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superior class; and especially at a time when the impres sions of religion are new to them. You will find them more open than elder persons, if you court their intimacy, 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 business will make, you may pretty well guess at their turn of mind in more advanced
§ 37. 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-naturel way as our character requires, is more than half-way to our purpose. Where 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 betraying the confidence they have put in you. By these methods 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.
§ 38. 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 different tempers and complexions of mankind, distribute, in your thoughts, your people into classes, according 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 formed alike, you will find, upon further inquiry, a striking uniformity in the Spirit's work and way of proceeding with them.
§ 39. 6. I might recommend a way of knowing these things at second hand, viz. from the most popular and experimental authors; but this way is far inferior to the other: we shall but faintly paint any phænomenon of the heart, by copying another picture; it is infinitely preferable to do it from the life. Yet would I earnestly recommend the perusal of such authors as deal much in an expe
rimental strain, and have been very successful in it; but with a different design, viz. That we may learn from them, now 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 end.
§ 40. 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, with a zeal for our Master's interest, and sensible of our own insufficiency, 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 Father and Holy Spirit, that one God whom we adore, be paid the highest honours and praises to eternal ages. Amen.
OF THE MOST USEFUL WAY OF PREACHING.
1, Introduction. The subject proposed. The supposed character of an useful preacher. § 2, Useful preaching requires that a minister lay down, very frequently, the distinguishing marks of the converted and unconverted, with plainness, and especially with justness. § 3, Clearly distinguish betwixt mere morality and true religion. § 4, Instruct in, and exhort to the duty of self-examination. § 5, Shew the differente between what is legal, and what evangelical, in principle and practice. 6, Shew men their native weakness, with the grace and strength of Christ. § 7, These last particulars further enforced. § 8, The necessity, nature, and progress of conversion. § 9, A minister should take pains with his own heart and sermons, in order to bring sinners to Christ. § 10, Inculcate the necessity of prayer. § 11, Explain the gradual renewing of the mind. § 12, Represent the whole of Christian faith and duty as amiable and attractive. § 13, Avoid prolixity in explaining the text, and hasten to the application. 14, Use the most winning arguments to bring souls to Christ. § 15, Display the excellency of Christ's person and grace. § 16, Insist on the love of Christ. § 17, And see that you love Christ fervently yourself. § 18, Express it not only in words, but also by correspondent actions. 19, Preach upon the duties of setf-denial and weanedness from the world. § 20, Recommend reading not only of the Scriptures, but also of otker good books. § 21,
And practise the same for personal edification. § 22, Recommend converse with growing, praying Christians. § 23, Conclusion. A prayer.
$ 1. IN N answer to the question which you have proposed to me, viz. How a faithful minister, who earnestly desires to save and to edify the souls of his hearers, to gain sinners unto Christ, and to inflame their hearts with a growing love to their Saviour, may best adapt his preaching to these excellent purposes? I can only at present suggest a few things briefly; whereas, if I had more leisure, I should choose to write more copiously on so weighty a subject.
I must take it for granted that a minister, who sincerely desires and who is likely to do good by his preaching, is such a one, both in heart and life, as St. Paul describes, "Who holds fast the form of sound words (or the pure apostolic doctrine) which he has heard, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus; and who keeps that good thing which has been committed to him by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in him. *
2. It will not a little subserve the good ends proposed in the question, for a minister, very frequently, to lay down in his sermons the distinguishing marks and characters both of the converted, and of the unconverted, and that with all possible plainness, that so every one of his hearers may be able to judge of his own state, and may know to which of these two classes he belongs; but then great care must be taken that those distinguishing characters are justly drawn: for it may easily happen, through a preacher's unskilfulness in this affair, that the unconverted, on the one hand, may be deceived into a good opinion of their present state, and may grow thereupon more secure and careless; and that some converted persons, on the other hand, may be unreasonably disquieted, and filled with groundless and fruitless fears. However, a prudent minister, who has experienced a work of grace upon his own heart, will have no great difficulty so to describe it to others, as sufficiently to guard against the mistakes on both
* 2 Tim. i. 13, 14.
sides; and to lead both the one and the other, by the unerring light of Scripture, into the knowledge of the true state of their own souls.
3. For this purpose also let a minister carefully and clearly distinguish, in his preaching, betwixt mere morality and true religion; betwixt the morally honest man and the sound believer, who, from a deep conviction of the depravity of his nature and the errors of his life, has learned to hate sin from his heart, and lives by the faith of the Son of God; for it is hardly credible what multitudes of persons there are, even in Christian countries, where the gospel is publicly and faithfully preached, who, though they are wise enough in other matters, yet in this are grossly ignorant, and thereby miserably deceive their own souls.
64. And, because this kind of self-deceit is so very common, it is highly necessary for a minister to instruct his hearers, with all possible plainness, in the duty of selfexamination; and very often to exhort them to it: as more especially, to inquire if ever they were awakened from their natural sleep of sin? If they have escaped out of the snare of the Devil? If ever they have had a lively and affecting sense of the corruption of their own hearts, and of the misery of their natural state? And, in short, whether they have good and solid reasons to conclude that they are regenerate persons? Whether they can find in themselves the genuine marks of a true conversion to God, and a living faith in Christ? &c. Or whether, on the other hand, they do not conclude that they are true Christians, and in a state of salvation, merely from their being moral, honest men, and their not living in any gross and scandalous sin? And, perhaps too, from their saying prayers, hearing sermons, and frequenting the places of public worship, and from their practising such like outward duties of religion? Or, again, whether they do not flatter themselves that their eternal state is safe, merely because their lives are not altogether so bad as the lives of some others?
§ 5. It would also be of very considerable use for a minister often to explain, and to shew the difference betwixt