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after thine own heart, even such as shall bring the sheep of Christ into his fold, and who, through the influence of thy good Spirit, shall feed them with saving knowledge and understanding! Make every preacher of thy word to know and always to remember, that neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but thou art all in all, who alone canst give the increase! Let none of them vainly presume on their own skill and ability to do any good by their preaching, and obtain any good success! but let them all humbly wait upon thee, and by fervent daily prayer let them seek for and obtain the aids of thy grace, to enable them to dispense the word of life! and let thy blessing render their preaching happily successful to the souls of those that hear them! Amen."
RULES FOR THE PREACHER'S CONDUCT.
§ 1, Introduction. The subject stated. §2 (1.) Take heed to your Personal Religion. § 3, As to its reality and evidence, liveliness and power, growth and increase. §4, Which will have many happy effects. § 5 (II.) Take heed to your Private Studies. General studies. § 6, Particular studies. § 7, Particular rules in preparatory studies. I, In choosing a text. 9. 3, In speaking of the things § 11, Of grace.
§ 8. 2, In handling a text. of God. 10, Of duties.
§ 12-16, The
§ 17. 4, Dis§ 18. 5, Teach
gospel is the only effectual means of salvation. tinguish the different characters of hearers. them to build their faith on solid grounds. § 19. 6, In every sermon bring something practical. § 20. 7, Impose nothing on them but what Christ hath imposed. § 21. 8, Remember you have to do with each of the human faculties: The understanding and (§ 22) The reasoning powers. § 23, The imagination. § 24, The memory. § 25, The conscience, will, and affections. § 26. 9, Borrow the art of reasoning and persuasion from the holy Scriptures. § 27. 10, Be not slothful or negligent in your weekly preparation for the pulpit. § 28, (III.) Take heed to your Public Labours. 1, Apply to the work with pious delight. § 29. 2, Get the heart into a temper of divine love. § 30. 3, Go forth into the strength of Christ. substance of your sermon wrought into your head and heart. § 32. 5, Do not confine yourself precisely to 33. 6, Proper attention should be paid Be solicitous about success· very E
§ 31. 4, Get the
to elocution. § 34. 7,
(IV.) Take heed to your whole Conversation in the world; 1, Let it be blameless and inoffensive. § 36. 2, Exemplary in all duties. § 37. 9, Grave and manly, yet pleasant and engaging. § 38. 4, Attended with much self-denial and meekness. § 39, 5, Fruitful and edifying. § 40 (V.) These duties en
41, By the decaying interest of religion. § 42,
By the awful circumstances of a dying-bed.
solemn account we must give of our ministry.
§ 43, By the
§ 44, By all the terrors of the sacred volume; and (§ 45) By all the joys of Paradise.
§ 1. WHEN true religion falls under a general and remarkable decay, it is time for all that are concerned to awaken and rouse themselves to fresh vigour and activity, in their several posts of service. If the interests 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 kingdom, 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 brethren therefore in the ministry forgive me if I presume, at this season, to set before them a plain and serious exhortation. What I have to say on this subject shall be contained under four general heads.
I. Take heed to your own personal religion, as absolutely necessary to the right discharge of the ministerial
II. Take heed to your private studies, and preparation for public service.
III. Take heed to your public labours, and actual ministrations in the church.
IV. Take heed to your conversation in the world, and especially among the flock of Christ over whom you preside. Bear with me while I enlarge a little upon each of
§ 2. (I.) Take heed to your Personal Religion, especially to the work of God in your own heart, as absolutely necessary to the right discharge of the ministerial 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 shameful and inconsistent character, and forbids in practice what he recommends in words and sen
But it is not enough for a minister to have a common 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 blessed Jesus should be more expert in the Christian exercises, and more advanced in the holy warfare, than their fellow-soldiers are supposed to be: 2 Cor. vi. 4. 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 as to the knowledge and practice of duty, are much greater than what 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.
§ 3. 1. Take heed therefore to your own practical and vital religion, as to the reality and the clear undoubted 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 minister 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 damnation.
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 conversion to God, be many and fair, be strong and unquestionable; that 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 liveliness and power of it. Let it not be a sleepy thing in your bosom, but sprightly and active, and always awake. Keep your own soul near to God, and in the way in which you first came near him, i. e. by the mediation of Jesus Christ. Let no distance and estrangement 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 with 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 invisible.” *
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 wandering 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 ministering 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 kindgom, and the fairest image of his Father.
§ 4. Such a conduct will have several happy influences towards the fulfilling of your ministry, and will render you more fit for every part of your public ministrations.
* Heb. xi. 27.