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historical parts of scripture. They are easier to be understood than those, who preach upon the prophetical parts of scripture. They are easier to be understood than those, who preach upon the biographical parts of scripture. They are easier to be understood than those, who preach upon the typical parts of scripture. And they are much easier to be understood than those, who deliver sentiments in direct opposition to the doctrines which Paul preached to the Corinthi
There have always been some ever since the days of the apostle, who have preached against the doctrines, which he preached. Some have preached against one, some against another, and some against every doctrine which he preached.
And it appears from the most authentic history of the church, that the preachers of this description were the first to introduce metaphysics and vain philosophy into the pulpit. The Socinians, Arians, Pelagians, and other sectaries, who early opposed the pure and simple doctrines, which Christ and the apostles taught, were obliged to have recourse to logical, metaphysical, and philosophical subtleties, in their own defence. And it is still the case, that those who preach against the doctrine of the trinity, the doctrine of election, the doctrine of divine sovereignty, the doctrine of divine agency, and the doctrine of total depravity, are constrained either to renounce reasoning altogether, or else to reason in the most intricate, obscure, unintelligible manner.
There never was, and there never can be any false scheme of religion so easy to cxplain and understand, as that true scheme of religion which Paul taught the Corinthians. Those, therefore, who preach the very same doctrines which Paul preached, must be, of all others, the plainest preachers in point of sentiment. They preach agreeably to both scripture and reason, while
all others have to oppose both scripture and reason, which must necessarily involve them in darkness and confusion. Upon this point we may properly appeal to common observation and experience. Go into the congregations, who statedly hear those, who teach doctrines different from, if not opposite to the doctrines, which Paul preached, and will you find, that such congregations better understand their minister's sentiments, or are better acquainted with any scheme of religion, than those congregations, who sit under ministers, who preach the same doctrines which Paul preached to the Corinthians? Hearers are proper judg. es of plain preachers, and let the opinion of hearers be taken upon this point, and undoubtedly nine in ten will confidently say, that they could never understand any preachers so easily and fully, as those who preached the very same doctrines, which Paul preached and called milk. These doctrines always were and always will be plain and intelligible to all classes of mankind; and it is only the objections, which are made to these plain and fundamental principles of Christianity, that are really dark and hard to be understood.
4. If the foregoing observations are just, then there is no reason to think, that any people are unable to bear the doctrines which Paul preached to the Corinthians. Many preachers seem to imagine, that their people are not able to bear the doctrine of total depravity, or the doctrine of regeneration, or the doctrine of election, or the doctrine of divine agency, or the doctrine of the Trinity; and for this reason, suppose it is a point of prudence to pass over these subjects in silence, in their public discourses. But this is a great mistake. There is not a congregation in the world, who are unable to bear the doctrines which Paul preached to the Corinthians. Any people who are Occa.
able to bear any preaching, are able to bear the pure, simple, essential doctrines of the gospel. These are milk and not strong meat. These are the plainest doctrines, which can be preached or heard. Though Paul knew that the Corinthians were not able to bear some divine truths, yet he knew that they were able to bear the doctrines, which he actually preached. And it is absurd to suppose, that there are any congregations at this day, who are not able to bear the same truths, which the Corinthians were able to bear, who had enjoyed no other than the dim light of nature. The truth is, that people have always been unwilling, but not unable to bear the disagreeable truths of the gospel. The plainest truths are the most disagreeable to the depraved heart; and this is the real reason, why people complain, that they cannot understand them. Their inability to bear the peculiar doctrines of Christ, lies in their heart, and not in their understanding. So Christ himself told his hearers, who complained of his hard sayings. “Why do ye
not understand my speech. Even because ye cannot hear my word.” Again he demanded, “if I say the truth, why do yo not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” The people at this day are just as able, and just as unwilling to bear the plain and reproving doctrines of the gospel, as they were in Christ's and the apostle's day. There is no conceivable reason, therefore, why the ministers of the gospel should not preach precisely the same doctrines to every people, at this day, which Christ and the apostles preached in their day. But,
5. It appears from what has been said, that now is a proper time for ministers to feed their people with milk, and not with meat. Our churches and congre. gations in general are in a situation very similar to
that of the Corinthians. Though they are increasing rapidly in human knowledge, yet they are declining fast in the knowledge of divine things, and need to be taught again, and again, the first principles of the oracles of God. It is a gross mistake, that people are generally well indoctrinated in religious sentiments. The truth is, notwithstanding all their religious advantages, they are generally very ignorant of the peculiar and fundamental doctrines of Christianity. This may be partly owing to the negligence of private and public instructors, but perhaps more to the dissipation and licentiousness, which is every where spreading and prevailing How many are there in all our congregations, who know nothing but the name of the Christian religion, and need to be taught the plainest doctrines of it? Besides, the land is full of deceivers, who are zealously engaged to subvert every principle of morality and religion, and to propagate Atheism, Deism, and every species of infidelity. It is the age of blind reason and vain philosophy. These engines are industriously employed to corrupt the sentiments and hearts of old and young, and to lead them into strong and fatal delusions.
It highly concerns the ministers of Christ, at this day, to make a bold and firm stand against ignorance, infidelity, and vice.
And the pe culiar weapons of their warfare, are the pure, primary, and essential doctrines of the gospel. These weapons have been mighty to destroy the strong holds, of the enemies of truth. And there is abundant reason to believe, that if the preachers of the gospel would unitedly employ these weapons in defence of it, they would effectually check the rapid progress of destructive errors, and revive the sinking cause of Christ. It is impossible for any man in the world to understand the gospel, and yet disbelieve it. If ministers, therefore,
would universally preach so, as to make their people really understand the gospel, there would not be a single person who could become an infidel. depends, under God, upon ministers to save their people from the errors and destruction of this untoward generation, by feeding them with milk, and not with meat.
May these thoughts sink deeply into his heart, who is about to take the charge of the flock of Christ in
DEAR SIR, If you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and have been fed with the sincere milk of the word, you will feed your people with knowledge and understanding. You will love to preach those precious truths to others, which you have found pleasing and profitable to yourself. You will believe, that your people are able to bear the doctrines, which are the best adapted to awaken and convince sinners, and to quicken, comfort, and edify saints. You will believe, that your people ought to be satisfied if you feed them with the same doctrine with which the apostle fed the Corinthians. You will believe, that if they do complain of such doctrines, you ought to regard God rather than nian, and preach the truth, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. It is true, you will feel the propriety and importance of prudence in preaching, but your prudence will consist, not in concealing the doctrines of grace, but in holding them up in the clearest, strongest, and most consistent light. The gospel carries its own evidence with it, and if you represent its peculiar doctrines in their proper order, harmony, and connexion,