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LETTER OF THE LATE REV. MR. DOLMAN, Vicar of Chalk, and Rector of St. James's, Isle of Grains, Kent,
and Vicar of Little Brickell, Bucks, TO HIS CURATE, THE REV. MR. D WHO WAS JUST ORDAINED TO ONE OF HIS CURACIES,
Rev. Sir, As Providence has placed you in so near a connection
with me, and in so sacred an einploy, I offer no other apology for thus addressing you. I do not mean to write to you as one of my family, much less as my servant; but as a fellow-labourer in the same important work with myself. I stand answerable to God, Sir, for employing you; you are accountable to God, to me, and to your own conscience, in the discharge of that work in which God and I have employed you. The souls amongst whom you labour, are God's property, and my charge. They are the purchase of Christ's blood, and are his jewels. I have my temporals of thein, and I must see that they have spiritual things of me, and of those whom I depute to instruct them in my stead. This, Sir, is enough to convince you, that I have a right to know what sort of spiritual food you
intend to set before them from time to time. I have many years ago adopted the following Scripture for my motto: "I preach not myself, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and myself your servant, for Christ's sake.”—May it be prac'tically yours !
To preach ourselves, Sir, is, I think, for a preacher to run before he is sent. There are such in our days. But the question is, Who they are who may be properly said to be sent? Some say, those only who have gone through a regular course of university education, and are episcopally ordained. Others, that they are such as have been approved and authorized by the Presbytery : while yet others say, they are men chosen out of a particular church, and by them sent forth to preach ; or called to the pastoral office over themselves. Now this may be true, in a sense, Fespecting all the three modes just mentioned, and yet Dii fantur ;-"Fate is that which the Gods speak.” In this truly Christian and excellent hymn, the word fate may be supposed to relate to the awful word which God spake, when he declared to fallen man,“ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen, iii. 19.) In this view, the word Fate my properly signify Death and diseases may be said to appear more or less fatal, as they seen more or less likely to fulfill God's word, by bringing us to the dusti
none of them be called of God; or, to use the answer which you made to the Bishop last Sunday morning, none of them may be inwardly moved-by the Holy Ghost to take this office upon thein.-May your life and doctrine, and your success in the work, prove, that you spoke the truth, and did not lie, when you answered that question !
Alas, Sir, they are not all called of God who wear the habit. Can you suppose; Sir, that a gentleman who delights in a fine garden, wherein are a vast number of the choicest flowers, which he has collected at a great expence, and arranged with much care, - can we suppose he would employ a man who had no judgment to manage it? or one who is idle, wasting his time in gaming, sporting, and drinking? Can we suppose, that a farmer will purchase a flock of sheep, and give them up to the management of a person, whom he knows to have neither skill nor concern for feeding and taking care of them? How then can we suppose that God, who has purchased souls with the blood of Jesus Christ, who wants them to be fed and led into the way of eternal life, will put them under the care of a man ignorant of the worth of such souls ! A man ignorant of his own state, a drunkard, a pleasuretaker, a hater of God and holiness! Alas, Sir, there are such ministers in this kingdom, who have been called and set apart for sanctuary-service in each of tlie above de nominations.
To preach ourselves, is also to preach so as to display to the people our own learning. Owhat pride is here! Christ has nothing to do in şuch sermons; those who do so, are generally the most destitate of literature, and know nothing of God's teaching. To preach ourselves, may be to preach up our own opinions, exposing every one to the severest censures who espouses the sentiments we reject. But there is yet another sense in which a man may be said to preach himself; which, I think, is seldom taken notice of: I mean, a preacher holding up his own experience as the standard, up to which all must come, and from which none must deviate. That all true religion is experimental I readily allow, but that all experience is strictly scriptural, or Gospel-experience, I as readily deny. God deals variously with us, acccording to infinite wisdom. There are many who, instead of their bringing their experience to the Gospel, are reducing the Gospel to their experience; and it is owing to this, that so many things are said concerning alle believing soul, and its way to glory, which are unscrip
tural, tural, and tend to distress poor oppressed Christians. This is too inuch the method of even some popular preachers, who make the way to Heaven dark and dismal; a road of pain and distress, of doubts and fears! O, Sir, beware of this ! If you find any poor sheep entangled amongst the brambles of mount Sinai, disentangle them; loose them, and let them go; but do not bring them back again there : do not bring any of the lambs of your flock there. Point distressed souls to Jesus, who is able, and willing, and ready to deliver them. Many poor young converts may you rob of comfort, by telling them they must travel through the dreary wilderness of teinptation, must pass the Red Sea of persecution ; that with heads bowed down, like the bulrush, they must walk in darkness, and see no light; must have the lion, the bear, and the wolf, let loose upon them. But is this to represent Wisdom's ways as ways of pleasantness, and her paths as paths of peace ! It is certain the Christian must take up his cross daily, and follow Christ : that sinful self must be denied ; the right eye must be plucked out, and the right hand cut off : that he must forsake all, and follow Christ wheresoever he in providence leads him: but it is equally certain, that he who calls him to this, and who leads him, will also give him strength for the day of exercise ; yea, will strengthen him with all strength in the inner man. My dear Sir, learn to divide the word of God aright, and give to every man his portion in due season.
We preach ourselves, and not Christ our Master, when we venture into the pulpit, trusting, to our own preparations, ingeniously pui together, and depending upon our method and our memory for correctness; or upon our ! pathos and energy to command the attention and the passions of the congregation, together with a little admiration from the crowd. Whenever you find such dispositions as these (God forbid you should ever try the practice) then you are tempted to preach your own dearly beloved self and not Christ Jesus the Lord. But to exalt Jesus, we must learn to find out the sinner, and (if you will allow me the phrase) ferret him out of all his hiding-places; lay siege to all his forts; force him out to the combat in the open field. If Satan shews him all the glories of the world, do you shew him all the vanity, emptyness, and deceitfulness of it; and while with your tongue you are labouring to convince his understanding, pray in faith that the Spirit of God may convert his soul. "Set before him light and VOL. X. Ff
darkness, life and death, heaven and hell.-Strive to make your audience follow you in all your descriptions, and labour to affect their hearts, I would advise you, Sir, to preach a lecture, with a close application to yourself frequently. Preach your next intended sermon to yourself in your study, in the presence of God, before you deliver it to your congregation; and then, while feeding others, expect and look for some food for yourself. O it is sweet preaching, when we are feasțing ourselves upon those very truths we are holding up to others!
I will give you four themes to preach upon : first, In the study, to yourself; secondly, In the pulpit, to the congregation. 1. What am I by nature ? 2. What am I by grace? 9. What was I in my first birth? 4. What am I noit in my second birth ?-Every clergyman should preach these four lectures over and over to himself, before he applies for holy orders; and if he does not, and cannot do this, holy orders never can make a good preacher ; nor will they make the man holy in either heart, life, or conversation.
I have read of one of the fathers, “ that he thundered in his preaching, and lightened in his life."--May my curate do so likewise.
There are three books which I have found of great 'use to me in preaching Christ. !. Dr. Jennings on preaching Christ. -2. Richard Baxter's Reformed Pastor (while seading this, my very flesh has moved on my boncs, and my blood thrilled in my
veins. No matter if he was not orthodox to the bone ; I believe he was so in heart and soul, as it respected love and zeal for Christ and the souls of mėn.) 3. Dr. Mather's Advice to his Son, respecting the Minįstry (called The angels preparing to sound the trumpets.) You say you never saw Dr. South's sermons; the following hints are froin one of them, upon preaching Christ.
Christ has a fourfold relation to preaching
1. He is the text; and all preaching beside Christ, is beside the text; therefore, keep to your text.
9. Christ is the very foundation and subject - matter of preaching; and all preaching without Christ, is building castles in the air.
3. Christ is the life and soul of preaching; and all preaching without him, is like a body without life and spirit, 4. Christ is the great end of preaching ; preaching
is to manifest his glory; and when Christ is not preached, the great end is lost.
Let the following considerations induce you with your whole heart, soul, and body, to preach Christ faithfully :
1. Your own declaration and vows last Sunday at the altar, when you received holy orders in the solemn presence of God and man.
2. The worth of every one of those souls to whom you preach: look on them, every one of them will witness for or against you in the great day.
3. View the awful state of fallen man; your Master pitied them, paid their debts, has provided mercy and pardon for them, and has sent you to declare it, to persuade them to receive it, and give in your own evidence to the truth of it. Do it, Sir; do it faithfully.
4. Behold the languid state of religion ! Strive to revive it: begin with yourself.
5. Your shining as a bright star in glory, having, through grace, been instrumental in turning many from sin to righteousness.
Once more, dear Sir, permit me to intreat you to beg of God, that, by his good Spirit, you may be instructed to preach Christ, so as to profit the church of God; and for that end, labour to preach Christ judiciously, scripturally, experimentally, zealously, affectionately, and plainly. Set hinn forth in his everlasting love to lost man, in his covenant-engagements to sinners, his satisfying the justice of God for an elect world, his faithfulness in calling, converting, and pardoning rebel sinners, and in keeping them through life and death. Set forth the great Master in all his offices and characters, in which he stands related to sinners ; set him forth in all his perfections and glory.
Now, Sir, what do you think of preaching Christ? If you are determined to feed the flock of God, and to deliver your own soul, I am, Sir, Your real friend and fellow-labourer,
Trus significant action, sv full of kindness and condes
cension on the part of our Saviour, is recorded for our example. Happy shall we be, if we truly copy it. Here is no affectation of humility, but humility itself; nor is it performed as a mere ceremony--but io teach us, Ff2