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whatever may be his opinions in other respects, will admit, unconditionally, that what Christ has said is the guide and the substance of all which he is to say. Nor are many words necessary to show that he is a pattern equally perfect, and equally obligatory, as to his manner. It is not here intended, that the characteristical manner of Christ, by which he was distinguished from every other preacher, is demanded of any minister of the Gospel. In this respect, Christ cannot be copied by any man. The style in which the inhabitants of the East spoke their discourses, differs materially from that which has been adopted in Europe and this country, and each is suited to the taste of the respective inhabitants. The characteristical style of each individual, also, differs usually from that of other individuals, and that of each will ever be the best for himself, and that which he will most advantageously employ in discoursing with his fellow-men. The manner of Christ, in this respect, is not here intentionally required of any preacher. . It is wholly peculiar to him, and inimitable by others. At the same time, although every preacher may learn the best lessons from the plainness and simplicity with which the Redeemer taught, and is bound ever to keep him in view, as in this respect the proper object of a general imitation, yet it ought also to be observed, that no preacher is warranted to assume the authority with which Christ taught, enjoined, and reproved, or the peremptoriness with which he threatened and promised. These are characteristics peculiar to himself, which nothing but direct inspiration will authorize any man seriously to imitate, and which, accordingly, no Christian, except the apostles, has ventured to assume.
The spirit discovered by the Redeemer in his manner of instruction is the object which it is designed here to urge upon preachers of the Gospel for their imitation; particularly the candour, patience, gentleness, and tenderness displayed by him on every proper occasion. These are characteristics which cannot fail to adorn every discourse addressed by a preacher of the Gospel to his fellow-men. If a preacher has any sense of his own guilt, dangers, wants, hopes, or blessings, he cannot fail to feel, in a corresponding manner, those of others. If he have just views of the worth of his own soul and the importance of his own salvation, he cannot but tenderly regard the souls and the salvation of others. If he comprehend at all
his own infirmities, and the unceasing need which he has of tenderness and patience from his fellow-men, if he remember at all how persuasive and efficacious candour and gentleness have heretofore been in influencing his own mind, he cannot but discern the importance of exercising them towards his flock.
Nor is it less indispensable, that the Preacher should possess and exhibit the same openness, boldness, and integrity. The possession of these things is absolutely necessary, in order to the appearance of them in his discourses and in his life. All counterfeits will at the best be suspicious, and chiefly fail of their intended effect after a little period. But a full conviction of the Preacher's unmingled integrity, which, if it exist, can scarcely fail of being distinctly perceived, will more powerfully persuade his hearers than all the arts of reasoning and eloquence attainable by the human mind. At the same time, this characterestic will aim at doing them good in ten thousand ways unthought of by the insincere preacher. Beyond this, it will accomplish the good, where all skill and contrivance will fail. To an honest, open, undaunted preacher, thoroughly believed to be such, all men will listen who will listen at all. By such a preacher all men will be moved, who in the same circumstances will be moved at all. His discourses will, of course, appear to be delivered in earnest; not, perhaps, with animation or eloquence, properly so called : with respect to these, his constitutional character may be unfavourable, and his babits unhappy; but with seriousness, solemnity, and the appearance of a realizing conviction that he is uttering the message of God. Such a message, so uttered, can scarcely fail of making some useful impression on the mind. If not, it will be because the mind is not in a state fitted to receive useful impressions.
3. The Preaching of Christ is a forcible reproof to ministers.
Ministers, if we may judge from the sermons which they publish, are, in some instances at least, guilty of sophistry. Every preacher, who indulges himself in this mode of reasoning, has failed to propose or to remember Christ as his pattern ; and, whenever he solemnly reviews this part of his conduct, must feel himself powerfully reproved by the open, sincere, and exact argumentation of his Redeemer, his fair and candid statements of the opinions of his adversaries, and his solid answers to their cavils.
Ministers, at times, are petulant, angry, and contentious, not for truth, but for victory. Let him who indulges any part of this spirit look to the example of his Saviour, and be ashamed of his neglect to 'walk as Christ also walked.' Let him lay aside the spirit of a disputant and a champion, and resume that of a disciple of his glorious Lord.
Not a small number of preachers, in one country and another, affect a strongly impassioned, fervid, and enthusiastic manner of writing and uttering their discourses. Their language is always intended to be vehement, bold, and highly figurative, their tones loud and violent, and their gestures accordant with both. No part of this character can be found in the preaching of Christ. Not the most distant resemblance to enthusiasm can be found in any thing which he said, or in the manner in which it was said ; not an attempt to appear impassioned, not an effort to display what is customarily called eloquence. When the subjects which he canvassed inspired warmth, prompted imagination, and led to the adoption of figurative language, he indulged them, just as mere nature led. But he never summoned them to his assistance as a part of his scheme, nor, what is more to the present purpose, did he ever form the scheme with an intention to give himself opportunity of calling in these auxiliaries to his discourse. A temperate manner, solemn indeed, and plainly earnest, far distant from that cold and uninterested mode sometimes seen in the desk, but still temperate on all ordinary occasions, and raised only on extraordinary ones, was the characteristical manner of the Redeemer. His voice was pre-eminently the still, small voice' of truth and piety, and he did not strive, nor lift up, nor cause it to be heard in the streets.'
How different this pattern from the efforts of separatical preachers, and indeed of many others, in our own times ! There is no small reason to fear that by many men of modern days Christ, if now on earth, would be thought a very imperfect example of the best mode of preaching.
Ministers, in some instances, employ their discourses in minute, wire-drawn disquisitions. Such disquisitions can rarely be necessary in the desk, and wherever they are not
necessary they are mischievous. No example of this nature can be found in the preaching of the Redeemer. The minds of hearers are lost in such disquisitions ; their feelings blunted; and the truth and duty recommended, are forgotten in the labour of following the ingenious discussions of the preacher.
The timidity of ministers is also forcibly reproved by that undaunted firmness which Christ displayed in the midst of his bitter enemies, men from whom he could expect nothing but hatred and violence. It is to be always remembered, that there are occasions on which some subjects cannot be urged with any hope of success, and only with a prospect of disadvantage. It will therefore not only be justifiable, but commendable, to withhold the communication of certain truths and the injunction of certain duties in peculiar seasons, because those, who should hear, cannot' (in the language of Christ) bear them now. But the preacher is bound to withhold them only because he is fairly convinced, that the communication will do evil and not good. Even here, great caution is to be used, lest the preacher's own timidity and not the performance of his duty be the governing motive. In all cases, where this duty does not forbid (and these instances are, of course, few,) he is bound to speak the truth boldly and plainly, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.' Let every timid preacher, who shuns to declare the whole counsel of God' undor the influence of his timidity, fix his eyes on the example of his Saviour, and he will see himself most affectingly reproved, and most solemnly reminded, that the fear of man' only bringeth a snare.'
The love of applause may be said to be instinctive in the mind of man, and has, of course, a seat in that of preachers, as well as of other men. Against this seductive passion, always ready to operate, and operating almost of course with an unhappy influence, every preacher will find the strongest guard in the example of the Redeemer. No instance can be produced, in which this passion appeared in him. To teach truth, and enforce duty on his hearers, was plainly the whole end proposed by him in all his instructions. Such ought to be the only end aimed at in the discourses of every minister of the Gospel.
Finally: All persons who assemble to hear the Gospel are
here taught the manner in which they are bound to receive the truth. They are bound to receive it in its purity and simplicity, just as it was taught by Christ. They are bound to hear it with a reverential, ready, and obedient mind, as the law of life, and the only means of salvation. The Jews, who would not thus receive it, perished. Those who at the present time will not receive it in this manner will, unless they assume a wew character, perish also.