« PreviousContinue »
- PORTRAIT OF ST. PAUL, &c.
The Doctrines of an evangelical Pastor.
THE minister of the present age, being des titute of christian piety, is neither able to preach, nor clearly to comprehend, the truths of the Gospel. In general, he contents himself with superficially declaring certain attributes of the Supreme Being ; while he is fearful of speaking too largely of grace or its operations, lest he should be sus. pected of enthusiasm. He declaims against some enormous vice, or displays the beauty of some social virtue. He affects to establish the doctrines of heathen philosophers : and it were to be wished that he always carried his morality to as high a pitch, as some of the most celebrated of those sages. If he ever proclaims the Lord Jesus Christ, it is but in a cursory way, and chiefly when he is obliged to it, by the return of particular days. He himself. continues the same through all seasons; and the cross of Christ would be entirely laid aside, unless the temporal prince, more orthodox than the minister, had appointed the passion of our Lord to be the preacher's theme, during certain solemnities. of the church.
With the evangelical pastor it is wholly otherwise : “ Jesus Christ,” he is able to say with St. Paul, “sent me to preach the Gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is, to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us, which are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the" vain 6 wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the" false “ under. standing of the prudent. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? For after that the world by" this “ wisdom;" this boasted philosophy, 6 knew not God," but rested in materialism and idolatry, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.” The preaching of the true minister, which commonly passes for folly in a degenerate world, is that through which God employs his power, for the conversion of sinners and the edification of believers. It compres hends all that is revealed in the old and new Testai ment : but the subjects on which it is chiefly em. ployed, are the precepts of the decalogue, and the truths of the Apostles' creed. They may be reduce ed to four points : 1. True repentance toward God. 2. A lively faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 3. The sweet hope, which the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in the hearts of believers, 4. That christian charity, • which is the abundant source of all good works. In a word, the good pastor preaches, “repentance, faith, hope, and charity.” These four virtues in: clude all others. These are the four pillars which support the glorious temple, of which St. Paul and St. Peter make the following mention : “ Ye are God's building. Ye also, as lively stones, are built. up a spiritual house.
By searching into the solidity of these four sup: ports, we may observe how vast a difference there is between the materials of which they are composed, and that untempered mortar with which
the ministers of the present day are striving to erect a showy building upon a sandy foundation.
The evangelical pastor preaches TRUE REPENTANCE
THE true minister, convinced, both by revelation and experience, that Jesus Christ alone is able to recover diseased souls, employs every effort to bring sinners into the presence of this heavenly physician, that they may obtain, of him spiritual health and salvation. He is fully convinced, that he, who is not weary and heavy laden, will never apply for relief; that he, who is not poor in spirit, will constantly despise the riches of the Gospel ; and that they, who are unacquainted with their danger, will turn a deafear to the loudest warnings of a compassionate Saviour. His first care, then, is to press upon his hearers the necessity of an unfeigned repentance ; that, by breaking the reed of their vain confidence, he may constrain them, with the poor, the miserable, the blind, and the naked, to fall before the throne of divine justice : whence, after see. . ing themselves condemned by the law of God, with. out any ability to deliver their own souls, he is conscious, they will have recourse to the throne of grace, entreating, like the penitent publican, to be " justified freely by the grace God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." It is in this state of humiliation and compunction of heart, that sinners are enabled 10 experience the happy effects of that evangelical repentance, which is well defined in; the xivih chap. of the lielvetic Confession : “ By ." repentance," say our pious reformers, “ we inean
that sorrow, or that displeasure of soul, which is "excited in a sinner, by the word and spirit of Gol, “&c, By this new sensibility, he is first made to : "discover his natural corruption, and his actual . " transgressions. His heart is pierced with sincere “ distress ; he deplores them before God ; he con“ fesses them with confusion, but without reserve ; " he abhors them with an holy indignation ; he se^ riously resolves, from the present moment, to re. “ form his conduct, and religiously apply himself to " the practice of every virtue, during the remainder * of his life. Such is true repentance: it consists, « at once, in resolutely renouncing the devil, with 66 ererything that is sinful; and in sincerely cleaving “ to God, with every thing that is truly good. But “ we expressly say, this repentance is the mere gist 6 of God, and can never be effected by our own « power."
It appears, by this definition, that our reformers distinguished that by the name of repentance, which many theologists have called the awaking of a soul from the sleep of carnal security ; and which others have frequently termed conversion. But, if sinners understand and obtain the disposition here described, no true minister will be over-anxious, that they should express it in any particular form of words.
How sin and the necessity of repentance entered into
OBSERVE the account, which the evangelical minister gives, after Moses and St. Paul of the manner in which that dreadful infection made its way into the world, that corrupt nature, that old inan, that body of death, which Christ the seed of the woman came to destroy. When the tempted woman saw, that the fruit of the tree, which God had forbidden har to touch, « was pleasant to the eyes, good for food, and to be desired to make one wise, she took thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat." Thus. entered into the very fountain-head of our nature that moral evil, that complicated malady, “ that lust of the flesh, that lust of the eyes, and that pride