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increasing admiration and adoring gratitude through the unnumbered years of eternity.
Now if God did, self-moved, devise this wonderful plan; if, uncounselled, unsolicited by man or angel, influenced alone by the promptings of his own infinite holiness and compassion, he did tear his well-beloved Son from his bosom and send him to this outcast earth to endure shame and ignominy; if the Son, unasked, came, willingly assumed a nature cursed with sin, and suffered the scorn, the bitter taunts and smitings of his enemies, and finally, the excruciating anguish of Gethsemane and the cross, to wash us, rebels, in his own blood, and to make us kings and priests unto God; oh, if the triune Jehovah did stoop so low to purify us from sin, and place unfading crowns on our heads; tell us, Christian, tell us, ye blood-washed throng, sweeping your trembling lyres about the throne, shall he not have the glory of it?
This, therefore, must be the controlling theme of him who would lead the assembled hosts of God's elect to worship him “in the beauty of holiness.” Salvation by the blood of Immanuel is the great end of all presentations of divine truth. The law can not save; it can only wound and point to the great restorer. Justification by faith alone must be set forth in all its preciousness. The Gospel minister must bring his hearers so often around the cross to gaze on the exhibitions of Godhead there, that they shall be transformed from glory to glory into the image of him who hung thereon. He must dwell on dying love, on the groans and sorrows of Calvary, till his own eye shall melt in tenderness, and repentant sinners mingle their tears with his; while they who love the Lord, kindling with faith and hope, shall feel like breaking forth in lowliest hallelujahs ; and falling down, embrace the cross as their only refuge and joy; their whole souls burning with emotions in unison with the rapt devotion of those who are now waving their palms before the throne ; ascribing
" their conquests to the Lamb,
Their triumph to his death." We thus learn that the pure worship of a church, not less than its instruction and elevation in holiness, is intimately connected with, if not-taking into view a series of years—depend
ent, on doctrinal preaching. We do not mean necessarily metaphysical or dogmatical preaching ; nor preaching modelled after any particular school or mode of theologizing; but a method of sermonizing which unfolds distinctly and boldly the character of the triune Jehovah; his purposes, providence, and law; our lost condition; and the scheme of redemption; its terms and application, just as they are revealed in his word, without dilution or equivocation ; so that the exact truth, and nothing but the truth, shall shine in upon the hearts of his hearers, awakening its appropriate affections. For worship "in the beauty of holiness,” as we have seen, is giving due glory to God; and to give due glory to God, we must have right apprehensions of his character; acknowledge him to be the incomprehensible and glorious being he is, and that his government and prerogatives are such as they are; we must acknowledge ourselves to be precisely the beings we are, free, moral, accountable, but corrupt and dependent, and then exercise all those feelings of humility, self-abasement, reverence, submission, adoration, self-annihilation before the All-in-all. In short, true worship is correct knowledge of God and ourselves, and the correspondent emotions.
But from these two sources, the character of God and the character of man, How all the doctrines of Scripture ; for with a correct knowledge of God and ourselves, correct knowledge of all other fundamental scriptural truth is logically associated. Or, rather, one of these, the knowledge of God, is the great source of all true knowledge of divine things. For if we have right apprehensions of the being and character of God, we shall have right views of ourselves, as beings originally created in his image. By knowledge of him as our creator and moral goverror, we shall have a knowledge of ourselves as subjects of his moral empire ; and hence, a knowledge of our moral and responsible agency : and our fallen condition we shall learn by contrasting our hearts and lives with his holiness. And if we have a true knowledge of God, we shall have not only a true conception of ourselves, but of his government, of his providence, of his purposes, of his law, and of our duties, of the scheme of grace, and of the conditions and precepts of the
Gospel. For all these must be consistent with the divine character, or such as that character demands.
But these same truths, as we have seen, are requisite to the inspiring of those holy meditations essential to the performance of holy worship; and there can be no true worship without adequate knowledge of them. A vital connection, therefore, subsists between worshipping God in the beauty of holiness,” and a correct knowledge of scriptural doctrines. Be it realized that not all feeling, not all high or ecstatic feeling, even in relation to divine things, constitutes true devotion ; but those feelings which divine things ought to inspire in a rational mind. It is brokenness of heart, reverential, enraptured thoughts, in view of the whole character of God; of his entire providential proceedings and preceptive government; of our own hearts and characters ; of Christ's forgiving love, and method of justification. In contemplating these august themes, our emotions can not be too strong; there is no danger of enthusiasm here. The stronger and deeper our emotions, the more like heaven will be our adoration; and with these kindling affections we may well pour forth our praise :
“Our harps all trembling in our hands,
And all inspired our tongues." This high, devotional spirit it should always be the design of the herald of salvation to inspire; otherwise he will fail to adorn his vocation as a leader of the great congregation in divine worship; nor will his preaching tend to ripen his hearers for the eternal state of praise. He must bear in mind that it is not every kind of feeling, excited even by aspects of Bible truth, which it is his office to awaken. He may raise the admiration of his hearers to the highest pitch; he may charm them with creations of beauty; he may even whelm them in tears, without taking the first step towards discharging the duties of his vocation. Such exhibitions of truth, inwrought by unhallowed emotion and a feverish fancy, may draw attention to himself, and lead his hearers to exclaim : “What a beautiful sermon!”
But let him remember that devotional feeling seldom prompts to such expressions; and when heard, he may be almost sure that his preaching is not producing its desired results. Ile who is wrapt in devotional thoughts loses sight of man ; is blind to taste and art; and is absorbed in transporting views of God. There is a specific class of sentiments and emotions, therefore, which it is the duty of the preacher to awaken.
His simple object should be to throw his hearers into a state of thought and emotion, which may be appropriately denominated evangelical ; a state in which God in Christ fills the soul, melting, subduing, transporting it with admiring conceptions of his glory. It is to train them for unending worship in the presence of God and the Lamb; and, consequently, to promote an elevated state of spirituality and devotion similar to that above. But we believe it may be laid down as a universal truth, that the abiding spirituality of a church, its uniform tone of devotion, will be much in proportion to the distinctness with which the perfections and character of the triune Jehovah, his providence and precepts, his scheme of redemption through an infinite Redeemer, and its application by the Spirit of truth, all of which transcendantly show forth the divine glory, are inculcated from the pulpit. The responsibility of him who occupies it, therefore, is solemn beyond expression; and the consequences of a faithful or unfaithful performance of its duties, the endless songs of heaven or the wailings of hell can alone express.
We have dwelt longer on this branch of our subject than we should, had we not been apprehensive that its vital importance is not adequately felt. We must be allowed to say that the predominant aim of preaching, in many instances, we fear, is to show learning and the power of intellect, rather than to give instruction; to argue, to draw ingenious analogies, to startle with novelties, or thrill with creations of imagination; to captivate a fine taste, or to interest the natural passions and sympathies, than to lead the mind into trains of devotional meditation. Said once a somewhat popular clergyman to us : “When I have interested a congregation I have done them all the good I can"; and the influence of his sermons testified to the truth of this remark. Devotional feelings were, to say the least, among the last that were awakened by them. Worldly men were interested, but not converted; they were not made to feel that they must repent or perish. When the writer entered the ministry, wishing advice in regard to the purchase of a select library, he requested the then president of one of our theolog
ical seminaries, to name a few volumes of special importance. “For assistance in preparing sermons,” he replied, “you will find Doddridge's and John Newton's works valuable; your people need something devotional”; repeating the last clause emphatically : “something devotional.” Never was man inore surprised. We had expected some deeply learned German authors, or some profound philological or philosophical works would be recommended ; and when these simple works, which every body reads, and children can understand, were named, we confess with regret we thought the advice too unimportant to follow. But experience has convinced us that it was sound and scriptural; and every year in the ministry confirms the opinion. The ultimate end of the pulpit is not intellectual impression, but devotional fervor. It is to elevate the audience, as it were, into the presence of the great God, that they may behold his glory; to produce conviction of guilt and self-renunciation, and thereby bring them around the cross filled with delighted praise. We would that this thought might attract the prayerful consideration of those who are called to the high trust of leading the assemblies of God's people in holy worship. We are confident it would change the tone of much now called pulpit eloquence, pass the "condemnatory sentence” on many a sermon now heard by the young and worldly with admiration, and render the ministrations of the sanctuary far more effective in fitting men for the worship of heaven.
THERE are two facts patent to every thoughtful observer of our present religious condition. One is that the pecuniary support of the ministry is so inadequate that many ministers find it utterly impossible to give their families the comforts of life from their salaries, and are compelled to leave their fields, or live in pinching poverty, and under a keen sense of injustice. The incubus of care rests upon them by day and by night.