temper, and select 
one of each class, with whom to be more particularly 
acquainted; for amongst those whom nature has form- 
ed alike, you will find, upon further inquiry, a strik- 
ing uniformity in the Spirit's work and way of pro- 
ceeding with them. 

6. 1 might recommend a way of knowing these things 
at second hand, viz. from the most popular and expe- 
rimental authors ; but this way is far inferior to the 
other : we shall but faintly paint any phenomenon of 
the heart, by copying another picture ; it is infinitely 
preferable to do it from the life. Yet would I ear- 
nestly recommend the perusal of such authors as deal 
much in an experimental strain, and have been very 
successful in it ; but with a difi^erent design, viz. That 
we may learn from them, how to describe, in a discreet 
and lively manner, such cases as we ourselves have 
observed ; and how to address properly to those cases, 
with the like thoughts and expressions, as have 
in the course of their preaching happily answered the 

After all, rightly to divide the word of truth, with 
true wisdom, is a matter of no small difficulty ; but if 
we carefully and diligently go about it, -vvith a zeal 
for our Master's interest, and sensible of our own in- 
sufficiency, 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 rejoicing in 
the day of the Lord Jesus. To whom, with the Fa- 
ther and Holy Spirit, that one God whom we adore, 
be paid the highest honours and praises to eternal 
ages. Amen. 




As you, my Brother, are now invested with the pas- 
toral office in this church, and have requested me to 
address you on the solemn occasion, I shall endea- 
vour to do it with all the freedom of a friend, and Avith 
all the affection of a brother ; not as your superior, 
but as your equal. 

The language of divine law on which I shall ground 
my address, is that memorable injunction of Paul, in 
his charge to Timothv : 

1 TIMOTHY iv. 16. 

Take heed to thyself. 

Very comprehensive, salutary, and important, is this 
apostolic precept. For it comes recommended to our seri- 
ous and submissive regard, as the language of a saint, who 
Avas preeminent among the most illustrious of our Lord's 
immediate followers ; as the advice of a most accom- 
plished and useful Minister of the Gospel, when hoary 
with age, rich with experience, and almost worn down 
by arduous labours; and as the command. of an apos- 
tle, who wrote by the order and inspiration of Jesus 


Christ. This divine precept I shall now take the li- 
berty of urging upon you in various points of light. 

TaJie heed to yourself, then, with regard to the re- 
alitij of true godliness, and the state of religion in your 
own soul. That you are a partaker of regenerating 
grace, I have a pleasing persuasion : that you have 
some experience of those pleasures and pains, of those 
joys and sorrows, which are peculiar to real Christians, 
I make no doubt. But this does not supersede the ne- 
cessity of the admonition. Make it your daily prayer, 
and your diligent endeavour, therefore, to feel the im- 
portance of those truths you have long believed^-of 
those doctrines you now preach. Often inquire at the 
mouth of conscience, what you experience of their com- 
forting, reproving, and sanctifying power ? When you 
liave been preaching the promises of grace, or urging 
the precepts of duty, earnestly pray that their practi- 
cal influence may appear in your own dispositions and 
conduct. Endeavour to realise the force, and to com- 
ply with the requisition of that precept, Grow in grace, 
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 

In proportion as the principles of true piety are 
vigorous in your heart, may you be expected to fill up 
the wide circumference of pastoral duty. For there 
is no reason to fear that a minister, if tolerably furnish- 
ed with iiifts, will be remarkably deficient, or ne<;li- 
gent, in any known branch of pastoral obligation, while 
his heart is alive to the enjoyments and to the duties 
of the christian character. It is from the pastor's de- 
fects considered under the notion of a disciple, that 
his principal difficulties andchief dangers arise. For, 
my Brother, it is only on the permanent basis of ge- 
nuine christian piety, that your pastoral character can 
be established, or appear with respectability, in the 
lin^ht of the New Testament.— I called genuine chris- 


tian piety permanent. Because every thing essential 
to it will abide, and flourish in immortal vigour : 
whereas the pastoral office, though honourable and im- 
portant when connected with true godliness, must soon 
be laid aside, as inconsistent with the heavenly state. 

Take heed to yourself, lest you mistake an increase 
of gifts for a growth in grace. Your knowledge of the 
Scriptures, your abilities for explaining them, and your 
ministerial talents in general, may considerably in- 
crease, by reading, study, and public exercise ; while 
real godliness is far from flourishing in your heart. 
For, among all the apostolic churches, none seem to 
have abounded more in the enjoyment of spiritual gifts, 
than the church at Corinth : yet few of them appear 
to have been in a more unhappy state, or more deserv- 
ing of reproof. I have long been of opinion, my Bro- 
ther, that no professors of the genuine gospel have 
more need to be on their guard against self-deception, 
respecting the true state of religion in their own sf»uls, 
than those who statedly dispense the gracious truth. 
For as it is their calling and their business, frequently 
to read their Bibles, and to think much on spiritual 
things— to pray, and preach, and often to converse 
about the affairs of piety ; they will, if not habitually 
cautious, do it all ex officio, or merely as the work of 
their ministerial calling, without feeling their own in- 
terest in it. 

To grow in love to God, and in zeal for his honour, 
in conformity to the will of Christ, and in heavenly- 
mindedness, should be your first concern. Look well, 
therefore, to your internal character. For it is awful 
to think of appearing as a minister, without being re- 
ally a Christian ; or of any one officially Avatching over 
the souls of others, who is habitually unmindful of his 
own immortal interests. 

In the course of your public ministry, and in a great 


variety of instances^ you may perhaps find it impracti- 
cable to enter into the true spirit of a precept, or of a 
prohibition, so as to reach its full meaning and its var- 
ious application, without feeling yourself convicted hy 
it. In cases of this kind, you must fall under the con- 
viction secretly before God, and pray over it with un- 
dissembled contrition : agreeably to that saying. Thou 
that teachest another, ieachest thou not thyself? When 
Ministers hardly ever make this practical application 
of their public admonitions and cautions, as if their 
own spiritual inserests were not concerned in them, 
their consciences will grow callous, and their situation, 
Avith regard to eternity, extremely dangerous. For, 
this being habitually neglected, how can they be con- 
sidered as walking humbly nith God ? which, never- 
theless, is of such essential importance in the christian 
life, that, without it, all pretences to true piety are 
vain. Hence an author, of no small repute in the 
churches of Christ, says, " He that would go doAvn to 
the pit in peace, let him keep up duties in his family 
and closet ; let him hear as often as he can have oppor- 
tunity ; let him speak often of good things ; let him 
leave the company of profane and ignorant men, until 
he have obtained a great repute for religion ; let him 
preach, and labour to make others better than he him- 
self; and, in the mean time, neglect to humble his 
heart to walk with God in a manifest holiness and use- 
fulness, and he will not fail of his end." 

Take heed that your pastoral office prove not a snare 
to your soul, by lifting you up with pride and self-iyn- 
portance. Forget not, that the whole of your work is 
ministerial ; not legislative — That you are not a lord 
in the church, but a servant — That the New Testa- 
ment attaches no honour to the character of a pastor, 
except in connexion with his humility and benevolence, 
his diligence and zeal, in promoting the cause of the 


great Shepherd — And, that there is no character up- 
on earth which so ill accords with a proud, imperious, 
haughty spirit, as that of a christian pastor. 

If not intoxicated with a conceit of your own wis- 
dom and importance, you will not, when presiding in 
the management of church affairs, labour to have every 
motion determined according to your own inclination. 
For this would savour of ecclesiastical despotism ; 
be inconsistent with the nature and spirit of congre- 
gational order ; and implicitly grasping at a much 
larger degree of power, and of responsibility, than pro- 
perly falls to your share. 

Nor, if this caution be duly regarded, will you con- 
sider it as an insult on either your ministerial wisdom, 
or your pastoral dignity, if now and then, one or an- 
other of your people, and- even the most illiterate 
among them, should remind you of some real or sup- 
posed inadvertency or mistake, either in doctrine or 
in conduct ; no, not though it be in blunt language, 
and quite unfounded. For a readiness to take offence 
on such occasions^ would be a bar to your o^^ti im- 
provement ; and, perhaps, in articles, relatively con- 
sidered, of great importance. Nay, in such cases, to 
be soon irritated, though not inconsistent with shin- 
ing abilities, nor yet with great success in the minis- 
try, would, nevertheless, be an evidence of pride, and 
of your being, as a Christian, in a poor, feeble state. 
For, to be easily shoved out of the way, pushed down, 
as it were, ^vith a straw, or caused to fall into sin, by 
so feeble an impulse, must be considered as an un- 
doubted mark of great spiritual weakness. Because 
the health of the soul, and the vigour of the spiritual 
life are to be estimated, not by our knowledge and 
gifts, but by the exercise of Christian graces, in cheer- 
fully performing arduous labours ; in surmounting 


successive difficulties ; and in patiently bearing hard- 
ships, for the sake of Jesus. Yes, and in proportion 
to the degree of your spiritual health, %vill be your 
meekness and forbearance under those improprieties 
of treatment, by one and another of your people, which 
you will undoubtedly meet. — On examining ourselves 
by this rule, it will plainly appear, I presume, that 
though many of us in this assembly might, with re- 
gard to the length of our christian profession, be just- 
ly denominatedya//!er,y / yet, -with reference to spiri- 
tual stature and strength, Ave deserve no better char- 
acter than that of rickety children. — Think not, how- 
ever, that I advise you always to tolerate ignorant, 
conceited, and petulant professors, in making excep- 
tions to your ministry, or in calling you to account for 
your conduct, without reason, and without good man« 
ners : but endeavour, with impartiality and prudence, 
to distinguish between cases of this kind. Then the 
simple and sincere, though improperly officious, will 
not be treated with resentful harshness ; but with 
some resemblance of what is beautifully denominated, 
the meekness and gentleness of Jesus Christ. But alas! 
how poorly we imitate our Perfect Pattern ! 

It is of such high importance, that a pastor possess 
the government of his own temper, and a tolerable 
share of prudence, when presiding in the management 
of church affairs, that, without these, his general in- 
tegrity, though undisputed, and his benevolence, 
though usually considered as exemplary, will be in dan- 
ger of impeachment among his people. Nay, notwith- 
standing the fickleness and caprice of many private pro- 
fessors with regard to their ministers, it has long ap- 
peared probable to me, that a majority of those uneasi- 
nesses, animosities, and separations, which, to the dis- 
grace of religion, take place between pastors and their 


several churches, may be traced up, either to the un- 
christian tempers, to the gross imprudence, or to tlie la- 
ziness and neglects of the pastors themselves. 

Take heed to yourself, respecting your temper and 
conduct in general. Every one that calls himself a 
Christian should fairly represent, in his own disposi- 
tions and behaviour, the moral character of Jesus. 
The conversation of every professor should not only be 
free from gross defects ; it should be worthy of gener- 
al imitation. But though each member of this church 
be under the same obligations to holiness, as yourself ; 
yet your spiritual gifts, your ministerial office, and your 
pastoral relation, suggest a variety of motives to holi- 
ness, which your people do not possess. IMake it your 
diligent concern, therefore, to set your hearers a bright 
example, formed on that perfect model, the temper and 
conduct of Jesus Christ. 

Yes, my Brother, it is required that Pastors, in their 
own persons and conduct, especially in the discharge 
of ministerial duties, give a just representation of the 
doctrine they preach, and of him in whose name they 
dispense it. But, in order to do this, though in an im- 
perfect manner, what integrity, benevolence, humility, 
meekness, and zeal for the glory of God ; what self-de- 
nial and readiness for bearing the cross ; what mortifi- 
cation of corrupt affections and inordinate desires of 
earthly things ; what condescension and patience ; 
what contempt of the world, and heavenly-mindedness, 
are necessary ; not only the Scripture declares, but 
the nature of the thing shows. 

Persons who are not acquainted with the true nature 
and genius of evangelical doctrine, will be always dis- 
posed to charge the gospel itself vrith having a strong 
tendency to encourage those immoralities which appear 
in the character of its professors, and especially of those 
that preach it. Hence an apostle says. Giving no 


offence in any thing, tliat the ministry he not blamed. For 
what can persons, otherwise uninformed, with more 
appearance of reason conclude, than that the example 
of those who propagate the doctrine of salvation by- 
grace, through Jesus Christ, is an authentic specimen 
of its genuine tendency in the hearts and lives of all 
those who believe and avow it ? In the ministry of 
religious teachers, there is an implicit language, which 
is commonly considered by their hearers as importing, 
that what they do and are, if disgraceful, is the effect, 
not of their natural depravity, or of peculiar tempta- 
tions, but of their doctrinal principles. Hence the 
ministers of Christ are commanded, in all things to show 
themselves patterns of good works. To be examples to 
believers i7i word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, 
in faith, in purity. Yes, my Brother, the honour and 
preferment, to which our divine Lord calls his minis- 
ters, are, to give a just representation, in their own 
conduct, of the graces of his Person, and the holiness 
of his doctrine, to others. For Avhatever apparently 
splendid advantages a man may have, with reference 
to the ministry, if they do not enable him the more 
effectually, in his christian course and ministerial 
work, to express the humility, the meekness, the self- 
denial, and the zeal of the Chief Shepherd, together 
•with the holiness of the doctrine he teaches, they will 
redound but little to his account another day. 

I will now adopt the words of our Lord, and say, 
Take heed and beware ofcovetousness. That evil turn 
of heart which is here proscribed \vith such energy and 
such authority, is, through the false names it assumes, 
and the pleas which it makes, to be considered as ex- 
tremely subtle and equally pernicious. It evidently 
stands opposed, in Scripture, to contentment with the 
allotments of Providence, to spiritual mindedness, 
and to real piety. It is an extremely evil disposition 


of the heart ; of which, notwithstanding, very little 
account is made by the generality of those who profess 
the gospel of divine grace ; except when it procures the 
stigma of penuriousness, or the charge of injustice. 
But, whatever excuses or palliatives may be invented, 
either to keep the consciences of covetous professors 
quiet, or to support a good opinion of others respecting 
the reality of their piety, the New Testament declares 
them unworthy of communion in a church of Christ, 
and classes them with persons of profligate hearts and 
jives. The existence and habitual operation of this 
evil, therefore, must be considered as forming a char- 
acter for hell. Nor need I inform you, that, for a long 
course of ages, myriads of those who assumed the ap- 
pellation of Christian Ministers, have been so noto- 
rious for an avaricious disposition, for the love of secu- 
lar honours, and for the lust of clerical domination, as 
greatly to promote infidelity, and expose Christianity 
to contempt. 

Take heed, then, and beware of covetousness. For 
neither the comfort, the honour, nor the usefulness of 
a man's life consisteth in the abundance of the things 
which he jxtssesseth. Let your conversation be with- 
out covetotisness ; and, possessing the necessaries of 
life, without being indebted to any man, be content with 
such things as you have : for He who governs the world 
hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. 
For as a man's happiness does not consist in things, 
but in THOUGHTS, that abundance after \\diich the 
carnal heart so eagerly pants, is adapted to gratify — 
not the demands of reason, much less the dictates of 
conscience, nor yet the legitimate and sober claims 
of appetite ; but — a fond imagination ; pride of show ; 
the love of secular influence ; the lust of dominion ; 
and a secret desire of lying as little as possible at the 
mercy of Providence. I have somewhere seen it re- 


ported of Socrates, the prince of pagan philosophers, 
that on beholding a great variety of costly and ele- 
gant articles exposed to sale, he exclaimed. How ma- 
ny things are here that I do not want ! So, my Bro- 
ther, when entering the abode of wealth we behold 
the stately mansion, the numerous accommodations, 
the elegant furniture, the luxurious table, the servants 
in waiting, and the fashionable finery of each indivi- 
dual's apparel ; with what propriety and emphasis 
ought each of us to exclaim. How many things are 
here which I do not want ; which would do me no 
good ; and after which I have no desire ! For we 
should not forget who it was that said. How hardly 
shall a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven ! 

I said. Possessing the necessaries of life, without 
being indebted to any man. For this purpose, reso- 
lutely determine to live, if practicable, A^-ithin the 
bounds of your income ; not only so as to keep out of 
debt, but, if possible, to spare something for the poor. 
Supposing, my Brother, that, either through the af- 
flicting hand of God, or the criminal neglect of your 
people, unavoidable straits approach ; be not afraid 
of looking poverty in the face, as if it were, in itself 
considered, a disgraceful evil. For poverty is a very 
innocent thing, and absolutely free from deserved in- 
famy ; except when it is found in scandalous compa- 
ny. But if its forerunner and its associates be pride, 
laziness, a fondness for good living, a want of econo- 
my, and the contracting of debts without a probabi- 
litv of paving them ; it deserves detestation, and me- 
rits contempt — is inconsistent with virtuous conduct, 
and must gradually sink the character of any minister. 
If, on the contrary, it be found closely connected with 
humility and patience, with diligence, frugality, and 
integrity — such integrity as impels, for instance, to 
wear a thread-bare coat, rather than run into debt for 




a new one ; to live on the meanest wholesome food, 
or to go with half a meal, rather than contract a debt 
which is not likely to be discharged ; such penury 
will never disgrace, either the minister himself, or 
the cause of Jesus Christ. Not the minister himself. 
Because, in the purest state of Christianity, the most 
eminent servants of our divine Lord were sometimes 
distressed with want of both decent apparel and ne- 
cessary food. Not the cause of Jesus Christ. For 
his kingdom not being of this world, but of a spiritual 
nature, it cannot be either adorned by riches, or dis- 
graced by poverty. Besides, the ministers of evange- 
lical truth must be poor indeed, if in humbler circum- 
stances than Jesus himself was, when proclaiming the 
glad tidings of his kingdom. It must, however, be 
acknowledged, that, so far as a faithful pastor is re- 
duced to the embarrassments of poverty, merely by 
his people withholding those voluntary supplies which 
thev were well able to have afforded, and to which, 
in common justice, equally as by the appointment of 
Christ, he had an undoubted right, the best of causes 
is disgraced, and the offenders are exposed to severe 

Were a pastor driven to the painful alternative, of 
either entering into some lawful secular employment, 
or of continuing his pastoral relation and stated mini- 
strations, in a course of embarrassment by debts which 
he could not pay ; the former would become his duty. 
Not only because we ought never to do evil that good 
may come ; but also because it is much more evident, 
that he ought to owe no man any thing, than it is, 
that the Lord ever called him to the ministry, or qua- 
lified him for it. But, if necessity do not impel, the 
following passage seems to have the force of a nega- 
tive precept, respecting the Christian pastor : No man 
that tvarreth entangleth himsef with the affairs of this 



life ; that he may please him who hath chosen him to 
he a soldier. A pastor should be very cautious, not 
only of entering, unnecessarily, into stated secular em- 
ployment ; but also of accepting any trust, though 
apparently advantageous, in which the preservation 
and the management of property are confided to his 
integrity and prudence. For so critically observed is 
the conduct of a man that has the management of an- 
other's pecuniary affairs ; and so delicate is a minister's 
character, that he is in peculiar danger of exposing 
himself to censure, and of injuring his public useful- 
ness, by such engagements. 

Take heed, I will venture to add, take heed to your 
second- self, in the person of your wife. As it is of 
high importance for a young minister in single life, 
to behave with the utmost delicacy in all his inter- 
course with female friends, treating with peculiar cau- 
tion those of them that are unmarried ; and as it be- 
hoves him to pay the most conscientious regard to re- 
ligious character, when choosing a companion for life ; 
so, when in the conjugal state, his tenderest attention 
is due to the domestic happiness and the spiritual in- 
terests of his wife. This obligation, my brother, ma- 
nifestly devolves upon you ; as being already a hus- 
band and a father. Next after your own soul, there- 
fore, your wife and your children evidently claim the 
most affectionate, conscientious, and pious care. 

Nor can it be reasonably doubted, that many a de- 
vout and amiable ^\•oman has given her hand to a mi- 
nister of the gospel, in preference to a private Christ- 
ian, though otherwise equally deserving, in sanguine 
expectation, by so doing, of enjoying peculiar spiri- 
tual advantages in the matrimonial relation. But, 
alas ! there is much reason to apprehend, that not a 
few individuals among those worthy females, have 
often reflected to the following effect : 


" I have, indeed, married a preacher of the gospel-; 
but I do not find in him the affectionate domestic in- 
structor, for either myself, or my children. My hus- 
band is much esteemed among his religious acquaint- 
ance, as a respectable Christian character ; but his ex- 
ample at home is far from being delighttul. Affable, 
condescending, and pleasing, in tl<^ parlours of reli- 
gious friends ; but, frequently, either trifling and un- 
savoury, or imperious and unsocial, in his own family. 
Preferring the opportunity of being entertained at a 
plentiful table, and of conversing with the wealthy, 
the polite, and the sprightly, to the homely fare of 
his own family, and the company of his wife and chil- 
dren, he often spends his afternoons and evenings 
from home, until so late an hour, that domestic wor- 
ship is either omitted, or performed in a hasty and 
slovenly manner, with scarcely the appearance of de- 
votion. — Little caring for my soul, or for the manage- 
ment of our growing offspring, he seems concerned 
for hardly any thing more, than keeping fair with his 
people : relative to which, I have often calmly remon- 
strated, and submissively entreated, but all in vain. 
Surrounded Avith little ones, and attended with straits ; 
destitute of the sympathies, the instructions, the con- 
solations, which might have been expected from 
the affectionate heart of a pious husband, connected 
•with the gifts of an evangelical minister, I pour out 
my soul to God, and mourn in secret." Such, there 
is ground of apprehension, has been the sorrowful so- 
liloquy of many a minister's pious, dutiful, and pru- 
dent wife. Take heed, then, to the best interests of 
your second-self. 

To this end, except on extraordinary occasions, when 
impelled by duty, spend yotir evenings at home. Yes, 
and at an early hour in the evening, let your family 
and your study receive their demands on your pre- 


sencCj in the lively performance of social and secret de- 
votion. Thus there ^^'i\\ be reason to hope, that do- 
mestic order and sociability, the improvement of your 
own understanding, and communion with God, wiU 
all be promoted. 

Guard, habitually, against every appearance of im- 
prudent intercourse, and every indelicate familiarity 
with the most virtuous and pious of your female friends. 
Be particularly cautious of paying frequent visits to 
any single woman who lives alone : other\vise, your 
conduct may soon fall under the suspicion of your 
neighbours, and also of your own wife, so as to become 
her daily tormentor ; even while she believes you in- 
nocent of the great transgression. — In cases of this 
kind, it is not sufficient that conscience bears witness 
to the purity of your conduct, and the piety of your 
motives : for, in matters of such a delicate nature, there 
should not be the least shadow of a ground, either to 
support suspicion, or to excite surmise. There is need 
for us, my Brother, to watch and pray against the 
greatest sins — even against those to which, perhaps, 
we never perceived ourselves to be much inclined. For, 
alas ! we have sometimes heard of apparently pious 
and evangelical ministers falling into such enormou.s 
crimes, as not only disgrace religion, but degrade hu- 

Of late, I have been much affected with the follow- 
ing reflection : " Though, if not greatly deceived, I 
have had some degree of experimental acquaintance 
with Jesus Christ for almost forty years ; though I 
have borne the ministerial character for upwards of 
twenty-five years ; though I have been, perhaps, of 
some little use in the church of God ; and though 
I have had a greater share of esteem among reli- 
gious people than I had any reason to expect ; yet 
after all, it is possible for me, in one single hour 



of temptation, to blast my character — to ruin my pub- 
lic usefulness — and to render my warmest Christian 
friends ashamed of owning me. Hold thou me up, 
O Lord, and I shall be safe !" Ah ! Brother, there is 
little reason for any of us to be high-minded ; and, 
therefore, Happy is the man thai feartth always. 

Take heed to yourself, with regard to the diligent 
improvement of' your talents and opportunities, in the 
whole course of your ministry. It behoves you, as a 
public teacher, to spend much of your time in reading 
and in study. Of this you are convinced, and will 
act, I trust, agreeably to that conviction. For suit- 
able means must be used, not only in your public min- 
istry, in season and out of' season, for the good of 
others ; but with a view to the improvement of your 
own mind, in an acquaintance with divine truth. Yes, 
my Christian friend, this is necessary, that your abi- 
lity to feed the flock ivith knowledge and understand- 
ing' may be increased ; that your own heart may be 
more deeply tinctured with evangelical principles ; 
that you may be the better prepared for every branch 
of pastoral duty, and for every trying event that may 
occur. For who can reasonably deny the necessity of 
diligence in the use of means, adapted, respectively, 
to promote your own ministerial improvement, and to 
obtain the great objects of your pastoral oflice ; any 
more than to a rational prospect of success, in the ma- 
nagement of secular business ? Be, then, as careful 
to improve opportunities of both obtaining and im- 
parting spiritual benefits, as the prudent and assiduous 
tradesman or mechanic is, to promote the legitimate 
designs of his professional calling. 

If a minister of the gospel behave with Christian 
decorum, possess tolerable abilities for his work, and 
having his heart in it, be habitually industrious, 
there is reason to conclude that, in the common course 


of Providence, he shall not labour in vain. As no- 
body, however, wonders that a merchant, or a manu- 
facturer, who, ha^-ing no pleasure in his employment, 
neglects his affairs, and behaves as if he thought him- 
self above his business, does not succeed, but becomes 
bankrupt ; so, if a minister be seldom any farther en- 
gaged, either in the study of truth, or in the public 
exercises of religion, than seems necessary to his con- 
tinuance, udth decency, in the pastoral station, there 
is no reason to wonder, if his public devotion be with- 
out savour, and his preaching without success- The 
church of which such a minister is the pastor, seems 
completely warranted to cry in his ears, Take heed to 
the ministrtj which thou hast received in the Lord, that 
thou fulfil it. 

Take heed to yourself, respecting the motives bj/ 
ivhich you are injiuenced in all your endeavoiirs to 
obtain useful knowledge. For if you read and study, 
chief! V that you may cut a respectable figure in the 
puljjit ; or to obtain and increase popular applause ; 
the motive is carnal, base, and unworthy a man of 
God. Yet, detestable in the sight of Him who 
searches the heart as that motive is, there will be the 
greatest necessity for you to guard against it as a be- 
setting evil. It is, perhaps, as hard for a minister ha- 
bitually to read and study with becoming diligence, 
without being under this corrupt influence, as it is 
for a tradesman prudently to manage a lucrative busi- 
ness, %vithout seeking the gratification of a covetous 
disposition : yet both the minister and the tradesmim 
must either guard against these pernicious evils, or be 
in danger of sinking in final ruin. 

Besides, whatever be the motives which principally 
operate in your private studies, it is highly probable 
those very motives will have their infiuence in the 
pulpit. If, when secretly studying the word of God, 


it was your chief concern to know the divine will, 
that you might, with integrity and benevolence, lay it 
before your people for their benefit ; it is likely the 
same holy motive will attend you in public service. 
But if a thirst of popularity, or a lust of applause, 
had the jirincipal inHuence in the choice of your sub- 
ject, and in your meditations upon it, there will be 
no reason for surprise, if you should be under the same 
detestable bias, '^^•hen performing your public labour. 

Study your discourses, therefore, with a devotional 
disposition. To this you are bound by the very na- 
ture of the case, as a Christian minister. For, when 
the Bible is before you, it is the word of God on which 
you meditate, and the work of God vou are preparing 
to perform. It is reported of Dr. Cotton blather, 
" That in studying and preparing them, he would en- 
deavour to make even that an exercise of devotion for 
his own soul. Accordingly his way was, at the end of 
every paragraph, to make a pause, and endeavour to 
make his own soul feel some holy impression of the 
truths contained in it. This he thought would be an 
excellent means of delivering his sermons with life 
and spirit, and warming the hearts of his people by 
them ; and so he found it." * 

It is, indeed, an easy thing for a preacher to make 
loud professions of regard to the glory of God and the 
good of immortal souls, as the ruling motive in his 
ministerial conduct : but experience has taught me, 
that it is extremely ditlicult for any minister to act 
siiitably to such professions. For as that pride which 
is natural to our species, impels the generality of man- 
kind to wish for eminence, rather than usefulness, in 
this or the other station ; so it is with ministers of the 
word. Forty years ago I saw but little need of this 

" Abridgment of Dr. C. Mather's Life, p. 38. 


caution, compared with that conviction of its necessity 
which I now have. A preacher of the real gospel, I 
am fully persuaded, may appear exceedingly earnest 
and very faithful in his public labours, as if his only 
design were to promote the cause of truth, the hap- 
piness of men, and the honour of God ; while, ne- 
vertheless, he is more concerned to figure away at the 
head of a large body of people in the religious world, 
than to advance the genuine interests of Jesus Christ, 
and the felicity of his fellow-mortals. What is it but 
this detestable pride, that makes any of us ministers 
take more pleasure in perceiving our labours made 
useful to the rich, the learned, and the polite, than 
to the poor, the illiterate, and the \-ulgar ? It is, I 
presume, principally, because it adds consequence to 
our own characters, to have wealthy, well-educated, 
and polished persons in our churches. Jesus, how- 
ever, in the time of his personal ministry, was far 
from being influenced by any such motive ; and equally 
far from showing the least predilection for persons of 
promising dispositions, on any such grounds. Witness 
his behaviour to Nicodemus, to the young Ruler, and 
to the Nobleman at Capernaum. 

I will add, what is it but the same depravity of 
heart, which frequently renders us much more atten- 
tive to our wealthy friends, than we are to our poor 
brethren, in times of affliction ? even though we be 
well assured, that there is little danger of the rich 
being overlooked in their sorrows. Hoary as I now 
am* in the ministry, and accustomed as I have been 
to hear conscience cry out against me for this, that, 
and the other omission of duty, I do not recollect that 
it ever charged me with neglecting any person in plenti- 
ful circumstances when deeply afflicted, and requesting 

" A. D. 1805. 


my visits. But, alas ! I do recollect having frequently 
heard conscience, with a frowning aspect, and an an- 
gry tone, either demanding, " Wouldst thou be thus 
backward to undergo some little inconvenience, in vi- 
siting a wealthy patient ?" or declaring, " That af- 
flicted brother would not, through mere forgetfulness, 
have been recently disappointed of thy presence, con- 
versation, and prayers, had he not been an obscure and 
a poor man. Had he been less deserving of thy com- 
passionate regard, he would have been favoured with 
it." Alas, my Brother, there is reason to fear^, that 
few ministers on this ground, stand perfectly free 
from censure, at the bar of a tender conscience ! 

As you should take heed to yourself, respecting the 
principles on which you act, and the ends at which 
you aim, in your preparations for the pulpit ; so it 
behoves you to be still more careful in these respects, 
Avhen you enter on public service. For then you pro- 
fessedly appear, as a guilty creature, to adore at the 
feet of Eternal Majesty ; as a minister of the Divine 
Jesus, to perform his work ; and as the servant of 
this church, to promote the happiness of aU its mem- 
bers. Endeavour, therefore, always to enter your 
pulpit under the force of this conviction : " I am an 
apostate creature, and going to worship the omniscient 
God : a wretch who deserves to perish, yet looking to 
sovereign mercy : a sinner called by the gospel, and 
trusting in the great atonement ; confessedly insuffi- 
cient for the work on which I am entering, but rely- 
ing on the aids of grace." This will produce deep so- 
lemnity, tempered with devout delight : which mix- 
ture of holy awe and sacred pleasure should accompa- 
ny the Christian, and especially the Christian minis- 
ter, whenever he approaches the Supreme. 

Remarkable and important is that saying. Let its 
have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with 


reverence and godly fear : for our God is a consuming 
Jire. Very observable also is the language of David : 
/ will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. 
May the import of these passages united, exert its 
force on your very soul, whenever you take the lead 
in public worship ! Then your graces as a Christian, 
and your gifts as a minister, will be exercised at the 
same time. Your graces being excited, vou have com- 
munion with God : your gifts being exerted, the peo- 
ple are edified.— WTiereas, were you to enter the pul- 
pit merely to exercise your ministerial talents, though 
others might be fed by the truths delivered, your 
own soul Avould starve. This, I fear, is the case of ma- 
ny who preach the gospel. 

But, what a figure, in the eye of Omniscience, must 
that preacher make, who is not habitually desirous of 
exercising devout aifections in the performance of his 
public work ! Like an index on the high-road, he di- 
rects others in the way to heaven ; but he walks not 
in it himself. He may prophesy with Balaam, or 
preach with Judas ; his learning and knowledge, his 
natural parts and spiritual gifts, may excite admira- 
tion and be useful to others ; but, being destitute of 
internal devotion, his heart is not right with God, and 
he is a ^vretched creature. Sounding brass, or a tink- 
ling cymbal, is the character by which he is known in 
sacred scripture. 

When, however, commencing public service, it is 
needful to remember, that you appear, not only as a 
worshipper of God, but as a minister of Christ. Be- 
ing such, it is your indispensable duty to preach 
Christ, and not yourself: that is, with sincerity and 
ardour, to aim at displaying the glories of his person, 
and the riches of his grace ; the spirituality of his 
kingdom, and the excellence of his government ; not 
your o\vn ingenuity, or eloquence — your parts, or learn- 


ing. Guard then, my Brother, as against the most 
pernicious evil ; guard, as for your very life, against 
converting the gospel ministry into a vehicle to exhi- 
bit your own excellence ; or prostituting the doctrine 
of Christ crucified to the gratification of your pride, 
or that it may be a pander to your praise. For who 
can estimate the magnitude of that guilt which is in- 
cluded in such conduct ? Yet with this enormous and 
horrible evil, I cannot forbear suspecting, many mi- 
nisters are more or less chargeable. Nay, to the com- 
mission of this outrage on the honour of Christ and of 
grace, every minister should consider himself as liable. 
For so polluted are our hands, that, without grace pre- 
venting, we defile every thing we touch. So deprav- 
ed are our hearts, that we are in danger of commit- 
ting a robbery on the glory of our divine Lord, even 
when it is our professed business to exalt it. 

As, when entering on public devotion, you should 
endeavour to act becoming your character, under the 
notion of a guilty creature, in audience with the King 
Eternal ; and as a minister of Christ, whose business 
it is to display his glory ; so you are further to consi- 
der yourself as the servant of this church. When 
standing up to address your people, it should ever be 
with an earnest desire of promoting their happiness. 
They having chosen you to the pastoral oflice ; you 
having accepted their invitation ; and being now so- 
lemnly ordained to the important service ; that mu- 
tual agreement, and the interesting transactions of 
this day, should operate as a threefold motive to the 
faithful performance of your public work. Yes, you 
are bound affectionately to aim at doing them good, 
by laying divine truth before them in such a manner 
as is adapted to enlighten their minds, to affect their 
hearts, and to promote their edification. 

Though the occasional exercise of your ministerial 


talents in other places, may be both lawful and com- 
mendable ; yet, as it is here only that you stand in 
the pastoral relation, you ought, except in extraordi- 
nary cases, to fill this pulpit yourself; and not leave 
the deacons to procure supplies, in a precarious man- 
ner, while you are serving some other community. It 
is here, as a public teacher, that your proper business 
lies ; and here, at the usual times of assembling, your 
voice must be heard. — When the pastor of a church 
discovers an inclination to avail himself of almost any 
pretext for being absent from his people, in order to 
serve others ; he gives reason of suspicion, whatever 
his pretences may be, that either filthy lucre, or a lust 
of popularity, has too much place in his heart ; and 
that he accepted the pastoral oflice, rather as an arti- 
cle of convenience, than as matter of duty. It is, in- 
deed, much to be lamented, that though dissenting 
ministers in general justly exclaim against the non- 
residence and the holding of pluralities, which are so 
common among the clergy ; yet the conduct of some 
pastors among the Nonconformists makes near ap- 
proaches to that of pluralities in our national esta- 
blishment, and is a violation of pastoral duty. 

You should seek, with peculiar care, to obtain the 
approbation of conscience in each of your hearers ; as 
appears by the following words : By manifestation of 
the truth, commending ourselves to every man's con- 
science in the sight of God. This illustrious passage 
presents us with a view of Paul in the pulpit ; and a 
very solemn appearance he makes. He has just been 
adoring in secret, at the feet of the Most High ; and, 
recent from converse with the Most Holy, he is now 
going to address his fellow-sinners. Penetrated with 
the importance of his office, and the solemnity of his 
present situation, he manifestly fekls — he seems to 
TiiEMBLK. Nor need we wonder : for the subject on 


which he is to speak, the object he has in view, and 
the witness of his conduct, are all interesting and so- 
lemn to the last degree. Truth, Conscience, and 
God — the most important and impressive thoughts 
that can enter the human mind — pervade his very 
soul. Evangelical truth is the subject of his discus- 
sion ; the approbation of conscience is the object of 
his desire ; and the omniscient Holy One is the wit- 
ness of his conduct. An example, this, which you 
and I, and every minister of the word are bound to 
imitate. Make it your diligent endeavour, then, to 
obtain the approbation of conscience, from all that 
hear you : for without deserving that, none of your 
public labours can be to your honour, or turn to your 
own account, in the great day of the Lord. 

A minister may say things that are profoundly 
learned, and very ingenious ; that are uncommonly 
pretty and extremely pleasing to the generality of 
his hearers ; without aiming to reach their consciences, 
and to impress their hearts, either by asserting divine 
authority, or by displaying divine grace. When this 
is the case, he obtains, it may be, from superficial 
hearers, the reward which he sought ; for he is great- 
ly admired and applauded. But, alas ! the unawak- 
ened sinner is not alarmed ; the hungry soul is not 
fed ; and the Father of mercies is defrauded of that 
reverence and confidence, of that love and obedience, 
which a faithful declaration of the gracious and sanc- 
tifying truth might have produced. Yes, my Brother, 
it is much to be suspected, that many ministers have 
recommended themselves to the fancies, the tastes, 
the affections of their hearers ; who never deserved, 
and who never had, in a serious hour, the approbation 
of their consciences. 

Be ambitious, therefore, of obtaining and preserving 
the suffrage of conscience in your favour, whether ad- 


mired, and honoured with verbal applause, or not. 
For it is evident from observation, that a preacher 
who is endued with a competent share of learning and 
fine parts, a retentive memory and good elocution, 
may recommend himself to the admiration of great 
numbers ; while their consciences, in the hour of so- 
lemn reflection, bear testimony against him. Because, 
as a minister mav have all those engaging qualifica- 
tions, while habitually proud and covetous, deceitful 
and vain ; so the conscience never feels itself interest- 
ed in the fine imagination, the genius, or the learning, 
which a minister discovers in his public services. — It 
is worthy of remark, my Brother, that though none 
of us can command success to our labours, were we 
ever so pious, diligent, and faithful ; and though it 
may not not be in our power to obtain the applause of 
literature, of genius, or of address ; yet, in the com- 
mon course of things, if we be assiduous, benevolent, 
and upright in our labours, we may secure the appro- 
bation of conscience, in the generality of our stated 
hearers : which is an article of great importance to 
the tranquillity of a minister's o'mi breast. 

Now, my young friend, if you keep conscience in 
view ; if you remember that God himself is a witness 
of your latent motives, and of your public labours, you 
will not choose an obscure text, principally that you 
may have the honour of explaining it : nor mHI you 
select one which has no relation to the subject you 
mean to discuss, in order that your acumen may shine, 
by making it speak what it never thought. — The more 
you keep the approbation of conscience and the pre- 
sence of God in your eye, the more dependent will 
you be on divine assistance, in all your ministerial ad- 
dresses. Yes, bearing in mind, on every occasion of 
this kind, that your business here is to plead for the 
interests of evangelical truth, under the immediate 


inspection of Him who is the truth ; you cannot 
but feel your incapacity, and look for assistance to 
God, whose cause you mean to promote. The more 
you keep the consciences of men and the presence of 
God in your view, the more will you be impressed 
with the importance of your subject, and the more 
earnest will you be in addressing your hearers : for 
that minister must have a strange set of passions, who 
does not feel himself roused by such considerations. 
The more you keep the approbation of conscience and 
the inspection of God in remembrance, the less ■will 
you be disposed to indulge a light and trifling spirit, 
and the more devotional will you be, in the course of 
your administrations : for the ordinances of God are 
too sacred to become the vehicles of entertainment, and 
his Presence is too solemn to permit the smile of levi- 

Again : Keeping the consciences of men, and the 
Searcher of hearts in view, it A^ill afford you much 
more pleasure to find, that persons who have been 
hearing you, left the place bemoaning their apostate 
state, and very deeply abased before the Most Holy ; 
than to be informed, that they greatly admired you as 
a preacher, and loudly applauded your ministerial ta- 
lents. Because, for a person to depart from public 
worship, in raptures with the minister's abilities, is 
no proof that he has received any spiritual benefit. 
But if, smitten with a sense of guilt, he cry out, — 
How shall I escape the wrath to come ? God be mer- 
ciful to me a sinner ! Or if he exclaim. Who is a god 
like unto our God ? How great is his goodness, and 
how great is his beauty ! What shall I render to the 
Lord for all his benefits ? then it looks as if the preach- 
er had commended himself to his conscience, and as if 
the truth had reached his heart. For language of this 
kind, from a reflecting hearer, has a devotional aspect. 


and gives glory to God. It indicates a soul^ either as 
being apprehensive of deserved ruin, or as rejoicing in 
revealed mercy ; as having a good hope through grace, 
or as revering divine authority. Whereas, barely to 
admire and praise the preacher, is quite consistent 
with reigning depravity, and with rooted enmity to 
God. As it is written. They sit before thee as my 
people, and they hear thy words — With their mouth, 
they show much love, but their heart goeth after their 
covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them as a very 
lovely sojig of one that hath a pleasant voice, and 
can play well on an instrument : for they hear thy 
tvords, but they do them not. 

Once more : In proportion as the approbation of con- 
science, and the inspection of God are properly kept 
in view, the pleasure you have, arising from verbal 
commendations of professed friends, and the pain of 
strong opposition from the avowed enemies of evan- 
gelical truth, will be diminished. For conscience does 
not often express itself in the language of noisy ap- 
plause ; which, when free from hypocrisy, is common- 
ly the fruit of a weak understanding, under the influ- 
ence of strong passions. Hence it is not unfrequent 
for those who have been the most liberal in praising a 
minister, to be found among the first who entirely de- 
sert his ministry. — As to unfounded censures, and vio- 
lent opposition ; the testimony of a good conscience, 
and the countenance of Scripture, are adapted to afford 
the needful support. 

Take heed to yourself, with regard lo that success and 
those discouragements, which may attend your ministry. 
Should a large degree of apparent success, through the 
favour of heaven, accompany your labours, there will 
be the highest necessity to guard against pride and 
self-esteem. A young man, of good ministerial abili- 
ties, and honoured with great usefulness, is in a deli- 


cate situation, respectingthe prosperity of his own soul: 
for, through the want of experience and observation, 
such concurrence of pleasing jiarticulars has proved to 
some very promising characters, the innocent occasion 
of disgrace and ruin. Shining abilities, and a blessing 
upon their labours, have rendered them popular. Po- 
pularity has intoxicated them with pride. Pride has 
exposed them to various temptations. Temptations 
have prevailed ; and either precipitated them into 
some enormous offence, or laid the foundation of a gra- 
dual departure from the truth, and from the practice 
of real piety. If the former, their character has been 
killed, as by the stroke of an apoplexy. If the latter, 
their comfort and usefulness have been destroyed, as 
by a consuming hectic. Agreeable to that saying. 
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughtij spirit be- 
fore a fall. 

Remember, therefore, my Brother, that though it is 
your indispensible duty to labour and pray for prosper- 
ity in your work ; yet, that a season of remarkable 
success will generally prove an hour of peculiar temp- 
tation to your own soul. — Take heed to yoursef, at 
such a time, and watch the secret motions of your own 
heart. The number of your hearers may increase, and 
your church may flourish ; while, in your own breast, 
devotional affections and virtuous dispositions are great- 
ly on the decline ; nor need I inform you, that everj- 
degree of such declension has a tendency to final 

Besides, if there should be an appearance of exten- 
sive utility attending your labours, for which I sin- 
cerely pray ; you may do well to remember the old pro- 
verb, "All is not gold that glitters." Numbers there are 
that seem to receive the nord with joy, who, in time (f 
temptation, fall arvay. — ^Many evangelical and popular 
preachers, I am very suspicious, have greatly over rat- 


ed the usefulness of their own labours. For, the long- 
er I live, the more apprehensive I am, that the numb- 
er of real converts, among those who profess the genu- 
ine gospel, is comparatively very small : according to 
the import of that alarming declaration. Many are 
called, hut few are chosen. 

On the other hand, should you meet with many and 
great discotiragements, take heed that you do not in- 
dulge a desponding temper, as if you had been of no 
use in the ministerial work. With discouragements 
you certainly will meet, unless Providence were to 
make your case an exception to the general course of 
things ; which you have no ground to expect. Very 
painful discouragements, for instance, may sometimes 
arise, from the want of liberty and savour in your 
own mind, when performing public service. This, 
there is reason to suppose, is not uncommon. I, at 
least, have had frequent experience of it ; and, once to 
such a degree, that I began to think very seriously of 
giving up the ministry : supposing that the Great 
Shepherd had nothing further for me to do, either in 
the pastoral office, or in preaching the word at large. 
•^This exercise of mind, though exceedingly painful 
for some Aveeks, was both instructive and useful. Be- 
fore that well-recollected season, I had frequently 
talked about the necessity of divine influence, to rend- 
er a minister savoury in his own mind, as well as pro- 
fitable to others ; but then I felt it. 

Be not discouraged, then, as though some strange 
thing happened unto you, that never befel a real minis- 
ter of Christ, if a similar trial should occur in the 
course of your ministry. For it may be to you, as I 
trust it was to me, of no inconsiderable benefit : be- 
cause I reckon, that whatever curbs our pride, makes 
us feel our insufficiency, and sends us to the throne of 
grace.— Seldom, alas ! have I found any remarkable 



degree of savour, and of enlargement in public ser- 
vice, without experiencing, more or less, of self-elate- 
ment and self-gratulation on that account. Instead of 
complaining, therefore, that I have not more liberty 
in my work, or more success attending the perform- 
ance of it, I have reason to wonder at the condescend- 
ing kindness of God, in that he gives to my extremely 
imperfect labours the least saving effect, and that he 
does not frequently leave me to be confounded before 
all my hearers. Such, Brother, have been the feel- 
ings and reasonings of my own mind, and such my con- 
fessions before God many a time. 

It is not unlikely that, in a course of years, some of 
your people, Avho had expressed a warm regard to your 
ministry, and perhaps considered you as their spiritual 
father, may become, without any just reason, your 
violent opposers, asperse your ministerial character, 
and wish to be rid of you. This, though very trying, 
is far from an unexampled case : no, not with regard 
to much greater men, and far better ministers, than 
either of us. Witness the language of Paul, in va- 
rious parts of his two Epistles to the Church at Corinth, 
and in his Letter to the Galatian Churches. Witness 
also the Life of that excellent man, Mr. President Ed- 
wards of New England. 

Among the dissatisfied, it is probable, some will 
complain of your ministry being dry, legal, and of an 
Arminian cast : while others, it may be, will quarrel 
with it under a supposition, that you dwell too much 
on the doctrines of divine grace, and verge toward 
Antinomianism. My OAvn ministry, however, has been 
the subject of loud complaint, in these opposite waYS> 
and that at the very same time. — Nor have we much 
reason to wonder at it. For if a minister, to the 
best of his ability, display the glory of sovereign grace, 
in the election, redemption, and justification of sinners; 


he will be sure to offend the pride of multitudes, who 
are seeking acceptance with God by their own obedi- 
ence. Persons of this character will probably draw the 
same inferences from his doctrine, and form the same 
objections against it, as those by which the ministry 
of Paul was opposed. If it be so, they will cry, ^^hy 
does God yet Jind fault ?for who hath resisted his will ? 
Let Its do evil that good may come; and continue in 
sin, that grace may abound. The low is made void, 
and personal holiness is quite superjluous. 

Does the same preacher insist upon the necessity of 
that holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord 
— upon that conformity to the example of Christ, and 
that spiritual-mindedness, without which aU preten- 
sions to faith in the Son of God are yain ? the covet- 
ousness and carnality of others will be disgusted. 
They will pronounce him legal, and consider his doc- 
trine as inimical to the prerogatives of sovereign grace : 
and this, because he maintains, that evangelical truths 
have a holy influence on all who believe them ; or, in 
the language of James, that faith without works is 

Again : you may, it is highly probable, have pain- 
ful opportunities of observing, that while some of your 
people embrace pernicious doctrines, verge to wide ex- 
tremes, and are exceedingly desirous of making pro- 
selytes to their novel peculiarities ; others of them are 
giddy and flighty, rambling about from one place of 
worship to another, admiring almost every fresh preach- 
er they hear ; but quite dissatisfied with your minis- 
try, though they hardly know for what. — Nor is there 
any reason to doubt, that others, among the objects of 
your pastoral care, will administer occasions of grief, 
by formality and lukewarmness in their profession ; 
by their pride, extravagance, or sensuality ; by their 
envy, avarice, or injustice ; or, finally, by malevolent 


attacks, in unfounded charges upon your own charac- 
ter as in the case of Paul, among the Corinthians. 
You must guard, however, against desponding dis- 
couragement, when any of these painful particulars 
occur to your notice. Nay, should a variety of them 
appear at the same time, you must not conclude that 
God has deserted your ministry, and entirely forsaken 
your church. But, while firmly determined to pro- 
mote the exercise of strict and impartial discipline ; 
and while careful, except the case be quite peculiar, 
never to bring the bad conduct of any individual into 
your public discourses ; examine your own ways — 
humble yourself before God — increase your pastoral 
exertions — cry mightily to the Father of mercies for 
assistance — endeavour, as it were, to levy a tax upon 
these trials ; that they may, at least, afford private 
advantage to your own soul — and, then, leaving your 
cause with God, be of good courage. 

I said. Endeavour to levy a tax upon your trials. 
For even malevolent attacks, and unfounded charges, 
upon a Christian's character, if his own temper be un- 
der proper government, may prove an occasion of pro- 
moting his best interests. In such cases, and for this 
end, it behoves him to examine his heart and ways, 
to see whether he have not contracted the guilt of some 
greater evil, than that which is falsely laid to his 
charge. If, on impartial inquiry, his conscience attest 
the affirmative ; it will soon appear, that he has much 
less reason to redden with indignation at his accuser's 
unfounded charge, than he has to admire the good- 
ness of God in permitting an arrow to be aimed at his 
character, which he can easily repel by the impene- 
trable shield of a good conscience ; while greater evils 
of his heart, or conduct, for which he cannot but se- 
verely condemn himself, are entirely hidden from his 
accuser.— 'Besides, the Christian, in such a predica- 


ment, may justly say, ' Though free from the charge 
alleged, it is not owing to the superior holiness of 
my heart ; but must be ascribed to divine, preserving 

A Christian, therefore, who, in such a conjuncture 
of circumstances, is wisely seeking his own emolument, 
will be disposed to consider the unrighteous allegation, 
as a gracious, providential warning, lest at any time 
he be really overtaken of that very evil, with which, 
at present, he is falsely accused. — Little do we know 
of the spiritual danger to which we are continually ex- 
posed ; the temptations by which we may be, unawares, 
powerfully assaulted ; or how near we may be to the 
perpetration of some awful evil, from which we have 
commonly imagined ourselves to be most remote. 
Neither, on the other hand, is it possible for us 
thoroughly to understand all the ways and means, by 
which our heavenly Father communicates those hidden 
provisions of jireventing grace, which are continu- 
ally administered for our preservation.* But, alas ! 
how seldom it is that any of us have humility and 
wisdom sufficient, thus to improve such an event ! 

Once more : Take heed that you jmi/ an habitual 
regard to divine injluence ; as thai without which you 
ca7inot either enjoy a holy liberty in your work, or have 
any reason to expect success. We have heard with 
pleasure, that the necessity of such an influence, to 
enlighten, to comfort, and to sanctify the human mind, 
makes one article in your theological creed. An 
article, doubtless, of great importance. For as well 
mi^ht the material system have sprung out of nonen- 
tity, without the almighty ^/iat, as an assemblage of 
holy qualities arise in a depraved heart, without super- 
natural agency. As well might the order, harmony, 

• Dr. Owen's Sermons and Tracts, p. 49. 


and beauty of the visible world be continued, without 
the perpetual exertion of that wisdom, power, and 
goodness which gave them birth, as the holy qualities 
of a regenerate soul be maintained and flourish, inde- 
pendent of the Divine Spirit. 

Now, my Brother, as the knowledge of any truth 
is no further useful to us, than we are influenced by 
it, and act upon it ; as doctrinal sentiments are not 
beneficial, except in proportion as they become practi- 
cal principles, or produce correspondent feelings and 
affections in our own hearts ; so you should endeavour 
to live continually under the operation of that sacred 
maxim, Without mk yc can do nothing. With humili- 
ty, with prayer, and with expectation, the assistance 
of the Holy Spirit should be daily regarded. In all 
your private studies, and in all your public adminis- 
trations, the aids of that Sacred Agent should be 
sought. Consistency of conduct, peace in your own 
breast, and success in your own labours, all require it : 
for, surely, you do not mean merely to compliment 
the Holv Spirit, by giving his work a conspicuous 
place in your creed. Were you habitually to study 
and preach your discourses, Avithout secret, previous 
prayer for divine assistance, the criminality of your 
neglect would equal the inconsistency of your charac- 
ter. If Christianity be the religion of sinners, and 
adapted to their apostate state, it must provide, as 
well for our depravity, by enlightening and sancti- 
fying influence, as for our guilt, by atoning blood. 

Our Lord, when addressing his disciples, relative 
to the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, says. He shall 
slorify me : for he shall receive of mine, and shall 
sho7V it unto you. By which we are led to infer, that 
when a minister sincerely seeks and mercifully obtains 
divine assistance in preaching the word, his discourses 
^vill have a sweet savour of Christ and his offices— 


will display tis mediatorial glories — will exhibit his 
excellent characters, and condescending relations, that 
are suited to the necessities of miserable sinners. 
Thus he will feast the mental eye, and excite admi- 
ration of the Saviour's Person and undertaking, in 
the believing heart ; even though the elocution and 
manner of the preacher be of an inferior kind. — Hence 
you may learn, my Brother, how to appreciate those 
discourses, which, whether heard from the pulpit, or 
perused from the press, frequently excite admiration 
of the minister's talents, but are far from raising the 
same passion to an equal degree, by exhibiting the per- 
sonal and official excellencies of the adorable Jesus. 

Nor can you pray over your Bible in a ])roper man- 
ner, when meditating on the sacred text, without feel- 
ing a solemnity in your ministerial employment. 
That solemnity should alwavs attend you in the pul- 
pit : for, a preacher who triiies there, not only affronts 
the understanding of every sensible and serious hearer, 
but insults the majesty of that Divine Presence in which 
he stands. Guard, therefore, against every appearance 
of levity in your public work. In all your studies, and 
in all your labours, watch against a spirit of self suffi- 
ciency, from which that profane levity often proceeds. 
Remember, that your ability for every spiritual duty, 
and all your success, must be from God. To him 
your eye must be directed, and on his promised aid 
your expectations of usefulness must be formed. In 
thus acting the part of a Christian, while you perform 
the work of a IMinister for the benefit of others, your 
own soul will feel itself interested in tlie doctrines 
you preach, and in the duties you inculcate ; in 
the promises you exhibit, and in the reproofs you ad- 

I will now, my Brother, for a few minutes, direct 
your attention to another divine precept, and then 


conclude. Paul, when addressing Titus in the 
language of apostolic authority, says, Let no one de- 
spise Ihce. A singular and remarkable saying ! No one ; 
whether a professed Christian, an unbelieving Jew, 
or an idolatrous Gentile. Observe, however, it is not 
said. Let no one envy, or hate, or persecute thee ; but, 
let no one despise thee. How, then, was Titus to 
preserve his character from contempt ? By the penal 
exercise of miraculous powers, on those who dared to 
treat him with indignity ? No such expedient is here 
intimated. By assuming lordly titles, appearing in 
splendid robes, taking to himself state, and causing 
the vulgar to keep their distance ? Nothing less. 
For that would have been directly contrary to an esta- 
blished law of Christ, and inconsistent with the nature 
of his kingdom. But it was, as the apostle in another 
place plainly intimates, by becoming a bright example 
of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity or 
love, in spirit, in faith or fidelity, in purity. Or, by 
being pre-eminent among those who adorned the doc- 
trine of God our Saviour, 

Yes, a minister of the gospel, who takes heed to him- 
self- — to his Christian character, to his official duties, 
and to his various relations in life, whether domestic, 
religious, or civil ; is not very likely to be sincerely 
despised by those that know him. His supposed re- 
ligious oddities may be treated with contempt, and 
he may be hated for his conscientious regard to evan- 
gelical truth, and to the legislative authority of Jesus 
Christ : but the manifest respectability of his moral 
character will find an advocate in the breast of each 
that knows him, and especially in the hour of serious 
reflection. For, a series of conduct, bearing testimony 
to the reality of religious principle, to the fear of God, 
and to the social virtues reigning in his heart, "vvill 
generally secure him from deliberate contempt. Hence 



it has been observed, by an author of eminence in his 
literary station : " It was a pertinent advice that Paul 
gave to QTitus,^ however oddly it may appear at first: 
— Let no one despise thee. For we may justly say, 
that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, if a pastor 
is despised, he has himself to blame." * 

Yes, and how respectable soever for literature and 
science, if he entered upon his office, chiefly under the 
influence of secular motives ; or if he be habitually 
trifling and vain, proud or covetous ; if, in his gener- 
al conduct, there be more of the modern tine gentle- 
man, than of the primitive pastor ; and much more 
of the man of this world, than of the man of God ; he 
deserves, under the pastoral character, to be despised. 
For the feelings, and sympathies, and turn of his heart, 
are neither congenial to those of the Great Shepherd, 
xinder whom he should serve, and with whom, in or- 
der to feed the flock, he must have frequent spiritual 
intercourse ; nor adapted to meet the necessities of any 
people, that know the Chief Pastor's voice. He is a 
man of the world ; and a Minister, who is not above 
the world, is very likely to be despised by the world. 
Take heed, then, my Brother, that no one may have 
any reason to despise you ; and that this church may 
never, like the church at Colosse, come under the 
obligation of that precept, Sai/ to Archippus, Take 


apostolic injunction this, which, it is to be feared, at- 
taches to many churches, respecting their lukewarm 
and negligent pastors. Nay, who, that is daily la- 
menting over the plague of his own heart ; that re- 
flects on the state of religion in what is called the 

" Dr. G. Campbell's Lectures on Ecclesiastical Historj-, 
vol. i. p. 174. 


Christian world ; that considers the ministerial work 
and the pastoral office, as being both sacred and im- 
portant ; and, finally, that demand of the Supreme 
Judge, Give an account of thy stewardship ; can for- 
bear to acknowledge the propriety of Dr. Owen's pa- 
thetic language, when he says, ' The Lord help men, 
and open their eyes before it be too late ! For, either 
the Gospel is not true, or there are few who, in a 
due manner, discharge that ministry which they take 
upon them.' 

Take heed, I once more charge you, Take heed 
TO YOURSELF. This duty performed, you can scarce- 
ly forbear taking heed, either /o the doctrine you preach, 
or to the Jlock over which the Holy Ghost hath 7nade 
you an overseer, to feed the church of God, which he 
hath purchased with his own blood. Amen. 




JAMES iii. 1. 

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that tvc 

shall receive the greater condetmiation. 

The words, in the original, might have been better 
rendered thus. Be not many teachers, knowing that we 
shall undergo a severer judgmeiit ;* and were occasion- 
ed by certain novices, assuming the office of teachers, 
when utterly unqualified for it. The meaning of them 
is, the office of a spiritual instructor is attended with 
great difficulty and danger, and the duties of it are 
hard to be discharged. Let not, therefore, every man 
rush into that office. Let none undertake it rashly, 
and while destitute of the gifts and graces necessary 
for so sacred a function ; for teachers, as well as hear- 
ers, must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. 
God will require more from teachers, than from 
others ; and their private miscarriages, or unfaithful- 
ness to the duties of their office, will expose them to 
the severest punishment. 

* See WTiitby's Notes, and Bishop Bull's Sermon on this 


Inattention to this solemn charge, in ministers and 
candidates for the ministry, is one unhappy source of 
the low state of religion in the Christian world. If 
we had juster ideas of the difficulty and importance of 
the ministerial office, this might prevent our devoting 
ourselves to it from selfish motives, as it would prevent 
us from acting a mean and contemptible part when en- 
gaged in it. Since, therefore, my reverend fathers 
and brethren have obliged me to attempt a service, 
for which I am so poorly qualified ; permit me to re- 
present some of the qualifications necessary in the 
spiritual instructor. The subject must greatly suJSTer 
by the unskilful hand that manages it : and yet I 
would hope that my weak endeavours may, by the 
divine blessing, stir up our remembrance of truths, 
too obvious indeed to be unknown, but which even 
the best and wisest amongst us, are sometimes apt to 
forget, when a practice corresponding to them becomes 
our duty. 

The principal qualifications necessary in the spiritu- 
al instructor, are, personal religion ; soundness in the 
faith ; a good genius, improved by a competent mea- 
sure of true learning ; prudence and discretion ; and 
a due mixture of a studious disposition, and of an ac- 
tive spirit. 

I. Personal religion is a necessary qualification in 
the Christian teacher. God has not, indeed, limited 
the efficacy of ordinances by the character of the dis- 
penser. But yet the scriptures warrant us to say, 
that \vicked ministers run unsent, and that God gen- 
erally frowns upon, and blasts their labours. When 
souls are entrusted to the slaves of Satan, we cannot 
but dread a bad account of them : For M'hat concern 
\vill those feel, or what care will they take, about 
the salvation of others, who feel no concern for their 
own salvation } Ministers are men of God ; an ex- 


pression which surely implies that they are men de- 
voted to his service, conformed to his blessed image, 
zealous for his honour, animated by his spirit, and 
breathing after communion and fellowship with him. 
But a man of God, living without God in the world ! a 
man of God, whose affections are earthly, sensual, and 
devilish ! a master of Israel, ignorant of the new birth ! 
a guide to Zion, walking in the paths that lead to de- 
struction ! a soldier of Christ, in league %vith Satan ! 
is a shocking and monstrous absurdity. The light of 
the world, and the salt of the earth, are too honour- 
able titles for any under the power of darkness and 
corruption. Those must be clean, that bear the ves- 
sels of the sanctuary. Their master is holy, their 
work is holy ; and therefore, it becomes them to be 
holy also. An infinitely ^vise God would scarcely ap- 
point those to help forward others to Christ, who 
themselves are strangers to him ; or commission those 
as his ambassadors, to negotiate a treaty of peace with 
an apostate rebel world, who themselves are obstinate* 
ly persisting in treachery and rebellion. 

If a bad man desires to be a minister, his ends of 
desiring it are low, sordid, and mercenary : not to win 
souls to Christ, but to gain a comfortable subsistence 
to himself and his family : not to secure the substan- 
tial honour of the divine approbation, but to attract the 
empty applause of the great, or of the populace. 
Hence, if speaking the truth interferes with his in- 
terest or reputation, he had rather risk the salvation 
of his hearers, than hazard the displeasure of those 
who can do him a favour. Having no heart to his 
work, he is glad to shift it off, or to perform it in a lazy, 
careless, unprofitable manner ; and yet he cannot 
wholly avoid the unpleasant drudgery of recommend- 
ing to others what he dislikes himself, of counter- 
feiting sentiments he never felt, and of applauding 


a behaviour the very reverse of his own. He seeks 
not the grace of God, to assist him in his labours, and 
to crown them with success. No wonder, then, that 
he does no good to souls, since he does not so much 
as aim at doing it. 

How different is the case ^vith those who are fitted 
to preach the gospel to others, by having felt the pow- 
er of it on their own hearts. 

They engage in the work of the ministry, not seek- 
ing their own projit, hut the profit of many, that they 
may be saved. They take the oversight of the flock 
not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. With eyes 
divinely enlightened, they contemplate the fervent 
love to God, the tender compassion to perishing souls, 
and the infinite hatred of sin, which shine so bright- 
ly in the example of Jesus, and thus suck in some- 
thing of these glorious dispositions. Beholding, with 
devout admiration, what Christ has done and suffered, 
to seek and to save that which was lost, they esteem 
it their highest honour and happiness to contribute, 
even in the lowest degree, to promote that generous 
design, though at the expense of every thing that un- 
renewed nature accounts valuable. Their inquiry is 
not, how shall I indulge my sloth, raise my fortune, 
or advance my reputation ? But, how shall I glorify 
God, advance the interests of the Redeemer's king- 
dom, and promote the spiritual and eternal welfare of 
precious and immortal souls ? Having tasted that the 
Lord is gracious, they are unwilling to eat their spiri- 
tual morsels alone, and earnestly wish to have others 
partakers of the same grace of life, and, in this re- 
spect, not only almost, but altogether, such as they 
are. Having known the terrors of the Lord, they feel 
a tender compassion for those who have no pity for 
themselves. Their souls weep for them in secret 
places, and are grieved at the hardness of their hearts; 


yea, they travail in birth for them, till Christ be form- 
ed in them, and long to impart to them some spiritual 
gift, by which they may be edified. I might add, 
they love all with a pure heart fervently, who love 
our Lord Jesus in sincerity ; and, forgetting little dif- 
ferences of opinion in matters of doubtful disputation, 
they esteem their persons, value their society, sym- 
pathize mth them in their distresses, rejoice in their 
temporal and spiritual prosperity, and being aflFection- 
ately desirous of them, are willing to impart to them, 
not the gospel onlj', but their own souls also : so dear 
and precious are such in their eyes ! 

Animated by such a spirit, the pious minister is 
vigorous and active, diligeiit and unwearied, in his 
Master's service. Night and day, his care and vigi- 
lance resemble that of the most tender-hearted affec- 
tionate parent. Careful to find out the necessities of 
his flock, and the most proper methods to supply them, 
and, having found out these methods, careful and 
speedy in applying them.. AVhen carnal men cry. 
Master, spare thyself ; or when the remains of a slug- 
gish and indolent spirit would pull him back, he re- 
members the dreadful doom of those who hide their 
talents in a napkin, or do the work of the Lord de- 
ceitfully. The whole of his time and strength he 
thinks too little to spend, in endeavouring to save, 
even one soul, from death. Hence, he stirs up the 
gift of God that is in him ; exerts himself with an 
unlanguishing vigour ; and whatsoever his hand find- 
eth to do, doeth it with all his might. He knows the 
worth of time too well, to trifle it away in vain amuse- 
ments, in idle visits, in unprofitable studies, or need- 
lessly to immerse himself in secular business, in po- 
litical schemes, or any thing else foreign to his office. 
Impatient of whatever would divert him from his work, 
or retard him in it, he counts those hours lost, in 


which he is not either getting good to his own soul, 
doing good to the souls of others, or acquiring greater 
fitness for his important trust. For the same reason 
he keeps as abstracted as possible from the world, lest , 
by engaging too far in its tumultuous cares, a worldly 
spirit, kindling in his breast, should gradually consume 
every devout and benevolent affection. Such a one 
was the great Apostle of the Gentiles. Hear from 
himself what were his services : " In labours more a- 
bundant, in journeyings often, in weariness and pain- 
fulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in 
fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides these 
things which are \v'ithout, that wliich cometh upon me 
daily, the care of all the churches." Love to Christ 
set in motion all his springs of action, and made him 
ily like a flaming seraph, from pole to pole, to proclaim 
the ineffable glories of the son of God, and to offer 
his inestimable benefits to the sons of men.* 

Grace, in lively exercise, makes the teacher honest 
and impartial, bold and courageous. These qualifica- 
tions he win often have occasion for in the discharge 
of his duty. If he strikes at errors or superstitions, 
which antiquity has rendered sacred and venerable, 
many ^^tU count him an enemy to God and religion, 
for telling them the unwelcome truth, and stamp up- 
on him the most opprobrious names, for paving more 
regard to the infallible word of God, than to the ab- 

• Mucli of this apostoHc spirit appeared in some of the first 
reformers, and has in our own time appeared in the painful 
and successful labours of the late Mr. David Brainerd, in the 
conversion of barbarous Indians to the Christian faith. See his 
Journal, printed at Philadelphia, 1746, and Mr. Edzcards''s Ac- 
count of his Life, printed at Boston, 1749. It is pity the Lon. 
don abridgment of his Journal has omitted a curious account 
of the difficulties he met with in Christianizing the Indians, an^ 
the methods he used to surmount these difficulties. 


surd unscriptural traditions of men. If he urges men 
to costly and self-denying duties, the covetous and the 
proud are disobliged. If he reproves particular vices, 
those notoriously guilty of them are offended. Or if 
he inflicts church censures on the openly scandalous 
and immoral, not only the guilty person, but his 
friends and relations take umbrage at it. But none 
of these things move him. He will not, through a slav- 
ish dread of man, put his candle under a bushel, or 
withhold the truth in unrighteousness ; but endeavours 
to keep back from his hearers nothing profitable, how- 
ever unpleasant and distasteful, and to declare to every 
one of them the whole counsel of God. He reckons 
himself a debtor to the wise, and to the unmse, to 
the bond and to the free, to young and old, to rich and 
poor, to friends and to enemies, to the meek and to 
the froward, to those who have, and to those who have 
not, profited by his ministry. Hence, his labours ex- 
tend to all his people uatbout exception ; not, indeed, 
in the same measure and degree, but in proportion to 
their necessities, and the probability of success. He 
is no respecter of persons, but warns every man, and 
teaches every man, in all wisdom, that he may pre- 
sent every man perfect in Christ. The soul of the 
meanest is precious in his sight. He enters the cot- 
tages of the poor as willingly as the palaces of the 
wealthy ; and can esteem holiness, though dressed in 
rags, or lying on a dunghill. Nor is he biassed, by the 
hopes of their favour, to cringe and fawn to the great. 
He scorns to humour their vices, or flatter their weak- 
nesses. If they dare sin, he dares reprove, however 
his worldly interests may suffer by it. He uses not 
flattering words, nor a cloak of covetousness. Artifice 
and dissimulation he abhors, and ^vill not decline his 
duty, from the fear of exposing himself to hatred or 
reproach. Though briars and thorns be with him, and 


he dwells among scorpions, he is not afraid of their 
words, nor dismayed at their looks, but speaks plain 
and home to the conscience, leaving the event to his 
great Master. Thus Christ preached to the Pharisees, 
against covetousness, hypocrisy, and making void God's 
law by human traditions. Paul reasoned with Felix 
of temperance and righteousness. Peter charges his 
hearers with murdering the Lord of glory. And John 
the Baptist tells Herod, " It is not lawful for thee to 
have thy brother Philip's wife." — The faithful minister 
deems himself bound to go and do likewise, and will 
rather offend man by this boldness, than offend God^ 
by conniving at sin. 

While others walk in craftiness, and handle the 
word of God deceitfully, meanly disguise and dissem- 
ble their sentiments, subscribe as true what they are 
convinced is false, suit their doctrine to the depraved 
taste of their hearers, or express themselves in so am- 
biguous a manner, that they appear to maintain, what 
inwardly they disbelieve : he renounces these hidden 
things of dishonesty, and by manifestation of the truth 
commends himself to every man's conscience in the 
sight of God. He is bold, in his God, to preach the 
gospel, not as pleasing men, but God who trieth the 
heart. The truths of God, whether fashionable, or 
not, he win declare, knowing, if he should please man 
by concealing them, he should not be the servant of 
Christ. Though errors have long maintained their 
ground, and are still keenly espoused, not only by 
great, but even by good men, he opposes them with a 
zeal and warmth suited to their importance. Like 
Paul, who would not give place by subjection to the 
Judaizing teachers, no, not for an hour ; and who even 
^vithstood Peter to the face, because he was to be 
blamed. God's word is in his heart as a burning fire, 
shut up in his bones ; and therefore, cost what it will. 


he cannot but speak the things which he has seen and 
heard. His belly is as wine that hath no vent, and 
necessity is laid upon him to speak, that he may be 
refreshed. He would rather be right in his opinions 
than be thought so. He will not sacrifice the truth 
for the reputation of holding it ; nor purchase honour 
at the expense of honesty. With sacred sincerity, 
what the Lord saith, that will he speak, though 
philosophers should call him Enthusiast, the popu- 
lace salute him Heretic, or the statesman pronounce 
him mad. 

. This integrity and uprightness preserves the minis- 
ter from fainting under a prospect of outward diffi- 
culties, and a sense of his own weakness. Having 
put his hand to the plough, he will not draw back. 
Though he has long laboured in vain, and spent his 
strength for nought, he will not give over labouring^ 
but says in his heart, it may be they will consider, 
though they be a rebellious house. When he con- 
siders what men are before their conversion, he sees 
no cause to despair of the repentance of any, however 
hardened in wickedness. He cannot think it much 
to wait on his fellow-sinners, and bear with their re- 
proaches, and injuries, and ingratitude, when he re- 
flects, with what patience and long-suffering the great 
God has waited upon him. Taught by the divine con- 
descension, he is gentle among his people, even as a 
nurse that cherisheth her children ; and though he 
might be bold, in Christ, to enjoin them that which is 
convenient, yet, for love's sake, he rather beseeches 
them. And while he cannot but observe much in. 
their behaviour, to damp and discourage him, yet he 
is willing to see and own any thing in it that is good 
and commendable, and is prompted by the least fa- 
vourable appearances, to undertake services the most 
painful and difficult. 



Grace, in lively exercise, not only animates the 
teacher to his work, but assists him in it, and greatly 
tends to crown it with success. It does so, by disposing 
him to give himself to prai/er, as well as to the minis- 
try of the word. Sensible that all his furniture for 
the ministry, and success in it, must come from the 
Lord, with humble fervour and confidence he implores 
the divine blessing. Yea, he wrestles and makes sup- 
plication, and, as a prince, has power with God, and 
prevails. He is a favourite at the court of heaven, 
and improves all his interest there for his people's 
good. His heart's desire and prayer to God for every 
one of them is, that he may be saved ; and the effec- 
tual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 
It opens the windows of heaven, and brings down a 
blessing, till there is no room to receive. Hence, 
plentiful out-pourings of the Spirit have been often 
obtained by the prayers of some of our pious ances- 
tors, whose gifts and learning were far from being 

Further— Per^oMrt/ religion promotes knowledge of 
the truth, and aptness to teach ; both which are indis- 
pensably necessary in the spiritual instructor. A sin" 
cere devotedness to Christ, and a sense of the infinite 
importance of religion, excite him diligently and im- 
partially to inquire what are the genuine doctrines and 
precepts of Christianity. Hence with a mind open to 
conviction, unbiassed by prejudice or prepossession, 
and ready to embrace the truth as soon as sufficient 
evidence of it shall appear to him, he candidly hears 
all parties, and cheerfully receives religious instruction, 
whoever is the instrument of conveying it. At the 
same time, as it is the faith once delivered to the 
saints, not the established tenets of a party, which he 

• See Fulfilling of the Scriptures, folio edition, page 197. 


would discover and embrace ; he will not blindly fol- 
low any human guide, but brings every doctrine to 
the test of the sacred oracles, and makes these, not the 
systems of fallible men, the standards of his faith. He 
seeks for Christianity in the Scriptures, by reading 
them Math devout attention, meditating on them day 
and night, and imploring the illuminations of their di- 
vine Inspirer, to teach him God's ways and lead him 
into all truth. 

Nor can such petitions fail to receive a gracious an- 
swer. For God has promised, if any man will do his 
will, that he shall know of the doctrine whether it be 
of God ; which implies, that men who have this spirit, 
shall be preserved from fundamental errors. They 
have an unction from the holy One, whereby they 
know all things. There is a taste in painting and 
music, which enables some, with great exactness, to 
perceive the beauties or blemishes of a picture or musi- 
cal composition. One, whose palate is not vitiated, 
knows good food as soon as he tastes it. Good-nature 
points out, at once, to the benevolent, what is agree- 
able or disagreeable to the rules of goodness, far more 
precisely, than the brightest genius does to the sullen 
and morose. Just so, a holy soul, when in the lively 
exercise of grace, without the trouble of surveying 
principles and consequences, easily distinguishes be- 
tween good and evil ; and, by an immediate percep- 
tion of the beauty or ugliness, sweetness or nauseous- 
ness, of such or such actions, judges of itself what is 
right : for love to God, heavenly-mindedness, meek- 
ness, humility, and such like graces, discover more 
readily and exactly to one of ordinary capacity, what 
conduct is becoming or unbecoming in a Christian, 
than the most diligent study and elaborate reasoning 
discovers this to a man who has not a spiritual taste, 
though of the strongest natural abilities. The lips of 


the righteous know what is acceptable : for the heart 
of the righteous teacheth his mouth, and addeth learn- 
ing to his lips. Those who are holy, being trans- 
formed bv the renewing of their mind, prove what is 
that good and perfect and acceptable will of God. 
The pleasant harmony there is between the word of 
God, and the disposition and relish of the sanctified, 
brings suitable scripture rules to their remembrance on 
proper occasions, and mightily helps them in judging 
the true meaning of these rules. 

And, as piety thus prevents men from mistaking 
the duties, so it preserves them from prejudices against 
the doctrines of Christianity. The natural man, who 
has nothing in him but mere unrenewed nature, receiv- 
eth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are 
foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, be- 
cause they are spiritually discerned. There is a cer- 
tain glory and excellency in the gospel scheme of sal- 
vation, of which he has no more idea than a blind man 
of colours, or a deaf man of sounds. No wonder, then, 
that Christ crucified is to him a stumbling-block, and 
that, being led aside by the error of the wicked, he 
makes shipwreck of faith. But the saint, perceiving 
that so glorious a scheme as the gospel could have none 
but God for its author, is fortified by this considera- 
tion against the impressions which the subtle reason- 
ings of Infidels might otherwise make upon him. 
Just as one, who perceives the light and brightness of 
the sun, would be little moved by any attempts to prove 
that there was nothing but darkness around him. 

But, above all, inward piety assists in understand- 
ing and explaining experimental religion. These can 
best unveil the pangs of the new birth, and the nature 
of union and communion with Christ, and describe con- 
version, progressive sanctification, a life of faith, the 
struggles of the flesh and spirit, and such like subjects. 


who can speak of them from their own experience. 
Those are best suited to speak a word in season to 
weary souls, who can comfort them, in their spiritual 
distresses, with those consolations wherewith they 
themselves have been comforted of God. Their ex- 
perience of the influence of truths which have been 
most useful to their own souls, leads them to insist 
much upon these in their public ministrations, and de- 
termines them to know nothing in comparison of 
Christ, and him crucified. \Miereas, on the other 
hand, some of the most edifying subjects are least re- 
lished by a bad man, and can scarcely be managed by 
him -sWth any advantage. Will he be fit to warn his 
hearers of the devices of Satan, and the deceits of a 
desperately wicked heart, who, being quite a stranger 
at home, knows nothing of these matters but from un- 
certain report ? M-ill not the unconverted minister, 
when he meets with the discouragements of an awak- 
ened sinner, or the fears and distresses of a doubting 
deserted saint, be often at a loss how to deal with 
them ? and is there not the highest danger, lest, on the 
one hand, he build up the false hopes of the self-de- 
ceiver, or, on the other hand, make sad the hearts of 
those whom God would not make sad ? Surely, those 
who are animated by the Spirit, which inspired the 
scriptures, bid fairest for explaining them aright, and 
applying them to the various necessities of their hearers. 
Ministers unconcerned about religion, are generally. 
cold and languid in llieir addresses to the conscience. 
WTien urging others to repent and believe, they do 
but stimmer about these things ; and their words, 
not coming from the heart, are not likely to reach it. 
Even, when the doctrine they preach tends to rouse 
the secure, their way of preaching it tends to lull them 
asleep.* There is something unnatural in endeavour- 

" Pride, tayt Mr. Baxter, makes many a man's sermons ; 
and what pride makes, the Devi] makes. And what sermons 


ing to excite, in other men's breasts, motions we never 
felt in our own. No wonder, then, that men behave 
awkwardly in attempting it, and that the coldness of 
the preacher makes the hearers cold too. But, when 
the faithful minister exhorts, out of the abundance of 
the heart the mouth speaketh. And the language of 
the heart has something in it peculiarly lively and per- 
suasive, something of unction, not to be equalled by 
the most laboured compositions of others. Unless one's 
gifts are uncommonly mean, a warm concern for souls 
ivill animate and inflame his language, dictate to him 
the most moving and pathetic addresses, and, on some 
occasions at least, inspire him with a divine, and al- 
most irresistible eloquence, which, with amazing 
force, will pierce the conscience, ravish the aff'ections, 
and strike conviction into the most obdurate offender. 
True religion will jjromote in ministers a pious and 
exemplary behaviour. The best advices lose their 
weight when the adviser gives us ground to suspect 
his sincerity, and to taunt him with the proverb. Phy- 
sician, cure thyself. Though ministers are not grossly 
profligate, if they are more solicitous to promote their 
own ease, wealth, and grandeur, than to advance the 
glory of God, and the good of souls ; more diligent to 
improve their farms than to feed their flock ; lovers 
of pleasures more than lovers of God ; and more hap- 
py in the company of the libertine than of the serious 
Christian ; if their behaviour is light and airy, and 
their conversation frothy and trifling ; if they are al- 
ways on the popular, or always on the fashionable side, 
and implicitly follow the directions of those who have 

the Devil will make, and to what end, we may easily conjec- 
ture. Though the matter be of God, yet if the dress, and man- 
ner, and end, be from Satan, we have no great reason to expect 
success. Baxter's GUdas Salvianus, chap. 4, sect. 2. 


it in their power to gratify their pride, or satiate their 
avarice : this will greatly lessen our respect for their 
instructions. But if ministers, by their conversation, 
as well as by their doctrine, hold forth the word of 
life ; if they live what they preach, possess the graces 
they recommend, and practise the virtues they enforce 
on others ; if they are courteous and affable, kind and 
condescending, and, while they dare to plead the cause 
of the God of truth, do it in a manner which may not 
offend him as the God of love ; if they can hate a man's 
vices, and yet love his person, and esteem his excel- 
lencies, ^vithout approving his faults ; if they keep at 
the widest distance from a sullen moroseness and me- 
lancholy dejection, and yet are grave and decent out of 
the pulpit as well as in it, maintain the dignity of their 
character, avoid those liberties, which, though gener- 
ally deemed innocent, have been guilty of destroying 
both the power and form of godliness, and abridge 
themselves, on proper occasions, even of la%vful free- 
doms, remembering that many things may be lawful 
which, when practised by a minister, edify not ; if they 
are indeedblameless and harmless, the sons of God with- 
out rebuke, shining as lights in the world ; if, under 
the strongest temptations to dissemble, the law of 
truth is in their mouth, and no iniquity found in their 
lips : if their private behaviour breathes a spirit of 
genuine undissembled goodness : what a glorious pro- 
spect does this open, of the flourishing of religion un- 
der their culture ? If all in the ministry did thus 
walk with God in truth and equity, might we not ex- 
pect God would honour them, to turn many away from 
iniquity ? might we not hope, that so lovely a con- 
duct would engage others to be followers of tbem, 
even as they are of Christ ? — Exemplary holiness, 
meekness and gentleness, forbearance and patience, 
candour and moderation, modesty and humility, love 


to God, to Christ, and to virtue, and a behaviour cor- 
responding to these graces, must needs adorn the teach- 
er's profession, add efficacy to his instructions, stop the 
mouth of slander, give freedom and boldness in reprov- 
ing vice, gain him the aifections of the pious, command 
the esteem and reverence of the indifferent, strike the 
enemies of religion \vith awe and dread, restrain the 
most profligate from many enormities they would 
otherwise commit, and transform even envy itself in- 
to admiration of so amiable a character, and a gener- 
ous desire to copy after it. — But, may some inquire, 
cannot the hypocrite behave well ? I grant he may, 
in a certain degree. But some of the most signal and 
illustrious evidences of grace in the heart, are of so 
mortifying a nature, that the hypocrite will scarcely 
attempt to counterfeit them : or, if he do, as the part 
he acts is unnatural and constrained, it is scarce pos- 
sible but, when off his guard, something will be done 
or neglected by him, which, though no full evidence 
of the badness of his heart, may raise such prejudices 
against him, as will render his person contemptible, and 
his ministry too. Not to observe that a holy provi- 
dence often unveils the secret depravity which a splen- 
did profession may, for a while, conceal. 

I conclude this head, with observing, that if the seeds 
of godliness are not sown in the heart, ere we under- 
take the pastoral office, probably they will never be 
sown there. True, indeed, a bad minister is not out 
of the reach of grace : but of all men, he has least 
reason to expect it. His being engaged in religious 
services, so far from promoting his cure, tends to 
harden him in impenitence. And as wicked seamen, 
who continually border on the confines of death, by 
being accustomed to danger, learn to despise it ; so the 
most affecting truths, by being familiar to the wicked 
preacher, lose their efficacy upon him, and he acquires 


such a habit of talking of tilings the most important 
and tremendous, without feeling what he says, that 
neither the thunders of the law alarm, nor the grace 
of the gospel allures him. To use the Avords of the 
judicious Bishop Butler, " Going over the theory of vir- 
tue in one's thoughts, talking well, and drawing fine 
pictures of it ; this is so far from necessarily or cer- 
tainly conducing to form an habit of it, in him who 
thus employs himself, that it may harden the mind in 
a contrary course, and, by degrees, render it insensible 
to all moral considerations. For, from our very facul- 
ty of habits, passive impressions, by being repeated, 
grow weaker. Thoughts, by often passing through the 
mind, are felt less sensibly."* 

II. Orthodoxy, or soundness in the faith, is highly 
necessary in a spiritual instructor. Much more stress 
is laid upon this, in the sacred writings than some 
seem ^villing to allow. Timothy is not only instructed 
what to preach, but commanded to charge some, that 
they teach no other doctrine ; to withdraw himself 
irom those who teach otherwise, and who consent not 
to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to god- 
liness ; to avoid those oppositions of science, falsely so 
called, which some professing, have erred concerning 
the faith ; and to hold fast the form of sound words 
which he had heard of Paul. Titus is acquainted, that 
a bishop must hold fast the faithful word, as he has 
been taught, and charged to speak the things which be- 
come sound doctrine ; in doctrine showing uncorrupt- 
ness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be 
condemned. But can all this be expected of one whose 
sentiments are unsound } or shall we say, these quali- 
fications were necessary in an age when the presence 

" Butler's Analogy, P. i. chap. 5. 


of the apostles might have done much to stop the pro- 
gress of error, but are unnecessary now ? Jude ac- 
quaints those to whom he wrote, " Beloved, when I 
gave all diligence to write unto you of the common 
salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and 
exhort you, that ye should contend earnestly for the 
faith which Avas once delivered to the saints." Does 
not this import, that the common salvation cannot be 
secured, if fundamental articles of faith are renounc- 

I know orthodoxy is a thing every where spoken 
against, and has had the misfortune to be judged and 
condemned as accessary to crimes, which, had men 
consulted it, they would never have committed. If 
the name displeases any, we shall give it another. Is 
it either ridiculous or hurtful to judge of things as 
they really are .'' If Orthodoxy, in this sense, has 
done evil, let its enemies bear witness of the evil ; but 
if good, why do they reproach it ? Do superstition, en- 
thusiasm, bigotry, or persecution for conscience sake, 
flow from just sentiments of religion, and of the proper 
means to promote it .'' or rather, do they not flow 
from wrong sentiments of these .'' Truth and general 
utilitv necessarily coincide. The first produces the 
second. " Observing truth," to use the words of the 
learned Bishop Warhurton, " is acting as things really 
are. He who acts as things really are, must gain his 
end, all disappointment proceeding from acting as 
things are not ; just as in reasoning from true or false 
principles, the conclusion that follows must be neces- 
sarilv right or MTong. But, gaining the end of acting, 
is utility or happiness; disappointment of the end, 
misery."* If, then, as this masterly reasoner has well 
proved, truth produces utility ; will it not follow, t^at 

" Warburton's Divine Legation, book 3, sect. 6. 


to despise orthodoxy, is to despise happiness ? I 
would add, that, as the end of divine revelation is the 
glory of God, and the holiness and happiness of man- 
kind, it is, on the matter, impeaching di%'ine wisdom, 
to say, that there is any thing in divine revelation, 
which does not tend, in some degree, directly or indi- 
rectly, to promote these ends. And, if so, even lesser 
mistakes in public teachers must be hurtful, as even 
lesser mistakes will prevent their improving certain 
truths for the good and wise purposes for which they were 
revealed. Nevertheless, though a teacher free from er- 
ror may be wished for, it can scarcely be expected 
that, in the present state of human nature, such a one 
should be found : for, as the apostle observes in the 
verse following our text, " If any man offend not in 
word, the same is a perfect man." Those, therefore, 
who entertain just notions of those doctrines which the 
holv Spirit uses as the chief means of convincing and 
converting sinners, and building up saints in faith, 
holiness, and comfort, may, notwithstanding their less- 
er mistakes, be considerably useful in preaching the 
gospel. But such as have ^^Tong notions of those truths 
whereby the blessed Spirit ordinarily begins and car- 
ries on the life of God in the soul of man, are scarcely 
fit to be workers together with God, in the affair of 
man's salvation. And those will be likely to corrupt 
men from the simplicity that is in Christ, and remove 
them to another gospel, who embrace principles which 
strike at the vitals, and sap the very foundations of 
religion ; principles calculated to flatter the pride, or 
to encourage the sensuality of corrupt nature. 

AUow me to adopt the reasoning of a sermon lately 
printed, in which the importance of right principles in 
religion is excellently represented.* " They who hold 

" Dr. Blair's sermon before the Society for propagating Chris- 
tian Knowledge, Jan. 1, 1750, p. 17. 


the good influence of Christian principles to be so in- 
considerable, as to render the propagation of them of 
no great importance, will be at no loss to give us in- 
stances of corrupt and wrong principles having Ijad a 
great influence on the world. Loud complaints we 
hear from this quarter, of the dreadful eiFects which 
superstition and enthusiasm have produced ; how they 
have poisoned the tempers and transformed the man- 
ners of men, and have overcome the strongest restraints 
of law, of reason, and of humanity.^Is this, then, the 
case, that all principles, except good ones, are suppos- 
ed to be of such mighty energy ? Strange ! that false 
religion should do so much, and true religion so little. 
No impartial inquirer, sure, can be of so absurd an 
opinion. The whole history of mankind shows, that 
religious belief is no inconsiderable principle of action. 
The mischief such belief has done, when misled, is in- 
deed a good argument to be on our guard against er- 
ror. But, as it is a proof of what belief can do, it is 
an argument to hope the more from it, when rightly 
directed." These reflections prove not only the im- 
portance of Christianity in general, but of just and 
true sentiments of the particular doctrines contained in 
it ; and, consequently, they prove the importance of 
an orthodox ministry. 

III. A tolerable genius and capacity, with a compe- 
tent measure of true learning, are requisite to fit for 
the office of a spiritual instructor. Infidels may wish, 
as Julian the apostate did, to see learning banished 
from the Christian church. And men of low educa- 
tion, or of selfish spirits, may think meanly, or speak 
diminutively of a gospel ministry, as if the Aveakest 
abilities sufficed to qualify for it. But a Paul cried 
out, who is sufficient for these things ? Elihu tells 
us, that scarcely one of a thousand is qualified to deal 
with the conscience. Jeroboam was blamed for mak- 


ing priests of the lowest of the people. And Amos 
speaks of it, as something strange and unusual, that 
he who had not been educated in the schools of the 
prophets, who was no prophet, neither a prophet's son, 
but an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruitj 
should be commissioned by God to prophesy to Israel. 
HoA^ever, then, some may speak evil of the things 
which they know not, we dare engage to prove, that a 
weak, honest man, might, with as much propriety, and 
as little inconvenience, be allowed to undertake the 
office of physician, or advocate, or judge, as the office 
of a minister of Christ : though, doubtless, his good 
and honest heart, \\'ithout other qualifications, would 
be poor enough furniture for offices less important and 
difficult than these. Uncommon talents are necessary 
to explain obscure passages of Scripture, to resolve in- 
tricate cases of conscience, and to defend the truth 
ao-ainst sainsayers : services, to which ministers have 


freauent calls. Nor will a small measure of skill and 
ability qualify any man, to teach the necessary doc- 
trines and duties of religion, to convince theunderstand- 
inor, to interest the affections, to dart irresistible light 
into the conscience, and fix it there, to meet with men's 
objections and prejudices against religion, to unfold 
the tentations of Satan, and deceits of the heart, and 
to do aU this in a manner becoming the dignity of the 
pulpit, and yet plain to the dullest capacity. Nothing 
less than this, is the ordinary object of the spiritual 
instructor. Good sense, expressed so perspicuously, 
and ran"-ed in such an order, as to be easily understood 
and remembered, is the very soul of composition ; and 
this cannot be expected, but from one of a quick in- 
vention, a clear head, and a sound judgment, who has 
•'ifts as well as grace, a doctrinal and speculative, as 
well as a practical and experimental knowledge, and 
has acquired a facility of imparting his ideas to others. 


And even all this will not go so far as to qualify a 
man to speak often in public, without either a reten- 
tive memory, or an unusual command of words. Nay, 
the best natural powers will need to be well cultivat- 
ed by a liberal education. Without an ability to read 
the scripture in the languages in which it was origi- 
nally written, and some acquaintance with natural and 
moral philosophy, history, antiquit} , the best Greek 
and Roman authors, and the arts of logic, rhetoric, and 
criticism, in an age of so much learning as the present, 
a minister can scarcely fail to be despised ; and a de- 
spised ministry is seldom successful. Besides, on many 
occasions, the teacher will need all his learning to un- 
fold to him the meaning of ditlicult passages in sacred 
■wTit. especially if, as sometimes happens, his commen- 
taries fail him, where he most wants their help. Nor 
will one, wholly ignorant of philosophy, history, and- 
criticism, be able to give satisfying answers to the 
reasonings of infidels founded upon these, to detect 
their sophistry, beat them out of their strong holds, 
and so, if he convince not their conscience, at least to 
stop their mouths. There are some scriptures, from 
which, if they stood in the original as they do in our 
translations, almost unanswerable objections might be 
drawn against our holy faith. And what advantage 
must this give the infidel to triumph over the illiter- 
ate teacher ! And, indeed, if the hedge of a learned 
ministry were once removed from these lands, as I am 
afraid some wish it to be, what could we expect, but that 
ignorance and infidelity, error and heresy, superstition 
and enthusiasm, should quickly overspread them ? 
Those who, by the blessing of God on their studies, 
have acquired considerable measures of learning, have 
been the best explainers and defenders of Christianity, 
and recommended practical religion in the most dis- 
tinct and persuasive manner. And without a miracle 



which we have no sround to expect, illiterate minis- 
ters can never equal them. 

But above all, one who would teach others to be 
religious, must himself have a clear and distinct notion 
of religion. We cannot avoid despising the man who 
is ignorant in his own profession, whatever his know- 
ledge may be of other matters. To say of a physician, 
he has a good taste in music and poetry, but is grossly 
ignorant of the nature of diseases, and of their proper 
remedies, is giving him the most unfavourable charac- 
ter. In like manner, it is a wretchedly poor character 
of a minister of Christ, to say of him, " he is a good 
philosopher, and understands well the Greek and 
Roman writers, but is little acquainted with the means 
revealed in scripture, of recovering mankind from the 
ruins of their apostacy :" for, if so, he comes short of 
the very end of his office, and fails in that, in which, 
above all things, he ought to have excelled. We can- 
not therefore entertain too low and despicable an opini- 
on of such ignorant presumers, as set up for teachers 
of Christianity, and pretend to show unto others the 
way of salvation, while their own ideas of it are so 
dark and confused, that they have need to be taught 
which are the first principles of the oracles of God. 
He who would be a scribe, instructed in the kingdom of 
heaven, able to bring forth out of his treasures things 
new and old, must understand well the doctrine of 
man's primitive apostacy from God, with its unhappy 
effects on the whole human race ; the method of re- 
covery through Christ : the work of the Spirit in ap- 
plying a purchased redemption ; the full and free of- 
fers of Christ, and of salvation through him, made in 
the gospel, to the very chief of sinners ; the nature of 
that faith which unites to Christ, of that holiness 
Avhich makes men meet for the inheritance of saints in 
light, and which is indeed heaven begun in the soul ; 


and of those various good works of piety, or of charity, 
by which we are bound to glorify God, to serve him in 
our generation, and to prove, to ourselves and others, 
the truth and energy of our faith. It is a contradic- 
tion to suppose that ministers should be able to repre- 
sent these important doctrines in a proper ligiit to 
others, if they themselves understand neither what 
they say, nor whereof they affirm. Miserable, there- 
fore, must be the state of the church, if left to the care 
of such unskilful guides ! for, if the blind lead the 
blind, both must fall into the ditch. To prevent so 
dreadful a calamity, it is required, as an essential qua- 
lification of a guide to souls, that he be apt to teach ; 
not a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall 
into the condemnation of the devil. Those, whose 
knowledge of divinity is entirely derived from a feAv 
modern sermon-writers, or books on the deistical con- 
troversy*, but who have never read and digested into 
their memories a system of divinity, must needs be ig- 
norant of many important truths, and can scarcely have 
any view of that connexion of the different parts of re- 
ligion, in which a great deal of its beauty consists. 
And will such keep back from their hearers nothing 
profitable, and teach others what they have never learn- 
ed themselves .'' will they instruct men in the whole 
of their duty to God, to themselves, and to one another, 
who are unskilful in the word of righteousness, having 
never studied with care the nature and necessity of 
these duties, the hinderances in the practice of them, 
and the methods of removing those hinderances .'' or 
will those, who have not thoroughly studied the evi- 

• The author regrets, that defences of Christianity, and re- 
plies to Tindal, CoUins, &c. forty-seven years ago, when he 
preached this sermon, justly admired, and generally read, are now 
almost forgotten. 


dences of Christianity in general^ or of particular ar- 
ticles of faithj be ready to give an answer to every man 
that asketh a reason of the hope that is in them ; and 
thus be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to 
convince gainsayers ? 

I conclude this head with observing, that the spiri- 
tual instructor should be viighty in the scriptures, able 
not only to repeat, but to explain them, having the 
'^^'ord of God dwelling in him richly, in all wisdom 
and spiritual understanding. It is his duty to declare 
the whole counsel of God, and to teach men to observe 
all things whatsoever Jesus has commanded. But how 
can he do this, without knowing from the sacred or- 
acles, what is the counsel of God, and what are the com- 
mands of Jesus ? Any other guide will, in some instanc- 
es, mislead, or at least prove defective in his instruc- 
tions. The scriptures only are fully sufficient for doc- 
trine, for reproof, for instruction, for correction in right- 
eousness; able to make the man of God perfect, thorough- 
ly furnished to every good word and work ; able to di- 
rect the ministers, not only how to live, but how topreach . 
And he who is little conversant in them, will be apt to 
insist much on things which they rarely mention ; and 
seldom to mention things on which they chiefly dwell : 
to lay a great deal of stress on things on ^vhich they 
lay little stress, and little stress on things Avhich they 
exhibit as of the last importance. Hence, some dis- 
courses on self-examination almost entirely omit, or 
handle in an overly, superficial manner, some of the 
plainest, most express, and most frequently repeated 
scripture characters of true holiness, on the one hand, 
and of counterfeit appearances of it, on the other, as if 
they had found out a better way to distinguish the 
real Christian from the self deceiver, than that which 
the, sacred oracles, when designedly treating on this 


subject, have pointed out.* Hence, methods have 
been recommended to preserve the solemnity of ordi- 
nances, different from, nay, in some instances, contra- 
ry to, those which Infinite ^nsdom has prescribed. 
Hence some content themselves with recommending 
holiness in general, without distinctly explaining and 
enforcing particular duties, or reproving, as our Lord 
and his apostles did, particular sins. Others, in ex- 
horting to moral virtues, scarce make any use of the 
motives to them, urged with so divine an eloquence in 
the scriptures of truth. t And, which is worst of all, 
some so entirely omit the peculiar doctrines of the gos- 

" I know no writer who, in inquiring into this important 
subject has proceeded with such cautious regard to the infallible 
touchstone of truth, as Mr. Jonathan Edwards of Northampton, 
in his judicious treatise concerning rehgious affections, printed 
at Boston, 1746. I scarcely think this age has produced any 
book on practical dirinity, which vriR so well rev^-ard a careful 

•f* I mean not, says a lively writer, to exclude morality from 
preaching Christ. No ; this I testify, that he, who neglects the 
former, shall never be benefited by the latter. Christ profiteth 
him nothing. Religion is the sonPs conformity to God in his moral 
perfections. So much as a man has of true morality, so much has 
he of God ; and so much as he has of God in this world, so much 
will he have of heaven in the next- But then, this morality must 
be baptized in the name of Christ. Without regard to Christ in 
principle, and in end, and an entire dependance upon the influences 
of his Spirit; the brightest speculations, and the strongest argu- 
ments, a text fetched from the Bible and motives brought from hea- 
ven would be to preach Seneca, rather than Christ : and to urge 
the duties of morahty upon motives that are not Christian, is 
only to deprive the lame man of his crutches, and then bid him 
walk. No man ever insisted on morality more than St. Paul ; 
but he ever christianiseth it : he ingrafts the man into faith by 
Christ, and you quickly find him budding with every precious 
grace, and loaded with the fruit of good works. Never doth 
Paul seem so much in his element, as when he is preaching 


pel, that one might hear a long course of sermons from 
them, without learning that, which it was the grand 
design of revelation to teach, the way, I mean, in which 
a fallen creature may emerge from the ruins of his 
apostacy. Hence, instead of rightly dividing the word 
of truth, many confine their sermons to those subjects, 
on which they find their thoughts flow with the most 
readiness and aifection, neglecting others of at least 
equal importance. Some are continually detecting the 
deceits of the heart, and false resemblances of grace ; 
others, thundering out the terrors of the law, repre- 
senting the dreadful indignation of God against the un- 
converted, or arguing the justice of that indignation ; 
and others content themselves, with inviting sinners 
to accept the Saviour, without taking suitable pains, by 
preaching the duties and sanctions of the law, to con- 
vince them of their need of him. Some seem to for- 
get, that to quicken, to warn, to direct, and to encour- 
age true Christians, is any part of their work ; while 
others address their audiences, as if they were all con- 
verted. Some preach continually upon duties, others 
upon privileges, others upon doubts and temptations. 
These, and such like defects, would be prevented, were 
Moses and the prophets, Christ and his apostles, consid- 
ered as our patterns in preaching. The deep things of 
God, which he has revealed by his Spirit, should be the 
grand topics of our ministry, as they were of Paul's : and 
these we should speak, as he did, not in the words which 
man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost 
teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 

IV. Ministers have need to be persons of prudence 
and conduct, and to know men as well as books. A 

Christ. How often doth he go out of his way to meet witli 
him ! Here, he stretches in his thoughts, and pursues the glo- 
ries of the Redeemer, till he is almost out of breath, &c. Ilob- 
by''t Sermon at Emerson'' $ ordination^ p. 16. 


minister should study himself. He should not only be 
acquainted with his own spiritual state, but with the 
particular turn of his genius : for, God having distri- 
buted among ministers various gifts, and thereby fit- 
ted them to answer different purposes in his service, 
our ufulseness will in a great measure depend upon 
knowing what our gift is. Thus, some are fittest t<J 
inform and convince the judgment, by the clear and 
distinct light in which they represent truth, and tht 
strong and unanswerable arguments with which thev 
support it. Others have a greater talent of toucii- 
ing the conscience, or of moving the passions. A min- 
ister should */«f(y //?e make and frame of the human 
mind ; for, till the springs of human nature are, in ;; 
good measure, disclosed to him, and he has learned 
how far the bodily passions, or a disordered imagin- 
ation, may either cloud genuine piety, or cause a re- 
semblance of it, he will be often at a loss what judg- 
ment to frame of religious appearances. He should 
know all the avenues to the soul, and study the dif- 
ferent capacities and tempers of men, that he may be 
able, with becoming address, to suit himself to them 
all. Physicians consider the age, constitution, strength, 
and way of living, of their patients, and vary their 
prescriptions accordingly. Ministers should, in like 
manner, be able to adapt themselves to the different 
ages, natural dispositions, genius, temporal circum- 
stances, temptations, errors, moral characters, and re- 
ligious inclinations of their hearers. 

No wise prince will employ those to manage affairs, 
in which his honour and the interest of his kingdom 
are deeply concerned, who have not capacities and ac- 
complishments, in some measure adapted to that im- 
portant trust ; and, as Solomon observes, he that send- 
eth a message by the hand of a fool, cutteth off the feet^ 
and drinketh damage. Can we, then, entertain so low 


sentiments of the wisdom of the King of heaven, as to 
think, that no\^', when extraordinary gifts are ceased, 
he would ordinarily employ those in the grand, but 
difficult design, of advancing his glory, and saving pre- 
cious souls, who are unfit to be employed even about 
the common affairs of this life? 

The ambassadors of Jesus, then, should be wise as 
serpents, as well as harmless as doves. The wisdom 
that is from above, which is first pure, then peace- 
able, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy 
and of good fruits, without partiality, and Avithout 
hypocrisy, should shine even in their private conversa- 
tion. They are required to let no man despise them, 
and to give no offence in any thing, that the ministry 
be not blamed. A wicked, ill-natured world, are 
continually watching for their halting, and will gladly 
improve the least slip or inadvertency, to bring a slur 
upon them. jMinisters, therefore, had need to shun, 
not only what is sinful, but what is dishonourable or 
disobliging, and to avoid every thing which may just- 
ly blast their reputation, and thus lessen their influ- 
ence, and impair their usefulness. If their behaviour 
is mean and sordid, ridiculous and affected, rash and 
imprudent, much hurt is hereby done to religion, and 
sacred things become contemptible. 

Thev should not indulge the first sallies of a warm 
imagination, but weigh the more distant consequences 
of actions, lest they mislead the weak and injudicious, 
provoke the censures of the captious and severe, and 
hurt the gospel when they meant to serve it. Where 
they innocently may, they should accommodate them- 
selves to people's humours, and become all things to 
all men, that, by an obliging conduct, they may gain 
them to Christ. They should avoid imprudently in- 
termeddlingin controversies of a civil nature, especially 
among those of their own charge, and saying or doing 


any thing indiscreet, whereby they may prejudice the 
people against their ministrations. In opposing error, 
and repro\ang vice, they must know when to keep si- 
lence, and when to speak ; when to come with a rod, 
and when in the spirit of meekness. Likewise, in 
healing wounded consciences, in reconciling those at 
variance, in encouraging the disconsolate, in speaking 
to those on a death-bed, in managing the public busi- 
ness, and in exercising the discipline of the church : 
all their sagacity, caution, penetration, and judgment, 
are little enough to choose out the properest means, 
and to apply them with dexterity, that they may not 
spoil the best designs by bad management. 

Spiritual instructors need wisdom for rightly manag- 
ing their public discourses. They should adapt the 
choice of their subjects to the particular circumstances 
and necessities of their hearers, as wise householders, 
giving to every one his portion of meat in due season ; 
and should compose their sermons so, as that the 
meanest may understand, and the most judicious have 
no cause to despise them, and so as neither unneces- 
sarily to offend the weak, nor give advantage to the ma- 
liciously criticising. They should imitate their glo- 
rious Master, who patiently bore with the prejudices 
of his disciples, and instructed them as they were able 
to bear it. Much depends on the timing of things 
well, and the manner of doing them ; on choosing the 
most proper seasons for instruction, and imparting it 
in an engaging manner ; on avoiding offensive phrases, 
and borrowing favourite ones, where we honestlv can ; 
and, on using such reasonings to confirm the doctrines, 
or to enforce the duties of religion, as we have ground 
to think, from the disposition of our hearers, or the 
dealings of providence towards them, will be aptest 
to strike and work upon them : for a word, fitly spoken, 
is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Now, in 


all this, wisdom is profitable to direct, as no rules can 
be given to extend to every particular case. 

V. A due mixture of a studious disposition, and of 
an active spirit, is necessary in teachers of Christiani- 
ty. That the last of these is so, appears, at first sight, 
from the time and pains requisite to know the state of 
our congregations, to catechise, to visit the sick, to ad- 
minister private instruction, reproof or consolation, to 
prepare young people for the Lord's table, and some- 
times to conduct to the Saviour the awakened sinner, 
who is asking the way to Zion with his face set thither- 
ward. The ministry is no idle or easy profession, but 
requires an almost uninterrupted series of the most 
painful and laborious services. But ministers of a 
lazy, indolent disposition, wiU be tempted to hurry 
over those duties, and will grudge to spend so much 
time in them as is really necessary to render them in 
any degree useful. Nor will ordinary measures of 
grace suffice to overcome such temptations. But then, 
a studious disposition is equally necessary. It was 
not without its use, even in the days of inspiration. 
Solomon found much study a Aveariness to the flesh ; 
but yet was sensible, that the advantages of it over- 
balanced the toil ; and tells us, that the preacher, 
meaning himself, sought to find out acceptable words, 
and gave good heed, and sought out and set in order 
many proverbs. Though he excelled all men in un- 
derstanding, yet he did not turn people off ^nth any 
thing that came first in his mind, but took pains to 
range his thoughts in a proper method, and to express 
them in agreeable language ; so that his sermons were 
tl>e fruit of labour and study, as well as of inspiration. 
And he tells what moved him to all this pains. "The 
words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened 
by the masters of assemblies, i. e. There is like power 
in words wisely chosen to stir up the slothful to duty, 


as there is in a goad to prick the ox forward. Nor do 
they only move the affections in a transient way, but 
stick in the conscience and memory, as nails do in a 
board." Daniel understood, by books, the number of 
the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jere- 
miah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy 
years, in the desolations of Jerusalem. Paul was 
brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and had made 
considerable proticiencv under so eminent a master. 
And yet, after he had been favoured with divine in- 
spiration, he is so far from thinking further study 
needless, that even when in prison, and when he had 
the near prospect of his approaching martyrdom, he 
commands his books and parchments to be sent him. 
If this inspired apostle saw occasion for all the learn- 
ing and knowledge he could attain to by ordinary 
means, to assist him in instructing mankind, much 
more must we stand in need of such helps, who can- 
not pretend to his extraordinary gifts. Paul exhorts 
Timothy to give attendance, first to reading and then 
to exhortation and doctrine, to instruct himself well, be- 
fore he instructed others ; and charges him to medi- 
tate on divine things, and give himself wholly to them, 
that his profiting might appear to all. Though, from 
a child, he had known the holy scriptures, was es- 
teemed learned enough to be a minister of Christ, 
and had extraordinary gifts bestowed upon him ; he 
is warned, that reading and meditation were still ne- 
cessary to fit him to teach and exhort. Shall Ave then 
be able, without any reading or meditation at all, to 
preach the word of life, in a way suitable to its majesty 
and importance ? I deny not, indeed, that those 
whom God has blessed A^ath a ready elocution, mav 
preach warmly and accurately too, without writing 
their sermons. But even those, who have words most 
at command, will prove but a sounding-brass, and a 


tinkling cymbal, if they do not endeavour, by reading 
and meditation, to be masters of the subjects on which 
they preach. Reverence for that God in whose name 
we speak, regard for the dignity of the pulpit, and 
concern for the glorious design that brings us there, 
should prevent our rushing into it rashly and unpre- 
pared, and serving God and his people with sudden 
undigested thoughts that cost us nothing. Ministers 
are not set apart to their office, to trifle away six days 
of the week, and then to go to the pulpit with what- 
ever comes uppermost. Such extemporary perfor- 
mances, though for a little they may please some, sel- 
dom do credit to God's ordinances, or produce any 
lasting effects on the hearers. The good matter con- 
tained in them is generally despised and overlooked, 
through contempt of the looseness of the method, and 
meanness of the style. Meditation, then, and read- 
ing, are necessary branches of a minister's duty ; and, 
consequently, those must be unfit for the pastoral of- 
fice, who are of an unfixed, sauntering disposition, who 
have no relish for study, know not what it is to medi- 
tate, and are never pleased but when with company, 
or abroad. 

And now, my dear hearers, let what has been said 
affect all of you, with the deepest concern, that ever the 
care of souls should have been entrusted to men desti- 
tute of these qualifications. Let it excite in you the 
warmest emotions of gratitude to the Father of mercies, 
for blessing our land in general, and those bounds in 
particular, with so many able and faithful ministers. 
Let it procure your prayers for us in the ministry, 
that the blessed Spirit would more and more qualify 
us for our difficult work, by imparting all needful 
supplies of gifts and grace : and that, as death is daily 
thinning our numbers, the Lord of the harvest would. 


from time to time, repair our breaches, by sending 
forth honest and skilful labourers into his harvest. 

Students need scarcely be particularly addressed, as 
the whole of what has been said was principally de- 
signed to warn them, not to be too forward and hasty 
in setting up for teachers. God does not call those to 
feed the sheep of Christ, who have no love to the 
Shepherd. For all who love not our Lord Jesus are 
wicked ; and unto the wicked God saith. What hast 
thou to do, to declare my statutes, or to take my cove- 
nant in thy mouth ? How great a trust is committed 
to the pastor ! Hundreds of precious immortal souls 
he is bound to watch over, as one that must give an 
account : And will you be able to give a good account 
of the souls of others, if unable to give a good account 
of your own ? Is it not a most pitiable case, to be under 
a strict and awful charge, to affect the minds of your 
hearers with what never affected your own minds ? 
Presume not, then, to undertake the care of souls, 
without personal holiness, and till, by the blessing of 
God on your education, and your diligent attendance 
on prayer, reading, and meditation, you have attained 
a suitable furniture of gifts and graces for the service 
of the sanctuary. You behold with indignation 
the quack-doctor, who will venture to hazard the 
health and lives of men for a little paltry gain. If 
such deserve to be accounted murderers of the body, 
shall not the blood of souls be laid to thy charge, if 
thou shalt undertake the care of them while unquali- 
fied for it, and if, through thy negligence or unskil- 
fulness, they shall eternally perish ? 

Parents should be well satisfied of the pious dis- 
position of their children, and of the goodness of their 
genius, ere they devote them to the work of the mini- 
stry ; and should beware of pressing them to under- 


take the care of souls^, against their inclination^ or 
without it. 

Such as are invested with the power of choosing gos- 
pel ministers, or in choosing those ivho are to train up 
oiir youth in the various branches of knowledge neces- 
sary for the ministry, I would humbly entreat to be 
\vise and faithful in the discharge of so important a 
trust. Let always the most worthy be preferred. Do 
all to the glory of God. Esteem the interests of Zion, 
and of Zion's king, above your chiefest joy. These 
are the commands of God ; and if you disregard them, 
sooner or later you shall smart for it. Let not affec- 
tion for any friend, or fear of disobliging those from 
whom you expect favours, mislead you to an improper 

Patrons, as good Bishop Burnet has observed, * are 
bound to pay a sacred regard to the trust vested in 
them ; and if they exercise their legal right, should 
first carefullv consider what are the qualifications of 
the person they present to a benefice ; otherwise the 
souls, that may be lost by a bad nomination, ■will be 
reqxiired at their hands, bv him who made and pur- 
chased these souls, and in whose sight they are of in- 
estimable value. It is all one, with relation to the 
account they must give at the tribunal of Jesus, 
whether money, or kindred, or friendship, or some- 
thing else, was their motive in bestowing a presenta- 
tion, if regard is not had, in the first place, to the 
worth of the person nominated, and his fitness to un- 
dertake the care of souls. Did patrons act Avith a 
visible regard to true goodness and real merit, and 
were they never swayed to make a wTongnomination by 
application and importunity, by ambitious or interested 
views, or by desire of gratifying a friend, who may 

• Pastoral Care, ch. 7, 140, 141 ; and ch. 10, throughout. 


have a chaplain to provide for ; the worst grievance 
in presentations would be removed, which I take to 
be this, that many patrons have no sense of the value 
of souls ; and therefore are indifferent with whom 
they entrust them. 

Those who arc so happy as to be allowed the choice 
of a guide to their souls, must be chargeable with the 
worst of madness, nay, with the most monstrous and 
inexcusable impiety, if they willingly expose their 
souls to eternal destruction, by committing them to 
the charge of those, of whose piety and abilities they 
have no knowledge. Surely, no affair in the whole 
circle of life calls for more serious concern and impor- 
tunate supplication. Let not then interest and favour, 
let not ambition to be head of a party, let not the so- 
licitations of great men, on the one hand, or a humour 
of opposing them, on the other, determine your con- 
duct. Be not too much influenced by little showy 
qualifications, such as a flowery style, a loud or me- 
lodious voice, a ready delivery. But covet earnestly 
the best gifts, the most solid and substantial qualifi- 
cations, such as piety, learning, sound principles, apt- 
ness to teach. Advise \^ath faithful and judicious mi- 
nisters, who are able and willing to serve your best 
interests, and are much more competent judges of 
some of these qualifications, than private Christians 
ordinarily can be. 

And let us, my reverend and dear fathers and breth- 
ren, from a genuine regard to the honour of God, and 
the credit of religion, to the success of the gospel, and 
the salvation of immortal souls ; and as we would not 
bring a stain upon our order, and depreciate it in the 
eyes of the world, which is often partial enough to 
censure the whole clergy for the faults of a few : Let 
us beware of introducing any into the sacred oflice, but 
such as we have good evidence are qualified for it, by 


being visibly, and in the judgment of charity, sincere 
Christians, orthodox as well as learned, having grace 
as well as gifts. I acknowledge, designing men may 
counterfeit some of these qualifications, with so much 
artifice, as, after the utmost caution we can use, to 
impose upon us : and in that case, though we commit 
a mistake, we are guilty of no fault, since such favour- 
able appearances ought to determine us to judge fa- 
vourably. But if we separate any to the ministry 
without suitable e\'idence of their fitness for it, either 
by personal acquaintance, and free unreserved conver- 
sation with them, or by hearing their public perfor- 
mances, and strictly and particularly examining their 
knowledge of the truth, and ability to defend it ; or 
by private inquiries at those, on v,'hose skill, integrity, 
opportunities of information, and cautiousness in re- 
commending, we may safely rely ; should such after- 
wards prove incapable of discharging their trust, the 
blame of their defects will be laid to our charge. 

How awful is the warning of Paul to Timothy, and 
in him to all concerned in ordaining others to the pas- 
toral office ! Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither 
be partaker of other inen's sins : keep thyself pure. As 
if he had said, though you have no particular reason 
to suspect a candidate unfit for the ministry, be not 
on that account slight and superficial in trying his 
qualifications for it, but examine, with the utmost care 
and exactness, his moral character, and aptness to 
teach ; for if, through indolence and carelessness, you 
neglect to make those inquiries, upon which you might 
have discovered \\hat ■was amiss ; or if, through an 
excessive tenderness for candidates, through that fear 
of man which bringeth a snare, or through some other 
unworthy motive, you so far connive at his known 
vices or defects, as to grant him ordination ; by this 
conduct, you partake with him, not only in the sins 


he has already committed, but in those also which he 
shall afterwards commit, while he either teaches or 
lives badly ; and therefore, you must answer for all 
the pernicious consequences of his ordination, in ruin- 
ing his own soul, and the souls of his flock. Nay, 
should other ministers be unwarrantably rash in this 
matter, and urge you to concur with them, be not 
moved by their entreaties or authority, to act contrary 
to your own judgment, lest you be condemned as ac- 
cessary to their guilt. In the verse preceding this 
caution, ministers are charged 7wt to prefer one before 
another, and to do nothing by partiality, i. e. not to 
determine a cause for or against any person, till we 
hear what can be said on both sides ; not to prefer one 
before another, where there appears no sufficient rea- 
son for such a preference ; and not to be swayed by 
friendship or prejudice, to be more favourable to one, 
and more severe to another, than we ought to be. 
And, in the end of the chapter, to encourage this dili- 
gence, the apostle informs us, that if we proceed with 
due deliberation we shall not lose our labour, but shall 
ordinarily be able to form a judgment concerning can- 
didates. Some men's sins are open beforehand, going 
before them to judgment ; and some men, they, viz. 
their sins, follow after. Like/vise, also, the good ivorks 
of some are ynanifest beforehaiid ; and they, viz. the 
good works, that are othenvise, cannot be hid* The 
meaning is, some men's sins are so heinous and notori- 
ous, that, going as it were before them to judgment, 
little or no trial is necessary in order to discover them. 
And the sins of others follow them to judgment ; be- 
cause, though less open, yet they also might, in most 

* See Grotius or Wolfius on the place, and a piece, entitled, 
The apostolical rule concerning the ordination of ministers consider- 
ed. Lond. 1737, p. 5—14.. 


cases, by due inquiry, be brought to light. In like 
manner, the good works of some, and their fitness for 
ordination, are easily discerned, even before they un- 
dergo a formal trial ; and those good works which are 
not manifest beforehand, but which, through the 
modesty or obscure situation of the performer, are 
little observed, may often, by a diligent search, be 

From this remarkable passage, to which we would 
do well to take heed, the learned Grotius observes, 
that we ought not only to enquire, whether a candi- 
date for ordination is innocent of atrocious crimes, but 
whether he has done much good, seeing the pious ac- 
tions of the eminently pious can seldom be hid. And, 
agreeably to this, Paul requires, not only that a bishop 
be blameless, but that he have a good report of 
them which are without, lest he fall into reproach ; 
so that freedom from gross scandals, without certain 
positive e\-idences of a pious disposition, is no suffi- 
cient warrant for us to ordain any. It is criminal to 
lay hands on a candidate, if we have no positive 
ground to hope that he wiU preach usefully ; and it 
is equally criminal to do it, if we have no positive 
ground to hope that he will be an example to others 
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, 
in purity : for the last of these is as really a part of 
the minister's duty, and as really a means to be used 
by him for saving souls as the first. The things, says 
Paul to Timothy, that thou hast heard of me among 
many •witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful 
men, who shall be able to teacli others also. We must 
have probable evidence of their faithfulness, as well 
as of their ability to teach. Even deacons are first to 
be proved, and then to use the office of a deacon. 
Sure, then, ministers, v/hose office is much more hon- 
ourable and important, should not be allowed to exer- 


cise it, till their fitness for it is well tried. But the 
vast danger of promiscuous admissions into the min- 
istry, has been so well represented, in a pamphlet 
published here three years ago, on occasion of an act 
and overture of the General Assembly IT-lG, * that I 
am sensible I have trespassed on your patience, in en- 
larging so much on this head. 

If any allege, that there would not be found a suffi- 
cient number of ministers for all our churches, did we 
ordain with such caution, I answer, it is better to 
hazard this inconvenience, than to break an express 
law of Christ, which, if less strict in ordaining, we 
certainly do. Let us mind our duty, and leave the 
event to providence. Strictness in admissions may, 
indeed, discourage those who bid fairer for starving or 
poisoning, than for feeding the souls of their flocks. 
But to discourage such is highly commendable : and a 
small number of able and faithful pastors, is more to 
be desired than a multitude of raw, ignorant, illiter- 
ate novices, incapable either to explain or to defend 
the religion of Jesus ; or of polite apostates from the 
gospel to philosophy, who think their time more use- 
fully and agreeably spent in studying books of science 
than in studying their bibles ; or of mercenary hire- 
lings, of as mean and sordid disposition as those we 
read of 1 Sam. ii. 36, who crouched to the high-priest 
for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, saying, 
" Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest's offices, 
that I may eat a piece of bread." 

May God, in mercy, prevent such low and unhappy 
men from ever creeping into the sacred function ! May 

* See a Lc'.ter to a Minuter of the Church of Scotland, shoie'mg 
the unreasonableness of extending chap. 7. of the form of process to 
probationers. Glasg. 1747, especially p. 6 — 27 ; aud p. 61 — 


a faithful, an able, and a successful ministry, ever be 
the blessing of our land ! May the glorious Head of 
the Church appoint unto every dwelling-place of mount 
Zion, and to all her assemblies, pastors according to 
his own heart, to feed his people with knowledge and 
understanding ! And may he, whose words are works, 
say to our church in general, and to this comer of it 
in particular, " This is my rest for ever ; here will I 
dwell ; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless 
her provision ; I will satisfy her poor with bread. I 
will also clothe her priests with righteousness, and her 
saints shall shout aloud for joy. There vriW I make 
the horn of David to bud. I have ordained a lamp 
for mine anointed. His enemies Avill I clothe with 
shame; but upon himself shall his crown flour- 





Giving no offence in any tiling, that the ministry he 
not blamed. 

These words of the apostle Paul, \vhich were 
primarily intended to do justice to his own character, 
and that of Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, pre- 
sent to the view of gospel ministers, in every age, a 
fair and approved pattern, which they ought to copy 
after, if they wish to prosper in their arduous work. 
The conduct of these excellent men was, in the main, 
so circumspect and exemplary, thft it eould give no 
just cause of oifence to Jews, to Gentiles, or to tlic 
churches of Christ. They carefully avoided whatever 
might increase the prejudices of unbelievers against 
the gospel, or might impair the reputation and success 
of their ministry, by laying a stumbling-block, or oc- 
casion of offence, in their brother's wav. 

I intend, in discoursing on this passage, first to ex- 
plain the duty of giving no offence ; then to inculcate 
upon myself and my brethren in the ministry, the 
practice of that duty ; and, lastly, to conclude with 


some practical reflections on what may be deliver- 

I. I am to explain the duty here recommended to 
ministers, Givi)'ig no offence. 

To preach and to act so as that in fact none shall 
be offended, would indeed be a hard, or rather impos- 
sible, task. We cannot govern the sentiments and 
passions of others ; and that can never be our duty 
which is wholly out of our power. The tastes of our 
hearers are so opposite, that what is relished by one 
set of them AviU necessarily disgust another. So 
changeable are the humours of not a few, that what 
yesterday they approved, to-morrow they condemn. 
The weak and captious will censure our not doing 
what was either impossible or unfit to be done. Not 
visiting the sick when we were altogether ignorant 
of their sickness ; visiting one person oftener than an- 
other ; preaching a little longer than usual, or a little 
shorter ; insisting often on subjects of general import- 
ance, or insisting seldom on subjects of less extensive 
use ; repeating the same sermon on different pulpits : 
borrowing useful observations from the compositions of 
others ; refusing to spend that time in company which 
duty requires us to devote to our studies : nay, cir- 
cumstances still more insignificant than these ; our 
parentage ; our wealth ; our poverty ; our dress ; our 
necessary recreations ; every thing that relates to us : 
every thing we say or do, however innocent : every 
thing we omit, however needless, may, by one or other, 
be found fault with. To such trifles, triflers alone can 
constantly attend. If people will take offence where 
no shadow of offence has been given, his soul must be 
grovelling, and his time and pains poorly employed, 
who, in such low inconsiderable matters, can entirely 
guard against it. Even truth and holiness give of- 
fence. If any truth is contrary to generally received 


opinions, many will be our enemies for telling them 
that truth. If vice is honestly reproved, the obstinate 
transgressor will be provoked. But if men take um- 
brage at us for doing our duty, it becomes us to offend 
man rather than God. When we hold on steadily iu 
the paths of truth and righteousness, amidst these un- 
just reproaches, the testimony of God and of a good 
conscience Avill afford us unspeakable support and de- 
light. The faithful minister, though reviled by an 
ungrateful generation, as a troubler of Israel, and a 
turner of the world upside doAvn, is glorious in the eyes 
of the Lord. Though his character may, for a season, 
be under a cloud, God will at length bring forth his 
righteousness as the light, and hisjudgment as thenoon- 
day. It is evident, therefore, the duty of giving no 
offence, only means the giving no just cause of offence, 
by doing any thing unbecoming our profession as 
Christians, or our office as ministers of Christ. But it 
is proper to descend to particulars. 

1. Our life and conversation should be inoffensive. 
Our station is elevated and conspicuous, and exposes 
us to the most strict and critical inspection. IMany 
eyes are upon us, and the same allowances will not be 
made for our miscarriages as for those of others. 
Though we could speak with the tongues of men and 
angels, we shall hardly charm our hearers into a life v£ 
piety, and convince them that religion is beautiful, un- 
less we exhibit her beauties in a regular well-ordered 
conversation. A dissolute life cannot fail to make us 
base in the sight of the people. When our practice is 
manifestly inconsistent with our doctrines, the bright- 
est parts will not protect our character, the finest ac- 
complishments will not screen us from deserved re- 

Nor is it enough that we are not chargeable with 
scandalous wickedness. If we indulge ourselves in 


practices of a suspicious nature ; venture to the ut- 
most bounds of u-hat is la\\^ul ; needlessly frequent 
the company of scoffers at religion ; or, at least, spend 
more of our leisure hours with the gay and thought- 
less, than with sober serious Christians ; if our con- 
duct betrays a crafty, political, intriguing spirit ; if 
we discover no relish for retirement ; are often and 
unnecessarily in the tavern, seldom in the closet, and 
reserve little of our time for reading, meditation, and 
prayer ; if a word scarce ever drops from us in ordin- 
ary conversation, that can either instruct or edify, we 
transgress the precept of giving no offence. With 
whatever force of argument and seeming warmth, we re- 
commend from the pulpit heavenly-mindedness and de- 
votion, humility, self-denial, weanedness from the world, 
uprightness and integrity, the careful improvement of 
time, and a tender circumspect life, few who observe 
our behaviour will be charitable, or rather, will be 
blind enough, to fancy us in earnest. The judicious 
will shrewdly suspect that pleasure, gain, or honour, 
is dearer to us than God's glory and the salvation of 
souls. Good men will be offended ; and even bad 
men, whatever they pretend, will, in their hearts, de- 
spise us. We move in a more exalted sphere than 
others ; and, if Ave would shine as lights of the world, 
had need to avoid every appearance of evil, and to con- 
sider well, not only what is just and pure, but what is 
lovely and of good report. The world expects that we 
should do honour to our profession, act up to the dig- 
nity of our character, and, with the great apostle of 
the Gentiles, magnify our offtce, by acquiring, culti- 
vating, and exercising every accomplishment, gift, and 
grace, that tends to promote our usefulness in the 
church of Christ. JMany things, abstractly considered, 
may be lawful, which yet are not expedient, and edify 
not. Duty, indeed, sometimes obliges us to contra- 


diet the humours of our people. But it is neither actt" 
ing a wise nor a good part, to contradict them for con- 
tradiction's sake. In matters indifferent, we should 
become all things to all men, that we may gain the 
more ; and deny ourselves the use of our lawful liber- 
ty, when, by indulging it, our brother would be stum- 
bled, or offended, or made weak. 

2. We should give no offence by choosing injudi- 
ciously the subjects of our sermons. When we preach 
wliat is the result of mere human reason, or teach, for 
doctrines, the commandments of men : when Vte urge 
uncertain speculations as warmly as if salvation depend- 
ed on the belief of them ; puzzle our hearers with new 
schemes unsupported by scripture evidence, or, by 
forced unnatural interpretations, torture the inspired 
writings to speak our mind : when the things we teach, 
though possibly true in themselves, yet are not im- 
portant religious truths, explained and enforced in a 
scriptural strain ; we practically declare, by such a 
conduct, that we have no high esteem for divine re- 
velation, and have forgot our commission as ambassa- 
dors of Christ. It would be reckoned arrogant pre- 
sumption, even in the ambassador of an earthly prince, 
should he exceed his instructions, and betake himself to 
his own sagacity, in adjusting the differences of his 
sovereign with neighbouring states. And can an am- 
bassador commissioned by Him, in whom are hid all 
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, be thus un- 
faithful, without the most daring and impious inso- 
lence ? He bids fairest to preach Avith success, who 
preaches in words, not of man's wisdom, but which the 
Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with 
spiritual. The blessed Spirit sets his seal only to doc- 
trines stamped with his own authority, and which flow 
from that sacred fountain unsullied and pure. The 
gospel, when mingled with human inventions, loses 



much of its native lustre, and, like adulterated milk, 
affords but scanty and unwholesome nourishment. An 
itch to say what is curious and uncommon, is a dan- 
gerous turn of mind in a teacher of Christianity. Com- 
mon truths are like common blessings ; of most use, 
and of truest worth : and that is the best sermon which 
makes the grace of God sweet, salvation through Christ 
acceptable, sin ugly and hateful, and holiness amiable 
to the soul. 

If they give just ground of offence who add to the 
word of God, they do it also who take from it. All God's 
words are right. There is nothing forward or perverse in 
them. Every doctrine and precept is wisely suited to pro- 
mote God's glory and man's salvation, and was merci- 
fully revealed for that very purpose. All scripture is 
given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doc- 
trine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in right- 
eousness. Those entertain too high a conceit of their 
own penetration, and very mean ideas of the divine wis- 
dom, who fancy it dangerous to preach what the blessed 
Spirit judged it proper to reveal. If we would keep back 
from our people nothing profitable, we must endeavour 
to declare to them the whole counsel of God. Conceal- 
ing any part of that form of sound Avords ■which our 
commission directs us to publish is unfaithfulness to 
God, and injustice to the souls of men. " He," saith 
God, " that hath my word, let him speak my word 
faithfully ;" Jer. xxiii. 28. And again : " — all the 
words that I command thee to speak unto them, dimin- 
ish not a word ;" Jer. xxvi. -2. 

As \vise and faithful stewards, we must regard the 
whole family, and give to every one his proper portion : 
teaching the young and ignorant, in a plain familiar 
manner, the first principles of the oracles of God ; and 
dispensing strong meat to them of full age, who, by 
reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern 


both good and evil. The erroneous, we must endea- 
vour, by sound reasoning, to convince of their mistakes. 
We must unfold the strictness, spirituality, and extent 
of God's law ; and display the awful sanctions that en- 
force it, to rouse from their spiritual lethargy, the se- 
.cure and thoughtless, the bold and presumptuous, the 
proud and self-confident : awakened souls we must 
gently allure to Christ, by the sweet and free invita- 
tions of the gospel ; and believers we must exhort, by 
a faithful discharge of every duty, to adorn the doctrine 
of God their Saviour in all things. 

Perhaps it is one chief occasion of our giving of- 
fence, by not declaring the v/hole counsel of God, that 
there are certain subjects peculiarly easy and agreeable 
to us, which, on that account, we are apt to imagine 
the most important, and to insist upon the most fre- 
quently. Lecturing usually on large portions of scrip- 
ture might be some remedy to this evil. Occasions 
would, in that way, soon present, of explaining every 
doctrine, and inculcating every duty. Both we and 
our hearers would grow better acquainted with the 
lively oracles, and learn to read them more profitably. 
Besides, short occasional hints, which naturally arise in 
our ordinary course of expounding a gospel or epistle, 
may fall with weight on our hearers ere they are aware, 
and force conviction, ^\^lereas, when the subject of a 
sermon is directly levelled against vulgar prejudices 
or fashionable vices, instantly the alarm is taken, and 
the mind strengthens itself against evidence. The 
heart is a fort more easily taken by sap than by storm. 
But though we give hints of every truth, our ser- 
mons will oiFend the judicious, if we insist most fre- 
quently and earnestly on subjectsof lesser importance, 
and more sparingly and coldly on those branches of 
Christianity which are most frequently introduced, and 
have the greatest stress laid upon them, in the sacred 


\vritmgs. Our great business is, to instruct guilty 
creatures how they may be recovered from the ruins of 
their apostacy, serve God acceptably here, and enjoy 
him for ever hereafter. It is justly offensive, if we 
content ourselves with now and then mentioning, in a 
slight and overly manner, those things which affect the 
very vitals of our common Christianity. 

If Christ, and salvation through him, are rarely 
preached, this will be quite opposite to the apostolic 
pattern. Let it not be pleaded. That these doctrines 
were more necessary to Jews and Heathens than to 
professed Christians. A little observation may con- 
vince us, that many of our hearers are Christians only 
in name, and need to be taught these doctrines more 
perfectly, or, at least, to have deeper impressions of 
their truth and importance. Besides, it was not bare- 
ly in addressing infidels, that the apostles insisted on 
such subjects. They did it also in their epistles to the 
saints and faithful in Jesus, who knew these things, 
and were established in the present truth. A consid- 
erable part of many of these epistles immediately re- 
lates to the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. And, 
in the practical part of them, these peculiar doctrines 
are often urged as motives even to social and relative 
duties. For instance, they are urged to dissuade from 
evil speaking, and to recommend meekness and gentle- 
ness. Tit. iii. 2, et seqq. : and in the 8th verse of that 
chapter, the apostle, after pronouncing the doctrine of 
justification through Christ a faithful saying, enjoins 
Titus to aflSrm it constantly, in order to excite believ- 
ers to carefulness in maintaining good works. But I 
have a still higher pattern to plead. More of our 
Lord's sermons are recorded by the beloved disciple 
than by the other evangelists ; and of these the prin- 
cipal subjects are, the dangerous state of the uncon- 
verted, and the nature, necessity, and blessed conse- 


quences of faith in Christ, of union with him, and of 
the sanctifying influences of his Spirit. The last and 
longest of these sermons, though preached to the apos- 
tles only, who had long ago professed their dependance 
on him as their guide to eternal life, yet chiefly relates 
to the mutual love of Christ and his people, and the 
safety and comfort that flow from the exercise of faith 
in him. The doctrine of Christ crucified, is the insti- 
tuted mean for producing and nourishing the divine 
life, and should be the centre of our sermons, in refer- 
ence to, and dependance upon which, other subjects 
ought to be considered. 

The nature of true religion, as distinguished from 
every counterfeit appearance, the genuine workings of 
it in the heart, and the fruits of it in the life, are sub- 
jects that need to be often explained and inculcated. 
Scripture abounds with occasional instructions on these 
heads : and the 119th psalm, our Lord's sermon on the 
mount, the epistle of James, and John's first epistle, 
treat them designedly, and at full length. On the one 
hand, we must inculcate it frequently, that however 
blameless men's outward conduct may appear, yet, if 
they act barely from selfish interested principles, and 
have not charity, love to God, to Christ, and to their 
brethren of mankind, they are nothing, have not the 
spirit of Christ in them, and are none of his : '' The 
end of the commandment is love, out of a pure heart, 
a good conscience, and faith unfeigned." In other 
words, the end of divine revelation is not gained upon 
us, till we love our duty, see a beauty and excellency 
in holiness, and esteem it our meat and drink to do 
the will of our heavenly Father. On the other hand, 
we must remind our hearers, that where the tree is 
good, the fruit also will be good ; and that no pretences 
to faith or love are well founded, which do not jus- 
tify themselves by a suitable practice. Nor must we 


content ourselves •with general encomiums on holiness 
and good works. It is necessary, minutely to describe 
the various graces of the Spirit that constitute the 
Christian temper, and the various duties we owe to 
God, our neighbours, and ourselves. We do not com- 
ply with the precepts of the apostles, and imitate 
their example, in speaking the things that become 
sound doctrine, unless we inculcate upon our hearers 
the particular obligations that result from their differ- 
ent ages, stations, and relations ; Tit. ii. 1, 2. For 
vice, as well as error, is contrary to sound doctrine, ac- 
cording to the glorious gospel of the blessed God ; 1 
Tim. i. 9—11- 

Further — We give offence, if we do not insist on 
subjects suited to the spiritual state of our flocks, and 
to the dispensations of providence towards them. In 
manv discourses, the counsel is good, but not for the 
time ; whereas a well-timed discourse bids fairest to 
strike and edify. There is also a time to keep silence, 
as well as a time to speak. In many cases, we will in- 
struct and admonish in vain, if we stay not till men's 
minds are calm, composed, and in proper temper to 
give us a fair hearing. Paul would not feed with strong 
meat those who are not able to bear it. On some oc- 
casions, an oblique hint will irritate more than a severe 
undisguised reproof would do at another season. 

It is evident, from what has been said, that the mat- 
ter of his sermons must needs give offence, whose ideas 
of the great truths of Christianity are superficial, con- 
fused, and indistinct. Men must have knowledge ere 
they impart it ; and there is one only source whence 
divine knowledge, without danger of mistake, can be 
derived and where it is the duty and interest of the 
minister of Christ, with the utmost diligence, to dig 
for it. Let the writings of philosophers, of historians, 
and of politicians, be their study whose business it is 


to unfold the secrets of nature, to transmit to posteri- 
ty the memorable deeds of heroes, or to give counsel 
to their Sovereign in matters of state. These branch- 
es of knowledge are at best ornamental, not essential, 
to a teacher of Christianity. He may innocently, nay, 
usefully, amuse himself with them ; but he cannot, 
without sacrilege, devote to them the greatest part of 
his time. His office is, to make known to perishing 
sinners the sublime, the affecting, the comforting 
truths, of the lively oracles ; and for that end, atten- 
tively to read them, to meditate on them day and night; 
and, whilst he despises not the labours of able and 
worthy men, who have endeavoured to illustrate them, 
to secure a better and more effectual help, by humbly 
and fervently imploring the Father of lights, to open 
his eyes to behold wondrous things out of God's word. 
Thus shall he become a scribe instructed into the king- 
dom of God, and, like unto a man that is an household- 
er, bring forth out of his treasures things new and old. 

3. When ministers give no offence by the subjects 
of their sermons, they may give a great deal by their 
manner of handling them. Particularly, 

When they preach not in a manner calculated to in- 
form the judgment. Men are rational creatures, and, 
if we would address them as such, the understanding 
should, as the leading power, be first applied to. For 
this purpose, we must clearly open and explain the 
truth, confirm it by arguments level to the capacities 
of our hearers, and do all this in plain familiar lan- 
guage, which even those in low life may easily under- 
stand. Christianity was designed for the peasant, as 
well as the philosopher ; and, as the learned and wise 
make a small proportion of most congregations, to 
preach it in a way in which only they are like to be 
the better for it, is highly offensive. Philosophy, 
though from the press it has done religion substantial 


service ; yet wben often introduced in the pulpit^ ge- 
nerally hurts it, by usurping the place of what would, 
be more useful, and probably more acceptable too. 
Scholastical niceties, metaphysical distinctions, and a 
fine subtle thread of reasoning, may indeed sometimes 
be necessary in answering metaphysical objections 
against religion ; and therefore on some rare occasions, 
the use of them in the pulpit may be profitable : but 
the bulk of audiences are incapable of following along 
and intricate train of thought ; and therefore will be 
confounded by it, not instructed and convinced. 'WTiile 
some may applaud such sermons as deep and rational, 
the more wise will despise them as idle and injudicious. 
This, however, is no apology for any who verge to the 
opposite extreme, slight order and exactness in their 
compositions, and instead of keeping close to a subject, 
entertain their hearers with confused incoherent dis- 
courses, empty of sentiment, but full of insipid re- 
petitions, and impertinent rambling excursions. 

I say nothing of those, whose long perplexed periods, 
occasioned by unnecessary epithets and expletivesy 
and parentheses and digressions, render their sermons 
at once tedious and obscure. This unhappiness of 
style is remarkable in some who stand in the first rank 
of genius and penetration, who, exerting thought more 
intensely than other, had little attention to spare for 
expression. Their fault is more voluntary, and there- 
fore more offensive, who by a false affectation of the 
elegant or the sublime, soar aloft, above the compre- 
hension of their hearers. Bombast descriptions, 
glittering fiowers of eloquence, and luxuriant flights 
of wit, had better be left to the heroes of ro- 
mance.* Sermons composed in such a style, may in- 
deed entertain and amuse ; but they want perspicui- 

• Hervey of the Church of England, and Macewen of the Se- 
cession, are agreeable writers : but to attempt their manner is 


ty, the very first and fundamental excellency of speech. 
Even the justest metaphors, when too much crowded, 
enervate a discourse ; darken, instead of illustrating 
the sense ; and, to use the words of another, resemble 
the windows in old cathedrals, in which the painting 
keeps out the light. I acknowledge, the best senti- 
ments, if conveyed in mean and low images, and cloth- 
ed in a rustic slovenly dress, provoke laughter in some, 
and occasion uneasiness in others : but we need not 
run into a finical nicety of style, in order to avoid a 
sordid negligence. 

Still more offensive than these, is an obscurity affect- 
ed for its own sake. It must offend every honest man, 
if, to conceal unpopular opinions, and to put on an air 
of orthodoxy, we use expressions which may be inter- 
preted with equal ease to divers, and even contrary 
purposes. Remarkable are the words of Paul, 1 Cor. 
xiv. 8, 9. " If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, 
who shall prepare himself for the battle .'' So like- 
wise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to 
be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken .'' 
for ye shall speak to the air." If this is a good ar- 
gument against preaching in an unknown tongue, it is 
equally good against every thing else that disguises, in- 
stead of unfolding our sentiments of Christianity. The 
apostles used great plainness of speech ; and it is an 
apostolical injunction, " If any man speak, lethim speak 
as the oracles of God." Let his style be plain and clear, 
like that of the sacred writings ; not dark and ambi- 
guous, like the oracles of the Heathen.* 

dangerous, without an uncommonly lively imagination, solid 
judgment and correct taste. Luxuriances of style, generally 
overlooked in original geniuses, appear ridiculous in their ser- 
vile imitators. 

• It was justly observed of the council of Trent, " Nosti ar- 
tificia horum hominum ; vix unquam aliquid aperte dicunt, vix 


After all, informing the judgment, though the first 
part of our work, is far from the whole of it. Sermons 
will do little service, if they are not also calculated to 
command a reverend attention, to strike the conscience, 
and to warn and affect the heart. We speak as minis- 
ters of God : and therefore it becomes us to speak with 
dignity and boldness, not fearing the face of man. 
Favour should not bribe, nor frowns nor dangers af- 
fright us, from delivering our master's message. I 
mean not to vindicate pride nor passion. A proper de- 
corum should be observed, especially in administering 
reproof. It is not fit to say to a King, Thou art wick- 
ed, or to princes. Ye are ungodly. Persons in public 
characters must be treated with a deference suited to 
their station ; and even the meanest must not be in- 
sulted. Courage, however, and faithfulness, are by 
no means inconsistent with meekness and discretion ; 
and if the greatest dare grossly and openly to trans- 
gress, the minister of Christ should dare to reprove. 

Besides the meanness of some, in conniving at fash- 
ionable vices, there are others, whose thoughtless 
unconcerned gesture and pronunciation greatly di- 
minish the dignity of their pulpit performances, and 
make them received with indifference, perhaps indig- 
nation, instead of respect. A light and merry air, an 
antic jovial carriage, in executing the weighty com- 
mission with which God has entrusted us, is contrary 
to the rules of decency, and cannot fail to prejudice 
the hearers. It is impossible to be too grave and se- 
rious in addresses, on the success of which the happi- 
ness of immortal souls in so great a measure depends. 

unquam simpliciter: et cum ceteri homines loquantiir ut intel- 
ligi possint, isti nihil magis volunt quam ne intelligantur." 
Fibruci cputola ad HosjjitaUum, apud Couraycr, in noiis ad Ft. 
Vatilihut. Cone. Trid. t. i. p. 368, edit. Loud. Too many Pro- 
testants have imitated them in this. 


But though our language is plain and elegant, our 
method accurate, and our manner grave and solemn ; 
yet, if our discourses are flat and lifeless, they will 
seldom warm the heart. Mr. Melmoth has observed, 
that in Archbishop TiUotson's sermons a pathetic ani- 
mated address is often wanting, even on occasions when 
naturally we would have expected most of it. Abun- 
dance of spirit, however, appears in some of his dis- 
courses, especially in exposing the absurdities and im- 
pieties of the church of Rome. And it might have 
been remarked with equal justice, that numerous vol- 
umes of sermons, published in England since that 
time, while inferior to the Archbishop's in important 
sentiments well arranged, and in many genuine beau- 
ties of style, resemble them only in that languid man- 
ner of which Meknoth complains. Alas! my brethren, 
dull and pointless arrows are ill suited to pierce the 
conscience of hardened sinners. Soft and drowsy ha- 
rangues, instead of rousing a secure generation, will 
rather increase their spiritual lethargy ; and a cold 
preacher wiU soon have a cold auditory. Jesus has 
entrusted us with the concerns of his people, a people 
dearly bought, and greatly beloved ; we have to do Avith 
souls that must be happy or miserable for ever ; we ad- 
dress them, in the name of God, upon matters of infi- 
nite importance : and is it not an indignity to him, 
whose ambassadors we are, to execute our commission 
coolly, and as if half asleep ? Will it not tempt others 
to slight our message, if, by the manner of delivering 
it, we appear to slight it ourselves ? WTien our own 
hearts are most impressed Avith the inestimable worth 
of immortal souls ; when, out of the abundance of the 
heart the mouth speaketh ; when our sentiments, style, 
voice and gesture, discover how much we are in ear- 
nest : then we are most likely to touch the hearts of our 
hearers, and make them feel the force of what we say. 


I have said so much upon preaching, as there are 
more directions and exhortations in scripture with re- 
lation to it, than with relation to any other branch of 
our office ; I must barely hint the remaining particulars, 
lest I encroach too far on your time and patience. 

4. We may give oiFence, not only by an improper 
manner of preaching, but by a neglect or undue 
performance of the other public offices of our sta- 

In leading the devotions of the church, we give of- 
fence, Avhen either the matter, expression, or manner, 
is unsuitable ; when we are long and tedious ; mingle 
our own passions and prejudices in our addresses to 
God ; introduce disputable matters, in which many 
sincere Christians cannot join with us ; when we ad- 
apt not our prayers to the particular circumstances and 
necessities of our people ; hurry them over carelessly ; 
discover no becoming seriousness and solemnity of 
spirit, no realizing sense of the value of the blessings 
for which we plead ; and when we seem to forget that 
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, through whom 
alone our guilty race can obtain access to God, and ac- 
ceptance with him. 

It is just cause of oifence, and, did vital piety flou- 
rish, would be offensive to our people, that the Lord's 
Supper is so seldom dispensed. And as our manner of 
dispensing that ordinance is one chief hindrance of its 
frequency, it is worthy our inquiry, how far that also 
is blameable. Undoubtedly we give offence, if for 
trifling unwarrantable causes, we put off administrat- 
ing it; or if we usurp the prerogative of Christ as 
sole lawgiver of the church, by making tlie terms of 
Christian communion either wider or narrower than 
he has made them. 

And this leads me to observe, that as the discipline 
of the church is in part committed to us, we give of- 


fence if we exercise it with respect of persons and, 
through a mistaken ten^lerness for any, or a fear of in- 
curring their displeasure, allow them to live without 
due censure, in the open practice of scandalous crimes, 
instead of rebuking them with authority, that others 
also may fear. At the same time, we give offence, if 
we claim a right to judge them that are without. It 
is an offence against common sense, to expel men from 
a society to which they never seemed to belong, and 
to debar them from privileges, to which they never 
had, or pretended to have, any title. 

Probably some might be offended, and none greatly 
edified, should I say much on our conduct in judica- 
tures. Of this subject, much has been said from the 
pulpit, and on occasions too where no purpose of edifi- 
cation could be gained by saying any thing. This much, 
however, may I hope be said, without impropriety, on 
such an occasion. To act a juggling unsteady part, 
and, from connexions of any kind, to vary from our 
professed principles ; to sneak, and cringe, and prosti- 
tute our consciences, either to the humours of the great, 
or to the prejudices of the populace ; to behave with 
insolence to men our superiors in age and experience ; 
to listen with avidity to one side of a question, while 
we deny a fair and full hearing to the other ; to silence 
sober reasoning by raillery, by dark malicious inuen- 
does, by bitter satirical invectives, or by noisy cries for 
a vote ; to treat one another with harshness and se- 
verity for different sentiments and different conduct 
in matters of doubtful disputation ; cannot fail to of- 
fend every cool and impartial observer. Xor can it, I 
think, be disputed, that we give offence, if we exam- 
ine slightly the opinions, dispositions, and abilities of 
those we recommend to important offices ; and solemn- 
ly attest, that men have qualifications, which either we 
know that they want, or at least know not that they 


In ordaining to the ministry we act in the name of 
Christ ; and therefore give offence if we act against 
his authority, or without it. Genius, learning, pru- 
dence, aptness to teach, are all necessary parts of fur- 
niture for a minister ; and, in ordinary cases, without 
some measure of them, none ought to be set apart to 
that honourable service. But the most eminent gifts 
and abilities, when grace does not direct the proper 
use of them, may too probably qualify men to be 
plagues, instead of blessings to the church of God. 
Jesus would not commit his sheep to Peter, till he had 
answered satisfyingly the question, " Lovest thou 
me ?" He who knows all things, knew the love of 
his disciple ; and therefore thus inquired, chiefly for 
our sakes, that in committing to others the ministry 
of reconciliation, we should follow his steps. They 
who have seen Christ's beautj^ tasted his love, and 
felt the pleasures and advantages of religion, are pe- 
culiarly qualified by this their Christian experience, 
to recommend them to others with dignity and free- 
dom. Singular activity is requisite, in the many la- 
bours, and singular fortitude and firmness of mind, in 
the many difficulties and afflictions, to which faithful 
ministers are exposed. Now, love, and love alone, 
will reconcile to these ; nay, render them a delight. 
Untender, therefore, and unkind Ave are to the feeble 
flock of Christ, if we commit them to men, who, for 
aught we know or care, bear them no affection; and 
probably, instead of feeding and defending them, may 
poison them, or expose them to be devoured. None 
will presume thus to plead before Christ in the great 
day of account : " It is true, we intrusted souls, dear 
in thy sight, and for whom thou didst shed thy preci- 
ous blood, to one, whose conduct seemed to discover, 
tliat his natural enmity to thee remained unsubdued. 
But he was an agreeable companion, a man of strong 


natural powers, and an accomplished orator." If such 
a plea would be absurd, must not that conduct be ab- 
surd which requires it ? We are not indeed to seek, 
for we cannot obtain, an absolute certainty, that those 
we ordain are lovers of Jesus. It is God's prerogative 
to search the heart ; and the judgment we form, on 
the most probable evidence may prove wrong. But it 
is enough to warrant our act, if there be a profession 
of real religion, and an outward conduct in some mea- 
sure agreeable to that profession : and, without doubt, 
different sentiments of a candidate, and different op- 
portunities of knowing him thoroughly, may justify- 
some in bearing a part in his ordination, when it 
would be in others presumptuous wickedness. There 
is one thing more in our ordinations, which, I think, 
merits our serious attention ; and that is, the solemnly 
giving to one, in the name of Jesus, the charge of a 
congregation unwilling to submit to him, and among 
whom there is no probability of his usefulness.* Up- 
on what principles this can be vindicated, I am yet 
to learn. The state must no doubt determine what 
shall be the established religion, and who shall be en- 

• The zeal of Passius, canon of Valencia, outran his know- 
ledge, when he maintained in the council of Trent, that it was 
a devilish pestilent invention of late heretics, destructive of 
faith and of the church of God, to ascribe to any claim of right 
the voice or consent allowed the people in the choice of their 
pastors ; which was a mere favour, revocable at pleasure. Yet 
he certainly argued consistently, in insisting, that those passages, 
should be expunged from the pontifical which seem to suppose 
such consent necessarj- ; particularly where the bishop says, in 
ordaining a presbjter ; " Non frustra a patribus institutima, ut 
de electione eorum qui ad regimen altaris adhibendi sunt, con- 
sulatur et populus; quia necesse est, ut facilius ei quis obe- 
dientiam exhibeat ordinato, cui assensum preebuerit ordinan- 


titled to the legal benefice for teaching it ; but no go- 
vernment oughtj and our government does not attempt, 
to impose upon any, either a religion, or an instructor 
in religion. It is still more difficult to conceive, why 
a conscientious scruple to bear a part in an ordination, 
the form of which seems to assert a falsehood, should 
exclude a man, otherwise qualilied, from serving God 
in the gospel of his Son. I have seen no act of Parlia- 
ment, or constitution of the church of Scotland, that 
enjoins this. Sure I am, it is not enjoined by Chris- 
tian forbearance and love. 

5. We give offence, by the neglect or undue per- 
formance of the more private duties of our calling. 

If we pay no regard to the souls of our charge, un- 
less in the pulpit, and immediate preparation for it ; 
if we seem indifferent how we stand in the esteem 
and affection of our people, or what is the success of 
our labours ; if we use not every proper method for 
conveying and cherishing religious impressions, for 
preventing backslidings, and for recovering those that 
have fallen, from their spiritual decays ; if we neglect 
to warn the unruly, to comfort them that mourn, to 
visit the afflicted, and to catechise the young and ig- 
norant, when we have any probable prospect that these 
services may be useful ; or if we manage our visits to 
the sick so incautiously, that bystanders are encour- 
aged to put off thoughts of repentance to their last 
moments, and thereby sustain a hurt which any good 
done to the dying will seldom balance ; we greatly 
fail of our duty, and are guilty of giving offence. 

II. I now proceed briefly to enforce the exhortation 
of giving no offence. 

The text itself suggests a powerful argument. If 
we give offence, the ministry will be blamed. The 
people of God will justly be angry with us, and con- 


demn our faulty conduct. Nay, possibly, all our fu- 
ture ministrations will, in their eyes, become hatefui 
or contemptible ; and thus a fair prospect of useful- 
ness be unhappily blasted. Though a man could 
speak like an oracle, little regard will be paid to what 
he says when his credit is sunk. 

Nor is this the worst : the ungodly confine not their 
censures to the weak or worthless minister ; but, as 
though one clergyman stood representative of all, take 
occasion, from his licentiousness or imprudence, to 
traduce ministers in general as fools or knaves. In 
every place there are subtile emissaries of Satan, who 
incessantly watch for our halting, and take a handle, 
from the least misbehaviour of which we are guilty, 
to reflect on the most innocent of our brethren. The 
enemies of Jesus are fond of every thing that can ex- 
pose our order : and if our conduct is profligate, or 
our pulpit-compositions despicable, that affords them 
the wished-for pretext to gratify their malice. The 
cry is. They are all alike. Nay, it is well if the sa- 
cred office itself be not aspersed, and the wisdom of 
God who instituted it arraigned. Thus, when we de- 
part out of the way, it causes many to stumble at the 
law, and to abhor the offering of the Lord. Jesus 
himself is crucified afresh, and his holy religion re- 
proached through our faults, unjustly imputed to them. 
We are ambassadors for Christ ; and by our ill man- 
agement of that trust, disgrace is reflected on him in 
whose name we act ; the cause of God suffers, the 
hearts of the godly are grieved, the wicked are har- 
dened in their wickedness, and precious souls eternal- 
ly perish. Wo to the world because of offences. It 
must needs be that offences come ; but wo to the man, 
double wo to the minister, by whom they come : it 
were better for him that a millstone were hanged a- 
bout his neck, and he cast into the depths of the sea. 


Though his heavenly Master^ who invested him with 
so honourable an office, is present, and observes his 
conduct, he dares to be indolent in his service, and 
basely to betray his interest. He scruples not the 
most direct and horrible perjury, by violating the so- 
lemn engagements he came under, to take heed to 
the flock of which he was ordained an overseer. He 
feels no remorse for offending the Sovereign of Zion, 
by a neglect of duty, and a breach of trust, which, in 
his own servant, or in the servant of an earthly sove- 
reign, would have appeared to him infamous and de- 
testable. But possibly, when death is about to seal 
the eyes of his body, the eyes of his soul may be open- 
ed to perceive things as they really are. After hav- 
ing spent his life in doing the work of the Lord de- 
ceitfully, and pursuing the honours, riches, and plea- 
sures of this world, not the glory of God, and the sal- 
vation of souls, methinks I see him receive the awful 
summons. Give an account of thy stewardship, for 
thou must be no longer steward. He feels himself a- 
bout to be dragged to a state of misery, eternal and in- 
tolerable. Conscience awakes from its fatal slumber, 
and by the most cruel and unsupportable reproaches, 
avenges his contempt of its old and long- forgotten re- 
monstrances. His wonted arts of stilling this inward 
tormentor, now lose their power. Tearfulness and 
trembling come upon him, and horror overwhelms 
him. Hell is naked before him, and destruction with- 
out a covering. And God, justly provoked, laughs at 
his calamity, and mocks Avhen his fear cometh. Yet, 
possibly, another, equally unfaithful, may have no 
bonds in his death, and leave this world as he lived in 
it, thoughtless of God and duty, and regardless of 
eternity. But if dying does not, surely death shall 
put an end to his peace. See him appearing before 
the tribunal of a now inexorable judge. Behold his 


countenance changed, his thoughts troubling him, the 
joints of his loins loosed, and his knees smiting one a- 
gainst another ; when, lo ! a voice more dreadful than 
thunder thus accosts him : " Wicked and slothful ser- 
vant, what hadst thou to do to declare my statutes, or 
that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth ; 
seeing thou hatest instruction, and easiest my words 
behind thee ?" IVIark a numerous flock ruined by his 
negligence or bad example. Listen to them calling 
for vengeance. The cry of their blood enters into the 
ears of the Lord of Sabaoth ; and the irreversible 
doom is pronounced, " Take him, bind him hand and 
foot, cast him into utter darkness ; there shall be 
weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth." 

Turn away from this shocking scene, and observe 
on the right hand of the Son of Man a faithful pastor. 
Possibly his dying words were words of triumph and 
transport : " This is my rejoicing, the testimony of 
my conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, 
not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, I 
have had my conversation in the world. I have fought 
a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept 
the faith. Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of 
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, 
shall give me at that day : and not to me only, but to 
<iU them also that love his appearing." But with 
what superior joy does he lift up his head, when he 
rests from his labours, when his warfare is accomplish- 
ed, and the day of his complete redemption dawns ! 
He walked with God in peace and equity, and did 
turn many away from iniquity. These he now pre- 
sents to the great Shepherd of the sheep, saying, " Be- 
hold me, and the children thou hast given me." 
He is their rejoicing, andthey also are his rejoicing in the 
day of the Lord Jesus. Joyful to both was the sound 
of the gospel : but more joyful, now, is the final sen- 


tence, " Well donej good and faithful servant ; thou 
hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee 
ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of 
thy Lord." 

If, therefore, we have any zeal for the glory of God, 
if any regard for the interest of the Redeemer's king- 
dom, if any tender concern for the salvation of our 
hearers, and if, in the great day of the Lord, we 
would not be found among them that offend, and work 
iniquity, and after having prophesied in Christ's name, 
hear him pronounce against us the dreadful sentence, 
" Depart from me ; I know you not :" let us take 
heed to ourselves, and to our doctrine, and walk cir- 
cumspectly, not as fools, but as wise ; giving no oflPence 
in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed. 

It is now time to hasten to a conclusion. If it is 
our duty to give no offence, how difficult then is our 
office ! what superior accomplishments, natural and ac- 
quired, what exalted improvements in vital piety, what 
continual aids of the Holy Spirit, are requisite to pre- 
serve from giving offence in any thing, men exposed 
to such a variety of temptations and snares ! The 
best of us have cause, with grief and self-abasement, 
to acknowledge, that in many things we daily offend. 
Let us not, however, sink into slothfulness and despair. 
God's grace will be sufficient for us, if we humbly im- 
plore it, and he A\'ill perfect strength in our weakness- 
Say not, O humble servant of Christ, I am a child ; 
for thou shalt go to all that God shall send thee ; and 
whatsoever he commandeth thee, thou shalt speak. 
What he has done for many others, may greatly en- 
courage our prayers and endeavours. We have heard 
with our ears, our fathers have told us, what burning 
and shining lights have gone before us in the work of 
the Lord. We have heard of their holy exemplary 
lives ; tlieir strict discipline, both in their own fami- 


lies and in the church of God ; the gravity, nay, dig- 
nity, of their appearance ; their animated penetrating 
sermons, and their edifying manner in familiar dis- 
course. May a double portion of their excellent spirit 
rest upon us who come after them ! And when, from 
time to time, our fathers are stripped of their priestly 
robes, may the sons of the prophets who stand up in 
their room, even exceed them in knowledge of divine 
things, in piety, in wisdom, in diligence, in success i 
that thus our holy religion may descend uncorrupted 
to distant ages, and the people which shall be created 
may praise the Lord. 

I have been exhorting myself and my reverend 
fathers and brethren, not to give offence. It is equally 
necessary to exhort you, our hearers, not to be hasty 
in taking it. Be tender, my friends, of our reputation. 
If any thing is insinuated to our disadvantage, be not 
rash and easy in believing it. If the charge is not 
supported by sufficient evidence, regard it not. A- 
gainst an elder receive not an accusation under two or 
three witnesses. By wounding our good name, you 
render our ministry despicable and unsuccessful ; than 
which nothing can be more pleasing to Satan, or hurt- 
ful to your own eternal interests. Judge not our 
cause, till you have given it a fair impartial hearing. 
Pass no sentence against us, till you know we have 
done what is alleged, and till you also know we had 
no good reason for doing it. And since God instructs 
you by men of Hke passions and infirmities with your- 
selves, expect not from them angelical perfection. 
Make candid allowances for those errors and frailties 
that are incident to the wisest and best of men. 
Throw over them the vail of charity. Do not form a 
judgment of our general character from one uno-uard- 
ed word or action. God hath threatened, that those 
shall be cut off that watch for iniquity ; that make a 


man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him 
that reproveth in the gate. You expect we should 
give no offence by the neglect of our duty : we, with 
the same justice, expect, that you should give no offence 
by the neglect of yours ; and offence you give us, if 
you do not attend our ministerial instructions, implore 
the blessing of God upon them, and actually improve 
by them. If many professed Christians spent not more 
time in censuring ministers than in praying for them, 
the ministry in this land would be less blamed than 
it is at present, and probably less blameworthy too. 
Meantime, what is amiss in our conduct will be no ex- 
cuse for despising the message we bring in the name 
of Jesus, and persisting in impenitence and unbe- 

If an inoffensive ministry is thus important, how care- 
ful should patrons be to present, and parishes still en- 
joying the important privilege of election, to call none 
to the pastoral oitice who may be in danger of giving 
offence by their weak abilities, unsound principles, or 
dissolute lives ! — And how foolish and criminal a part 
do candidates act, who hastily rush into the sacred 
function, ere they have laid in the necessary furniture 
for discharging it honourably ! Is there not cause to 
fear, that not their character only, but religion in 
general, may suffer for the reproach of their youth ? 

Upon the whole, would we give no offence as men, 
as Christians, as ministers of Christ ; let us search out 
the sins and infirmities to which we are chiefly liable, 
that we may guard against these with peculiar care.. 
In order to discover our weak side, let us duly regard 
the opinion others entertain of us. Let us not inter- 
pret friendly admonition as a disparagement and af- 
front, but thankfully receive it as a mark of unfeign- 
ed affection. Say, with David, " Let the righteous 


smite me, it shall be a kindness ; and let him reprove 
me, it shall be as excellent oil which shall not break 
my head." We are often blind to our own failings ; 
and happy are we, if we can engage some wise and 
good man, who tenderly regards our welfare, to point 
them out. But if we find none thus faithful and hon- 
est, let us ^visely improve the accusations of enemies, 
and learn from them those blemishes and defects, to 
which, without the help of such ill-natured monitors, 
we might have remained strangers. 

May we all, whether in public or private stations, 
be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without 
rebuke, shining as lights in the world, maintaining al- 
ways consciences void of offence towards God and to- 
wards man. And may the Lord our God be with us, 
as he was with our fathers. Let him not leave us nor 
forsake us, that we may incline our hearts unto him, 
to walk in all his ways, and to keep his holy com- 
mandments for ever. 


[The preceding sermon having been first preached at an ordi- 
nation, the charges then delivered to the minister and con- 
gregations are here subjoined.] 


Though giving the usual charge would have better 
become one or other of our venerable fathers, yet, 
since the place where I stand requires it, suffer me, 
reverend Sir, to be your monitor. Providence has 
called you to an honourable, but, at the same time, a 
difficult office. Gifts are necessary to capacitate you 


for it ; grace, to animate you to discharge it faithfully. 
A small measure of gifts, and low attainments in 
grace, will poorly answer these important purposes. 
If you would be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and 
meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every 
good work, covet earnestly the best gifts ; the gift of 
knowledge, the gift of utterance, the gift of prudence. 
Lift up your heart to the Father of lights, in humble 
fervent supplication, that he would plentifully pour 
out upon you these, and every other good and perfect 
gift : and as they are not now imparted miraculously, 
but acquired through the blessing of God on the use 
of means, join to your prayers, diligent application to 
study. Meditate on divine things, give thyself wholly 
to them, that thy profiting may appear unto all. 
Those of the most extensive knowledge know only in 
part, and need to learn the way of God more perfect- 
ly. Give attendance to reading. Make a wise choice 
of the books you read. Study those most which most 
tend to increase in you the dispositions and abilities 
proper for your office. There is one book, or rather 
collection of books, which, without an appearance of 
arrogance, I may venture to recommend, as of all 
others the best ; I need not say, I mean the Bible. 
Make that your chief study ; for, if rightly under- 
stood, and improved, it is able to make the man of 
God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good 
word and work. Apollo's character Avas, "an elo- 
quent man, and mighty in the scriptures." It were 
to be wished, that both branches of the character were 
found in every minister ; yet the last is by much the 
most valuable. If we are well acquainted with the 
doctrines of the gospel, and the arguments that sup- 
port them ; and understand the duties of the Christi- 
an life, the motives that enforce them, the hinderances 
of their practice, and the best methods of removing 


these hinderances ; we may, by manifestation of the 
truth, commend ourselves to men's consciences in the 
sight of God ; though to those who are enamoured 
with the enticing words of man's wisdom, and whet 
regard sound and show more than substance, our 
bodily presence may appear weak, and our speech con- 

Be equally diligent to improve in every holy dispo- 
sition. Your public work will be much affected by 
the frame of your spirit. If you decline in religion, 
your flock will fare the worse : but the better Christ- 
ian you are, the more useful minister you are like to 
be. Seek, therefore, above all things, to grow in 
grace ; especially in that excellent grace of love, love 
to God, love to Christ, and love to precious souls. 
For this purpose, live a life of faith on the Son of God. 
Abide in him, and constantly depend upon him for all 
needful supplies of divine influence. Then will you feel 
your master's work a delight, not a burden, and will 
vigorously exert your abilities for the glory of God, 
and the welfare of man. Your sermons will be seri- 
ous, your prayers fervent, your private conversation 
will naturally turn to subjects good for the use of edi- 
fying, and your life, as well as doctrine, will point out 
the path to the heavenly mansions. 

With pure and upright intentions, dedicate your- 
self to the service of God in the gospel of his Son. 
Take the oversight of the flock, not by constraint, but 
willingly ; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. 
To use the words of another on a like occasion, * 

* President Burr's sermon at Bostwic's ordination, p. 31. 
3Ir. Bostwic, in a sermon before the synod of New York, May, 
1758, printed at Philadelphia, and since reprinted at London, 
has justly described the influence of selfishness in perverting a 
gospel ministry. The late Principal Gowdie intended to repub- 


" You had better be the offscouring of all flesh, than 
preach tu gain the vain applause of your fellow- worms. 
You had better beg your bread than enter upon the 
ministry as a trade to live by. However those may 
live who act from no higher principle, it will be dread- 
ful dying for them, and more dreadful appearing be- 
fore their judge." Expect, therefore, your reward 
from God only. Resolve, in divine strength, at no 
time to use flattering words or a cloak of covetousness ; 
neither of man to seek glory, but ever to speak and 
act, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth the 

Be diligent and faithful in the actual discharge of 
your otiice. Take heed to the ministry thou hast re- 
ceived of the Lord, that thou fulfil it. The long- 
est life quickly hastens to a period; your time for 
service swiftly flies away, and will soon be irrecover- 
ably past and gone ; work, therefore^, the work of him 
that sent you while it is day. The night cometh, 
when no man can work. Make full proof of thy min- 
istry. Think not that performing one branch of duty 
will atone for neglecting another ; but, in so far as 
time and strength permit, attend upon each in its pro- 
per season. 

Allot the greatest proportion of your time to those 
parts of your work, public or private, that are most es- 
sential and important. Preach the word, reprove, re- 
buke, exhort, with all long-suflfering. Study your ser- 
mons well, and beware of oflfering to God and his peo- 
ple that which costs you nothing. Endeavour to be 
thoroughly acquainted with the circumstances and dis- 
positions of your hearers, their prejudices against re- 
lish it here ; and good judges, both of the church of £nglaii<l, 
the church of Scotland, and tlie Secession, wish it were morn 
known among us. 


ligion, and the rocks on which their souls are in most 
hazard of being shipwrecked. Suit your discourses to 
their various necessities. Study to show thyself ap- 
proved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be 
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Seek 
out and set in order acceptable words ; and when 
about to prepare for the pulpit, beg the direction of the 
Spirit in choosing a subject, his assistance in compos- 
ing and delivering your sermon, and his blessing to 
render it effectual. Arrows thus fetched from heaven 
bid fairest to reach the cases of your hearers, and to 
pierce their hearts. 

Take heed to yourself, as well as to your doctrine. 
Let your life testify, that you believe what you preach. 
Be wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove. Watch and 
pray that ye enter not into temptation. Fly youthful 
lusts : but be a pattern to believers, in words, in con- 
versation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Wiu 
the affection of all, by an obliging courteous behaviour ; 
and, by preserving a suitable dignity of character, se- 
cure their esteem. An affable, condescending manner, 
has often recommended a bad cause ; and sourness and 
ill-nature have raised unconquerable prejudices against 
many a good one. The wTath of man worketh not the 
righteousness of God. The servant of the Lord must 
not strive, but be gentle to all men, patient, in meek- 
ness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, 
peradventure, will give them repentance to the ac- 
knowledgment of the truth. But though meekness 

should temper your zeal, remember that zeal in re- 
turn should enliven your meekness. You enter on the 
ministry in a day in which iniquity abounds, and the 
love of many waxes cold. The peculiar doctrines of 
Christianity are run down and opposed, and a tender 
circumspect behaviour ridiculed, by many who value 
themselves as standards of genius or politeness. In 


such a day, exert your courage to stem that torrent of 
infidelity and vice, which threatens to break in upon 
us, and destroy every thing valuable. Contend ear- 
nestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Be 
not ashamed of Christ's words and ways in an adul- 
terous and perverse generation; lest the Son of man 
be ashamed of you, when he cometh in the glory of his 
Father, with the holy angels. 

These things, my dear brother, are no easy task. I 
hope you have often counted the cost, and with deep 
concern lamented your insufficiency. But know, for 
your encouragement, through Christ strengthening you, 
you may do all things. He hath said to his ministers, 
" Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the 
world." And faithful is he who hath promised, who 
also will do it. 

If your labours should not be cro^\'ned with the desir- 
ed success, be not weary in well-doing ; for in due 
season you shall reap if you faint not. Though Israel 
should not be gathered, yet, if faithful in your work, 
you shall receive a glorious recompense. Besides, suc- 
cess may come Vvhen you expect it least. Be instant^ 
therefore, in season and out of season. He that ob- 
serveth the wind shall not sow, and he that regardeth 
the clouds shall not reap. In the morning sow thy 
seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand : 
for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either 
this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. 


I shall now conclude with a short address to the 
people of this congregation. 

Be thankful, my brethren, for a gospel-ministry 
Let the infidel and profane account it a burden, not a 


blessing to society : but do you admire the goodness of 
God in an institution so wsely calculated to promote 
your best interests. Was it not for public teaching, 
ignorance and vice should soon grow to so prodigious a 
height, that not even the form of religion would re- 
main. — Receive with becoming aifection him who is 
this day ordained your pastor. Consider the dignity 
of the office with which he is invested, and entertain 
him with suitable respect. Ministers are men of God ; 
they minister in his name, and by his appointment. 
See, then, that your pastor be with you ^\4thout fear ; 
because he worketh the work of the Lord. Esteem 
him highly in love, for his work's sake. Ministers 
would labour with better success, if they lived more 
in the hearts of their people. Add not, therefore, to 
your pastor's difficulties, by an undutiful carriage. 
Rather assist and strengthen him to bear up under 
them. Put the best construction on his words and ac- 
tions which they can possibly bear ; and treat him not 
rudely ; and vent not your spleen against him, though 
in his doctrine or life, lesser blemishes should appear. 
Curb such an insolent intemperate zeal, by reflecting 
on the apostle's direction.: " Rebuke not an elder, but 
intreat him as a father." Contempt cast upon faithful 
ministers, and injuries done them, Christ will resent as 
done to himself. 

Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, 
as the manner of some is. Withdraw not from ordi- 
nances dispensed by your pastor, though his sentiments 
in lesser matters should differ from yours. I say, in 
lesser matters : for if an angel may be lawfully accurs- 
ed, surely a minister may be lawfully deserted, who 
preaches another gospel, who lays another foundation 
for the hopes of guilty sinners, than God hath laid. 
But bring not against him unjustly so heavj- a charge. 
Remember, in this imperfect state, lesser mistakes are 


xinavoidable, and will not vindicate your separating 
from liim. And where a case is not extremely clear, 
you owe considerable deference to his judgment, as he 
has greater leisure than most of you for studying, and 
greater advantages for understanding the sacred oracles. 
Let, therefore, your pastor ever find you humble and 
teachable, sAvift to hear, slow to speak, slow to WTath. 
Come not to church with a captious quarrelsome dis- 
position. With what heart can ministers preach, when 
hearers are still upon the catch, eager to pick up some- 
thing -vvith which to find fault ? Act a worthier part. 
Laying aside all malice, and guile, and hypocrisy, and 
envying, and evil-speaking, hearken with meekness to 
that ingrafted word which is able to save your souls ; 
like the noble Bereans, receive the instructions of your 
teachers with all readiness of mind : not yielding them, 
however, an implicit faith, but searching the scrip- 
tures daily, whether these things are so. In so far as 
they stand the test of that infallible touchstone, regard 
them not as the word of man, but as they are in truth 
the word of the living God. 

See that you reject not Christ, when, by his minis- 
ters, he speaketh to you from heaven. When he calls, 
do not refuse ; when he stretcheth forth his hand, do 
not disregard it. Be doers of the word and not hear- 
ers only, deceiving your own souls. ^\'liile you have 
the light, walk in the light, lest darkness come upon 
you. It is but for a little ministers can be useful ; ere 
long they must cease to preach, and you to hear. 
Those servants of God who now show to yo\i the v/ay 
of salvation, must, in a while, resign their places ; 
and the eye that now sees them must see them no 
more. Comply, then, with their wholesome counsels, 
while yet you enjoy them ; lest you mourn at the last, 
and say. How have I hated instruction, and my soul 
despised reproof ! I have not obeyed the voice of my 


teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed 

Second the labours of your minister, by private en- 
deavours, suitable to your several stations, for the good 
of souls. Train up your children in the way that they 
should go, and encourage any serious impressions made 
upon them. When discipline is exercised against open 
offenders, show that the honour of God, and the hap- 
piness of precious souls, lie nearer your hearts than the 
ease and reputation of any man. The efficacy of church- 
censures will much depend on your conduct towards 
those who fall under them. Have no company with 
such, that they may be ashamed : and if they ^vill not 
hear the church, let them be to you as heathen men 
and publicans. 

And when you are allowed the nearest access to a 
throne of grace, and feel your hearts in the most de- 
vout and heavenly frame, AVTestle and make supplica- 
tion for your minister, that his own soul may prosper 
and be in health ; that the presence of God may ac- 
company him in all his ministrations ; and that, when 
he plants and waters, God himself may give the in- 

May his doctrine drop as the rain, and his speech 
distil as the dew : And may the soul of every one 
of you be like a watered garden, and like a spring of 
water whose waters fail not. 




2 CORINTHIANS li. 10. 

Who is svfficietii for these things f 


These are the words of Paul, the great Apostle of the 
Gentiles, and they express his lively apprehensions of 
the dignity of the gospel, the importance of its suc- 
cess, and the difficulty of preaching it aright. And 
if he, who was not a Mhit behind the very chief of 
the apostles, felt so deep a sense of his insufficiency 
for that arduous work, surely it would be presump- 
tion in any ordinary gospel-minister to deem himself 
sufficient. I have therefore made choice of these 
words, to correct the mistakes of such who account 
the labours of out office easy and inconsiderable, and 
to excite your prayers, that, seeing we are of ourselves 
insufficient for them, our sufficiency may be of God. 
For this purpose, let us first take a survey of the nu- 
merous and important duties of the pastoral office, and 
then consider the temptations from Avithin, and opposi- 
sition from without, which may probably arise, to di- 
vert us from the due discharge of them. 


I. I shall briefly survey some of the many and im- 
portant duties of the pastoral office. — And I be- 
gin with public preaching, the duty to which my text 
immediately relates, and on which the Scripture in- 
sists most, and lays the greatest stress ; so that, when 
this and other ministerial duties interfere, this, as the 
most important and most extensively useful, should 
be preferred. 

Christ crucified, and salvation through liim ; the 
law, as a schoolmaster, to bring men to Christ ; and 
exhorting the disciples of Jesus to adorn his doctrine, 
by the conscientious performance of every duty ; 
ought to be the chief subjects of our sermons. • A 
comprehensive knowledge of Christian faith and prac- 
tice, and an ability to read and understand the Scrip- 
tures in the languages in which they were originally 
writ, are highly important, if we would be ready 
scribes, instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, and, 
like unto a man that is an householder, able to bring 
out of our treasures things new and old. Inspiration 
and miraculous gifts are no^v ceased ; and therefore 
much time must be spent in reading and meditation, 
in order to attain such knowledge. And yet, our ut- 
most diligence and application poorly qualify us for 
rightly expounding the sacred oracles, unless, through 
divine teachings, we imbibe the sentiments and spirit 
of their inspired penmen. Nay, an union of specula- 
tive and experimental knowledge, though necessary-, 
is not sufficient to qualify for preaching usefully. 
Knowledge is one thing ; and a faculty of imparting 
it to others, and of improving it for their benefit, is 
quite another. 

Great skill is requisite to explain the sublime mys- 
teries of our holy faith, to unfold their mutual con- 
nexions and dependencies, and so to demonstrate their 
certainty, that the sincere lover of truth may be con- 


vinced, and even the captious silenced. Great pene- 
tration is requisite, to search the secret foldings of the 
understanding and heart ; to trace the various sources 
of error and vice ; and, when we have detected them, 
neither, bv overlooking the reasonings of infidels and 
profligates, to give them a handle for boasting that 
they are unanswerable ; nor, by mentioning them with- 
out necessity, or weakly answering them, to betray 
the cause we mean to defend. 

Our task, hoAvever, would be comparatively easy, 
%vere men lovers of truth and holiness, and sincerely 
disposed to hearken to the voice of sober reason, rather 
than to the clamorous demands of headstrong appe- 
tite. But manv are the very reverse of this. Corrupt 
afl['ections have a full ascendant over them. The gos- 
pel is an enemy to these corrupt affections, and there- 
fore they are enemies to the gospel. Our business is, 
to persuade such to hate and renounce what is their 
chief delight ; to engage them in a course of life to 
which they are strongly averse : nay, to prevail with 
them to accuse, judge, and condemn themselves. The 
advocate pleads with success, because he pleads 
against those, for whom the judge has no particular 
affection, and with whom he is no way connected- 
But often the minister pleads against that which is 
dearer to the judge than a right hand or a right eye. 
And what justice can be expected, when the judge 
is also the party, and the cause in which men are to 
pass sentence is their own ? 

Add to all this, that the genius, spiritual condition, 
and outward circumstances of our hearers, are various; 
and a manner of address, proper for some, would be 
very improper for others. The secure must be alarm- 
ed, the ignorant enlightened, the wounded in spirit led 
to the Physician of souls, the tempted fortified against 
temptation, the doubting resolved, the weak strength- 


ened, the backslider reclaimed, and the mourner in 
Zion comforted. Even those truths, which are the 
common nourishment of all, must be differently dress- 
ed and seasoned. Ministers are debtors to the wise 
and to the unwise, to the young and to the old, to the 
bond and to the free. But, how difficult is it to dis- 
charge that debt, and, as wise and faithful stewards, 
to distribute to every one his portion of food in due 
season ! Little pains may serve to display criticism 
and literature on subjects Avhich do not need them, 
or without occasion to plunge so deep in abstract phi- 
losophical speculations, that the bulk of an audience 
shall lose sight of us. But it is incomparably more 
difficult to compose a popular discourse in a style 
plain, elegant, nervous, grave, and animated ; neither 
bombast nor grovelling ; neither scrupulously exact 
nor sordidly negligent. Humble prayers, and much 
preparation, is necessary for that edifying strain of 
preaching, where the sentiments natively flow from 
the subject, and are all solid, useful, and calculated to 
strike ; where every head, and every thing said by 
way of enlargement, is ranged in its proper order ; 
and where the turn of thought and expression is 
scriptural and devout, natural and unaffected, sweet 
and insinuating, tender and affectionate. I say no- 
thing of committing a discourse to memory, and of pro- 
nouncing it with suitable warmth, solemnity, and dis- 
tinctness. Hardly can it be hoped that so many dif- 
ferent excellencies should be found united in one 
preacher. It were well if none put in trust mth the 
gospel, wanted qualifications the most essential. But, 
even in these, we are often greatly defective. Nor is 
this any cause of wonder. The door to the sacred of- 
fice is opened ere the judgment is ripe, opinions suf- 
ficiently formed, and the fire and the thoughtlessness 
of youth fully evaporated. Our scheme of divinity 


has not acquired a proper degree of consistency, a 
small proportion of time having been employed in 
studying it, and that not always in the wisest manner. 
HencCj we have shallow superficial views of the doc- 
trines and duties in which we should instruct others ; 
and, wanting distinct extensive ideas of a subject, we 
content ourselves to skim over the surface of it, dis- 
guising poor insipid thoughts with the charms of ex- 
pression and pronunciation. 

I hope you are now convinced, that if preaching 
was our only work, it would be no easy task to preach 
with that dignity which becomes discourses spoken in 
the name of God, and on subjects of the highest im- 
portance. It is equally difficult to lead the devotions 
of a numerous congregation, and in their name, as 
well as our own, to plead and wrestle with God, for 
the blessings suited to their respective necessities. I 
pass over dispensing the sacraments, and the other 
puolic duties of our office. 

But our services are not confined to the pulpit, or 
to closet preparation for it. It is one important branch 
of our work, to instruct and catechise the young and 
ignorant in the first principles of religion, seeing, with- 
out this knowledge, the heart cannot be good. If 
childhood and youth are left to their natural ignorance 
and vanity, manhood and old age will be generally 
unprofitable ; and sermons, however excellent, will 
prove of little service, because they cannot be under- 
stood without the previous knowledge of these first 
principles of religion. Christ has therefore solemnly 
enjoined us to feed his lambs. We are bound to 
nourish up children in the words of faith, and of 
sound doctrine ; and experience shoAvs, that plain and 
short questions and answers are the most effectual way 
of gradually instilling religious instruction into tender 
minds. We must feed them with milk, and not with 


strong meat, which, as yet, they are unable to bear : 
not discouraging them, at their first outset, by obliging 
them to learn a multitude of words they in no degree 
understand ; but adapting ourselves to the weakness 
of their capacity, beginning with the history of the 
Bible, the more necessary articles of our holy faith, 
and the plainer and more general precepts of Christian 
morals. Haughty looks, or an angry tone, may in- 
crease their aversion to what is serious, and make them 
eager to get rid of us : but an insinuating and agree- 
able manner, may gain their esteem and affection, and 
make religion appear to them venerable and love- 
ly. Familiar comparisons, examples from history, and 
appeals to conscience, must often illustrate and en- 
force these instructions. To impress all on their 
minds, tedious as it may seem, at one time the same 
sentiments, and even words, must be repeated over 
and over again, and at other times the same senti- 
ment presented in various points of light, that the 
young learner may not mistake our meaning, or re- 
main unaffected. Would we teach knowledge, and 
make to understand doctrine them that are weaned 
from the milk, and drawn from the breasts ; precept 
must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line up- 
on line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little. 
Is. xxviii. 9, 10. For doing all this, prudence, gravi- 
ty, condescension, meekness, patience, are requisite. 
Perhaps, all things weighed, it is more difficult to 
catechise, than to preach well. It might greatly pro- 
mote the interests of religion, if men of eminent piety 
and abilities Avere set apart to give themselves wholly 
to this important work, for which the other duties of 
ministers leave them too little or no leisure. Mean- 
time, inability to what could be wished, excuses us 
not from doing what we can : the rather, that, next 


to public preaching, there is no method in which we 
can be so eminently and extensively useful. 

Parochial visitation, if managed in a way easy to plan, 
I will not say easy to execute, would be equally use- 
ful. But a formal visit once in a year, with a short 
prayer, and a few general advices, is, I am afraid, a 
bodily exercise which profiteth little. It is a weari- 
ness to the flesh, of small service to the great ends of 
our ofiice, unless as it aifords some opportunity to 
gain the afl'ection of those entrusted to our care : and 
this it wiU hardly do, if we do not carry our connex- 
ion and intercourse with them beyond these formali- 
ties, gladly lending them our friendly aid, when it 
may any how advance their spiritual welfare, and, in 
such cases, not overlooking even the meanest and 
poorest of our people. The discovering a pure dis- 
interested afl^ection, a sincere desire to oblige, and a 
good stock of discretion, candour, and charity, encour- 
ages them to unbosom to us their spiritual joys and 
griefs, to ask our counsel in their perplexities, and 
freely to impart to us their doubts and objections a- 
gainst religion. Thus we may learn their various 
circumstances, and instruct, exhort, reprove, and com- 
fort them accordingly. Sermons, like arrows shot at 
a venture, seldom hit the mark, when we know not 
the character of our hearers ; and, in many instances, 
our knowledge of their character must be imperfect, if 
we contract no familiarity with them. Yet this, how- 
ever desirable, is next to impossible, in a numerous 
charge, or in a charge almost continually shifting its 
inhabitants. Though this may be one cause why re- 
ligion seldom flourishes in populous cities, yet minis- 
ters ought not to be blamed for not doing what they 
have no strength or leisure to do. Public duties, 
which at once promote the good of many, are to be 
preferred to private duties, which promote the good 


of a few families or individuals. Much good, how- 
ever, might be done even by civil visits, could we 
learn the art of being grave without affectation, and 
cheerful without levity ; never leaving a company 
without dropping something to render them wiser or 

There are, however, circumstances, in which our 
visits are peculiarly seasonable. Sometimes, when 
families are favoured with signal mercies and deliver- 
ances, our advice may restrain their joy within pro- 
per bounds, remind them of the precarious nature of 
temporal comforts, and excite a thankful sense, and a 
suitable improvement of God's goodness. But our 
visits bid fairest to be acceptable, and, if wisely im- 
proved, useful too, when God brings upon a family 
afflictive providences, or when the Lord maketh the 
heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth it. The mind 
is then more susceptible of serious impressions, and 
hearkens, with avidity, to what, in the day of pro- 
sperity, was despised. Yet, so various are the out- 
ward troubles and inward distresses of mankind, that 
almost every day, we meet \\dth cases wholly new to 
us, and which we are quite at a loss how to manage. 
So opposite, too, are the opinions and tempers of peo- 
ple in distress, that what is best calculated to strike 
one, makes not the least impression on another ; and 
what is necessary to rouse one from security, would 
sink another in despair. Security, however, is the 
more common and dangerous extreme ; and, too great 
indulgence has worse consequences than too great se- 
verity. They therefore mistake it greatly, who send 
for ministers on a deathbed, only to speak to them the 
language of comfort, and to pray for mercy to tlieir 
souls. Promising pardon to those who feel not their 
spiritual maladies, is saying. Peace, peace, when there 
is no peace. But men love to be flattered and de- 
ceived ; and therefore, one's being much sent for by 


people of all characters, to visit the sick, is a presump- 
tion he has no great talent of rousing their consciences- 
After all, where the concerns of the soul have been 
neglected to a deathbed, it is to be feared that such 
visits are oftener pernicious to the healthy, than pro- 
fitable to the diseased. We ought not however to ne- 
glect them : because diseases, Avhich wear the most 
threatening aspect, may not prove mortal ; because 
the call of the gospel extends to every living man ; 
and because this, when prudently managed, is a pro- 
per opportunity to warn bystanders not to defer the 
work of conversion to so unfit a season. 

Reconciling differences is a work highly suitable to 
the character of ambassadors of the Prince of peace. 
Not that it becomes them to be judges and dividers 
in matters of property ; but, when unhappy differ- 
ences arise betwixt Christian friends, the pastors of 
a church should do their best timeously to cement 
them. I say, timeously ; for divisions, like diseases, 
when neglected in their first beginnings, become in- 
curable ; and evil-minded people, who delight in sow- 
ing tares, or in watering them where already sown, 
vnU. not be wanting to insinuate, that such an affront, 
or such a neglect, is insupportable : so that we cannot 
be too speedy in fortifying the parties at variance 
against these malicious artifices, provided we have got 
a firm hold of their esteem and confidence, and fully 
convinced them, we mean our advice for their mutual 
benefit. To conduct our friendly ofiices with success, 
we must beware of discovering partiality, by listening 
too favourably to one side of the question. When a 
superior is in the wrong, we must not diminish the re- 
spect due to his station, by saying so too bluntly in 
the presence of his inferior, but rather take him aside, 
and endeavour privately to convince him of his fault. 
Nor, when parties are together, ought we to suffer 


them to debate the cause of their differences. This 
would generally tend to widen the breach, and to im- 
bitter and chafe their spirits more than before. We 
should rather advise them to demean themselves as 
the disciples of Jesus, by forgetting and forgiving 
what is past. 

In private reproof, what zeal for God, and what 
tender compassion for perishing souls, is needful, to 
overcome that aversion every good-natured man must 
feel to tell another he has done amiss, and which every 
wise man must feel, to offend or to distress those whose 
friendship he values ! what skill, to temper severity 
with mildness, and to proportion our censures to the 
degree of the fault, and to the character and circum- 
stances of the offender! what prudence to seize the pro- 
perest season, and to choose the fittest manner, of admi- 
nistering this bitter medicine ! what presence of mind, 
to detect the weakness of those pretences, by which the 
reproved would vindicate his conduct ! Though we 
should argue weakly from the pulpit, we are in no 
danger of immediate open contradiction : but, when 
we reprove in private, pride is immediately at work, 
to spy out any fallacy in our reasoning, and to raise 
specious doubts and objections, which, if we cannot 
resolve, our labour is lost, and our rashness despised. 
In private endeavours to reclaim infidels, or those who 
err in the fundamental articles of faith, the difficulties 
are much the same ; save that misguided conscience 
joins pride in making head against us, and thus ren- 
ders our success more improbable. Readiness of 
thought, asAvellas extent of knowledge, are necessary, 
to refute the sophistical cavils of subtile adversaries, 
and to offer such arguments in support of truth, as 
shall leave no room for reply. — I shall not say much 
on the discipline and government of the Church. In 
many entangled, perplexing cases, that come before us. 


it is hard to know what measures ought to be prefer- 
red. But it is much harder to conduct ourselves 
with such prudence and moderation as to retain the 
esteem of those who differ from us, and yet with such 
integrity as to preserve the approbation of our own 

There is another duty, incumbent on ministers as 
such, more difficult than any I have yet mentioned ; 
and that is, to show themselves patterns of good works. 
Tit. ii.7 ; and to be examples to others, in word, in 
conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity, 
1 Tim. iv. 12. The setting a good example, is not on- 
ly a moral duty, incumbent on them in common with 
others, but seems given them in charge, as a part of 
their sacred office, and an instituted mean for saving 
of souls. Hence Paul enjoins Timothy, 1 Tim. iv. l6, 
" Take heed to thyself, and to thy doctrine ; for, in 
doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and them that 
hear thee." A holy, exemplary behaviour, gives a 
force and energy to' sermons, which learning, genius, 
and eloquence, could never have procured them. When 
a minister's life proves that he is in earnest, his ad- 
monitions strike with authority on the conscience, and 
sink deep into the heart : while the strongest reason- 
ings against sin have little effect, if hearers can apply 
the bitter proverb, Physician, heal thyself. 

Ministers, as guides to their flock, should not only 
cautiously avoid what is in itself unla^^ful, but what, 
if practised by others, would prove to them a probable 
occasion of stumbling. Many things have no intrinsic 
evil, and yet are so near the confines of vice, that un- 
common prudence is necessary to indulge in them 
without being defiled. As such prudence is extreme- 
ly rare, ministers, ere they give any practice the sanc- 
tion of their example, had need to examine, not only 
what is safe for them in particular, but what is safe for 


tliat flock of Christ, to which they ought to be patterns 
and guides. When travelling alone, we may choose 
the shortest and most convenient road, though it be 
somewhat slippery and dangerous, provided we are con- 
scious we have prudence enough to guard against those 
dangers. But he must be a merciless and unfaithful 
guide, who, knowing that a number of weak thought- 
less children would follow his footsteps, should choose 
a path, safe to himself, but in which it was morally 
certain the greatest part of his followers would stum- 
ble and fall. This adds considerably to the difliculties 
of our office ; not only as all restraints are, in their 
own nature, burdensome, but as it is often hard to re- 
sist the importunity of those, who traduce our caution, 
as a beins: righteous over-much. 


In a former discourse, I have presented to you a 
rude and imperfect draught of the duties of our func- 
tion ; to convince you, that the office of a bishop, 
though a good, is a difficult work. Justly did the 
pious Leighton observe, that even the best would have 
cause to faint and give over in it, were not our Lord 
the chief shepherd, were not all our sufficiency laid up 
in his rich fulness, and all our insufficiency covered in 
his gracious acceptance. 

II. I shall now complete the argument, by consid- 
ering the temptations and opposition wliich may pro- 
bably arise to divert us from the right discharge of the 
duties of our office. Ministers, though bound to ex- 
emplary holiness, are men of like passions and infirmi- 
ties with others, and equally exposed to be seduced 


by Satan, the world, and the flesh. The devil assaults 
the shepherd, that he may make the easier prey of the 
sheep ; and he has many faithful agents, who enter 
fully into his malicious views, and lay snares for min- 
isters, that having them to quote as their patterns, 
they may excuse their oa^ti licentiousness, and silence 
their reprovers. Is a minister at an entertainment .'' 
they entice him to excessive mirth, to do as others, 
and not to affright men at religion, by stiffness and 
singularity. If they succeed, though openly they may 
applaud, yet secretly they despise and ridicule him, for 
acting so much out of character. That degree of so- 
litude and retirement, which happily secures others 
from many temptations, is impossible to a minister, 
who takes heed to the flock over which the Holy 
Ghost has made him overseer. His duty obliges him 
to converse with men of all stations and characters : 
%vith the infidel, the licentious, the debauchee ; as well 
as the sober, the virtuous, the pious : and he often sees 
what it is improper for him to imitate. One heaps fa- 
vours upon him, to pave the way for demands, which, 
without doing violence to the religious principle, he 
cannot comply with. Another would intimidate him 
from doing his duty, by threatening the loss of his 
friendship ; and, rather than suffer for well-doing, he 
may be in danger of purchasing ease and prosperity, 
at the expense of honour and conscience. If he dares 
to defend the truth and importance of those doctrines 
which are the peculiar glory of our holy religion, the 
persecution of tongues is what he cannot avoid. No 
personal virtue will atone for so unpardonable a crime. 
No evidence of learning, prudence, or moderation, will 
.shelter from the odious name of bigot and enthusiast, 
which some, who affect to be valued for their candour 
and charity, so very liberally bestow : and there are 
many who cannot bear to be despised and laughed at, 


even when sensible that the ridicule is ill-founded. 
In every place, briars and thorns are with us ; and we 
dwell among scorpions. Nay, even good men, through 
remaining darkness in their understandings and corrup- 
tions in their hearts, may greatly hinder us in our 
Master's work ; and, by an excessive deference for 
them, we may be betrayed to forego our own judgment, 
and to act a part which will be bitterness to us in the 
latter end. Surely, then, we had need to take heed 
to our steps, and to watch and pray that we enter not 
into temptation. 

But our chief danger arises from indwelling corrup- 
tion. Our office obliges us to preach and pray, on 
many occasions, when our frames are dull and languid. 
Hence there is a danger lest we grow accustomed to 
speak of God, and Christ, and eternity, without feel- 
ing the importance of Avhat we speak, and realizing 
our own concern in it. If we fall into such a habit, 
the most striking truths, preached by ourselves or 
others, make no impression upon us ; and that quick 
and powerful word, which ought to recover from dead- 
ness and formality, loses its power and energy. Thus 
we go on from evil to worse ; have no relish for our 
work ; do as little in it as we possibly can, and do that 
little without spirit : drawing nigh to God with the 
mouth, and honouring him with the lip, while the 
heart is far from him. Ministers ought to be men of 
superior knowledge. But, too often, superior know- 
ledge produces contempt of others, and pufFeth up with 
pride and self-conceit. Pride inclines us stiffly to 
maintain an error we have once asserted, even in spite 
of the clearest evidence against it ; to compose ser- 
mons, Avith a view to our own honour, rather than the 
glory of God, and edification of souls ; and hence, to 
make an idle show of learning, genius, or eloquence, 
which, though it pleases the ear, neither enlightens 


the understanding, nor affects the heart. Flattery 
greatly strengthens this self-conceit. When that in- 
toxicating poison is artfully conveyed, few are entirely 
proof against it. Though persons applaud us, who are 
no competent judges, or whose heart is at variance 
with their lips, self-conceit regards their praise as sin- 
cere and well founded. 

If we escape this rock, the opposite extreme of dis- 
couragement may have a fatal influence. Some, 
through too close application to study, contract unhap- 
py disorders in their blood and spirits ; and Satan 
takes the advantage of this, to raise a world of dark- 
ness and confusion in their minds ; so that they are 
pressed out of measure, and ready to sink under their 
burden. God may WTite bitter things against us, and 
cause us to possess the iniquities of our youth. Pos- 
sibly, some special opportunity of serving God, was af- 
forded us, and neglected ; or, as Solomon, we may 
have forsaken him, after he hath spoken to us twice. 
By this, the Comforter, which should comfort our 
souls, is provoked to withdraw, and to leave us, for a 
long season, in a languishing frame. Thus, we go 
mourning without the sun, our feet lame, our knees 
feeble, our hands hanging down. Performing any dif- 
licult duty, appears impossible ; and, even the grass- 
hopper is a burden. 

After a series of years spent in vigorous endeavours 
to promote the cause of truth and holiness ; ignorance, 
profanity, and contempt of the gospel, too often con- 
tinue to prevail. From the pulpit, and in private, too, 
we address our hearers in the warmest manner : But 
we preach, and pray, and watch, and labour, in vajn. 
He that was unclean, is unclean still; and he that 
was filthy, filthy still. We are ready to say. Why ex- 
ert ourselves thus to no purpose ? why cultivate a soil, 
which, after our utmost care, remains larren ? Hence 


ministers, after laudable diligence in the first years of 
their ministry, are in danger of sparing themselves 
overmuch, and of doing little in the duties of their 
office, save what decency and character constrain them 
to do. The temptations gain additional force, when 
those, among whom we have faithfully laboured, fail 
in due gratitude and respect, and discover an eagerness 
to pick faults in our sermons, or private beha\'iour. 
Though we act ^ath the purest intentions, every thing 
is taken by a wrong handle, and sure to displease. 
This froward, censorious spirit, our Lord beautifully 
describes, Luke vii. 31 — 35. Conscious that we merit 
better treatment, we sometimes peevishly take pet at 
the public ; and, when we find they are resolved to 
blame even without cause, become less concerned to 
avoid just cause of censure. 

Once more. — As we grow older, aversion to fatigue, 
and love of ease, grow upon us, and often lead us to ne- 
glect or delay our duty, when some motive stronger 
than indolence does not push us on to the discharge of 
it. Xav, indolence, feeble and languishing as it seems, 
often triumphs over the more violent passions ; and, 
as it restrains bad men from much wickedness, so it 
hinders the servants of Christ from doing a deal of 
good, which they might, and ought to have done. It 
puts off till to-morrow, what had better been dispatch- 
ed to-day. To study a subject to the bottom, and to 
compose with exactness, is such a fatigue, that if we 
have a certain readiness of expression, we are apt to 
get rid of it, and to venture into the pulpit with little 
preparation. It is hard to resist this bias ; to prosecute 
studies which, though necessary, are perhaps unpleas- 
ant ; to allow a suitable proportion of time to everv 
different duty ; and resolutely to employ our precious 
hours to the best advantage. And when indolence, by 


long habit, has acquired force, the overcoming it is next 
to impossible. 

Judge, my brethren, from the whole of what has 
been said, if the work of the ministry is so light and 
easy, as many, through ignorance or inadvertency, are 
apt to imagine. It is an honourable, but it is also a 
laborious and arduous service : and no man, by his own 
strength, is sufficient for it. How vain then, and pre- 
sumptuous, are such, Avho, depending on their natu- 
ral abilities, hastily thrust themselves into the sacred 
office, without spending suitable time in preparatory 
studies, and A^-ithout any eye to Christ, to assist, to ac- 
cept, and to prosper their labours ! What can be ex- 
pected, but that, being unlearned and unstable, they 
should wrest the scripture to the destruction of them- 
selves and others ? Even men of the most distinguish- 
ed talents, and purest zeal, when they survey the ex- 
tent and importance of their charge, and the strict ac- 
count they must one day give of their stewardship, 
have cause, with Moses, exceedingly to quake and fear, 
and, with David, to plead, " Enter not, O Lord, into 
judgment with thy servant ; for in thy sight no flesh 
living shall be justified." How dreadful, then, to en- 
gage in such work, ^nthout delight in it, fitness for it, 
or regard to its great end and design ! 

I know not, if any students of divinity, or young 
preachers, are now hearing me. If there are, I hope 
they ^vill receive what I have said with meekness and 
candour. As a sincere friend, I would warn them of 
rocks, some of which I myself have found dangerous. 
If my heart deceived me not, my ends in entering in- 
to the ministry were pure and disinterested. I have 
seen no cause to repent my choice of a profession. I 
am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ ; for it is the 
power of God unto salvation, to every one that believ- 
eth. I esteem it my honour and happiness to preach 


the unsearchable riches of Christ. But I lament that 
I entered on the sacred function, ere I had spent one 
fourth of the time, in reading, in meditation, and in 
devotional exercises, which would have been necessary 
in any tolerable degree, to qualify me for it. I have 
made some feeble efforts to supply these defects. But, 
besides the public duties of my office, and a variety of 
unavoidable avocations ; indolence of temper, the em- 
ploying too much time in studies or labours less im- 
portant, and other culpable causes, partly formerly 
hinted, partly needless or improper to be mentioned, 
have been considerable bars in the way of my success. 
Ye, who now enjoy the golden season of youth, be 
careful to improve it to better purposes. The advan- 
tages you now have for acquiring gifts and grace, may 
never return in any future period. 

And now, you have heard the duties I owe to this 
numerous congregation, and the difficulties I have to 
surmount in the faithful discharge of them ; I say, to 
this congregation ; having neither leisure nor inclina- 
tion, to do the office of a bishop in another's diocese, 
when there are souls in my own more than enough for 
my care. The charge of all the souls in this large and 
populous cjty, is a yoke which the most vigorous minis- 
ter in it would be unable to bear : and, as one minister 
cannot inspect every family, so no one family can rea- 
sonably desire the inspection of every minister. It is 
ordinarily fit that people should apply to those minis- 
ters in whose district they dwell, and to whose imme- 
diate inspection Providence has entrusted them. In 
this way, few, if any, will be wholly overlooked. But 
if we pursue no regular plan, but leave it to chance, or 
to personal attachments, to determine our work, mul- 
titudes, who most need our assistance, Avill enjoy least 
of it, and others will engross a greater proportion of our 



time than ought to be allowed them. I therefore hope 
my many friends and acquaintances in other congrega- 
tions of this city, will forgive me for preferring a great- 
er to a lesser good^ and for employing my labours where? 
through the blessing of God, I think they bid fairest 
to be useful. 

If my relation to this congregation forbids me, in 
ordinary cases, to alienate from them my ministerial 
services ; much more does my relation to the Church in 
general, forbid me, needlessly to trifle away my time, 
or to employ it in a way foreign to my oflice. God has 
given me a charge, to meditate on divine things, and 
give myself wholly to them : and friends, and innocent 
recreations, must not claim those hours which ought to 
be consecrated to God and his people. I would say to 
friends, I would say to innocent recreations, as Nehe- 
miah to Sanballat, " I am doing a great work, so that 
I cannot come down ; why should the work cease, 
whilst I leave it, and come down to you ?" Neh. vi. 3- 
If the apostles thought it unreasonable to leave the 
word of God, in order to redress abuses committed in 
administrating the alms of the church ; shall we leave 
it for causes of a less worthy nature ? Doubtless, it 
becomes us to employ what time we can spare, from 
the duties we owe to our souls, to our families, to our 
congregations, in studies or labours, that may tend to 
the general benefit of the church of God. This would 
afford us abundant work, though we were fixed in the 
smallest and most inconsiderable charges. But, though 
such services are often expected from ministers in this 
great city, and, though it must be owned, our situa- 
tion procures some peculiar advantages for engaging in 
them, yet we must be singularly frugal of our time, 
if we would redeem any considerable proportion of it 
for those desirable ends. 


But it is now time, briefly, to address my dear Christ- 
ian friends and brethren in this congregation, of which 
the spiritual oversight, through the providence of God, 
is committed to me. When I think on the many great 
and good men who have formerly filled this pul- 
pit, and cast an eye on my own unworthiness and in- 
sufficiency, I cannot but tremble that one so poorly 
qualified, is now called to the same work. When I 
review my defects and miscarriages, when exercising 
the sacred office in two charges comparatively easy, and, 
in the last of which, I had the aid of an affectionate and 
faithful fellow- labourer,* I am ready to say, if I have 
run with the footmen, and they have wearied me, how 
shall I run with the chariots ? and if, in the day of 
prosperity, wherein I trusted, my heart fainted, what 
shall I do in the swellings of Jordan ? I am called to 
enter upon labours, and to encounter difficulties, hith- 
erto unknown to me. My task is, my vigour is not, 
increased. I am with you in weakness, and in fear, 
and in much trembling, lest I shall not find you such 
as I would, and that I shall be found unto you, such as 
ye would not. Struck with the disproportion between 
my strength and the difficulties of this important 
charge, I must bespeak your candour and indulgence ; 
and yet, weak as I am, and feeble as my endeavours 
are, they may tend to our mutual salvation, through 
your prayers, and the supply of the Spirit of Christ. I 
beseech you, therefore, brethren, for the Lord Jesus 
Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye 
strive together with me, in your prayers to God for me 
that I may be delivered from them that do not believe : 
that my ministerial services in this city may be ac- 
cepted of the saints : and that, to you in particular, I 

• The Reverend Mr. Robert Roland at Culross. 


may come with joy by the will of God, and may with 
you be refreshed ; Rom. xv. 30 — 32. Send up your 
warmest addresses to the Father of lights, from whom 
Cometh every good and perfect gift, that his grace may 
be sufficient for me, and his strength perfected in my 
weakness : that in my closet, he would enable me to in- 
cline my ear to "wasdom, and to apply my heart to un- 
derstanding ; yea, to cry after knowledge, and lift up 
my voice for understanding ; to seek her as silver, and 
to search for her as for hid treasures : that in the pul- 
pit, and in the more private duties of my office, he 
would touch my cold heart, and faltering lips, with a 
live coal from his altar, and give me the tongue of the 
learned, to speak words in season to every soul : that 
the law of truth ma\ be in my mouth, and no iniquity 
found in my lips : that I may walk with God in peace 
and equity, and turn many away from iniquity. Breth- 
ren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have 
free course and be glorified ; and that we may be de- 
livered from wicked and unreasonable men ; for all 
men have not faith; 2 Thess. iii. 1, 2. Pray always, 
with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ; and 
watch thereto, with all perseverance and supplication 
for all saints ; and for me, that utterance may be given 
unto me, that I mav open my mouth boldly, to make 
kno^vn the mystery of the gospel; Eph. vi. 18, 19- 
Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin 
against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you : but I 
will teach you, through divine strength, the good and 
the right way. For my friends and brethren's sake, I 
will now say. Peace be within you ; and because of 
the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your 
good. I conclude with the prayer of the Psalmist, Ps. 
li. 9—13 and 15th verses ; " Hide thy face from my 
sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me 


a clean heart, O God ; and renew a right spirit Avith- 
in me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and 
take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me 
the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free 
Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and 
sinners shall be converted unto thee. O Lord, open 
thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy 




When true religion falls under a general and remark- 
able decay, it is time for all that are concerned to a- 
waken and rouse themselves to fresh vigour and ac- 
tivity, in their several posts of service. If the inter- 
ests of piety and virtue are things fit to be encouraged 
and maintained in the world, if the kingdom of the 
blessed God among men be worthy to be supported, 
surely it is a necessary and becoming zeal for every 
one who hath the honour to be a minister of this king- 
dom, to take alarm at the appearance of such danger ; 
and each of us should inquire. What can I do to 
strengthen the things that remain and are ready to 
die, as well as to recover what is lost ? Let my bre- 
thren therefore in the ministry forgive me if I pre- 
sume, at this season, to set before them a plain and 
serious exhortation. What I have to say on this sub- 
ject shall be contained under four general heads. 

L Take heed to your own personal religion, as ab- 
solutely necessary to the right discharge of the minis- 
terial office. 

n. Take heed to your private studies, and prepar- 
ation for public service. 


III. Take heed to your public labours, and actual 
'uiinistrations in the church. 

I\^ Take heed to your conversation in the world, 
and especially among the liock of Christ over whom 
you preside. — Bear with me while I enlarge a little 
upon each of these. 

I. Take heed to your personal religion, especi- 
ally to the work of God in your o\\ n heart, as abso- 
lutely necessary to the right discharge of the minis- 
terial work. Surely, there is the highest obligation 
on a preacher of the gospel to believe and practise 
what he preaches. He is -under the most powerful 
and sacred engagements to be a Christian himself, who 
goes forth to persuade the world to become Christians. 
A minister of Christ, who is not a hearty believer in 
Christ, and a sincere follower of him, is a most shame- 
ful and inconsistent character, and forbids in practice 
what he recommends in words and sentences. 

But it is not enough for a minister to have a com- 
mon degree of piety and virtue equal to the rest of 
Christians ; he should transcend and surpass others. 
The leaders and officers of the army under the bless- 
ed Jesus should be more expert in the Christian ex- 
ercises, and more advanced in the holy warfare, than 
their fellow-soldiers are supposed to be : 2 Cor. vi. -i. 
In all things approving ourselves (saith the apostle) 
as the ministers of God, in much patience, &c. and, I 
may add, in much of every Christian grace. A small 
and low degree of it is not sufficient for a minister ; 
see therefore not only that you practise every part 
and instance of piety and virtue which you preach to 
others, but abound therein, and be eminent beyond 
and above the rest, as your station in the church is 
more exalted, and as your character demands. 

Now, since your helps, in the way to Heaven, both 
to the knowledge and practice of duty, are much 


greater than wliat others enjoy, and your obstacles 
and impediments are in some instances less than theirs, 
it •will be a shameful thing in you, as it is a matter 
of shame to any of us, to sink below the character of 
other Christians in the practice of our holy religion, 
or even if we do not excel the most of them ; since 
our obligations to it, as well as our advantages for it, 
are so much greater than those of others. 

1 . Take heed therefore to your own practical and 
vital religion, as to the reality and the clear undoubt- 
ed evidence of it in your conscience. Give double 
diligence to make your calling and election sure. See 
to it, with earnest solicitude, that you be not mistaken 
in so necessary and important a concern ; for a minis- 
ter who preaches up the religion of Christ, yet has no 
evidence of it in his own heart, ■will lie under vast 
discouragements in his work ; and if he be not a real 
Christian himself, he will justly fall under double 

Call your own soul often to account ; examine the 
temper, the frame, and the motions of your heart with 
all holy severity, so that the evidences of your faith 
in Jesus, of your repentance for sin, and of your con- 
version to God, be many and fair, be strong and un- 
questionable ; that you may walk on with courage 
and joyful hope toward Heaven, and lead on the flock 
of Christ thither with holy assurance and joy. 

2. Take heed to your own religion, as to the liveli- 
ness and power of it. Let it not be a sleepy thing in 
your bosom, but sprightly and active, and always a- 
wake. Keep your own soul near to God, and in the 
way in which you first came near him, i. e. by the me- 
diation of Jesus Christ. Let no distance and estrange- 
ment grow between God and you, between Christ and 
you. Maintain much converse with God by prayer, 
by reading his word, by holy meditation, by heavenly- 


mindedness, and universal holiness in the frame and 
temper of your own spirit. Converse with God and 
mth your own soul in the duties of secret religion, 
and walk always in the world as under the eye of 
God. Every leader of the flock of God should act 
as Moses did, — should live as " seeing him that is in- 

3. Take heed to your personal religion, as to the 
growth and increase of it. Let it be ever upon the 
advancing hand. Be tenderly sensible of every v/an- 
dering affection toward vanity, every deviation from 
God and your duty, every rising sin, every degree of 
growing distance from God. Watch and pray much, 
and converse much with God, as one of his minister- 
ing angels in flesh and blood, and grow daily in 
conformity to God and your blessed Saviour, who is 
the first minister of his Father's kingdom, and the 
fairest image of his Father. 

Such a conduct will have several happy influences 
towards the fulfilling of your ministry, and will ren- 
der you more fit for every part of your public minis- 

1. Hereby you will improve in your acquaintance with 
divine things, and the spiritual parts of religion, that 
you may better teach the people both truth and duty. 

Those who are much ^vith God may expect and 
hope that he will teach them the secret of his cove- 
nant, and the ways of his mercy, by communications of 
divine light to their spirits. " The secret of the Lord 
is with them that fear him, and he will show them 
his covenant." Luther used to say. That he sometimes 
got more knowledge in a short time by prayer, than 
by the study and labour of many hours. 

2. Hereby you will be more fit to speak to the great 
God at all times, as a son with holy confidence in him 
as your Father ; and you will be better prepared to 


pray with and for your people. You will have an 
habitual readiness for the work, and increase in the 
gift of prayer. You will obtain a treasure and fluency 
of sacred language, suited to address God on all occa- 

3. Hereby you mil be kept near to the spring of 
all grace, to the fountain of strength and comfort in 
your work ; you will be ever deriving fresh anointings, 
fresh influences, daily lights and powers, to enable you 
to go through all the difliculties and labours of your 
sacred oflice. 

4. Hereby, when you come among men in your sa- 
cred ministrations, you wiU appear, and speak, and 
act like a man come from God ; like Moses, with a 
lustre upon his face when he had conversed with God ; 
like a minister of the court of Heaven employed in a 
divine office ; like a messenger of grace who hath just 
been with God, and received instructions from him ; 
and the world will take cognizance of you, as they did 
of the apostles, that they were men who had been with 

5. This will better furnish you for serious converse 
with the souls and consciences of men, by giving you 
experimental acquaintance ^vith the things of religion, 
as they are transacted in the heart. You Avill learn 
more of the springs of sin and holiness, the workings 
of nature and grace, the deceitfulness of sin, the sub- 
tility of temptation, and the holy skill of counterwork- 
ing the snares of sin, and the devices of Satan, and all 
their designs to ruin the souls of men. You A\ill speak 
with more divine compassion to wretched and perish- 
ing mortals ; with more life and power to stupid sin- 
ners ; ^vitli more sweetness and comfort to awakened 
consciences, and Avith more awful language and influ- 
ence to backsliding Christians. 

C. You will hereby learn to preach more powerfully 


in all respects for the salvation of men, and talk more 
feelingly on every sacred subject, when the power, and 
•sense, and life of godliness are kept up in your own 
spirit. Then, on some special occasions, it may not be 
improper to borrow the language of David the prophet, 
and of St. Paul and St. John, two great apostles, 
though it may be best in public to speak in the plu- 
ral number, —'•' We have believed, therefore we have 
spoken ; what we have heard and learned from Christ, 
we have declared unto you ; Avhat Ave have seen and 
felt, we are bold to speak ; attend, and we Avill tell you 
what God has done for our souls." You may then at 
proper seasons convince, direct, and comfort others by 
the same words of light and power, of precept and 
promise, of joy and hope, which have convinced, direct- 
ed, and comforted you : a word coming from the heart 
Avill sooner reach the heart. 

II. Take heed to your own private studies. These 
private studies are of various kinds, whether you consider 
them, in general, as necessary to furnish the mind with 
knowledge for the office of the sacred ministry, or, in par- 
ticular, as necessary to prepare discourses for the pulpit. 

Those general studies may be just mentioned, in 
this place, which furnish the mind with knowledge 
for the work of a minister ; for though it be known 
you have passed through the several stages of science 
in your younger years, and have made a good improve- 
ment in them, yet a review of many of them will be 
found needful, and an increase in some (so far as leisure 
permits) may be proper and useful, even througli the 
whole course of life. 

But amongst all these inquiries and studies, and 
these various improvements of the mind, let us take 
heed that none of them carry our thoughts away too far 
from our chief and glorious design, that is the minis- 


try of the gospel of Christ. Let none of them intrench 
upon those Lours which should be devoted to our study 
of the Bible or preparations for the pulpit ; and when- 
soever we lind our inclination too much attached to 
any particular human science, let us set a guard upon 
ourselves, lest it rob us of our diviner studies and our 
best improvement. A minister should remember that 
he, with all his studies, is consecrated to the ser- 
vice of the sanctuary. Let every thing be done there- 
fore with a view to our great end ; let all the rest of 
our knowledge be like lines drawn from the vast cir- 
cumference of universal nature, pointing to that di- 
vine centre, God and Religion; and let us pursue 
every part of science with a design to gain better qua- 
lifications thereby for our sacred work. 

I come to speak of those particular studies which 
are preparatory for the public workof the pulpit ; and 
here, when you retire to compose a sermon, let your 
great end be ever kept in view, i. e. to say some- 
thing for the honour of God, for the glory of Christ, 
and for the salvation of the souls of men. For this 
purpose, a few rules may perhaps be of some ser- 

One great and general rule is. Ask advice of Hea- 
ven, by prayer, about every part of your preparatory 
studies ; seek the direction and assistance of the Spirit 
of God, for inclining your thoughts to proper subjects, 
for guiding you to proper Scriptures, and framing 
your whole sermon, both as to the matter and manner, 
that it may attain the divine and sacred ends propos- 
ed.— But I insist not largely on this here, because pray- 
er for aids and counsels from Heaven belongs to every 
part of your work, both in the closet, in the pulpit, 
and in your daily conversation. 

The particular rules for your preparatory work may 
be such as these : — 


1. In choosing your texts or themes of discourse, 
seek such as are more suited to do good to souls, accor- 
ding to the present wants, dangers, and circumstances 
of the people ; whether for the instruction of the ignor- 
ant ; for the conviction of the stupid and senseless ; 
for the melting and softening of the obstinate ; for the 
conversion of the wicked ; for the edification of con- 
verts ; for the comfort of the timorous and mournful ; 
for gentle admonition of backsliders, or more severe 
reproof. Some acquaintance with the general case 
and character of your hearers is needful for this 

2. In handling the text, divide, explain, illustrate, 
prove, convince, infer, and apply in such a manner as 
to do real service to men, and honour to our Lord Je- 
sus Christ. Do not say within yourself, how much or 
how elegantly can I talk upon such a text, but what 
can I say most usefully to those who hear me, for the 
instruction of their minds, for the conviction of their 
consciences, and for the persuasion of their hearts? 
Be not fond of displaying your learned criticisms in 
clearing up terms and phrases of a text, where scho- 
lars alone can be edified by them ; nor spend the pre- 
cious moments of the congregation in making them 
hear you explain what is clear enough before, and hath 
no need of explaining ; nor in proving that which is so 
obvious that it wants no proof. This is little better than 
trifling with God and man. 

Think not, how can I make a sermon soonest and 
easiest ? but how can I make the most profitable ser- 
mon for my hearers? Not what fine things I can say, 
either in a way of criticism or philosophy, or in a way 
of oratory and harangue ; but what powerful words can 
I speak to impress the consciences of them that hear 
\\dth alasting sense of moral, divine, and eternal things? 
Judge wisely what to leave out, as well as what to speak. 


Let not vour chief design be to work up a sheet, or to 
hold out an hour, but to save a soul. 

3. In speaking of the great thingsof God andreligion, 
remember you are a minister of Christ and the gospel, 
sent to publish to men what God has revealed by his 
prophets and apostles, and bv his Son Jesus, — and not 
a heathen philosopher, to teach the people merely what 
the light of reason can search out. You are not to 
stand up here as a professor of ancient or modem phil- 
osophy, nor as an usher in the school of Plato, or Sene- 
ca, or Locke; but as a teacher in the school of Christ, 
as a preacher of the New Testament. You are not a 
Jewish priest, to instruct men in the precise niceties 
of ancient Judaism, legal rites and ceremonies ; but 
you are a Christian minister : let Christianity, there- 
fore, run through all your compositions, and spread its 
glories over them. * 

It is granted, indeed, that reasonings from the light 
of Nature have a considerable use in the ministry of 
the gospel. It is by the principles of natural religion, 
and by reasoning from them on the wonderful events 
of prophecy and miracles, ifcc. that we ourselves must 
learn the truth of the Christian religion ; and we must 
teach the people to build their faith of the gospel on 
just and rational grounds : this may perhaps, at some 
time or other require a few whole discourses on some 
of the principal themes of natural religion, in order to 
introduce and display the religion of Jesus : but such 
occasions will seldom arise in the course of your min- 

It is granted also, that it is very useful labour some- 
times, in a sermon, to show how far the light of nature 
and reason will carry us on in the search «)f duty and 
happiness, and then to manifest how happily the light 
of Scripture supplies the deficiency of it, that the 
people may know how greatly they are indebted to the 


peculiar favour of God for the book of divine revela- 

If you speak of the duties which men owe to God, 
or to oue another, even those wliich are found out by 
reason and natural conscience, show how the gospel of 
Christ hath advanced and relined every thing that na- 
ture and reason teach us. Enforce these duties by mo- 
tives of Christianity, as well as by philosophical argu- 
ments drawn from the nature of things : stir up to the 
practice of them, by the examples of Christ and his 
apostles, by that Heaven and that Hell which are re- 
vealed to the world bv Jesus Christ our Saviour ; im- 
press them on the heart by the constraining influence 
of the mercy of God and the dying love of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, by his glorious appearance to judge the 
living and the dead, and by our blessed hope of attend- 
ing him at that day. These are the appointed argu- 
ments of our holy religion, and may expect more divine 

When you have occasion to represent what need 
there is of diligence and labour in the duties of holi- 
ness, show also what aids are promised in the gospel 
to humble souls, who are sensible of their own frailty 
to resist temptation, or to discharge religious and mo- 
ral duties ; and what influences of the Holy Spirit may 
be expected by those who seek it. Let them know 
that Christ is exalted to send forth this Spirit, to be- 
stow repentance and sanctiti cation as well as forgiveness: 
for without him we can do nothing. 

If you would raise the hearts of your hearers to 
a just and high esteem of this gospel of Grace, and im- 
press them with an awful sense of the divine import- 
ance and worth of it, be not afraid to lay human na- 
ture low, and to represent it in its ruins by the fall of 
the first Adam. It is the vain exaltation of ruined 
nature that makes the gospel so much despised in our 


age. Labour therefore to make them see and feel the 
deplorable state of mankind^, as described in Scripture ; 
that by one man sin entered into the world, and death 
by sin, and a sentence of death hath passed upon all 
men, for that all have sinned. Let them hear and 
know that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin ; that 
there is none righteous, no, not one ; that every mouth 
may be stopped, and all the world may appear guilty 
before God. Let them know that it is not in man that 
walketh to direct his steps ; that we are not sufficient 
of ourselves to think any good thing ; that we are with- 
out strength, alienated from the life of God, through 
the ignorance, and darkness of our understanding, and 
are by nature children of disobedience, and children of 
wrath ; that we are unable to recover ourselves out of 
these depths of A^-retchedness without the condescen- 
sions of divine grace, and that the gospel of Christ is 
introduced as the only sovereign remedy and relief un- 
der all this desolation of nature, this overwhelming 
distress ; neither is there salvation in any other ; for 
there is none other name under Heaven given among 
men whereby we must be saved. And they that wil- 
fully and obstinately reject this message of divine love, 
must perish without remedy, and Avithout hope ; for 
there remains no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain 
fearful expectation of vengeance. 

These were the sacred weapons with which 
those were armed to whom our exalted Saviour gave 
commission to travel through the dominions of Satan, 
which were spread over the heathen countries, and 
raise up a kingdom for himself amongst them. It was 
with principles, rules, and motives derived from the 
gospel, that they were sent to attack the reigning vices 
of mankind, to reform profligate nations, and to turn 
them from dumb idols to serve the living God. And 
though St. Paul was a man of learning above the rest. 


yet he was not sent to preach the enticing words of 
man's wisdom, nor to talk as the disputers of the age 
and the philosophers did in their schools ; but his 
business was to preach Christ crucified ; though this 
doctrine of the cross, and the Son of God suspended 
on it, was a stumbling-block to the Jews, and the 
Greeks counted it foolishness ; yet to them that AVere 
called, both Jews and Greeks, this doctrine was the 
power of God, and the wisdom of God for the salva- 
tion of men. And therefore St. Paul determined to 
know nothing among them, in comparison of the doc- 
trine of Christ and him crucified. These were the 
weapons of his warfare, which were mighty, through 
God, to the pulling down of the strong holds of sin 
and Satan in the hearts of men^ and brought ever\- 
thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. It 
was by the ministration of this gospel that the forni- 
cators were made chaste and holy, and idolaters be- 
came worshippers of the God of Heaven ; that thieves 
learned honest labour, and the covetous were taught 
to seek treasures in Heaven ; the drunkards grew out 
of love with their cups, and renounced all intemper- 
ance ; the revilers governed their tongues, and spoke 
well of their neighbours, and the cruel extortioners 
and oppressors learned to practise compassion and 
charity ; these vilest of sinners, these children of 
Hell, were made heirs of the kingdom of Heaven, — 
being washed, being sanctified, being justified in 
the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our 

Had you all the refined science of Plato or 
Socrates ; all the skill in morals that ever was attain- 
ed by Zeno, Seneca, or Epictetus ; were you furnish- 
ed with all the flowing oratory of Cicero, or the thun- 
der of Demosthenes ; were all these talents and ex- 
cellencies united in one man, and you were the per- 


son SO riclily endowed, — and could you employ them 
all in every sermon you preach, — yet you could have 
no reasonable hope to convert and save one soul in 
Great Britain, where the gospel is published, while 
you lay aside the glorious gospel of Christ, and leave 
it entirely out of your discourses. 

Let me proceed yet further, and say, had you the 
fullest acquaintance that ever man acquired Avith all 
the principles and duties of natural religion, both in 
its regard to God and to tour fellow-creatures ; had 
you the skill and tongue of an angel to range all these 
in their fairest order, to place them in the fullest 
light, and to pronounce and represent the whole law 
of God with such force and splendour to a British 
auditory, as was done to the Israelites at mount Sinai, 
you might, perhaps, lay the consciences of men under 
deep couAdction, for by the law is the knowledge of 
sin ; but I am fully persuaded you would never recon- 
cile one soul to God ; you would never change the 
heart of one sinner, nor bring him into the favour of 
God, nor lit him for the joys of Heaven, without this 
blessed gospel which is committed to your hands. 

The great and glorious God is jealous of his own 
authority, and of the honour of his Son Jesus ; nor 
will he condescend to bless any other methods for ob- 
taining so divine an end than what he himself has 
prescribed ; nor Avill his Holy Spirit, whose office it 
is to glorify Christ, stoop to concur with any other 
sort of means for the saving of sinners, where the 
name and offices of his Son, the only appointed Savi- 
our, are known, and despised and neglected. It is the 
gospel alone that is the power of God to salvation. 
If the prophets will not stand in his counsel, noi cause 
the people to hear his words, they will never be able to 
turn Israel from the iniquity of their ways, nor the 
evil of their doings. 


Was it not the special design of these doctrines 
of Christ, when they were first graciously communi- 
cated to the world, to reform the vices of mankind 
which reason could not reform ? and to restore the 
world to piety and virtue, for which the powers of 
reason appeared too feeble and impotent ? The nations 
of the earth had made long and fruitless essays what 
the light of nature and philosophy would do, to bring 
wandering degenerate man back again to his jNIaker ; 
fruitless and long essays indeed, when, after some 
thousands of years, the world, who had forgotten their 
Maker and his laws, stiU ran further from God, and 
plunged themselves into all abominable impieties and 
corrupt practices ! Now, if the all-wise God saw the 
gospel of Christ to be so fit and happy an instrument 
for the recovery of wretched man to religion and mor- 
ality ; if he furnished his apostles with these doctrines 
for this very purpose, and pronounced a blessing upon 
them as his own appointment, why should we not sup- 
pose, that this gospel is still as fit, in its own nature, 
for the same purpose, as it was at first ? And why 
may we not hope the same heavenly blessing, in a 
great measure, to remain upon it, for these purposes, 
to the end of the world ? 

Shall I enquire yet further : Is this a day when 
we should leave the peculiar articles of the religion of 
Christ out of our ministrations, when the truth of 
them is boldly called in question, and denied by such 
multitudes who dwell among us ? Is this a proper 
time for us to forget the name of Christ in our public 
labours, when the witty talents and reasonings of men 
join together, and labour hard to cast out his sacred 
name with contempt and scorn ? Is it so seasonable 
a practice in this age, to neglect these evangelical 
themes, and to preach up virtue, %vithout the special 
principles and motives with which Christ has furnish- 


ed us, when there are such numbers amongst us who 
are fond of heathenism, who are endeavouring to in- 
troduce it again into a Christian country, and spread 
the poison of infidelity through a nation called by his 
name ? If this be our practice, our hearers will begin 
to think indeed, that infidels may have some reason 
on their side, and that the glorious doctrines of the 
gospel of Christ are not so necessary as our fathers 
thought them, while they find no mention of them in 
the pulpit, no use of them in our discourses from week 
to week, and from month to month, and yet we pro- 
fess to preach for the salvation of souls. Will this be 
our glory, to imitate the heathen philosophers, and to 
drop the gospel of the Son of God ?— to be compli- 
mented by unbelievers as men of superior sense, and 
as deep reasoners, while we abandon the faith of Jesus, 
and starve the souls of our hearers by neglecting to 
distribute to them this bread of life, which came 
down from Heaven ? O let us, who are his ministers, 
remember the last words of our departing Lord, " Go, 
preach the gospel to every nation : he that believeth 
and is baptized shall be saved ; and he that believeth 
not — shall be damned : and lo, I am with you alway, 
to the end of the world." Let us fulfil the command, 
let us publish the threatening with the promise, and 
let us wait for the attendant blessing. 

Forgive me, my dear brother and friend, and 
you my beloved and honoured brethren in the minis- 
try, forgive me, if I have indulged too much vehe- 
mence in this part of my discourse ; if I have given 
too great a loose to pathetic language on this import- 
ant subject. I doubt not but your own consciences 
bear me witness, that this elevated voice is not the 
voice of reproof, but of friendly warning ; and I per- 
suade myself, that you will join with me in this sen- 
timent, that if ever we are so happy as to reform the 


lives of our hearers, to convert their hearts to God, 
and to train them up for Heaven, it must be done by 
the principles of the gospel of Christ. On the occasion 
of such a head of advice, therefore, I assure myself 
you will forgive these warm emotions of spirit. Can 
there be any juster cause or season to exert fervour 
and zeal, than while we are pleading for the name, 
and honour, and kingdom of our adored Jesus ? Let 
him live, let him reign for ever on his throne of glory ; 
let him live upon our lips, and reign in all our minis- 
trations ; let him live in the hearts of aU our hearers ; 
let him live and reign through Great Britain, and 
through all the nations, tiU iniquity be subdued, tiU the 
kingdom of Satan be destroyed, and the whole world 
are become willing subjects to the sceptre of his grace. 

Thus have I finished my third exhortation relating 
to the preparation of your sermons for the pulpit. 

4. In addressing your discourse to your hearers, 
remember to distinguish the different characters of 
saints and sinners ; the converted, and the unconvert- 
ed, the sincere Christian and the formal professor, the 
stupid and the awakened, the diligent and backsliding, 
the fearful or humble soul, the obstinate and presump- 
tuous ; and at various seasons introduce a word for 
each of them. Thus you will divide the word of God 
aright, and give to every one his portion. 

The general way of speaking to all persons in one 
view, and under one character, as though all your 
hearers were certainly true Christians, and converted 
already, and wanted only a little further reformation 
of heart and life, is too common in the world, — but I 
think it is a dangerous way of preaching ; it hath a 
powerful and unhappy tendency to lull unregenerate 
sinners asleep in security, to flatter and deceive them 
with dreams of happiness, and make their consciences 
easy without a real conversion of heart to God. 


Let your hearers know that there is a vast and un- 
speakable difference bet^-ixt a saint and a sinner, one 
in Christ, and one out of Christ ; between one whose 
heart is in the state of corrupt nature or unrenewed, 
and one that is in a state of grace, and renewed to 
faith and holiness ; between one who is only born of 
the flesh, and is a child of ^Tath, and one who is born 
again, or born of the Spirit, and is become a child of 
God, a member of Christ, and an heir of Heaven. 
Let them know that this distinction is great and ne- 
cessary ; a most real change, and of infinite import- 
ance ; and however it has been derided by men, it is 
glorious in the eyes of God, and it will be made to 
appear so at the last day, in the eyes of men and 
angels.~That little treatise, written by the learned 
Mr. John Jennings, concerning Preaching Christ 
and Experimental Preaching, has many valuable 
hints relating to these two last particulars of my ex- 
hortation . 

5. Lead your hearers wisely into the knowledge of 
the truth, and teach them to build their faith upon 
solid grounds. Let them first know why they are 
Christians, that they may be firmly established in the 
belief and profession of the religion of Christ ; that 
thev may be guarded against all the assaults of tempta- 
tion and infidelity in this evil day, and may be able 
to render a reason of the hope that is in them : fur- 
nish them with arguments in opposition to the rude 
cavils and blasphemies which are frequently thrown 
out into the world against the name and the doctrines 
of the holy Jesus. 

Then let the great, the most important, and most 
necessary articles of our religion be set before your 
hearers in their fairest light. Convey them into the 
understandings of those of meanest capacity, by con- 


descending sometimes to plain and familiar methods of 
speech ; prove these important doctrines and duties 
to them, by all proper reasons and arguments: — but 
as to the introducing of controversies into the pulpit, 
be not fond of it, nor frequent in it. In your com- 
mon course of preaching avoid disputes, especially a- 
bout things of less importance, without an apparent 
call of Providence. Religious controversies, frequent- 
ly introduced, without real necessity, have an unhap- 
py tendency to hurt the spirit of true godliness, both 
in the hearts of preachers and hearers. 

And beware of laying too much stress on the pe- 
culiar notions, terms, and phrases of the little sects 
and parties in Christianity ; take heed that you do 
not make your hearers bigots and uncharitable, while 
you endeavour to make them knowing Christians. 
Establish them in all the chief and most important 
articles of the gospel of Christ, without endeavouring 
to render those who differ from you, odious in the 
sight of your hearers. Whensoever you are constrain- 
ed to declare your disapprobation of particular opi- 
nions, keep up and manifest your love to the persons of 
those who espouse them, and especially if they are per- 
sons of virtue and piety. 

6. Do not content yourself to compose a ser- 
mon of mere doctrinal truths and articles of belief, 
but into every sermon (if possible) bring something 
practical. It is true, knowledge is the foundation of 
practice ; the head must be furnished with a degree 
of knowledge, or the heart cannot be good ; but take 
heed that dry speculations, and mere schemes of or- 
thodoxy," do not take up too large a part of your com- 
positions ; and be sure to impress it frequently on 
your hearers, that holiness is the great end of all 
knowledge, and of much more value than the sub- 
limest speculations ; nor is there any doctrine but 


what requires some correspondent practice of piety or 

And among the practical parts of Christianity, some- 
times make it your business to insist on those subjects 
which are inward and spiritual, and which go by the 
name of Experimental Religion. Now and then take 
such themes as these, %-iz. The first awakenings of the 
conscience of a sinner, by some special and awful pro- 
vidence, by some particular passages in the word of 
God, in pious ^^Titings, or public sermons, the inward 
terrors of mind, and fears of the ^^Tath of God, which 
sometimes accompany such awakenings ; the tempta- 
tions which arise to divert the mind from them, and 
to sooth the sinner in the course of his iniquities ; the 
inward conflicts of the spirit in these seasons, the me- 
thods of relief under such temptations ; the arguments 
that may fix the heart and will for God against all the 
enticements and opposition of the world ; the labours 
of the conscience fluctuating between hope and fear; 
the rising and working of indwelling sin in the heart, 
the subtile excuses framed by the flesh for the indul- 
gence of it ; the peace of God derived from the gospel, 
allaying the inward terrors of the soul under a sense of 
guilt ; the victories obtained over strong corruptions 
and powerful temptations, by the faith of unseen things, 
by repeated addresses to God in prayer, by trusting in 
Jesus, the great mediator, who is made of God to us 
wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemp- 

While you are treating on these subjects, give me 
leave to put you again in mind, that it will sometimes 
have a very happy influence on the minds of hearers 
to speak what you have learnt from your o^\■n experi- 
ence, though there is no need that you should tell them 
publicly it is your own ; you may inform them what 
you have borrowed from your own observation, and 


from the experience of Christians, ancient or modern, 
who have passed through the same trials, who have 
wrestled with the same corruptions of nature, who have 
grappled with the same dithculties, and at last have 
been made conquerors over the same temptations. As 
faceanswers face in the glass, so the heart of one man an- 
swers to another ; and the workings of the different 
principles of flesh and spirit, corrupt nature and renew- 
ing grace, have a great deal of resemblance in the 
heart of different persons who have passed through 
them. This sort of instruction, drawn from just and 
solid experience, will animate and encourage the young 
Christian that begins to shake off the slavery of sin, 
and to set his face toward Heaven : this will make it 
appear that religion is no impracticable thing. It will 
establish and comfort the professors of the gospel, and 
excite them with new vigour, to proceed in the way of 
faith and holiness ; it will raise a steadfast courage and 
hope, and will generally obtain a most happy effect 
upon the souls of the hearers, beyond all that you can 
say to them from principles of mere reasoning and 
dry speculation: and especially where you have the 
concurrent experience of scriptural examples. 

7. Whether you are discoursing of doctrine or 
duty, take great care that you impose nothing on your 
hearers, either as a matter of faith or practice, but 
what your Lord and Master, Christ Jesus, has impos- 

But in this state of frailty and imperfection, dangers 
attend us on either hand. As we must take heed that 
we do not add the fancies of men to our divine religion, 
so we should take equal care that we do not curtail the 
appointments of Christ. With a sacred vigilance and 
zeal we should maintain the plain, express, and neces- 
sary articles that we find evidently -oTitten in the word 
of Godj and suffer none of them to be lost through our 


default. The world lias been so long imposed upon 
by these shameful additions of men to the gospel of 
Christ, that they seem now to be resolved to bear them 
no longer : but they are unhappily running into ano- 
ther extreme : because seA-eral sects and parties of 
Christians have tacked on so many false and unbecom- 
ing ornam.ents to Christianity, they resolve to deliver 
her from these disguises ; but while they are paring 
off all this foreign trumpery, they too often cut her ti» 
the quick, and sometimes let out her life-blood (if I 
may so express it) and maim her of her very limbs 
and vital parts. Because so many irrational notions 
and follies have been mixed up with the Christian 
scheme, it is now a modish humour of the age to renounce 
almost every thing that reason doth not discover, and 
to reduce Christianity itself to little more than the 
light of nature, and the dictates of reason ; and under 
this sort of influence, there are some who are believers 
of the Bible and the divine mission of Christ, and dare 
not renounce the gospel itself ; yet they interpret some 
of the peculiar and express doctrines of it into so poor, 
so narrow, and so Jejune a meaning, that they suffer 
but little to remain beyond the articles of natural reli- 
gion. This leads some of the learned and polite men 
of the age to explain away the sacrifice and atonement 
made for our sins by the death of Christ, and to be- 
reave our religion of the ordinary aids of the Holy Spi- 
rit ; both which are plainly and expressly revealed, 
frequently repeated in the New Testament, and which 
are two of the chief glories of the blessed gospel ; and 
which, perhaps, are two of the chief uses of those sa- 
cred names of the Son and the Holy Spirit, into which 
we are baptized. It is this very humour that per- 
suades some persons to reduce the injury and mischief 
that we have sustained by the sin and faU of Adam, to 
so slisht a bruise, and so inconsiderable a wound, that 


only a small matter of grace is needful for our reco- 
very ; and accordingly they impoverish the rich and 
admirable remedy of the gospel to a very culpable de- 
i^ree, supposing no more to be necessary for the restor- 
ation of man than those few ingredients, which, in 
their opinion, make up the whole composition. Hence 
it comes to pass, that the doctrine of regeneration, or 
in entire change of corrupt nature, by a principle 
of divine grace, is almost lost out of their Christi- 

8. Remember that you have to do with the un- 
derstanding, reason, and memory of man, Avith the 
heart and conscience, with the Avill and affections ; and 
therefore you must use every method of speech which 
may be most proper to engage and employ each of 
these faculties or powers of human nature on the 
side of religion, and in the interests of God and the 

Your first business is with the understanding, to 
make even the lower parts of your auditory know 
M'hat you mean. Endeavour, therefore, to find out all 
the clearest and most easy forms of speech, to convey 
divine truths into the minds of men. Seek to obtain 
a perspicuous style, and a clear and distinct manner of 
speaking, that you may effectually impress the under- 
standing while you pronounce the words, that you may 
so exactly imprint on the mind of the hearers the same 
ideas which you yourself have conceived, that they 
may never mistake your meaning. This talent is 
sooner attained in your younger years, by having some 
judicious friend to hear or read over your discourses 
and inform you where perspicuity is wanting in your 
language, and where the hearers may be in danger of 
mistaking your sense ; for want of this, some young 
preachers have fixed themselves in such an obscure 
way of Avriting and talking, as hath very much prevent- 


ed their hearers from obtaining distinct ideas of their 
discourse ; and if a man gets such an unhappy habit, 
he will be sometimes talking to the air^ and make the 
people stare at him, as though he were speaking some 
unknown language. 

Remember you have to do with the reasoning 
powers of man in preaching the gospel of Christ ; for 
though this gospel is revealed from Heaven, and could 
never have been discovered by all the efforts of human 
reason, yet the reason of man must judge of sever- 
al things relating to it. It is reason must deter- 
mine whether the evidence of its heavenly original be 
clear and strong : it is reason must judgejwhether such 
a doctrine or such a duty be contained in the gospel, 
or may be justly deduced from it : it is the work of hu- 
man reason to compare one Scripture with another, and 
to find out the true sense of any particular text by 
this means ; and it is reason also must give its sen- 
tence. Whether a doctrine, which is pretended to be 
contained in Scripture, be contrary to the eternal and 
unchangeable relations and reasons of things ? and if 
so, then reason may pronounce that this doctrine is not 
from God, nor can be given us by divine revelation. 
Reason, therefore, hath its office and proper province, 
even in matters of revelation ; yet it must always be 
Confessed that some propositions may be revealed to 
us from Heaven, which may be so far superior to the 
limits and sphere of our reasoning powers in the pre- 
sent state, that human reason ought not to reject them, 
because it cannot fully understand them, nor clearly 
and perfectly reconcile them, unless it plainly see a 
natural absurdity in them, a real impossibility, or a 
plain inconsistency with other parts of divine revela- 

And in your representation of things to the reason 
;iud understanding of men, it would sometimes be of 


special advantage to have some power over the fancy 
t>r imagination ; this would help us to paint our themes 
in their proper colours, whether of the alluring or the 
torbidding kind ; and now and then we should make" 
use of both, in order to impress tlie idea on the soul 
A\ith happier force and success. 

When you would describe any of the personal or so- 
cial virtues of life, so as to enforce their practice, set 
yourself to display the beauties and excellencies of 
them, in their OTvn agreeable and lovely forms and co- 
lours ; but do not content yourself with this alone, this 
is not sufficient to allure the degenerate and sensual 
mind of man to practise them. FeAv persons are of 
so happy a disposition, and so refined a genius, as to 
be ^\Tought upon by the mere aspect of such inviting 
qualities. Endeavour, therefore, to illustrate the vir- 
tues by their contrary vices, and set forth these moral 
mischiefs, both in their deformities and their danger- 
ous consequences, before the eyes of your hearers. 
Think it not enough to represent to them the shining 
excellencies of humility and benevolence, of justice, 
veracity, gratitude, and temperance ; but produce to 
sight the vile features of pride, envy, malice, spite^ 
knaverv, falsehood, revenge, sensuality, luxury, and 
the rest of that cursed train, in their proper places and 
seasons. Make it evident, how contrary they are both 
to the law of God and the gospel of Christ ; describe 
them in all their several forms, shapes, and appear- 
ances ; strip them of their false pretences and disguis- 
es ; show how they insinuate and exert themselves in 
different occurrencesof life, and different constitutions, 
and pursue them so narrowly, as it were with a hue 
and cry, with such exact descriptions, that if any of 
these vices are indulged by your hearers, they may be 
found out by strict self-examination, that the con- 
sciences of the guilty may be laid under conviction of 


.sin, and be set in the way of repentance and reforma- 

A^Tiensoever any vice has found the way into our 
bosoms, and makes its nest there, its proper and evil 
features and characters ought to be marked out by the 
preacher with great accuracy, that it may be discover- 
ed to our consciences, in order to its destruction ; for 
these wretched hearts of ours are naturally so fond of 
all their own inmates, that they are too ready to hide 
their ill qualities from our own sight and conviction, 
and thus they cover and save them from the sentence 
of mortification and death, which is denounced against 
every sin in the word of God ; and let the preacher 
and thehearerboth remember, that sin must be pursued 
to the death, or else there is no life to the soul. On- 
ly the Christian, who, " by the spirit mortifies the 
sinful deeds of the body," has the promise of salva- 
tion and life. 

Think farther, that you should take some care also 
to engage the memory, and to make it serve the pur- 
poses of religion. Let your reasonings be ever so 
forcible and convincing, let your language be ever so 
clear and intelligible, yet, if the whole discourse glide 
over the ear in a smooth and delightful stream, and 
if nothing be fixed on the memory, the sermon is in 
great danger of being lost and fruitless. Now, to a- 
void this danger, I would recommend to you the care 
of a clear and distinct method ; and let this method 
appear to the hearers by the division of your discourses 
into several plain and distinct particulars, so that the 
whole may not be a mere loose harangue, without 
evident members, and discernible rests and pauses. 
Whatsoever proper and natural divisions belong to 
your subject, mark them out by their numbers, 1st, 
2d, 3d, &c. This will afford you time to breathe, in 
the delivery of your discourse, and give your hearers 


a sliort season for the recollection of the particulars 
which have been mentioned before. 

But in this matter take care always to maintain a 
happy medium, so as never to arise to such a number 
of particulars as may make your sermon look like a 
tree full of branches in the winter, without the beau- 
tiful, profitable appearance of leaves and fruit. 

Cast the scheme of your discourse into some dis- 
tinct, general heads, and lesser subdivisions, in your 
first sketches and rudiments of it: this wiU greatly 
assist you in the amplification ; this will help to pre- 
serve a just method throughout, and secure you from 
repeating the same thoughts too often : this ^\'ill en- 
able you to commit your sermon to your own memory 
the better, that you may deliver it with ease ; and it 
■will greatly assist the understanding as well as the 
memory of aU that hear you. It will furnish them 
with matter and method for an easy recollection at 
home ; for meditation in their devout retirement, and 
for religious conference or rehearsal, after the public 
worship is ended. 

Consider again, your business is with the con- 
sciences, and ^villsj and afi^ections of men. A mere 
conviction of the reason and judgment, by the strong- 
est arguments, is hardly sufficient, in matter of piety 
and virtue, to command the wiU into obedience ; be- 
cause the appetites of the flesh and the interests of 
this world are engaged on the opposite side. It is a 
very common case A\ath the sons and daughters of 
Adam, to see and know their proper duty, and to 
have the reasons that enforce it fresh in their memo- 
ry ; and yet the powerful eflforts of the flesh and the 
world withhold the will from the practice, forbid 
its holy resolutions for God and Heaven, or keep 
them always feeble, doubtful, and wavering. The 
God of nature therefore has furnished mankind with 


those powers which we call Passions or Affections of the 
Heart, in order to excite the will -with superior vi- 
gour and activity, to avoid the evil and pursue the 
good. Upon this account the preacher must learn to 
address the passions in a proper manner ; and I can- 
not but think it a very imperfect character of a Christ- 
ian preacher, that he reasons well upon every subject, 
and talks clearly upon his text, if he has nothing of 
the pathetic in his ministrations, no talent at all to 
strike the passions of the heart. 

Awaken your spirit, therefore, in your compositions ; 
contrive all lively, forcible, and penetrating forms of 
speech, to make your words powerful and impressive 
on the hearts of your hearers, when light is first let 
into the mind. Practise all the awful and solemn 
ways of address to the conscience, all the soft and 
tender influences on the heart. Try all methods to 
rouse and awaken the cold, the stupid, the sleepy 
race of sinners ; learn all the language of holy jea- 
lousy and terror, to affright the presumptuous ; all 
the compassionate and encouraging manners of speak- 
ing, to comfort, encourage, and direct the awakened, 
the penitent, the willing and the humble ; all the 
winning and engaging modes of discourse and ex- 
postulation, to constrain the hearers of every charac- 
ter to attend. Seek this happy skill of reigning and 
triumphing over the hearts of an assembly ; persuade 
them with power to love and practise all the impor- 
tant duties of godliness, in opposition to the flesh and 
the world ; endeavour to kindle the soul to zeal in 
the holy warfare, and to make it bravely victorious 
over all the enemies of its salvation. 

But in all these efforts of sacred oratory, remember 
still you are a minister of the gospel of Christ ; and 
as your style must not affect the pomp and magni- 
flcence of the theatre, so neither should you borrow 


your expressions or your metaphors from the coarsest 
occupations, or any of the mean and uncleanly occur- 
rences in life. Swell not the sound of your periods 
with ambitious or pedantic phrases ; dress not your 
serious discourses to the people in too glittering array, 
\vith an affectation of gaudy and Haunting ornaments, 
nor ever descend to so low a degree of familiarity and 
meanness, as to sink your language below the dignity 
of your subject or your office. 

9. As the art of reasoning, and the happy skill of per- 
suasion are both necessary to be used in framing your 
discourses, so both of them may be borrowed, in a 
good measure, from the holy Scriptures. The word 
of God will furnish you with a rich variety of forms, 
both to prove and persuade. Clear instruction, con- 
vincing argument, and pathetic address to the heart, 
may be all dra^^Ti from the sacred writers. IMany 
line strokes of true logic and rhetoric are scattered 
through that divine book, the Bible : words of force 
and elegance, to charm and allure the soul, glitter and 
sparkle like golden ore in some peculiar parts of it. 
You may find there noble examples of the awful and 
compassionate style, and inimitable patterns of the 
terrible and tender. Shall I therefore take the free- 
dom once again to call upon you to remember, that 
you are a minister of the word of God, a professor 
and preacher of the Bible, and not a mere philosopher 
upon the foot of reason, nor an orator in a heathen 

And as for bright, warm, and pathetic language, to 
strike the imagination, or to affect the heart, to kin- 
dle the divine passions, or to melt the soul, none of 
the heathen orators can better furnish you than the 
moving expostulations of the ancient prophets, the 
tender and sprightly odes of holy David, or the affec- 
tionate part of the letters of St. Paul, which even his 


enemieSjinthe church of Corinth, confessed to be power- 
ful. The eastern writers, among whom we number 
the Jews, were particularly famous for lively oratory, 
bright images, and bold and animated figures of speech. 
Could I have heard Isaiah or Jeremiah pronouncing 
some of their sermons, or attended St. Pa\il in some 
of his pathetic strains of preaching, I should never 
mourn a want of acquaintance with TuUy or Demos- 

A preacher, whose mind is weU stored and enriched 
with the divine sense and sentiments, the reasoning 
and language of Scripture, (and especially if these are 
wrought in his heart by Christian experience,) sup- 
posing his other talents are equal to those of his breth- 
ren, will always have a considerable advantage over 
them, in composing such discourses as shall be most 
popular and most useful in Christian assemblies ; and 
he may better expect the presence and blessing of 
God, to make his word triumph over the souls of men, 
and will generally speak to their hearts with more 
power for their eternal salvation. Show me one sin- 
ner turned to God and holiness by the labours of a 
preacher who is generally entertaining the audience 
with a long and weighty chain of reasoning from the 
principles of nature, and teaching virtue in the lan- 
guage of heathen philosophy, — and, I think I may 
undertake to show you ten who have been convinced 
and converted, and have become holy persons and live- 
ly Christians, by an attendance upon a spiritual, afTec- 
tionate, and experimental ministry : the whole as- 
sembly hang attentive upon the lips of a man who 
speaks to the heart, as well as to the understanding, 
and who can enforce his exhortations from a manifold 
experience of the success of them. They delight to 
hear the preacher, whose plain and powerful address 
to the conscience, and v/hose frequent methods of 


reasoning in the pulpit, have been drawn from what 
they themselves have read in Scripture concerning 
God and man, sin and duty, our misery and divine 
mercy, death, resurrection, judgment. Heaven and 
Hell. They attend with holy reverence and affection 
on such a minister, whose frequent argument, botlx 
in points of doctrine and practice, is. Thus saith the 

10. Be not slothful nor negligent in your weekly pre- 
paration for the pulpit ; take due time for it ; begin 
so early in the week, that you may have time enough 
before you to furnish your preparation Avell ; and al- 
ways allow for accidental occurrences, either from in- 
disposition of body, from interruptions by comp;my, 
from unforeseen business or trouble, &c. that you 
may not be reduced to the necessity of hurrying over 
your work in haste at the end of the week, and serv- 
ing God and the souls of men with poor, cold, and 
careless performances. Remember that awful word, 
though spoken on another occasion, " Cursed be he that 
doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully." Manage so 
as to leave generally the Saturday evening, or, at least, 
the Lord's Dav morning entire, for the review and 
correction of your discourse, and for your own spi- 
ritual improvement, by the sermon which vou have 
prepared for the pec^le. 

If it should happen that the mere providence of 
God, without any neglect of yours, has hindered vou 
from making so good a preparation as you designed, 
you may, with coiuage and hope of divine assistance, 
venture into the assembly with more slender and im- 
perfect furniture ; but if vour conscience tells you 
that your preparations are very slight, and the neglect 
is your own, you have less reason to expect aids from 
above, without great humiliation for your negligence ; 
and what if God should forsake you so far in the pul- 


pit as to expose you to public shame, and thus punish 
you for your carelessness in the midst of the congre- 
gation ! 

Study your matter well, by meditation and reading, 
and comparing Scriptures together, till vou have got- 
ten it completely within your grasp and survey : then 
if you should happen to be so situated in preaching, 
that you could not refresh your memory by the in- 
spection of your paper every minute, yet you will not 
be exposed to hurry and confusion, — a ready thought 
will suggest something pertinent to your purpose. 
Let your preparation be usually so perfect, that you 
may be able to fill up the time allotted for the dis- 
course with soUd sense and proper language, even if 
your natural spirits should happen to be heavy and in- 
disposed at the hour of preaching, and if your mind 
should have no new thoughts arising in the delivery 
of your discourse. 

Labour carefully in the formation of your sermons, 
in your younger years : a habit of thinking and speak- 
ing well, procured by the studies of youth, will make 
the labour of your middle age easy, when, perhaps, 
you will have much less time and leisure. 

III. Take heed to your public labours and mi- 
nistrations in the church ; which may be done by 
attending to the following particulars : — 

1 . Apply yourself to your work ^vith pious delight 
—not as a toil or task, which you wish were done and 
ended ; but as matter of inward pleasure to your own 
soul ; enter the pulpit with the solemnity of holy joy, 
that you have an opportunity to speak for the honour 
of God and the salvation of men. Then you will 
not preach or pray with sloth or laziness, with cold- 
ness or indifference. We do not use to be slothful 
and indifferent in the nursuit of our joys, or the relish 


of our chosen pleasures. Stir up yourself to the work 
with sacred vigour, that the assembly may feel ^hat 
you speak ; but if you deliver the most solemn and 
lively compositions, like a man that is half asleep, it 
will be no wonder if your hearers slumber. A dull 
preacher makes a drowsy church. 
2. Endeavour to get your heart into a temper of divine 
love, zealous for the laws of God, affected with the 
grace of Christ, and compassionate for the souls of men. 
With this temper engage in public work. Let your 
frame of spirit be holy with regard to your own inward 
devotion, near to God, and delighting in him ; and let 
it be zealous for the name of Christ, and the increase 
(tf his kingdom. O pity perishing sinners, when you 
lire sent to invite them to be reconciled to God ! Let 
not self be the subject or the end of your preaching ; 
but Christ, and the salvation of souls. " We preach 
not ourselves," saith the apostle, "but Christ Jesus 
the Lord, and ourselves, your servants, for Jesus sake." 
Speak as a dying preacher to dying hearers, with the 
utmost compassion to the ignorant, the tempted, the 
foolish, and the obstinate ; for all these are in danger 
of eternal death. Attend your work with the utmost 
desire to save souls from Hell, and enlarge the king- 
dom of Christ your Lord. 

Go into the public assembly with a design (if God 
please) to strike and persuade some souls there into 
repentance, faith, holiness, and salvation ! Go to open 
blind eyes, to unstop deaf ears, to make the lame walk, 
to make the foolish wise, to raise those that are dead 
in trespasses and sins, to a heavenly and divine life, 
and to bring guilty rebels to return to the love and 
obedience of their maker> by Jesus Christ, the great 
reconciler, that they may be pardoned and saved ! Go 
to diffuse the savour of the name of Christ and his 


gospel, through a whole assembly, and to allure souls 
to partake of grace and glory ! 

3. Go forth in the strength of Christ, for these glorious 
effects are above your own strength, and transcend all 
the powers of the brightest preachers ! " Be strong in 
the grace which is in Christ Jesus ;"— " \vithout him 
we can do nothing." Go with a design to work won- 
ders of salvation on sinful creatures, but in the strength 
of Jesus, who hath all power given him in Heaven and 
earth, and hath promised to be with his ministers to 
the end of the world ! Pray earnestly for the promis- 
ed aids of the Spirit ; and plead with God, who hath 
sent you forth in the service of the gospel of his Son, 
that you may not return empty, but bring in a fair 
harvest of converts to Heaven. It is the Lord of the 
harvest who only can give this divine success to the 
labourers. " He that planteth is nothing, and he 
that watereth is nothing ; but all our hope is in God, 
who giveth the increase." 

4. Get the substance of your sermon, which you have 
prepared for the pulpit, so wTought into your head 
and heart, by review and meditation, that you may 
have it at command, and speak to your hearers with 
freedom ; not as if you were reading or repeating 
vour lesson to them, but as a man sent to teach and 
])ersuade them to faith and holiness. Deliver your 
discourses to the people, like a man that is talking to 
them in good earnest about their most important con- 
cerns, and their everlasting welfare ; like a messenger 
sent from Heaven, who would fain save sinners from 
Hell, and allure souls to God and happiness. Do not 
indulge that lazy way of reading over your prepared 
paper as a school-boy does an oration out of Livy or 
Cicero, who has no concern in the things he speaks ; 
but 1-et all the warmest zeal for God and compassion 
for perishing men animate your voice and countenance. 


and let the people see and feel, as Avell as hear, that 
you are speaking to them about things of infinite mo- 
ment, and in which your own eternal interest lies as 
well as theirs. 

5. If you pray and hope for the assistance of the Spirit 
of God, in every part of your work, do not resolve al- 
ways to confine yourself precisely to the mere words 
and sentences which you have -written down in your 
private preparations. Far be it from me to encourage 
a preacher to venture into public work without due 
preparation by study, and a regular composition of his 
discourse. We must not serve God with what costs 
us nothing. All our wisest thoughts and cares are due 
to the sacred service of the temple : but what i mean 
is, that we should not impose upon ourselves just such 
a number of precomposed Avords and lines to be deliv- 
ered in the hour, without daring to speak a warm sen- 
timent that comes fresh upon the mind. Why may 
you not hope for some lively turns of thought, some 
new pious sentiments, which may strike light, and 
heat, and life into the understandings and the hearts 
of those that hear you ? In the zeal of your ministra- 
tions, why may you not expect some bright, and warm, 
and pathetic forms of argument and persuasion, tt> 
offer themselves to your lips, for the more pouerful 
conviction of siimers, and the encouragement and com- 
fort of humble Christians ? 

Have you not often found such an enlargement of 
thought, such a variety of sentiment, and freedom of 
speech, in common conversation, upon an important 
subject, beyond what you were apprized of beforehand ? 
— And why should you forbid yourself this natural ad- 
vantage in the pulpit, and in the fervour of sacred 
ministrations, where also you have more reason to hope 
for divine assistance ? 

6. Here would be a proper place to interpose a few di- 


rections concerning elocution^ and the whole manner 
of delivery of your discourse to the people, which in- 
cludes both a voice, gesture, and behaviour, suited to 
the subject and design of every part of the sermon ; 
but the rules that are necessary for this part of our 
work, are much better derived from books ^vritten on 
this subject, from an observation of the best preachers, 
in order to imitate them, an avoidance of that which 
we find oifensive when Ave ourselves are hearers. 

If I had a design to go through the whole of the 
ministerial office, I should here also find a proper place 
to speak of the manner of your performance of public 
prayer, of your direction of that part of worship which 
is called Psalmody, and of your ministration of the or- 
dinance of Baptism and the Lord's Supper ; but this 
would require more time, and my chief design was to 
put you in mind of a few useful things which relate 
to preaching. I proceed, therefore, to the last particu- 

7. Be very solicitous about the success of your labours 
in the pulpit. Water the seed sown, not only Avith 
public, but secret prayer. Plead with God impor- 
tunately, that he would not suffer you to labour in 
vain. Be not like that foolish bird, the ostrich, which 
lavs her eggs in the dust, and leaves them there, re- 
gardless whether they come to life or not : God hath 
not given her understanding. But let not this folly 
be your character or practice : labour, and watch, and 
pray, that your sermons and the fruit of your studies 
may become words of divine life to souls. 

It is an observation of pious Mr. Baxter, Avhich I 
have read somewhere in his works. That he has never 
known any considerable success from the brightest and 
noblest talents, nor the most excellent kind of preach- 
ing, and that even where the preachers themselves 
have been truly religious, if they have not had a so- 


licitous concern for the success of their ministrations. 
Let the awful and important thought of souls being 
saved by my preaching, or left to perish and be con- 
demned to Hell by my negligence ; I say, let this aw- 
ful and tremendous thought dwell ever upon your spi- 
rit. We are made watchmen to the house of Israel, 
as Ezekiel was ; and if we give no warning of ap- 
proaching danger, the souls of multitudes may perish 
through our neglect ; but the blood of souls will be 
terribly required at our hands. 

IV^. Take heed to your whole conversation in 
the world ; let that be managed not only as becomes 
a professor of Christianity, but as becomes a minister 
of the gospel of Christ. Now, amongst other rules 
which may render your conversation agreeable to 
your character, I entreat you to take these few into 
your thoughts. 

1. Let it be blameless and inoffensive. Be vigilant, 
be temperate in all things, not only as a soldier of 
Christ, but as an under-leader of part of his army. 
Be temperate, and abstain sometimes even from law- 
ful delights, that you may make the work of self-de- 
nial easy, and that you may bear hardship as becomes 
a soldier ; but always watchful, lest you be too much 
entangled with the affairs of this life, that you may 
better please him who has chosen you for an officer in 
his battalions, and that you may not be easily sur- 
prised into the snares of sin. Guard against a love of 
pleasure, a sensual temper, an indulgence of appetite, 
an excessive relish of wine or dainties : these carna- 
lize the soul, and give occasion to the world to re- 
proach us but too justly. 

2. Let your conversation be exemplary in all the 
duties of holiness and virtue : in all the instances of 


worship and piety toward God, and in those of justice, 
honour, and hearty benevolence towards men. Be 
forivard and ready to engage in every good word and 
work, that you may be a pattern and a leader of the 
flock ; that you may be able to address the people 
committed to your care in the language of the blessed 
apostle, " Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of 
Christ." " Brethren, be followers together of me, and 
mark them which walk so, as ye have us for an ex- 
ample ; for our conversation is in Heaven." '■' Those 
things, which ye have both learned and received, and 
heard and seen in me, do you practise, and the God of 
peace shall be v.'ith you." 

3. Let your conversation be grave and manly, yet 
pleasant and engaging. Let it be grave, manly, and 
venerable. Remember your station in the church, 
that you sink not into levity and vain trifling, that 
you indulge not any ridiculous humours or childish 
follies, below the dignity of your character : keep up 
the honour of your oflice among men, by a remarkable 
sanctity of manners, by a decent and manly deport- 
ment. Remember, that our station does not permit 
any of us to set up for a bufibon ; nor will it be any 
glory to us to excel in farce and comedy. Let other? 
obtain the honour of being good jesters, and of having 
it in their power to spread a laugh round the com- 
pany when they please ; but let it be our ambition to 
act on the stage of life, as men who are devoted to the 
service of the God of Heaven, to the real benefit of 
mankind on earth, and to their eternal interest. 

Yet there is no need that your behaviour should 
have any thing stifl" or haughty, any thing sullen or 
gloomy in it. There is an art of pleasing in conver- 
sation, that will maintain the honour of a superior of- 
fice, without a morose silence, without an affected 


Stiffness, and without a haughty superiority. A plea- 
sant story may proceed, without offence, from a min- 
ister's lips ; but he should never aim at the title of a 
Man of Mirth, nor abound in such tales as carry no 
useful instruction in them, no lessons of piety, or wis- 
dom, or virtue. 

Let a cheerful freedom, a generous friendship, and 
an innocent pleasure, generally appear on your coun- 
tenance ; and let your speech be ever kind and affec- 
tionate. Do not put on any forbidding airs, nor let 
the humblest soul be afraid to speak to you. Let your 
whole carriage be civil and affable ; let your address 
to men be usually open and free, such as may allure 
persons to be open and free with you in the important 
concerns of their souls. Seek, as far as possible, to 
obtain all your pious designs, by soft and gentle me- 
thods of persuasion. 

If you are ever called to the unpleasing and pain- 
ful work of reproof, this may be done effectually, up- 
on some occasions, ^'S'ithout speaking a word. When 
vicious, or uncleanly, or unbecoming speeches arise in 
public conversation, a sudden silence, with assumed 
gravity, will often be a sensible and sufficient reproof. 
Or where words of admonition may not be proper, 
because of the company, sometimes a sudden depar- 
ture may be the best way to acquaint them with your 

But there are cases wherein such a tacit rebuke is 
not sufficient to answer your character and your of- 
fice. Sometimes it is necessary for a minister to bear a 
public and express ^^'itness against shocking immor- 
ality, or against ■vile and impious discourse. Yet, in 
general, it must be said, if a reproof can be given in 
secret, it is best, and most likely to prevail upon the 
offender, because it less irritates his passions, nor a- 
wakens his pride to vindicate himself, and to despise 
all reproof. 


Whensoever Providence calls you to this work, make 
it appear to the transgressor that you do it with re- 
gret and pain : let him see that you are not giving 
vent to your own wTath, but seeking his interest and 
welfare ; and that were it not for the honour of God 
and for his good, you would gladly excuse yourself 
from the ungrateful task ; and that it is a work in 
which your spirit takes no delight. If the case and 
circumstances require some speeches that are awful 
and severe, let it appear still that your love and pity 
are the prevailing passions ; and that even your anger 
has something divine and holy in it, as being raised 
and pointed against the sin rather than against the 

Study to make the whole of your carriage and dis- 
course amongst men so engaging, as may invite stran- 
gers to love you, and allure them to love religion for 
your sake. 

4. In order to attain the same end, let your conversa- 
tion be attended with much self-denial and meekness ; 
avoid the character of humorist, nor be unreasonably 
fond of little things, nor peevish for the want of them. 
Suppress rising passion early. If you are providen- 
tially led into argument and dispute, whether on 
themes of belief or practice, be very watchful lest 
you run into fierce contention, into angry and noisy 
debate. Guard against every word that savours of 
malice, or of bitter strife : watch against the first stir- 
rings of sudden wrath or resentment : bear with pa- 
tience the contradiction of others, and forbear to re- 
turn railing for railing. A minister must be gentle, 
and not apt to strive, but meekly instructing gainsay- 

He should never be ready either to give or take of- 
fence ; but he should teach his people to neglect and 
bury resentment, to be deaf to reproaches, and to for- 
give injuries, by his own example, even as God has 


forgiven all of us. Let us imitate his divine pattern, 
who cancels and forgives our infinite oflfences for the 
sake of Christ. " A bishop must not be a brawler or 
a striker ;" but such as the apostle was, " gentle a- 
mong the people, even as a nurse cherishes her child- 
ren ;" and being affectionately desirous of their wel- 
fare, we should be willing to impart not only the gos- 
pel of God to them, but any thing that is dear to us, 
for the salvation of their souls. 

Never suffer any differences, if possible, to arise be- 
tween you and any of the people who are committed 
to your care, or attend on your ministrations ; this 
will endanger the success of your best labours among 
them, and, for this reason, though you visit families 
with freedom, yet avoid all unnecessary inquiries into 
their domestic affairs by a prying curiosity ; the plea- 
sure of such secrets will never pay for the danger that 
attends them ; — and your own business is sufficient 
for you. 

Avoid entering into any of the little private and 
personal quarrels that may arise among them, unless 
Providence give you an evident call to become a peace- 
maker ; but even in this blessed work there is some 
danger of disobliging one side or the other ; for though 
both sides are often to blame, yet each supposes him- 
self so much in the right, that your softest and most 
candid intimation of their being culpable, even in little 
things, will sometimes awaken the jealousy of one or 
both parties against you. This will tend to abate 
their esteem of you, and give a coldness to their atten- 
tion on your sacred services. We had need be vtnse 
as s«*pents in this case, and harmless as doves. 

5. Let your conversation be as fruitful and edifying 
as your station and opportunities will allow. Where- 
soever you come, use your utmost endeavours that the 
Avorld may be the better for you. If it be the duty 


of every Christian, mucli more is it the iiidispensible 
dutv of a minister of Christ to take heed that no cor- 
rupt communication proceed out of his mouth, but 
that which is good for edification, that it may min- 
ister grace to the hearers. 

In your private visits to the members of your flock, 
or to the houses of those who attend on your ministn > 
depart not ^^-ithout putting in, if possible, some word 
for God and religion, for Christ and his gospel : take 
occasion from common occurrences that arise, artfully 
i?nd insensibly to introduce some discourse of things 
sacred. Let it be done vdlh. prudence and holy skill, 
that the company may be led into it ere they are a- 
ware. — The ingenious ]Mr. Norris's little Discourse on 
Religious Conversation, and Mr. Matthew Henry's 
Sermon on Friendly Visits, have many excellent and 
valuable hints in them for our use. 

It is to be confessed, that the best of ministers and 
Christians sometimes fall into such company, that it is 
hardly possible to speak a word for God and the gos- 
pel among them. Try then whether you cannot lead 
the discourse to some useful theme in matters of 
science, art and ingenuity, or to rules of prudence, 
morality, or human conduct. There is a time of keep- 
ing silence, and restraining our lips as with a bridge, 
even from every thing that is piously good, while some 
sort of wicked men stand before us. The best men 
are sometimes dumb with silence, and dare not speak 
of God or religion, lest they should cast their pearls 
before swine, and give their holy things to dogs ; and 
lest they should provoke the unclean or the envious 
animals to foam out their impurities, or to turn again 
and rend them ; but I doubt this caution has been 
carried much farther by our own cowardice and car- 
nality of spirit than David practised it, or than Jesus 
Christ meant it, in the seventh chapter of IMatthew. 



Let us take heed then that we abuse not this pru- 
dent caution to manifest neglect of our duty, and to 
withhold our lips from the things of God, where Pro- 
vidence gives us a fair opportunity to speak of them. 

Now and then take occasion to speak a kind and 
.eligious word to the children of the household ; put 
them in mind of avoiding some childish folly, or of 
practising some duty that belongs to their age. Let 
your memory be well furnished with the \Aords of 
Scripture, suited to the several ages of mankind, as 
well as to the various occasions of life, that, out of the 
abundance of the heart, your mouth may speak to the 
advantage of all that hear you, and particularly to 
that of the younger parts of mankind, who are the 
hopes of the next generation. Make the lambs of the 
riock love you, and hear your voice with delight, that 
they may grow up under your instruction to fill up 
the room of their fathers when they are called away 
to Heaven : nor let servants be utterly neglected, 
where Providence may afford you an opportunity to 
speak a Avord to their souls. 

He that has the happy talent of parlour-preaching, 
has sometimes done more for Christ and souls in the 
space of a few minutes, than by the labour of many- 
hours and days, in the usual course of preaching in 
the pulpit. Our character should be all of a piece, 
and we should help forward the success of our public 
ministrations, by our private addresses to the hearts 
and consciences of m^en, where Providence favours us 
Avith just occasions. 

In order to promote this AA'ork of particular watch- 
fulness over the flock of Christ, where he has made 
you a shepherd and overseer, it is useful to keep a 
catalogue of their names, and now and then review 
them with a pastoral eye and affection. This will a- 
waken and incline you to lift up proper petitions for 


each of them, so far as you are acquainted Avith their 
circumstances in body or mind. This wHl excite you 
to give thanks to God on account of those who walk as 
becomes the gospel, and who have either begun, or 
proceeded and increased in the Christian life and 
temper by your ministry : vou will observe the names 
of the negligent and backsliding Christians, to mourn 
over them and admonish them : you will be put in 
mind how to dispose of your time in Christian visits, 
and learn the better to fulfil your whole ministry a- 
mong them. 

y. The things which I have spoken hitherto, have 
been a display of the best methods I can think of, for 
the execution of the sacred office of the ministry ; and 
so far as they are conformable to the word of God, we 
may venture to say, these are your duties, my dear 
brother, and these are ours. It remains now to be con- 
sidered, in what manner shall we enforce them on our 
own consciences, and on yours ? What solemn obtes- 
tations shall I use to press these momentous concerns 
on" all our hearts ? What pathetic language shall I 
choose, what words of awful efficacy and divine fer- 
vour, which may first melt our spirits into softness, 
and then imprint these duties upon them with lasting 
power ? We exhort and charge you, we exhort and 
charge ourselves, by all that is serious and sacred, by 
all that is important and everlasting, by all the solemn 
transactions between God and man which are past, 
and by all the more solemn and awful scenes which 
are yet to come ; by all things in our holy religion 
which are dreadful and tremendous, and by all things 
in this gospel which are glorious and amiable, heaven- 
ly and divine. We charge you by all that is written 
in this book of God, according to which we shall be 
judged in the last day, by all the infinite and astonish- 


ing glories and terrors of an invisible world, and an 
unseen eternity ; we charge and exhort you, we ex- 
hort and charge ourselves, that we all take heed to 
the ministry which we have received of the Lord Je- 
sus, that we fulfil it. 

We charge you, and we charge ourselves by the de- 
caying interest of religion, and the withering state of 
Christianitv at this day, that we do not increase this 
general and lamentable decay, this growing and dread- 
ful apostasy, by our slothful and careless management 
of the trust which is committed to us. It is a divine 
interest indeed, but declining ; it is a heavenly cause, 
but among us it is sinking and dying. O let us stir 
up our hearts, and all that is within us, and strive 
mightily in prayer and in preaching to revive the work 
of God, and beg earnestly that God, by a fresh and 
abundant effusion of his Spirit, would revive his work, 
among us. Revive thy own work, O Lord, in the 
midst of these years of sin and degeneracy, nor let us 
labour in vain ! Where is thy zeal, O Lord, and thv 
strength, the sounding of thy bowels and thy mer- 
cies ? Are they restrained } O let us rouse our souls 
with all holy fervour, to fulfil our ministry, for it will 
be a dreadful reproach upon us, and a burden too heavy 
for us to bear, if v/e let the cause of Christ and godli- 
ness die under our hands for want of a lively zeal, 
and pious fervour and faithfulness in our ministra- 
tions ! 

We entreat, we exhort and charge you, and we charge 
ourselves, bv the solemn and a^vful circumstances of a 
dying bed, and the thoughts of conscience in that im- 
portant hour, when we shall enter into the world of 
spirits, that we take heed to the ministry which we 
have received : surely that hour is hastening upon us, 
when our heads will lie upon a dying pillow. When 
a few more mornings and evenings have visited our 


windows, the shadows of a long night will begin to 
spread themselves over us ; in that gloomy hour, con- 
science will review the behaviour of the days that are 
past, will take account of the conduct of our whole 
lives, and will particularly examine our labours and 
cares in our sacred office. Oh, may we ever dread the 
thoughts of making bitter work for repentance in that 
hour, and of treasuring up terrors for a death-bed, by 
a careless and useless ministry ! 

We exhort and charge you, and we charge ourselves, 
by our gathering together before the throne of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, and the solemn account we must 
there give of the ministry with which he hath entrust- 
ed us, that we prepare, by our present zeal and la- 
bour, to render that most awful scene peaceful to our 
souls, and the issue of it joyful and happy. Let us 
look forward to that illustrious and tremendous appear- 
ance, when our Lord shall come ■«'ith ten thousands 
of his holy angels to inquire into the conduct of men, 
and particularly of the ministers of his kingdom here 
on earth. Let us remember that we shall be examin- 
ed in the light of the flames of that, day, what we have 
done with his gospel which he gave us to preach. 
What we have done with his promises of rich salvation, 
which he sent us to offer in his name ! What is become 
of the souls committed to our care ! O that we may 
give up our account with joy, and not with grief, to the 
Judge of the living and the dead, in that glorious, that 
dreadful and decisive hour ! 

We charge and warn you, my dear brother, and warn 
and charge ourselves, by all the terrors written in this 
divine book, and b}' all the indignation and vengeance 
of God, which we are sent to display before a sinful 
world ; by all the torments and agonies of Hell whicJi 
we are commissioned to denounce against impenitent 
sinners, in order to persuade men to turn to God, and 


receive and obey the gospel, that we take heed to our 
ministry that we fulfil it. This vengeance and these 
terrors will fall upon our souls, and that with intoler- 
able weight, with double and immortal anguish, if we 
have trifled with these terrible solemnities, and made 
no use of these awful scenes to awaken men to lay 
hold of the offered grace of the gospel. Knowing, 
therefore, the terrors of the Lord, let us persuade men, 
— for we must all stand before the judgment-seat of 
Christ, to receive according to our works. 

In the last place, we entreat, we exhort and charge 
you, by all the joys of Paradise, and the blessings of 
an eternal Heaven, which are our hope and support 
under all our labours, and which, in the name of Christ, 
we offer to sinful, perishing men, and invite them to 
partake thereof. Can we speak of such jovs and 
glories with a sleepy heart and indolent language ? 
Can we invite sinners, who are running headlong into 
Hell, to return and partake of these felicities, and not 
be excited to the warmest forms of address, and the 
most lively and engaging methods of persuasion? 
VMiat scenes of brightness and delight can animate the 
lips and language of an orator, if the glories and the 
jovs of the Christian's Heaven and our immortal 
hopes cannot do it ? We charge and entreat you, there- 
fore, and we charge ourselves, by the shining recom- 
penses which are promised to faithful ministers, that 
we keep this glory ever in view, and awaken our dying 
zeal in our sacred work. 





He that devotes himself to the work of the sacred 
ministry^ should be continuaDy intent on two things, 
viz. the improvement of his own mind, and the minds 
of others in the most important and useful know- 

This comprehends the whole office of a student and 

The business of a student is, to be so employed, as 
to be continually making some valuable accessions to 
his own intellectual furniture. To which five things 
are necessary'. 1. A proper distribution and man- 
agement of his time. 2. A right method of reading 
to advantage. 3. The order and regulation of his 
studies. 4. The proper way of collecting and pre- 
serving useful sentiments from books and Conversa- 
tion. Lastly, The improvement of his thoughts 
when alone. 




A student should be as frugal of his time as a miser 
is of his money ; should save it with as much care, 
and spend it \vith as much caution : " To be careful 
how we manage and employ our time is one of the 
iirst precepts that is taught in the school of Wisdom;, 
and one of the last that is learnt. And 'tis a prodi- 
gious thing to consider that although amongst all the 
talents which are committed to our stewardship, time 
(upon several accounts) is the most precious, yet, there 
is not any one of which the generality of men are 
more profuse and regardless. Nay 'tis obvious to ob- 
serve that even those persons who are frugal and 
thrifty in every thing else are yet extremely prodi- 
gal of their best revenue, time ; of which alone (as 
Seneca nobly observed,) 'tis a virtue to he covetous."* 
And 'tis amazing to think how much time may be 
gained by proper economy :t and how much good li- 
terature may be acquired, if that gain be rightly ap- 
plied. To this purpose, let the following rules be ob- 

I. Take particular notice of those things which are 
most apt to rob you of your time. Upon such an in- 
quest, you will probably detect the following thieves. X 

" Norris's Miscel. p. 118. 

•j- Ad summa peireniet nemo, nisi tempore, quo nihil esse 
I'ugacius constat, prudenter utatur. Ringel. de Rat. Stud. p. 100. 

I O fures, O latrones, O tyrannos crudelissimos quorum con- 
silio mihi unquam periit Hora ! Id. p. 104. 


'he bed. Never allow yourself above six hours 
it most. Physicians all tell you that nature de- 
mands no more for the proper recruits of health and 
spirits. AH beyond this is luxury ; no less prejudi- 
cial to the animal constitution than intemperate meals ; 
and no less hurtful to the powers of the mind than 
to those of the body. It insensibly weakens and re- 
laxes both. 

2. Ceremonies and formal visits. They may some- 
times be necessary ; but if they can't be improved to 
some useful purpose, the shorter they are the better. 
Much of this time is spent to no purpose, and 'tis to 
be feared not a little of it to bad purpose. 

3. Indolence is another thief of time. Indulging 
to a slow, heavy, unactive disposition ; delaying, or 
deferring necessary business to a future time, which 
ought to be set about immediately ; idle musing, or 
indulging to vain, chimerical imaginations. This is 
very natural to some, and as unnatural to others ; and 
commonly leads to another and greater waste of time, viz. 

4. Sloth and idleness. No man takes more pains 
than the slothful man. Indolence and ease are the 
rust of the mind. No habit grows faster by indul- 
gence, exposes to more temptations, or renders a man 
more uneasy to himself, or more useless to others.* 

5. Reading useless books. And those books may be 
called useless to you, which you either do not under- 
stand ; or if you do, afford neither solid improvement 
nor suitable entertainment. And especially pernici- 
ous books, or such as tend to give the mind a wrong 
turn or bad tincture. 

* Quaedam tempora cripiuntiir (sc : negotiisj nobis, quaedain 
subducuntur (amk'is), quaedam effluunt (inertia): turpissima 
tamen est jactura quiE per negligcntiam venit. Sen. Ep. 1. 


6. Much time is often lost by a Avrong method of 
studying, and especially by applying to those branches 
of learning which have no connexion with the great 
end you propose. Why should a divine affect the 
Civilian ? or dive into the depths of politics ? or be 
ambitious to excel in the abstrusest parts of mathe- 
matical science ? He has spent much time and la- 
bour in these disquisitions, and at last gained his 
point. But after all his expense, what is he the bet- 
ter preacher or the better man ? In every undertak- 
ing (especially when we enter upon a new course of 
study) we should remember the cui bono ; and ask 
ourselves, how far this is like to improve our useful- 
ness, or add to our reputation under that character we 
are about to sustain, and wherein we aim at some de- 
gree of distinction ? 

Lastly. Much time is lost by an unnatural bent of 
the mind to a study to which it is not disposed ; or 
by which the faculties are already fatigued. It will 
lind great relief by a change of employment. A man 
that rides post to save time would not chuse to be al- 
ways spurring a jaded horse^ but will rather change 
him for a fresh one, v/hereby he makes a speedier pro- 
gress with more ease to himself. Nil invito. Minerva. 
The activity of the mind is so great that it often linds 
more relief and refreshment by turning to a new track 
of thinking, different from that it was tired in, than 
it does from a total relaxation of thought in mere bodi- 
ly exercise ; which shows that 'tis not labour that 
tires it, so much as a dull uniformity of employment ; 
since it is more refreshed by variety than rest.* 

* Post Lectione sen stylo defessus nihil nitor repugnante na- 
tura : sed exercitii genus aliud quaero, quo tffidium varietas 
minuat. Rin. de Rat. Stud. p. 110. 


2. Let your most precious time (viz. that wherein 
the thoughts are most composed and free) be sacred 
to the most serious and important studies. Give the 
morning to composition, or the reading some valu- 
able author of antiquity with v/hom it is worth your 
while to be well acquainted. The afternoon will 
suffice for history, chronology, politics, news, travels, 
geography, and the common run of pamphlets : and 
let books of entertainment amuse a dull hour, when 
you are fit for nothing else. To apply your early 
time, or fresh thoughts to these, is like drinking wine 
in a morning : and giving too much of our time and 
thoughts to them, is like drinking the same intoxica- 
ting liquor to excess, and will have the same effect on 
the mind, as that has on the body. 

3. Remember to be always before-hand ^x-ith your 
business, post est occasio calva. \Miatever must be 
done now as well as hereafter, for that very reason had 
better be done now. This is a prudent maxim in life, 
applicable to a thousand cases ; and of no less advan- 
tage to a student than a tradesman. Defer nothing 
to the very last, lest some intervening accident should 
prevent the execution of an important purpose ; or put 
you into a hurry in the prosecution of it. And what 
is done with precipitance and haste seldom succeeds 
so well, or is executed Math that accuracy and discre- 
tion, as what is the effect of more mature and deli- 
berate thought. A traveller that must reach his home 
in a given time, would not be thought discreet, if by 
loitering at the beginning of his journey, he is forced 
to run himself out of breath at the end. 

4. That time is not lost, but improved, which is 
spent in those exercises which are necessary to invi- 
gorate and strengthen the faculties for harder work ; 
or to preserve a good state of health and spirits ; as 


eating, drinking, sleeping, physic, bodily exercise, 
recreations, and the like. Because through a neglect 
of these, a student may contract a bad habit of body 
or mind ; or so far impair his constitution, as to ren- 
der him a long time unfit for useful service. But 
(Est modus in rebus, &c.) an excess of these things 
defeats their end, and is as prejudical to health, as a 
discreet and moderate use of them is conducive to 

Lastly. Enter upon nothing but what you are 
determined to pursue and finish. IMuch time is often 
lost by vain attempts, and leaving useful designs im- 
perfect. For as he who begins to build a house, but 
never compleats it, must set down to his loss the 
greatest part of his money thus expended : so a stu- 
dent who desists from a work Cre infectu) wherein he 
has taken much pains, is chargeable with as fruit- 
less an expense of his time as the other is of his 
money. t 

* Such diversions as his (viz. the clergyman's) health or 
the temper of his mind, may render proper for him, ought to be 
manly, decent, and grave ; and such as may neither possess his 
mind or time too much, nor give a bad character of him to 
others. His cheerfulness ought to be frank, but neither ex- 
cessive nor licentious. His friends and his garden ought to be 

his chief diversions, and his study his chief emploj-ment 

Burnet's Dis. of the Past. Care, ch. 8. 

-}• If you are writing a book, or engaged in any work which 
requires mjich time and pains to execute, lay it down as a rule 
to let no day pass, without putting a hand to it. Nulla dies sine 
tinea, will carry you (like a steady traveller) a vast length in 
one year. 



A student should be as careful what books he reads, 
as what company he keeps. They both leave the 
same tincture on the mind. 

1. Don't read indiscriminately ; nor indulge a cu- 
riosity of perusing every new book that comes out ; 
nor desire to read it, 'till from the knoMTi ability of 
the author, or the information of some judicious friend^ 
you know 'tis worth your reading. — The curiosity of 
Vanillus to be personally acquainted with men and 
their characters, leads him into all company when he 
is at Bath ; and ^vhen he hears of a new stranger he 
is uneasy 'till he knows him, and is able to give others 
a description of his person, equipage and family. By 
this turn of temper Vanillus loses much time which 
would be more agreeably and profitably spent in the 
conversation of a few select friends. He knows men, 

but not human nature. There is a wide difference 

between a man of reading, and a man of learning. 
One can't read every thing; and if we could, we should 
be never the wiser. The bad would spoil the good, 
fill our minds with a confused medly of sentiments, 
and desires, and the end of reading would be quite 
defeated for want of time and power to improve and 
practice. A man that eats of every dish at table, 
overloads his stomach, is sick and digests nothing. 
He had better have fasted.* 

* Distrahit animum librorum multitudo Fastidientis 

stomachi multa degustare, quK ubi varia sunt et diversa in- 
•iuinanr, nou sdunt. Seu. £p. 1. 


2. Lay aside the fruitless inclination of reading a 
trifling author quite through, in hopes of finding 
something better at the end. You are sure of find- 
ing something better in another on the same subject. 
Therefore lose not a certainty for the sake of a mere 
possibility. Why should you confine yourself to lis- 
ten to the impertinence of one man, when by only turn- 
ing your back, you may be entertained and improved 
by the more pleasing and instructive conversation of 
another ? 

3. Observe the characteristical beauties of your au- 
thor. Every good Avriter has his peculiar felicity, his 
distinguishing excellence — Some excel in style ; en- 
tertain us with easy, natural language ; or with an 
elegance and propriety of expression ; or delight us 
with their florid, smooth, and well turned periods. 
Some love a figurative, difl'use and flowing style. 
Others quite a plain, rational, discursive one. Each 
have their excellence. But the most elegant is that 
which is most natural, proper, and expressive ; it can't 
then be too short and plain, both to delight and instruct ; 
the two great ends of language. A style overloaded 
with studied ornaments grows prolix j and prolixty al- 
ways weakens or obscures the sentiment it would ex- 
press. No decorations of well-chosen words, or har- 
mony of cadence can atone for this fault. Such a 
style is like a lady who, in adorning her person, spoils 
a good shape by a tawdry dress, and a fine face by 
paint and patches. And both proceed from the same 
aflPectation in preferring the embellishments of art to 
those of nature, whose charms are infinitely more 

powerful and pleasing. Others excel in sentiments. 

Those sentiments strike us with most pleasure that 
are strong, or clear, or soft, or sublime, pathetic, just, 
or uncommon. \\Tiatever has the most weight and 


brevity finds the quickest way to the heart. — Others 
excel in method j in a natural disposition of the sub- 
ject, and an easy, free, familiar way of communicating 
thoughts to the understanding. Nothing is very 
striking. You approve and are well pleased with your 
author, and you scarce know for what Tins resem- 
bles the Je ne sais quoi, tout agrecible in the very 
humour, turn and air of some people we converse with. 
— Others are very happy in their manner and way 
of conveying clear, rational, solid arguments, and 
instructions to the mind, which arrest your attention, 
command your approbation, and force your assent at 
once. You see every thing in broad day, in a fair, 
and strong, and proper light. A perfect writer has 
all these excellencies of style, sentiment, method and 
manner united. A judicious reader wiU observe in 
^\'hich of them his author most excels. 

4. From all your authors choose one or two for your 
model, by which to form your style and sentiments ; 
and let them be your Enchiridia, your pocket-compan- 
ions. Consult and imitate them every day, till you 
are not only master of their style and sentiments, but 
imbibe their spirit. But be very cautious both in your 
choice and imitation, lest with their excellencies you 
adopt their faults, to which an excessive veneration 
for them may make you blind.* 

■5. If your author have an established reputation ; 
and you don't relish him, suspect your own taste and 
judgment. Perhaps something has biassed your 
mind against him : find it out and compare it with 
those beauties which charm his other readers more 

" Certis ingeniis immorari et inmitriri oportet. si velis aliquid 

attrahere quod in animo fideliter redeat probatos itaque 

semper lege, ot siquando ad alios divertere libuerit, ad priores 
rcdi. Id. et Ibid. 


than all his blemishes offend them.* Or perhaps 
you do not understand him ; then 'tis no wonder you 
don't admire him. If your judgment be good 'tis a 
sure sign yoixr author is so when the more you read 
him the more you like him. A good friend and u 
good book are known by this ; they grow in your es- 
teem as you grow in acquaintance with them. 

When you meet Avith such an author on any sub- 
ject, stick by him, make yourself master of him. You 
will discover new beauties in him every time you 
read him, and regret not that you are unread in the 
common rubbish. Some books better deserve to be 
read through ten times than others once.t 

6. Before you sit down to a book taste it, i. e. ex- 
amine the title-page, preface, contents and index ; 
then turn to the place where some important " article 
is discussed : observe the writer's diction, argument, 
method and manner of treating it. And if after two 
or three such trials you find he is obscure, confused, 
pedantic, shallow or trifling, depend upon it he is not 
worth your reading. 

Lastly, If the book be your own, make marks at 
the margin against those passages where the senti- 
ment is well conceived or expressed and worth your 
remembering or retailing; or transfer it into your 
common-place book under the head your author is 
treating of : or at least a reference to it.| In read- 

* ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego panels 

Offendar Maculis, quas aut Incuria fiidit, 
Aut humana panun ca\-it natura. 

Hor. de Art. Poet. 1. 3o(J. 
■^ — decies repetita placebunt. Juv. 

* Inter legendum auctorem non oscitanter obserA-abis, si 
quod incidat insigne verbum, si quod argumentum, aut inven- 
tum acut^, aut tortum apte, si qua sententia digna quae memor- 
iae commendetur : isque locus erit apta notula quapiam insigni- 
enAiis.—Erasm, de Rat, Stud. 


ing an ancient Latin or Greek author, it wall be a 
help to the memorv to transcribe the passages that 
struck you most, in the spare leaves at the beginning 
or end of the book in English, and by thus skimming 
off the cream you will have it always ready for use. 
If vou meet with a happy expression or even one weU- 
chosen word on any subject, which you may have oc- 
casion to use, (and wish it might occur to you when 
vou are at a loss for expressions) mark it and make it 

your own for ever. * Thus you will read with taste 

and profit, and avoid the censure which faUs upon — 

A bookish blockhead ignorantly read 
"With loads of learned lumber in his head. 



Here we must consider both the subjects and me- 

As to the subjects of your Study. 

Consider what will make you most eminent and 
useful in your profession t ; this kind of study is to 

• Qanto pluris feceris exiguum proventum, tanto ad altiora 
doctrinae vestigia es evasurus. Qui vilissimos quosqiie nummos 
iidmirantur, intueniir crebro, ct sen'aiit accurate ad siunmas 
ssepenumero divitias perveiiiunt ; i>ari luodo, si quis aptarit su- 
dorum metam bene scribcre, discat mirari bene scripta, discat 
traudere, si vel nomina duo conjunxerit venuste. Pin. deKat. 
Stud. p. 111. 

f Quisquis verbum domini statuit sincere praedicare, perpetu- 
us et assiduus sit oportet in sancti propositi meditatione, ut 
>ibi constent omnia vitse studia. Eras. liccl, p. 6, 7. 


be your serious business, and daily and diligently pro- 
secuted. In all your reading keep this point in view. 
A traveller should have his right road and the end of 
his journey always in his eye, whatever little diversions 
or excursions he may indulge by the way. You may 
sometimes be, nescio quid medilaiis nugarum, but don't 
be totus in illis* 

To an acquaintance with books join the study of hu- 
man nature. Your own heart, passions, temper, hu- 
mour, habits and dispositions, will be the books you 
have most need to consult on this subject, t For hu- 
man nature in the main strokes of it, is much the same 
in all the human species :j: Next to this your ob- 
servations on the ways and characters and tempers of 
men, will be of great help to you ; together with some 
books where human nature is strongly and finely paint- 
ed, in its various shapes and appearances. 

'Tis not beneath the Christian philosopher to take 
some pains to be acquainted with the world ; or the 
humours, manners, forms, ceremonies, characters and 
customs of men ; at least so far as is necessary to 
avoid singularity and a disagreeable awkwardness, and 
to preserve a decorum, and an easy address in all com- 

A student should not think any thing unworthy his 
attention and notice, that has a tendency either to 

Quemadmodum enim non inscite dixit quidam, eum eruditum 
appellandum esse, non qui didicerit plurima, sed qui oprima 
maximaque nesessaria ; ita non est necesse ut futurus Ecclesi- 

astes in quibuslibet consumat operam atque aetatem sed ea 

primum ac potissimum discat quae ad docendi munus sunt ac- 
commodatissima, Id. p. 92, 93. 

* Hor. Sat. L. 1. S. 9. 

t Vid. Self-Knowledge, Part. 1. Ch. 9—11. 

\ Les hommes sont a-peu-pres tous faits de la meme maniere ; 
ft ainsi ce qui nous a touche, les touchera axissi. Ostervald de 
I'exercice du Ministere. p. 13-1. 


xnake him more agreeable, or more useful to others. 
Some regard is therefore due to dress, behaviour, the 
usual form of civility, and whatever contributes to the 
art of pleasing. Among these I would particularly 
recommend a habit of expressing his sentiments freely 
and properly upon any subject. Let his style and lan- 
guage be studied principally with this view. 

As to the method of studying to advantage. 

Pray for a divine blessing on your studies ; that 
God would guide you into the most useful knowledge 
and all important truths ; direct your subjects, and as- 
sist your meditations upon them. 

Procure a collection of the best and most approved 
books, which treat of the sciences you chiefly desire 
to cultivate, and make yourself master of them in the 
way before prescribed. 

Consult your oa«i genius and inclination in the study 
you intend to pursue : you Avill else row against the 
tide, and make no progress that is either comfortable 
or creditable to yourself. 

Compose your spirits, fix your thoughts, and be 
wholly intent on the subject in hand. Never pretend 
to study whilst the mind is not recovered from a hurry 
of cares, or the perturbations of passion. Such abrupt 
and violent transitions is a discipline to which it will 
not easily submit, especiaUy if it has not been well 
managed, and long accustomed to it. Aurora Musis 
arnica, 7iccnon vespera : because the mind is then com- 
monly most free and disengaged. 

Let the scene of your studies be a place of silence 
and solitude ; where you may be most free from in- 
terruption and avocation. 

When you have a mind to improve a single thought, 
or to be clear in any particular point, don't leave it 
till you are master of it. View it in every light. 
Try how many ways you can express it, and which i.s 


the shortest and best. Would you enlarge upon it ; 
hunt it down from author to author : some of which 
will suggest hints concerning it, which perhaps never 
occurred to you before : and give every circumstance 
its weight. Thus by being master of every subject, 
as you proceed, though you make but a small progress 
in reading, you will make a speedy one in useful know- 
ledge. To leave matters undetermined, and the mind 
unsatisfied in what we study, is but to multiply half 
notions, introduce confusion, and is the way to make a 
pedant, but not a scholar. 

Go to the fountain-head. Read original authors 
rather than those who translate or retail their thoughts. 
It will give you more satisfaction, more certainty, more 
judgment and more confidence when those authors are 
the subjects of conversation, than you can have by tak- 
ing your knowledge of them at second hand. It is 
trusting to translations, quotations and epitomes, 
that makes so many half scholars so impertinently 

Finally. Be patient of labour. The more you ac- 
custom yourself to laborious thinking, the better you 
will bear it. But take care the mind be not jad- 

If divinity be your peculiar study, observe the fol- 
lo\ving rules. 

1. Be critically expert in the original Scriptures of 

* Socrates ille non hominum modo, verum etiam Apollinis 
Oraculo, sapientissimus judicatus, et perennis philosophise fons, 
dicere solet : radicem quidem eruditionis per amanim esse, sed 
fructum habere jucundissimum ; initioque magnos adferre labor- 
es, sed honestissimum sudantibus proemium reponere. Ergo, O 
tu, quisqiiis es, cui ignea vis in pectore exarsit, cui flamma in 
praecordiis micat, procul, procul absint mollia, lenia, facilia, 
blanda, quae animi impetum extinguere solent. Dura petamus, 
&c. Vid. Ringelbergius de ratione Studii, p. 13. 


the Bible, and read a chapter in Hebrew, and another 
in Greek every day- And especially observe the differ- 
ent senses in "svhich the same original word is used by 
the same author : this often throws a great light on his 

2. When you have found what you take to be your 
author's own sense, keep to that, and admit of no 
vague, uncertain, or conjectural constructions, whatever 
doctrine they may discountenance or favour. 

3. Be sure to make the sacred Scripture the source, 
standard, and rule of all your theological sentiments. 
Take them from it, bring them to it, and try them by 

4. Make yourself master of some short well chosen 
system of Divinity, for the sake of method and memo- 
ry ; but take care, CNu'lius in verbumjurare magistri) 
that you be not swayed by the credit of any human 
names in matters of divine faith. Let reason, evidence 
and argument, be the only authorities to which you 
submit. Remember 'tis truth you seek ; and seek her 
(as you would do any thing else) in the place where 
she is most* likely to be found. 

5. Divest yourself as much as possible ef all prepo- 
session in favour of, or prejudice against any particular 
party-names and notions. Let the mind be equally 
balanced, or it will never rightly determine the weight 
of arguments. Prejudice in one scale will outweigh 
much solid truth in the other : and under such a pre- 
possession, the mind only observes which balance pre- 
ponderates, not what it is that turns it. 

6. Cultivate a proper sense of the imbecillity of the 
human mind and its proneness to error, both in your- 
self and others. This will guard you against a dog- 
matical confidence in defence of your own opinions, 
and arm you against the influence of it in others. 
And, on the contrary, endeavour after a meek, humble, 


teachable temper ; which, from the highest authority 
we are sure, is the best disposition of mind, to seek 
and receive divine truth. 

7. Be not fond of controversy. Theological alter- 
cations have in aU ages been the bane of real religion, 
and the fatal source of unknown mischief to true 
Christianity. It sours the temper, confounds the 
judgment, excites malevolence, foments feuds, and ban- 
ishes love from the heart : and in fine, is the Devil's 
most successful engine to depreciate and destroy the 

principles of vital piety. Let the controversies you 

read be the most important, viz. those against the 
deists and papists. And read only the best authors 
upon them. Among whom you will lind none to ex- 
ceed the late bishop of London and Dr. Leland in the 
former, and Dr. Tillotson and Chillingrvorth in the lat- 

8. Avoid theological minutenesses. Lay no stress 
on trifles : as you see many do, either from a ^v^ong 
education, or a weak turn of mind. Reserve your 
zeal for the most important subjects, and throw it not 
away upon little things. 

Lastly, let none but the best writers in divinity be 
your favourites. And those are the best writers who 
at once discover a clear head and a good heart ; solid 
sense and serious piety, where faith and reason, devo- 
tion and judgment, go hand in hand. 



Whenever it can be done without afl^ectation and 
pedantry, turn the conversation on the subject you 
have been reading last, if you know it to be suitable 


to your company ; and introduce your maturest ob- 
servations upon it. This will fix it in your memory, 
especially if it becomes matter of debate.* For the 
mind is never more tenacious of any principles, than 
those it has been warmly engaged in the defence of. 
And in the course of such debate you may perhaps 
view them in a new light ; and be able to form a bet- 
ter judgment of them, and be excited to examine 
them with more care. Intercourse awakens the 
powers^ whets the mind, and rubs off the rust it is apt 
to contract by solitary thinking. The pump for want 
of use grows dry, or keeps its water at bottom, which 
will not be fetched up unless more be added. 

^^^len you have talked over the subject you have 
read, think over what you have talked of; and per- 
haps you will be able to see more weight in the senti- 
ments you opposed, than you Avere \nlling to admit in 
the presence of your antagonist. And if you suspect 
you was then in an error, you may now retract it 
without fear of mortification. That you may at once 
improve and please in conversation, remember the fol- 
lowing rules. 

1. Choose your company, as you do your books. 
And to the same end. The best company, like the 
best books, are those \\'hich are at once improving 
and entertaining.t If you can receive neither plea- 
sure nor profit from your company, endeavour to fur- 
nish it for them. If this can't be done, (and especially 

• Quicquid didiceris id confcstim doceas ; sic et tua firmare, 
ft prodesse aliis potes. — Ea doce quae noveris, eaque diversis 
horis, aliis atque aliis conveniet inodcare. Satis sit, si qiiis- 
piam te audiat, interea exercitio miram rerum copiam tibi com- 
paraveris. — Ringel. de ratione Studii, p. 28, 56. 

+ Ille tulit punctum, qui iniscuit utile dulci.— Ilor. de Arto 
Poet. 1. 343. 


if there be danger of receiving hurt from them) 
quit them as decently as you can. 

2. Study the humour of your company, and their 
character. If they be your superiors, or most in- 
clined to talk, be an attentive hearer. If your inferi- 
ors, or more disposed to hear, be an instructive 

3. When the conversation drops, revive it with some 
general topic by starting a subject on which you 
have some good things to say, or you know others 
have. To which end it will not be amiss to be a 
little prepared with topics of conversation, suitable 
to the company you are going into : and the course of 
your own thoughts in conversation will be more free 
than you ordinarily find them to be in silent medita- 

4. When any thing occurs that is new, or instruc- 
tive, or that you are willing to make your own, enter 
it do'wn in your minute or common-place book if you 
cannot trust your memory, (for in conversation all are 
free-booters ; whatever you lay your hand on that is 
worth keeping is lawful prize,) but take care that 
you do not charge either the one or the other with 

5. Never stand for a cypher in company, by a total 
silence. It will appear boorish and awkward, and 
give a check to the freedom of others. 'Tis ill man- 
ners. Better say a trivial thing than nothing at all. 
Perhaps you hear a deal of impertinence, uttered by 
some in the company, which you candidly excused ; 
presume upon their candour, if you happen to talk 
in the same manner. You have a right to claim it : 
You ^vill readily receive it. Something trite and low, 
uttered with an easy, free, obliging air, will be better 
received than entire silence ; and indeed than a good 
sentiment delivered in a stilF, pedantic, or assuming 


manner. And many good things may arise out of a 
common observation. However after a dead silence^ 
it will set the conversation a going, and the company 
who want to be relieved from it, will be obliged to 
you. This is a secret that will never fail to please. 

6. Join not in the hurry and clamour of the talk, 
especially when a trifling point is disputed and sever- 
al speak at once, but be a patient hearer, till you 
have made } ourself master of the subject and the ar- 
gument on both sides. And then you may possibly 
find an opportunity to put in as mediator, with credit 
to your judgment. 

Repeat not a good thing in the same company twice, 
unless you are sure you are not distinctly heard the 
first time. 

7. Though you may safely animadvert upon, yet do 
not oppose, much less rally the foibles or mistakes of 
any one in the company ; unless they be very notori- 
ous, and there be no danger of gi^'ing offence. But 
remember that he himself sees the matter in a differ- 
ent light from what you do, and with other eyes. 

8. If detraction or profaneness mingle with the 
conversation, discountenance it by a severe, or a re- 
solute silence, where reproof would be thought indeli- 
cate. If this be not sufficient to put a stop to it, 
make no scruple to withdraw.* 

p. Affect not to shine in conversation, especially 
before those who have a good opinion of their own un- 
derstanding. The surest way to please them, is to give 

• Possidonius relates of St. Austin, that this Latin Distich 
was inscribed on the table where he entertained his friends. 
Quisquis amat dictis absentem rodere amicum, 
Hanc mensam indignain noverit esse sibi. 


them opportunity to show their parts ; a monopoly of 
this kind will scarce ever be endured with patience.* 
10. Bear with the impertinence of conversation, 
something may be learned from them, or some oppor- 
tunity may be given you to put in a sentiment more 
a-propos. Besides, what appears low and flat to you, 
may not to another, t 

Lastly. Appear perfectly free, friendly, well pleased, 
easy and unreserved. This will make others so ; and 
draw out many a good thought from them. And is 
much more pleasing than a studied politeness, and all 
the usual arts of common place civility. | 

* Conversation is a sort of commerce, towards which every 
one ought to furnish his quota, i. e. to hear and speak in his 
turn. 'Tis acting against the rules of honesty, and laws of 
commerce, to monoplise all, and deprive others of the share 
they have in the gain. 'Tis in like manner, a kind of injustice 
in those who compose the circle, always to usurp the talk. If 
your design by it is to make a show of your parts, and to pro- 
cure esteem, you quite mistake your interest ; for you exaspe- 
rate those against you whom you thus force to silence, who 
can't bear the ascendent you give yourself, and the degree of 
superiority you assume. — Reflect, upon ridicule. Vol. 1. p. 55. 

•f That which makes common conversation so nauseous, are 
the applauses bestowed on follies. Narrow souls admire every 
thing, and cry up the least trifles, that ought to be let pass. 
That which becomes a well-bred man on these occasions is to 
say nothing. It would be a criminal complaisance to applaud 
offensive fooleries. It would be likewise a faulty delicacy, to 
bear with nothing but what is exquisite, and to express con- 
tempt for every tl ing that is flat and trivial Idem. p. 346. 

J However it is extolled as the great art of conversation, to 
appear with the utmost openness and civility when you are most 
upon the reserve : Yet, as it is not oidy the ordinary.- dress of 
C(jurtiers, and travellers, but an art that frequently belongs to 
the shops, the covering is much more transparent than they 
who act under it are apt to think. And besides, such an ad- 
dress is really nauseous amongst friends ; and the greatest 
masters of this artful smoothness, seldom deceive others there- 
by, so much as themselves,— Vid. Advice to a Son, p. 31. 




A Student (like a philosopher) should never be less 
alone than when alone. Then it is that (if it be not 
his own fault) he may enjoy the best of company. 

Next to the regulation of the appetites and passions, 
the most important branch of self-government is the 
command of our thoughts: which without a strict 
guard will be as apt to ramble, as the other to rebel. 
The great difficulty will be to keep them fixed and 
steadily employed upon your subject. To this end, let 
the mind be calm and dispassionate — view your theme 
in every light — collect your best thoughts upon it — 
clothe those thoughts in words, and consider how Mr. 
Addison, Mr. Melmoth, or any other ^VTiter you ad- 
mire would express the same. — Guard against vagran- 
cy or dissipation of your thoughts — recall them when 
they are rambling ; and observe by what connection 
of ideas or images they are enticed away from their 
Avork, and refix them more diligently. — If you have a 
pen and ink at hand, set down your best sentiments 
on paper. — If your subject be of a religious nature, it 
may not be amiss to recollect some proper text of 
scripture, as a standard to which you may recall your 
vagrant forces. 

Let the matter of your meditations be something 
seasonable, important or entertaining. Consult the 
temper your mind is in, or ought to be in at that time ; 
and let your subject be suitable to it. 

Take care that nothing vain, or vicious steal into 
your mind when alone. Hereby you may make your- 
self a very bad companion to yourself; and beconie 
your own tempter. 


If the place or occasion will admit it, think viva 
voce, or utter your thoughts aloud. 

In your evening meditations, go over in your mind, 
the best things you have read or heard that day, and 
recollect them the next evening.* 

The great advantage of being alone is, that you may 
choose your company ; either your books, your friend, 
your God, or yourself. There is another will be ready 
to intrude, if not resolutely repelled. By the turn of 
your thoughts you may detect his entrance, and by 
what passage he stole in. You may know him by his 
cloven foot. And you have the best precept, exem- 
plified by the best precedent, how to eject him.t 

If books be your subject, or what you lately read 
and laid up in your memory ; your mental employ- 
ment will be recollection and J udgtnent. Recollection 
to recall to your mind the good things you have read ; 
and judgment to range them under their proper class : 
And to consider upon what occasion, or in what com- 
pany it may be proper or useful to produce them. 

If you chuse a friend for the companion of your 
solitude ; let it not be merely for your own pleasure. 
But consider in what manner you may improve or en- 
tertain him. Or what it is you would learn from him ; 
and in what manner you may best behave towards 
him, the next time you come into his company. 

When you desire to have the great God for the ob- 
ject of your contemplation, (as you should always do 
in your religious retirements) your mind cannot be too 
serious, composed and free. Now it is that the 
thoughts will be most apt to revolt and ramble : And 
the utmost efforts must be used to guard and guide 

* Id quoque perutile fuerit, ante somnum notare quaecunque 
luce ea peracta sunt. — Ringel. de Rat. Stud. p. 110. 
-f- See James iv. 7. comp. with Mat. iv. 10. 


them. Two things in this case you should never for- 

1. Earnestly implore his help, that you may think 
not only steadily, but worthily of him. 

2. Consider him as present -ndth you ; and as wit- 
ness to all the employment of your mind. 

Lastly, If you are your own companion, and self- 
meditation be your business, you have a large field be- 
fore you.* But one thing be sure not to neglect, viz. 
Sharply and impartially to reprove yourself, in case of 
any observable failure; and resolve to amend your 
conduct in that particular, especially when the same 
circumstances recur. 



The business of a pastor is to do all he can to pro- 
mote the eternal interest of the souls of men. And 
to keep his eye continually on this, the great object of 
the sacred office, wiU be a good direction to him in the 
prosecution of it. 

He is now to improve, regulate, digest and apply 
that stock of knowledge he has taken so much pains 
to acquire : And examine what part of it ^vill be most 
helpful to him in his great design. 

The duties of the pastor's office may be comprised 
under the six following general heads. 

•See Self-Know ledge, part. 3. ch. 1. 


Preaching. Praying. Administering the Seals. 
Visiting the sick. His conduct ton^ards his peo^ 
pie in general. And towards persons of differ- 
ent characters in particular. 
1. Preaching. This may be divided into two parts ; 
Preparation. And Elocution. 

1. Preparation. Which consists of composition, and 
the duties immediately previous to preaching. 



" Besides all the usual academical preparations, the 
study of languages, sciences, divinity, &c. there is a 
particular art of preaching to which if ministers did 
more seriously apply themselves it would extremely fa- 
cilitate that service, and make it more easy to them- 
selves, and more profitable to their hearers."* For ac- 
quiring which art the rules laid do^\Ti in this and the 
three following chapters may be helpful to those who 
are entering upon the sacred employment. 

1. The first thing to be considered, is the choice of 
the subject. Here you must consult your own genius, 
taste and abilities : And choose those subjects which 
have most impressed your own mind ; for on those you 
are most likely to succeed, and to produce the 
most mature and useful sentiments. — Consult also 
the temper, taste and capacities of your audience. 
For the more suitable your subject, style and senti- 
ments are to them, the more likely you wiU be both 
to please and improve them. And therefore a mini- 
ster should never fix, nor choose to preach, amongst a 
people, whose opinions are widely different from his 
own. " Let the most useful and pertinent subjects 
* Wilkin's Ecclesiastes, p. 1. 


be your most frequent choice. Those are the most 
useful which are the most edifying : And those most 
pertinent that are most fitted to the capacities, and 
necessities of the auditor^'. To both which you ought 
to have a special regard.* — If you are at a loss for a 
text, consult the contents of the several volumes of 
sermons you have by you. That a man may form 
himself to preaching he ought to take some of the best 
models, and try what he can do on a text handled by 
them without reading them, and then compare his 
with theirs. This will more sensibly, and without 
putting him to the blush, model him to imitate, or 
(if he can) to excel the best authors, f — Whatever 
particular text strike your mind, with more than com- 
mon force, in the course of your reading or meditating 
the scriptures, pen it down with some useful stric- 
tures that may occur to you, for the foundation of a 
future work. By this means, you will have a good 
supply of suitable texts at hand — A sermon should 
be made for a text, and not a text found out for a 
sermon. For to give our discourses weight it should 
appear that we are led to them by our text. Such 
sermons will probably have much more effect than a 
general discourse, to which a text seems only to be add- 
ed as a decent introduction, but to which no regard 
is had in the progress of it. J — Affect not an obscure, 
difficult, or barren text, to show your ingenuity in 
throwing light upon it, or set others a wondering what 
you can make of it. Discourses from such texts must 
be either unprofitable or unnatural.§ 

" Barecroft's Ars Concionandi, p. 92. 

f Burnet's Pas. Car. p. 226, 227. + Id. p. 280. 

§ Id. et Ibid : Many will remember the text that remember 
nothing else ; therefore such a choice should be made as may 
at least put a weighty and speaking sentence of the Scripture* 
upon the memories of the people, Id. p. 217. 


2. Having chosen your subject ; your next care is, 
to be furnished with a store of useful and pertinent 
thoughts upon it. Having fixed your spot on which to 
build, you are now to prepare materials. To this 
purpose, carefully peruse your text, both in the origi- 
nal and diiferent translations. Attend to its con- 
nexions and reference ; and observe what is the prin- 
cipal subject it points to. Collect from your concor- 
dance, or common-place book to the Bible, or from 
Mr. Clarke's Annotations, or from Wilson's Christian 
Dictionary, and others, all its parallel places, or the 
several scriptures that have a reference to it. Pen 
them down on loose paper, to be properly interwoven 
into the discourse under any particular head or branch 
of it— Consult other authors on the same subject. 
Use their thoughts, but not their words, unless you 
quote them expressly ; which should never be done, 
unless vour author be a writer of eminen, ?, and of 
good repute with your audience. And let it be a 
sentiment so weighty, and well expressed, as deserves 
to be remembered by them; and then they will re- 
member it the sooner as coming from him than from 

3. Having thus provided materials ; form your 
plan. Let your method, as well as your subject, flow 
from your text. Let the division be easy and natural, 
and such as the audience would expect. " Let it arise 
from the subject itself ; and give a light and just or- 
der to the several parts. Such a division, as may 
easily be remembered ; and at the same time help 
to connect and retain the whole. In fine, a division 
that shows at once the extent of the subject, and of 
all its parts."*— Avoid a tedious multiplication of par- 
ticulars under every general head of your discourse. 

• Cambray's Dialogues on Eloquence, p. 6. 


Let your particular heads be not only few but dis- 
tinct ; and affect not to conceal the number and order 
of them, if they be distinct and natural, as some 
modern preachers do. 'Tis a false delicacy to aim at 
reducing a sermon to the form of a polite harangue. 
The other method of expressing the number of the heads 
in their proper order, is not only more pleasing to the 
common sort of hearers, but a help to their under- 
standing and memory ; which a preacher should by 
all means carefully regard.* " It will be proper, to 
draw your method or plan, on a loose piece of paper 
laid before you, with the several particulars under 
their respective general heads ; and whatever place of 
scripture, or inferences, &c. you meet with in reading 
or meditating, pertinent to any particular point you 
shall speak to, you may then place them under that 
particular : For all things may not come to your mind 
at once ; and a thought is so quickly gone (let your 
memory be almost never so tenacious and retentive) 
that you will hardly retain it, unless it be in this 
manner committed to paper. And whatever place of 
scripture you make use of, which you do not well un- 
derstand, consult the ablest commentators on that 
passage for the meaning of it ; that you may not ap- 
ply it to a Avrong sense."t 

4. HaAnng thus provided materials, and formed your 
plan, begin the superstructure. Which will now be 
raised and adorned with great ease, and be continually 
improving upon your hands. For no man can talk 

* 'Tis but a bad rule in Alsted (at least for vulgar auditories) 
when he advises to conceal and alter the method for variety's 
sake. Crypsis dispositionis toUit fastidium auditoris. This 
may be true of itching curious hearers, but not of such as re- 
gard their own profit and edification. Wilk. Eccles. p. 5. 

t Barecroft's Ars Cone. p. Ill, 112. 


well on a subject, of which he is not entirely mas- 

" In the beginning you must endeavour to gain the 
favour of the audience, by a modest introduction, a 
respectful address, and the genuine marks of candour 
and probity."+ Let your exordium be short, modest, 
grave and striking; either by proposing your method, 
and entering upon your subject directly : or by a feAv 
important general observations, which are connected 
with, or naturally lead to it : or by some short unex- 
pected remark on the words of the text. 

In your enlargement on particulars, if you tind 
your thoughts don't run freely on any point, do not 
urge them too much ; this wUl tire and jade the facul- 
ties too soon. But pursue your plan : Better thoughts 
may occur afterwards, which you may occasionally in- 

Let your best sentiments stand in the beginning or 
end of a paragraph, and the rest in the middle, which 
■will pass very well in good company. And let every 
head conclude with some striking sentence, or pertin- 
ent Scripture. 

As every complete sermon resembles a little book, 
the method of composing the former, may be the same 
with what Ringelbergius tells us he used in composing 
the latter. 

" My first care (says he) is to form in my mind, a 
perfect plan of the work before me. Then in a large 

* Etenim ex renim cognitione efflorescat et redundet oportet 
oratio : Quae nisi subest res ab oratore percepta et cognita, ina- 
nem quandam habet elocutionem, et fere puerilem. Cicero 
de Orat. 1. 1. §. 6. 

f Cambray's Dialogues on Eloquence, p. 117. — Sedhaecad. 
Juvant in oratore, lenitas vocis, ^Tiltus, pudoris significatio, 
verborum comitas. Cic. de Orat. 1. 2. §. 43. 


tablet, or a sheet of paper, I set do^vTl the titles of 
the chapters, or the several heads I am to discourse 
on. Then I look over them to see if they have their 
proper place, connexion and coherence : And alter 
them as I see occasion. Then whilst my mind is still 
warm with the subject, I take a brief sketch of what 
is proper to be said under each head, which I write 
down on a loose piece of paper ; these I afterwards 
transfer into my plan, and in a fair hand transcribe 
under their proper heads. By this means, I have the 
whole subject and method of the work under my eye 
at once. Then I every day transcribe a chapter for 
the Press, and add, or expunge, as I go along, accord- 
ing as the matter requires. After this, when I see 
nothing deficient or redundant in the subject, I ap- 
ply myself to revise the language."* 

Let your application be close, fervent and animat- 
ed.t To which end, get your own heart warmed and 
penetrated with your subject. For however drowsy, 
or inattentive your hearers may be in the beginning, 
or middle of a discourse, they shouldbe always awaken- 
ed, and warmed at the close. " 'Tis oftentimes proper at 
the end of a discourse, to make a short recapitulation, 
wherein the orator ought to exert all his force and 
skill, in giving the audience a full, clear, concise 
view of the chief topics he has enlarged upon.;}: And 
let the last sentence of the sermon, be either your 
text, or some pertinent Scripture, or some weightj'" 
thought well expressed and worth remembering. 

* Ringel. de Rat. Stu. p. 83— 92— Vid. Ars. Concio. p. 92. 

■^ II ne suffit pas de savoir d'ou il faut tirer les usages ; il est 
necessaire de connoitre le but qu'on doit se proposer dans une 
application. Or ce but, c'est d'emouvoir, de toucher ses audi- 
teurs, de leur inspirer les sentimens de picie, d'amour de Dieu, 
de charit^, &c. Ostervald de I'Exercice, p. 126. 

J Cambray's Dialogues, p. 118. 


5. Having thus raised your superstructure on the 
plan proposed^ you must put the finishing hand to the 
work, by decently adorning it : Which is the business 
of a revisal, wherein you are to re-examine the me- 
thod, matter and style. 

1. The method. Here perhaps you may see some 
small alterations necessary ; e. g. this head may come 
in more naturally before that ; such a sentim.ent 
will shine to more advantage at the conclusion of a 
paragraph ; and this particular head not sufficiently 
distinct from that, and therefore both had better be 
wrought into one. 

2. With regard to the matter. Such a sentiment 
is expressed before, therefore strike it out here ; too 
much is said upon this part of the subject, too little 
upon that ; add here, retrench there ; if any new 
thought, or pertinent scripture occur to your mind 
search out the proper place where to dispose of it. 

3. With regard to your style. This thought is ob- 
scurely expressed, explain it ; this sentence is equi- 
vocal, be more determinate ; this is too long, shorten 
it ; here is a jingle, correct it ; this disposition of the 
words is harsh and hard to be pronounced, alter 
it ; this expression is too mean and vulgar, substitute 
a better.* 

I shall conclude this chapter with the following 
general rules relating to the style of the pulpit. 

1. Let it be plain, proper and perspicuous; and 
then the shorter it is the better. A concise, full and 
nervous style is always most striking, therefore most 
pleasing. To obscure and weaken the sense by a 

" Eqmdem in libris excudendis, cviin speciosum aliquem vo- 
cum contextum, aut verba duo, omata invenio, laetitia exulto 
majore, quam si aureum reperissem. Eingel. de Rat. Stud. 
p. Ill, 112. 


Studied ornament or flow of words, is wrong oratory, 
and nauseous to every one of true taste. 

" The words in a sermon must be simple and in 
common use, not savouring of the schools, or above the 
understanding of the people. All long periods, such 
as carry two or three different thoughts in them must 
be avoided ; for few hearers can follow or apprehend 
these. Niceties of style are lost before a common 

2. Let your numbers be full and flowing. And 
carefully avoid all harshness from dissonance in the 
choice and disposition of your words : this is a part of 
rhetoric, which, though carefully cultivated by the an- 
cients, is too much neglected by the moderns.t In 
reading over a discourse to ourselves, we must observe 
what words sound harsh, and agree iU together ; for 
there is a music in speaking, as well as in singing, 
which a man though not otherwise critical in sounds 
will soon discover. X 

3. Observe a medium between a too short and too 
prolix a style. The sententious style is apt to be de- 
fective. A prolix one (if the members of a long sen- 
tence be not judiciously disposed, and fraught with a 
weight of sentiment,) tedious and disagreeable ; and 
a low creeping style is as unbecoming the dignity of 
the pulpit, as a high and turgid one. There is a de- 
cency to be observed in our language, as well as our 

• Burnet's Past. Care, p. 223. 

f See Treatise on Prosaic Numbers Numeros equidem 

vitam vocaverim orationis ; quod baud obscure apparebit, si 
sententiam numerosam solveris, iisdem servatis et transpositis 
verbis. Quippe quae ante efficax erat, ea soluta ridicula videbi- 
tur ; Quamobrem in omni opere, prima curarum esse debet, ut 
res sive membra cohereant ; proxima, ut verba, seu modulatio 
numerorum. Ringel. de Rat. Stud, p. 92, 93. 

i Burnet's Past. Care, p. 236. 


dress :* with regard to both, a prudent man will con- 
sider, not only what is decent in itself, but what is 
most so at certain times.f 

4. An illustration of your subject by sensible images, 
and apt similes, will always be agreeable. 

Lastly, Let the conclusion of your periods be har- 
monious, and your concluding thoughts the most me- 
morable. | 

See more on this subject. Part IL Ch. 4. 

* Expression is the dress of thought, and still 
Appears more decent, as more suitable. 
A low conceit in pompous words express 'd, 
Is like a clown, in royal purple dress'd ; 
For different styles with different subjects sort, 
As several garbs, with country, town and court. 
Some by old words to fame have made pretence. 
Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their sense : 
Such labour'd nothings in so strange a style, 
Amaze th' unlearned, make the learned smile. 

Pope's Essay on Criticism. 

■j- Omnique in re, posse quod deceat facere, artis et naturae est ; 

scire quid quandoque deceat, prudentiae. Cic. de Orat. 1. 3. § 55, 

J Elocutio partibus quatuor consummatur. Primum enim si 

res tractetur magnifica, caveo ne particula usquam jaceat humi, 

infra dignitatem orationis turn etiam video ne verbum idem, 

aut syllaba, si fieri possit, bis ponatur ad haec do operam, 

ut numerorum gratia, sive concentus cohaereat, aut per omnes 

periodi partes, aut saltem in fine Postrema cura est, ne mul- 

ti sint fines sententiarum, qui pedes easdem habeant. Ringel. 
de Rat. Stud. p. 90, 91. 




1. It were ad\-iseable for young preachers to pen down 
every sentence of their sermons in short-hand ; and 
trust nothing to their memories^ 'till they are mas- 
ters of a free, fluent, and proper style; and have ac- 
quired a good command of their spirits, a free utter- 
ance, and a maturity of sentiments. Then they may 
venture to leave something to the memory, by writ- 
ing half sentences, 'till by degrees they are able to 
trust to it a good part of the enlargement under every 
head. This will be no great burden, provided they 
take care to be thoroughly masters of their notes, be- 
fore they go up into the pulpit ; and ^yill be a great 
help to a free, decent, and natural elocution. 

I would not advise any young minister, though ever 
so happy in a strength of memory, entirely to lay aside 
his notes ; it can answer no valuable end, and the in- 
conveniencies of it are these ; — the thoughts may 
possibly wander ; in that case you are bewildered 
without a guide : This reflection will create a con- 
fusion and perplexity in the mind, which the hearers 
^yill observe with pain ; and you will scarce ever be 
able to recover the right tract in that hurry of spirits 
without many a trip and much trouble : This will 
throw a tremour, at least a diffidence on the mind, 
which will make it ditficult to resume your wonted 
courage. Besides, when so much attention is be- 
stowed on the memory, you will be apt to pay too 
little to the judgment and afl^ections. You will not 
have leisure to observe how much your own heart is 
afl^ected, or how you may best aflfect that of your hear- 
ers, who are never more pleased, than when they see 
their preacher composed^ free, and deeply impressed 


with his own subject : and never more disgusted^ than 
when they observe him confused, bewildered, or in- 
attentive to what he himself delivers. Besides, the 
inaccuracy of diction, the inelegance, poverty and low- 
ness of expression, which is commonly observed in ex- 
temporaneous discourses, will not fail to offend every 
hearer of good taste. 

2. Go to the bottom of your subject : And think of 
every thing that ought to be said upon it : And con- 
sider what points, or parts of it, your hearers would 
be glad to have cleared up, or most enlarged upon. 
To skim off only the surface, is to put off your audi- 
ence with froth. The weightiest sentiments often lie 
at bottom ; be at the pains then of diving deep to 
bring them up from thence. On the other hand, 

3. Take care you do not torture your subject, by 
aiming to exhaust it. Don't endeavour to say every 
thing that can be said, but every thing that ought to 
be said upon it. A preacher's excellence is seen, not 
so much in saying a great deal upon a text, as saying 
the best things in the best manner.* 

4. Don't crowd your thoughts too thick. This will 
but fatigue and perplex the minds of your hearers, 
who should always have time to follow you. If you 
pour water too fast into the funnel, it will run over. 

5. Protract not your discourse to an undue length. 
The best sentiments will not be attended to, whilst 
your hearers are impatiently waiting and wishing for 
the conclusion. It were better to offend by the other 

* Nolim te facere, quod prava quadam ambitione, viilgus 
professorum hodie facit, ut oiiini loco coneris omnia dicere, sed 
ea dxintaxat, quse explicando praesenti loco sint idonea ; nisi 
siquando delectandi causa, digrediendum videbitur. Erasmi. 
de Rat. Studii, p. 186. 

Un predicateur judicieux sait parler, et se taire, il sait dire 
ce qu'il faut, et s'arreteroa il faut. Oster. de I'exercice du 
Mia. p. 142. 


extreme, provided your matter be solid, well disposed, 
and well digested. Better leave your audience long- 
ing than loathing. Abstinence is less hurtful than re- 
pletion. I think Luther says in his table-talk, 
that one necessary qualification of a preacher, is to 
know when to leave off. 

6. In practical preaching (which should be your or- 
dinary strain) remember that you preach to Christ- 
ians ; and let your chief motives to practice be dra^\^l 
from Christian principles. " It is verily a fault in too 
manv of the public teachers of our times, that their 
sermons are moral harangues generally ; and Tully's 
Offices ; and Seneca's Epistles, serve them instead of 
the Bible : They are furnished with nothing but mo- 
ral precepts, as if they were preaching at Old Rome 
or Athens, and their auditors were all infidels.* 

7. Be sure to consult the capacity and understand- 
ing of your hearers. Remember you are not declaim- 
ing in the academy ; but preaching to an illiterate con- 
gregation : Take care then that you be not too learn- 
ed, or too logical ; that you do not .shoot over the heads 
of your hearers (as they call it) either in your doc- 
trine or language. Condescend to their capacities ; 
and let it be your ambition and care whilst you are 
treating of the highest subjects, to be comprehended 
by the lowest understanding : Wherein Archbishgp 
Tillotson, Archbishop Sharp, and Dr. Sherlock will 
be your best patterns. — 'Tis not easy to be conceived 
how much ignorance of divine things there is in the 
minds of the greatest part of those you preach to. 

It was the observation of a late celebrated divine 
in the Church of Rome, " that there are always three 
quarters of an ordinary congregation, who do not know 
those principles of religion, in which the preacher 
supposes every one to be fully instructed."t It is to 
be hoped that matters are somewhat mended in our 
• Edward's Preacher, vol. i. p. 73. f C'ambray. 


protestant assemblies ; but still there is reason to fear, 
that they who compose the major part in our places of 
worship, are deplorably defective in their knowledge 
of the true doctrines of Christianity. And as the 
subject should not be too deep for their conceptions, 
so neither should the style be too high for their com- 
prehension ; and therefore all scholastic terms, syste- 
matical phrases and metaphysical definitions should be 
for ever banished from the pulpit. 

8. Affect not to show your parts, by entering upon 
nice and curious disquisitions, or by a strong portrait 
of general characters. This is shooting beside the 
mark, or at least will but very seldom reach it. The 
chief end it will produce (and which you will be 
thought to aim at) is your own applause, and not your 
people's profit. " Too close a thread of reason, too 
great an abstraction of thought, too sublime and too 
metaphysical a strain, are suitable to very few audi- 
tories, if to any at all."* " I love a serious preacher, 
who speaks for my sake, and not for his own, who 
seeks my salvation, and not his own vain-glory. He 
best deserves to be heard, who uses speech only to 
clothe his thoughts, and his thoughts only to promote 
truth and virtue. Nothing is more despicable than 
a professed declaimer who retails his discourses, as a 
quack does his medicines."t 

" Burnet's Pastoral Care, p. 219. — 'Tis here that our preach- 
ers are most defective. JMost of their fine sermons contain only 
philosophical reasonings ; sometimes they preposterously quote 
Scripture only for the sake of decency and ornament. Their 
sermons are trains of fine reasoning about religion, but they 
are not reUgion itself. We apply ourselves too much to the draw- 
ing of moral characters, and inveighing against the general 
disorders of mankind ; but we dont sufficiently explain the pre- 
cepts and principles of the Gospel. Cambray's Dialogues, 
p. 160, 161. 

f Cambray's Letter to the French Academy, p. 230. 


9- Endeavour to affect your own mind with what 
you deliver ; and then you will not fail to affect the 
minds of your hearers.* There must be a life and 
•power in your delivery, to keep up the attention and 
fix the affection of them that hear you ; " for arti- 
ficial eloquence without a flame A\ithin is like artifi- 
cial poetry ; all its productions are forced and unna- 
tural, and in a great measure ridici;lous."+ "'Tissaid 
of John Baptist that he was a burning and shining 
light, ardere prius est, lucere posterius ; ardor mentis, 
est lux doclrinoe. 'Tis a hard matter to affect others 
with what we are not first affected ourselves.''^ 

10. When you are called to touch upon controversy 
(which you should avoid as much as possible in the 
pulpit) be candid, clear, short and convictive. Be 
sure that your arguments be solid, close and strong ; 
and your answers at least as clear as the objections : 
For if these be plain and those perplexed, you will but 
confirm the error you mean to confute. § Avoid all 
needless censures, especiallv of persons by name. 
When a censorious spirit is kindled by the preacher, 
nothing will sooner be catched by the hearers ; and 
that unhallowed flame will quickly be propagated far 
and wide. — Dark debates in divinity are like rocks not 
only steep and craggy, but barren and fruitless, and 
not worth the pains of climbing to the top ; and what 
influence they have on the spirits of men, is common- 
ly a bad one. 'Tis scarce to be imagined what harm 
these theological subtilities do us. As spirits extract- 
ed from bodies, are always hot, heady and inflamma- 

" Summa, quantum ego quidem sentio, circa movendos affect- 
us, in hoc posita est, ut moveamur ipsi. Quintilian 1. 6. c. 2- 
•y Burnet's Pastoral Care, p. 223. 
\ Bishop Wilkin's Ecclesiastes, p. 252. 
§ See Wilkin's Eccles. p. 26. 


tory : so divine truths subtilized and too much subli- 
mated, heat, intoxicate and discompose the minds of 
men, fire their tempers, and kindle very hurtful and 
unruly passions, to the disturbance of their own peace 
and that of others. 

11. Let your great aim in every sermon be to please 
God and profit your people, to do them good rather 
than gain their applause. Don't covet a reputation 
for eloquence ; it will turn you off from higher views. 
Besides, an excessive desire of popularity and fame 
will subject you to many secret vexations : As well 
may you expect the sea to be undisturbed, as the 
mind of an ambitious man to be long free from dis- 

Lastly, Endeavour to get the great principles of 
Christianity wrought into your own heart ; and let 
them shine in your temper and conversation. " Mini- 
sters have one great advantage beyond all the rest of 
the world in this respect, that whereas the particular 
callings of other men, prove to them great distractions, 
and lay many temptations in their way to divert them 
from minding their high and holy calling of being 
Christians, it is quite otherwise with the clergy ; the 
more they follow their proper callings, they do the 
more certainly advance their general one ; the better 
priests they are, they become also the better Christians. 
Every part of their calling, when well performed, 
raises good thoughts, and brings good ideas into their 
minds, and tends both to increase their knowledge 
and quicken their sense of divine matters."t — Cicero 

xai zrapcc tuv ccvB-peiizTav, fj.-/i %ia,Kf^%a^u Tot, iy»i>f/,ia, f/,ri -waprt^oiru* 
ii aura t<uv axpcarav, ft-n ^riniTu, /xn^i aXyiiru. ChrysOS. de Sa- 
cer. 1. 5. 
t Burnet's Pastoral Cai-e, ch. 8. 


Quintilian, and Horace, all made virtue a necessary 
qualification in a complete orator.* I am sure it is 
so in a Christian preacher. It is required of a Presby- 
ter that he he blameless. Tit. i. 6.t When a preach- 
er has the great doctrines which he teaches inwrought 
into his temper, and he feels the influence of them 
on his own spirit, he will reap from thence these three 
great advantages in his public ministrations. He will 
then speak from his own experience. He will with 
greater confidence and assurance direct and counsel 
others. And will more readily gain belief to what 
he says.| — Without this experimental sense of reli- 
gion in the heart, and a steady practice of it in the 
life, all the learning in the world will not make a per- 
son either a wise man, a good Christian, or a faithful 
minister. § And to induce him to a wise circumspec- 
tion in his conduct, he should often consider the influ- 
ence his own example will have upon his people, for 

• Qiise (sc. eloquentia) quo major est, probitate jungenda, 
summaque prudentia ; quarum virtutum expertibus si dicendi 
copiam tradiderimus, non eos quidem oratores efficerimus, sed 
furentibus qusedam arma dederimus. 

Cicero de Oratore, 1. 3. §. 14. 
Sit ergo nobis orator, quem instituimus, is qui a M. Cicerone 
finitur. Vir bonus dicendi peritus — ideoque non dicendi modo 
eximiam in eo facultatem, sed omnes animi virtutes exigimus. 
Quintilian, Lib. xii. c. 1. 

Scribendi recte sapere est et principium et fons. 

Hor. de Art. Poet. 
■f In sacerdote etiam aliis licita prohibentiir. 

Vide Hieronym. in loco. 
J Edward's Preacher, vol. 1. p. 321. 

§ Aliud enim est scire, aliud sapere. Sapiens est, qui didicit 
non omnia, sed ea quas ad veram faelicitatem pertinent ; et iis 
quae didicit afficitur, ac transfiguratus est. 

Erasmi. Ecclesiastes, p. 21. 


whom he must live, as well as for himself; and who 
will think themselves very justifiable if they indulge 
to no other liberties than such as they see their minis- 
ter takes himself.* 

Before I close this chapter let me add one thing 
more, viz. That a minister both with regard to his 
conduct and preaching, should take care not to be too 
much affected with common fame. Though he is not 
to be absolutely indifferent to the applauses and cen- 
sures of others, yet he should arm himself against the 
bad influence of both. He must expect to pass through 
good report and evil report : And both are apt to 
make hurtful impressions on weak, unstable minds.^ 
As to evil report a Stoic will tell you, that in confi- 
dence of your innocence, you ought absolutely to de- 
spise both it and its author. 

I think Chrysostom's advice is more suited to the 
character of a Christian minister. " As for ground- 
less and unreasonable accusations, says he, (for such 
a Christian bishop must expect to meet with) it is not 
right either excessively to fear them, or absolutely de- 
spise them. He should rather endeavour to stifle 
them though they be ever so false, and the author of 
them ever so despicable ; for a good and bad report is 
greatly increased by passing through the hands of the 
multitude who are not accustomed to examine, but to 
blab out every thing they hear whether true or false. 
Therefore we are not to despise them but to nip those 
evil surmises in the bud, speak friendly to those who 

xiKrri^a,! rt/g oifSaXjCtsj, u; Hk ixurca lAovit, aWa, xxi vXriB-ii ^avrit 

A Bishop had need be sober and vigilant, and have all his 
eyes about him, who lives not only for himself, but for so great 
a multitude of people. 

Chrysostom, de Sacer. 1. 3. c. 13 


raise them ; be their characters ever so bad, and omit 
nothing that may remove their wrong impressions of 
us. And if after all they persist to defame us, we 
may then despise them."* 



To prepare you for this service the following directions 
may be useful. 

1. Before you enter on the public worship of God 
in his house, be sure to apply yourself to the throne 
of Grace, for a divine blessing on your labours. It 
was a usual saying of Luther. Bene orasse, est 
bene studuisse.f And in these your previous devo- 
tions see that your heart be very sincere and fervent. 
You must pray for yourself, and pray for your peo- 

(1.) You must pray for yourself — that God would 
help you to bring your own spirit into a frame suit- 
able to the work you are about to undertake — that 
the word you deliver may affect your own heart, or 
that vou may first feel the holy flame you would com- 
municate to others—that a door of' utterance may be 
opened to you, and that you may speak as becomes 
the oracles of God — that he would direct you to speak 
to the consciences and particular cases of your hear- 
ers, or that what you deliver, may be a word in 

" Chrysostom de Sacerdot. 1. v. c. 4. 

-}• Sub horam concionis ecclesiastes det se profundse depre- 
cationi, et ab eo postulet sapicutiam, linguam, et orationis 
eventum, qui linguas infantium facit disertas. Incredibile dictu 
quantum lucis, quantum vigoris, quantum roboris et alacritatis 
bine accedat Ecclesiastae. Eras. Eccles. p. 486. 


season* — and that he would especially assist you in 
prayer, and give you the spirit of grace and suppli^ 

(2.) You are to pray for your people — that their at- 
tentions may be engaged both to the evidence and im- 
portance of the things they are to hear — that God 
would open their hearts to give them a fair and candid 
reception, and that no bad prejudice may prevent the 
good effect of the word — that the grace of God may 
co-operate with his appointed means, to set home di- 
vine truths with power on their consciences — that they 
may be able to retain the good seed that is so^vn— 
that it may bring forth it's proper fruit in their future 
lives — and finally that their prayers for you, and be- 
haviour towards you maj' strengthen your hands, and 
make you more serviceable to their souls. 

2. Let your mind and countenance be very composed 
and serious, and your gesture grave and decent. To 
this end, endeavour to bring your spirit into a reli- 
gious and devout frame, before you come into the 
house of God. Attend to the real importance of the 
work you are called to, both when you are the mouth 
of God to the people, and when you are the mouth of 
the people to God. Avoid those objects, and avert 
those thoughts which tend to discompose your mind, 
or indispose it for the sacred service you are going to 
engage in. Clear your heart of all vain and worldly 
cares, and especially of all vexatious and disturbing 
thoughts, before you enter on the public service of 
God. Endeavour to attain a spiritual, holy and 
heavenly frame of mind by previous prayer, reading 
and devout meditation. It wiU render your sacred 
work both more agreeable and easy to yourself, and 

* Ad docendum divina nemo idoneus est, nisi doctus divi- 
nitus, Id. p. 110. 



more beneficial to your hearers, if you endeavour to 
carry into the house of God that serious temper of 
mind which you desire they should carry out of it. 

3. Before you enter on your work take time to pre- 
meditate and recollect some of the most weighty, per- 
tinent and important sentiments and expressions you 
may have occasion for either in prayer or preaching. 
This will be especially necessary, if you give any 
thing in charge to the memory ; that you may not be 
at a loss for those sentiments when they are to be pro- 
duced in their proper place. The mind should be well 
seasoned with the discourse before it be delivered- 
'Tis not enough to be master of your notes, but you 
must enter into the spirit of your subject. Call in 
every thing that is proper to improve it, and to raise 
and animate your mind in the contemplation of it. 

4. Affect your mind with the consideration of the 
solemnity and importance of the business you are go- 
ing about ; and how much may depend on a faithful 
execution of it. Few men had ever more natural 
courage than Luther, and yet he was often heard 
to say, that even to the latest part of his life, he never 
could conquer his fear when he mounted the pulpit.* 
And -S7. Chrysostom used to say that that scripture, they 
watch for your souls, as those that must give an account, 
Heb. xiii. 17. struck his mind with constant awe.t 

Lastlv, Keep up a self-command and a becoming 
presence of mind ; and get above a low servile fear of 
men. If you are master of your subject, and come 
well furnished with suitable materials for their reli- 

• Etsi jam senex, et in concionando exercitus sum, tamen 
timeo quoties suggestum conscendo. 

Wilkin's Eccles. p. 254. 

+ y«f (faiot Tnurtii Ttji cisniXn; ffvyl-^is %xrcttu%i fm Tm 
if/ux""' ^bi'ysostom de Sacerdotio, 1. 6» 




gious improvement, and produce plain scripture and 
reason for what you advance, you have no cause to 
fear either the critic or the censor ; but may with 
modesty conclude that you are at least as good a judge 
of the subject you have taken so much pains to un- 
derstand and digest, as they are, who never gave it so 
precise or extensive a consideration. 



Under this phrase^ I comprise the language, prO' 
nunciaiion, and aciio7i that is most becoming the pul- 

1. The language. This must be plain, proper, pure, 
concise and nervous. 

(1.) Let your language be plain or perspicuous.* 
' Tis a nauseous affectation to be fond of hard words, 
or to introduce terms of art and learning into a dis- 
course addressed to a mixed assembly of plain, illiterate 
Christians. The ridicule of it will appear, by suppos- 
ing you were to talk to them in that manner in com- 
mon conversation. They who don't understand you, 
will dislike you ; and they who do, will see the affec- 
tation, and despise you. 

(2.) Let your words be well-chosen, proper and 
expressive. Such as your hearers not only understand, 
but such as are most fit to convey the sentiments you 

(3.) Aim at purity of language. To this end, di- 

* Prima est eloquentiae virtus, perspicuitas ; et quo quisque 
ingenio minus valet, hoc se magis attollere et dilatare cona- 
tur : ut statura breves in digitos eriguntur, et plura infirmi 
minautur. Quintilian. 1. ii. c. 3. 


versify your style, as far as it is consistent with per- 
spicuity and propriety — And avoid the frequent and 
near repetition of the same word, unless it be very 
emphatical, and the reiteration rhetorical — Shun all 
harsh and jingling sounds — Have an eve to an easy 
cadence at the close of your periods, and conclude as 
often as you can, with an emphatical word — Avoid 
dubious and equivocal expressions, or such as leave 
the sense indeterminate — And all low, vulgar and bar- 
barous words — Let your phrase be like your dress, 
decent, unaffected, and free from gawdy and studied 
ornaments — And, in fine, let all your art be to imitate 

(4.) A concise stj-le very well becomes the pulpit : 
Because long periods convey not the sense either with 
so much ease or force, especially to uncultivated 
minds. But affect not to speak in Proverbs. A short 
sententious style, if it be expressive, full and clear, 
will be always strong and universally agreeable. 

(5.) Aim at a striking, nervous style, rather than 
a diffusive, flowing one : And let the most emphatical 
words convey the sublimest thoughts ; and if there be 
a glow in the sentiment, it will seldom fail to shine 
in the expression.* See Ch. i. ad finem. 

2. The pronunciation. 

(1. ) Let this be quite free, natural, and easy. " The 
whole art of good oratory consists in observing what 
nature does, when unconstrained. You should ad- 
dress yourself to an audience, in such a modest, re- 
spectful, and engaging manner, that each of them 
should think you are speaking to him in particular.t" 

• Vcrbaque provisam rem non invita seqiientur. 

Hor. de Art. Poet. 
•f- Cambray's Dialogues, p. 98. 


Every sort of affected tone is to be carefully avoided. 
Suppose your whole auditory to be but one person, 
and you were speaking to them in your own parlour. 
And let the nature of your subject direct the modula- 
tion of your voice ; Be cool in the rational, easy in the 
familiar, earnest in the persuasive, and warm in the 
pathetical part of your discourse. Every passion re- 
quires a pronunciation proper to itself.* 

(2.) Let the voice be always distinct and deliberate, 
and give every word its full sound. Attend to your own 
voice : If it be not strong, full and clear to yourself, 
you may be sure 'tis not so to many of the audience. 
And to help your voice, address yourself chiefly to the 
remotest part of the assembly, and then they who are 
nearer will hear plainly enough — Let your pronuncia- 
tion be very deliberate. You will be in little danger of 
speaking too slow, provided your voice and action and 
the weight of the sentiment, keep up your hearers' 

(3.) AflPect not to move the passions by a loud, 
clamorous voice. This is not powerful preaching ; 
and argues no excellence in the preacher but the 
strength of his lungs- 'Tis unseemly in a Christian 
minister to imitate the priests of Delphos, who de- 
livered their oracles with rage and foaming. This 
noisy, blustering manner shocks a delicate hear- 
er, and degrades the dignity of the pulpit. To 
be a Boanerges 'tis not necessary to become a Stentor.f 

(4.) Let your voice be always lively and awaken- 
ing ; though at sometimes it should be more animated 
than at others. 

• See Treatise on Elocution, p. 29. 
+ Edward's Preacher, vol. i. p. 198. 


(5.) Xow and then a sudden change from a higher 
to a lower key (when something remarkable occurs) 
wiU wonderfully catch the attention. This is what 
Quintilian calls Ars variandiy-w^aich, when well-timed, 
is not only graceful in itself, but pleasing to the ear, 
and gives no small relief to the preacher.* 

(6.) Repeat sometimes the most remarkable sen- 
tences with a free, decent, easy manner. 

(7.) Make a pause after some important thought. 
These pauses (especially near the close of a discourse) 
will have a very good effect ; not only as they render 
the service more solemn, but give both yourself and 
your hearers time to compose and recollect ; and 
mightily awaken their attention to what follows, which 
should therefore be always something worthy of it. 
" There are some occasions, where an orator might 
best express his thoughts by silence : For if, being 
full of some great sentiment, he continue immove- 
able for a moment, this surprising pause will keep 
the minds of the audience in suspence, and express 
an emotion too big for words to utter."t In a word, 
(as Quintilian observes) the great art of elocution, is 
no more than a proper and natural modulation and 
variation of the voice, according to the nature of the 

3. The action. This must always be adapted to 
the pronunciation, as that to the passions. Here two 
extremes are to be avoided, viz. too much, and too 
little action. 

" Ars porro variandi, cum gratiam praebet, ac renovat aures, 
turn dicentem ipsa laboris mutatione reficit. 

Quintilian, 1. xi. c. 3. 

f Cambray's Dialogues on Eloquence, p. 89. 

J Secundum rationem rerum, de quibus dicimus, conforman- 
da vox est, 1. xi. c. 3. Quintil. 


(1.) Let not your action be too much. 

We have some at home that outdo the French, and 
invent new wavs of an apish and uncouth deport- 
ment. One is ready every moment to throw himself 
out of the pulpit, and the people that sit below him 
are in continual fear that he will be in good earnest. 
Another reckons up all the heads and particulars on 
the tips of his fingers, which he exposes to the gazing 
people. Others by odd and fantastic gestures of the 
like nature delight to give the auditors diversion, and 
make good the primitive use of the word /»m/j9i7, which 
was the higher part of the stage where the players 
and comedians acted. But our serious preacher ab- 
hors all of this kind, and never affects to be theatri- 

To be more particular — Your action should not be 
perpetual. The body or any part of it must not be 
in constant motion. As the preacher should not be 
like the trunk of a tree, always immoveable ; so nei- 
ther like the boughs of it, in continual agitation. — Nor 
must the motion of the body be uniform and unvaried. 
A steady vibrative swing of the body from the right 
to the left, like the pendulum of a clock, is very un- 
natural and faulty. " As there is a monotony in the 
voice ; so there is a uniformity in the gesture, that is 
no less nauseous and unnatural, and equally contrary 
to the good effect that one might expect from decent 
action ."t— Again, your action should not be mimical 
The hands should seldom stir, unless when some pas- 
sion is to be expressed, or some weighty sentiment 
pointed out — Nor too violent. As when it exceeds 
the force of the expression, and the dignity of the sen- 
timent : a fault we often see in company among per- 

• Edward's Preacher, vol. i. p. 200. 
f Cambray's Dialogues, p. 91. 


sons of a warm, impetuous temper — Nor theatrical, 
pompous and affected. This becomes neither the dignity 
of the pulpit, nor the solemnity of the work. The 
chief action should be (1.) in the eyes: which shoiild 
be commanding, quick and piercing ; not confined to 
your notes, but gently turning to every part of your 
audience, with a modest, graceful respect. (2.) The 
head, which should always regularly turn with the eyes. 
(3.)The hands. The right-hand should have almost all 
the action ; at least the left-hand is never to be moved 
alone. (4.) The upper part of the body: which 
should always correspond with the motion of the eyes, 
head and hands, and should be for the most part erect. 
Avoid a lazy lolling on the cushion ; on which your 
elbows should rarely rest, and when they do (e. g. 
when you make a considerable pause) let it be with 
an easy, graceful attitude. — In a word, let all your 
pulpit-actions be natural, free, decent and easy : 
which by frequent practice and a careful observation of 
these rules will be soon attained.* 

(2.) The other extreme to be avoided is too little 
action. To stand like a statue, stiff and motionless, 
when you are speaking to your people of the most mo- 
mentous and affecting things, is as unnatural and as 
disagreeable as a set, uniform tone in pronunciation ; 
and looks as if you were not in earnest yourself, and 
cared not whether your people were so : How singu- 
lar would this appear if you were talking to a friend 
in private upon any particular affair that very much 
concerned him, and to which you desire to excite his 
most earnest attention ! How will your hearers be 
able to keep from sleeping, if they see you are scarce 
awake yourself ? Into this extreme the English 
preachers are most apt to fall, as the French into the 

• See Treatise on Elocution, p. 39, and following. 


former. But after all let it be remembered, that the 
end of a decent, just and lively pronunciation and ac- 
tion, is only to excite and fix the attention of your 
hearers. Let your chief care be still directed to the 
propriety and importance of your sentiment, and the 
dignity of your subject : For it will never fail to dis- 
gust your hearers, if you rouse their attention by a 
solemnity of voice and action, and then put them 
off with something low, trite or unaffecting. 



2. The next most considerable part of the pastoral 
office is prayer ; which is commonly divided into the 
grace and gift of prayer. 

1. The grace, or the spirit of prayer. This signi- 
fies either (1.) Praying with the heart and spirit, 
with the intent engagement of all the mental powers, 
understanding, will and affections. Or (2.) with the 
exercise of those Christian graces which are proper to 
enkindle a devout fervour of mind in that part of wor- 
ship ; such as humility, self-abasement, faith, love, 
delight, desire, trust in God, hope and heavenly-mind- 
edness. Or (3.) under the particular aid and influ- 
ence of the Holy Spirit who helps our infirmities, and 
teaches us to pray : So says the apostle, we know not 
what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit helpeth 
our injirmities, Rom. viii. 26. by composing our spirits, 
giving us a greater abstraction from the world, and a 
greater elevation of heart, and calling into lively ex- 
ercise the graces before-mentioned. — And this spirit- 
ual prayer may be entirely mental without the use of 
words ; and 'tis this spirituality which gives to our 
prayers all their effect and power ; and without it no 


prayer, though ever so properly composed or decently 
delivered, will be acceptable to God, or available to 
ourselves : which therefore we should frequently and 
earnestly ask at the throne of divine grace. — But 'tis 
the other kind of prayer, which I am at present more 
particularly to consider, viz. 

2. The gift of prayer ; or an ability to perform this 
duty extempore, in a decent and devout manner, pub- 
licly. And to this purpose three things are required. 
1. An enlargement of mind. 2. A regulation or ar- 
rangement of our thoughts. 3. A freedom of expres- 
sion, or ready utterance. These wiU take in the mat- 
ter, method and manner of prayer. 

(1.) An enlargement of mind; which takes in the 
matter of prayer. Whatever we want, or desire, 
or know we ought to desire, should be the subject- 
matter of our prayers. In order to an enlargement 
of mind in prayer, and a suitable supply of matter. 

We must 1 . be well acquainted with the state of 
our souls; and attend to our spiritual wants and weak- 
nesses. The Christian's own heart is his best prayer- 
book. The more we converse with that^ the better 
shall we converse with God. — It may not be amiss to 
commit to writing those defects and blemishes, we 
chiefly observe in our characters, the mercies we have 
received (especially any particular mercies we have 
received by prayer) either deliverance from evil, di- 
rection in difficulties, or the accomplishment of a de- 
sired end : Each of which will be a proper subject ei- 
ther of petition, confession or thanksgiving. — 2. When 
you address yourself to the sacred work, see tliat the 
mind be free, composed and serious. Its conceptions 
and apprehensions will then be more ready, and pro- 
per thoughts \vill more freely occur. — 3. Possess your 
mind with an awful reverence of the divine majesty 
whom you address as the heart-searching God.— 


Let your expression be very deliberate and solemn, 
that the mind may have time not only to conceive, 

but to regulate and contemplate its conceptions 5. 

Daily study the word of God with this view in par- 
ticular, that you may be better supplied with materials 
for devotion. — 6. Endeavour after a comprehensive view 
of things. Let the mind take a wide scope ; and let 
it freely run on those subjects that most affect it. — 7. 
Let practical divinity, and a right disposition of heart 
towards God be your principal care and study. — 8. 
Take some time to premeditate and recollect the chief 
topics of prayer, and commit some few well chosen 
expressions and sentences to memory. — Lastly. Let 
the subject you have preached upon, (and especially 
those you have found your mind most warmly affect- 
ed with, and some of the most striking sentiments 
and expressions in them, ) be wrought into the com- 
position of your future prayers, ranged under their pro- 
per heads. This in time will greatly enrich your ma- 
gazine of materials for prayer ; and lead you to proper 
thoughts and words on the most important occasions. 

(2.) We should not only aim at a comprehension, but 
observe a method in prayer. The usual method is, 1 . In- 
vocation : Wherein we are to make a solemn mention 
of some of the divine attributes. Nor should this be 
always confined to the beginning of prayer. It may 
very properly be repeated by way of preface to some 
of the principal petitions we put up to God; which, 
when pronounced with seriousness and reverence, will 
have a good effect to awaken the devotion of the heart. 
But always remember to invoke the All-mighty under 
those attributes and perfections ^^'hich are most suit- 
able to the blessings you ask of him ; e. g. When we 
pray for an accession of divine knowledge and wisdom, 
the address may be in this form. " O thou father and 
fountain of light, in whom there is no darkness at ail. 


who givest to man the wisdom he asketh of thee^ we 
beseech thee to disperse the darkness of our minds, 
shine into our hearts, and liberally bestow upon us 
that wisdom which thou knowest we want." — 2. Con- 
fession of sin. The transition to this part of prayer 
will be natural and easy, by taking particular notice 
of those moral perfections of the divine nature, in 
which we ourselves are most defective; e. g. . The right- 
eousness and holiness of God, as thus. " O holy, holy, 
holy. Lord God Almighty, who art of purer eyes than 
to behold iniquity, wherewith shall we, thine unholy 
creatures, presume to appear before thee, or lift up 
our eyes or thoughts to heaven, which our iniquities 
have reached before them !" — In public prayer, let 
these confessions be general. In private, particular, 
as your consciousness of guilt may suggest. — 3. Peti- 
tion. The connection here may be properly made by 
the mention of the divine mercies, or the remembrance 
of Christ's mediatorship, and the promise of grace and 
pardon to penitent sinners: And most properly begins 
with petition for pardon ; then, for a more perfect re- 
novation ; after which proceed to beg for other spirit- 
ual blessings; as more light and knowledge, more love 
to God, more faith and hope, more strength against 
temptation and sin, more purity and heavenly-mind- 
edness, more indifference to the world, &c. Then 
proceed to temporal blessings. — 4. Particular interces- 
sions. These it will be best to precompose ; and com- 
mit to memory the expressions and phrases that are 
most proper to be used on particular occasions. But 
let the phrase and subject be often varied, that it 
may not appear to be a form. And in all our prayers 
upon any particular, or special occasions there's great 
need of much pre-meditation.— Lastly. Thanksgiving. 
The subjects of these are either general or particular ; 
and as various as our mercies. 


This part of prayer may perhaps come in more pro- 
perly after invocation ; and the transition from thence 
to confession, may be made by the mention of our un- 
worthiness of the divine blessings. 

Besides this general method it would be proper to 
preserve in your mind a particular method of the 
several blessings you are to pray for, the sins you con- 
fess, and the mercies you commemorate. Let these 
be laid up in the mind, in order to be produced in their 
proper places. — But do not tie yourself down to the 
invariable use of any method, whether general or par- 
ticular ; for a too close application of the mind to the 
method or expression of prayer is apt to obstruct the 
devout employment of the heart. Besides, this will 
make the prayer appear too formal, artificial and 
studied, and bring a drowsiness on the minds of those 
whose devotion you are called to excite and lead ; 
who are never more pleased and edified in this part 
of worship, than when they observe us to be affected 
with our own prayers. A heart inspired with warm 
devotion will not be confined to exact method. And 
a lively start of thought, and a strong, surprizing 
sentiment uttered out of its due place, will strike the 
minds of our fellow- Avorshippers so strongly, that they 
will not attend to the want of method, or if they do, 
will readily excuse it. — Enlarge mostly on that part 
of prayer with which you find your own mind most 
affected ; and let not any occasional deviations from 
your purposed method interrupt the fervent workings 
of your spirit. — 'Tis good however to be master of a 
regular system of materials, and of pertinent expres- 
sions under each head, which may serve instead of a 
form (but still to be uttered in the most solemn 
and reverend manner) when the powers of the mind 
happen to be heavy and unactive, or oppressed by the 


presence of others at a time we are called to the per- 
formance of this duty. 

(3.) Next to the matter and method^ we should have 
a regard to the manner of prayer. This respects 1. 
the gesture of the body ; which should be always de- 
cent, grave and humble, and expressive of the rever- 
ence of the heart : as folding the hands, or putting 
the open palms together, sometimes erect, sometimes 
declining with the body ; sometimes lift up with the 
eyes, according as the pious or humble motions of the 
heart direct. Let the eyes be mostly closed, or if 
open, steadily fixed : for nothing is more indecent than 
for the eyes to wander in the performance of this du- 
ty. — 2. The pronunciation. Let this be slow, solemn, 
grave, distinct, and serious. Let not your words fol- 
low faster than your thoughts ; that the latter may 
have time to be maturely conceived and well express- 
ed ; by which means, one thought will more naturally 
rise out of another, and be in readiness to be produced 
whilst the other is uttering. And when the concep- 
tions are thus before- hand with the expressions, the 
mind will be free, composed, and serious ; and have 
time to feel the weight of it's own thoughts ; which 
will be a great help to the true spirit of prayer. 
" Due and proper pauses and stops will give the 
hearer time to conceive and reflect on what you speak, 
and more heartily to join with you ; as well as give 
you leave to breathe, and make the work more easy 
and pleasant to yourself. Besides when persons run 
on heedless with an incessant flow of words, being 
carried as it were in a violent stream, without rests or 
pauses, they are in danger of uttering things rashly 
before God ; giving no time at all to their own medi- 
tation ; but indulging their tongue to run sometimes 
too fast for their own thoughts, as well as for the af- 


fections of such as are present with them. All this 
arises from the hurry of the tongue into the middle 
of a sentence, before the mind has conceived the full 
and complete sense of it."* 

Avoid the extremes of a too low and muttering 
voice, which some use, and a clamorous, strong, noisy^ 
tone, which others affect ; as if they expected to be 
heard for their loud speaking ; or as if the devotion of 
the heart consisted in a strength of lungs. This is 
improperly called powerful praying, and will be very 
disgustful to many. 

3. The expression. Here let the foUoAving rules be 

(1.) Let your language be plain, but proper. Avoid 
all low, vulgar, and obsolete phrases, but affect not an 
elegant or rhetorical style ; much less an obscure and 
mystical one ; for how can the mind feel the weight of 
that sentiment it does not understand ?t 

(2.) Scriptural expressions, if happily chosen, are 
very ornamental in prayer. — " It would be of excel- 
lent use to improve us in the gift of prayer, if in our 
daily reading of the word of God, we did observe what 
expressions were suited to the several parts of this du- 
ty ; adoration, confession, petition, or thanksgiving, 
and let them be wrought into our addresses to God 
that day.";}: — And to be furnished with a Copia of 
scriptural expressions to be used in prayer, read Hen- 
ry's Method of Prayer, Bishop Wilkin's Discourse on 
the Gft of Prayer, or Closet Devotions. 

But here let the two following cautions be ob- 
served : 

(1.) Let not your prayer be aU in Scripture words. 
Some conceive a prayer of nothing but texts of Scrip- 

* "Watts' Guide to Prayer, p. 93. 
■f- See Wilkins on Prayer, p. 48. 
\ Watts' Guide to Prayer, p. 75. 


ture tacked together; which prevents the mind from 
taking a proper scope, and leaves no room for the in- 
vention, or the utterance of pious thoughts. 

(2.) Avoid the dark, mystical expressions of Scrip- 
ture ; which you have reason to believe the greatest 
part of your hearers do not comprehend the sense of.^ 
" If we indulge the use of such dark sentences in our 
speaking to God, we might as well pray in an un- 
known tongue, which was so much disapproved of by 
the apostle, 1 Cor. xiv. 9- Let not the pomp and 
sound of any hard Hebrew names, or obscure phrase 
in Scripture, allure us to be fond of them in social 
prayer, even though we ourselves should know the 
meaning of them, lest we confound the thoughts of 
our fellow-worshippers."* 

(3.) If you have not the faculty of clothing your 
own ideas in proper and pertinent words, borroAv the 
phrases and expressions of others upon the same sub- 
ject. Make a collection of them from the best authors, 
but remember to pick out those which come nearest 
to your own phraseology, or such as you best approve, 
and would wish to have in readiness when you are 
speaking on that particular subject. And when you 
are furnished with a store of such well-chosen expres- 
sions, turn them into the form of a prayer, and com- 
mit them to memory : which expedient will not only 
facilitate your expression, but give room for further 
invention. — '' 'Tis usual for young students to be very 
careful in gathering common-place books : It would 
be a much greater advantage, if they were as diligent 
to collect under proper references any such particular 
matter, or expressions in prayer wherewith at any 
time they find themselves to be more especially af- 

• Watts' Guide to Prayer, p. 76. 
f Wilkins on Prayer, p. 39. 


(4.) 'Tis very proper and requisite that your prayer 
after sermon, be formed on the subject you have been 
treating of; wherein you may go over all the heads of 
your discourse, and touch upon the most important 
sentiments, and repeat the most striking expressions 
in it. But as the mind will be then sometimes fa- 
tigued, and the powers exhausted and unfit to be put 
on the new labour of invention, it may not be amiss 
to pen down the short concluding prayer verbatitn, 
to be repeated memoriter ; but Avithout confining your- 
self either to the precise expressions, or method you 
had before conceived, if the mind be able or disposed 
to enlarge. 

(5.) Avoid those phrases and modes of expression 
which you know to be obnoxious or disgustful to your 
hearers ; and prefer those that will give the least of- 
fence to any party or denomination of Christians. 

(6.) Throw your prayer out of a form as much as 
you can, by varying both method and phrase, and by 
a fresh supply of sentiments and expressions ; which 
will be a great help both to your own devotion, and 
theirs who join with you in this part of worship. 

(7-) Let your prayers, as well as your sermons, be 
rather too short than too long. 

(8.) Avoid preaching prayers. " Some persons who 
aifect long prayers are greatly faulty in this respect ; 
they are speaking to the people and teaching them the 
doctrines of religion, and the mind and ^vill of God, 
rather than speaking to God the desires of their own 
mind. They wander away from God to speak to men. 
But this is quite contrary to the nature of prayer."* 

(Lastly.) Be not too fond of a nice uniformity of 
words, nor of perpetual diversity of expression in 
prayer. " We should seek indeed to be furnished 

• Watts' Guide to Prayer, p. 86. 


%vith a rich variety of holy language, that our prayers 
may always have something new and something enter- 
taining in them ; and not tie ourselves to express one 
thing always in one set of words, lest this make us 
grow formal and dull, and indiiFerent in those peti- 
tions. But on the other hand, if we are guilty of a 
perpetual affectation of new %vords, which we never 
before used, we shall sometimes miss our own best 
and most spiritual meaning, and many times be driven 
to great impropriety of speech ; and at best, our pray- 
ers by this means will look like the fruit of our fancy, 
and invention, and the labour of the head, more than 
the breathings of the heart."* 

I shall conclude this chapter with a few general 
directions how to attain and improve this useful 

(1.) Accustom yourself to a serious, devout, and 
decent discharge of this duty every day in private ; 
whereby a readiness of conception and expression will 
be sooner acquired. 

(2.) Spare no pains to gain so excellent a talent ; 
for 'tis not to be had (especially by some) without 
much application ; but 'tis worth it all : And there 
are few things on which the labour of one who is a 
student for the sacred ministry can be more usefully 

(3.) Often pray for this gift of prayer. 

(4.) Endeavour to get your spirit deeply impressed 
Avith the great things of religion : and let those senti- 
ments which most affected you in your most serious 
frames, be MTought into your prayers. 

(5.) Maintain a manly presence of mind, and use 
all proper means to conquer that bashfulness and ti- 
midity of spirit which young persons are subject to, 

" Watts' Guide to Prayer, p. 89. 


and is a great hindrance to a decent discharge of this 

(6.) Take every opportunity you can to hear otliers 
pray ; and imitate them in every thing you observe to 
be decent, graceful, and excellent. 

(Lastly.) Vary your concluding doxologies. And 
that you may herein give no offence to any, it may be 
proper to confine yourself to those of scripture, which 
are very various, and such as follow : 

Heb. xiii. 21. — Through Jesus Christ, to whom be 
glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Rom. xvi. 25, 27. — Xow to him that is of power to 
establish you according to the Gospel oj Jesus Christ. 
To God only wise, be g'ory through Jesus Christ for 
ever. Amen. 

Rom. ix. 5. — Through Jesus Christ tvho is over all, 
God blessed for ever. Amen. 

Gal. i. 4, 5. — Who gave himself for our sins, that he 
might deliver us from this present evil world, according 
to the will of God and our Father : To whom be glory 
for ever and ever. Amen. 

Ephes. iii. 20, 21. — Xow unto him who is able to do 
exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, ac- 
cording to the power that worketh in us, unto him be 
glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, 
world without end. Amen. 

1 Tim. i. 17. — Xow unto the King eternal, immor- 
tal, invisible, ike only wise God, be honour and glory 
for ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Pet. iv. 11. — Through Jesus Christ, to whom be 
praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

2 Pet. iii. 18. — Through our Lord and Saviour Je- 
sus Christ, to whom be glory both now and for ever. 

* See Dr. Watts' Guide to Prayer, p. 110 — 112. 


Jude, ver. 24, 25. — Xoiv unto him that is able to ' 
keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before 
the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only 
fvise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion 
and pojver, both nojv and ever. Amen. 

Rev. i. 5, 6.-— Unto him who loved us, and washed 
us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us 
kings and priests to God even his Father : To him be 
glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

Rev. V. 13. — Blessing and honour, and glory and 
power be unto him that sittcth upon the throne, and un- 
to the Lamb for ever and ever. 



1. Of Baptism. 

" A minister ought to instruct his people frequently 
in the nature of baptism, that they may not go about 
it merely as a ceremony, as it is too visible the greater 
part do, but that they may consider it as the dedicating 
their children to God, the offering them to Christ ; 
and the holding them thereafter as his ; directing their 
cliief care about them to the breeding them up in the 
nurture and admonition of the Lord."* — In the ad- 
ministration of this ordinance 'tis best to keep to the 
original institution as your rule and guide — The most 
natural method to be used in the celebration of it, 
seems to be this.- 

(1.) Recite the express words of the institution. 
Matt, xxviii. 28. Then, 

(2.) It would not be amiss to say something in vin- 

• Buruet's Pastoral Care, p. 185. 


dication of those two positive institutions of Christian- 
ity, Baptism and the Lord's Supper ; and to show the 
excellency of the Christian dispensation from its sim- 
plicity, and that it is not encumbered with those nu- 
merous external ceremonies, which the Jewish dis- 
pensation was. 

(S.) Make a short discourse on the ordinance as a 
sacrament of the Christian church ; wherein you may 
offer some useful remarks on the practice of infant- 
baptism ; then add some proper observations relating 
to the mode and manner in which the ordinance is to 
be celebrated ; laying this down as an undisputed 
principle, that in the manner of performing divine 
worship 'tis always best and safest to keep close to 
the divine rule ; so as neither to go beyond; nor fall 
short of it : for in the former case, we know not whe- 
ther human and arbitrary additions will be approved 
of God, but this we are sure of, he will never condemn 
us for not doing what he never commanded ; and there- 
fore the sign of the cross may be safely omitted as no 
where enjoined by God himself : and as to the latter 
case, (j. e. neglecting any part of our rule, or those in- 
structions he hath given us for the directory of our 
\\«orship,) this must certainly be criminal, and deroga- 
tory to the honour of the divine institutor. But where 
the circumstance or mode of any religious action is left 
undetermined in the form and words of the institution, 
that which is most decent and convenient is to be pre- 
ferred. Hence sprinkling or washing the face of the 
baptized person gently with the hand, is to be prefer- 
red to plunging the body all over in water ; because 
the former is more safe and decent, and the latter no 
where commanded as the standing universal mode of 

(4.) Be more particular in explaining the nature 
end and design of this ordinance, and in opening the 


typical part of it. Here you may bring in the doctrine 
of sanctification, and the purifying influences of the 
Holy Spirit figured by the water in baptism, and the 
relation this Christian institution has to the baptizing 
of proselytes, and to the Jewish ordinance of circum- 

(5.) You may then briefly open the nature of the 
present duty of the parents ; in giving up their child 
to God, and what is implied therein, viz. their desire 
that it should be received into the church of Christ, 
and brought up in the (.^hristian faith. And be very 
particular in your address to the parents of the infant 
which is to be baptized : pressing upon them the im- 
portance of their charge, and the care they are to take 
in the education of their child ; especially in reference 
to its spiritual and eternal concerns. But this may be 
either before, or after the ceremonial part of the ordi- 
nance is performed. 

(6.) Proceed then to ask a blessing upon the ordi- 
nance ; and pray for the infant in particular. 

(7.) Then take the infant, and washing it gently 
with water, baptize it in the name of the Father, and of 
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 

Then, lastly (if the exhortation to the parents do 
not come in here, but was addressed to them before) 
conclude with the thanksgiving prayer and the bene- 

II. Of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. 

1. Of the method of performing it. 

2. Of taking in communicants. 

1 . Of the method of performing it. The most re- 
gular method seems to be this. — (1.) Make a short 
preparatory discourse, tending to open the nature and 
design of this sacrament, and the necessity and im- 
portance of its intention ; or to excite some devout af- 
fections in the minds of the communicants, especially 


relating to the love of Christ, the design of his death 
and sufferings, and the necessity of a frequent com- 
memoration thereof in this sacred institution. But 
let the address be very serious, and very solemn. — 
Then (2.) read distinctly the words of the institution. 
—Then (3.) solemnly pray for the divine blessing and 
presence ; give thanks to God for the institution of 
the visible symbols to affect your mind, and assist 
your faith ; and earnestly pray that the great end of 
this sacred solemnity may be visibly answered in every 
one of the communicants, and be manifested in their 
growing love to the Redeemer, and more steady at- 
tachment to his gospel, as their only rule of faith and 
life. — Then (4.) break the sacramental bread, and dis- 
tribute it either personally, or by the hands of the 
deacons. — To assist the devotion of the communicants, 
'tis the custom of some ministers to pronounce now 
and then some serious and weighty sentences relative 
to the love and sufferings of Christ, or the benefits of 
his death. But this is disused by others under an ap- 
prehension that instead of quickening the devotion of 
our fellow- worshippers, it may interrupt it, by divert- 
ingthecourse of their own meditations. — (5.) Afterthe 
distribution of the bread, make a short prayer to beg 
the continuance of the divine presence and blessing, 
and that God would graciously forgive the infirmities 
of our worship ; and give thanks for the element you 
are about to partake of, and pray that it may answer 
the design intended by it ; which is all that protes- 
tants mean by the consecration of the elements. — But 
it is the custom with some to pray for a blessing on 
both the elements, in one single prayer. — (6.) Then 
follows the distribution of the cup in the manner 
before-mentioned. — In some churches 'tis the custom 
for the minister to partake of the elements last : And 
in others first; pronouncing with an audiWe voice 


these, or some such words, " In obedience to Christ's 
command, and in remembrance of him, I take and eat 
this bread, as the memorial of his body which was 
broken for sin.'' And so in partaking of the cup. 
" I take and drink this cup," &c. — After the distribu- 
tion of the elements, the minister sometimes makes a 
short exhortation to the people, relating to the nature 
of their sacramental obligations, and exhorting them 
to be faithful thereunto. — After which a collection is 
made for the poor by the deacon from pew to pew, or 
at the door when the congregation breaks up. — (7.) 
Then follows a suitable Hymn or Psalm. — (Lastly.) 
Concludewith a short thanksgiving prayer. — Inorder to 
furnish your mind with suitable matter for your sa- 
cramental exhortations and prayers, it is requisite to 
read some proper devotional treatise on this ordinance, 
before you enter on the celebration of it. 

2. The method of admitting communicants to the 
Lord's Table. — This is different in different churches. 
For direction in this affair these general rules may be 
of service. 

(1.) As every particular church is a select religious 
society, every member of it has a riglit to be satisfied 
of the character and qualification of every new mem- 
ber that is admitted into it. This is plain from the 
very nature and design of such a society, and neces- 
sary to preserve the purity and discipline of the 

(2.) That the qualifications required in the candi- 
dates, should be no other than what we have plain 
warrant from scripture to demand, and such as are ne- 
cessary to preserve purity and discipline : For herein 
(as well as in other parts of Christian discipline and 
church-government) we are strictly to adhere to scrip- 
ture as our rule, so far as it affords us any direction 
in this matter. And therefore to require that the 


spiritual experiences of the candidate be publicly de- 
clared by himself, or read by another, in the presence 
of the church, before he is suffered to communicate 
with them, (which is the practice in some protestant 
dissenting congregations) is not only unnecessary, but 
unwarrantable, and often attended with very bad 
effects : it is unnecessary, because it is found not to an- 
swer the end principally designed, the greater purity 
of the church ; it is unwarrantable, because we have no 
shadow of a precept or precedent for it in scripture, or 
primitive antiquity ; and the bad consequences of it, 
are 1. It bars the way to this ordinance, discourages 
meek, humble and modest persons from proposing 
themselves to the communion, whilst it is easily ac- 
cessible to men of bold, forward and confident tempers. 
2. It is a temptation to the candidates to declare more 
than they have really experienced, lest the church 
should reject them ; or to describe the animal passions 
as divine influences, and the workings of the imagina- 
tion as the operations of the spirit, which young and 
unexperienced Christians are too apt to do. 3. It sup- 
poses and countenances some very mistaken principles, 
viz. that none have a right to this ordinance but those 
whose hearts are " not only" really converted ; but 
who are also sensible of this, and are able to make 
others sensible of it, by describing the time, means, 
manner and effects of that conversion. 4. It attributes a 
power to the church which they have no right to, viz. 
of judging the hearts of others ; and that by a very- 
precarious rule, viz. from what they say of themselves. 
For if they judge by the general character, life and 
conversation of the candidate (which is a much better 
rule) there is no necessity for a public declaration of 
his experience. It likewise implies a power in the 
church of excluding from this ordinance all that can- 
not produce such evidence of their real conversion as 


will satisfy every member of the church. Upon what 
foundation so extraordinary a claim is built^ 'tis hard 
to say. Lastly. This practice tends to make the 
members thus admitted, too careless and confident 
after their admission ; for when they have the testi- 
mony of the whole church concurring with their own 
strong imagination that they are true converted Christ- 
iansj and look upon the sins they commit after this 
only as the weaknesses of God's children, they are in 
great danger of being betrayed into a false and fatal 
peace. Therefore, 

(3.) A creditable profession, and unblemished cha- 
racter and conversation may be deemed as a necessary 
and sufficient qualification for the holy communion. 
This is necessary in order to keep up the discipline, 
and preserve the purity of the church ; and it is suf- 
ficient because we do not find that our sacred rule re- 
quires any thing further. And, 

(4.) As soon as the members of the church are sa- 
tisfied of this general qualification of the candidate, 
they have no right to refuse their assent to his admis- 

(5.) Provided they have this satisfaction, 'tis not 
material by what means they receive it. Sometimes 
the elders of the church are deputed to confer private- 
ly with the candidate, and enquire into his knowledge 
of the design and nature of this ordinance ; and whe- 
ther his views and ends in desiring to join in it be sin- 
cere and right. — Sometimes this is left entirely to the 
minister, whose business it more properly is ; who if 
he be satisfied in those points acquaints the church of 
it at the next ensuing sacrament ; and thereupon de- 
clares that if any of the members present do not sig- 
nify to him (before the next sacrament) any objections 
against the candidate's admission, he will then (by 
their consent) be admitted to the ordinance as a mem. 


ber of that church. — In other churches members are 
admitted by the minister only, without any notice 
given to the church 'till the very time of their admis- 
sion ; nor even then are they apprized of it any other 
way than by a few petitions in the minister's prayer 
particularly in behalf of the new- admitted member. 

(Lastly.) The church has an undoubted right to 
expel irregular and unworthy members : This is gene- 
rally done at first by suspension ; when the minister 
intimates his desire and that of the church to the de- 
linquent member, that he would refrain from coming 
to the sacrament till he hears further from him ; 
which is generally sufficient without the solemnity of 
a formal and public expulsion. 



This is a very arduous and delicate office, and espe- 
cially in some circumstances ; and a different method 
of address and conduct is requisite according to the 
different characters of the persons you visit. 
It will therefore be proper. 

I. To lay down some general rules to be observed, 
in order to a right execution of this part of your duty. 

II. To specify some particular cases. 

I. To lay down some general rules to be observed, 
in order to a right execution of this part of your duty. 

(1.) A previous preparation for it is very proper ; 
by considering what kind of address will be most ne- 
cessary and suitable to the person you visit. 'Tis 
something strange (as a late judicious divine weU ob- 
serves) that ministers who take so much pains to pre- 
pare for the work of the pulpit, should generally take 
so little to prepare for this, which is one of the most 


difficulty and most important offices in the minis- 

(2.) It would be adviseable to have in readiness a 
good store of scripture expressions, adapted to the 
support and comfort of the afflicted : which may be 
easily collected from the Common-place book to the 
Bible ; and out of these, choose such as are as most 
applicable to the case of your friend. 

(3.) Adapt yourself to his taste and understanding 
as well as to the circumstances of his case ; by mak- 
ing such observations, and using such expressions as 
^'ou know are most familiar and agreeable to him : 
But take care to explain the phrases he makes use of, 
if you have reason to think he does not understand 

(4.) Let your deportment and address be very free, 
friendl)-, close, tender and compassionate. 

(5.) Place yourself in the condition of the person 
before you ; and consider in what manner you would 
wish a minister or friend to behave to you in those 

(6.) Wliilst you are tender, be sure to be faithful; and 
have a respect to the approbation of your conscience 
afterwards. Remember that you are a minister of the 
gospel, and must not sacrifice the cause of truth and 
Godliness to a false shame or tenderness. 

(Lastly.) Let your prayer for the sick person be short 
but very serious and solemn, and adapted as much as 
may be to the state of his soul, and the danger of his 

• Cette fonction est aussi une de celles dont on s'acquitte le 
plus mal. La plupart des ministres n'y apportcnt aucune pre- 
paration. Cependant, elle n'est pas moins difficile qu'impor- 
tante. On se prepare pour les Sermons, mais non pas pour 
voir les IMalades. 

Ostervald Du Gouvemement de I'Eglise, p. 307. 


disease. In all which offices there is great need of 
much piety, iidelity and wisdom*. 

II. Let us now consider how a minister ought to 
behave in his visitation of the sick, under some par- 
ticular circumstances. And, 

1. If you have reason to believe that the afflicted 
person you visit is a real good Christian, your work 
will not be very difficult ; it may be pleasant and 
useful ; and you may possibly receive more advantage 
from him, than he does from you. For a Christian's 
graces are at such a time commonly most lively, and 
the tongue very faithful to the sentiments of the 
heart ; so that you will presently see what it is that lies 
most upon his mind. And as your present business will 
be to administer co'isolation and solve his doubts. 

Your topics of consolation may be taken, 1 . From 
his past experience. Direct him to look back to the 
goodness of God to him, and the sensible experience 
he has had of the divine love and presence. Bid him 
think of what God has done for his Soul, and thence 
draw David's conclusion, ' because the Lord has been 
my help, &c.' — 2. Refer his thoughts to the paternal 
character. And bid him think of the compassions of 
a father to a weak and helpless child. — 3. Open the 
inexhaustible stores of the divine mercy in the gospel. 

4. Insist on the mighty efficacy of the Redeemer's 

blood. — 5. The genuine marks of a true faith and sin- 
cere repentance. — Lastly. Endeavour to affect his 
mind with a lively apprehension of the heaven- 
ly glory, to which he will very shortly be received. 

And as to his doubts teU him 1. That he is not a 

• Pour montrer que la piete est necessaire, vous n'avez que 
remarquer, qu'on fait trois fonctions aupres de Malades. II faut 
sender la conscience, lexir donner les conseils, qui sont neces- 
saircs, et prier pour eux- Id. p. 290. 



proper judge in his own case, under the present weak- 
ness of his powers ; that the lowness of his animal 
spirits causes him to look too much upon the dark 
side^ and to see every thing through a wrong medium; 
that he has no reason to suspect his case to be worse 
now than it was when he had better hopes concerning 
it. — 2. That the best of men have had their doubts ; 
that if it be the sign of a weak faith, it is however the 
sign of some true faith. — 3, That it is much safer to 

be doubtful than over confident 4. That however 

variable be our frame, God's regards for his own chil- 
dren are unchangeable. — 5. Bid him examine his 
doubts to the bottom, and trace them up to the true 
source ; and perhaps they may appear to arise from 
the agency of Satan, who delights to disturb the tran- 
quillity of those he cannot destroy. — 6. Ask him, if he 
has any hopes ? and whether he would part with the 
little hope he has, for the greatest treasures on earth ? 
Bid him examine the foundation of those hopes, as 
well as that of his fears ; for he can never judge 
aright till he look on both sides : And oftentimes a 
Christian's weak hope has a better foundation than his 
strongest fears. But 

2. Is the character of the sick person you visit 
doubtful .'' your business is more difficult, and your 
address must be more cautious. 

If there be no apparent danger of death, 1. En- 
deavour to give him just notions of a particular pro- 
vidence ; that though men do not so often attend to 
it as they ought, yet most certain it is both from 
scripture and reason that whatever befalls every in- 
dividual man on earth is under the immediate direc- 
tion of providence : And as to this affliction in parti- 
cular, persuade him to regard and consider it as the 
hand of God.^Then 2. discourse on the wisdom and 


goodness of God in sending these occasional rebukes 
of his providence ; which whatever we think are sent 
for the best ends. Afflictions are the physic of the 
soul designed to purify and purge it. — 3. Under this 
view of things press upon him the exercise of patient 
submission and a total resignation to the divine Avill ; 
and direct him to look upon the present dispensation, 
(though grievous) as sent in mercy to him, and as 
what may hereafter produce the most excellent effects. 
— 4. Tell him that in the best of men there are sins 
and follies sufficient to justify the severest dispensa- 
tions of God's Providence ; that many good Christians 
have suffered worse ; and what reason he has to be 
thankful that his case is not more calamitous — 5. Re- 
mind him of the many mercies mixed with the pre- 
sent affliction. — 6. If it should please God to restore 
him, exhort him faithfully to concur with the design 
of this visitation, by his constant endeavour to amend 
what his conscience now smites him for. 

But if there be apparent symptoms of approaching 
death, exhort him 1. seriously to review his past life, 
to call to mind the most remarkable transgressions of 
it, for which he should now greatly humble his soul 
before God, and sincerely renew his repentance.— 
And that his repentance may be sincere and unfeign- 
ed, — 2. Endeavour to make him sensible of the evil 
and guilt of sin, from it's contrariety to the holy na- 
ture of God, and the inevitable ruin it exposes the 
soul unto. — 3. When he is thus humble and penitent, 
revive him with the consolations of the gospel ; the 
amazing compassion and goodness of God to a world 
of sinners in sending his son to redeem them by his 
death ; and the merits of the Redeemer's sufferings, 
whose blood cleanseth from all sin.— Then 4. open to 
him in a plain and easy manner the gospel-method of 


salvation by Jesus Christ. — 5. In a deep self- abhorrence 
for his sins, and in such a lively faith in Christ, advise 
him to call upon the Father of mercies for pardon through 
Jesus Christ his son. — 6". Remind him to settle his 
affairs in this world, as well as he can ; and then think 
— no more of it for ever. — And Lastly, leave with 
him some suitable text of scripture which you appre- 
hend most applicable to the state of his soul. But 

3. If the sick man you visit has been notoriously 
wicked, and appears ignorant, insensible and hardened, 
your business then is the most difficult of all. 

To make any right impression on such a one, you 
must 1. pray to God beforehand that you may be en- 
abled to say something that is suitable to his case 
which may be a means of awakening him to a proper 
sense of his danger. — And then 2. when you come in- 
to his room, appear deeply affected with his case. Let 
him see that you are more concerned for him, than he 
is for himself; that you are more sensible of his dan- 
ger than he is of his outi. — Then 3. in order to bring 
him to a proper sense of his state and danger, put 
some close questions to him relating to the holy and 
righteous nature of God : his infinite hatred of sin : 
the absolute impossibility of being happy hereafter 
but in his favour ; the certainty of a future judgment 
when God will render to every one according to his 
works J and the unspeakable importance of the soul's 
being safe for eternity. — Then 4. beg of him not to 
deceive himself with vain hopes ; but be willing to 
see the truth of his case, as it is represented to him 
in the unerring word of God, however dangerous or 
dreadful it may appear to him ; for whilst he shuts his 
eves against the danger, there's no possibility of es- 
caping it.*— 5. If his distemper is like to be fatal, let 

• See Burnet's Pastoral Care, p. 195, &c. 


him know it ; and that all that can be done to escape 
everlasting misery, must immediately be done ; that 
there is as yet some hope (though it be but small) 
that this possibly may be done ; that on this moment 
depends his future condition for ever : And beg him 
not to lose this last and only cast he has for eternity. 
—6. If his conscience by this means be awakened and 
you observe some genuine relentings of heart, take 
that occasion to assist its workings, to enforce its re- 
proofs and urge its convictions, till you see something 
like a true penitential remorse. — Then 7- earnestly 
pray with him, and for him ; that God would con- 
tinue to give him a just sense of his sin and danger, 
and that his grace and spirit may carry on those con- 
victions till they issue in a real change of heart. — 
Then 8. take your leave of him in a tender and aiFec- 
tionate manner, not without giving him some hope 
that if the same sensible and penitent frame continue, 
there may be mercy in reserve for him : But beg of 
him whilst he has the use of his reason not to omit 
any opportunity of crying mightily to God for mercy 
through the merits of Jesus Christ his son. — 9. In 
your next visit (which should be soon after this) if 
you find him penitent, exhort him to glorify God by 
making an ample confession of his sins in private, with 
all their heinous aggravations, and not to be afraid to 
see the worst of himself; and if he has in any matter 
injured or defrauded others, you must insist upon 
it, as a mark of true repentance, that he immediately 
make restitution or satisfaction, if it be in his power. 
—Lastly. If his penitential sorrow still continue, and 
you have reason to believe him sincere, you may begin 
to administer the consolations of the gospel, and ad- 
dress him as you have been directed in the case of the 


person before-mentioned under the like circumstan- 



Here it will be proper ] . To lay down some ge- 
neral rules to be observed at all times. And 2. 
Some particular rules applicable to extraordinary oc- 

I. To lay down some general rules to be observed 
at all times. 

Previous to these I would desire you to observe 
these two things. 1. Arm yourself \s'iih resolution, 
and prepare to meet ^^•ith difficulties and contempt. 
The nature of your office implies the first, and all the 
dignity of it will not secure you from the last. But 
if you behave prudently and faithfully in it, you will 
meet with contempt from none but those who deserve 
itj and whose esteem would be no honour. 2. Study 
the true nature of Christian humility : And let your 
mind be clothed with it as it's greatest ornament. 
But distinguish between that dastardly meanness and 
pusillanimity which makes you ashamed to look in the 
face, and speak in the presence of your superiors, 
(and may tempt you to an abject compliance with all 
their humours,) and that humility which arises from 
a reverence of God, a consciousness of your own de- 
fects, the difficulty of your work, and the knowledge 

• See Spink's Sick-man Visited. 
Ostervaldde la visitedes Malades. 


of your character.* This will teach you to bear con- 
tempt with dignity, and applause with decency ; the 
latter perhaps you will find not less diffictilt than the 
former. Let the knowledge of yourself be your guard 
against that vanity of mind which will be apt to steal 
into it when you hear the approbations or commen- 
dations of men.t — Thus armed with resolution and hu- 
mility, let your principle care be, 

(1.) To be faithful to God and conscience; and 
take care that nothing betray you into such a behav- 
iour upon any occasion, for which your own mind will 
reproach you in secret. And a steady regard to this 
rule will lead you to decline the most usual and dan- 
gerous temptations. 

(2.) Let your conduct to all be inoffensive, benefi- 
cent and obliging. Make it your practice, and it 
will be your pleasure, to do some kind office to every 
one to whom you have a power and opportunity of 
doing it with prudence. And let the Emperor Titus's 
rule of conduct be yours, not to let one day pass, if 
possible, without doing some good to one person or 

(3.) Visit your people in a kind and friendly man- 
ner, as often as it suits with your convenience and 
theirs. This is the business of the afternoon. For 
the whole morning, and as much time as you can re- 
deem at night, should be devoted to study. Where 

" Laudata est in sacris Literis Humilitas, damnata superbia ; 
sed est Humilitatis genus quo nihil est detestabilius ; est et 
superbise genus, quo nibil laudabilius. 

Erasm. Eccles. p. 191. 

f Non solum adversus sinistra populi judicia, adversus ma- 
litiam etiam pie dicta calumniantium, adversus simultates illor. 
Xim quibus ob vitam corruptam imasa est Veritas, sed etiam ad- 
versus acclamationes, et applausus hominum laudantium, debet 
habere solidum et immobilem spiritum. Id. p. 20. 


Tour visits are most pleasant and profitable, and most 
expected and desired, pay them most frequently. But 
where there is any prospect of doing good to any in 
your flock, there you should sometimes pay your visits, 
though it be to the poorest persons, and especially when 
they are in trouble. And in all your visits take some 
opportunity of making moral remarks, or dropping 
some useful instructions, or leaving some good rule, 
or religious observation for their benefit. But this 
must be done not with a magisterial authority, or 
ministerial air, but with all the freedom and ease im" 
aginable, en-passani, and \\\\en it rises naturally out 
of the subject of the conversation. 

(4.) Throw off all affectation, parade, stiffness, 
morose conceit, reserve, and self-sufliciency. Let 
your ambition be to be distinguished by nothing but 
real goodness, wisdom and benevolence. And be cour- 
teous, free, condescending, affable, open, unreserved 
and friendly to all. But amidst all your freedoms, 
forget not the dignity and decorum of vour charac- 

(.5.) Circumspectly avoid every thing that may give 
them unnecessary offence, Avhether by word or conduct, 
though it be in matters of indifference. You may j)0S- 
sibly in point of fidelity be obliged to give them offence 
in some important things ; in all others therefore you 
should endeavour to conciliate their esteem and re- 
i^pect. It shows much weakness and little prudence 
and candour to be obstinate and tenacious of little 

• Est autem non vulgaris pnidentiae, sic esse mansuetum er- 
ga omnes, ut tamen officii authoritatem tuearis ; sic esse fami. 
liarem, modestum ct comem erga subditos, ut familiaritas ei 
Jenitas non pariat contemptum. 

Idem. p. 166. 


things, whether modes, customs, or phrases, which 
are offensive to others. It is not walking charitably, 
nor following the things that make for peace ; and is 
a violation of the Apostle's rule of becoming all things 
to all men.* But see that your charitable conformity 
do not transgress the laws of sincerity. 

(b.) Above all, let your character be a fair copy of 
the virtues you preach ; and let the documents of the 
pulpit be exemplified in the conduct of your life. A 
minister should abstain from the appearance of evil ; 
not only from things criminal, but from those which 
may be interpreted to his dishonour, and reported 
to his disadvantage.t Vide etiam supra ch. 2. ad 

(Lastly.) Be much in prayer for wisdom, strength, 
prudence, and capacity equal to your m ork and diffi- 
culties. This you will find as necessary as your most 
important studies. But take care that your private 
transactions with God, be very serious, solemn, and 
sincere ; and let your endeavours go along with your 
prayers. J 

* Qui dum omnibus sese accomraodat, tam varius est, ut 
interdum videatur sibi contrarius, cum sibi maxime constet uu- 
dique, id. p. 35. 

■f Ecclesiastiae perpendendum est, quaedam ejus esse generis, 
ut quanquam absint a crimine, tamen quoniam prae se ferunt 
malam speciem, non absint a criminis suspicione. Ab his quo- 

que circumspecte cavendum est ecclesiasta;, quae per se non 

crimina sunt, tamen maligno vulgo ad obtrectandum quam ad 
obtemperandum procliviori prsebent male suspicandi maleque 
loquendi materiam. lb. p. 27. 

^ Ab eo petendum est qui solus largitur vera bona, petendum 
autem non oscitanter, sed assiduis simul et ardentibus precibus, 
uec modo votis postulandum est, ut detur, sed bonis etiam oper- 
ibus ambiendum, ut quod datum est servetur, et indies auges- 
cat. Id. p. 22. 


II. To lay doA^Ti some particular rules applicable 
upon extraordinary occasions ; or proper to regulate 
your conduct towards persons of different characters. 

(1.) What is a right conduct towards those from 
whom you have received abuse^ contempt, or just 
cause of offence ? 

1, Your first care must be to guard your passions. 
Keep your temper, and banish all vindictive resent- 
ments. If possible never think of it ; but be sure not 
to harbour the thoughts of it, which will but chafe and 
corrode the mind to no purpose. Be satisfied with a 
consciousness of your innocence, and consider the in- 
jurious person as an object of your pity rather than 
indignation. 2. As you must endeavour to forget 
the offence ; you must not only cease to think, but 
forbear to talk of it, unless it be with an intimate 
friend to ask his advice. 3. You may lawfully decline 
the company of the person who has thus injured you, 
and break off a familiar commerce with him, as you 
cannot look upon him as your fnend. But take every 
opportunity of doing him good that lies in your power, 
■i. Embrace the first opportunity and overture of re- 
establishing a good understanding and renewing your 
former amity. And, Lastly. In all cases of this na- 
ture, let it be remembered that the misconduct of 
others towards you, will not justify yours towards 
them, that you are still under the same obligations to 
walk by the rules of that wisdom which is from above, 
which isjirst jnire, then peaceable, ^'C. 

(2.) What is a right conduct towards narrow, bi- 
oroted, censorious Christians, who are proud of their or- 
thodoxy, and zealously attached to party-notions .'' 

1. These persons must by no means be disputed 
with or opposed, because whilst they have much more 
zeal than knowledge, they are very apt to be warm 
and angry at any argument that is levelled against 


their favourite sentiments ; and much more if they 
cannot answer it. And whilst bigotry blinds their 
minds, they are not capable of seeing the force of an 
argument ; much less of being convinced by it : they 
should therefore be treated like froward children, or 
persons in a passion. 2. Take every opportunity of 
secretly undermining their false notions, (especially 
if they be dangerous) by hinting at their bad conse- 
quences ; or by setting the opposite doctrine of truth 
in a strong light from scripture. But dwell not long 
upon it, least they apprehend themselves particularly 
aimed at, which they will not fail to resent. 3. Treat 
them with the utmost marks of freedom, tenderness, 
and friendship, to convince them that your sentiments 
of doctrine (though opposite to theirs) create in you 
no disaffection to them. 4. Endeavour to make them 
sensible of the much greater importance of those things 
in which you agree with them ; and press them power- 
fully on their consciences : and when they once come 
to feel the weight and force of these, they will gradu- 
ally abate of their zeal for lesser things. And this is 
the only (at least the best and safest) way to convince 
them that these things on which they have misplaced 
their zeal are to be reckoned amongst the ?m?mtice of 
divinity ; for nothing is more natural and common, 
than for the mind to raise the importance of a subject, 
in proportion to the zeal it expresses for it. Otherwise 
it would lie under the constant self-reproach of being 
governed by a blind irregular zeal. And as their zeal 
for any particular doctrine has fixed the importance 
of it, before their understanding has precisely weighed 
it, to go about to argue against that importance would 
be to argue against their zeal, i. e. their passions which 
is a very unequal encounter, and altogether vain. 
5. Take occasion often to expose the effects of bigotry 
in other instances to their view, whereby they may 


possibly become sensible of their own. But let the 
instances be so distant, (or if near so artfuUy insinu- 
ated) that they may not be sensible of your design. 
6. Come as near to their sentiments as you possibly 
can, (when your subject leads you that way) and show 
them the plain reason why you cannot come nearer. 
Lastly. Refer all to plain scripture, and resolve to 
adhere to that, both for the confirmation of doctrine, 
and the confutation of error ; and by removing their 
mistaken sense of scripture, open to them the first 
source of the errors they have imbibed. 

(3.) What is a right conduct towards those that are 
inclined to infidelity ? 

1. As these are but bigots of another rank, they 
must be treated M^ith the same tenderness, caution, 
and prudence. The latitudinarian and narrow bigot 
will be equally inflamed by a violent opposition ; for 
they both lay an equal claim to superior wisdom, and 
eagerly demand (what, if you would keep them in hu- 
mour, you must not be backward to pay) some com- 
pliment to their own understanding. But 2. As 
these are the great champions of reason, and will ad- 
mit of no other weapon in the hand of their antago- 
nist, be sure to be expert at that, and insist upon it 
.that your adversary uses no other ; i. e. that he do not 
put you olF with sophistry, paralogism, illusion, equi- 
vocation, ridicule, buffoonery, clamour, confidence, 
passion, or grimace, instead of solid argument and plain 
reason. Keep him to his point. Admit nothing but 
what you understand ; and nothing but what he un- 
derstands himself : And take care that he do not en- 
. tangle you in a wood of words, or blind your eyes with 
dust, or prevent your seeing distinctly the point in 
hand by holding a cloud before it; or lead you from it 
by diverting to another subject, when he is pinched 
and piqued by an argument he cannot answer. 3. If 


your adversary be a person of sense, learning, and in- 
genuity, the most effectual method to draw him to 
your opinion, is by a strong appeal to those good qua- 
lities, wliereby he will convince himself. — 4. If his 
self-conceit be unsufterable, and his ignorance ridi- 
culous, it may not be amiss sometimes to mortify the 
former by exposing the latter. — 5. Insist upon it that 
if his regard and esteem for natural religion be sincere, 
that will engage him to think favourably of the Chris- 
tian institution, which has refined and exalted morali- 
ty to it's utmost perfection : that there is no honest 
Deist but (whatever he believes) would heartily wish 
Christianity to be true. — Lastly. If you observe him 
capable of serious impressions, urge him to consider 
seriously the dreadful risk he runs whilst he pawns 
his immortal soul upon it that Christianity is an im- 
posture ; and how unavoidable his ruin, whilst he 
continues wilfully to neglect it : Because if Christian- 
ity be true, the sentence of condemnation denounced 
against him (by the great author of it) for resolving 
not to believe it, must be also true. Vid. John iii. 36. 

(4.) How should we conduct ourselves as faithful 
and judicious ministers towards melancholy, dejected 
and doubting Christians ? As this is a frequent case 
and often attended with no small difficulty, I shall 
consider it more particularly. 

The first thing to be considered, is the true source 
and original of this melancholy gloom and dejection 
of mind : Whether it arises from bodily disorder ; 
worldly losses and afflictions ; some grievous sin com- 
mitted ; or from an excessive apprehensiveness and 
timidity of spirit. Perhaps the person himself may 
impute it to none of these, but either to the divine 
desertion, or the buffetings of Satan. But these must 
carefully be distinguished and explained, because they 
are frequently mistaken ; and then according to the 


true source of their spiritual trouble must be your ad- 
vice and address to them. 

If you have reason to believe that the troubled 
state of their mind is owing principally to a bodily 
disorder^, or some obstruction, or dyscracy of the ani- 
mal fluids, you should recommend to them a physician, 
or prescribe them physic,, the cold bath, constant em- 
ployment, or exercise in the air.* 

If their sorrow or settled melancholy of mind be 
the eflfect of some worldly losses and afflictions, you 
must endeavour all you can to alleviate it, by shew- 
ing them how many ways God can (if he pleases) 
make up to them the loss they have sustained : how 
many wise and kind ends may be answered by it ; that 
the scenes of life are variable ; After night comes the 
day. Beseech them to put their hope and trust in God 
as a gracious and indulgent Father ; and urge every 
topic of consolation proper to be used in a time of 
worldly adversity. 

If the disconsolate state of tiieir mind be the effect 
of a melancholy constitution, the case is still more dif- 
ficult, and belongs rather to the physician's depart- 
ment than that of the minister. The latter can have 
but small hope of administering any proper relief, be- 
cause the person is not capable of reasoning or think- 
ing justly, and there is something within him that ob- 
structs the avenues to his heart ; which must first be 
removed before comfort can find its way to it. All 
that can be done in this case, is to persuade him if 

* The greater part of those that think they are troubled in 

mind, are melancholy hy^pochondriacal people, who, what through 

some false opinions in religion, what through a foulness of blood, 

occasioned by their inactive course of life, in which their minds 

work too much, because their bodies are too little employed, fall 

into dark and cloudy apprehensions ; of which they can give 

no clear nor good account. 

Burnet's Past. Care, p. 199. 


you can (of what he will find it very hard to believe) 
that he sees every thing in a wrong light, and i.s not at 
present a competent judge in his own case : and there- 
fore ought not to believe his thoughts. Ask him if 
he never judged more favourably of his spiritual state 
heretofore than he does now ; and whether he was not 
a more capable judge of his case then, than he is now? 

If the trouble of his mind arise from the reproaches 
of conscience for some grievous sin committed, your 
way is then more direct and plain. If you have rea- 
son to believe that this sorrow of heart is the effect 
of a true penitential remorse, you are then to lay be- 
fore him every proper topic of consolation the gospel 
admits, viz. the riches of the divine mercy, the me- 
rits of the blood of Christ, the extent and efficacy of 
free grace, the precious promises of the gospel, and 
the examples of God's mercy and wonderful compas- 
sion to humble penitents ; and conclude all with an 
earnest exhortation to trust his soul in the hands of 
Christ, and to rely on the mercy of God in the way 
of a steady conscientious obedience. 

If it arise from an excessive apprehensiveness and 
timidity of spirit, and you have cause to believe the 
person's state is much better than he fears, you are 
then to fortify and encourage his heart by referring him 
to his own past experience of what God has done for 
his soul ; the various tokens of his favour to him in 
the former scenes of life, and in the several methods of 
his grace and providence. Urge upon him the exer- 
cise of a lively faith encouraged by the grace of the 
gospel ; and convince him that it is no less wrong and 
prejudicial for a person to think too ill than to think 
too well of himself : that as he is in no danger at all 
of the latter, advise him for the honour of God, the 
credit of religion, and his own peace and comfort^ to 


guard against the former, where his greatest danger 
lies. Again, 

If the melancholy and dejected soul have a pious 
turn, and imputes his present darkness to what he 
calls divine dereliction, or the hidings of God's face, 
explain that aifair to him ; and tell him that his want 
of that spiritual joy and comfort he once found in his 
soul may be owing to other causes ; the present low 
state of his spirits, a distemperature of the animal 
frame, the influence of external objects and accidents, 
or a concurrence of all these : that nothing is more 
variable than the frame of the human mind, that we 
are not to think that God's regards to his own chil- 
dren vary ^^ith that ; this is a great mistake, and a 
mistake that is greatly dishonourable to him ; that 
whilst he sees them upright, sincere, humble, obedient 
and dependant, his regards to them are always the 
same, whatever they may think of him ; that God 
never hides his face from his people till they with- 
drav/ their hearts from him ; that unless they forsake 
him he will never depart from them ; that the hidings 
of God's countenance (which the Psalmist so often 
complains of) generally if not always refer to the ex- 
ternal dispensations of God ; or outward providential 
afflictions, not inward spiritual desertions ; when the 
distress of his circumstances was so great that God 
might seem to have forgotten and forsaken him, and 
his enemies might be ready to put that construction 
upon it. 

Lastly. If the person imputes the trouble of his 
mind to the buflfetings of Satan, explain that affair to 
him. Let him know that though in some cases that evil 
spirit may have an agency in creating some spiritual 
troubles, yet he lias no more power over the mind 
than what it pleases God to give him : that his in- 
fluence (be it what it will) is controlled and limited : 


that the most he can do is to suggest sinful and trou- 
blesome thoughts, which we may and ought to repel : 
that the holy spirit has a counter-agency to inspire 
good and holy affections : that by indulging to exces- 
sive grief and gloomy apprehensions, we give the 
Devil an advantage over us, and even invite his temp- 
tations : and finally we ought to take special care to 
distinguish between the agency of Satan and the ope- 
ration of natural causes ; and not impute those things 
to the Devil, which are owing to our own folly and 
weakness, or are the physical effects of external 

(5.) What is a right conduct towards the licentious 
and prophane ? 

1. Whilst you behave towards them with civility 
and discretion, it will be adviseable to decline a par- 
ticular intercourse with them. A minister's beha- 
viour towards men should in a good degree be regula- 
ted by their moral characters. — 2. In case they seek 
your more intimate friendship by kind and benevolent 
offices, so that gratitude and good manners will not 
permit you to forbear your visits, you will then have 
a fair opportunity of insinuating some necessary and 
gentle admonitions ; either by way of story, simile 
repartee, raillery, or reproof suitable to the subject of 
the discourse or the temper thev may be in : which 
(if it take effect) will prepare your way for a more 
free and close remonstrance. — 3. Always open a 
way to the heart on that side where you find the eas- 
iest access. Some are most touched with a sense of 
honour, and a regard to their reputation; others -with 
a view to their interest ; others must be allured by 
an easy, gentle, rational address ; and others will 
yield to nothing but close and warm reproof : But 
take particular care to know the ruling passion of the 
person you address, and, if possible, to bring that over 


to your side. — 4. Beg of them to erect their hopes, 
and extend their views as rational beings designed for 
an immortal existence, and not forget their connexion 
with another world ; for to provide only for the pre- 
sent, and live from hand to mouth, is to act far below 
the dignity and design of human nature. — 5. If they 
have any taste for reading, put into their hands such 
books as are most suited to their capacity, taste and 
character — Lastly. You should frequently address 
them from the pulpit : But your public address (while 
it is strong and animated) must be general, and have 
nothing in it that is distinguishing or appropriative ; 
that the audience may have no room to think that any 
person is particularly intended in the animadversion ; 
for though they bear to be preached to, yet no man 
loves to be preached at. 

(6.) How are we to behave towards the grossly ig- 
norant and careless ? 

1. Endeavour to rouse them to a sense of religion 
and their dependence on God, by a seasonable im- 
provement of some awakening providences ; e. g. their 
own sickness, or worldly disappointments ; the death 
of a friend, or some public calamity. — 2. Represent 
to them the most important and affecting subjects of 
religion, in the strongest light and plainest language : 
e. g. the shortness of time ; the awfulness of eternity ; 
the certainty and near approach of death ; and the 
terrors of the final judgment — 3. If you find that your 
conversation is agreeable to them, frequently visit 
them in a free and friendly manner ; and take care 
that there be nothing dogmatical or authoritative in 
the advice you give them : but let all appear to pro- 
ceed from a compassionate concern you have for the 
interest of their souls — 4. As they are but children 
in understanding they must be dealt with as such : 
put the plainest and most affecting books into their 


hands ; and take care you do not feed them with 
strong meat, when they stand in need of milk — 5. 
It will not be amiss in some part of your sermon (es- 
pecially in the application) to adapt yourself in par- 
ticular to their capacity and condition, that they may 
not only understand but feel what you say : for these 
sort of hearers (both amongst the high and low) per- 
haps make a much larger part of our audience than 

we imagine. 

(7.) What is a proper behaviour towards those who 

are superior to us in rank and fortune ? 

1. Readily pay them the respect due to their dis- 
tinction and character. If their temper and conduct 
be not altogether such as you could wish, yet that 
will not excuse you from a civil, decent and obliging 
behaviour towards them. You must remember your 
duty to others, however they may be deficient in theirs 
to you. But if they treat you with kindness, friend- 
ship and atFection, they claim your gratitude, honour 
and esteem ; which will prompt your endeavours to 
oblige and serve them every way you can. — But 2. 
be free, open, conversable and discreetly unreserved 
before them. Absence of mind, distance of behaviour, 
formality of address, stiffness of manner, or affected 
silence, is always ungenteel and disgustful ; and es- 
pecially in the presence of superiors. — 3. Preserve a 
generosity and manliness of temper and address ; and 
show nothing of a mean, low, timid, servile spirit ; 
that is not only dishonourable to your own character, 
but infers a bad compliment upon theirs. Ihey are 
not tyrants ; nor if they were, must you submit to 
be their slaves. And remember that if they are sen- 
sible and genteel, wise and good, they will consider 
their superiority to you in one respect, as balanced by 
that of yours to them, in another ; theirs may be most 
showy, but perhaps yours may be most valuable. — 4. 


Forget not the dignity and decorum of your character. 
There is something you oAve to that as well as to the 
distinction and opulence of your friends. And \vhile 
this is your guard against incidental levities and a 
compliance with sinful customs, it is by no means in- 
consistent with pure wit, innocent humour, and sea- 
sonable cheerfulness : which if attended with good 
sense and an obliging natural behaviour, will be no 
less agreeable in the company of your superiors, than 
in that of your equals. — 5. Do and say all the oblig- 
ing and agreeable things you can, consistent with 
truth and conscience and the honour of your function. 
And then 6. take every opportunity of insinuating 
something (conformable to the duty of your office) 
which may be serviceable to their spiritual interest, 
and helpful to their moral character. — Lastly. Make 
a prudent and seasonable use of your interest in them, 
for the relief of your poor neighbours ; whose distres- 
ses may be better known to you than they are to 

(8.) What is the proper behaviour of a minister 
towards the poor of his congregation ? 

This must be regulated by their moral character. 1 . 
If their character be immoral or profane, as they will 
not be very fond of your company, they will take no 
offence if you forbear to visit them ; but they should 
not be wholly neglected. Genteel, kind and candid 
reproof, prudently and seasonably given, mav have a 
good effect when they come to reflect upon it coolly : 
and a seasonable relief to them in their distress will 
add weight to your admonitions, and will give them 
such impressions of your charity, as will better dis- 
pose them to receive your instructions.— But 2. if 
they be serious and well inclined, and you find your- 
self agreeable to them, you should frequently call 
upon them ; and though your visits be short, they 


should be free, friendly, condescending and courteous ; 
and always leave with them sonie spiritual, moral, or 
religious instruction, suited to their taste, understand- 
ing and circumstances. Be ready to advise and help 
them in every thing you can. If you see a good heart 
at bottom, and especially a humble spirit, make the 
greatest allowance for their ignorance, prepossession, 
or infelicity of temper : and when there is need of 
reproof let it be preceded by the sincerest expressions 
of love, and by real acts of friendship. If they are 
willing to open the state of their souls to you, attend 
to it with patience and care, that you may administer 
the most suitable advice and comfort.— Have a par- 
ticular regard to their capacity in your public exhor- 
tations. To the poor the gospel is preached. And 
as these sometimes make up the bulk of a congrega- 
tion, and their souls stand as much in need of spiri- 
tual nourishment, as those of greater knowledge and 
comprehension, they should be always^erf with food 
convenient for them. 

(Lastly.) In what manner ought a minister to be- 
have towards those who have fallen into notorious 
sins .'' 

This must be regulated by the disposition, charac- 
ter and temper of the offender. The sensible and 
penitent must be treated one way, the obstinate and 
impenitent another. The following method in gener- 
al will perhaps be found to be the most prudent and 

1 . Previous to all reproof should be a circumstan- 
tial knowledge of the fact you reprove. 2. Be sure 
that it be criminal or indiscreet, and that the person 
guilty, is or ought to be sensible of it : for if you re- 
prove hixn for what he is not guilty of, or what he is 
not sensible there is any harm in, he will probably 
retort upon you the charge of censoriousness. If 


there be guilt and indiscretion in his conduct, and he 
not sensible of it, your business then is to convince 
him of it ; and how much injury he may do his char- 
acter by inadvertently allowing those things as fit and 
innocent^ which are not so in him. And let your ar- 
guments in proof of the guilt be taken from the cir- 
cumstances of the fact ; the character and relation he 
bears in life ; the opinion of wise and judicious men ; 
the nature of things ; and the testimony of scripture. 
And then 3. see that your reproofs be not too severe, 
I do not mean more severe than the offender would 
choose, but more severe than the nature and circum- 
stances of the case require ; or more severe than is 
necessary for the justification of your fidelity, and the 
reformation of the sinner. 

Too great severity towards tender minds does more 
harm then good. See Gal. vi. 1. " Brethren if a man 
be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore 
such a one in the spirit of meekness ; considering thy- 
self, lest thou also be tempted."* — 4. Take care least 
through a fear of offending your brother, you do not 
offend God by a want of faithfulness. Prov. xxvii. 6. 
" Faithful are the wounds of a friend." It is the 
greatest piece of friendship you can do him, and if he 
is wise he will think it so, and more highly esteem 
you for it. Psal. cxli. 5. " Let the righteous smite me, 
it shall he a kindness." — 5. Let your reproof appear to 
flow from your love to him, and be administered with 
the utmost tenderness and wisdom. t Lastly. Leave 

* Ou yap a-arXats, &c. You must not only proportion your 
reproofs to the nature of the offence, but to the disposition of the 
offender ; least while you mean to heal the breach, you make 
the rent worse ; and in rectifying one fault, occasion a greater. 
Chrysostom de Sacerdotio, 1. 2. p. 150. 

•{■ There may be ways fallen upon of reproving the worst men 
in so soft a manner, that if they are not reclaimed, they shall not 


not your offending brother without proper directions 
for a better conduct. 



Some of these may arise, 

(1.) From your own natural temper, which may 
render you indisposed or unapt to some particular 
parts of the ministerial office. — But the most difficult 
duties by becoming a habit, become easy. 

(2.) No small difficulty may arise from the resolu- 
tion and labour requisite to put some of the foremen- 
tioned rules into execution. — But this difficulty will 
in like manner diminish as this course becomes habit- 
ual. " In all other professions, those who follow them, 
labour in them all the year long ; and are hard at 
their business every day of the week : and shall ours 
only, that is the noblest of all others, make the la- 
bouring in our business an objection against any part 
of our duty }"* And in proportion as our heart is en- 
gaged in the work, the difficulty of it will grow less, 
and our delight in it greater. 

(3.) Another discouragement may arise from the 
seeming singularity of this character ; and the gener- 

be irritated or made worse by it ; wliich is but too often the ef- 
fect of an indiscreet reproof. By tbis a minister may save the 
sinner's soul : he is at least sure to save his own, by having dis- 
charged his duty towards his people. 

Burnet's Pastoral Care, p. 194. 
• Burnet's Pastoral Care, p. 207. 


al neglect which ministers of all denominations dis- 
cover of the duties belonging to the sacred function ; 
what you do out of conscience they may impute to 
affectation ; which, instead of procuring their esteem, 
may create their envy — But it is a small matter to be 
condemned in the day that man Jndgeth you, since you 
M-ill be acquited another day, when he that Judgeih 
you ivill be the Lord ; which is the proper import of 
that passage, I Cor. iv. 3, 4. Or, 

(4.) From the little success you meet with, not- 
withstanding all your most earnest endeavours to pro- 
mote the spiritual interest, and eternal happiness of 
mankind— But your future acceptance and reward 
will not be in proportion to the success, but the sin- 
cerity of your endeavours.* 

(5 ) Your own weakness and infirmities both of 
body and mind, may throw fresh discouragements in 
your way — But these v/ill be graciously allowed for ; 
and God requires of none more than they have re- 
ceived. If we have received but one talent, he does 
not expect so much from us, as from those on whom 
he has bestowed ten. 

(6.) The ministerial character itself may subject 
you to the contempt of some profane men : But if 
you adorn it by the useful, upright conversation be- 
fore described, 'tis great odds but you secure their 
esteem and respect ; if not, their continued contempt 
is your real honour. 

(7. ) From the different tempers, tastes, dispositions 
of the people — But how you are to behave with re- 
gard to these has been shewn before ; and no small 
degree of prudence is required in this case.* 

• Burnet's Pastoral Care, p. 212, 213. 

+ Nunc si reputemus in codcm populo, quanta sit varietas 
sexuum, aetatum, conditionis, ingeniorum, opinionuni, vitw 


In a word, every view of the nature, difficulty, and 
dignity of your office, may furnisli you with a proper 
motive and direction to a right behaviour in it.* 
No valuable end can be pursued Avithout some ob- 
struction, nor obtained without some difficulty. Your 
employment is truly honourable and important ; and 
your encouragement, advantage, and assistance, more 
than equal to the labour it requires. If you be 
found faithful you shall not fail of a distinguished re- 
compence, from the bountiful hand of that good master 
in whose service you are engaged. And a careful ob- 
servation and practice of those rules of pastoral con- 
duct before laid dorni, (by the blessing of God) at 
once adorn your character, increase your honour ; ex- 
alt your present joy, and enhance your future re- 
ward, t 

jiistitiitionis, consuetiidinis, quanta oportet esse prasditum pru- 
dentia ecclesiasticen, ciii sit temperanda oratio ! 

Erasm. Eccles. p. 36. 

• Ab humi repentibus curis erigat animum tuum," consider- 
ata functionis dignitas : a prevaricatione deterreret delegantis 
severitas : socordiam excludat suscepti muneris difl5cultas : in- 
dustriam ac vigilantiam exstimiilet praemii magnitudo, quod non 
ab hominibus, sed a Deo erit expectandiun. Id. p. 193. 

■{■ Quam Lffititiam, quam esultationem, quod repudium cre- 
dimus esse in pectore fidelis ecclesiastse, dum repetat quot ani- 
mas ipsius ministerio, Doniinus, Satans tyranidi subtractas sibi 
vindicarit! Id. p. 14. 




2 COR. iv. 5. 
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. 

Were I to give a brief and summary description of 
man's original apostacy in few words, I would chuse 
to say, that it was a departing from God, the author 
and fountain of blessedness, and retiring into himself 
as his last and ultimate end : and that the sum of his 
moral depravity, consists in an habitual disposition to 
treat himself, in the same manner that he ought to 
treat the God of Heaven ; i. e. to love himself su- 
premely, and seek himself ultimately and finally, and 
set up himself in one shape or another, as the grand 
centre to which all the lines of his busy thoughts, an- 
xious cares, and subtile projects, bend, and in which 
they terminate. 

While he continued in his original state of moral 
rectitude, that God who was the author of his being, 
was his beginning and end, his interest and attractive, 
his desire and delight, and in a word, his all. But 
when sin took place in his heart, it warped the un- 

• Preached at Philadelphia before tlie Sjnod of New York. 
May 25, 1758. 


happy creature from his God to himself; insomuch 
that self is now become all to corrupt and depraved 
nature, even as God was once all to nature uncorrupt- 
ed and undepraved. Selfishness is therefore now be- 
come the most active and reigning principle in fallen 
nature, and, like the first wheel in a grand machine, 
sets the whole world in motion. For if we survey 
the conduct of busy mortals, in the various ranks and 
degrees, characters and circumstances of life, we shall 
easily perceive that self is the idol they are naturally 
disposed to worship, and selfishness the grand interest 
to which they are by nature entirely devoted. 

We find ourselves in thj midst of an active busy 
world, the inhabitants of M-hich are ever engaged in 
some vigorous pursuits. But vv'hat are they pursuing .'' 
What is the governing principle of their actions.'' 
And what the centre to which they bend, and in which 
they terminate .-^ Are they labouring for God as their 
ultimate end, or for themselves .'' When the merchant 
compasseth sea and land, in search of a worlaly trea- 
sure, does he this for God, or for himself.'' When the 
soldier boldly enters the field of battle, faces death in 
its most hideous forms, and opens his bosom to the 
most pregnant dangers, does he this for the honour of 
God, or for the honour of himself .'' When the indus- 
trious tradesman rises early, and sits up late, and eats 
the bread of carefulness, and fills up his swift succeed- 
ing hours, with the most painful and assiduous labour, 
does he labour ultimately for God, or for himself .'' 
W^hen men of superior rank, and greater afiluence, 
devote their wasting moments to the fashionable diver- 
sions, and pleasurable entertainments of life, do they 
this to please and glorify God, or to please and gratify 
self ? In a word, what is it in general that men live 
for, and what are they doing in the world .'' What 
are their thoughts spent, their words spoken, their 


hands employed, and their time improved for ? Is it 
for God, or themselves ? Alas, how easy it is to see 
the a^^'ful prevalence of this corrupt and accursed 
principle ! It is self that rules kingdoms, that 
governs families, drives on their trade, manages their 
^^ orldlv business ; that chuses even their religion, and 
influences their whole conduct ; that lies at the root 
and bottom of all their actual sins, makes them un- 
godly, and keeps them ungodly, and is their very un- 
godliness itself. 

And, O ! that it might be said, mth undoubted 
truth, that, notwithstanding the general prevalence 
of this detestable principle, among the various ranks 
and orders of men, there is at least one order exempt- 
ed from the general charge ; and that none who sus- 
tain the sacred character, are influenced by mercenary 
principles, or selfish motives ; but that each indivi- 
dual could safely adopt the language of the apostle, in 
behalf of himself and brethren, " We preach not our- 
selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." 

In the preceding chapter, the apostle had been 
magnifying his oflice, on account of the excellency and 
glory of that gospel, which was the subject of it : 
And in this, he vindicates the ministry of the apos- 
tles and gospel ministers, from the unjust accusations 
of false and judaizing teachers, who had charged them 
with walking in craftiness, and handling the word of 
the Lord deceitfully. He avouches their sincerity, 
that they renounced the hidden things of dishonesty ; 
and as a proof of their integrity, he assures them, that 
their business was to preach Christ, and not them- 
selves. " ^Ve preach not ourselves, says he, and there- 
fore are not a set of designing men, as our accu.sers 
would insinuate ; self is neither the matter, nor the 
end of our preaching ; we neither teach our own no- 
tions, passions, or prejudices, for the word of God, nor 


do we seek ourselves^ or the advancement of our se- 
cular interest and glory : but we preach Christ Jesus 
the Lord, and endeavour to make him known to the 
world, in each of these amiable characters, as the 
Messiali, the Christ of God, as Jesus, the Saviour of 
men, and as Lord and King in his church ; and to 
advance the interest of his glorious kingdom among 

From these words, I shall attempt to shew ; 
I. Wnat that selfishness is, which the apostle here 

disclaims ; or, when ministers may be said to preach 

IL I shall consider some of the operations of that 

selfish principle, in those particular instances, that 

tend to discover its reigning dominion. And then, 
in. Shew what it is to preach Christ Jesus the 

And lastly, improve the whole. 

Let us then enquire, 

L What that selfishness is, which the apostle here 
disclaims. Sec. And to set this in a proper light, and 
prevent mistakes, I must observe negatively. 1st, It 
is not that regular self-love that induces ministers to 
zeal and faithfulness, in the discharge of their sacred 
trust, from the consideration of future rewards and 
punishments. There is a self-love implanted in hu- 
man nature, that is consistent with complete rectitude, 
and therefore is not the effect of our moral depravity. 
This Adam had in his state of perfect innocence, or 
else the promises of rewards would have been no in- 
duceijient to obedience, nor would the severest threat- 
enings have deterred him, in any measure, from dis- 
obedience. It is not, therefore, a criminal selfishness, 
for ministers to have a suitable regard to their own 
future and everlasting interest, and to be infiuenced 
to diligence and industry, in their great important 


work, by motives dra^\Ti from those future and eter- 
nal realities. It was doubtless agreeable to the God 
of Heaven, that Ezekiel the prophet should be influ- 
enced to faithfulness, in giving warning, from that 
a\vful consideration, that the " blood of those that 
perished, should otherwise be required at his hand." 
And when the apostle urged Timothy to " take heed 
to himself and his doctrine, and continue in them," 
he would have him influenced by these considerations, 
that he " should save himself, and them that heard 
him." Nor was even St. Paul entirely above the in- 
fluence of this motive, when he gave this reason, why 
" he kept his body under subjection ; lest when he 
had preached to others, himself should be a cast-away." 
It was not an unreasonable selfishness in the prophet 
Isaiah, to take encouragement under all his complaints, 
and be animated in his work, from the consideration, 
that " though Israel was not gathered, yet he should 
be glorious in the eyes of the Lord." 

2dly, This disclaiming ourselves, does not imply a 
total disregard to our reputation and character among 
men ; for on this, the success of our ministry, and 
consequently the advancement of the Redeemer's 
kingdom, may, in some measure, depend. If the 
character of a gospel minister is stained with false and 
ill-natured aspersions, this tends to mar his influence, 
and consequently his usefulness : It is therefore no 
ways inconsistent with a gospel self-denial, to seek a 
vindication of himself, and his abused reputation. 
The apostle himself does so, in this and his other 
epistles ; and says, no man shall stop him in this 
boasting. It ever becomes the ministers of Christ, to 
have a tender regard to their reputation and charac- 
ter, as subservient to the great ends of their ministry, 
and in which the honour of Christ, and the interest 
of religion, is nearly concerned. It becomes a bishop 


to be blameless, and an officer in the churcli of God, 
to be of good report ; yea, and to maintain the an- 
thority of his sacred character, " and let no man de- 
spise him." Indeed if oniSy reputation among men of 
carnal corrupt minds, suffers for our faithfulness in 
the discharge of our sacred trust, and " men speak all 
manner of evil against us falsely for Christ's sake, 
(which is not at all uncommon) in this case, our ho- 
nour, interest, and reputation, and even life itself is 
to be given up, and made a willing sacrifice to the 
honour and interest of Jesus Christ ; " not counting 
our own life (much less our name and reputation) 
dear, that we may finish our course, and the ministry 
we have received of the Lord Jesus. 

But, secondly and positively, the selfishness here 
disclaimed, is in general, that which stands in direct 
opposition to honour of God, and the interest of Jesus 
Christ. That sets up self in the room and place of 
God, in our estimation, affections, intentions and pur- 
suits ; and disposes us to love and value ourselves, in 
the same manner as we ought to love and value the 
God of heaven, to prefer our honour to his honour, 
and our interest to the interest of Jesus Christ ; and 
in a word, to regard ourselves supremely, and seek 
ourselves ultimately and finally, and to be influenced 
inordinately, in one shape or other, by mercenary 
views, and selfish motives, in all we do. It is there- 
fore, nothing less on the whole, than a direct contend- 
ing with the God of heaven, and maintaining a dis- 
pute with him, who shall be most loved and regarded 
by us, he or we, and whose honour and interest shall 
be primarily and ultimately pursued, his or our own. 

But more particularly, this selfishness in public 
preaching may be considered both materially and for- 
mally; or as it respects the subject matter, and the 
formal manner, of our preaching. 


1st Then^ ministers may be said to preach them- 
selves, when the matter of their public preaching is 
.such, that it tends rather to promote self-honour and 
self-interest, than the honour of God, and the interest 
of Jesus Christ. When the substance of their ser- 
mons is only " the enticing words of man's wisdom, 
calculated rather to gratifj- men's curiosity with plea- 
sing speculations, than to pierce their heart with 
pungent convictions ; and has a greater tendency to 
please their fancies, than to convert and save their 
souls. Wlien in the matter of their preaching, they 
conform to men's vitiated taste and corrupt humours, 
and rather soothe and flatter, than strive to awaken 
and alarm their consciences ; endeavouring rather to 
win them to themselves, and gain them over to their 
own self-interest, than to win them to Christ, and 
convert them to God. In a word, we are awfully 
guilty of this criminal selfishness, when our sermons 
have rather a tendency in their matter and composi- 
tion, to commend ourselves, than to commend the 
Lord Jesus Christ ; and to beget in the corrupt hearts 
of our hearers, an esteem of our persons, gifts, and 
abilities, rather than of the person, glory, and offices 
of the great Redeemer, the ever adorable God-man 
Jesus Christ. 

2dly, This selfishness respects the form as well as 
the matter of our preaching, i. e. the governing prin- 
ciple from which we act in our public ministry, and 
the ultimate end we have in view. And this is doubt- 
less the principal tiling here intended ; for be the 
matter of our preaching ever so good, yet self may be 
the root and bottom of it all, and the object of our 
principal aim. Nothing is more evident, thim that 
we may do the work of God, and that which is really 
so, as to the matter or thing done ; and yet not do it 
for God, as to the formal manner, but rather for our- 


selves. Thus Jehu did the work of the Lord, Avhen 
he executed the vengeance of Jehovah, on tlie liouse 
and family of wicked Ahab ; and when he broke down 
the images of Baal, and restored Israel from idolatry ; 
and yet he did it not for God, but for himself, as ap- 
pears by his proud boast, " come see my zeal for the 
Lord of Hosts." 

It is not at all inconsistent to say, that ministers 
may calculate their sermons, both as to matter, me- 
thod, and manner of delivery, so as to have an apti- 
tude and tendency to answer the great ends of preach- 
ing, and yet may preach themselves, as to the 
principle from which they act, and the ultimate end 
they have in view. Nor is it at all to be wondered 
at, if in a time when the most zealous, lively, and 
practical preaching, the most earnest addresses to the 
heart and conscience are in vogue, and tend most to 
recommend the preacher, and promote his reputation, 
that mere selfish principles should induce men to at- 
tempt these, and even strive to excel therein. So 
that though we preach ever so well, as to the matter 
and method of our sermons, and with ever so much 
apparent zeal and fervour, in the delivery of them, yet 
if we fail as to the formal manner, and aim chiefly 
and ultimately at ourselves, our honour, interest, and 
reputation, we are found guilty of that criminal sel- 
fishness which the apostle disclaims ; and are making 
idols of ourselves, by treating ourselves in the manner 
we ought to treat the great God of heaven and earth. 
This is the selfishness here disclaimed, and this it is 
for men to preach themselves. I am 

n. To consider some of the operations of this cor- 
rupt principle, in those particular instances that tend 
to discover its reigning dominion. In every unsancti- 
fied heart, self in one shape or other is ever upper- 
most, and has an entire ascendancy and governing 


influence in every thing they do. When, therefore, 
men of this character take upon them the office of the 
gospel-ministry, self must be their grand motive, and 
their principal inducement. For, though a faithful 
discharge of this important trust requires more self- 
denial than any employment under the sun, yet there 
are many things in the sacred othce that maybe allu- 
ring baits to men of corrupt and selfish minds. A 
tolerable maintenance, or comfortable subsistence in 
the world, may be an inducement to such as know not 
better how to provide for themselves ; who, like the 
unjust ste\A-ard, are unwilling to dig and ashamed to 
beg, and therefore chuse this rather than a meaner 
employment. Thus, in the degenerate times of the 
church of old, men would " crouch for a piece of silver, 
and say, put me, I pray thee, into the priest's office, 
that I may eat a piece of bread." And hence that 
bitter complaint, that " the priests taught for hire? 
and the prophets divined for money ;" and on this 
account they Avere called " greedy dogs that could 
never have enough, and shejiherds that did not under- 
stand, looking every one for his gain from his quarter." 
Let none understand me as though I insinuated, that 
ministers have not a right to insist on a sufficient 
maintenance and an honourable support ; for whatever 
a carnal selfish world may imagine, it will be found 
true at last, that God (and not man) " hath ordained 
that they who preach the gospel should live of the 
go.spel." Nor do I in the least doubt, but the too 
general neglect of this duty among people to their 
ministers, is one of the crying and God-provoking sins 
of the present day. (See Mai. iii. 8, 9, 10.) What 
I am proving is, that self, in its reigning dominion, 
may influence men to undertake the sacred employ- 
ment with such sordid views. And this is necessarily 
supposed, in tlia apostle's frequent exhortations to 


ministers, " not to be greedj^ of filthy lucre, nor be 
given to filthy lucre, nor teach things for filthy lucre's 
sake." The inducement of the apostle himself (as of 
e^•erv other faithful minister) was vastly diflFerent.— 
A necessity, says he, " is laid upon me, and wo is me 
if I preach not the gospel." And he could say, with 
the utmost sincerity, to the Corinthian church, " I seek 
not your's, but you." 

Again, a life of study, and an opportunity to fur- 
nish the mind with the various improvements of human 
science, may be an inducement to those who have a 
turn for speculation, and would be willing to shine 
and make some figure in literature, from mere selfish 
principles to undertake the ministry. And, would 
you believe it, Sirs ? The supposed ease and indo- 
lence of a minister's life, by those who know nothing 
of the many cares, fatigues, and perplexities of it, 
may possibly induce a selfish man, who is Milling to 
favour the flesh, to enter upon it. Nor is it at all 
unlikely that the reverence and respect shown to the 
sacred character among men, may influence those who 
are chiefly seeking themselves. 'Tis agreeable to a 
proud selfish mortal, to be looked upon and respected 
as the leader and guide of the people, and to have 
others dependent on him, and " receive the law at his 

Now, when such alluring baits as these are the 
principal inducements to the ministry, the reigning 
dominion of a selfish principle is exceedingly evident. 
And as these undertake the sacred employment for 
themselves, and not for God, so they will ever '^preacli 
themselves, and not Christ Jesus the Lord." For the 
same principle, while uppermost in their hearts, will 
attend and govern them, in every branch of their mi- 
nisterial conduct. It will go with them into their 
private studies, and there will chuse their subject. 


form and methodize their sermons, and oftentimes 
make them more attentive to mere words and orna- 
ments, than to the sacred truths of God. And hence, 
instead of plain and serious addresses, that might tend 
to melt and change hard and unchanged hearts, they 
will abound with trifling speculations, set off with 
glittering toys, with figures of rhetoric, and arts of 
elocution. Or instead of instructing their people 
in the great things that concern their everlasting wel- 
fare, they go beyond their capacity, and teach them 
nothing but that thev are able to speak unprofitable 
^nd unintelligibly. Self will often dispose them to 
take off the edge, and dull the life of their teachings, 
under a pretence of filing off the roughness, and 
smoothing the diction. And if a plain and cutting 
passage occurs, it wiYL cast it away, as too rustical and 
ungrateful. Thus in their preparations for public 
service, instead of consulting seriously, " What shall 
I say, and how shall I sav it, so as best to please and 
glorify God, and do good to the souls of men," self 
will make them consult, " What shall I say, and how 
shall I deliver it, so as to be thought an excellent 
preacher, and to be admired and applauded by all that 
hear me." 

And when self has done its work in their study, 
and made their sermon, it will attend them even to 
the pulpit, and there it will form their very counte- 
nance and gesture, and modulate their voice, and 
animate their delivery, and put the very accent and 
emphasis upon their words and syllables, that all may 
be calculated to please rather than profit, and to re- 
commend themselves and secure a vain applause, 
rather than recommend Jesus Christ, and secure his 
interest in the hearts of men. 

And when the sermon is ended, self goes home with 
the preacher, and makes him much more solicitous to 


know whether he is admired and applauded, than 
whether lie has prevailed for the awakening and con- 
version of souls. And so powerful is this principle in 
some, that they could even be glad in their heart (were 
it not for shame) to ask their hearers, in direct terms, 
whether they like, admire, and applaud their labours, 
and conceive a good opinion of them. But as this will 
not do. Self will put them on some topic of conversa- 
tion with their hearers, that will tend, if possible, to 
draw out their own commendation ; and if they can 
perceive they are highly thought of, they rejoice 
greatly, as having attained their end. But if they 
find they are esteemed but weak, or at best but com- 
mon preachers, they are dejected and disappointed, as 
having missed what they think the grand prize of the 

. And hence this false self-seeking heart, can be verj' 
easy and contented with a general approbation and 
applause, without seeing any saving fruit of ministe- 
rial labour, from year to year. Or if he desire suc- 
cess in the awakening and conversion of sinners, yet 
self may lie at the bottom of this too : and though it 
may Avork diiFerently from the manner above de- 
scribed, yet it may terminate in the same thing in the 
final issue. Self may make such as these strive to 
excel in appearances of real godliness, and in zealous, 
fervent, practical preaching ; yea, it may dispose them 
to desire success, to affect and change the hearts of 
their hearers, and they may calculate their discourses 
for that purpose, and jet aim ultimately at them- 
selves, and the advancement of their own reputation. 
What can be more agreeable to a man, who ultimately 
seeks himself, than to see people throng around him, 
and crowd in multitudes to hear him, and appear to 
be affected with what they hear ? And to find that 
he is able to command their attention, and move their 


passions and affections ; and what more pleasing, than 
to hear himself cried up by them, as the most able 
and godly preacher in the land, and famed through 
the whole country as a man of the highest spiritual 
excellencies, and most successful labour. 

I mean not to insinuate that men of such merce- 
nary and corrupt principles, are like to be very suc- 
cessful, for though it is possible they may do good, 
and God may bless what means he pleases ; yet it 
seems more probable, that, as they labour not for God, 
but for themselves, he will leave them to themselves 
for the success : And that their labours will have no 
greater blessing, than themselves are able to give, and 
that their words, how pungent soever, will reach no 
farther than their own strength is able to make them. 
But what I have asserted, is, that self may make men 
desire success, so far as it may tend to the advance- 
ment of their reputation. Again, 

Sometimes this selfish disposition, ^dll work up en- 
vious and bitter thoughts, against all those who they 
imagine stand in their light, or by out-shining them, 
eclipse their glory, and hinder the progress of their 
idolized reputation. Hence they are inwardly vexed 
and mortified, when a preference is given to the 
names and parts of their brethren, as if all the praise 
•Tiven to others was injuriously taken from them, and 
that they themselves were not so particularly noticed, 
respected, and esteemed, as their partial selfish judg- 
ment imagines they ought to be. And this often lays 
a foundation for jealousy, suspicion, and alienation, as 
if they were carrying on two different and contrary 
interests. It is this also, that makes some so tena- 
cious of their own opinions, that they almost claim 
infallibility, and are ever impatient of contradiction 
or control. They esteem and value the man, thai 
will say as they say, and be of their opinion, and pro- 


mote their reputation ; but lie who will dare to differ 
from, or contradict them, is not to be borne with. O, 
Sirs ! it is impossible to trace out all the corrupt 
workings of this detestable and pernicious principle, 
or to mention the innumerable mischiefs it has occa- 
sioned in the church of God. It was this that raised 
antichrist, by several gradual and progressive steps, 
to his present tyrannical dignity. It was this that 
enkindled the flames of persecution, in the several 
periods of the Christian church, and stained the earth 
with the crimson gore of human blood ; and it is this 
disturbs and rends Christian societies, and divides 
them into different interests, and different parties, 
and fills them with bitterness against one another. 
" O may the Lord in mercy deliver us from ourselves, 
as our worst enemy ; and from the power and domi- 
nion of selfishness, as the sorest plague that can be- 
fall us on this side hell !" 

But I have dwelt too long on this disagreeable sub- 
ject, and shall therefore pass to the 

Third general head, which was to shew, 

III. What it is to preach Christ. " We preach 
not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." And this 
also must be considered both materially, and formally, 
or as it respects the subject matter, and the formal 
manner of our preaching. 

1st, As it respects the matter ; it includes in ge- 
neral, the whole sum of gospel doctrine, relating to 
man's salvation by Jesus Christ ; the original contri- 
vance, the meritorious impetration, and actual appli- 
cation of it, through his blood and spirit ; the fall of 
man, " by one man's disobedience," and the guilt and 
ruin of a fallen state necessarily supposed ; the origi- 
nal purposes of God's love and grace, that issued in 
the gift of his dear son, the glory of his person as God, 
the eternal relation he sustained to the father, his 


substitution as a surety, and designatiop to the office 
of mediator, his voluntary contract in the covenant of 
redemption, which made way for his mysterious in- 
carnation ; his holy life, his meritorious and cruel 
death, his powerful resurrection, triumphant ascen- 
sion, and perpetual prevailing intercession ; the com- 
plete atonement he made, and the everlasting right- 
eousness he hath brought in ; together with the va- 
rious offices he sustained, both in his state of humilia- 
tion and exaltation : The methods of divine operation, 
in the work of effectual calling, the nature and use of 
divine faith, to apply his blood and righteousness ; 
the blessings consequent on believing, justification, 
adoption, sanctification, perseverance in grace, and 
consummation in glory, perfection of holiness at death, 
and the complete happiness of soul and body at the 
resurrection, in the full enjoyment of God to all eter- 
nitv- These, and all other Gospel truths, supposed 
by them, included in them, and consequent upon 
them, relating to Jesus Christ, are to be the subject 
matter of our preaching ; all which are summarily 
comprehended, in the three characters mentioned in 
the text, Christ Jesus the Lord. Christ the Messiah, 
the anointed of God, qualified for, and set apart to, 
the office of mediator : Jesus the saviour of men, who 
saves his people from their sins, both from the guilt 
and power, and finally from the punishment of them, 
bv working out for them a righteousness to be imput- 
ed ; and by working in them a righteousness implant- 
ed, The Lord, the great head and king of his church, 
who has its government on his shoulders, and to 
" whom all power is given in heaven and upon earth ;" 
to whom all homage and obedience are due, and to 
whom is committed, as a person every way qualified 
and worthy, the sole management of the solemn tran- 
sactions of the grand and final judgment. 


But particularly, 1st, To preach Christ, is to hold 
him forth, not merely as a lawgiver, to he obeyed ; 
but chiefly as a law-fulfiller, to be believed in, for 
pardon, righteousness, and everlasting life. To re- 
present him to poor perishing sinners, as a surety, 
Avho has undertaken in their room and stead, to pay 
the debt of duty and of penalty, for which divine jus- 
tice has them under an arrest ; to atone for the crimes 
for which they are under sentence, and work out for 
them a complete and perfect righteousness, answera- 
ble to the strict demands of his unchangeable law. 
How honourably soever we may speak of Jesus Christ, 
as a ruler to be obeyed, and as a pattern to be imitat- 
ed ; yet if we do not exhibit him to view, as the great 
law-fulliller, to be believed in, and as " the end of 
the law for righteousness," we do not properly preach 
Christ ; but conceal a most essential branch of his 
mediatorial excellency. It is the grand fundamental 
article of the religion of Christ, and the ground of all 
our hopes, " that he suffered for us, the just for the 
unjust, that he might bring us to God ; that he not 
only died for our good, (as the Socinians say, to set us 
an example how to suffer with patience ;) but that 
he died " in our room and stead," and was " made 
sin for us" by imputation, that we by imputation 
" might be made righteous in the sight of God through 

2dly, To preach Christ, is to exhibit to view his 
infinite divine fulness, and the freeness of his un- 
bounded grace, his almighty power to save, and his 
willingness to exert that power ; that in him is to be 
found all that righteousness that the law requires, 
and all that grace that the gospel promises ; and in 
short, every thing that a poor, guilty, helpless, sin- 
burdened, and law-condemned sinner can possibly 
want ; and that all the blessings of his atonement. 


are freely offered, " without money and without 

Sdly, To preach Christ, is to make him the grand 
centre of all the variety of subjects we enter upon, in 
the whole credenda and agenda of religion. If we 
treat of the nature and perfections of the deity, we 
are to consider them, as displayed most eminently 
" in the face of Jesus Christ." If we exhibit to view 
the divine law, in its strictness and spirituality, we 
are to remember Christ, " as the end of the law for 
righteousness." If we denounce its dreadful " curses 
against every one that continues not in all things 
written in the book of the law to do them j" it is that 
" the law as a school-master, may bring them to Christ, 
that they may be justified by faith." If we treat of 
gospel promises and gospel blessings, we must consi- 
der them as purchased by the blood, and distributed 
by the bounty and grace of Christ. If we discourse 
upon divine faith, Christ must be considered as " the 
author and finisher," as well as the direct object of it. 
If we treat of repentance, it is " Christ exalted at the 
right hand of God," that must " give it, and the re- 
mission of sins ;" and Christ crucified, and vieAved by 
faith, that must be the first spring of it. If we treat 
of gospel obedience, it must be considered as the gen- 
uine fruit of faith in Christ, and union to him; spring- 
ing from " constraining love to," and performed by 
strength and grace derived from, the Lord Jesus 
Christ ; and accepted altogether on account of the 
merit of his obedience and death. In a word, Christ 
must be considered as " all and in all, as the alpha 
and omega, the beginning and the end ;" the fountain 
from which all is derived, and the centre in which all 
must terminate ; his righteousness is all in justifica- 
tion, his spirit and grace all in sanctification, and the 
enjoyment of him all in glorification. This is to 


preach Christ, as to the matter of our preaching. And 

II. As to the formal manner, it implies, that n-e 
aim at the honour and glory of Christ, and the ad- 
vancement of his interest, as our ultimate and final 
end. This is doubtless the principal thing intended, 
in opposition to those mercenary views and selfish 
aims that were mentioned before. Men may speak 
much about Jesus Christ in their sermons, and yet 
not properly preach Christ : yea, they may preach 
Christ too, as to the matter of their preaching, in all 
the instances above described, and yet not do it for 
Christ, but for themselves. And thus they make 
Christ himself, and the precious doctrines of the gos- 
pel, only subservient to the advancement of the grand 
idol. Self. To preach Christ, then, is to make his 
honour and interest the centre of all our labour and 
industry ; the mark on which we fix our eye, and to- 
wards which we endeavour to steer, in all our private 
studies and public administrations, and in every in- 
stance of our ministerial conduct. Our business is to 
commend Christ, and not ourselves ; to win the hearts 
of men to him, and not to ourselves : and attach them 
to his interest, rather than our own. And as this 
must be the ultimate, proposed end, so those means 
must be chosen that have the most natural tendency 
to accomplish it .-' even such methods and manner of 
address as will tend to pierce the obdurate hearts, and 
wound the stupid consciences of sleepy secure sinners, 
by making them feel the ruin of their fallen state, 
their guilt and condemnation by the law, and the ab- 
solute impossibility of obtaining a personal legal right- 
eousness : that they may effectually see their need of 
Christ, both as a surety to pay their law-debt, and as 
a " fountain to wash in from sin and from unclean- 


The rich and unbounded treasures of gospel grace, 
are also to be laid open, and gospel invitations to be 
exhibited in their free and indefinite terms, urged 
with the most powerful motives and persuasive argu- 
ments that can be dra\^Ti from lovej or from wrath, 
from heaven, or from hell ; and from all the glorious 
and dreadful things of an unseen eternal world. 

Let me now endeavour to improve this subject by 
an inference or two, from each of the principal fore- 
going heads ; and then conclude with a particular 
application. And, 

1st, If ministers are not to preach, or to seek them- 
selves, in the execution of the sacred office, then none 
can ever discharge this important trust acceptably in 
the sight of God, who are under the reigning domi- 
nion of mercenary and selfish principles. I have ob- 
served before, that when man fell from God by ori- 
ginal apostacy, he retired as it were into himself, and 
is ever since disposed supremely to love, and ulti- 
mately to seek himself, as his last and final end.— 
Selfishness then, in one shape or another, is now the 
reigning, active principle in fallen nature, and has the 
entire dominion in every heart that is unrenewed and 
unsanctified ; as, therefore, unsanctified men have no 
governing principle but self, and can act from no 
higher principles than they have, how can they be 
qualified for a faithful discharge of that work, which 
requires so much self-renunciation. If such as these 
undertake the ministry, their views must be altoge- 
ther selfish ; they study, pray, and preach for them- 
selves, and make themselves the grand centre of all 
they think, and speak, and do! " Seeking their oAvn 
things, and not the things of Clirist Jesus ; preferring 
their honour to his honour, and their interest to his 
interest ; and, therefore, they are guilty of idolatry, 
by setting themselves uppermost in their estimation, 


affections, designs, and pursuits. And if I should 
grant that such as these may be useful in the minis- 
try, yet surely the undertaking will be awfully hazar- 
dous to the souls committed to their charge, and the 
consequence extremely dreadful to themselves, for 
" when they have preached to others, themselves will 
be finally rejected and cast away." 

2dly, If the business of gospel-ministers is, to 
preach Christ, hence see the honour and dignity of 
their office. No other than a glorious Christ, the 
anointed of God, the darling of heaven, and the be- 
loved of angels and saints, is the subject of their mi- 
nistry ; from him their authority and commission is 
derived, in his valuable interest they are engaged to 
speak, as " ambassadors in his name and stead.'' Their 
office is, therefore, honourable in some proportion to 
the dignity of the sovereign, from whom they receive 
commission ; the grandeur of the court in whose inte- 
rest they are employed as ambassadors, and the im- 
portant errand they have to transact with guilty men 
And as they are engaged for Christ, and employed by 
him to act as ambassadors in his name, he has declared 
that he will regard the treatment they meet with as if 
done to himself: "He that receiveth you, says he, 
receiveth me ; and he that despiseth you, despiseth 
me, and him that sent me." Were we acting a part 
for ourselves, and speaking in our own name, and 
driving on our own self-interests, men might treat us 
as they pleased ; but if we act as ambassadors for 
Christ, in pursuit of his interest, and in his name and 
stead, let them lake heed how they despise the sacred 
character we sustain, or neglect the solemn messages 
we bring. But I must not dwell on these inferences, 
the time being far elapsed. 

Permit me, therefore, now, with all humility, to 
address myself particularly to the venerable members 


of this Synod, with all others of the sacred character 
here present. 

My reverend fathers and dear brethren ! 

The subject I have now been handling, will neces- 
sarily lead me to great freedom and plainness of 
speech, yet I will not entertain so dishonourable a 
thought of any of you, as to imagine an apology ne- 
cessary : nor will I doubt your candid acceptance of 
what shall now be said, though by one of the meanest 
of the sacred character, who would gladly sit at your 
feet and learn, and who is willing to stand corrected 
and reproved by you. 

Let what we have heard, 

1. Lead us into our own hearts, to examine in the 
presence of an all-seeing God, whether we have not 
too much of this abominable selfish principle still 
lurking within us, and too little singleness of heart 
for God and Jesus Christ. Do we never shrink into 
diffidence and neglect in cases of duty, through the 
power and prevalence of that soothing temptation, 
spare thyself? Do we never find this detestable 
enemy strive to encroach on the rights of the God- 
head, and assume the honour and regard that is due 
to Jesus alone. Does it never creep into our studies, 
and seek to have a hand in our preparations for the 
sanctuary of the Lord, and dispose us to consult how 
to please, rather than how to profit ; and how our 
own interest may be secured in the esteem and affec- 
tions of our hearers, rather than how the interest and 
kingdom of Christ may be advanced .'' And when we 
enter the sacred desk, with a message from heaven to 
guilty men, are we never too thoughtful of the notices 
and observations of our poor fellow mortals round 
about us, and too little sensible of the all-seeing eye 
of Jehovah upon us, and the vast and inexpressible 
weight of tlie errand on which we come ? Are we 


never too solicitous about mere external appearances 
that attend our delivery, and too little so, about the 
spiritual frame of our hearts, in the sight of God ? — 
Are we never tempted by this pernicious principle, to 
play the hypocrite before our hearers, with a greater 
show of zeal and fervour, and devotion, than is 
answerable to the inward state and frame of our 
minds ? If at any time we find ourselves dead and 
barren, and have but little clearness or freedom, we 
are dejected : our hearts are depressed and sunk within 
us ; but from whence is this dejection ? Is it because 
we have done so poorly for God, and been so mise- 
rably deficient in his service ? Or only because we 
have made so indifferent a figure in the eyes of our 
fellow-men ? On the other hand, when we find some 
enlargement and freedom, a readiness of thought, and 
fluency of expression, and feel some suitable degree of 
zeal and fervour, does a selfish, deceitful heart never 
prompt us to a sort of self-complacency, and delight 
in ourselves ? And if we are pleased that God has 
enabled us, in any measure, to be faithful, yet, are 
we never too much elated with the approbation and 
applause of those that have heard us. 

And when our public performances are ended, what 
is the object of our greatest solicitude ? Whether sin- 
ners are awakened and won to Christ ? Or, whether 
we ourselves are held in high esteem ? Whether the 
word preached has gained their hearts for God, or 
whether it has gained for us their pleasing approba- 
tion ? And does this selfish principle never direct or 
influence our conduct among the people of our charge ? 
Are we not often best pleased with the company and 
society of those who (perhaps too partial in our favour) 
may gratify our vanity with their professions and to- 
kens of esteem and friendship ? And do we not, from 
the same principle, shun, or too much neglect, those 


who appear less friendly, though they need our in- 
struction and advice as much as others ? Do we not 
too much neglect the duties of private, and particular 
applications, for fear of offending ; and yet frame ex- 
cuses for our neglects, that have too much selfishness 
in them ? In a word, what did we undertake the mi- 
nistry for ? What do we study, preach, and pray, 
live and labour for ? Is it ultimately for God or for 
ourselves ? I beseech you, reverend and dear Sirs, 
bear mth this plainness and freedom, and let me not ' 
be looked upon in the light of an arrogant accuser • 
far be it from me to lay any of these things to your 
charge, or to harbour a doubt of your disinterested 
zeal for God, and victory over self. " There is but 
one heart among us, that I have reason to suspect," 
and over that I find it necessary to keep a continual 
watch and guard : and, O ! how many are the secret 
windings and turnings, and diflferent shapes and ap- 
pearances, of this pernicious adversary, self ? How 
often does it beset us, when and where we have little 
expected it, and give us occasion to lament and say, 
" Hast thou found me, O mine enemy ?'' If we find 
then, on the above-mentioned inquiry, that our self- 
denial and deadness to ourselves, is yet very imper- 
fect. Let us in the 

Second place. Bitterly bewail it before God, with 
the deepest humiliation. For what can be more de- 
testable, or carry a greater malignity in its very na- 
ture, than that disposition that would exalt self in the 
place of God and Jesus Christ, and as it were contend 
with him fur the preference, and dispute the point 
with him, who shall be most loved and regarded by 
us, he or we, and whose honour and interest shall be 
primarily pursued, his or our own ? And how incon- 
sistent is this selfishness with that lesson of self-de- 
nial that we are obliged to preach to others, and 


which Jesus has taught us, both by precept and ex- 
ample. Nay, with what force can we recommend self- 
denial to others, while we are selfish, or how can we 
reprove or condemn the sin in others that we harbour 
too much in ourselves. We tell the drunkard, the 
swearer, the profane sinner, that " except he be con- 
verted and changed, he cannot be saved ; and is it not 
as true of us, that we cannot be the true disciples, or 
faithful ministers of Christ, except we deny ourselves." 
Does not our Lord himself lay this down as the grand 
criterion by which he submits his own doctrine and 
mission to trial, whether it was of God or whether he 
spake of himself. " He that speaketh of himself, 
says he, seeketh his own glory : but he that seeketh 
the glory of him that sent him, the same is true." 
I make no doubt, Sirs, but selfishness in its reigning 
dominion, is a greater sin than drunkenness or whore- 
dom. The one dishonours God by breaking his law ; 
but the other strikes at the very relation of sovereign 
and subject, and contends with him, as it were, for 
the rights of god-head^ and insists upon being above 
him, in the estimation, affections, intentions, and pur- 
suits. Now, " it is one thing to break some particu- 
lar laws of a prince, and another to set up to be above 
him, or to exalt a rival in his room am;, stead;" the 
first indeed is transgression, but the other is down- 
right treason and rebellion, and therefore the most 
heinous. And indeed whatever we do in religion, 
and how good soever it be, as to the matter or thing 
done, yet if self is the reigning principle, it tarnishes, 
corrupts, and debases all. And as it is the very es- 
sence of holiness to live to God, and act entirely for 
him, so it is horrible wickedness, in the very nature 
of it, to live to ourselves, and act ultimately for our- 
selves. If, therefore, we find the remains, or secret 
workings of so corrupt and detestable a principle, let 


US mourn and be humbled before God, and repair by 
faith to him who once died, " That they which live 
should not live to themselves, but to him who died 
for them, and rose again." Let us, in the third place. 

Ever be watchful against this enemy of God, and 
our souls, and endeavour to suppress the first risings 
of it. Let us ever remember, " we are not our 
ovm," and therefore have no business to live to our- 
selves, or regard our interest or reputation, any fur- 
ther than the honour of Christ, and the interest of re- 
ligion is concerned. If God has made us, if Christ 
has redeemed us, if in our ordination vows we have 
solemnly given up ourselves and our all to him, then 
certainly we are not our own ; and therefore to appro- 
priate our time and talents to our own interest and 
reputation, is a sacrilegious robbing of God. 

Further, let us guard against that fear of man that 
selfishness would prompt us to, and which would make 
us too fond to please, and too fearful to displease ; for 
if we thus seek to please men, and by that means to 
advance ourselves, we cannot be the faithful " ser- 
vants of Jesus Christ." And yet, such are the per- 
verse tempers of many we have to deal ^^^th, that we 
are often reduced to an unhappy dilemma, and must 
either oflfendjcljod, or offend them. Poor guilty mor- 
tals love to be soothed and flattered, but do not love 
to be plainly dealt with ; hence, such pointed addres- 
ses as tend to discover them to themselves, often ex- 
cite their resentment. Thus, when our Lord was re- 
presenting to his hearers, by several parables, the aw- 
ful destruction that would shortly come upon the final 
rejecters of the gospel Saviour, and the gospel salva- 
tion, it is said, " the chief priests and Pharisees per- 
ceived that he spake of them." A heinous business 
indeed ! as if it was intolerable insolence for him to 
speak of them. It is true, they perceived right, he 


did speak of them, and all others like them ; and what 
then ? Why, they are exasperated, and would have 
laid hands on him, and treated him in a manner they 
thought he deserved, had it not been that they feared 
the multitude. And Mhen this is the case, that we 
must either offend God or men ; whose displeasure 
shall we most regard.'' If carnal self is consulted, it 
will influence us to displease God, and to sooth and 
flatter our fellow-men. But alas ! should we make 
such an awful sacrifice to their corrupt humours, will 
they undertake to answer it for us ? Will they de- 
fend us from the displeasure of Jehovah, when he 
shall send for us by death, or sentence us to hell by 
his righteous judgment.^ No, they dare not attempt 
this, nor dare we trust them in this matter. We have 
one God, and one master to please, and he must be 
obeyed, whether men like or dislike. Our errand to 
them is on matter of life and death, the vast import- 
ance of which, must engage all the powers of our souls. 
Poor Christless sinners are not in a state to be soothed 
and flattered, or jested and trifled vv'ith ; heaven and 
hell are not matters to be talked of in a careless indo- 
lent strain ; it is plain dealing such want, however 
they may take it ; such as will tend to make them feel 
their wretched, miserable state, and awaken their so- 
licitude for deliverance. 

Again, our business is to preach Christ Jesus the 
Lord, and exhibit him to A'iew in his personal glory 
and divine fulness as the law-fulfiller and Saviour of 
sinners ; to urge them compassionately to come to him 
that they might have life, and on their final refusal, 
to denounce against them the terrors of eternal death. 
— And besides the inexpressible importance of these 
things, every consideration from the present provi- 
dences of God, suggests an awakening call to the ut- 
most diligence and painful industry. The God of 


lieaven is now thundering an alarm on every side, our 
country is groaning under ravages and devastations? 
and all the frightful calamities of war and blood! — 
The enemies of Zion are forming a confederacy, and 
saying, " Let us raze it, let us raze it to the founda- 
tion." And who can tell how soon our churches may 
be demolished and beaten into rubbish, and we our- 
selves called to prison and to death. And what, in 
the name of God, shall we do in a day of suffering, if 
we have not learned to deny ourselves, and account 
our honour, interest, and even life itself, nothing in 
comparison of the interest and kingdom of Jesus 
Christ ? Or should God in mercy yet spare his church 
from the ravages of popish and pagan adversaries, yet 
as to us, we know our time is short, and " the night 
of death will soon come when no man can work." We 
live in a dying world, and dwell in regions of morta- 
lity, and have lately had frequent and awful notices 
of the uncertain tenure of human life. 

The last year in particular ^\ith respect to minis- 
ters, may very properly be called the dying year, in 
which the God of heaven has smitten his church in 
these parts, with repeated strokes of sore bereave- 
ment in a close and awful succession ! Scarce had 
we time to dry our weeping eyes for the loss of one of 
eminent character and usefulness *, but the streams of 
grief were called to flow down afresh for the loss of 
another t, whose zeal for God and the conversion of 
souls, was scarce to be paralleled. And yet for all this, 
the anger of Jehovah was not turned away, but his 
hand was soon lifted up again, and with a dreadful 
aim, and resistless stroke, has brought down to the 
dust, perhaps the greatest pillar in this part of Zion 's 

• The llev. ]\Ir. Aaron Burr, President of the College, 
t The Rev. BIr. James Davenport, Minister at Hopewell, 
'(Oth of New Jersey. 


buildings *. O how does the whole fabric shake and 
totter! And what a gloomy aspect do these provi- 
dences wear ? as if God, by calling home his ambas- 
sadors, was about to quit the affair of negotiating 
peace with mankind any more. 

Shall not we then who survive, double and redouble 
our diligence, knowing our time is short, and in pro- 
portion to the decrease of labourers, the work in- 
creases upon our hands. O Sirs ! are heaven and 
hell glorious and dreadful realities ? are sinners des- 
pising the one and sleeping over the mouth of the 
other, and are we sent from God to awaken them, and 

" The Rev. Jonathan Edwards, President of the College of 
New Jersey, of whom the Rev. G. Tennant, of Philadelpliia, 
writes thus : 

PInladelphia, March 2S, 175S. 

On Wednesday the 22d instant, departed this life, the reve- 
rend and worthy Mr. Jonathan Edwards (formerly of Nor- 
thampton, in New England, but lately of Stockbridge) pres.i- 
dent of the College of New Jersey ; a person of great eminence 
lioih in respect of capacity, learning, piety, and usefulness ; a 
good scholar, and a great di^nne. As his genius was extraor- 
dinary, so it was greatly improved by long and hard study, by 
which he treasured up much useful knowledge, both divine and 
human, and was thus uncommonly prepared for the arduous 
and important province to which he was called. Divinity was 
his favourite study, in the knowledge of which he had hut few, 
if any equals, and no superior in these provinces. The humi- 
lity, gravity, and modesty of his behaviour, rendered him 
amiable to all that feared God, who had the pleasure and pri- 
vilege of his acquaintance. But nothing appeared with greater 
lustre, and more striking charms in his conduct, than his can- 
dour to man, and his fidelity to his God. Virtues very rare in 
this degenerate age, wherein piety, integrity, and bravery, 
are ready to breathe their last ; an age wherein " All flesh have 
corrupted their way," and there is none (or almost none) up- 
right among men. This man of God was favoured with an 
unshaken firmness in the cause of his great master, nor would 
his noble soul stoop to vulgar prejudices, or meanly blend with 


shew them their danger ; sent to offer them a Saviour 
and invite them to fly from the v.rath to come to his 
atoning blood, why then, O ! why do not these impor- 
tant realities swallow up our whole attention ? ^\^ly 
do not we make more haste in plucking sinners as 
brands from everlasting burning ? Why do not we 
pray more fervently, and preach more zealously^ 
and lay out our whole life, and soul, and strength 
in this great work ? What ! is the interest and 
happiness of deathless immortal souls worth no more 
pains ? Can we do no more for the honour and 
interest of our glorious Master than this comes too ? — 

the crowd. His judicious and magnanimous defence of the 
principles of the Christian reformed rehgion, against the plau- 
sible pretexts and cavils of Arminians, in a late volume upon 
the liberty of the human will, — a volume in which their cause is 
with great force of argument entirely baffled, and which is 
thought by some professors of divinity in Europe, and by divers 
divines here, to exceed any thing that has been written on the 
subject ; and liis excellent writings in behalf of the power of 
piety (which some time since happily spread in this sinful land) 
deserve esteem, and malie his memory blossom in the dust. — 
Others of his writings, likewise deserve to be mentioned with 
honour ; it is as a comfort to us, in the midst of grief, that this 
ascending Elijah has left behind him, the mantle of so many 
valuable volumes, by which, though dead, he speaks with wis- 
dom and warmth, in favour of truth and hoHness ; hereby, 
though without design, he has erected to his memory' a bust, 
not only preferable to fulsome funeral paneg)Tics, but even to 
the most durable monumental marble. 

As this wise and faithfuLseriant of Christ, glorified his bless- 
ed master, with uprightness and intrepidity of heart, by a con- 
versation becoming his gospel ; so it pleased God to put great 
honour upon him, Hving and dpng, by crowning his honest and 
unwearied labours with surprising successes, in the conversion of 
many, and giving him great calm in his soul, at the time of 
his exit. When eternity drew near, he with undisturbed com- 
posui-e desired his daughter to request her mother and his wife 
jiot to indulge excessive grief, on occasion of his departure from 


Shall the men of this world be more painful and indus- 
trious in seeking themselves, than we in seeking the 
glory of Christ, and the salvation of souls ? God for- 
bid ! We are on matters of life and death, we pray, 
and preach, and labour for eternity ; sure it becomes 
us then to do it with all our might. Shall we not be 
solemn and serious, when so near that state and place 
where all are serious ? Believe it, Sirs, there is no 
trifling in the eternal world, there are none in jest 
either in heaven or hell. God forbid, then, that we 
should jest and trifle with immortal souls, that are 
just at the door and upon the borders of an eternal 
state ! 

her, but to consider that the spiritual relation between them, 
would not be dissolved by death, and that he hoped to see her 
again ; and likewise that she should tell the other children that 
he requested them to observe the instructions he had from time 
to time given them, and that if they did so, " good would come 
to them." After he had spoken to the above purpose, he look- 
ed about, and said, now, '' where is Jesus of 2sazareth, my true 
and never-failing friend ?" and so he fell asleep, and went to 
the Lord he loved, (Sic mihi contingat vivere, sicque mori) 
and left a bereaved society to sit in the dust, and mourn the im- 
speakable, (yea in some respects) the irreparable loss of so wise, 
experienced, and faithful a head ; and that in a time of great 
necessity, general calamity, great and gromng danger to the 
church and state : O ! when a holy God takes away such right- 
eous persons, such invaluable jewels, in thick succession from 
our guilty land and nation, to his o^ti bosom, his own cabinet ; 
and that in the beginning of a dark gathering tempest, big with 
the fate of nations, is it not an awful omen ? And should we 
not lay it to heart before it be too late ? May we not, ^vith 
some variation, lament the death of this excellent man, in the 
language of David, over Saul aud Jonathan, O Prince-town, the 
" beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places ?" Or over 
brave Abner, " know ye not this day that a great man is fallen 
in Israel ?" Or in the pensive strains of Elisha over a departed 
Elijah, '• my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the 
horse-men thereof :" 




In a late conversation, you desired my thoughts con- 
cerning a scriptural and consistent manner of address- 
ing the consciences of unawakened sinners in the 
course of your ministry. It is a point on which many 
eminent ministers have been, and are not a little divid- 
ed ; and it therefore becomes me to propose my sen- 
timents with modesty and caution, so far as I am con- 
strained to ditfer from any from whom in general I 
would be glad to learn. 

Some think, that it is sufficient to preach the great 
truths of the word of God in their hearing ; to set 
forth the utterly ruined and helpless state of fallen 
man by nature, and the appointed method of salva- 
tion by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ; 
and then to leave the application entirely to the agen- 
cy of the Holy Spirit, who alone can enlighten the 
dark understandings of sinners, and enable them to 
receive, in a due manner, the doctrines either of the 
law or the gospel. And they apprehend, that all ex- 
hortations, arguments, and motives, addressed to those 
who are supposed to be still under the inHuence of 
the carnal mind, are inconsistent with the principles 


of free grace, and the acknowledged inability of such 
persons to perform any spiritual acts ; and that there- 
fore the preachers, who, avowing the doctrines of free 
grace, do, notwithstanding, plead and expostulate with 
sinners, usually contradict themselves, and retract in 
their application what they had laboured to establish 
in the course of their sermons. 

There are others, who, though they would be ex- 
tremely unwilling to derogate from the free grace and 
sovereign power of God in the great work of conver- 
sion, or in the least degree to encourage the mistaken 
notion which every unconverted person has of his own 
power ; yet think it their duty to deal with sinners 
as rational and moral agents ; and, as such, besides 
declaring the counsel of God in a doctrinal Avay, to 
warn them by the terrors of the Lord, and to beseech 
them by his tender mercies, that they receive not the 
grace of God, in a preached gospel, in vain. Nor can 
it be denied, but that some of them, when deeply af- 
fected with the worth of souls and the awful import- 
ance of eternal things, have sometimes, in the warmth 
of their hearts, dropped unguarded expressions, and 
such as have been justly liable to exception. 

If we were to decide to which of these diiferent me- 
thods of preaching the preference is due, by the dis- 
cernible effects of each, it will perhaps appear in fact, 
Avithout making any invidious comparisons, that those 
ministers whom the Lord has honoured with the great- 
est success in awakening and converting sinners, have 
generally been led to adopt the more popular way of 
exhortation or address ; while they who have been 
studiously careful to avoid any direct application to 
sinners, as unnecessary and improper, if they have 
not been altogether without seals to their ministry, 
yet their labours have been more owned in building 
up those who have already received the knowledge of 


the truth, than in adding to their number. Now as 
he that winneth " is wise," and as every faithful la- 
bourer has a warm desire of being instrumental in 
raising the dead in sin to a life of righteousness, this 
seems at least a presumptive argument in favour of 
those who, besides stating the doctrines of the gos- 
pel, endeavour, by earnest persuasions and expostula- 
tions, to impress them upon the hearts of their hear- 
ers, and intreat and warn them to consider, " how 
they shall escape if they neglect so great salvation." 
For it is not easy to conceive, that the Lord should 
most signally bear testimony in favour of that mode 
of preaching which is least consistent with the truth, 
and with itself. 

But not to insist on this, nor to rest the cause on 
the authority or examples of men, the best of whom 
are imperfect and fallible, let us consult the Scrip- 
tures, which, as they furnish us with the whole sub- 
ject-matter of our ministry, so they afford us perfect 
precepts and patterns for its due and orderly dispen- 
sation. With respect to the subject of our inquiry, 
the examples of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of his au- 
thorised ministers, the apostles, are both our rule and 
our warrant. The Lord Jesus was the great preacher 
of free grace, " who spake as never man spake ;" and 
his ministry, while it provided relief for the weary 
and heavy laden, was eminently designed to stain the 
pride of all human glory. He knew what was in man, 
and declared, " that none could come unto him, un- 
less drawn and taught of God ;" John vi. 44 — 46". 
And yet he often speaks to sinners in terms, which, 
if they were not known to be his, might perhaps be 
censured as inconsistent and legal; John vi. 27 ; Luke 
xiii. 24 — 27 ; John xii. '35. It appears, both from 
the context and the tenor of these passages, that they 
were immediately spoken, not to his disciples, but to 


the multitude. The apostles copied from their Lord ; 
they taught, that we have no sufficiency of ourselves, 
even to think a good thought, and that " it is not of 
liim that willeth, or of him that runneth, but of God 
who showeth mercy ;" yet they plainly call upon sin- 
ners, (and that before they had given evident signs 
that they were pricked to the heart, as Acts iii. 31.) 
" to repent, and to turn from their vanities to the liv- 
ing God;" Acts iii. 19; xiv. 15; and xvii. 30. Pe- 
ter's advice to Simon Magus is very full and express 
to this point ; for, though he perceived him to be " in 
the very gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniqui- 
ty," he exhorted him " to repent, and to pray, if per- 
haps the thought of his heart might be forgiven." 
It may be presumed that we cannot have stronger 
evidence, that any of our hearers are in a carnal and 
unconverted state, than Peter had in the case of Si- 
mon Magus ; and therefore there seems no suificient 
reason why we should hesitate to follow the apostle's 

You have been told, that repentance and faith are 
spiritual acts, for the performance of which, a princi- 
ple of spiritual life is absolutely necessary ; and that 
therefore, to exhort an unregenerate sinner to repent 
or believe, must be as vain and fruitless as to call a 
dead person out of his grave. To this it may be an- 
swered, that we might cheerfully and coniidently un- 
dertake even to call the dead out of their graves, if 
we had the command and promise of God to warrant 
the attempt ; for then we might expect his power 
would accompany our word. The vision of Ezekiel, 
chap, xxxvii. may be fitly accommodated to illustrate 
both the difficulties and the encouragement of a gos- 
pel-minister. The deplorable state of many of our 
hearers may often remind us of the Lord's question to 
the prophet, " Can these dry bones live ?" Our re- 


source, like that of the prophet, is entirely in the so- 
vereignty, grace, and power of the Lord : " O Lord, 
thou knowest, impossible as it is to us, it is easy for 
thee to raise them unto life ; therefore we renounce 
our own reasonings ; and though we see that they are 
dead, we call upon them at thy bidding, as if they 
were alive, and say, O ye dry bones, hear the word 
of the Lord ! The means is our part, the work is 
thine, and to thee be all the praise." The dry bones 
could not hear the prophet ; but while he spoke, the 
Lord caused breath to enter into them, and they lived ; 
but the word was spoken to them considered as dry 
and dead. 

It is true, the Lord can, and I hope he often does, 
make that preaching effectual to the conversion of sin- 
ners, wherein little is said expressly to them, only the 
truths of the gospel are declared in their hearing ; 
but he who knows the frame of the human heart, has 
provided us with a variety of the topics which have a 
moral suitableness to engage the faculties, affections, 
and consciences of sinners ; so far at least as to leave 
themselves condemned if they persist in their sins, 
and by which he often effects the purposes of his 
grace ; though none of the means of grace by which 
he ordinarily works can produce a real change in the 
heart, unless they are accompanied with the effica- 
cious power of his Spirit. Should we admit, that an 
unconverted person is not a proper subject of mini- 
sterial exhortation, because he has no power in him- 
self to comply, the just consequence of this position 
would perhaps extend too far, even to prove the im- 
propriety of ull exhortation universally : For when 
we invite the weary and heavy laden to come to Jesus, 
that they may find rest ; when we call upon back- 
sliders to remember from whence they are fallen, to 
" repent, and to do their first works ;" yea, when 


we exhort believers to " walk worthy of God, who has 
called them to his kingdom and glory ;" in each of 
these cases we press them to acts for which they have 
no inherent power of their own : and unless the Lord, 
the Spirit, is pleased to apply the word to their hearts, 
we do but speak into the air ; and our endeavours can 
have no more effect in these instances, than if we Avere 
to say to a dead body, " arise and walk." For an ex- 
ertion of divine power is no less necessary to the heal- 
ing of a wounded conscience, than to the breaking of 
a hard heart ; and only he who has begun the good 
work of grace, is able either to revive or to maintain 

Though sinners are destitute of spiritual life, they 
are not therefore mere machines. They have a power 
to do many things which they may be called upon to 
exert. They are capable of considering their ways ; 
they know they are mortal ; and the bulk of them are 
persuaded in their consciences, that after death there 
is an appointed judgment : they are not under an ine- 
vitable necessity of living in known and gross sins ; 
that they do so, is not for want of power, but for 
want of will. The most profane swearer can refrain 
from his oaths, while in the presence of a person whom 
he fears, and to whom he knows it would be displeas- 
ing. Let a drunkard see poison put into his liquor, 
and it may stand by him untasted from m.orning to 
night. And many would be deterred from sins to 
which they are greatlv addicted, by the presence of 
a child, though they have no fear of God before 
their eyes. They have a power likewise of attend- 
ing upon the means of grace ; and though the Lord 
onJy can give them true faith and evangelical repent- 
ance, there seems no impropriety to invite them, 
upon the ground of the gospel promises, to seek to 


him who is exalted to bestow these blessings, and 
who is able to do that for them, which they cannot 
do for themselves ; and who has said, " him that 
Cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Perhaps 
it will not be easily proved, that intreaties, arguments, 
warnings, formed upon these general principles, which 
are in the main agreeable and adequate to the remain- 
ing light of natural conscience, are at all inconsistent 
with those doctrines which ascribe the whole of a sin- 
ner's salvation, from first to last, to the free sove- 
reign grace of God. 

We should undoubtedly endeavour to maintain 
a consistency in our preaching ; but unless we keep 
the plan and manner of the Scripture constantly in 
view, and attend to every part of it, a design of 
consistency may fetter our sentiments, and greatly 
preclude our usefulness. We need not wish to be 
more consistent than the inspired writers, nor be 
afraid of speaking, as they have spoken before us. 
We may easily perplex ourselves, and our hearers, 
by nice reasonings on the nature of human liberty, 
and the divine agency on the hearts of men ; but 
such disquisitions are better avoided. We shall, 
perhaps, never have full satisfaction on these sub- 
jects, till we arrive in the world of light. In the 
mean time, the path of duty, the good old way, 
lies plain before us. If when you are in the pul- 
pit, the Lord favours you with a lively sense of the 
greatness of the trust, and the Avorth of the souls 
committed to your charge, and fills your heart 
with his constraining love, many little curious dis- 
tinctions, which amused you at other times, will 
be forgotten. Your soul will go forth with your 
words : and while your bowels yearn over poor sin- 
ners, you will not hesitate a moment, whether you 


ought to warn them of their danger or not. That 
great champion of free grace. Dr. Owen, has a very 
solemn address to sinners ; the running title to which 
is " Exhortations unto believing," It is in his Ex- 
position of the 130th Psalm, from p. 242 — 247- 
Lond. edit. l60Q, which I recommend to your atten- 
tive consideration. 

I am, &c. 





" yiston Sandford, June 17, 1816. 

" As wholly unable to meet you in person, I send 
you my proxy, in a paper of hints on your most im- 
portant question. 

" Should any brother undertake to form a paper 
for publication from the whole result of the discus- 
sion, he is perfectly at liberty to use my hints for that 
purpose : but, if this be not determined on, I shall be 
glad to receive them back again ; as probably I may 
make some use of them hereafter : and I shall also 
gladly receive any of the remarks which my brethren 
make on them, or on the general subject. 

" I hope I shall not forget to pray for a large bless- 
ing on the company and the congregations ; for my 
heart ^vill be with you : and I trust you will be par- 
ticular, both when together and when separate, in 
praying for me ; and for my life, or health, or even 
ease, so much as that I may be upheld, and enabled 
to act consistently in my closing scene, and may Jhiish 
my course with joy, &c. : for I feel myself a j)oor, 
weak, and sinful creature, in constant danger of fall- 

THOUGHTS ON 1 TIM. iv. 13. 377 

ing or fainting, unless upheld by the power and grace 
of the Lord Jesus. With my kind remembrances to 
Mrs- Knight ; and prayers for a blessing on you and 
your family ; and Christian love to all the assembled 
brethren, I remain 

" Your faithful and affectionate brother, 

Thos. Scott." 

Thoughts on the words of Si. Paul to Timothy, " give 
THYSELF WHOLLY TO THEM, (ev ts'to/j 'U^i,) Consi- 
dered as an instruction to all ministers of Christiani- 
ty, in every age and nation. 

" The context of this expressive clause should be 
considered with peculiar attention, in explaining the 
Avords made use of. Let no man despise thy youth : 
hut be thott an example of the believers, in word, in 
conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, 
lo doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which 
was given thee — by the laying on of the hands of the 
presbytery. Meditate upon these things ; give thyself 
WHOLLY TO them, that thy prof ting may appear to 
all. Take heed u?ito thyself and unto the doctrine : con- 
tinue in them: for in doing this thou shall both save thy- 
self, and them that hear thee. (1 Tim. iv. 12 — 14.) 
Each expression, when closely examined, is as it were 
a sermon ; and the whole comprises such a mass of 
appropriate instruction, Avarning, and encouragement 
to ministers, as can rarely be found in so few words. 
Let us then meditate on these things continually. 

" Two particulars seem especially to call for our 
notice in the clause more immediately under consi- 
deration : 1 . The things which the apostle intended : 
and 2. What it is to give ourselves wholly to them. 


" I. The things intended — The apostle doubtless 
referred to those exhortations^ which he had just be- 
fore given to his beloved son Timothy, respecting his 
personal conduct and example ; his ministerial office, 
as a talent entrusted to him ; the exercise of this 
ministry ; the preparation for that exercise ; and the 
ends to be proposed in the whole — Continue in them, 
for in so doiiig thou shall both save thyself, and Ihem 
that hear thee ; that is, who so hear thee as to believe 
and obey the doctrine taught by thee. 

" A few hints may then be here dropped on some of 
the particulars relating to our important ministry — for 
we cannot too much magnify our office, and should 
have high and honourable thoughts of it ; as the best 
of all good works ; the most beneficial service which 
man can perform to man ; and the most immediately 
connected with the glory of God our Saviour ; yet at- 
tended with the most awful responsibility. It is a 
gift conferred on us, when set apart to that service. 
To us it is given, to irreach the unsearchable riches of' 
Christ. It is a talent entrusted to our stewardship, 
which demands faithful improvement. It opens the 
way to the cultivation of the mind for purposes pecu- 
liar to the minister ; to purposes of the highest im- 
portance ; and in which, if he do not neglect it, his 
profiling may appear unto all men ; not only when he 
sets out as a young and inexperienced minister, but 
even if he had attained to Timothy's competency, nay 
to that of Paul the agedlumself ; except as inspiration 
and miraculous powers are concerned ; and from these 
the gft here spoken of, at least in applying it to us, 
should be considered as entirely distinct. He that 
would be apt to teach must be apt to learn, and al- 
ways learning to the end of life : else, (as is, alas, too 
often the case,) he will be like those who spend mucli 
and gain little, and are always in penury. In this 

THOUGHTS ON 1 TIM. iv. 13. 379 

general office and stewardship, the apostle would pro- 
bably, if he spake to us in modern language, and ac- 
cording to our situation as pastors, point out the pub- 
lic exercise of our ministry, statedly or occasionally, 
instant ivxaifui ccxxtfui ; with many things concerning 
our doctrine, our motives, our spirit, &c. He would 
advert to the more private exercise of our ministry 
from house to house, according to the various openings 
which are afforded us of privately warning, instruct- 
ing, counselling, and comforting, the healthy and the 
sick, and those around the sick ; or in teaching chil- 
dren, and in various other ways. He would note 
those things which should be attended to by us in the 
slndy, by reading and writing, and preparing for our 
public ministry, or aiming at accessional usefulness by 
our studies and publications. The fisherman, when 
not fishing, is employed in washing or mending his 
nets, repairing his boat, &c., that he may be ready 
for the next expected opportunity ; or to seize on one 
that he did not expect. Especially, the apostle would 
point out what is to be done in the closet, by our ear- 
nest and constant prayers and supplications. (Com- 
pare Col. ii. 1 ; iv. 12.) He would go with us into 
our families ; and lead us to consider the importance 
of so commanding our children and our households, 
(Gen. xviii. 19,} and so governing them, that every 
thing, as far as we possibly can, may bear the holy 
stamp of our sacred office. Here a large field opens 
before us, of family instruction and worship ; of edu- 
cating our cliildren ; of our conversation before them, 
and our domestics, and friends, &c. ; in order by every 
means to fix the impression, that we deeply mean all 
which we deliver from the pulpit : for alas, too often 
the conduct and conversation of the dining and draw- 
ing room renders this at least very doubtful, to those 
who more narrowly inspect our conduct. The apos- 


tie would even attend us on our visits, our journeys, 
our seasons of relaxation, &c. and remind us, that we 
must never forget, not only our Christicm, but our 
ministerial character. All must be stamped with its 
holiness ; all must be a part of a system, strictly ad- 
hered to, of being constantly learning, and waiting 
the opportunity of imparting what we have learned 
in the things of God. 

" I might go into all our needful intercourse with 
those without, and our concerns in the world as they 
relate to temporal things, or to any employments in 
which it may be expedient to engage, in connexion 
with our ministry : in short, to our whole example ; 
nn example not only to the world, but to believers. 
But these hints must suffice. 

" II. The import of the words rendered. Give thy- 
self wholly to them. — I remember that Demosthenes 
somewhere uses the same or an entirely similar ex- 
pression concerning himself, and his application to 
public affairs : he was always the statesman : his time, 
his talents, his heart, his all, were swalloAved up, as 
it were, in this one object. And in fact no man ever 
became very eminent in any line, when this was not 
his plan. It is noted by some writer concerning 
Buonaparte, that he never went to any town or city, 
or country new to him, but immediately he was ex- 
amining and considering where would be the best 
place for a castle or a camp, for an ambushment or an 
attack, for the means of defence or annoyance. He 
thus, in his line, entered into the spirit of the clause 
£» T«To/? '((T^i ; always the general. Our Lord says of 
himself. My meat is to do the ivill of him thai sent me, 
and to finish his work : and his whole time and soul 
were engaged in it. The apostles say , fVe will give 
ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of 
the word ; we will not suffer even things good in 

THOUGHTS ON 1 TIM. iv. 13. 381 

themselves (as serving tables,) to take us off from 
these grand and essential employments. i\Iuch less 
would they have left them, for secular interests or 
trivial pursuits. They entered into the spirit of the 
clause under consideration. 

" Let these things then have our whole time ; let 
even recreation and animal refreshment be so regulat- 
ed, moderated, and subordinated, that they may not 
interfere with our grand employment, or unfit us for 
it ; but rather recruit and prepare us for it, that they 
may all become subsen'ient to our main object. Pru- 
dent men of the world know how to do this, in respect 
of their object ; and will neither let meals, nor sleep, 
nor visits, nor diversions interfere with it ; but en- 
deavour in all these to promote it by means of them. 
They enter into the spirit of the clause, and of the 
M'ords used elsewhere, redeeming the time. 

" Let these things have our whole niind, or capa- 
city, natural ability, genius, learning : whatever we 
have or are, or can attain to, let these things have the 
ivhole. Wherever the bees collect the honey, they 
bring it all to the hive. Let us give all our powers 
and talents to our highly important service ; and not 
for a moment admit an idea of employing genius or 
learning to other purposes, foreign to our ministry^. 
The vows of God are upon ns : at least I feel this to 
be my case ; for, almost forty years since, I solemnly 
vowed before God not to engage in any literary pur- 
suit or publication, however creditable or lucrative it 
might be, which had not the religious instruction of 
mankind for its immediate object. 

" All our reading ought to be subservient to this. 
We may read any books, ancient or modern, sacred or 
profane, infidel, heretical, or what not ; but always 
as 77iinisfers : to note such things as may the better 
enable us to defend, and plead for, the truth as it is in 


Jesus ; never merely for amusement^ or curiosity, or 
love of learning, simply for its own sake, or for the 
credit or advantages derived from it. 

" Let these things have our whole hecift. We shall 
never fall in with the apostle's counsel, unless our mi- 
nistry and its employments be our pleasure and de- 
light ; unless our warmest affections are excited by 
it, aud our sweetest gratifications derived from it. 
Connected with this, however, our keenest sorrows 
and regrets wiU also thus be stirred. But our whole 
soul and heart must be in it. We must count it both 
our work and our wages ; our business aud our plea- 
sure ; our interest and our honour ; and, in connexion 
with saving ourselves along with those that hear us, 
our all. Nothing moved the apostle, in his various 
pursuits; he did not think even his life dear to him- 
self, so that he might Jinish his course with joy, and 
the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, 
to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And neither 
the smiles nor frowns of men ; neither worldly gain 
nor loss ; nor yet privations, hardships, delays, disap- 
pointments, will move us, if we enter into his spirit, 
and copy his example. 

" We must, as has been said, remember that we 
are the ministers of the holy Jesus ; the shepherds of 
his flock ; the stewards of his mysteries ; his messen- 
gers of reconciliation to perishing sinners ; and we 
must never go any Avhere, or do any thing, so as to 
lay aside this our sacred character. Is a man invited 
by neiglibours or superiors .'' let him decline the invi- 
tation, if he cannot in such a visit speak and act as a 
minister ; studying that dignified, yet meek and un- 
aflfected manner, in which Christ improved such sea- 
sons and opportunities, as openings to most important 
instruction. Does he journey ? let even the coach, 
or the inns, or the ship, be improved as openings for 
communicating, in one way or other, useful instruc- 

THOUGHTS ON 1 TIM. iv. 13. 383 

tion ; and, if this should prove impracticable, let him 
at least learn some lessons concerning the human 
heart, and the aims and pursuits of worldly men, 
which may render him more competent to meet the 
thoughts, plans, and consciences of his hearers. He 
may thus be learning when he cannot teach ; and 
glea7ivig when he cannot 7'eap. Does he, for the sake 
of recruiting health and spirits, retire to some water- 
ing place, or other scene of relaxation ? Let him not 
divest himself of his ministerial character, as is some- 
times done, if not, alas ! of the Christian character 
also : ,but let him still be prompt at learning, and apt 
to seize any opportunity of teaching ; and at least pre- 
serve himself, and those belonging to him, from giv- 
ing any countenance to the festivity, frivolity, and 
dissipation of such scenes. 

" Does he teach pupils privately, or at a public 
seminary ? still let him do it as a Christian minister ; 
and endeavour, by wise (Jam. i. 5,) and persevering 
endeavours, to train up his pupils for Jesus Christ. 
In reading with them the classics, for instance, let 
him intersperse remarks on the falsity of their prin- 
ciples, the fallacy of their reasoning, the tendency of 
their writings ; comparing their maxims with those 
of Solomon, and with the words of Christ and his 
apostles, on similar subjects and occasions : and in 
every way let it appear in his conduct respecting 
them, that he is far more earnestly desirous of impart- 
ing good to them, than of deriving advantage from 
them ; remembering our Lord's saying, It is more 
blessed to give than to receive. 

" The same principles are applicable to a variety 
of other particulars. But I have already too much 
enlarged. These things adverted to, will effectually 
keep the ministers of Clxrist from meriting the charge 
brought against the priests by Malachi i. 10; and 
even from exciting a feeling in those of decided zeal, 


like St. Paul'Sj when he said, All seek their oivn, and 
not the things of Jesus Christ. Love o{ Jilt hi/ lucre, 
and empty praise and popularity, ■n-ill not then warp 
their minds ; but they will fied the Jloc/c of God, j 
taking the oversight of it, not hy constraint, but will- i 

ingly ; notforJilthylucre,biitoJa ready mind ; nei- 
ther as being lords over God's heritage, but as exam- 
ples to the flock : and ivhen the chief shepherd shall 
appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory thatfadeth 
not away. (1 Pet. v. 2 — 4.) 

" P. S. ^^^len Nehemiah had related the progress 
made in a short time in building the wall of Jerusa- 
lem, in the midst of dangers and opposition, he says. 
The people had a mind to work. They were not paid 
for their work ; but incurred expense and danger 
about it : but the object was so near their hearts, that 
they had a mind to work ; and thus great things were 
done in a little time. Oh, if all Christians and mi- 
nisters had thus a mind to work, for iiothing, when 
good might be done ; how much might be effected ! 
He that is willing to work for nothing will never 
complain that he has nothing to do. Yet the princi- 
ple that made the apostles determine not to serve ta- 
bles, though a good work in itself, should render mi- 
nisters, in this day, very careful not so to give their 
services, even to the most useful societies, and to at- 
tending the meetings of them, as to prevent their 
giving themselves continually to the word of God and 
prayer. A danger at present seems to arise on this 

" ]Mr. Cecil used to say, that the devil did not care 
how ministers were employed, if not in their proper 
work ; whether in hunting and field sports ; at cards 
and assemblies ; in WTiting notes on the classics ; or 
in politics, &c. It was all one to him ; each might 
please his own taste." 




Dear Sir, 
I AM glad to hear that you are ordained, and that the 
Lord is about to fix you in a place where there is a 
prospect of your being greatly useful. He has given 
you the desire of your heart ; and I hope he has given 
you likewise a heart to devote yourself, without re- 
serve, to his service, and the service of souls for his 
sake. I willingly comply with your request ; and 
shall, without ceremony, oifor j-ou such thoughts as 
occur to me upon this occasion. 

You have doubtless often anticipated in your mind 
the nature of the service to which you are now called, 
and made it the subject of much consideration and 
prayer. But a distant view of the ministry is gene- 
rally very diflferent from what it is found to be when 
we are actually engaged in it. The young soldier, 
who has never seen an enemy, may form some gene- 
ral notions of what is before him ; but his ideas will 
be much more lively and diversified when he comes 
upon the field of battle. If the Lord was to show us 
the whole beforehand, who, that has a due sense of 
his own insufficiency and weakness, would venture to 
engage .'' But he first draws us by a constraining 


sense of his love^ and by giving us an impression of 
the worth of souls, and leaves us to acquire a know- 
ledge of what is difficult and disagreeable by a gradual 
experience. The ministry of the gospel, like the book 
which the Apostle John ate, is a bitter sweet ; but 
the sweetness is tasted first, the bitterness is usually 
known afterwards, when we are so far engaged that 
there is no going back. 

Yet I would not discourage you : it is a good and 
noble cause, and we serve a good and gracious mas- 
ter ; who, though he will make us feel our weakness 
and vileness, will not suffer us to sink under it. 
His grace is sufficient for us : and if he favours us 
with an humble and dependent spirit, a single eye, 
and a simple heart, he will make every difficulty give 
way, and mountains will sink into plains before his 

You have known something of Satan's devices, 
whUe you were in private life ; how he has envied 
your privileges, assaulted your peace, and laid snares 
for your feet : though the Lord would not suffer him 
to hurt you, he has permitted him to sift and tempt, 
and shoot his fiery arrows at you. Without some of 
this discipline, you would have been very unfit for 
that part of your office •which consists in speaking a 
word in season to weary and heavy-laden souls. But 
you may now expect to hear from him, and to be beset 
by his power and subtilty in a different manner. You 
are now to be placed in the forefront of the battle, 
and to stand, as it were, for his mark : so far as he 
can prevail against you now, not yourself only, but 
many others, will be affected: many eyes will be 
upon you : and if you take a wrong step, or are en- 
snared into a wrong spirit, you will open the mouths 
of the adversaries wider, and grieve the hearts of be- 
lievers more sensibly, than if the same things had 


happened to you while you was a layman. The work 
of the ministry is truly honourable ; but, like the post 
of honour in a battle, it is attended with peculiar 
dangers : therefore, the apostle cautions Timothy, 
" Take heed to thyself, and to thy doctrine." To 
thyself in the first place, and then to thy doctrine ; 
the latter without the former would be impracticable 
and vain. 

You have need to be upon your guard in whatever 
way your first attempts to preach the gospel may 
seem to operate. If you should (as may probably be 
the case, where the truth has been little known) meet 
with much opposition, you will perhaps find it a 
heavier trial than you are aware of: but I speak of it 
only as it might draw forth your corruptions, and give 
Satan advantage against you : and this may be two 
•ways ; first by embittering your spirit against oppo- 
sers, so as to speak in anger, to set them at defiance, 
or retaliate upon them in their o^vn way ; which, be- 
sides bringing guilt upon your conscience, would of 
course increase your ditiiculties, and impede your use- 
fulness. A violent opposition against ministers and 
professors of the gospel is sometimes expressed by the 
devil's roaring, and some people think no good can be 
done without it. It is allowed, that men who Icve 
darkness will show their dislike of the light ; but, I 
believe, if the wisdom and meekness of the friends of 
the gospel had been always equal to their good inten- 
tions and zeal, the devil would not have had opportu- 
nity of roaring so loud as he has sometimes done. The 
subject-matter of the gospel is offence enough to the 
carnal heart : we must therefore expect opposition : 
but we should not provoke or despise it, or do any 
thing to aggravate it. A patient continuance in well- 
doing, a consistency in character, and an attention to 
return kind offices for hard treatment, will, in a course 


of tinie^ greatly soften the spirit of opposition ; and 
instances are to be found of ministers, who are treat- 
ed with some respect, even by those persons in their 
parishes Avho are most averse to their doctrine. When 
the Apostle directs us, '•' If it be possible, and as much 
as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men," he seems 
to intimate, that though it be difficult, it is not Avholly 
impracticable. We cannot change the rooted preju- 
dices of their hearts against the gospel ; but it is pos- 
sible, by the Lord's blessing, to stop their mouths, and 
make them ashamed of discovering it, when they be- 
hold our good conversation in Christ. And it is well 
worth our while to cultivate this outward peace, pro- 
vided we do not purchase it at the expense of truth 
and faithfulness ; for ordinarily we cannot hope to be 
useful to our people, unless we give them reason to 
believe that we love them, and have their interest at 
heart. Again, opposition will hurt you, if it should 
give you an idea of your own importance, and lead 
you to dwell mth a secret self-approbation upon your 
own faithfulness and courage in such circumstances. 
If you are able to stand your ground uninfluenced 
either by the favour or the fear of men, you have rea- 
son to give glory to God ; but remember, that you 
cannot thus stand an hour, unless he upholds you. It 
shows a wrong turn of mind, when we are very ready 
to speak of our trials and difficulties of this kind, and 
of our address and resolution in encountering them. 
A natural stiffness of spirit, with a desire to have self 
taken notice of, may make a man willing to endure 
those kind of hardships, though he has but little grace 
in exercise : but true Christian fortitude, from a con- 
.sciousness that we speak the truths of God, and are 
supported by his power, is a very different thing. 

If you should meet with but little opposition, or if 
the Lord should be pleased to make your enemies 


your friends, you will probably be in danger from the 
opposite quarter. If opposition has hurt many, popu- 
larity has wounded more. To say the truth, I am in 
some pain for you. Your natural abilities are consi- 
derable ; you have been diligent in your studies ; your 
zeal is warm, and your spirit is lively. With these 
advantages, I expect to see you a popular preacher. 
The more you are so, the greater will your field of 
usefulness be : but, alas ! you cannot yet know to 
what it will expose you. It is like walking upon ice. 
When you shall see an attentive congregation hanging 
upon your words ; when you .shall hear the well- 
meant, but often injudicious, commendations of those 
to whom the Lord shall make you useful ; when you 
shall find, upon an intimation of your preaching in a 
strange place, people thronging from all parts to hear 
you, how will your heart feel ? It is easy for me to 
advise you to be humble, and for you to acknowledge 
the propriety of the advice ; but while human nature 
remains in its present state, there wiU be almost the 
same connection between popularity and pride, as be- 
tween fire and gunpowder ; they cannot meet A\'ith- 
out an explosion, at least not unless the gunpowder is 
kept very damp. So unless the Lord is constantly 
moistening our hearts (if I may so speak) by the in- 
fluences of his Spirit, popularity will soon set us in a 
blaze. You will hardly find a person, who has been 
exposed to this fiery trial, without suffering loss. 
Those whom the Lord loves, he is able to keep, and 
he will keep them upon the whole ; yet by such means, 
and in a course of such narrow escapes, that they shall 
have reason to look upon their deliverance as no less 
than miraculous. Sometimes, if his ministers are not 
watchful against the first impressions of pride, he per- 
mits it to gather strength : and then it is but a small 
thing that a few of their admirers may think them 


more than men in the pulpit, if they are left to com- 
mit such mistakes when out of it, as the weakest of 
the flock can discover and pity. And this will cer- 
tainly be the case, while pride and self-sufficiency 
have the ascendant. Beware, my friend, of mistaking 
the ready exercise of gifts for the exercise of grace. 
The minister may be assisted in public for the sake of 
his hearers ; and there is something in the nature of 
our public work, when surrounded by a concourse of 
people, that it is suited to draw forth the exertion of 
our abilities, and to engage our attention in the otit- 
ward services, when the frame of the heart may be 
far from being right in the sight of the Lord. When 
Moses smote the rock, the water followed ; yet he 
spoke unadvisedly ^dth his lips, and greatly displeas- 
ed the Lord. However, the congregation was not 
disappointed for his fault, nor was he put to shame 
before them ; but he was humbled for it afterwards. 
They are happy whom the Lord preserves in some de- 
gree humble, without leaving them to expose them- 
selves to the observation of men, and to receive such 
wounds as are seldom healed without leaving a deep 
scar. But even these have much to suifer. Many 
distressing exercises you will probably meet with up- 
on the best supposition, to preserve in you a due sense 
of your own unworthiness, and to convince you, that 
your ability, your acceptance, and your usefulness, de- 
pend upon a power beyend your own. Sometimes, 
perhaps, you \vi]l feel such an amazing difference be- 
tween the frame of your spirit in public and in pri- 
vate, when the eyes of men are not upon you, as will 
make you almost ready to conclude, that you are no 
better than an hypocrite, a mere stage- player, who 
derives all his pathos and exertion from the sight of 
the audience. At other times you will find such a 
total emptiness and indisposition of mind, that former 


seasons of liberty in preaching will appear to you like 
the remembrance of a dream, and you will hardly be 
able to persuade yourself, you shall ever be capable of 
preaching again : the Scriptures will appear to you 
like a sealed book, and no text or subject afford any 
light or opening to determine your choice : And this 
perplexity may not only seize you in the study, but 
accompany you in the pulpit. If you are enabled at 
some times to speak to the people with power, and to 
resemble Samson, when, in the greatness of his 
strength, he bore away the gates of the city, vou will, 
perhaps, at others, appear before them, like Samson, 
when his locks were shorn, and he stood in fetters. 
So that you need not tell the people you have no suf- 
ficiency in yourself, for they will readily perceive it 
without your information. These things are hard to 
bear ; yet successful popularity is not to be preserved 
upon easier terms : and if they are but sanctified to 
hide pride from you, you will have reason to number 
them amongst your choicest mercies. 

I have but just made an entrance upon the subject 
of the difficulties and dangers attending the ministry. 
But my paper is full. If you are willing I should 
proceed, let me know, and I believe I can easily find 
enough to fill another sheet. May the Lord make 
you wise and watchful ! That he may be the light of 
your eye, the strength of your arm, and the joy of 
your heart, is the sincere prayer of, &c. 





Men have carried their views on this subject to ex- 
tremes. Enthusiasts have said that learnings and 
that studying and writing sermons, have injured the 
Church. The accurate men have said, " Go and hear 
one of these enthusiasts hold forth !" 

But both classes may be rendered useful. Let 
each correct its evils, yet do its work in its own way. 

Some men set up exorbitant notions about accura- 
cy. But exquisite accuracy is totally lost on man- 
kind. The greater part of those Avho hear, cannot be 
brought to see the points of the accurate man. The 
Scriptures are not A\Titten in this manner. I should 
advise a young minister to break through all such 
cobwebs, as these unphilosophical men would spin 
round him. An humble and modest man is silenced, 
if he sees one of these critics before him. He should 
say, I am God's servant. To my own IVIaster I stand 
or fall. I will labour according to the utmost ability 


which God giveth, and leave all consequences to 

We are especially taught in the New Testament, 
to glorify the Spirit of God : and, in his gracious ope- 
rations in our ministry, we are nearer the Apostolic 
times than we often think ourselves. 

But this assistance is to be expected by us, as la- 
bourers in the vineyard ; not as rhapsodists. Idle 
men may be pointed out, who have abused the doc- 
trine of divine assistance ; but what has not been 
abused ? We must expect a special blessing to ac- 
company the truth : not to supersede labour, but to 
rest on and accompany labour. 

A minister is to be in season, and out of season j 
and, therefore, every where a minister. He will not 
employ himself in ^Titing secular histories : he will 
not busy himself in prosecuting mathematical enqui- 
ries. He will labour directly in his high calling; 
and indirectly, in a vast variety of ways, as he may 
be enabled : and God may bless that word in private, 
which may have been long heard in public in vain. 

A minister should satisfy himself in saying, " It 
matters not what men think of my talents. Am I 
doing what I can ?" — for there is great encourage- 
ment in that commendation of our Lord's, She hath 
done what she could. It would betray a wrong state 
of mind to say, " If I had discharged my duty in 
such and such a way, I should have succeeded." This 
is a carnal spirit. If God bless the simple manner in 
which you spoke, that will do good ; if not, no man- 
ner of speaking could have done it. 

There is such a thing in the religious world as a 
cold, carnal wisdom : every thing must be nicely 
weighed in the scales : every thing must be exactly 
measured by the rule. I question if this is not worse 
in its consequences, than the enthusiasm which it op- 


poses. Both are evil^ and to be shunned. But I 
scarcely ever knew a preacher or writer of this class 
who did much good. 

We are to go forthj expecting the excellency of God's 
porver to accompany us, since we are but earthen ves- 
sels : and if, in the Apostolic days, diligence was ne- 
cessary, how much more requisite is it now ! 

But, to the exercise of this diligence, a sufficiency 
in all things is promised. What does a minister re- 
quire ? In all these respects the promise is applica- 
ble to him. He needs, for instance, courage and pa- 
tience : he may, therefore, expect that the Holy Spi- 
rit will enable him for the exercise of these graces. 

A minister may expect more superintendence, more 
elevation, than a hearer. It can scarcely be ques- 
tioned that he ought to pray for this : if so, he has a 
ground in Scripture thus to pray. 

I have been cured of expecting the Holy Spirit's 
influence without due preparation on our part, by ob- 
serving how men preach who take up that error. I 
have heard such men talk nonsense by the hour. 

We must combine with St. Paul — " Bene orasse est 
bene studnisse" must be united with St. Paul's Me- 
ditate upon these things ; give thyself wholly to them, 
that thy projiting may appear to all. One errs who 
says, " I will preach a reputable sermon :" and ano- 
ther errs who says, " I will leave all to the assistance 
ofthe Holy Spirit," while he has neglected a diligent 


" We preach Christ crucijied." 1 Cor. i. 23. 

Christ is God's great ordinance. Notliing ever has 
been done, or Avill be done to purpose, but so far as 


he is held forth with simplicity. All the lines must 
centre in him. I feel this in my own experience, and 
therefore I govern my ministry by it ; but then this 
is to be done according to the analogy of faith — not 
ignorantly, absurdly, and falsely. I doubt not, in- 
deed, but that excess on this side is less pernicious 
than excess on the other ; because God will bless his 
own especial ordinance, though partially understood 
and partially exhibited. 

There are many weighty reasons for rendering Christ 
prominent in our ministry : — 

1. Christ cheers the prospect. Every thing con- 
nected with him has light and gladness thrown round 
it. I look out of my window ; — the scene is scowling 
— dark — frigid — forbidding : I shudder, my heart is 
chilled. But, let the sun break forth from the cloud 
— I can feel — I can act — I can spring. 

2. God descending and dwelling with man, is a 
truth so infinitely grand, that it must absorb all other. 
" You are his attendants ! Well ! but the king ! 
There he is ! — the king !" 

3. Out of Christ God is not intelligible, much less 
amiable. Such men as Clarke and Abernethy talk 
sublime nonsense. A sick woman said to me — ' Sir, 
I have no notion of God. I can form no notion of 
him. You talk to me about him, but I cannot get a 
single idea that seems to contain any thing/ ' But 
you know how to conceive of Jesus Christ as a man - 
God comes down to you in him, full of kindness and 
condescension.' Ah ! Sir, that gives me something 
to lay hold on. There I can rest. I understand God 
in his Son.' But if God is not intelligible out of 
Christ, much less is he amiable, though I ought to feel 
him so. He is an object of horror and aversion to me, 
corrupted as I am ! I fear, I tremble, I resist, I hate, 
I rebel. 


4. A preacher may pursue his topic, Avithout being 
led by it to Christ. A man who is accustomed to in- 
vestigate topics is in danger. He takes up his topic, 
and pursues it. He takes up another, and pursues 
it. At length Jesus Christ becomes his topic, and 
then he pursues that. If he cannot so feel and think 
as to bend all subjects naturally and gracefully to 
Christ, he must seek his remedy in selecting such as 
are more evangelical. 

5. God puts peculiar honour on the preaching of 
Christ crucified. A philosopher may philosophize his 
hearers, but the preaching of Christ must convert 
them. John the Baptist will make his hearers trem- 
ble ; but, if the least in the kingdom of heaven is 
greater than he, let him exhibit that peculiar feature 
of his superiority, Jesus Christ. Men may preach 
Christ ignorantly, blunderingly, absurdly ; yet God 
will give it efficacy, because he is determined to mag- 
nify his own ordinance. 

6. God seems, in the doctrine of the cross, to de- 
sign the destruction of man's pride. Even the mur- 
derer and the adulterer sometimes become subjects of 
the grace of the Gospel, because the murderer and 
adulterer are more easily convinced and humbled ; 
but the man of virtue is seldom reached, because the 
man of virtue disdains to descend. Remember me, 
saved a dying malefactor ! God, I thank thee, con- 
demned a proud Pharisee ! 

Every minister should therefore enquire, " What is 
for me the wisest ivajj of teaching Christ to men ?" 
Some seem to think that in the choice of a wise way, 
there lurks always a trimming disposition. There are 
men, doubtless, who will sacrifice to self, even Christ 
Jesus the Lord : but they, of all men, are farthest 
from the thing. There is a secret in doing it, which 


none but an honest man can discover. The knave is 
not half wise enough. 

We are not to judge one another in these things. 
Sufficient it is to us^ to know what we have to do. 
There are different ways of doing the same thing, and 
that with success and acceptance. We see this in the 
apostles themselves. They not only preached Christ 
in different ways ; but, what is more, they could not 
do this like one another. They declare this fact 
themselves ; and acknowledge the grace of God in 
their respective gifts. Our beloved brother Paul 
WTites, says St. Peter, according to the wisdom given 
unto him. But there are Peters, in our days, who 
would say, " Paul is too learned. Away with these 
things, which are hard to be understood. He should 
be more simple. I dislike all this reasoning." And 
there are Pauls, who would say, " Peter is rash and 
unguarded. He should put a curb on his impetuosi- 
ty." And there are Johns, who would say, " They 
should both discharge their office in my soft and win- 
ning manner. No good will come of this fire and 
noise." Nothing of this sort ! Each hath his proper 
gift of God ; one after this manner, and another after 
that : and each seems only desirous to occupy faith- 
fully till his master come, leaving his brethren to stand 
or fall to their own master. 

Too much dependence is often placed on a system 
of rational contrivance. An ingenious man thinks he 
can so manage to preach Christ, that his hearers will 
say—" Here is nothing of Methodism ! This has no- 
thing to do with that system \" I will venture to say, 
if this is the sentiment communicated by his minis- 
try, that he has not delivered his message. The peo- 
ple do not know what he means, or he has kept back 
part of God's truth. He has fallen on a carnal con- 
trivance, to avoid a cross ; and he does no good to 


souls. The 7vhole message must be delivered ; and it 
is better it should be delivered even coarsely, than 
not at all. We may lay it down as a principle, that 
if the Gospel be a medicine, and a specijic too, as it 
is, it must be got down such as it is. Any attempt 
to sophisticate and adulterate will deprive it of its 
efficacy ; and will often recoil on the man who makes 
the attempt, to his shame and confusion. The Jesuits 
tried to render Christianity palatable to the Chinese 
by adulterating it, but the Jesuits were driven with 
abhorrence from the empire. 

If we have to deal ^\ath men of learning, let us 
show learning so far as to demonstrate that it bears 
its testimony to the truth. But accommodation in man- 
ner must often spring from humility. We must con- 
descend to the capacity of men, and make the truth 
intelligible to them. 

If this be our manner of preaching Christ, we must 
make up our minds not to regard the little caviller, 
who will judge us by the standard of his favourite 
author or preacher. We must be cautious too, since 
men of God have been and ever will be the butt and 
scorn of the world, of thinking that we can escape its 
sneers and censures. It is a foolish project, to avoid 
giviiig offence ; but it is our duty, to avoid giving un- 
necessary offence. It is necessary offence, if it is given 
bv the truth ; but it is unnecessary, if our own spirit 
occasion it. 

I have often thought that St. Paul was raised up 
peculiarly to be an example to others, in labouring to 
discover the wisest way of exhibiting the Gospel ; not 
only that he was to be a great pattern in other points, 
but designedly raised up for tliis very thing. How 
does he labour to make tlie truth reasonahly plain ! 
How does he strain every nerve and ransack every 
corner of the heart, to make it reasonably pqlatable ! 


We need not be instructed in his particular meaning 
when he says, I became all things to all men, if by 
any means I might save some. His history is a com- 
ment on the declaration. 

The knowledge of Jesus Christ is a wonderful 
mystery. Some men think they preach Christ glori- 
ously, because they name him every two minutes in 
their sermons. But that is not preaching Christ. 
To understand, and enter into, and open his various 
offices and characters, the glories of his person and 
work, his relation to us, and ours to him, and to God 
the Father and God the Spirit through him ; this is 
the knowledge of Christ. The divines of the present 
day are stunted dwarfs in this knowledge, compared 
with the great men of the last age. To know Jesus 
Christ for ourselves, is to make him a consolation, 
delight, strength, righteousness, companion, and end. 

This is the aspect in which religion should be pre- 
sented to mankind ; it is suited, above all other, to 
produce effect ; and effect is our object. We must 
take human nature as we find human nature. We 
must take human nature in great cities, as we find 
human nature in great cities. We may say, " this 
or that is the aspect which ought to have most effect : 
we must illuminate the mind : we must enlist the 
reason : we must attack the conscience." We may 
do all this, and yet our comparative want of success 
in begetting and educating the sons of glory, may de- 
monstrate to us that there is some more effective way ; 
and that sound sense and philosophy call on us to 
adopt that way, because it is most effective. 

Our system of preaching must meet mankind ; they 
must find it possible to live in the bustle of the world, 
and yet serve God : after being worried and harassed 
with its concerns, let them hear cheering truths con- 
cerning Christ's love, and care, and pity, which will 


operate like an enchantment in dispelling the cares 
of life, and calming the, anxious perturbations of con- 
science. Bring forward privileges and enforce duties, 
in their proper places and proportions. 

Let there be no extremes ; yet I am arrived at this 
conviction : — Men who lean toward the extreme of 
evangelical privileges in their ministry, do much more 
to the conversion of their hearers, than they do, who 
lean toward the extreme of requirement. And my 
own experience confirms my observation. I feel my- 
self repelled, if any thing chiDs, loads, or urges me. 
This is my nature, and I see it to be very much the 
nature of other men. But, let me hear, son of man, 
thou hast played the harlot with many lovers ; yet re- 
turn again to me, saith the Lord, I am melted and 


I have found it, in many cases, a difficult thing to 
deal with a death-hed. We are called unto death-beds 
of various kinds : — 

The true pilgrim sends for us to set before him the 
food on which he has fed throughout his journey . He 
has a keen appetite. He wants strength and vigour 
for the last effort ; and, then, all is for ever well ! He 
is gone home, and is at rest ! 

Another man sends for us because it is decent ; or 
his friends importune him ; or his conscience is alarm- 
ed : but he is ignorant of sin and of salvation : he is 
either indifferent about both, or he has made up his 
mind in his own way : he wants the minister to con- 
firm him in his own views, and smooth over the 
wound. I have seen such men mad with rage, while 
1 have been beating down their refuge of lies, and set- 


ting forth to them God's refuge. There is a wise and 
holy medium to be observed in treating such cases : — 
'• I am not come to daub you over with untempered 
mortar : I am not come to send you to the bar of God 
with a lie in your right hand. But neither am I 
come to mortifv you, to put you to unnecessary pain, 
to embitter you, or to exasperate you." There is a 
kindness, affection, tenderness, meekness, and pa- 
tience, which a man's feelings and conscience \\ill con- 
demn him while he opposes ! I have found it a very 
effectual method to begin with myself ; it awakens at- 
tention, conciliates the mind, and insinuates convic- 
tion : — " VVhatever others think of themselves, I 
stand condemned before God : my heart is so despe- 
rately wicked, that, if God had not showed me in his 
Word a remedy in Jesus Christ, I should be in de- 
spair : I can only tell you what I am, and what I 
have found. If you believe yourselves to be what 
God has told me I am and all men are, then I can tell 
you where and hoAv to find mercy and eternal life : if you 
will not believe that you are this sort of man, I have 
nothing to offer you. I know of nothing else for man, 
beside that which God has showed me." 3Iy descrip- 
tions of my fallen nature have excited perfect asto- 
nishment : sometimes mv patients have seemed scarce- 
ly able to credit me ; but I have found that God has 
fastened, by this means, conviction on the conscience. 
In some cases, an indirect method of addressing the 
conscience may apparently be, in truth, the most di- 
rect ; but we are to use this method wisely and spa- 
ringly. It seems to me to be one of the characteris- 
tics of the day, in the religious world, to err on this 
subject. We have found out a circuitous way of ex- 
hibiting truth. The plain, direct, simple exhibition 
of it is often abandoned, even where no circumstances 
justify and require a more insinuating manner. There 


is dexterity indeed, and address in this ; but too lit- 
tle of the simple declaration of the testimony of God, 
which St. Paul opjjoses to excellency of speech or of 
wisdom^ and to enticing words of man's wisdom. We 
have done very little when we have merely persuaded 
men to think as we do. 

But we have to deal with a worse Death-Bed charac- 
ter, than wath the man who opposes the Truth. Some 
men assent to every thing which we propose. Thev 
Avill even anticipate us. And \et we see that they 
mean nothing. I have often felt when with such per- 
sons : " I would they could be brought to contradict 
and oppose ! That would lead to discussion. God 
might, peradventure, dash the stony heart in pieces. 
But this heart is like water. The impression dies as 
fast as it is made." I have sought for such views as 
might rouse and stir up opposition. I have tried to 
irritate the torpid mind. But all in vain. I once vi- 
sited a young clergyman of this character, who was 
seized with a dangerous illness at a CoflFee-house in 
town, whither some business had brought him : the 
first time I saw him, we conversed very closely toge- 
ther ; and, in the prospect of death, he seemed soli- 
citous to prepare for it. But I could make no sort of 
impression upon him : all I could possibly say met his 
entire approbation, though I saw his heart felt no inte- 
rest in it. When I visited him a second time, the 
fear of death was gone ; and, with it, all solicitude a- 
bout religion. He was still civil and grateful, but he 
tried to parry off the business on which he knew I 
came. " I will show you, Sir, some little things with 
which I have worn away the hours of my confinement 
and solitude." He brought out a quantity of pretty 
and tasty dra\vings. I was at a loss how to express, 
with suitable force and delicacy, the high sense I felt 
of his indecorum and insipidity, and to leave a deep 


impression on his conscience — I rose, however, in- 
stantly — said my time was expired — wished him well 
and withdrew. 

Sometimes we have a painful part to act with sin- 
cere men, who have been carried too much into the 
world. I was called in to visit such a man. " I find 
no comfort," he said. " God veils his face from me. 
Every thing round me is dark and uncertain." I did 
not dare to act the flatterer. I said — " Let us look 
faithfully into the state of things. I should have been 
surprised if you had not felt thus. I believe you to be 
sincere. Your state of feelings evinces your sincerity. 
Had I found you exulting in God, 1 should have con- 
cluded that you were either deceived or a deceiver : 
for, while God acts in his usual order, how could you 
expect to feel otherwise on the approach of death, 
than you do feel ? You have driven hard after the 
world. Your spirit has been absorbed in its cares. 
Your sentiment — your conversation have been in the 
spirit of the world. And have you any reason to ex- 
pect the response of conscience, and the clear evi- 
dence, which await the man who has walked and liv- 
ed in close friendship with God ? You know that 
what I say is true." His wife interrupted me, by at- 
suring me that he bad been an excellent man. " Si- 
lence !" • said the dying penitent, " It is all true !" 

Soon after I came to St John's, I was called on to 
visit a dying lady, whom I saw many times before her 
death. I found that she had taken God for her por- 
tion and rest. She approached him with the peni- 
tence of a sinner grateful for his pro^nsion of mercy 
in Christ. She told me she had found religion in her 
Common Prayer Book. She blessed God that'shehad 
" always been kept steady to her Church ; and that 
she had never followed the people called Methodists," 
who were seducing so many on all sides." I thought 


it would be unadviseable to attempt the removal of 
prejudices, which, in her dying case, were harmless ; 
and which would soon be removed by the light which 
would beam in on her glorified soul. We had more 
interesting subjects of conversation, from which this 
would have led us away. Some persons may tax her 
with a want of charity : but, alas ! I fear they are 
persons, who, knowing more than she did of the doc- 
trines of the Gospel, have so little of its divine chari- 
ty in their hearts, that, as they cannot allow for her 
prejudices, neither would they have been the last to 
stigmatize her as a dead formalist and a pharisee. 
God knoweth them that are his ; and they are often 
seen by him where we see them not. 


As I know you have received much good advice, I 
would suggest to you a few hints of a negative kind ; 
Avith a view of admonishing you to be careful, while 
you are doing your work, not by any mistakes of your 
own to hinder your success— 

I. By forgetting that your success with others is very 
much connected with your j)ersonal character. 

Herod heard John gladly, and he did many things ; 
because he kneAv the preacher to be a just and holy 
man. Words uttered from the heart find their way 
to the heart, by a holy sympathy. Character is 
power :— 

"A good man seen, though silent, counsel gives." 

If you would make deep impressions on others, you 
must use all means to have them first formed on your 


own mind. Avoid, at the same time, all appearances 
of evil — as a covetous or worldly, a vain or assuming, 
a careless or indevout deportment. Never suffer jest- 
ing with sacred persons or things. Satan will employ 
such antidotes as these, to counteract the operation 
of that which is effective and gracious in a Minister's 

II. By placing your dependence on any means, qua- 
lities, or circumstances, hoivever excellent in them- 

The direct way to render a thing weak, is to lean 
on it as strong. God is a jealous God ; and will ut- 
terly abolish idols as means of success. He designs 
to demonstrate that men and creatures are what he 
makes them, and that only. This also should be your 
encouragement : — looking, in the diligent and humble 
use of means, to that Spirit of life and power with- 
out whose influence all your endeavours will be to no 
purpose, you have reason to expect help suited and 
adequate to all your difficulties. 

III. By unneccessarily appearing in dangerous or 
improper situatiois. 

It is one thing to be humble and condescending ; it 
is another to render yourself common, cheap, and con- 
temptible. The men of the world know v/hen a Mi- 
nister is out of his place — \Mien they can oppress him 
by numbers or circumstances — when they can make 
him laugh, while his office frowns. Well will it be 
for him, if he is only rendered absurd in his future 
public admonitions, by his former compliances ; well 
if, being found like St. Peter on dangerous ground, 
he is not seduced, virtually at least, to deny his 

IV. By suspicious appearances in his family. 

As the head of your household you are responsible 
for its appearances. Its pride, sloth, and disorder 


will be yours. You are accountable for your wife's 
conduct, dress, and manners ; as well as those of your 
children, whose education must be peculiarly exem- 
plary. Your family is to be a picture of Avhat you 
wish other families to be : and, without the most de- 
termined resolution, in reliance on God, to finish this 
picture cost what it ivill, your recommending family 
religion to others will but create a smile. Your un- 
friendly hearers -vrill recollect enough of Scripture to 
teU you that you ought, like the primitive bishop, to 
be one, that ruleth well his own house, having his 
children in subjection with all gravity ; for if a man 
know not how to rule his own house, how shall he 
take care of the church of God ? 

\. Bi/ tneddliiig, beyond your sphere, in temporals. 

Your aim and conversation, like your sacred calling 
are to be altogether heavenly. As a man of God, you 
have no concern with politics and parties and schemes 
of interest, but you are to live above them. There is 
a sublime spirit in a devoted Minister, which, as one 
says of Christianity itself, pays no more regard to 
these things than to the battles of rooks, the industr}- 
of ants, or the policy of bees. 

VI. By venturing off general and acknowledged 
ground in spirituals. 

By giving strong meat, instead of milk, to those 
who are yet but babes — by giving heed to fables, 
which minister questions rather than godly edifying ; 
amusing the mind, but not affecting the heart ; often 
disturbing and bewildering, seldom convincing ; fre- 
quently raising a smile, never drawing a tear. 

VII. By maintaining acknowledged truth in your 
own spirit. 

Both food and medicines are injurious, if adminis- 
tered scalding hot. The spirit of a teacher often ef- 
fects more than his matter. Benevolence is a univer- 


sal language : and it will apologize for a multitude of 
defects, in the man who speaks it ; while neither ta- 
lents nor truth will apologize for pride, illiber ality 
or bitterness. Avoid, therefore, irritating occasions, 
and persons, particularly disputes and disputants, by 
which a Minister often loses his temper and his cha- 

VIII. By being too sharp-sighted, too quick-eared, 
or too ready-tongued. 

Some evils are irremediable : they are best neither 
seen nor heard : by seeing and hearing things which 
you cannot remove, you will create implacable adver- 
saries ; who, being guilty aggressors, never forgive. 
Avoid speaking meanly or harshly of any one : not only 
because this is forbidden to Christians, but because it 
is to declare war as by a thousand heralds. 

IX. By the temptations arising from the female 

I need not mention what havoc Satan has made in 
the Church, by this means, from the Fall to this day. 
Your safety, when in danger from this quarter, lies 
in flight — to parley, is to fall. Take the first hint 
from conscience, or from friends. 

In fine, watch thou in all things : endure afflic- 
tions : do the work of an evangelist : make full proof 
of thy ministry : and then, whether those around you 
acknowledge your real character or not now, they 
shall one day know that there hath been a prophet 
among them ! 






Do I sincerely give myself " to the ministry of the 
word ;" Acts vi. 4. and do I design to make it the 
chief business of my life to serve Christ in his Gospel, 
in order to the salvation of men ? 

Do I resolve^ through the aids of divine grace, " to 
be faithful to him who hath put me into the ministry," 
and "to take heed to the ministry which I have receiv- 
ed in the Lord that I may fulfil it .'■" 1 Tim. i. 12. 
Col. iv. 17- 

Do I honestly and faithfully endeavour by study 
and prayer to know " the truth as it is in Jesus ?" 
Eph. iv. 21. and do I seek my instructions chiefly 
from the " holy scriptures which are able to make 
me ^ase unto salvation, through the faith that is in 
Christ, that I may be thoroughly furnished unto every 
good word and work ?''' 2 Tim. iii. 14. l?- 

Do " I hold fast the form of sound words," as far 
as I have learned them of Christ and his apostles ? 
2 Tim. i. \3. That I "may by sound doctrine exhort 
and coni-ince gainsayers ;" Tit. i. p. and do I deter- 


mine to " continue in the things which I liave learn- 
ed, knowing from whom I have learned them ?'' 
2 Tim. iii. 14. 

Do I resolve to give the people the true meaning of 
Christ in his word, so far as I can understand it, and 
" not to handle the word of God deceitfully, but by 
manifestation of the truth commend myself to every 
man's conscience in the sight of God ?" 2 Cor. iv. 2. 

Am I watchful to " avoid profane and vain bab- 
blings?" 1 Tim. vi. 20. and do I take care to "shun 
foolish questions, which do gender strife, and disput- 
ing about words, which are to no profit, but the sub- 
version of the hearers.''" 2Tim. ii. 14, 23. 

Do I study to show myself approved unto God,_ 
rightly dividing the word of truth; 2 Tim. ii. 15. 
giving to every one, viz. to saints and sinners, their 
proper portion ? 

Do I make it my business to " testify to all men, 
whether Jews or Greeks, the necessity of repentance 
towards God, and faith in Christ Jesus ;" and that 
" there is no other name imder heaven given whereby 
Ave may be saved ;" making this gospel of Christ the 
subject of my ministry ? Acts xx. 21. Acts iv. 12. 

Do I constantly affirm that " those who have believed 
in Christ Jesus should maintain good works, and fol- 
low after holiness, without which no man shall see the 
Lord .^" Titus iii. 8. Heb. xii. 14. 

Do I teach those that hear me to " observe all that 
Christ hath commanded us, nor shun to declare to 
them at proper seasons the whole counsel of God ?" 
Mat. xxviii. 20. Acts xx. 27. 

Do I preach to the people, " not myself, but Christ 
Jesus the Lord, and myself as their servant for Christ's 
sake .''" 2 Cor. iv. 5. 

Do I, in my study and my preaching, " take heed 
to my doctrine and my exhortations, so that I may save 
myself and them that hear me?" 1 Tim. iv. 16. 



Do I " watch over the souls of men as one that 
must give an account, being solicitous that 1 may do 
it with joy, and not with grief?" Heb. xiii, 17- 



Do I " give attendance to reading," meditation and 
study ? Do I read a due portion of scripture daily, 
especially in the New Testament, and that in the 
Greek original, that I may be better acquainted with 
the meaning of the word of God ? 1 Tim. iv. 13. 

Do I apply myself to these things, and give myself 
wholly to them, that my profiting may appear to all ? 
1 Tim., iv. 15. 

Do I live, constantly, as under the eye of the great 
Shepherd, who is my master and my final judge ; and 
so spend my hours as to be able to give up a good ac- 
count of them at last to him ? 

Do I not " neglect to stir up any of those gifts, 
which God has given me, for the edification of the 
church?" 1 Tim. iv. 14. and 2 Tim. i. C. 

Do I seek, as far as possible, to know the state and 
the wants of my auditory, that I " may speak a word 
in season ?" Is. i. 4. 

Is it my chief design, in choosing my subject, and 
composing my sermon, to edify the souls of men ? 

Am I determined to take all proper opportunities 
to preach the word in season and out of season, that 
is, in the parlour or the kitchen, or the workhouse, as 
well as in the pulpit ; and seek opportunities to speak 
a word for Christ, and help forward the salvation of 
souls? 2 Tim. iv. 2. 



Do 1 labour to show my love to our Lord Jesus, by 
" feeding the sheep and the lambs of his flock ?" John 
xxi. 16, 17. 

Am I duly solicitous for the success of my ministry ? 
and do I take all proper methods to inquire what ef- 
fects my ministry has had on the souls of those who 
hear me ? 

Where I find or hope the work of grace is begun on 
the soul, am I zealous and diligent to promote it ? 



Do I " give myself to prayer, as well as to the mi- 
nistry of the word r" Acts vi. 4. 

Do I make conscience of praying daily in secret, 
that I may thereby maintain holy converse with God, 
and also, that I may increase in the gift of prayer ? 
Matth. vi. 6. 

Do I make it my practice to offer " prayers, sup- 
plications, and intercessions for all men," particular- 
ly for our rulers, and for my fellow labourers in the 
ministry, and for the church of Christ, and especially 
for those to whom I preach? 1 Tim. ii. 1. Rom. i. 
9, ] 0. Phil. i. 4. 

Do I seek by prayer, for divine direction and as- 
sistance in my studies, and in all my preparations for 
the public ? and do I plead for the success of my mi- 
nistry with God, in whom are all our springs ? Eph. 
iii. 14—19. Phil. i. 8, 9. 

Do I ever keep upon my spirit a deep sense of my 
own insufliciency for these things, that I may ever 
depend and wait on the power of Christ for aid and 
success.'' 2 Cor. ii. I6. and iii. 5. and 2 Tim. ii. ]. 




Do I endeavour to please all men for their good,, 
and not make it my business to please mvself ? Rom. 
xvi. 2. But to become all to all, that I may win their 
souls^ so far as is consistent with being true and faith- 
ful to Christ ? 1 Cor. x. 23, and ix. 19, 22. 

Do I behave myself before men, '•' not as a lord 
over God's heritage, but as a servant of all for Christ's 
S5ake ?" and do I treat them not as having dominion 
over their faith, but as a helper of their joy ?" 2 Cor. 
iv. 5. and i. 24. 

Am I " gentle and patient towards all men, in meek- 
ness instructing those that oppose themselves.^" 2 Tim. 
ii. 2-i, 25. 

Do I " approve myself in all things as a minister 
of God ; in much patience possessing mv own soul," 
and having the government of my own spirit .-* 2 Cor. 
vi. 4. 

Do I, as a man of (iod, whose business is heaven- 
ly, flee from covetousness and the inordinate desire of 
gain ; not seeking my own things so much as the 
things of Christ.'' 1 Tim. vi. 10, 1 1. But having food 
and raiment, have I learned therewith to be content ? 
1 Tim. vi. 8. 

Am I wilUing " to endure hardness as a good sol- 
dier of Jesus Christ ?" 2 Tim. ii. 3. and am I learning 
to bear whatsoever God caUs me to, " for the sake of 
the elect, that they may obtain salvation with eternal 
glory ?" 2 Tim. ii. 3. 10. 


Am I more and more fortified against shame and 
suffering for the testimony of my Lord Jesus Christ ? 
2 Tim. i. 8—12. 

Am I willing " to spend myself and to be spent for 
the good of the people^ or even to be offered up, as a 
sacrifice for the service of their faith ? and do I count 
nothing dear to me, that I may fulfil the ministry 
which I have received of the Lord Jesus ?" PhU. 
ii. 17- 2 Cor. xii. 15. Acts xx. 24. 



It is my constant endeavour to " hold fast the true 
faith, and a good conscience together, lest making 
shipwreck of one, I should lose the other also." 1 
Tim. i. 19. 

" Do I so walk as to be an " example of Christian, in 
word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity .''" 
1 Tim. iv. 12 ; that in " all things I may show myself 
a pattern of good works?" Tit. ii. 7- 

Do I endeavour to walk uprightly amongst men, 
and do nothing by partiality ? 1 Tim. v. 21. 

Is my conversation savoury and religious, so as to 
minister edification to the hearers ? Eph. iv. 29. 

Do I " shun youthful lusts, and follow after right- 
eousness, faith, charity, and peace with all them that 
call on the Lord, out of a pure heart ?" 2 Tim. ii. 22. 

Do I avoid, as much as possible, the various temp- 
tations to which I may be exposed, and watch against 
the times, and places, and company which are dan- 
gerous .'' 

Do I practise the Christian duty of love and cha- 
rity, to those who differ from me in opinion, and even 



" bless and pray for them that are ray enemies ?" Rom. 
xii. 14 ; and xiv. 1. 

' Do I behave myself blameless as a steward of God, 
not self-wiUedj not soon angry, not given to wine, nor 
filthy lucre, no brawler, no striker ; a lover of hospi- 
tality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temper- 
ate ? Tit. i. 7, 8. 

Do I daily endeavour " to give no oflFence in any 
thing, that the ministry be not blamed?" 2 Cor. vi. 3. 

Do I watch over myself in all times, and places, and 
conversations, so as to do and to bear what is required 
of me, to make a full proof of my ministry, and to 
adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour ? 2 Tim. iv. 5. 
Tit. ii. 10.