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gain the praise, or the honour which cometh from man, and by this means may be at ease in Zion: Or having only his temporal interest at heart, though his abilities are but small, yet by every means he can think of, he endeavours to raise himself in the world.
A man may be said to preach himself, when having acquired, as he supposes, a sufficient stock of human learning, he thinks himself fully qualified for the work of the ministry, he enters upon it in his own wisdom, and being little acquainted with the Gospel of Christ, and still less with the nature of a work of grace, he preaches his own opinions, and not the truth as it is in Jesus; or, from the strength of his memory, he repeats something which looks like the Gospel, but it clearly appears, that he has not the root of the matter in his own heart: He wants the grand qualification of a Minister of Christ, even the life of God in his own soul. "When it pleased God," saith the Apostle, "who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." Such ought every preacher of the Gospel to be, and then he will preach Christ and him crucified, and leave self out of sight. Having Christ revealed in him, or as the Apostle prays, having Christ dwelling in his heart by faith, he will bring out of that good treasure, those important things, which it is absolutely necessary for the people to experience.
Secondly, When may a Minister be properly said to preach Christ Jesus the Lord.
This is a matter of vast importance, and therefore deserves our serious consideration. That this may be effectually done, it is not only absolutely necessary that a man should have sound scriptural experience of the power of divine grace in his own mind; but he should have a thorough acquaintance with the holy scriptures,, with the whole Gospel of Christ, and should be called of God to, and qualified by him for this great and important work, and where at person is not so qualified, little good can be expected.
1. To preach Christ implies, that the whole counsel of God be unfolded, that every part of the christian doctrine be clearly explained, and properly applied to the understandings and consciences of the people: So that while they hear, they may rightly understand, and by the blessing of God, may be properly affected with divine truth. He who would preach Christ, must take care to lay the good foun
dation, and begin with those truths, which according to the order of God, should be first known and experienced, and then lead his hearers forward to every other branch of the holy gospel, clearly shewing that there is a beautiful barmony between the several parts of the word of God, and that they depend upon, and are naturally connected with each other. They are as so many links in a chain, or as so many stones in an arch, you cannot take one stone away but the arch will fall down. "I have not shunned, saith St. Paul, to declare unto you the whole counsel of God," and in particular, he had preached," Repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." And he who would approve himself to God, as a faithful minister, must go and do likewise.
2. To preach Christ implies, that he be clearly set forth, as an all-sufficient Saviour, as evidently crucified before the eyes of the people, considered as having finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, for a ruined world: And having all power in bis hand, in heaven and on earth he is every way qualified to save and to bless all those who look unto him for present and eternal salvation. This must be done in such wise, that all may see the necessity of obeying that word of God. “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am. God, and there is none else." Or what is the very same thing, "Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world." He who would preach Christ, having experienced the virtue and efficacy of his precious blood in his own soul; will always take care to send poor ruined guilty sinners to him, for pardon and peace, for redemption and salvation: And will say to all such, "Arise, why tarriest thou, wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord.”
3. As the word Christ, signifies the anointed of God; He must be considered as a Prophet, Priest and King to bis church, and must be preached in all these sacred offices. Christ the Prophet mighty in word and deed before God and all the people, must be preached. He was prophecied of in the Old Testament under this character. And under the New Testament dispensation he acted in that capacity. He not only foretold future events, but like the ancient prophets, taught and instructed the people; be published the glad tidings of salvation wheresoever he came, and fully proved himself to be the wonderful counsellor foretold by his faithful servant Isaiah. No sooner did he enter upon
his public ministry, than the people who heard him were astonished at his doctrine; as they perceived that, "he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." At another time, "All bore him witness and wondered at the gracious words, which proceeded from his lips." "Even the officers who were sent to take him acknowledged, Never man spake like this man." And they certainly spoke the truth; for the greatest among the prophets could only say to the people, "Thus saith the Lord," but Christ could say, Verily, verily, I say unto you.
4. Christ must be set forth, not only as teaching the people while here upon earth, but the necessity of his spiritually teaching us now, must be insisted upon; as it is written in theprophets, " And they shall all be taught of God," or as our Lord hath said, "He who hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." Such is the blindness of the human heart, that none can enlighten it, but God himself; therefore he who in the beginning commanded light to shine out of darkness, must shine by the bright beams of his Spirit, into our hearts, or we shall never be made wise unto salvation. Nicodenius was not a little surprised, when our Lord said, "Except ye be born again, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God:" And many at this day, are as much surprised, to hear the necessity of divine illumination insisted upon, and are ready to say, "How can these things be?" One might suppose that such persons had never read the words of St. Paul, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." If the natural or unenlightened man cannot know the things of God, for this plain reason, because they are spiritually discerned; and if it is absolutely necessary to salvation, that we should know, and be ac quainted with the things of God, it must follow, that every one should be taught of God, or divinely illuminated. If it be asked, "How can these things be "The answer is easy; our blessed Lord before he left this world, gave his disciples this promise: "And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end." I will be with you, in the power and demonstration of my Spirit, and not only with you, but with all your successors till time shall be no more. Thus he sent St. Paul to the Gentiles, "To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light," &c. But he could not do this of himself, he could only preach the gospel to their outward ears, and while he did this, the Holy Spirit applied
the word with power to their hearts, and they were divinely illuminated, and made wise unto salvation. Thus it is at this day; for as the same veil is still upon the hearts of men, and as none can take it away but God, it remains an undeniable truth, that every man living must be taught by him., This is generally done while a person is attending upon a lively heart-searching ministry; Divine light shines into his mind, and he sees that his state is just what the Scriptures bear witness concerning it. That he is fallen from God, defiled with sin, and is therefore an object of his displeasure. Being guilty he sees the necessity of obtaining redemption in the blood of Christ, and being defiled with sin, he sees the necessity of experiencing divine grace, that he may be res newed in righteousness and true holiness.
By this means he not only gains the knowledge of his disease, but of the cure also. He sees that the Lord hath laid help upon one that is mighty to save, and strong to deliver. That Jesus hath pardon and peace, redemption and salvation to bestow upon all who feel their want of him: And when he is possessed of these inestimable blessings, our Lord will still act towards him in his prophetic character. If be retains that simplicity of mind, that earnest desire to be wholly devoted to God which he enjoyed when he was first brought into glorious liberty; then he will be led into every necessary truth, and to know the whole will of God, so far as it concerns his present and eternal salvation; for as divine light will shine upon his mind in reading and hearing the word of God, so he will also be taught many useful lessons, more immediately by the Holy Spirit: New ideas which he never received from any man, nor read in any book, will spring up in his mind, and he will be made more deeply acquainted with the things of God. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." This Spirit will unfold the whole mystery of redemption to him, and especially it will lead him to look for the accomplishment of all the promises of God, and that all his gracious designs may be fulfilled in him.
Those who neglect the word of God, thinking they must be wholly led by the Spirit, are certainly as far wrong on the one hand as they are on the other, who see no necessity of being led by the Spirit, because God hath revealed his will to us in his word: For as we cannot try the spirits, as the Apostle directs us, but by the word, so on the other hand, we can only understand the word by the assistance of the Spirit; and every faithful minister of Christ will find while
bearing a faithful testimony for his master, that new light will frequently flow in upon his mind, so that he will not only see increasing beauty in divine truth, but will be enabled to explain and enforce it in such wise, as he could not have done by any wisdom or power of his own.
5. Christ our Redeemer was also anointed as our great High Priest; as it is written, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec." And as the Jewish High Priest offered up sacrifices and burnt-offerings for the sins of the people; so our blessed Redeemer offered up himself a spotless sacrifice for the sins of the whole world: For it pleased God to lay upon him the iniquity of us all, and by the shedding of his blood he hath obtained both present and eternal redemption for us. He then who would faithfully preach Christ, must set him forth as a propitiation for sin, that through faith in his name, all our sins may be freely and fully pardoned: And must strongly insist upon the absolute necessity of every one being brought to enjoy a clear sense of the pardoning love of God in his own soul. He who rests short of this, rests short of gospel salvation, and is not savingly acquainted with Christ. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection," saith the Apostle. But what does that man know of the power of Christ's resurrection, who is not raised from the death of sin, to a life of righteousness by him? We are exhorted to "give all diligence to make our calling and election sure." But how can this be made sure, till we are blest with a clear mani. festation of the love of God in Christ Jesus to our own souls ? This is the lowest degree of the gospel of salvation, and a man can neither be in a safe, nor in a happy state till he enjoy it. Let Christ be preached and redemption through his blood, that every poor sinner may fly for refuge to the only hope set before him in the gospel.
Christ our High Priest hath entered into the holy place not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, where he appears in the presence of God, making intercession for us. As the Jewish High Priest on the great day of atonement, took the blood of the sin-offering in a bason, and entered into the holiest of all, and there sprinkled the blood upon the mercy-seat, and made intercession for the thousands of Israel, who were praying without: So our divine Saviour, having finished the work of redemption, by the shedding of his blood once for all, entered into the highest heavens, there to appear as our Advocate with God. Hence, "he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him,