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functions of the sacred office-the ambassador of Christ is to unfold and enforce the entire system of revealed truth, just as it is, in all its depth and height; in all its intense light and heat, without shading or softening. He must, therefore, accommodate his instructions to the whole spiritual nature of man ; addressing every faculty through which the mind may be illuminated, or benefically impressed by divine truth.
The first aim of the preacher of righteousness is the conversion of men, to bring them repentant around the cross, to persuade them, in imitation of Christ, to live holy lives through the growing sanctification of the heart.
To this end, holy truth must be addressed distinctively to the reason, to the conscience, to the heart.
1. To the reason. The reason is that faculty which perceives truth, and, consequently, that which takes hold of the instrument of the Holy Spirit ; and the more clearly the truth is perceived by the intellect, the more firmly will this instrument be grasped, promising more decidedly its heavenly fruits. One main object of the minister, sensible of his own incapacity to regenerate the sinner, is to introduce into the mind the implement of the Spirit, so that this divine agent may work there to accomplish for his hearers what he is unable to accomplish. He must, therefore, hold up before them the truths of the Gospel, that they miay be seen with the clearness and distinctness of noon-day. He must realize that their minds are darkened by sin, and need illumination. He must pour in the light to dissipate that darkness; and, as, owing to the depravity of the heart, the shadows will continually return, they should be continually driven out. Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, must rise on the soul, and shed upon it its quickening beams. That whole system of truth of which he is the sum and essence, should be unfolded, so that, if possible, it may be fully comprehended in all its purity and harmony. This truth, the grand element of heavenly light, should penetrate and pervade the new-born spirit, till it shall itself become radiant, and fitiel to shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father. He must also be sensible that, as truth is the instrument of the Holy Ghost, so error is the instrument of the enemy of all good ; as the more of truth and light there is existing in the mind, the greater the probability that the Holy Ghost will work; so the more error or darkness existing there, the greater the probability that the adversary will work; and if truth is not shining into the soul, the shades of error will almost inevitably pervade it ; and where error dwells, the great destroyer will not be unwelcome. Hence, the great importance of the minister's keeping the torch of heaven perpetually burning before his people, enveloped in no haze or mist, bright without obscurity.
Besides, all moral emotions and affections are subsequent to, and awakened by, intellectual operations. There must be the perception of an object, or of some of its qualities, before there are any feelings respecting it. The intellect, therefore, is the repository of all objects of interest or emotion.
This is equally true of religious, as of other emotions or affections. The idea of the object or being towards whom they are felt must lie in the reason; they can be legitimately awakened in no other way. But error or illusion may exist in the reason as well as truth;
for the mind, becoming bewildered, may mistake the former for the latter. Then, of course, the affections raised will be morally defective. But religion consists in right affections. Consequently, they must be awakened by truth, or correct views of Gospel realities; and there can be no right affections without correct views. Hence the indispensableness of presenting truth to the reason, and the constant pressure of it as the constant object of right desires, well-founded hopes, and enduring consolations. Without it, we admit there may be great joy; the soul may be elevated by a kind of enthusiasm, a fervor, a zeal, which transports and inflames, but which is in reality as unsubstantial as the webs of fancy, or the shadows of mental illusions. We can never decide that our religious affections are right, till we have decided that our views of experimental religious truth are correct. Truth, indeed, is the foundation of all that religion which will survive the test of the judgment. Truth is the only anchor of the Christian on his voyage to eternity. If his bark is not held and steadied by this, it will roll and rock on the billows without compa:8 or helm, every moment liable to strike on some hidden peril. The clearer the lamp of truth shines before him, the more directly and safely
will he sail over the waves of time, and the more certain will he be to reach that port where no dangers lurk, and no storms sweep. No; the preacher of the cross may not fail to fill the intellects of his hearers with truth. This will prove not only their guide and anchor, it will constitute a fire burning on their hearts to melt and inspire; and the more intense the fire thus kindled, the greater the certainty that his grand aim of arousing his hearers to lay hold on eternal life, and to exemplify the Christian character, will be attained.
Further; that we may clearly apprehend a subject, its ground principles must be understood. The mind is so constituted that in all our reasonings and processes of knowledge, these are first sought and seized; then logical inferences deduced, and thus progress is made in intellectual enlargement. There is no science without first principles, and no comprehensive knowledge of science without a knowledge of them. Generalization is the corner-stone of science; the elements of science, its main pillars. But the mind operates by the same laws in gaining religious, as in gaining secular knowledge. The groundwork, the elementary principles of the Gospel, must be clearly apprehended; otherwise there can be no consistent, harmonious views of the great system of revealed truth. The preacher then must discuss these constituent principles. They must be lucidly stated, and their legitimate deductions traced, so as to give the hearer opportunity of accurately comprehending them, that the Gospel may rise up before him a consistent whole. A large portion of the manifestations of truth in the desk must assume the doctrinal type. We know that in the judgment of some, doctrinal preaching is neither essential nor desirable at the present day, on the plea that there is already a sufficiency of this species of knowledge; that men do not need now so much to be taught as to be roused; that the inculcation of principles is not so important as the enforcement of practice; affirming that this is not a day of speculation, but of action. But this is a superficial view. So long as man is constituted as he is, rendering it impossible for him to receive enlarged and consistent views of truth without embracing it in its elementary principles, and so long as accurate conceptions of divine truth
essential to produce right convictions and affections,
the doctrines of the Gospel must form one of the chief staples of pulpit discussions. By doctrinal preaching, however, we do not inean a few favorite dogmas, but the presentation of all the great truths—the precepts and provisions, the duties and consolations, the fears and hopes of the Gospel in their intellectual aspects, unfolding them in the principles whence they flow; so that not only the stream, but the fountain ; not only the duties and the promises, but the reasons of them, may be apprehended ; and thus a persuasion of the immutability of obligation and grounds of trust, imbibed. We are free to admit, at least for the sake of argument, that this is a day of comparatively great religious activity ; but it is not true that we need to be less rooted and grounded in primary truths than heretofore. This increased activity in the community we regard as a strong argument for the increase of doctrinal knowedge. The more men act the more they need to know the principles of action. The more canvass you spread upon the ship, and the higher the mast, the greater the amount of ballast needed to steady it. It is as important that a ship sail right side up as that it sail at all; so it is as important that men act right as that they act at all. Those who rejoice mainly in the activity of men and of the church, should remember that the lightning is active, and the humming bird, as it plays about the flower, is active; but the one blasts and destroys, while the other brings little to pass. Besides, error will do far more injury, embraced by a man of great energy of character, than when imbibed by one of sluggish temperament. The same is true of an active age. Ministers, therefore, at this day of movement, when the deafening cry is “Onward, onward," should insist much on the groundwork of action; in other words, they should preach much doctrinally. In some respects there is far greater need of it than when the church is in a dull and drowsy state. But even when the church is in such a state, and the spiritual powers of men seem paralyzed, these great truths of the Gospel, pungently and discriminatingly presented, are preëminently fitted to startle them from the grave of their slumbers, and quicken to life and effort. Whatever, therefore, may be the condition of the church, the herald of salvation, in his preaching, must take fast hold of the very foundations; he must hold
up man in his littleness and wickedness ; God in his majesty and holiness; and our relations to him in all their unchanging solemnity and interest. Without these clear, discriminating views of Gospel truth, activity will sink to mere bustle or distempered zeal ; and delusion, flattering with illusive hopes, lead multitudes blindfold to the blackness of darkness.
2. But it is not enough to enlighten simply the intellect. This may aid in forming the skeleton of the Christian character, but it has little power to clothe it with flesh, or touch it with the warm coloring of life. The Gospel must be addressed more directly to the voluntary faculties ; to move these being its chief design as a scheme of moral truth. First, the conscience must be reached. This was Paul's aim. "By manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” The conscience is that faculty which reproves ; which, when the reason informs us that our feelings, words, or conduct, are not in agreement with the requisitions of the divine law, or the claims of the Gospel, gives rise to the sensation of disapprobation or remorse. It is the ground of all conviction of sin ; and this conviction alone drives the sinner to Christ, who only can extract the stings of guilt, and whisper peace to the corroding conscience. The truths of the Gospel need not only to be seen in their consistency and harmony as addressed to the intellect, or exhibited as specimens of moral beauty ; they must be driven home; not only approved, but burn like a consuming fire on the soul of the delinquent. One chief object of the preacher of righteousness must be to make his hearers feel that they are sinners. This, it is true, is an un
elcome, and often a thankless task, a task the messenger of truth may dread, but from which he may not recoil. While men wish to be pleased with themselves, he must remember his business is to make them displeased with themselves. He is not to captivate or inflame the imagination, or to please the taste; but to enable his disobedient hearers to see themselves just as they are, condemned at the court of heaven, with the wrath of God abiding on them. This was the great object of the preachers of righteousness and the prophets of the Old Testament. From Noah and Lot, to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi, the burden of their message was sin, reproof, repentance.