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to his own master. He is to persist in explaining the whole counsel of God, in setting forth the sincere word of Jesus Christ, precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line ; bere a little, and there a little, in meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves; in humble hope that peradventure an hour may come,
when God will give unto them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (b):
Lastly; the Christian Preacher is to preach not himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord (i). He serves the Lord Christ: for Christ he is an ambassador: his master's glory, not his own, must he pursue. The pulpit he is to regard not as the throne of his exaltation, but as the place where he is to manifest himself the servant of all for, the fake of Jesus (k). He is not to assume to himself consequence, as though he were lord over the heritage of God. He is not to seek to have dominion over the faith of his brethren. He is not to convert the house of God into a theatre for the display of his erudition, of his imagination, of his eloquence.
Devoted to his master's honour, absorbed in solicitude for
(6) Isaiah, xxviii. 10. () Ibid.
2 Tim. ii, 25. (i) 2 Cor. iv. s.
the falvation of his flock; how shall he make himself, his own reputation, his own authority, his own secular advantage, the end and object of his preaching? How shall he thus hypocritieally profess himself a worker together with Christ? How shall he thus profane the ministry of the word of life?
II. I proceed to the duties of a Christian Hearer.
By contemplating the devious tracks in which the careless and the obstinate are bewildered, we are taught to discern and to value the path of safety. Consider then the unworthy motives and views, with which men too often present themselves as hearers of sermons.
Many persons attend public worship, and preaching as one part of it, from custom, or from a regard to character. They see the neighbourhood flocking to the church : therefore they go thither. They perceive that orderly and respectable persons make a point of regular attendance: and they are not unwilling to embrace the same method of being esteemed orderly and respectable. A man of this description has fatisfied hiş wishes by shewing himself in the church
To be observed as forming one of the congregation was his object. To worship God in spirit and in truth, was not the purpose which attracted him. The service therefore engages little of his attention. In some passages perhaps he joins, yet mechanically, through form rather than devotion ; but his thoughts are commonly roving among other subjects. When he listens to the sermon, it is without earnestness; and with many a secret wish that it were at an end. He relapses into some worldly train of thought; until he is aroused from a vacant Feverie, or from meditation on his business or his pleasures, by hearing the joyful sound of the congregation rising to depart.
Others frequent preaching from curiosity. Like the Athenians, they are always eager to hear some new thing. In the language of Scripture, they have itching ears, and after their own lufts heap to themselves teachers. They wander from one place of worship to another ; become dissatisfied with any minister whom they have heard for a continuance; and speedily learn not to relish any preacher, who is not extravagant in manner, and violent in declamation. The time foon arrives when, fulfilling the prophecy of St. Paul, they will
not endure found doctrine; but turn away from the truth, and are turned unto fables (1). They are perplexed and confounded by a multitude of instructors. Tofled to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine; they depart from the words of truth and foberness, and fall a prey to the wildest dclusions.
Others listen to a fermon with a criticising spirit; not careful to profit by it, but watchful to fit in judgment upon it. Swoln with spiritual pride, and deeming themselves complete masters of the most difficult points of doctrine, they fcrutinise every sentence which drops from the lips of the preacher ; put each of his terms to the rack; examine the foundness of his orthodoxy with inquisitorial suspicion; and if they are able to fasten upon an expression not precisely consonant with the niceties of their own religious phraseology, or capable of being understood in a sense somewhat at variance with their peculiar prepossessions, deny their instructor to be evangelical, pronounce him blind, and congratulate themselves upon their own fcriptural attainments and keen-eyed fagacity. Eager to censure, and impatient to decide ; the fruit (1) 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4.
which they reap from the return of the Sabbath is to be fattered in presumption and confirmed in ignorance.
Others become hearers of sermons for no better purpose than that of entertainment. Counterparts of the Jews in the days of Ezekiel, who talked one with another at the doors of their houses, and spoke every one to his brother, saying, “ Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh from the Lord;" because the preaching of the Prophet was to them as a very lovely song of one that had a pleasant voice, and could play well upon an instrument (m); they resort on the Lord's day to the house of God with views and feelings fimilar to those which impelled them on the preceding evening to a scene of musical feftivity. They frequent particular churches for the sake of “
good preaching.” And by good preaching they intend not that faithful display and powerful application of evangelical truth, which awaken the conscience and probe the heart: but elegance of language, harmoniousness of voice, gracefulness of delivery, in the first place; and in the next place, smooth precepts and unmerited encouragements, interspersed with interesting addresses to the (m) Ezek. xxxiii. 32.