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and ornament of the coming time. mankind should think well of us, and In the same view, St. Paul, having when properly limited and directed, it exborted Timothy, that he should let is a useful one. But young men are no man despise his youth, adds, as a apt to be influenced too much by it, means to this end, that he should "give before they have learned, by experiattendance to reading,” and not neglect ence, of how little real value the opinthe gift that was in him, which was ion of the world is ; upon what slight given him by prophecy, with the lay- ground it is usually built; and how ing on of the hands of the presbytery. often it is placed on the wrong side. A plain proof, if there were no other, Whoever knows, and duly considers that the supernatural gifts, conferred these things, will not think the hunting upon the ministers of Christ, and which after fame to be a very dignified purhe hath promised shall be with them suit for any man; and if so, it is easy to the end of the world, do not super- to conceive, how revolting it must be sede the necessity of their own study to every pious mind to see the least and the cultivation of learning, as symptom of it in a clergyman, who some enthusiasts would persuade the should never look his congregation in world.
the face, without the sentiment of the An ignorant and illiterate clergyman apostle in bis heart : “ With me it is is certainly far from respectable. If, a very small thing that I should be therefore, my young brethren, you wish judged of you, or of man's judgment. that no man should despise your youth, But he that judgetb me is the Lord.” furnish your minds with as inuch know If the preacher will but reflect on that ledge, and of the best sort, as you final judgment; and that he is the
watchman, at whose hands God will No person can be better acquainted require the blood of the people he is than I, with the solid foundation for then addressing, if they perish through this, which you have laid in your early bis neglect; I think he will be more studies. But you yourselves must be anxious to mend their hearts, than to sensible, that there is no limit to your please their ears. progress. You have just entered upon But even if this awful consideration the verge of an iininense field, where has no weight, I should think that the the wisdom of ages lies before you, very facility of the attainment would scattered in books which you are now make it be despised. qualified to understand. If, therefore, There are few things more easy you would be respectable, get this wis- than to be a popular preacher; for it dom. “ And with all thy getting, get requires neither great extent of knowunderstanding. She shall give to thy ledge, nor keenvess of judgment, nor head an ornament of. grace : a crown delicacy of taste, nor vigour of fancy, of glory shall she deliver to thee." nor any one high or'råre talent. It is
2. But it is not only by defect of only to put together a flimsy, superficial knowledge, that a young clergyman discourse, that would answer just as forfeits respect. Very many do so, in well for any other time or place in the eyes at least of every serious and the world, as when and where it is judicious person, by their manner of delivered ; to take good care that there using the knowledge which they have be nothing in it to ruffle the minds of attained, in the instruction of their the bearers with disagreeable thoughts, flocks; when they are ambitious of 'and especially the thoughts of their pleasing their hearers, rather than of own sins; to entertain the fancy, now profiting them ; or of being thought elo- and then, with new combinations of quent or learned speakers.
ideas; and to let the whole be dressIt is a natural principle to wish that ed in flowing language, closing with
artificial periods; and the object is Now what are learned words but an effected. The audience is delighted ; unknown tongue to the poor. the speaker is applauded; and all goes A very near relative* of one of you, well-except that not a soul is the whose praise is in all cur churches, better for it. It was this that made a has shown you how amua of great and good man say, whenever he heard that various learning, and of fine imagina. his sermon was admired, " I fear I tion and taste, can confine himself to have not preached as I ought." This the simplest, purest, most unaffected was no extravagant or groundless fear; language, in addressing his people. and I would heartily recommend some 3. There is yet a third way, in jealousy of this sort to every young per- which a young clergyman may come son entering on the Christian ministry. to be despised. It is the last I shall
But although your minds should rise mention, and that very briefly, because (as I trust they ever will) far above from long and intimate knowledge, I seeking the praise of men, yet there feel that there is little danger of its may be a danger of another sort, arising occurring in the present instance. I from no unworthy motive, against which mean the mixing too much with the I wish to caution you ; I mean the in. gayeties and amusements of the world. troduction of rhetorical ornaments into I know that moroseness is no part of your discourses. You have so lately religion, and that the blessed Author of been conversant with the great poets 'ours condescended to be present at and orators of antiquity, and so'familiar' meetings held for the purposes
of fes. with the beauties of their writings ; and tivity and innocent enjoyment. And all these have such charms, especially I am convinced that it would be an infor young minds, that there will be jury, not a benefit, to morals, if the great danger, unless you guard your clergy were excluded from such, by selves well, of their intruding into a any rule, or even by publick opinion. place too sacred for them to enter. Recreations, we will admit, are some
It is extremely delicate and difficult times necessary to relieve the mind, to accommodate beathen ornaments to when exhausted with serious employChristian churches. There is something ments, that it may return to them again in our religion so pure, so awful, in with greater effect. But, notwithstand. short, so peculiar to itself, that when- ing this, it is certainly not decorous ever it is attempted to embellish it with for a clergyman to be remarked as any thing of foreign growth, the incon- prominent or frequent in such things. gruity is manifest, and every pious If it be one of the marks of the ex. feeling is disgusted.
treme depravity which the apostle The most effectual style of preach. foretells should arise in the last days, ing; . perhaps, is, not with enticing that men would be lovers of pleasure words of man's wisdom, but setting more than lovers of God; and if that forth; with simplicity and vigourg, the time seems already to have come upon affecting promises and threatenings of .us; how needful is it that the clergy, the gospel ; tbat gospel; on 'which its - who are the chosen soldiers of Jesus Autbor set this distinctive mark; that the Christ, and called upon, as such, to poor were to have it preached to them. endure hardness in his cause, should Therefore, it should be preached in strive to stem, rather than encourage, language that the poor understand. ' by thèir example, that torrent of dissi* In the church,” says St. Paul, “I pation, which ihreatens to be as fatal bad 'räther speak five words with my
* The reverend Mr. Gilpin, vicar of Bolunderstanding, that by my voice I
dre, England, author of many learned and might teach others also, than ten thou. pious works, and grandfather to one of the sand words in an unknown tongue." young men here addressed.
LETTER FROM A CLERGYMAN ON THE
to true and vital religion, as even the ficult, only, by the abstruse speculations grossest vices can be.
and inetaphysical subtleties of some And now, I will take my leave, by modern theologists ; by the unskilful earnestly repeating to you, sererally: interpretation of the ignorant ; and by the apostle's admonition to his young the visionary, wild, and incoherent pupil and friend :
“Let no man des- rhapsodies of the enthusiast. These pise thy youth ; but be thou an exam. interpreters of scripture are led into ple of the believers, in word, in conver, their errour by not distinguishing besation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in tween the miraculous and ordinary purity.” May the God of all purity operations of the Spirit. enable you so to be.
The miraculous gifts of the Spirit, enabled the recipients to work miracles in attestation of the truth of
the doctrines which they taught, and For the Gospel Advocate.
to speak in languages which they had
never learned. This was necessary to NATURE AND EVIDENCES OF CONVER- the first promulgation and establish
ment of Christianity; for, as the gospel Sept. 17, 1821.
was to be preached to " every kingDEAR SIR, - Your letter arrived while dom and nation, and tongue and people I was absent on a journey, and I did under heaven," it was necessary that not get it until the day before yester. those who were to be the first publishday, or I should have replied to it ers of it, should understand the lan
The subject is one of infinite guage of those nations to whom they importance, and your inquiries appear respectively preached ; but as the to be dictated by an earnest desire apostles were poor, unlettered men, atter truth ; happy shall I be, if I can and had no means of acquiring knowgive you the information you so much ledge in the ordinary way, it was also wish for.
necessary that they should receive the The task which you impose upon me gift of tongues' by direct and immeis a very delicate one; but, relying on diate revelation. I will refer you to “the Spirit of truth,” to “guide me the second chapter of Acts, for an ac. into all truth," I will endeavour, by count of the manner in which tbis mibis assistance, conscientiously and raculous gift was communicated, and faithfully to execute it.
the effects upon the recipients. How far the excitement of which you These miraculous effusions of the speak may be the immediate opera- Spirit continued until the Christian retions of the Holy Spirit, I will not pre- ligion was firmly established, and no tend to judge ; God grant that the sub- longer needed such aid ; they ceased jects of it may “bring forth the fruits when the end for which they were of the Spirit,” as an evidence of their given was accomplished; we are not conversion. No doctrine of the bible, now, therefore, to look for any miracuI will venture to say, has been so fre- lous inspiration. But the ordinary opquently handled, as that which regards erations of the Spirit must and will the operations of divine grace, in the continue so long as buman nature reconversion of the sinner; and after all, mains frail and corrupt. They are none is so little understood.
It is a absolutely necessary to the sanctifying doctrine by no means difficult in itself, our nature and to perfect us in that or in any manner unintelligible to the 6 holiness, without which no man shall meanest capacity, if viewed with an see God."
This “ manifestation of unprejudiced eye, as it is clearly set the Spirit,” St. Paul tells us, “ is given forth in the gospel ; but rendered dif- to every man to profit withal.”
But that the ordinary operations of true; but let it be remembered that the Spirit are neither instantaneous nor these were miraculously converted, and perceptiöle, appears to me to be very bad the power conveyed to them of evident, both from reason and scrip. working miracles, in attestation of the ture. They are not instantaneous ; truth that they were under the mira. for is, in one mysterious moment we culous operation of the Holy Ghost. are translated from a state of sin and They spake with tongues and prowickedness, to a state of perfect holi- phesied, as the Spirit gave them utterness, what is meant by “growing in ance. Nor can it be denied that there grace ?” 2 Peter iii. 18. What is may be instances in our day of permeant by “ perfecting holiness in the sons being suddenly brought to see fear of God ?" 2 Cor. vii. 1. Surely, their wickedness, and to turn from it, if the Corinthian converts were already yet without any miracle wrought for perfect, there was no occasion for the their reformation ; such, for instance, apostle to exhort them to go on perfect- as those who all their life long have ing themselves. Again, we are told lived in the practice of gross vices. “ increase more and
more ;" Their repentance, however, is but the 1 Thess. iv. 10. “ That our love may coMMENCING-POINT of their reformaabound yet more and more." Phil. i. tion; they must still go on “perfecting 9. The language of St. Paul is,“ Till boliness in the fear of God." we all come unto a perfect man ; unto But, so long as we confound things the measure of the stature of the ful- that are different, we can never arrive ness of Christ ;" Ephes, iv. 13. And at the truth. This is in nothing more he evidently meant, by this figure, true than in regard to the doctrine of that reformation was progressive, and instantaneous conversion, as it is groundnot instantaneous, in the same manner ed on the instances recorded in the as the human body gradually increases new testament. We ought, in reasonto its full stature. Again he says, “I ing on this subject, to take into view press towards the mark, for the prize, the difference between the state of the &c.” Phil. iii. 14. This was spoken world as it was when Christianity first by the apostle long after his conver- began to be promulgated, and as it is sion ; yet the question naturally arises, now, when that religion is firmly estabhow could he press towards the mark, lished. Then, the whole world was if he had already attained it? The divided into Jews and Pagans, the forwords of the Almighty, by the mouth mer of whom had corrupted the true of his prophet, are these : “ When the religion, by the grossest superstitions, wicked man turneth away from his and the latter were given up to the wickedness, and doeth that which is law- practice of every species of idolatry ful and right,”-mark the condition and wickedness. To establish Chrisand doeth that which is lawful and right, tianity on the wreck of Judaism and “he sball save his soul alive." Ezek. idolatry, it was necessary to lay the xviii. 27. The sinner is not merely to axe at the very root of these corrupturn from evil, but he must also do tions; consequently miracles must be what “is lawful and right;" but this wrought to effect so wonderful a change; cannot be done in an instant, and until and those who were converted from it is done, he cannot “save his soul Jewish superstition and pagan idolatry alive.!'
would manifest their sincerity by an Ito be asked, are there not many immediate renunciation of their false instances of what may be termed instan. gods. Consider, for a moment, what a taneous conversion recorded in the wonderful change was to be effected, new testament. That there are many and by whom it was to be effected. sudden conversions recorded, is very A few unlettered, despised fishermen,
undertaking to reform the world; to Nothing, therefore, can be built upon overturn systems sanctioned by the this instance, to support the doctrine of authority of ages; to combat prejudices instantaneous conversion in our day. incorporated with the habits and in- Beside, St. Paul himself regarded this terests of mankind, to strike at the very as but the commencement of a life of foundation of all those corrupt doctrines boliness. Let me again refer you to in which the pagan world had been edu- his own language, long after this recated, and which they deemed impreg. markable event; “I press," says he, "nable. Those surely, who were to be " towards the mark;" “ I die daily ;" instrumental in accomplishing this ardu- "Let us cleanse ourselves, perfecting ous and hazardous work must have holiness in the fear of God." Wbat mean been endowed with miraculous power these declarations, if St. Paul, in one from on high; and those to whom they 'mysterious moment, was translated from preached the word of life, being either a state of sin, to a state of indefectible Jews or pagans, and consequently at- and salvable grace? The great danger tached, by education and prejudice, to arising from this erroneous doctrine is, their respective religions, if they were that it leads men to trust to a precarious convinced by the apostles' preaching, death-bed repentance ; than whicks would immediately renounce their nothing can be more perilous. idolatries and commence a new course Having thus, my dear sir, stated of life; but this, as we before remark. with as much brevity as the case would ed, would be but the commencement of admit, what I conceive to be the true, of holiness. But these instances afford. scriptural doctrine on this subject, no manner of ground for the doctrine of namely, that the reformation of the instantaneous, or miraculous, conver- simner is progressive and not instantanesion, in our day. If any one claims ous, I shall now endeavour to show to have been miraculously convert- what I think is equally plain from ed, he must work some miracle to prove scripture, tbat the operations of the it, or we are bound not to believe him. Spirit are not perceptible; that is, we
Now to illustrate what we have said, cannot perceive how or in that man. by the example of St Paul, whose con- ner it operates on our hearts. We version is often insisted on by those can only judge of the cause by the effect who hold to the doctrine of instantane. produced; we can only judge the tree ous conversion as a proof that their by its fruit. If we bring forth the fruits doctrine is scriptural, he tells us that of the Spirit, we may rest assured that it he was born a Jew, and educated after operates on our hearts, although we are the strictest sect of his religion, a pha- not otherwise sensible of its operation. risee. With strong prejudices against Some persons pretend, as you observe, the Christian religion, he took delight that they can tell the precise moment in persecuting the early Christian con. when the Holy Spirit of God so opeverts ; verily believing that he was rated on their hearts that they at once thereby doing God service. The Al. hated all sin ; they felt a sensible immighty, by a most astonishing miracle, pulse, an indescribable something with. wrought the conversion of this furious in them, which assured them that they bigot; that he miglit, as God himself were in a state of grace. But this is declared, " be a chosen vessel unto him, not to be relied on; “it is visionary to bear his name before the Gen- and vain.” Trances, visions, noises, tiles, and kings, and the children of dreams, mental agitations, glows and Israel." Acts. ix. 15. The miracle raptures, which some mistake for the was sensible ; there was a voice from operations of the Holy Spirit, are geneheaven, and a light above the bright- rally the effect of a disordered and ness of the sun at noon day; and the beated imagination, which may free men who were with him, saw the light. quently be wrought up to such a pitch,