« IndietroContinua »
moral precep: is the New-Teftament writiaze, that we must read Eis name upon every duty; nay, we cannot eface his name, without debasing, or rather ritiating, the duty itself, and casting away the most powerful inducement to the practice of it. I therefore faid, that to preach Ciriji, is not only to publish what the Scriptures say concerning him, but likewise to handle every other subject of discourse in such a manner, as to keep Christ continually in the eye of our hearers; and they whose schemes of religion do not admit of this, may be assured, without any further examination, that their schemes differ widely from the gospel of Christ.
3dly, To preach Christ Jesus ibe Lord, is to make the advancement of his kingdom, and the salvation of men, the fole aim of our preaching. We must not seek our own glory, but the glory of him who sent us. If we serve ourselves, we must reward ourfelves as we can. Such only can look for the approbation of Christ, who make the honour of his name, and the happiness of mankind, the ultimate end of all their mi
nistrations. nistrations. They that usurp the facred office from interested views, or merely to gain a subsistence in a present world, will find in the issue, that they have turned the best and most falutary employment into a very bad trade, and only intitled thémselves to more and heavier stripes when the chief Shepherd fhall appear. “ We are am“ bassadors for Christ,” faith our Apostle, at the 20th verse of the following chapter, " as though God did beseech you by us, “ we pray you in Christ's stead, be je recon“ ciled to God." This is our proper business, the errand upon which we are fent. The glory of God, and the falvation of men, are the great and good ends of the pastoral office; and he wholofeth fight of these, or proposeth any lend that is different from them, may acquire the reputation of a learned, an inigenious, or an eloquent orator; but cannot be styled a préacher of Christ. -This will further appear from the ;7:
business, and the distinguishing characteristic, of a gospel-minister.
Can any thing be more reasonable, than that they who profefs to derive their authority from Christ, should make him the principal subject of their sermons, and recommend him to the esteem and love of their hearers ? And, on the other hand, can any thing be more unreasonable, can any thing be more unjust, than to assume the character of his messengers, while they feldom or never mention his name; or fpeak of him in such a way, as rather tends to breed contempt of him, than to render him precious to the souls of men ? But what I would chiefly observe is, that preaching Christ Jesus the Lord, is the great means which God hath appointed for the conversion and final salvation of finners : and therefore it is not only highly reasonable, but abfolutely necessary; and they are cruel to men, as well as unfaithful to God, who do not make conscience of this important duty. Lectures upon morality may be of use to restrain men from scandalous fins, but it is the gofpel alone that can save a sinner. A preacher,
by discoursing well upon the duties that belong to self-government and righteousness, may correct many outward disorders in the life, and produce such a change in the heart itself, as to convert those into men, who formerly were depraved to such a degree, that they differed very little from the brutes that perish. But after they become men, the greatest change doth still remain: those men must be converted into faints; they must be changed into the divine image; their very nature must be renewed, before they can be meet for the enjoyment of, God : “ Except a man be born agairt, he cannot s6 enter into the kingdom of heaven;" and it is the gospel alone which the Spirit renders powerful for producing this effect. Morality grows out of faith in Christ, as the branches grow from the stuck. This, and this only, is the principle of that holiness, without which no man shall see God. Whosoever, therefore, would preach morality with any hope of success, must begin here, and lay the foundation of it in that faith which purifieth the heart, and worketh by love ; otherwise his fermons may supply : F 4
fuel to pride and vain-glory, but shall never be the means of saving one foul. In vain do we attempt to improve the fruit, till the tree be made good. Let sinners be first ingrafted into Christ, and then works of righteousness will follow in course; as our blessed Lord hath taught us, John xv. 4, 5. “ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch “ cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide “ in the vine; no more can ye, except ye “ abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the « branches : he that abideth in me, and I “ in him, the same bringeth forth much “ fruit; for without me (or separated from “ me] ye can do nothing." Accordingly we find, that the preaching Christ, or the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, . hath in every age been the means of convincing and converting finners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto falvation : and in the fame proportion that this hath been neglected, the power of godliness hath declined and languished, till a cold formality hath at length given way to the open profession of infidelity itself. It. was the observation of a judicious and pious