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smooth things, because they are afraid of offending their people, by a plain and pungent application of divine truth to their hearts and consciences. But supreme love to God, and a tender concern for the good of souls, takes away this fear of man, and emboldens a minister to exhibit and apply divine truths in the most plain and pungent manner.

2. We learn from what has been said, the importance of ministers giving themselves wholly to their work. If they mean to penetrate and impress the minds of their hearers, they must exhibit, in the course of their preaching, a rich variety of divine truths. But they will soon lose a variety, and fall into a sameness in preaching, uniess they constantly improve their minds, in the knowedge of the doctrines and duties of religion, by reading, meditation and prayer. They must teach themselves, if they would teach their people. They must grow in knowledge, if they would feed their people with knowledge and understanding. They must warm their own hearts with divine truth, if they would warm the hearts of their hearers They must converse much with invisible and divine objects, if they would impress the minds of their hearers with a clear and realizing sense of eternal realities. A preacher always carries his habitual views and feelings into the pulpit. If he neglects his proper business, and pursues the common concerns of life, he will lose that holy fire and pathos, which is absolutely necessary to penetrate and impress the minds of men.

3. We learn from what has been said, the manner in which a minister should appear and speak in the pulpit. His voice, his looks, his gestures, and his whole deportment, should be wholly governed by his ultimate end, which is to penetrate and impress the minds of his hearers. This is an infallible, guide. For

while he means to penetrate and impress the minds of his audience, he will necessarily avoid every unnatural töne, unmeaning expression, and insignificant action. While he means to be natural, he will be natural. While he means to be significant, he will be significant. While he means to impress, he will impress. While he aims at the understanding, he will penetrate the understanding. While he aims at the conscience, he will penetrate the conscience. While he aims at the heart, he will penetrate the heart. The preacher always discovers his ultimate aim to every discerning hearer. His tone, his air, his attitude is always correspondent to the impression, which he means to make. If he means to attract the eyes of the congregation, his de portment will proclaim it. If he means to please the imagination, and gain the esteem and applause of his hearers, his voice, his countenance, his language, and all his attitudes will discover it. Or if he means to promote the instruction, conviction, and edification of his people, he will practically tell them so, by the manner, as well as matter, of his preaching.

4. We learn from what has been said, that it is not very material whether a minister preaches with notes, or without. If he aims to impress the minds of his hearers, he may attain his end by either of these modes of preaching. If he writes and reads his sermons, he may have as good sentiments, as good language, and as good feelings, as if he preaches extempore, without study, or premeditation. And if his discourses are filled with important sentiments, which are arranged in proper order, expressed in proper terms, and delivered with proper feelings, they can never fail of being pungent. It is true, he may sometimes preach better, if he does not write and read his sermons, than if he does. But yet, it is equally true, that he may sometimes


preach not half so well without, as with writing and reading. Extempore discourses often have more heat, but less light, than written ones. It is difficult, on the whole, to determine, which of these modes of preaching has the most advantages and the fewest disadvantages. This must principally turn upon the peculiar taste of the hearers, and the peculiar talents of the preacher, who ought to be well acquainted with these two points, and to govern his conduct accordingly.

5. We learn from what has been said, the great absurdity of those ministers, who studiously avoid penetrating and impressing the minds of their hearers. Preachers in general are so well acquainted with human nature, and the great design of preaching, that they are capable of constructing and delivering their discourses, in such a manner, as can scarcely fail of reaching the hearts and consciences of men. But many seem to be afraid of producing this effect, and accordingly take pains to avoid it. They mean to please, rather than to penetrate the minds of their hearers. And to accomplish this absurd and pernicious purpose, they make use of various means. One is, to preach in a style above the comprehension of their hearers. This is a fault, from which the most plain and pungent preachers are not wholly free. No minister, perhaps, can always think of those words and phrases, which are level to the meanest capacity, and which ought always to be chosen, in explaining and in inculcating the great and interesting truths of the gospel. One of the greatest masters in the English language, in his advice to a young clergyman, observes, that a plain and easy style which is intelligible to the lowest class of hearers, is proper for the pulpit and may be used before the most learned and polite assembly. But some preachers appear to choose a style, Occa.



which buries their ideas, and of course, conceals their meaning from the understanding of their hearers. This takes off the whole force and pungency of divine truth, and is a gross perversion of the great end of preaching. The words of the wise are as goads, but the words of the unwise are smoother than oil. Another way to prevent divine truth from making a too penetrating and painful impression upon the minds of men, is to deliver it with a certain easy, graceful neg. ligence. This mode of speaking is extremely agreeable to people in general, because it flatters them with the idea that it is of very little importance, whether they believe, or disbelieve the doctrines of the gospel, or whether they perform, or neglect the duties of relig. ion. And so long as the preacher conveys this idea, and by his own ease and negligence, indulges theirs, be completely gratifies their desire of hearing, and prevents their fear of feeling, divine truths. People love to hear, but they hate to feel; and therefore, they admire those ministers, who preach as though they preached not; and give them leave to hear as though they heard not. Accordingly, some preachers seem to be very fond of acquiring this mode of speaking, which will please their hearers, without disturbing their consciences. Another way which answers the same purpose, is, to preach smooth things and silently pass over the more penetrating and disagreeable truths of the gospel. Some ministers seem to take peculiar pains to avoid saying any thing about the character of God, the decrees of God, the sovereignty of God, the agency of God upon the hearts of men, the character of men by nature, and the immediate duty of all to yield unfeigned obedience, and unconditional submission to their great creator. They studiousiy avoid mentioning these truths, not because they are ignorant of their nature and tendency, but because they wish not to penetrate and impress the minds of their hearers. And lest their smooth style, and smooth delivery, and smooth sentiments, should not effectually prevent the painful feelings of their hearers, they wholly omit the application of their discourses. They take pains not to disfigure their sermons, by the obsolete modes and phrases, of doctrines, divisions, uses, or inferences. They throw their sentiments together in such a loose and desultory manner, that their discourses, neither require nor admit a particular application to particular characters. This totally prevents their hearers from perceiving the connexion, and feeling the force of the few truths, which they actually deliver. These are modes of preaching, which many employ, and which we presume, none can justify. Solomon and Christ, the Prophets and Apostles meant to penetrate and impress the minds of their hearers, and by the manifestation of the truth, to commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. These are examples, which it is wise in preachers to follow, though it should give pain and even offence to their hearers.

6. If it be the wisdom and duty of ministers, to penetrate and impress the minds of their hearers, then they have no reason to complain of the most close and pungent preaching. This is disagreeable to human nature, and people are very apt to complain of it. Ahab king of Israel hated the plainness and pungency of the prophet Micaiah. And he spoke it out, “I hate him; for he doth not prophecy good concerning me, but evil.” Nor was he alone in disliking plain and pungent prophets. The people were of the same disposition, for which God severely reproves them by the mouth of Isaiah. “Go write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the

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