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5. Again, as to the composition and style of his pulpit ads dresses, the effective preacher studies sound speech that cannot be condemned, as well as sound doctrine that cannot be refuted. He speaks with gravity, dignity, and authority, as delivering a message from God to the perishing souls of his fellow-creatures; yet with all tenderness and affection, as feeling himself to be not less a debtor to sovereign grace than the vilest sinner before him. His words express the ardent and irrepressible outgoings of his love towards his people, and his deep and unwearied solicitude for their salvation. *As the apostle expresses himself, 2 Cor. vi. 11_“Oye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged,” so is every Minister to speak with an enlarged heart, and with ready and ample utterance of truth. His utterance is not to be the delivery of light, flimsy, and declamatory sentences, with much sound but little sense; but the solemn and digni. fied announcement of the oracles of God.' His aim is to speak “not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but with demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.". The object of his ambition is--not to dazzle and astonish, but to convert bis hearers; not to send them back to their sins, exe claiming, as they leave the meeting-house What a clever man! what a wonderful discourse! what a new and ori ginal view he gave us of that passage! but to stir up
the moves ments of that godly sorrow, which shall prompt them individually to utter the lamentation of Paul-" wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” or to offer up the prayer of the publican-God be merciful to me, a sinner!". There is no danger against which every Minister, and especially every young Minister, ought more habitually to watch and pray, than the unhallowed love of popularity. If he permits himself to be soothed and flattered by the applause bestowed on his discourses by injudicious friends, he will deem it necessary to maintain the character he has acquired for talent and eloquence; and so every Saba bath a new effort will be put forth to excite wonder and admiration, and a new appetite will be felt for congratulation and panegyric after the exhibition is at an end. Should the grateful application be administered, vanity and pride are the almost inseparable attendants; should it be withheld, vexation and peevishness must necessarily ensue; and thus, by degrees, the candidate for popularity will sink down into an unmitigated spirit of selfishness, and behold, without uneasiness, his ministry barren of conversions, and his hearers sleeping
the sleep of spiritual death. Again I would beseech Ministers to beware of this dangerous and besetting snare. There is not, perbaps, under the sun a more hateful spectacle in the sight of God than that of a man standing up in the name, and as the representative of Christ, to treat with immortal beings on the verge of eternity, and yet seeking to arrest admiration to himself instead of his Master, and making it his most miserable ambition to dazzle them with hopes
“And play his brilliant parts before their eyes,
When they are hungry for the bread of life.” It is not to be understood from these remarks, that éloquence of illustration and appeal is to be utterly excluded from the addresses of the pulpit. Provided the simple object of the preacher be to glorify Christ, I can see no objection to bis liberal use of those natural gifts of reasoning or imaginative power with which God has furnished him for his service and honour; yet I believe it will be found almost universally true, that those Ministers whom "the King has delighted to honour” with success in their ministrations, have been accustomed to employ language exceedingly simple, and within the range of the humblest capacity, and to avail themselves habitaally of the noble language of the Bible, to express the mind of the Spirit.
6. Finally, the effective preacher produces all his effect by the agency of the Holy Spirit. He may, by the exertion of his natural powers of mind and voice, arrest the attention, and convince the understanding, and delight the imagination, and stir up
the slumbering sensibilities of an audience--he may charm the ear like the very slovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument;" bat he never forgets, that not all his efforts, were they multiplied a thousand fold, could awaken into spiritual life the soul that is dead in trespasses and sins. He perceives, when he stands up to preach, as it were a wall of brass interposed between him and the hearts of his audience, and addresses himself, in the prayer of fervency and of faith, to that Almighty Power, which can
“ break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron." For he also remembers that the Lord, the Lord strong and mighty, gracious and good, has promised to be with his ministering servants unto the end of the world. He cheers and strengthens his spirit by the consideration, that it is not his own word, but the word of Christ which he preaches, and the ordinance of Christ which he dispenses, and the Spirit of Christ, freely and richly bestowed, who is to accomplish the mighty work that is before him; and therefore while he prays as earnestly for help as if he could do nothing, he preaches with as much energy as if he could do all things. Nor is his animation confined to the pulpit.
He has been animated in his closet. He has there poured out many a petition to him
that seeth in secret”-he has inquired, How shall I reach the consciences of my hearers ?'he has preached his sermon to himself-his
heart has been warmed by the fire of divine, grace, and he is now prepared to warm the hearts of his people, for he has learned, that while the head speaks to the head, the heart must speak to the heart. Let our Ministers adopt this mode of prepara, tion for the pulpit; let their own hearts be renewed, and filled with love to Christ; let them habitually recognise and look for the agency of the Spirit in giving success to their public and private exertions; let them pray for a revival in the Presbyterian Church; let them expect a revival; let them ·labour for a revival, and the Lord will “revive his work’ in the midst of us, and “pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
I cannot better conclude these observations than by the following energetic lines from Richard Baxter :
“Surely God's messenger, if any man,
A proud, unhumbled sinner is unmeet,
'And utter strangers to the life to come
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN. SIR,
WHEN, more than a year since, I had the pleasure of passing a day or two in Belfast, you requested me to put upon paper, for your useful publication, the substance of a conversation which I then had with you on revivals of religion. It was my design to comply with your request before leaving the country. But in the hurry of preparing for my return voyage, I found this impracticable; and on my arrival home, the subject was pushed aside by the pressure of other duties, and so was neglected, till my attention was called to it, a few weeks since, by the reception of a kind note from yourself, accompanied with several of the back Numbers of The Orthodox Presbyterian, which you had the goodness to send me.
What passed between us in the conversation referred to, has, of course, escaped my mind; but I very cheerfully comply with your request, so far as to give you some account of the revivals of religion which have occurred under my ministry, or within the more immediate circle of my acquaintance.
The church of which I am pastor, like most of the early churches in New-England, was planted in the spirit of revivals. The men who settled in this part of our country were among the best men that have lived since the apostles. They came here from the love of religion; and their churches, their sabbaths, their laws, their rulers, their colleges, their schools, all were subservient to religion.' This circumstance has had great influençe on the subsequent history of the church in this country, especially in this section of it. Revivals of religion have been held in high estimation, Christians have regarded them as the most precious of God's blessings, and have sought them, in prayer, in counsel, and in effort, as the great, essential means of saving sinners, and of advancing the cause of truth and holiness. Passing over the seasons of refreshing, with which God most signally visited our churches for a long period after the settlement of the country, I come to what we are accustomed to call the present series of revivals, which commenced something more than forty years ago, and has continued, with intervals of suspension in particular churches, to advance up to this time with evidencing and increasing power.
At the commencement of this holy influence, shed down upon Zion by her heavenly King, the
church of which I am pastor shared richly in its blessings, Dr. Strong was then its pastor.
He was a man of a clear and powerful mind, and of decidedly evangelical sentiments. During the last twenty-five years of his ministry, he witnessed three special seasons of revival among his people; in the progress of which, large additions were made to the church, the tone of piety was much elevated, and the state of religion generally in the city greatly improved. The last of these seasons was of nearly two years' continuance, at no one time very powerful, but marked with a constant, silent descent of divine influence; producing general seriousness among the people, with frequent conversions and frequent accessions to the communion of the church. The fruits were decidedly good. The church was large and flourishing, happily united in sentiment, and “walking," in some good degree, “ in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” Among those who then united with the church, are some of the most devoted and active Christians in the city
About the close of this revival in 1816, Dr. Strong died. I was called to take charge of the church in 1818. During the first three years of my ministry, though not unattended with encouraging tokens of divine favour, I witnessed nothing like a revival among my people. Early in 1821, a work of great power commenced, and continued, with some variatione of interest, during the year. As the fruits of this visitation of mercy, nearly two hundred were added to the church. Some of these, as was to be expected among so large a number, have since given painful evidence that they were deceived, as to the foundation of their hope. But of the great body of them, I am happy to say, they have continued to adorn their profession by an exemplary Christian life; and if ever, through grace, I shall be permitted to enter the heavenly world, I have no doubt I shall meet them there as my joy and crown of rejoicing
Since that period, we have been favoured with three other seasons of special religious attention ; but neither of them was of so long continuance, or productive of so abundant fruits as was the first. During the time I have been connected with the church, about six hundred have been added to its communion, not less than four-fifths of whom are to be regarded as the fruits of revivals.
I know not that there has been any thing in the mode of conducting the revivals with which it has pleased God to bless