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in a fcriptural strain : we practically declare, by fuch a conduct, that we have no high efteem for divine revelation, and have forgot our commission as ambasfadors of Christ. It would be reckoned arrogant presumption, even in the ambassador of an earthly prince, should he exceed his instructions, and betake himself to his own fagacity, in adjusting the differences of his sovereign with neighbouring states. And can an ambassador commiffioned by him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, be thus unfaithful, without the most daring and impious insolence ? He bids fairest to preach with success, who preaches in words, not of man's wisdom, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing fpiritual things with spiritual. The blessed Spirit fets his seal only to doctrines stamped with his own authority, and which flow from that sacred fountain unfullied and pure. The gospel, when mingled with human inventions, loses much of its native lustre, and, like adulterated milk, affords but scanty and unwholesome nourishment. An itch to say what is curious and uncommon, is a dangerous turn of mind in a teacher of Christianity. Common truths are like common blessings; of most use, and of truest worth: and that is the best sermon which makes the grace of God sweet, salvation through Christ acceptable, fin ugly and liateful, and holiness amiable to the foul. 25:
If they give just ground of offence who add to the word of God, they do it also who take from it. All God's words are right. There is nothing froward or perverse in them. Every doctrine and precept is wisely suited to promote God's glory and man's falva
tion, and was mercifully revealed for that very pur-
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for cor,
As wise and faithful stewards, we must regard the
Perhaps it is one chief occasion of our giving of. fence, by not declaring the whole counsel of God, that there are certain subjects peculiarly easy and agreeable to us, which, on that account, we are apt to imagine the most important, and to infift upon the most frequently. Lecturing usually on large portions of scripture might be some remedy to this evil. Occasions would, in that way, soon present, of explaining every doctrine, and inculcating every duty. Both we and our hearers would grow better acquainted with the lively oracles, and learn to read them more profitably. Besides, short occasional hints, which naturally arise in our ordinary course of expounding a gospel or epistle, may fall with weight on our hearers ere they are aware, and force conviction. Whereas, when the subject of a fermon is directly levelled against vulgar prejudices or fashionable vices, instantly the alarm is taken, and the mind strengthens itself against evidence. The heart is a fort more easily taken by fap than by storm.
But though we give hints of every truth, our sermons will offend the judicious, if we infift most frequently and earnestly on subjects of lesser importance, and more sparingly and coldly on those branches of Christi. anity which are most frequently introduced, and have the greatest stress laid upon them, in the sacred writings. Our great business is, to instruct guilty creatures how they may be recovered from the ruins of their apostafy, serve God acceptably here, and enjoy him for cver hereafter. It is justly offensive, if we content
ourselves with now and then mentioning, in a slight and overly manner, those things which affect the very vitals of our common Christianity.
If Christ, and falvation through him, are rarely preached, this will be quite opposite to the apostolic pattern. Let it not be pleaded, That these doctrines were more necessary to Jews and Heathens than to profeffed Christians. A little observation may convince us, that many of our hearers are Christians only in name, and need to be taught these doctrines more perfectly, or, at least, to have deeper impressions of their truth and importance. Besides, it was not barely in addressing infidels, that the apostles insisted on such subjects. They did it also in their epistles to the saints and faithful in Jesus, who knew these things, and were established in the present truth. A confiderable part of many of these epistles immediately relates to the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. And, in the practical part of them, these peculiar doctrines are often urged as motives even to social and relative duties. For instance, they are urged to diffuade from evil-speaking, and to recommend meekness and gentleness, Tit, iii. 2. & feqq. : and in the 8th verse of that chapter, the apostle, after pronouncing the doctrine of justification through Christ a faithful saying, injoins Titus to affirm it constantly, in order to excite believers to carefulness in maintaining good works. But I have a still higher pattern to plead : More of our Lord's sermons are recorded by the beloved difciple than by the other evangelists; and of these the principal subjects are, the dangerous state of the unconverted, and the nature, neceflity, and blessed
consequences of faith in Christ, of union with him, and of the sanctifying influences of his Spirit. The last and longest of these fermons, though preached to the apostles only, who had long ago professed their dependence on him as their guide to eternal life, yet chiefly relates to the mutual love of Christ and his people, and the safety and comfort that flow from the exercise of faith in him. The doctrine of Christ crucified is the instituted mean for producing and nourishing the divine life, and should be the centre of our sermons, in reference to, and dependence upon which, other subjects ought to be considered..
"The nature of true religion, as distinguished from every counterfeit appearance, the genuine workings of it in the heart, and the fruits of it in the life, are subjects that need to be often explained and inculcated. Scripture abounds with occasional instructions on these heads : and the 119th psalm, our Lord's sermon on the mount, the epistle of James, and John's first epistle, treat them designedly, and at full length. On the one hand, we must inculcate it frequently, that however blameless mens outward conduct appear, yet if they act barely from selfish interested principles, and have not charity, love to God, to Christ, and to their brethren of mankind, they are nothing, have not the spirit of Christ in them, and are none of his : “ The “ end of the commandment is love, out of a pure “ heart, a good confcience, and faith unfeigned.” In other words, The end of divine revelation is not gained upon us, till we love our duty, see a beauty and excellency in holiness, and esteem it our meat and drink to do the will of our heavenly Father. On the other