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will view it with the mingled emotions of compassion and sorrow;
-compassion for the man who gives this public display of his own weakness;--sorrow, that the cause of Christ should be thus wounded in the house of his friends; wounded, too, by the man whose duty it is to give lessons of meekness, gentleness, and forbearance. The heart, by nature, is deceitful above all things. A degree of pride, that strong and prominent feature of the old man, may exist in his heart, so latent, and so disguised, that he is unwilling to acknowledge, even secretly to himself, that he is under its influence; and yet such may be the fact. He may think his labors too important to be lost
, his preaching too good, too well calculated to be useful, to be thus neglected. He may feel a degree of resentment,-holy resentment, he will call it, or a laudable zeal for the cause of Christ; and yet there may be such a spicing of harshness, such a want of tenderness in his language and his manner, as clearly to indicate that all this warmth of feeling has an unholy origin. He may sincerely desire to see them under the pains of conviction, the sorrows of repentance, not only as connected with their own salvation, but also as a gratification to his wounded feelings, as an atonement for the neglect with which they have so long treated his ministry. If he permits such feelings to exist, he cannot easily conceal them. He may declare that his warmth is the warmth of love to their souls; but the impression of his hearers will be produced, not by his declarations, but by these symptoms of unhallowed excitement. Those who most need instruction, are often the most ready to notice the least improper feeling or language in him who would instruct them. For such improprieties in themselves, they can find abundant excuses, while they can find none for him who would teach them the fear of God. Truth thus presented, will not be received; of course, his usefulness must be limited.
The threatenings of God are sometimes repeated with a sternness of manner which by no means accords with the subject. No part of a minister's duty requires more tenderness, or is more powerfully calculated to excite the deepest compassion, than that of passing sentence of death of eternal death, on his hearers; and yet this is sometimes done with a vehemence which accords much better with the feeling of anger and revenge, than of love and compassion. Few judges, in the civil court, can pass sentence of death on their fellow men, without some degree of tender emotion. This vehemence in a preacher of the gospel will not, by the hearers, be mistaken for zeal, an essential part of which is love; but will be referred to such motives as they cannot approve; their hearts will, therefore, be closed instead of opened to the reception of truth.
Love, fervent, unfeigned love to the souls of men, is the only safety from the tendency of these trials. This, however, will effectually secure the heart in which it exists from all these for. bidden emotions. This we are taught in the positive words of
inspiration. Love beareth all things; that is, all provocations to any kind of unholy feeling. It requires no effort, and is no proof of love, for the mind to remain unmoved, when there is nothing to excite evil passions; but when provocations are presented, then it is that love exerts its heavenly and controlling influence preserving the mind composed and free from all criminal excite
Love is not easily provoked; or, as Macknight renders it, “ love is not exasperated;" not in any degree, or by any provocations. It is much easier to prevent the very first risings of evil passion, than to suppress it, after it has risen. This is the manner, and this the time, when love exerts its control: before the motive, derived from the provocation, has affected the mind ini the least degree, love presents much more powerful motives in favor of meekness and forbearance. Love preoccupies the thoughts, leading them off from the cause of irritation, and thus secures the dominion of the heart. Nor will it produce these happy effects for a month or a year only; for love suffereth long. The objects on which it is placed, and the causes by which it is excited are the same at all times. If it preserves the minister of Jesus in safety through the trials of one day, one month, one year, it will through the next; for it is not weakened, but rather strengthened, by these trials. But this is not all; love is kind, and seeketh not her own interest only. Towards those for whose salvation he labors, it is active benevolence, it is real kindness and compassion. He is willing to do any thing and to suffer any thing to promote their spiritual interest. They may remain insensible under his ministry, may speak evil of him, may become his enemies; but he will not be overcome by these provocations, but will labor to overcome their evil dispositions and their wicked hearts by greater kindness.
But love unfeigned will commend him as a preacher of the word for another reason: it will purify the heart from moral defilement. The love of God and the love of sin, cannot reign in the heart at the same time. It is in this way that faith purifies the heart and regulates the life. Faith worketh, that is, produces its effects, by love; by exciting this affection, the love of sin, and indeed all sinful passions, are weakened, cast out from the throne of the heart, and finally destroyed. The love of God thus shed abroad in his heart, every sermon he preaches, every visit he makes, every word he speaks, every action of his life, will be seen to flow from kindness. He will enjoin on them no duties in the discharge of which he does not live, warn them against no sin which he does not 'avoid, prohibit them from no pleasures from ' which he does not himself abstain. He will show himself a pattern of good works; an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit
, in faith, in purity. Giving no offence in any thing, even his enemies will have no evil thing to say of him. If, however, he should not escape the reproach of ungodly men, he will cast over their sins the mantle of love, and the less he is loved, the more abundantly he will love them.
With well-doing he will put to silence the ignorance of foolish aties DOEN Now, the word of God, in itself, is quick and powerful. This
is testified by those who hate and resist it; by the painful convictions of the awakened; and by the piety of those who receive
it. No man rejects a doctrine which he believes and acknower · ledges to be true; for this would involve an absurdity with which nder he does not wish to be chargeable. The truth, indeed, is often pr
rejected; not, however, as truth, but as error. The tendency of love, of meekness, of humility, of kindness, is to conciliate, to at
tract, to assimilate. Even the bitterest enemy, who can be Fore
brought to feel and acknowledge that he has received an act of kindness, will find, through the influence of this kindness, the hatred and malice of his heart yielding and softening, and feelings
of approbation and friendship rising in their place. Kindness, mo indeed, is often resented, but, to justify this resentment, the action or the treatment is ascribed to other motives than those of kind
When, therefore, the word of truth, which possesses an intrinsic energy to enlighten the mind and control the conscience, is plainly preached, in all its bearings, connection, and harmony, by one whose life is pure, with the earnest and affectionate spirit of love; it will be exceedingly difficult to reject the truth when thus presented; to divest the truth of its own appropriate character, and ascribe to it the properties of error; to call that malevolence, which is genuine kindness.
1. The fact that wicked men, who are determined to live in sin, do hate, and shun, and resist the truth, offers an important lesson to the Christian minister; one which he should not fail to improve. It teaches him that though these men may follow their sinful passions, yet truth exerts an important influence on their conscience; an influence which it requires their utmost art to conceal, and which, like the hand-writing on the wall, often causes them to tremble in the midst of their loudest mirth, and their licentious revellings. Let him wield this weapon faithfully, and it will commend itself, and him who preaches it, to the conscience. These men dread the voice of conscience, when roused by the light, as they do the grasp of death or the voice of God. He may receive their bitter reviling; yet even this will prove that conscience is on the side of truth, and gives a reluctant testimony in its favor.
2. From this view. of the subject, the Christian teacher may clearly perceive, that if he would be a co-worker with God, in the salvation of sinners, he must preach the word, adapted by suitable illustrations, as far as possible, to their capacities. He must prove it to be the word of God, and press it upon their conscience with an earnestness that will take no denial. If he would
banish that ignorance which darkens the minds of multitudes, it can be done by the light of truth alone. If he would eradicate those errors and delusions, which lead so many thousands to ruin, truth alone can accomplish the object. If he would save his hearers from the degrading influence of superstition, from the fitful and feverish starts of wild fanaticism, truth is the best, the most effectual remedy for these evils. If he would build up people of God in their most holy faith, excite in them a spirit of active benevolence, he must shed the light of truth into their hearts.
3. With what prayerful diligence should the minister of Jesus cultivate the spirit of love! This cannot be called up by a simple act of volition. To excite this devout affection, he must think, with intense application, of the goodness of God in sending his own Son, to be the propitiation for sin; of the condescension and kindness of Christ in dying for sinners; of the souls of men, exposed to perdition, and yet invited to become heirs of glory. Without the constraining influence of love, his work will be but an irksome task, performed with reluctance, and only from a regard to his own character, and to escape the reproach of his own conscience. He is the beating heart in the church. He should circulate around him the pure doctrines of the cross, qualified with the healthful spirit of love. This spirit, through the blessing of God, will be diffused among his beloved people; the cause of Christ will flourish under his ministry; his duty will be his privilege; his work, the pleasure of his life.
4. The hearers of the gospel have a deep interest in this subject. For
your sake the office of the ministry was instituted; for your sake he who fills it, devotes himself to the duties and trials peculiar to this office. You will be the joy or the grief of his soul. If you
are the zealous and active disciples of Christ, you will be his glory and his joy; but if you remain impenitent, you burden his soul with sorrow. Could you follow him, at the close of public service, to his closet, and witness the anguish of his heart, and hear his desponding complaints to God, you must feel compassion for him. By obeying the gospel, you will change this anguish into joy, these complaints into grateful praises. If you persevere in rejecting the Saviour, you bring upon your selves swift destruction; your repentance will not only rejoice the heart of your pastor, but will give joy in heaven, and will secure your own eternal salvation.
BY JAMES CARNAHAN, D. D.
BONDAGE OF SIN---FREEDOM BY THE GOSPEL.
John 8: 30–36. As he spake these words, many believed on him.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
SLAVERY, in all its forms, excites in the breast of every individual son whom it is imposed, a feeling of spontaneous and indignant
resentment. So abhorrent is the idea of bondage, that men often turn away their eyes from the chains which confine them, and flatter themselves that they are free, when in fact they are suffering the most absolute and debasing slavery. Too proud to admit their degraded condition, they repel with indignation the suggestion, that they are not freemen.
Such was the condition, and such were the feelings of the Jews to whom our Lord said, that if they had believed his doctrines and obeyed his commands, they should know the truth, and the truth should make them free. Although previously disposed to think favorably of our Lord's claims as the promised Messiah, the Jews, on intimation of their bondage, indignantly replied." We are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, ye shall be made free?" They forgot that their fathers