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and the disappointment it occasions is by no means the worst part of it. It interposes between the just standard of right and ourselves, and leads us away from the only proper rule of action
- the judge that ends the strife When wit and reason fail,'" "" I should not follow it,' said my young friend,' in matters of religion ; but I cannot see that in the present case it asks for any compromise of principle."
" "I think you are wrong there,' I added, all matters are matters of religion—whether you eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all for the glory of God.' Time makes life: that life is limited to threescore years and ten, and more than the whole world hangs upon the proper use of this period. It was this same principle : a readiness to do as others do—that introduced heresies into the church, and as I have watched its rise, history, and progress better than your limited sojourn here has enabled you to do, you will perhaps give me leave to close our present colloquy with this impeachment of
They deemed all worldly honors vain,
Till thinking it was time to speak,
"Take it at once,' the crowd rejoined,
be yours, if you can see
“I'll not dig there for truth,' said he;
“ He was so very oddly drest,
“ He sleeked his rags and thundered out,
ON THE HEARING OF THE WORD.
The preaching of the Gospel is the chief means appointed by God for the conversion of sinners, and the spiritual edification of His people. For this purpose an order of men has been set apart in all ages of the church, who are qualified by previous education and study (accompanied with God's blessing) to declare to their hearers those truths which the Scriptures contain. In intimate harmony with this appointment is the weekly ordinance of Godthe Sabbath. Accordingly, in this favored land, our pulpits are weekly occupied by God's ordained servants, who comment upon a certain portion of the word. It is, therefore, an easy thing to hear, the difficulty is to hear aright. As rational beings—as those who are accountable for every thought, word, and action, it is necessary that we deeply ponder what we hear, and how we hear. Our Lord, in the parable of the sower and the seed, has clearly pointed out various classes of hearers. The ignorant—the unsteady--the worldly-minded--the understanding and obeying hearer, are briefly, yet most impressively delineated.
1. It is necessary that we should understand what we hear. But, as we, by the original depravity of our nature, have our understandings darkened as to spiritual things (however clear-sighted as to worldly matters,) and are alienated from the life of God, we must obtain extraneous assistance to hear aright, and this assistance can only come from God. Christ has declared “whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” We ought, therefore, to ask the blessing of God upon our hearing. As we cannot understand the written word without the aid of the Holy Spirit, so, without His Divine assistance, we cannot understand the preached word to edification. The persuasion of this will make us humble hearers.
2. We ought to hear with a sincere wish for spiritual improvement. It is to be feared that, many are too anxious about the gratification of their tastes, and deriving intellectual benefit from the preachers they hear. Such persons would willingly attend upon the ministry of a Chalmers or a Hall; but they are dissatisfied with a clergyman who does not possess genius or eloquence. This is a morbid condition of the mind, and shows in general, that their regard for Gospel truth requires to be stimulated and
kept vigorous by adventitious circumstances. “The religion of taste," says Dr. Chalmers, is one thing, the religion of conscience is another." Do the sublime doctrines—the soul-humbling, yet soul-inspiring views—the pure and holy precepts of the Gospel, stand in need of creature-excellence to enhance their value? Far be it from us to undervalue genius, learning, or eloquence. We rejoice when we see eminent abilities and acquirements dedicated to the service of the sanctuary. But we deprecate their being set up as idols to fall down to and worship.
3. A morbid appetite for intellectual preaching is too often accompanied with a spirit of sarcastic criticism. We do not think that criticism upon ministers is always to be deprecated, in some cases be profitable, nay even necessary. But it should always be conducted with caution, and in the spirit of Christian charity. A flippant tone of reflection upon a minister's manner and style is highly destructive of religious feelings. There is great danger that if the earthen vessels are looked upon with contempt, the treasure which they may contain will likewise be scorned. It is in some measure an insult to God, and a reflection upon
His providence, to think and speak lightly of the individual whom He has appointed to minister to us in holy things. There are few, if any, evangelical sermons, from which the most intellectual hearer may not reap much benefit.
4. There is also a sickly appetite for novelty, too frequently to be found among hearers of the word. Some persons run from church to church, and from chapel to chapel, to hear the most recently arrived minister. This volatile disposition is most baneful to the mind, which is enfeebled by the perpetual stimulus, in the same way as by continual novel-reading. It exposes its possessors to ridicule; but it also exposes them to great spiritual danger. Benefit can scarcely be expected from such hearing. It is generally the most careless and indifferent who are most fond of novelty. By them the creature is exalted above the Creator, and instead of considering the preacher as
“A messenger of grace to guilty men,” he is regarded as a mere furnisher of entertainment, and the church is virtually converted into a theatre, and the pulpit into a stage. In such circumstances what wonder if the one affords as little profit as the other ?