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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
tempt of the Clergy will be attended with a contempt of the Gospel, and of God Himself at last. More sinners have been converted by holy than by learned men.
It is the greatest presumption to pretend to heal others of a distemper I labour under myself.
John viii. 46. “ Which of you convinceth me of sin ?” Here is a pattern of a pastor. He who would edify by his sermons, must be that same virtuous, sober, serious, pious man in his life and conversation ; he will then be heard with respect and reverence. If a Clergyman is eager after pleasures, the world and its idols, trifling and vain in life, all he says from the pulpit will signify nothing. He that religiously practises himself what he teaches others, preaches effectually. No man can teach well, who does not live well. It is true, the faith is not built upon lives of those that preach it, but upon the Word of God. A bad life exposes Christians to great temptations, &c.
John xxi. 16. “ Simon, lovest thou me?" &c. This should teach us, that nothing but a sincere love for God, and for the souls of men, which He loved so well as to redeem them by His own Son, can carry us through the work of the ministry. How shall we attain to such a love? By prayer ; by reading the Scriptures; by instructing the poor, the young, after such a manner as to affect our own hearts; by visiting, relieving, comforting, sick and needy people, &c. These will pray for you, and God will hear their prayers, and increase His love, &c.
Difficulties. If the motives which determined you to take holy orders were the glory of God, and the good of souls, He will enable you to bear and get the better of all difficulties.
The design of religion being to lead men to the knowledge of God, how He is to be worshipped, appeased, honoured ; and to make men holy, that they may be happy when they die; the great business of a preacher should be, to show how the Christian
religion, and all its parts contribute to this end. They that recommend eternal possessions to others, ought to show by their lives, that they are themselves verily persuaded of the vanity of all earthly pleasures, avoiding superfluities, &c. Jesus Christ preached up the contempt of the world, by contemning it himself. A pastor's knowledge need not extend so far as is imagined. If he knows the Scriptures, and what concerns the king. dom of God, and the way of leading souls thither, he knows sufficient. We must speak to the heart as well as to the understanding. While we attack men's reason only, they will hear with patience ; but when we attack the heart and its corruption, then they are uneasy. I would rather send away an hearer smiting his breast, than please the most learned audience with a fine sermon against any vice. Let people feel that you are in earnest, that you believe and are deeply affected with the great truths
you would recommend. Avoid such discourses and subjects as would divert the mind, without instructing it. Never consult your own fancy in the choice of subjects, but the necessities of your flock.
A concern for what may come hereafter; a firm hope of immortality ; a fear of a judgment to come, and of hell torments. Remember, that your own salvation depends very much upon the salvation of your flock. A man may flatter himself with keeping fair with the world, by not telling them the danger they are in. This was not the way of Jesus Christ'. A preacher ought to advance nothing but what he has received from JESUS Christ. My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me ?. With what truth can it be said, that your sheep hear your voice, when you speak of matters above their capacity, or in a language or terms which they do not understand? Can any man imitate a greater master of eloquence than Jesus Christ was, whose great excellence appears in making great truths understood by the meanest capacity? The great end of our ministry, and our
1 John vii. 7.
2 John vii. 16.
TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
great delight, should be to destroy the kingdom of Satan. To have an eye to the learned part of our audience, who will not very likely profit by you, rather than to the poor in spirit, whom God designs to save, is very wrong. He that considers that he is God's ambassador to his people; that he speaks from God to them ; that Jesus Christ speaks by him; will labour with sincerity and devotion for the salvation of souls'. God would have all men see, that the success of the Gospel depends upon His grace, and therefore preachers should be humble, meek, charitable, &c. It is too often that preachers perplex those whom they should instruct, either by proving things wbich want no proof,—the being of a God, &c., or by proposing useless questions and doubts; or speaking of things above the capacities of the common people. There is a great deal of difference betwixt people admiring a preacher, and being edified by his
Test of a good Preacher.
We count him a good physician whose patients we see cured. If the people are cured of their intemperance, lying, &c. his works will speak for him.
1 Cor. iii. 7. “ Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." We must depend on God for success, not take that to ourselves which belongs to God alone. It is God who gives His ministers, such as are humble, power over the hearts and souls of men ; when distrusting themselves, they ascribe all the glory to God. We take the work out of the hands of God, when we are pleased with what we have done, and rob Him of the honour due to Him alone. There have been many who, without any great learning or eloquence, yet by their communication in an humble and low way, have instructed and converted more than famous preachers; for they preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus, placing all their confidence in God.
1 2 Cor. ii. 17.
The Blessing of Levi. Deut. xxxii. 11. “Bless, LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands. Smite through the loins of them that rise up against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again." This is a prophetical declaration of the dreadful punishment of such as shall oppose the priesthood.
Question from the Office of Ordination.—WILL YOU SHOW YOURSELF GENTLE, AND BE MERCIFUL FOR Christ'S SAKE TO POOR AND NEEDY PEOPLE, AND TO ALL STRANGERS DESTITUTE OF HELP? Ans. I WILL SO SHOW MYSELF, by God's help..
Upon one of the days of the week (κατά μίαν Σαββάτων) let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him.
Gen. xxviii. 20. “Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in the way
and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, then shall the Lord be my God; and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee."
Luke xi. 41. “But rather give alms of such things as you have (or as you are able) and all things are clean unto you.” That is, proportion your alms to your estate, lest God proportion your estate to your
alms ?. Luke xii. 33. “Sell that ye have, and give alms : provide yourselves bags which wax not old ; a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth cor
1 1 Cor. xvi. 2.
2 Bishop Beveridge.
TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.
rupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." This is still a necessary Christian duty, whatever men think of it; to part with our worldly enjoyments for the sake of CHRIST. To sell all; this is, to renounce all the pleasures, and pomp, and enjoyment, which wealth affords, as if we had actually parted with it; to take to a man's self no more of his estate than necessity requires; and to make the remainder the support of the poor and distressed :-It being utterly impossible to take delight in the enjoyments of riches, and to love God with all the soul. If GOD is our only happiness, we shall of course be dead, crucified, to the world. Give to the poor, said our LORD to the rich young man whom He loved. Had there been a better way of disposing of his estate, He would certainly have told him.
Matt. vi. 1, 2. "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them. Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. Thy FATHER, which seeth in secret, Himself shall reward thee openly." By vanity we lose both our riches and our reward. It is vanity to boast of our alms, and it is vanity to take pleasure in reflecting upon them. It is sufficient that GOD will remember them.
Tobit xii. 8.
"It is better to give alms than to lay up
Deut. xv. 7. "If there shall be a poor man within any of thy gates, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt freely lend him sufficient for his need. Thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him, because that for this thing the LORD thy GOD shall bless thee in all thy works."
Psalm xli. 1. "Blessed be the man that provideth for the sick and needy: the LORD shall deliver him in the time of trouble."
Matt. v. 7. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
Ecclus. iv. 8. "Bow down thine ear to the poor, and give him a friendly answer with meekness; be as a father unto the fatherless, and as an husband unto the widow; so shalt thou be VOL. II.-65.