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probability, that, as God has in his goodness been pleased to guide us ordinarily in one of these manners, (namely, by information and impulse communicated to the mind through the medium of the senses ;) he may not, on fit subjects and occasions deteminable only by himself, direct us in another, (namely by immediate communication to the mind itself :) nor can it be shewn that this gift of grace any way derogates from the endowments of nature, or may not influence us in perfect consistency with the free operation both of the un derstanding and the will. But these rational subsidiary arguments in support of a truth revealed, you may not readily make intelligible or useful to an ordinary congregation : you will rather think it sufficient to lay before them the doctrine with the scriptural proofs; and then lead them to practical conclusions ; you will exhort them “ to work out their own salvation" with a mixture of confidence and anxiety, because God worketh in them both “ to will and to do* ;" encouraged by the assurance of his gracious assistance, but “ trem bling" at the thought of not co-operating with it, and so receiving it in vain.
These few examples may serve to shew you the manner, in which I conceive you may be an edifying preacher of sound doctrine ; stating it clearly ; proving it from the scriptures ; confirming it from reason, if the case permit; and drawing from it practical inferences; but referring all curious disputations concerning it to their prop. er place and occasion. It is the duty of the whole Christian Church to preserve unimpared “ the faith which was once delivered to the saintst," and recorded for the use of all succeeding generations. It will be your duty, as a minister therein, to declare it to the people committed to your charge ; and to provide to the extent of your situation and ability, that it may be handed down in perfection and purity from age to age, nothing being “ added thereto, nor aught di. minished from itf." The several articles of this scriptural faith are to form the substance, and colour the language of your discourses : and though some of them, on account of their high order and practical tendency, demand more frequent handling and application than others, you are to suffer none to be forgotten.
But the three great points of Christian doctrine, in which the whole is virtually comprehended, are for that reason, subjects which you can never treat too frequently or too copiously; the means, the conditions, and the consequences, of our final acceptance with God. The progressive communication of these saving truths seems to have been the object of all divine revelation ; and therefore to propound and recommend them, appears to be the proper scope of all human and ministerial instruction. For this gracious purpose, “ God did at sundry times and in divers manners speak” in former ages to mankind, by sensible manifestations of his presence, by the ministry of angels, and by the embassy of prophets; and he “ hath in these last days spoken unto them by his Son.g" For this, the Apostles in obedience to the last injunction of their divine master, “ went into all the world and preached the Gospel to every creature://" they be. * Philip. ji. 12. 13. + Jude 3.
# Deut. iv. 2. $ Heb. i. I.
|| Mark xvi, 15.
came voluntary exiles (most of them) from their country, and ex posed themselves to persecution, imprisonment, and death. For the same end, their immediate successors made it the object of their studies and lives to propagate the faith of Christ, and to guard it against misconception or perversion. With the same view in succeeding ages, the piety of princes and people conspired in building places of Worship, and founding seminaries of religion. “The gates, of hell,” the devices of Satan or misguided men, or the natural mortality of its members, « have not prevailed against the Church of Christ*." A succession of ministers has been continued for near eighteen centuries : some indeed, for many ages past, labouring under the oppression of Mahometan tyranny ; " their candlestick removed out of its placet," and their light obscured. Othe ers, protected by Christian governments, respected and listened to by their congregations, and leading them as we trust, with successful diligence, in the ways of faith, virtue, and happiness.
You will, therefore, as I just now intimated, be continualy im. pressing upon the minds of your congregation the nature and tenor of the Gospel covenant; explaining to them what God hath in his mercy done for us through Jesus Christ, what his holiness and jus. tice require of us, and what, if we conform to this requisition, his goodness hath prepared for us. You will speak of the obedience due from every creature to the Creator: which is paid implicitly and uniformly by the natural or necessary agent, and is the stay of the whole” material “worldt:” which the rational agent has the high privilege of presenting as an elective, voluntary, offering; and of deriving from the divine bounty, through his own free choice, the perfection and happiness of his being. You will call to their recollection (a fact to which every man's conscience bears testimony) the imperfect obedience of all mankind; the consequent necessity which they feel, of mercy; and the only channel and mediation through which God hath been pleased to offer it. You will state, explain, and inculcate the conditions upon which we may receive this covenanted mercy : you will display the free gift or reward proposed to us, if we accept the conditions; the loss and punishment, if we reject them.
THE ADVANTAGES OF A LITURGY.
THAT forms of prayer in public worship are far preferable to extempore effusions, may be clearly shewn to every candid and unprejudiced mind.
The advantages of a liturgy, says Archdeacon Paley, are these :
1. That it prevents absurd, extravagant, or impious addresses to God, which, in an order of men so numerous as the sacerdotal, the folly and enthusiasm of many must always be in danger of producing, where the conduct of the public worship is entrusted without restraint or assistance, to the discretion and abilities of the officiating minister. * Matth. xvi. 18.
f Rev. ii. 5.. Hooker Eccl. Pol. i. 2, 3, &c.
2. That it prevents the confusion of extemporary prayer, in which the congregation being ignorant of each petition before they hear it, and having little or no time to join in it, after they have heard it, are confounded between their attention to the minister and their own devotion. The devotion of the hearer is necessarily suspended until a petition be concluded ; and before he can assent to it, or properly adopt it, that is, before he can address the same request to God for himself, his attention is called off to keep pace with what succeeds. Add to this, that the mind of the hearer is held in continual expectation, and detained from its proper business by the very novelty with which it is gratified. A congregation may be pleased and affected with the prayers and devotion of their minister, without joining in them, in like manner as an audience oftentimes are with the representa ation of devotion upon the stage, who nevertheless come away without being conscious of having exercised any act of devotion themselves. Joint prayer, which amongst all denominations of Christians is the declared design of “ coming together,” is prayer in which they all join; and not that which one alone in the congregation conceives and delivers, and of which the rest are merely hearers. This objection seems fundamental, and holds even where the minister's office is discharged with every possible advantage and accomplishment. The labouring recollection and embarrassed or tumultuous delivery of many exteinporary speakers, form an additional objection to this mode of public worship; for these imperfections are very general, and give great pain to the serious part of a congregation, as well as afford a profane diversion to the levity of the other.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
Or spreading, turret-crown'd, across the plain.
But mark his power and wisdom infinite,
Instead, behold, a mountain rises fair,
On sure foundations laid, Mount Zion call's
* Alluding to Constantine's vision of the cross