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II. Show how he will preach in order to attain this desirable object.
1. I am to show, that a wise preacher will aim to impress the minds of his hearers.
By a wise preacher, we mean one who resembles the royal preacher, in some of his most amiable and distinguishing qualities.
Solomon was a man of genius, of learning, and of piety. He understood the nature and tendency of all sensible objects. He was thoroughly acquainted with human nature. He knew the feelings of all men, under all circumstances and conditions of life. He knew the various springs of human action, and the various avenues to the human heart. In a word, he knew every thing necessary to penetrate and impress the minds of both saints and sinners. These excellent ministerial qualifications, which adorned and distinguished the royal preacher, in some measure, adorn and distinguish all who are wise to win souls. They have the same kinds of knowledge, though not in the same degree. Hence, we may presume that all wise preachers will aim to penetrate and impress the minds of their hearers. But this will more
if we consider, 2. Every wise preacher knows that unless he im. presses the minds of his hearers, he can do them no good by his preaching. Hearers must feel what they hear, or what they hear will be like sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. That discourse, which fails of penetrating the mind, immediately vanishes, without producing any desirable or permanent effect. It is like water spilt on the ground, which cannot be
The principal design of the preacher is lost
upon the hearer, unless he makes the hearer feel the truth and weight of what he delivers. The wise preacher, therefore, always means to penetrate the
minds of those to whom he speaks. He no farther regards their eyes or their ears, than only by these avenues, to convey the truth to their minds where he means to make the deepest impression, and produce the greatest effects.
3. Every wise preacher knows, that his hearers will not feel the truth and importance of what he says, unless he makes them feel it.. Hearers look upon
it as the part of the preacher to make them feel. They mean to be passive in hearing, unless he makes them active. If he appear indifferent about their feeling, they think they may be equally indifferent about it. They never mean to invite him to speak, but intend that he shall invite them to hear. They never mean to warm his mind, but expect that he should warm theirs. This natural dulness and deadness of hearers, the wise preacher knows he must encounter and overcome, in his preaching. And, therefore, he is sensible that he must move, before they will move; that he must feel, before they will feel, that he must seek his end, before he can possibly attain it. Accordingly, he always endeavors, if possible, to penetrate and im. press
the minds of his hearers. This leads us to show, II. How he will preach, in order to attain this desirable object.
When any person proposes a certain end, the end which he proposes, naturally suggests the proper means to accomplish it. This holds with respect to a wise preacher, who makes it his object to penetrate and impress the minds of his hearers. For,
1. This end will naturally lead him to use the most proper style in preaching. He will choose the best words, and place them in the best order, to enlighten the mind and affect the heart. When any person means to impress the mind of another, his design al
ways dictates a natural style, which is the most intelligible and the most forcible. The general, who means to be heard and regarded, speaks the language of authority. And the beggar, who means to be heard and pitied, speaks the language of distress. They both speak in the words in which their thoughts and feeling are conceived; and, therefore, they both speak the spontaneous language of nature; which all understand and most senisbly feel.
'The preacher, like every other person, always thinks in words; and the words, on which he thinks upon his subjects, are the words to be used in his discourses. Could our thoughts drop from our pens, or from our lips, in the very words, in which they first rise in our minds, we should write and speak in the most easy, natural, and forcible manner.
We often lose the energy of our thoughts and feelings, by trying to express them in the language of art, instead of the language of nature. Why do we find it so difficult to describe our past feelings, in the view of a great, or terrible, or sublime object? The principal reason is, we have lost our feelings, and of consequence,
proper language to describe them. The prophets and apostles teach us the force of unpremeditated expressions. They took no thought what they should say or write; but received both their ideas and words from divine inspiration. Accordingly, we find no language so easy, so natural, so sublime, or so forcible as their's. Their words are as goads, quick and powerful, sharper than a two edged sword. When any person speaks as he thinks and feels, he speaks the language of nature, which is always understood and always felt. A bare exclamation will often convey more determinate ideas and make a deeper impression, than the most neat and well turned period. The wise preacher, therefore, who means to penetrate and impress the minds of his hearers, will use a natural, plain, penetrating language, which all can understand, and which ali must feel.
2. His design to penetrate and impress the minds of his hearers, will lead him to exhibit great and interesting truths. All truths, whether agreeable or disagreeable, affect and impress the mind, in proportion to their magnitude. The wise preacher, therefore, will always exhibit those truths, which are either great in themselves, or great in their connexions. The associ. ation of ideas is extremely intimate and extremely forcible. The most trivial object may be placed in such a connexion, and set in such a light, as to appear and feel very weighty and important. The flying of a sparrow, or the falling of an hair, considered as the object of the divine attention and government, becomes greatly interesting. The inspired writers mention some of the smallest and meanest objects in nature. They speak of worms, and flies, and frogs, and serpents; but they speak of them as the servants of God and ministers of his vengeance, which gives them real magnitude and importance. All the writings of Solomon abound with observations, on common and familiar objects, which are placed in a striking and interesting light. Ile represents all the scenes, concerns and objects of time, in such a near and inseparable connexion with death, judgment and eternity, that
appear unspeakably interesting to the highest as well as to the lowest of mankind. This is the method which every wise preacher will employ, to impress the minds of his hearers. He will exhibit such truths, as, either by their own weight, or by their natural connexion, will find the nearest way to the human heart. He will bring much of the character, perfec
tions, and designs of God into his public discourses. He will preach Christ in the greatness of his nature, and in the glory and grace of his mediatorial character and works. He will exhibit man in the dignity of his nature, and in the importance of his destination. And he will unfold the scenes of a general judgment, and of a boundless eternity, in their own native, awful solemnity. Now, the truth respecting every being, and every creature, and every object, in such a serious connexion, is infinitely important. The wise preacher, therefore, who has an instinctive discernment of the nature, and connexion, of all divine truths, whether great or small, will always preach something, which is weighty and interesting, and which will naturally lead to penetrate and impress the minds of his hearers.
4. For the same purpose, he will explain divine truths and describe divine objects. A minister may preach about divine truths and about divine objects, without explaining the former, or describing the latter. But preaching about any truth, or any object, is cold and uninteresting. He may, perhaps, gratify the ear, or please the imagination, but it will never enlighten the understanding, awaken the conscience, or raise the affections. To make objects affecting, they must be described; and to make divine truths interesting, they must be explained. The wise preacher, therefore, will not barely preach about the perfections, about the commands, about the purposes, or about the agency of God; but he will explain these truths, and endeavor to make his hearers understand and feel them, in their nature, connexion, and importance. He will not barely preach about heaven and about hell; but he will describe the state of the blessed, and the state of the damned, in the most clear and striking contrast. Осса.