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trust. It is a comfort in this respect, that what ever may have been the effect of his preaching on the church or society, he feels acquitted, and en, joys a quiet mind when he reflects, that he has been faithful to the souls of his hearers and done all that he could to promote their salvation. Especially is it comfortable, when he reflects that he is going to meet them at the bar of God. The day of judgement will be a solemn day to those that have kept back the truths that would have been profitable to the souls of men.
Improvement. The connexion between a minister and people is solemn-It is for solemn pur. poses. Those who dwell on doctrines only, keep back essential truths. On the other hand, those who dwell on the duties of morality only, do equally keep back essential truths. The whole council of God is to be taught.
To conclude-Brethren and friends. You are sensible that the relation which has, for a number of years, subsisted between us, has been dissolved. I am now about to remove to a distance from you, and this is probably the last opportunity, as to some, of our seeing each other again in this world.
I can say, that though I know that in the sight of c God, I have with respect to many things been un
worthy and unfaithful, yet I have this support, that I am not conscious, that I have kept back any thing which I judge would have been profitable to you.
There are trying things in the separation that has taken place. Although some are gratified by the event ; yet others feel the bowels of friendship yearning within them. There are some, perhaps, who, not so fully understanding the state of things, may blame me as forcing myself away. But I trust, that I understand what has been done by the society.
All methods of support have
seemed to fail, and I have felt myself unable, without such support, to devote myself to the work of the ministry. Of course, my usefulness in this place seemed to be at an end. It is true I have had friends who have been ready to contribute for my support : But I judged that it would not be expedient for me to tarry under these circumstanc. Es. (Cætera desunt.)
GAL. II. 2.
-But privately to them which were of reputation, lest by
any means, I should run, or had run, in vain.
THE ministry of the gospel of Christ is, perhaps, the most solemn work in which mortals ever engaged. It is a work on which the welfare of the hearer greatly depends. It is a work in which, as ambassadors for Christ and in the name of the King of Kings, we are called to treat with mortals on the most interesting subject, viz. their reconciliation to God and immortal salvation. To be unfaithful and slothful in such a trust, or be din verted by the amusements and gratifications of this life, must be high indignity to God, an abuse of the sacred trust and dangerous to immortal souls. On the other hand, there are motives to fidelity, which are most animating to faithful ministers. In this way may they be instrumental in
• Delivered to the Association at Bennington.
the glory and honor of the Redeemer ; the prosperity of his precious, glorious cause ; the conversion of sinners, and thereby of their eternal salvation; which will be so many gems in their crown of immortal glory.
One who is engaged, or entering on so solemn and interesting a work, may well have his mind deeply impressed with a sense of the weight and importance of it, and feel a serious concern to ac. quit himself in the best manner in the service of Christ. We cannot here propose to ourselves a more illustrious example in a mere creature, than that of the great Apostle Paul. The whole his, tory of his ministry is a display of the most fervent zeal and activity in the cause of christianity. He is here giving a brief account of the matter and manner of his preaching. The subject matter of it was the glorious gospel of the Redeemer and the plain, simple truths of his redeeming grace.
Many who pretend to preach the gospel, have such a mixture of their own inventions and so many false glosses, that they render what of truth they would deliver, obscure, or mar the lustre and lesson the influence of it. Not only is it important that we preach the simple gospel ; but that we do it in the best manner. Gospel truths are, doubt. less, often without effect from the unsuitable manner in which they are delivered; a manner calcu, lated to awaken the prejudices of mankind and so to stop their ears. The example of the Apostle in adapting his preaching as to manner, to the state of his hearers, is worthy of imitation. municated the gospel privately to them of reputation, as he well knew, that if they considered themselves; as exposed to the reproach and contempt of men of note and distinction in the nation, which public attendance on his instruction undoubtedly
would do, they would shun attention to his preaching, and so he would run in vain. He meant, it seems, to study human nature in all its different forms, and to adapt his preaching to his hearers, as being under the influence of just such prejudices as they are.
The sentiment which may be gathered from these words is this, that ministers are exposed to be unsuccessful by an unsuitable manner of preaching ; or, in other words, that ministers ought to take special care, lest their ministry be unsuccessful through a wrong manner of preaching. It must be allowed, that the matter of our preaching is of the highest importance.--If our sermons are not a clear exhibition of simple, gospel truth in its native dress, the best manner .cannot render it useful to the hearers : But next to the subject matter of preaching, is a suitable proper manner.
I would here,
1. Point out some things as to manner, from which, ministers are exposed to run in vain, or their ministry be without important effect.
2. Prove the doctrine that ministers ought to take special care, lest their preaching should be without important effect through a wrong manner.
I. I would point out some things as to manner, from which ministers are exposed to run in vain.
1. This is often the case when, though they may preach the truths of the gospel, it is in such smooth language and dress, that it is not understood; either because they are captivated with the flowers of eloquence and style, or because, to. avoid giving disgust, they make use of expressions which do not, to an inattentive hearer, convey the ideas of gospel truth. It is evident that there are many of our popular preachers who never disturb the consciences of sinners, not even the most profigate and abandoned. Their preaching tends often rather to soothe and quiet the consciences of sinners than to have any important gospel effect. Sinners are naturally so insensible of the malignity and depravity of their natures, of their need of the righteousness and atonement of Christ, and the special influences of the spirit of God, that we ought to treat on these subjects in the most plain and unequivocal language.
2. It is often the case that preaching is to many without effect, as our discourses are not in a language and style suited to the solemn and important truths which we deliver. Some deliver their discourses in a low, vulgar style, and introduce low and uncouth metaphors, which excite levity or dig. gust in the minds of the hearers, and thus
pres vent the proper influence of truth.
She language of others may be forid : Their style may be easy and agreeable, but at the same time better suited to the stage, or bar, than the desk: It may not be calculated to solemnize the mind and add a weight to the solemn truths which we deliver. The language and style of many of our modern preachers appear rather calculated to hold up the speaker, and gain the attention of the audience to him, than to the solemn and soul-interesting truths of the gospel. As we would wish in preaching the gospel, not to run in vain, in preaching we ought to have our dress, deportment, language and style such as to keep ourselves out of sight : We should endeavor to hide ourselves behind our subject, that nothing may have influ. ence but the pure doctrines of the gospel.
.3. Ministers often run in vain in their preaching, or fail of success, by harsh and unguarded expressions, which tend rather to stir the passions and corruptions of the hearers and to stop their ears, than to gain attention and conviction. Tho ministers are to be bold advocates for the religios