Imatges de pÓgina

the angels.

kingdom, and with them celebrated the dying love of Jesus, will then be cast away, as chaff and stubble! How many, who have concealed a proud, selfrighteous, or worldly heart under the mask of religion; how many nominal Christians, who have been secretly alienated from the cause of truth and sanctity; how many such will then be gathered as in bundles, and cast into a furnace of fire, where shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth! And their anguish and despair will be exceedingly aggravated by all the privileges they once enjoyed, and by all the hopes they once entertained. Awful, momentous day, which shall burn as an oven, and consume all the proud and wicked as stubble, leaving them neither root nor branch. Oh Lord, gather not our souls with sinners. How different from them will the saints appear! Delivered from all the corruptions of the world, and sanctified by the divine Spirit, they will be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a pure and heav

As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things which offend, and them which do iniquity." Every man's character shall be tried; the all revealing day shall declare it. Though we can look only on the outward appearance, there is one who searcheth the heart, and is thus qualified to divide the good from the bad, and assign to all their proper places. Men may be unknown till the judgment day; but then every secret thing shall be disclosed. At present we cannot determine what proportion of the visible church are the children of this world; but the great day will declare it. Hypocrites may now pass for Christians; but then the veil will fall off, and the form which it covered openly appear. Some upright persons may now labour under such disadvantages, that we hardly imagine them the heirs of God. But when that day arrives, they will be present-enly church; will sit on thrones, ed faultless before their Father's throne. At present the peace of the church is interrupted, and its glory shaded by erroneous guides and unholy professors. But then the church will be freed from the incumbrance of hypocrites and unbelievers. Christ will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend. No unrehewed sinner can then hold his place among the people of God. How many, who have here come before God, as his people, conversed with the children of the

and forever shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.

Churches of Christ, these are the words of truth, and shall surely come to pass. What manner of persons, then, ought we to be! With what watchfulness, and prayer, and holy diligence, should we wait for the day of the Lord! Behold, that day cometh quickly! Blessed are they, who are prepared for its solemn transactions.




From the Evangelical Intelligencer.

INSTRUCTION may often be communicated with greater advantage in private than in public discourses. In the former, the speaker can address his hearers with a direct relation to the particular circumstances in which they are placed; whereas, in public preaching, his observations must of necessity be for the most part general: besides, in the small circle of a private family, there is a liberty and familiarity allowable, which cannot be admitted into the pulpit. The preacher can pause, and inquire whether he is understood; and in many cases the questions and observations of those whom he is endeavouring to instruct, will suggest to him the most Important and appropriate ideas and sentiments.

The Lord Jesus Christ has left to all his servants an instructive example in this part of their duty. Several of his most beautiful and edifying discourses were delivered in private houses, and occasioned by the peculiar circumstances of those with whom he conversed.

The apostle Paul appears also to have spent a part of his time in communicating instruction in this mode; for in that most excellent and pathetic discourse which he delivered to the elders of Ephesus, he speaks of it as his practice amongst them, not only to teach publicly, but from house to house. Vol. III. No. 121

In modern times, it is to be lamented, that less is done in this way than could be wished. After making every allowance which candour requires on this subject:-admitting that young preachers, for several years after they appear in the pulpit, ought to spend a considerable portion of time in their studies, that they may prepare themselves for more extensive usefulness in after life; that some ministers of the gospel may be so circumstanced, that much of their time must be employed by an attention to the general interests of the church; that some must consume a large part in making that provision for their families which their people are either unwilling or unable to make for them; and that a few may actually be qualified (as I have heard the late president Edwards judged that he was) to do more good by writ ing for the public in his study, than by spending his time in much conversation :—after making as much allowance for these, and all other considerations of a similar kind, as truth and justice require, it is feared that much room will still remain for well founded complaint on this subject.

Some preachers do not possess the talent of readily introducing religious conversation, and therefore when they first make the attempt, it is with such a stiff and awkward air, that every perX X X

son present is made uneasy, and none more so than the speaker himself. Hence, perhaps, he too hastily forms the conclusion, that he is not, and never shall be, qualified for this species of instruction; and therefore, after a few unsuccessful attempts, relinquishes the object as hopeless. Others are so occupied in the investigation of dark and unprofitable speculations in theology, or in correcting and polishing their sermons, so that they may be brought to the highest pitch of elegance, that they have no time to spare for this tedious mode of preaching: And others again are so fastidious, that they cannot condescend to hold free and familiar conversation with ignorant people. They are immediately disgusted with the crude conceptions and blundering expressions of many with whom they converse, and their feelings, wound up to an excessive degree of refinement, cannot bear the shock of a collision with vulgar minds.*

We might yet mention another class of persons, who, although invested with the office of preachers of the gospel, consider it in no other light than

* Do persons of this character, ever think of the condescension of the Saviour? Possessing intelligence and purity as far exceeding that of any human being, as the sun exceeds a ray of his own light, how kindly, patiently and familiarly, did he converse with the poor, the rude, the ignorant and the froward! Shall any

one of his ministers feel an intolerable disgust at what their Lord and Master performed with pleasure! Shall dust and ashes refuse to mingle with their kindred, when God's eternal Son hath shown them such an example !

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Or if he should happen upon a child of God labouring under perplexing doubts respecting his spiritual state, he would be entirely at a loss how to proceed with such a person. Having had no experience of the hidden life of a believer, no knowledge of his trials and conflicts, he would judge all these things to be the fruits of a distempered mind.

There is one thing, which, if duly considered, I think would have no small influence upon those whose office it is to teach, and which would go far to remove all impediments out of the way, which now hinder them from using every opportunity of leading men into the way of salvation: What I allude to is this, that the ministers of the gospel are accountable for the loss of every soul which perishes through their criminal negli-' gence, whether that negligence proceed directly from sloth, from the pretence of study, from the affectation of refinement, or from indifference and carelessness. Every minister of the gospel ought to be able to say with sincerity, as Paul did in

the above mentioned discourse, Wherefore I take you to record this day that I am free from the blood of all men.

But the obstacles, to what I call Parlour Preaching, do not arise wholly from the negligence or incompetence of the ministers of the gospel, but at least one half of the blame lies at the door of the people.

A preacher pays a visit to a wealthy, fashionable family. As a gentleman of character and education, he is treated with politeness and attention. He may eat and drink of the best; but if he should happen to think with himself," My constant employment should be to promote the salvation of men: These, with whom I now am, are a part of my flock, for whom I must render an account; and they need advice and admonition as much as any;" and, in consequence, if he should introduce a discourse upon the important subject of salvation, what would probably be the effect? The company would be struck dumb with astonishment at his rudeness; and the snarl of disgust, the smile of contempt, or the look of disapprobation, might be expected, as the reward of his temerity.

If some polished buck, however, should think it no insult to the clerical character, to take his Maker's name in vain, this peradventure might give no offence to the same company: But if the clergyman should, in the most modest way possible, insinuate that this practice was offensive to God and painful to himself, it would probably be considered such an outrage on good breeding as to merit the high displeasure, not only of the culprit,

but of every other person in the company. In such circumstances, it is easy to see, that there is little hope of doing good by preaching. If the preacher attempt it once, he will not be likely to have a second opportunity of instructing the same persons. So far from attempting parlour preaching in such circumstances as these, it will be the wisdom of gospel ministers to keep at a distance from companies, however honourable in the estimation of the world, where their sacred profession is disregarded. To be esteemed for their wit or vivacity in conversation, or for their elegant and polished manners, by those who despise their calling, is to them no honour, but a disgrace. In what is usually called fashionable life, there is, alas, little room for religion. In forming the regulations by which people of this condition are governed, the religion of Christ too seldom has any place in the system; and while persons are whirled in the vortex of fashion, there is very little hope of their salvation.

But obstacles to religious instruction not only exist among rich and fashionable people, but also among those of every condition.

In many houses the whole attention is given to the body; and when such are visited by the minister, all hands are set to work to provide for his gratification. Instead of one, there are often half a dozen Marthas, who are cumbered with much serving, and not one listening Mary in the whole circle.

In other places, he will have religious conversation enough, but to very little profit. Obscure

and knotty questions, commonly incapable of a certain solution, and of no consequence if one could be given, are treasured up, in order that they may be proposed to the minister. He must give his opinion, as to the mark set upon Cain, the thorn in Paul's flesh, and must tell who Melchisedeck was, and whom the witch of Endor raised up for Saul. But no one inquires, "What must I do to be saved? Or how may I grow in grace most successfully? What are the best evidences of a change of nature, or what ought a Christian to do in such and such given circumstances?" Others have an itch for controversy, and they feel the importance of being able to maintain or dispute with the minister, and perhaps of vanquishing him in their own conceit. There are many persons who glory in holding some opinions different from those commonly received. These they often bring forward to be discussed, not that they expect instruction or wish to obtain new light; for nothing can exceed the confidence and pertinacity with which these favourite opinions are held. The holder would sooner renounce the whole creed, than yield one of these notions which he cherishes with a fatherly fondness, considering them as the fruit of his own invention, the result of his own ingenuity; and therefore he would as soon suffer you to offer him the grossest personal insult, as to rob him of any of these opinions.

Again, the spirit of party among many people is so prevalent, that they will hear nothing willingly, receive nothing cordi

ally, unless it comes through one particular channel. A single phrase, which they consider as belonging to a different system, even if it be a scriptural phrase, will shut the mind against all instruction from the person who was so unfortunate as to use it. Some serious people are as much offended at hearing the words, "election" and " predestination,” as if they were never used in scripture, but invented by the enemies of God and religion.

But the chief obstacle with all classes is a want of taste for religious conversation. On any other subject they will be fluent, but here they are mute. If you begin conversation, you must carry it on yourself. Those who habitually neglect their salvation, take no pleasure in hearing of its importance. Especially,

most people dislike to be interrogated by their minister, as to the condition of their souls, though it be done in a private, personal conversation. They are conscious that all is not well, and they cannot bear to confess the truth. Many therefore keep up an opinion that the exercises of the heart ought not to be spoken of, that it savours of ostentation, and is a mark of hypocrisy ; but surely there can be no ostentation in a man's confessing to his pastor that he is an unconverted, inexcusable sinner; or in relating the imperfection of his duties, and the weakness of his graces.

Young people are generally much afraid to be interrogated about the concerns of their souls, and they dread the company of clergymen on this very account, fearing that they may be asked

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