Page images

determines without thought, as to the serious part who sit under the Gospel, from the best of motives; even among these we find a great variety of opinions respecting preachers. Some like the man whose reasoning is close, connected, and argumentative; who can enter with peculiar acumen into his subject, trace out the subtilties of the sophist, and confront the positions of the infidel. Others cannot follow a chain of reasoning; but prefer himn who can rouse their passions, and animate them to duty by a plain, but powerful and affecting representation of the mercies they have received, the privileges they enjoy, and the obligations they are under. Some again like to dwell in the tempest; they are best pleased with the lightnings and thunderings of divine truth. They will hardly give a man credit for being faithful, if he do not clothe himself with terror, and with vehemence reiterate the awful sentence of“ Depart, ye cursed.” Others, on the contrary, love the calm and gentle method : they think more are drawn by love, than driven by fear. Some again seem more profited by hearing the doctrines discussed and defended. It is doctrinal preaching, say they, that lays a. foundation for knowledge and holiness, and will enable a man to render a reason of the hope that is in him. Others, while they love the doctrines and rejoice in them, discover a greater partiality to that kind of preaching which is termed Practical and Experimental. They edify under him whose talent it is, to develope the depravity of the mind, -who traces the windings and turnings of human nature,

who prepares and defends them against the various a3saults of Satan, and the temptations of the world, who stirs them up to duty by every motive the sacred oracles contain, and the nature of their service requires --and who consoles them under all their afflictions, by an animated and appropriate representation of the divine promises. Among hearers, there are also some few who dislike not the truth the less for its being delivered with elegance and ornament, supposing that so rich a treasure deserves every appendage that can recommend it to notice; but others, not less wise, believe its own intrinsic excellencies to be so great, as not to want any foreign aid, or human embellishments to render it acceptable. Give us, say they, the preacher whom we can hear without an interpreter, whose words we can understand without a dictionary; who with plain truth, serious mind, and energetic manner, plunges, as it were, into our hearts, and carries us away captive by the NO


force of the native truth he delivers.-Thus, in the religious world, we observe how the opinions of men vary. Now to some it may seem strange, that men who preach the same Gospel, hold the same sentiments, urge the same motives, and have the same end in view, that they are not equally admired, and as equally followed ; but, if we consider a little, it is not strange : much indeed depends upon our natural taste, the association of ideas in the minds of ministers resembling our own; our natural capacities, education, custom, situation, and the like; but I would rather resolve this into something higher than all these ; I would consider it as the effect of that divine wisdom, which is so conspicuously displayed in all that variety we discern in creation and providence, as well as in grace. The varied gifts of ministers, and the different attachment of hearers, are certainly in unison with the divine design ; “ for he gave some apostles; some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ 7." The Almighty never intended that sinners should be called, or the general body of his people edified under one man of a peculiar gift. He is pleased to work by different instruments in the same service, and accordingly disposes the minds of his people to these instruments, that his plans may be accomplished, and that herein we might see “ the manifold wisdoin of God. I"

From the consideration of this subject, in the first place, Let not faithful ministers be discouraged. Some good men have felt their minds hurt when they have heard others of different talents so much applauded, and have been ready to conclude they were doing no good themselves; but such a conclusion ought not to be drawn, nor such a thought for a moment indulged. “Very excellent men excel in different ways. The most radiant stones may differ in colour, when they do not in value." Let no man therefore despair, but cultivate his own talent, try to be useful in the path Providence bath marked out for him, and he shall not labour in vain.

Secondly, Let not hearers despise those faithful ministers under whom they say they cannot profit. How common is it to hear professors, with an air of consequence, pass sentence upon preachers! Such an one is nothing, another discovers no great penetration, this mau has

of Eph. iv. 11, 32.

Cor. xii. passim.

Eph. iii. 10.

no superiority of genius, – that man no originality of thought. - Now, even admitting this in part to be true, it should be remembered, that the very men thus decried, may be extensively useful to others, if not to them; they may shine in the sphere they are placed in, although they may not be stars of the first inagnitude. Let us learn therefore to admire the wisdom of God, wlio employs different capacities to carry on his work; let us, indeed, revere the wise, and learn of the judicious, but be candid even to the weakest, remembering that good may be derived from all : “ that a torch may be lighted by a taper, and a knife be sharpened by an unpolished stone."



MATT. vii. 13, 14. The whole world are travellers. There is no rest for the I sole of man's fout: - the ways in which they walk are extremely various; yet all reducible to two :-" To Heaven or Hell we daily bend our course." These two are here described by their properties and end. The one is attended with things which are smooth and agreeable to the flesh; but the end is destruction: the other with things which are hard and disagreeable ; but the end is everlasting life.

If you incline to the first of these ways, it has many things, it must be owned, to recommend it; particularly,

You have no difficulty in your entrance upon it: it is “ a wide gate :" it just suits your depraved inclinations. As soon as the powers of your souls begin to act, they will incline that way: so of every particular evil course that you may take, it is easy to get into it: the gate of temptation is wide, and is set wide open to invite you : you are in ere you are aware. Evil habits are readily contracted ; the transition from occasional to habitual indulgence is very short, and that of which you are scarcely sensible at the time.

You have also full scope for inclination in your progress • “ Broad is the way” Though there is but one way to Heaven, and that a strait one, yet there are many ways to Hell, out of which you inay take your choice. The broad way admits of many divisions and subdivisions. You may walk in the path of gross immorality; may swear, and lie, and drink, and commit lewdness; or, it you covet a degree of reputation which does not comport with such a life, you may pursue a much more decent course, in the indulgence


of avarice or pride. You may be a mean sycophant, cringing to the great ; , or a haughty overbearing oppressor to those that are beneath you; nay, you may be both these at the same tiine. You may revel with the vulgar, or banquet with the genteel, as circumstances and inclination may lead you. You may scoff at all religion; or, if that does not suit, you may be religious yourself. You may be righteous in your own eyes; or if that does not accord with your creed, you may be an advocate for grace, and turn it when you have done into lasciviousness.

Moreover, you will be in no want of company, for many go there.” Rich and poor, rude and learned : it is impossible you should be at a loss for agreeable society. · You will have the majority on your side, and that with many is a great matter; yea, the majority in all the nations, cities, towns, and villages in the world. You will hardly go into any company or place, but you will find fellow-travellers to keep you in countenance ; — but the end thereof is destruction !!!

If, on the other hand, you incline to the last of these · ways, I must direct you to count the cost : be assured, it will be hard and disagreeable to the flesh. The difficultics which attend it, are given as the reason why it is so little occupied. If you incline to this way, there may be great difficulties attending your first entrance; for “ strait is the gate." While you are under mere convictions, and your hearts are not subdued to the obedience of Christ, these difficulties will appear insurmountable. To escape the wrath to come, it will appear absolutely necessary that you should enter in: yet, to forego all hope of mercy, on the ground of your good deeds, or even of your prayers and penitential tears, and to sue for pardon as one of the chief of sinners, wholly for the sake of Jesus Christ, is hard work for a proud heart. If you enter in, it is also necessary that you give up all your former idols, without a single reserve : but this also is hard work to a corrupt heart :- these are things which make many people hang about religion for a long time, labouring under darkness of mind, and unable to find rest for their souls. But let me add, these difficulties exist only in your own minds:- ye are not straitened in God, but in your own bowels. If you can be contented to accept of mercy as one of the chief of sinners, all will be casy. Come to Jesus as such, and you will find rest unto your soul ; and if his name be precious unto you, his yoke also will be easy, and his burden light. Denying self, taking


up the cross and following him, will then be no hard ser: vice, but your very meat and drink. The way of salvation, through his atoning blood, will also be a source of joy unspeakabic, and peace which passeth all understanding; and you will be amazed at your former ignorance and aversion.

Farther. There may be hard struggles attending your progress; “ for narrow is the way." You may meet with contempt from the world, persecution from your connections, and, if you be faithful, with many a hard speech and hard measure from loose professors ;- you may be annoyed by temptations from without, and confounded by strong struggles from within ;-old companions may invite you to turn back; the allurements of the world may be placed on the right hand and on the left, to induce you to turn aside; and, through the remaining corruption of your nature, you may be too apt at times to listen to their counsels ; you may also expect to meet with things that will make your heart sink within you: despondency may lay fast hold of you; and the very hand of God be stretched out against you. Let me add, however, that this way is infinitely less rugged than that which Jesus walked to accomplish thy salvation : and if thy heart be with his heart, I need not add more to reconcile thee to it.

Moreover, in pursuing the narrow way, you may have but little company ; for “ few there be that find it.” Compared with the ungodly, religious people are but as the gleanings of the vintage, and your lot may be cast in a part of the world where but a few of those few are to be tound. You may reside in a village where no one cares fr Christ, or in a family that calls not upon his name, in such circumstances you may be the object of derision ; a man wondered at and persecuted; and even hated by your nearest relations! But be of good cheer: though there be but few who will accompany you, yet those few are the excellent of the earth. You will also hold society with an invisible host of heavenly spirits, that watch over you; an host so numcrous, that more are they that are with you than they that are with your adversaries; and; what is more than all, the narrow way leadeth unto life.

Thus, reader, life and death are set before thee, which wilt thou choose? Recollect that the destruction which awaits the ungodly is not a loss of being, but of wellbeing; it is the loss of all that is desirable, and an exa posedness to all that is dreadful; the weeping of desolation, the wailing of despair, and the gaashing of teeth which


« PreviousContinue »