Page images

fluences the whole conduct of men; preach themselves instead of Christ, that lies also at the rooi of all their when their sermons are calculated sins, making and keeping them un- rather to gratify men's curiosity, godly; and is in fact ungodliness than to affect their hearts; to please itself!

their fancy, than to convert and save The object of the present pa- their souls; when they soothe and per, however, is to consider the flatter men in their sins, rather than operation of this selfish principle strive to awaken and alarun their more particularly in reference to consciences ; when they aim rather the clerical order, and the peculiar to win men to themselves thao to obligation which attaches to men of Christ; when they tend to beget ia this class to resist and overcome it. the corrupt hearts of their bearers Would that it could be said, that an esteem rather of their own perthere is at least this one order of sons, gifts, and abilities, than of the men exempt from the charge of sel- person, glory, and offices of the fishness; and that there are none

great Redeemer. in the sacred office of the ministry, 2. Ministers, however, may who are influenced by mercenary frame their sermons so as to answer or selfish views, and who cannot the great ends of preaching to others, safely apply to themselves the lan- and yet may preach themselves, as guage of the Apostle, “ We preach to the principle from which they not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the act, and the end they have in view. Lord.”

It is not to be wondered at, that, at Now the selfishness which the a time when zealous and practical Apostle here disclaims, is clearly preaching, and the most earnest ada not that proper self-love which in- dresses to the heart and conscience, duces men to act with zeal and fide- serve to promote the popularity of a lity, from a view to future rewards preacher, mere selfishness should inand punishments to the favour of duce men to endeavour to excel in God and the happiness of heaven. These respects. But however scripSt. Paul kept under his body and turally ministers may preach, as to brooght it into subjection, lest, the matter of their sermons, and with when he had preached to others, whatever apparent zeal and ferrour he himself should be a cast-away.' they may deliver them; yet if they Neither does it imply a disregard to look chiefly to their own honour of character and reputation among interest, they will be found guilty of men. Bishops are to be blameless, the criminal selfishness disclaiined and of good report : and though, if by the Apostle. men speak all manner of evil against 3. When men of unsanctified them, falsely, for Christ's sake, they hearts take upon them the office of tay rejoice therein; their endeavour the ministry, self must be their grand ought to be, to make their light inducement; for though a faithful shine before men, and to have fa- discharge of this trust requires more vour not only with God, but, as far self-denial than any other, yet are as they conscientiously can, with there many things in the sacred all the people. The selfishness office calculated to allure men of which the Apostle disclaims, is that corrupt and selfish minds. A coli which stands opposed to the honour fortable subsistence may tempt such of God, and the interest of Jesus as know not how better to provide Christ; wbich disposes us to love for themselves. To such a subsistence and value ourselves, as we ought every minister indeed is entitled; but 10 love and value God; to prefer when this forms his inducement, he our honour to his honour, and our acts from a regard lo filthy lucre, and interest to that of Jesus Christ. But not to God. How can such apply 10 so descend to particulars.

themselves the Apostle's language, 1. Ministers may be said to “ I seek not yours, but you?" Ibe

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

opportunity of study may also be an but not daring to do this, they fall inducement for men of a speculative on a thousand indirect methods to or literary turn to undertake she mic draw forth their commendation; benistry. The supposed ease and indo- cause, if they miss that, they miss Jence of a minister's life may induce the grand prize of the day. And others to enter upon it. The reve. even if, besides this anxiety for rence and respect shewn to the cleri- applause, they desire success in cal character may have their weight awakening and converting sinners, with some; and others may be yet selfishness may lie at the bottom wrought upon by a desire of popu- of this too, though it may work difJar applause.

ferently. This principle may cause Now, when such considerations them to strive to excel in appear. as these induce men to engage in ances of godliness, and in zealous, the ministry, the dominion of a sel. fervent, practical

' preaching, and to fish principle is very evident; and desire to atfect and change the hearts the same principle is likely to attend of their hearers; and yet to advance and govern them in every branch of their own reputation may be their their ministerial conduct. It will real ain). What, indeed, can be go with them to their studies, choose more agreeable to a man greedy of their subject, form their sermons, applause, than to see multitudes and often make them more attentive thronging round him to hear bim, to the words, than the matter, of and appearing to be affected with their discourse. Hence, instead of what they hear; to find that he is plain and serious addresses, tending able to command their attention, to melt and change the heart, we and move their passions; and to have trifling discussions, set off with know that he is extolled as an able rhetorical arts: or, instead of instruct- and godly preacher, a man of bigh ing their people in the great things spiritual attainments, and successful which concern their everlasting labour? Sometimes, this disposition welfare, they go beyond their capa: will produce envious and bitter city, and say nothing profitably or thoughts towards those who outshine intelligibly. Thus, instead of con- them in these respects. They are sidering seriously, “ what shall I vexed and mortified when a presay, and bow shall I say it, so as to ference is given to others, and they glorify God and benefit the souls of are not so much noticed as their men?” they consider, “what shall I own partial selfish judgment tells say, and how shall I deliver it, so them ihey ought to be. The same as to be thought an excellent feeling makes men also tenacious preacher, and to be admired and of their own opinions, and impatient applauded by all that hear me?" of contradiction. They esteem the The same selfishness attends them person who will say as they say ; to the pulpit, where all things, but he who ditters from them is manner, gesture, tone, delivery-are not to be borne with. In short, it is calculated to please rather than to impossible to trace out all the corprofit ; to secure applause to them- rupt workings of this principle, or selves, rather than to secure to to mention the innumerable misChrist an interest in the hearts of chiefs it has occasioned in the church their hearers; and after the exhi of God. It was this which kindled bition is over, makes them much the flames of persecution, and stainmore solicitous to know that they ed the earth with blood; and it is are admired, than that they have this which rends Christian societies awakened and converted souls. So into different parties, and fills them powerful, indeed, is this feeling in with bitterness against each other. some, that they would be glad to May the Lord deliver us from selfask their hearers in direct terms, ishness as our worst enemy! whether they admire their labours; Having thus considered what it is Cimist. OBSEkv. No. 119.


[ocr errors]

to preach ourselves, I would shew but that he died in our room and wbat in my view it is to preach Christ. stead, and “ was made sin for us,

1. This includes the whole of the that we might be made the rightedoctrines of the Gospel, relating to ousness of God in him." To preach man's salvation by Jesus Christ, Christ, is to display the fulness and through his blood and Spirit:--the freeness of his grace, his power to fall of man, and his consequent sare, and his willingness to save; guilt and misery; the original pur- to shew that in him is to be found poses of God's love and grace is- every thing that a poor, guilty, suing in the gift of his dear Son; the helpless, condemned sinner, can glory of Christ's person; his myste. want, and that all the blessings of rious incarnation; his holy life; his his purchase are freely offered with cruel death; bis resurrection, ascen- out money and without price. He sion, and perpetual intercession; the must also be made the centre of complete atonement he hath made; every subject. The nature and perthe everlasting righteousness he hath fections of the Deity, must be consibrought in; the various offices he dered as they appear " in the face hath sustained, both in his state of of Jesus Christ." The strictness humiliation and exaltation; the me- and spirituality of the Divine law thods of Divine operation; the nature must lead to Christ, the end of the and use of faith; the blessings conse- law for righteousness. The threatquent upon it,as justification, adoption, enings of the law must be emsanctification, perfection of boliness ployed to bring men to Christ, at death, and the complete happiness that they may be justified by of soul and body in the enjoyment failb. The promises and blessings of God to all eternity. Christ is to of the Gospel must be held forth be exhibited as thë Messiah, the as the purchase of Christ's blood, Anointed of God, the Mediator; the and the gift of his grace. Of faith, Saviour of men, who saves his peo- Christ must be viewed as the auple from their sins-from the guilt, thor and the object. Repentance the power, and the punishment of must be treated of as his gift. Obethem; the Lord, the Head and King dience must be considered as the of his church, to whom all power is fruit of faith in him and union given, and 10 whom all obedience is to him, springing from love to due, and to whom is committed the Christ, and performed in his strength grand and final judgment. Christ and grace. `In a word, Christ must is to be preached, not only as the be regarded as the fountain from giver of a law, who is to be obey. which all is derived, the centre in ed; but as having fulfilled the law, which all must terminate, as the and who, therefore, is to be believed beginning and the end, as the wall in, and relied on, for pardon, righ- in all." teousness, and eternal life. He is to 2. Men, however, may preach be held forth to sinners as a surely much about Christ, and yet preach who has undertaken to pay their themselves, and not Christ

. In debt, to atone for their guilt, and to order to do this effectually, they work out for them a perfect righ- must make his honour and interest teousness. However honourably we the central mark on which they fix may speak of him as a ruler to be their eye in all their ministerial obeyed, and a pattern to be imi- conduct. Their business is to win tated, yet if we exhibit him not men to Christ, and not to themin this view, we do not properly selves.

They must, tberefore, preach Christ. The ground of all choose such methods of preaching, our hopes is, that Christ hath suf- as will lend to pierce the obdurate fered for us, the just for the un- heart, and to rouse the stupid cogjust, that he might bring us to God; science of sinners, by making that he not only died for our good, them feel their ruined conditions

their guilt, condemnation, and help than from having done poorly for lessness; and thus see their need of God; whether their elation is not Christ, to save and sanctify them. occasioned rather by sell complaThe rich treasures of the grace of. cency, than by a feeling of gratithe Gospel are to be laid open, tude to God for having enabled them and its free and gracious invitations to be faithful; whether their great urged, by the most powerful mo. anxiety respecting the effect of their tives that can be rawn from love sermons be, that sinners should be or from wrath, from heaven or from `awakened and won to Christ, or that hell, from all the glorious and from they themselves should be highly all the dreadful things of an unseen esteemed: in short, to examine and eternal world.

ascertain what the principle is on If ministers are thus not to which they have undertaken the preach themselves, or to seek them. ministry, and what is the end for selves, in executing their sacred of which they study, preach, live, and fice, how fearful is the state of those labour. If, on ihis inquiry, selfishwho enter into the ministry with ness should be found to influence selfish views, seeking their own them, they ought bitterly to bewail things, and not the things which it before God, with the greatest are Christ's! For even, which is humiliation. How inconsistent is hardly to be expected, if such as such selfishness with that lesson of these should be useful in their mi- self-denial which they are obliged nistry, yet their undertaking is aw. to preach to others, and which Jesus fully hazardous ; for when they have Christ hath taught both by precept preached to others, they themselves and example! "They tell the drunkmay be finally cast away. On the ard, the swearer, the sensualist, that, other hand, how honourable and except he be converted, he cannot dignified is their office who really be saved. But can they be Christ's preach Christ ! They are his ambas- true disciples except they deny themsadors; they act in his name : and selves? Selfishness, if it reigns in of such he himself says, “ he that the heart, seems a greater sin than receiveth you, receiveth me; and drunkenness or sensuality. These, he that despiseth you, despiseth me indeed, dishonour God by breaking and Him that sent me.

his law; but this strikes at the very Ministers, therefore, will do well relation of sovereign and subject. to examine, as in the sight of God, It is one thing to break a law of the whether they have not within them prince, and another to set up a rival too much of this selfish principle, io him. The first is transgression; and too little singleness of heart the other, ireason and rebellion. Infor God and Jesus Christ; whether deed, whatever we do in religion, they are not led to consider how and how good soever it be as to its they shall please, rather than how substance, if self be the reigning they shall proft; whether they are principle, it tarnishes, corrupts, and not more solicitous about mere out- debases all. As it is the very esward appearances, than about the sence of holiness to live to God, and spiritual frame of their hearts in the to act entirely for him; so is it the sight of God; whether they are very essence of sin to live to ournever tempted to play the hypo- selves, and to act ultimately for our crite, making a greater shew of own glory. If, then, they find this zeal, and fervour, and devotion, principle at work within them, let than corresponds to the inward state them be humbled before God, and of their minds; whether their de- repair by faith to Him who once pression of spirits at any time does died “ that they which live should not arise more from having made an not live to themselves, but to him indifferent figure in the eyes of man who died for them and rose again." And let them be watchful against from the everlasting burning? Why this enemy of God and their souls, does he not pray more fervently, and suppress its first risings; ever preach more zealously, and lay out remembering, that they are not their bis whole life and soul and strength own, but His who has redeemed in this great work? What! are the them, and to whose service, by their interests and happiness of immortal ordination vows, they have solemn- souls worth no more pains? Can no ly devoted themselves.

more be done for the hogour of Let the minister of Christ guard Christ? Shall the men of this world also against the fear of man; for if be more unwearied in seeking his aim be 10 please men, he cannot themselves, than the minister of the be the faithful servant of Jesus Gospel in seeking the glory of his Christ. Such are the perverse tem- Master, Jesus, and the salvation of pers of many, that a minister must souls? God forbid! He is on a booffend either God or them. Poor, siness of life and death: he prays, guilty morials love to be soothed preaches, and labours for eternity. and flattered, but not to be plainly it becomes him to do it with all his dealt with. But whose displeasure might. should he most regard? Will those One word more. If the dominios whose corrupt bumours he consults, of selfishness be inconsistent with . defend him from the displeasure of the character of a minister, it is the Almighty? No! He has one equally so with that of a Christian Master to please, who must be obey- That man who loves himself sued, whether men like it or not. His premely, and seeks self as his ultimessage is on life and death, and mate object, is in the direct way ought to engage all the powers of to lose himself, and God, and salvahis soul. Sinners are not in a state tion. For what can be more proto be soothed, and flattered, and voking to God, than for worms of trifled with. What they want is, the earth to claim a preference to such plain dealing as may make him; to insist on being their own them feel their wretched state, and lord and master; and 10 pursue their their need of deliverance. The own will, instead of the will of God? business of a minister is to preach It was the grand design of the Christ Jesus the Lord as the Saviour death and sufferings of Jesus Christ, of sinners; to urge them to come to to recover men from the ruins of him, that they may have life; and their first apostacy, and consequenton their refusal, to denounce against ly to save them from themselves, them the terrors of eternal death. and the dominion of a selfish dispoAnd let him remenaber, the time is sition. No one, therefore, ought to short, and the night of death will rest until this purpose is fully ansoon come, when no man can work. swered; until he is recovered He is a dying man, commissioned to from his self-love, self-seeking. speak to dying men. Are, then, hea- self-righteousness, and self-dependven and hell realities ? Are sinners ence, to the supreme love of God, despising the one, and sleeping on and to an entire reliance on the the brink of the other? And is the blood and righteousness of the minister of Christ sent from God to Lord Jesus Christ. If it be the awaken them, to shew them their grand business of ministers to preach danger, to offer them a Saviour, and Christ Jesus the Lord, it is the buto invite them to flee from the siness of bearers to receive him into wrath to come to his atoning blood? their hearts by faith; and on this Oh! why do not these awful realities depends their everlasting weal or swallow up his whole attention ? woe. Without this, the great end Why does he not strive more ears of the Christian ministry is lost ; nestly to pluck siuners, as brands, and they had better never have been

« PreviousContinue »