TWO DISCOURSES: THE FIRST, Of Preaching CHRIST; THE SECOND, Of particular and experimental PREACHING




To which is added, A LETTER concerning the most useful Way of Preaching: written in the German Language by the late Reverend and Celebrated Dr AUGUS­TUS HERMANNUS FRANCK, Professor of Di­vinity in the University of Hall in Saxony, Pastor of a Church, and Director of the chari­table FOUNDATIONS there. Translated into Latin by Order of his Son, the present Professor FRANCK, and out of the LATIN into English by DAVID JENNINGS.

BOSTON. Printed by J DRAPER, for J. EDWARDS and H. FOSTER in Cornhil. MDCCXL.


TWO DISCOURSES: THE FIRST, Of Preaching CHRIST; THE SECOND, Of particular and experimental PREACHING.


1 COR. ii. 2.

I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ.

2 TIM. ii. 15.

A workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth.

BOSTON: Printed in the YEAR MDCCXL.


TO THE UNITED MINISTERS OF THE SEVERAL CONGREGATIONS OF PROTESTANT DISSENTERS In the COUNTIES of Leicester, Northampton, Warwick, and Rutland; These DISCOURSES Are humbly inscribed and submitted By their affectionate Brother, and Fellow Labourer, JOHN JENNINGS.


TESTIMONIES of the Reverend Dr. BATES and Mr. BAXTER to the Design of these DISCOURSES.

HE preached Christ crucified our only Wisdom and Righteousness. Sanctification and Redemp­tion. His Design was to convince Sinners of their absolute Want of Christ, that with flaming Af­fections they might come to him, and from his Fulness receive Divine Grace. This is to water the Tree at the Root, whereby it becomes flourish­ing and fruitful; whereas the laying down of moral Rules for the Exercise of Virtue, and sub­duing vicious Affections, without directing Men to derive spiritual Strength by Prayer, and in the Use of divine Ordinances, from the Mediator the Fountain of all Grace; and without representing his Love as the most powerful Motive and Obli­gation to Obedience, is but pure Philosophy, and the highest Effect of it is but unregenerate Mo­rality.

Dr. BATES, in his Funeral SERMON on Dr. JACOMB.

All our Work must be done spiritually.— There is in some Men's Preaching a spiritual Strain, which spiritual Hearers can discern and relish: And in some Men's, this sacred Tincture is so wanting, that even when they speak of Spi­ritual Things, the Manner is such as if they were common Matters.

Mr. BAXTER, in his Gildas Salvianus, c. III.


THEN I see a Book well written for the Instruction of Mankind, I al­ways ways hope it will spread its good Influences as far and wide as it finds Readers. But when I meet with a valuable Treatise, whose Design is to improve the sacred Skill of Preaching, I am ready to perswade myself, ‘Surely this will become a more extensive Benefit; and the good Influences of it will reach as many whole Assemblies of Men, as there are Ministers who shall happen to read it.’ For this Reason I cannot but take a special Satisfaction in recommending these two Dis­courses to the World, which, in my Opinion, are founded upon the general Principles of Christianity, and therefore invite the Perusal of All, being writ­ten without the narrow Spirit of a Party. They seem to be calculated for the common Good, nor have I observ'd any Thing in them that can justly give Disgust, or awaken any reasonable Resent­ment.

It must be confess'd, without Controversy, that there are some Things wherein several of the Preachers of the present Time have the Advan­tage of our Learned and Pious Fathers: But there are other Excellencies in the Sermons of the Puri­tanical Age, which I would rejoice to find more studiously revived and cultivated in our Day. A­mong [Page viii] these I know none of more eminent Necessity, Glory, and Usefulness, than those two which are the Subjects of this little Book; I mean the Evangelical Turn of Thought that should run thro' our mini­stry, and the Experimental Way of Discourse on practical Subjects.

It hath been justly observed, that where a great and universal Neglect of preaching Christ hath prevailed in a Christian Nation, it hath given a fatal Occasion to the Growth of Deism and Infide­lity; for when Persons have heard the Sermons of their Clergy, for many Years together, and find little of Christ in them, they have taken it into their Heads, that Men may be very good Men, and go safe to Heaven without Christianity; and there­fore, tho' they dwell in a Land where the Gospel is profess'd, they imagine there's no Need they should be Christians. But what a Blot and Reproach would it be to our Ministry, if Infidels and Hea­thens should multiply among us, through such a wo­ful Neglect of preaching the peculiar Doctrines of Christ?

Besides, let us consider how little hath been our Success in comparison of the Multitudes converted by our Fathers in the Day of their Ministry. Hath not this been Matter of sore Complaint these many Years past? Now it is worth our Enquiry, whe­ther it may not be ascribed to the Absence of Christ in our Sermons. And what Reason indeed can we have to expect the Presence and Influence of the Spirit of Christ, if we leave his Person, his Offices, his Grace, and his Gospel, out of our Discourses, or give but a slight and casual Hint at these glorious Subjects, which ought to be our daily Theme? This is what our Author would put us in mind of in his first Discourse.

[Page ix]And perhaps another Cause of our Want of Suc­cess hath been this, That we have too much left off the Way of our Fathers, in distinguishing the Cha­racters of our Hearers, and dividing the Word a­right to Saints and Sinners, to the stupid and the profane, the awaken'd and convinc'd, the mournful and penitent, the presumptuous and obstinate, the deserted and despairing.

This Method appears eminently in the Labours of the former Age. Those two great and good Men, Mr. Flavell, and Mr. Baxter, might be divided in their Sentiments on other Subjects, but you find this Conduct runs thro' all their practical Writings, This is a great Part of what the second Discourse here recommends to us, under the Title of Experi­mental Preaching.

Our Author indeed assumes not so much to himself, as to address any besides Students and Younger Ministers. But if in the middle Age of Life we should examine our Performances by the Light of this Treatise, 'tis possible we and our People might be Gainers by it.

Have we not been too often tempted to follow the Modish Way, and speak to our Hearers in gene­ral Terms, as though they were all converted al­ready, and sufficiently made Christians by a Natio­nal Profession? Have not some of us spent our la­bour to build them up in the Practice of Duties, without teaching them to search whether the Foun­dation has been laid in an entire Change and Re­novation of Heart? Do we lead them constantly to enquire into the inward State of their Souls, the special Tempers and Circumstances of their Spirits, their peculiar Difficulties, Dangers and Tempta­tions, [Page x] and give them peculiar Assistance in all this Variety of the Christian Life?

With how much more Efficacy does the Word of God impress the Conscience, when every Hearer finds himself described without the Preacher's per­sonal Knowledge of him? When his own spiritual State is painted to the Life, and (as it were) set before his Eyes in the Language of the Preacher? When a Word of Conviction, Advice, or Comfort, is spoken so pertinently to his own Case, that he takes it as directed to himself. How much more powerful and more penetrating will our Sermons be, when those who come into our Assemblies shall be convinced and judged, and have the Secrets of their Hearts made manifest, and confess that God is in the midst of us of a Truth?

The Perusal of these excellent Discourses in Manuscript hath given me so much Satisfaction, that I take a sensible Pleasure to think that the Press will communicate them to the World, and then I hope for a further Share of Profit, by keeping them always at my Right Hand when I am preparing for the Service of the Sanctuary. May the blessed Spirit of God teach those who enter into the sacred Office, this holy Skill of winning Souls! May He awaken us all to see what may be mended in our Ministrations, in order to publish the Gospel of Christ with more illustrious and divine Success!



THAT excellent Letter concerning the best Method of Preaching, which stands annexed to this new Edition of Mr. JENNINGS's Dis­courses, was written in the German Tongue by that Venerable and Apostolick Man HERMAN AUGUSTUS FRANCK, late Professor of Divinity at Hall in Saxony, and was communicated to me last Winter by his worthy Son GOTTHILF AUGUSTUS FRANCK, who happily fills and adorns the same Post in that University, and seems to be possess'd of the same Spirit of Faith and Love. 'Tis now turn'd into English by my va­luable Friend Mr. DAVID JENNINGS, the sur­viving Brother of the Author, who perfectly a­greed with me in this Sentiment, that it should be made publick in our own Language, and prin­ted together with these two Discourses, as being eminently suited to promote the same Design of an Experimental and Evangelical way of Preach­ing. And I persuade myself that every Reader [Page xii] who could relish and approve of what Mr. JOHN JENNINGS has written on this Subject, will be very well pleased and entertain'd with the Perusal of this small Essay of that great Man, Professor FRANCK, on the same Argument; and may both be attended with Divine Success.


Boston in New-England, April 10. 1740.

WHEN in an Advertisement of this little Book, small in Bulk but great in Worth, I read the Pleasure which the Reverend Dr. WATTS had ex­press'd on its Communication to the Churches; even ‘for his own Be­nefit (as He condescends to say) "by having it always at his right Hand in his Preparations for the Service of the Sanctuary,’ I could not but desire a Sight of it, with a rais'd Expectation. And now I have read it, and see how it has been receiv'd with great Esteem in Germany as well as Scotland, I cannot but wish it reprinted here and put into the Hands of the Pastors of these Churches, as also to get a Number of them deposited with the Reverend Corporation and Trustees of our flourishing Academies, both Cambridge and New-Haven; entreating the Honoured Heads and Tutors in our Colleges to require of the Students in Divinity, from time to time, a very serious & deli­berate Perusal of the following excellent Discourses, which come so strongly recommended to them.

The very Name of that most justly admired Man of God, the late Wonder of our Age, Dr. Augustus Hermannus Franck, is eno' to command a most Reverend Attention from us to his Letter about the most useful Way of Preaching; and af­ter Dr. Watts's Preface to the Reverend Mr. Jennings Discourses of preaching Christ and of ex­perimental preaching, I am sure it is needless for me to add any Thing.

Only I will take the present Occasion to express my Gratitude to my beloved and honoured Friend [Page 14] Dr. WATTS, who thro' my Hands has inrich'd both our Colleges with his invaluable Works; which contain a Treasure of Grammar, Logic, Philosophy, Geography, Astronomy, Ethics, Ontology, and above all Divinity in numerous Treatises; with Volumes of Sermons had in great Honour in the Universities of Great Britain, as well Oxford and Cambridge, as Edinburgh and Glasgow; together with his ex­celling Writings in Divine Poetry, his Horae Lyricae, his Imitation of David's Psalms, and his Book of Hymns; of which our Venerable Father STODDARD of Northampton has sometimes said to me; — ‘that when tir'd with severer Studies, upon reading one or two of these raptrous Hymns, he had return'd fresh to his Work.’

I trust the immediate Governors and Instructors in our Colleges, will let the Students know the Price put into their Hands, for their Pleasure as well as Profit, by these and other generous Bene­factions to their Libraries from England; and that God will requite the Kindness and Bounty shown us in the like Fruits of Literature and Piety, in Times long to come, from among our selves.

It is by studying CHRIST thro' the sacred Scrip­tures of both Testaments, with Prayer in his Name for the teachings of the HOLY SPIRIT, that the Candidates for the Evangelical Ministry will be like to find the Heart and Tongue of the Learned, for the most useful and experimental Way of preach­ing: And that the Blessing of CHRIST may ac­company the present Dispersion of the following Discourses among us for this End, is the hearty Prayer, and may probably be the last piece of du­tiful Service to these Churches, from their un­to thy Son and Servant,



Dear Friends and Brethren,

WE profess ourselves Christians, and are, I hope, upon careful and rational Enquiry satisfied that the Religion of Jesus comes from God; and that it is a most glorious Dispensation, not only for the sublime Wonders of its Doctrine, and the Divine Pu­rity of its Precepts, but that it excels all other Religions in the Strength of its Motives, the Richness of its Promises, and the Sufficiency of the Divine Aid attending it.

[Page 16]Now in all the peculiar Glories of this Reli­gion, Christ is interwoven, like Phidias's Name in the Shield, which could not be effaced without destroying the Shield itself.

The Doctrines concerning Jesus make the Glory and Advantage of his Religion; and so run through the whole, that preaching Christ, and preaching the Gospel, are, in Scripture Style, sy­nonymous Terms: As in 1 Cor. i. 23.—ii. 2. and innumerable other Places.

The preaching of Christ is our Business, our Charge, and our Glory; but oh! who is sufficient for these thing? Give me leave then, my dear Brethren and Friends, to remind my-self and You, what Regard a Minister should have to our Redeemer in his Preaching and other Admini­strations.

I. Let us make Christ the Design and End of our Preaching. If we seek principally to please Men, then are we not the Servants of Christ. If we look no farther than our own Humour, Reputation, or temporal Advantage, and expend our Talents to our own private Use, how shall we make up our Accounts to our Master? and what Reward can we expect from him?

Our ultimate End should be the personal Glory of Christ. That the Glory of Christ, as God, is the ultimate End of the Gospel, none can doubt: Nay, as a Creature, he is in his Perfections and Felicity, far superior to the rest of the Creation; [Page 17] so that it is said of this divine Person, Heb. ii. 10. All things are for him, as well as by him. Is he not worth ten thousand of us? More worth than the World? The only begotten Son of God, whom the highest Angels adore? Now if the Glory of Christ's Person, to the Honour of the Father, be the principal End in the divine Schemes and Actings, it should also be our high­est View and Design. Nor want we Motives of Gratitude to lead us to this: He is the Founder of our Religion, to whom all our Hopes are ow­ing: He has honoured us, and well deserved that we should honour him: Nor is there any Danger of lessening the Honour of God the Father there­by, when we consider him, as the Scriptures re­present him, as one with the Father, the equal Image of the invisible God, to the Glory of God the Father.

Again, as the Glory of Christ's Person should be our ultimate End; so the advancing the King­dom of his Grace amongst Men, is to be the sub­ordinate End.

The Recovery of fallen Creatures to Holiness and Happiness is the immediate Design of the Gospel. Christ is come into the World to save Sin­ners, 1 Tim i. 15. And he sends us to preach his Gospel, that we might promote the same Sal­vation, That Men might live soberly, righteously and godly, looking for that blessed Hope, Tit. ii. 11, 12, 13. To make Men holy, to bring them to the Faith of Christ, the Imitation of him, and Communion with him, here and hereafter, to the Glory of the Father through Christ, must be the [Page 18] constant End of our Preaching. We should not think it enough to inform, to amuse, to please, to affect, but we must aim farther than this, to bring them to trust in Christ, and withal, to make them penitent and holy; and every Subject must be managed with this View: And let it be our great Care, on a more speculative Subject (as suppose one of the sublime Doctrines of Grace) still to keep the End in view, and apply it practically, or our Labour is lost.

Let us by all Means endeavour to save precious Souls, but yet aim at a higher End than this, viz. that we our selves may be a sweet savour of Christ unto God, 2 Cor. ii. 15. And then, though we miss of our secondary End, and are not, as we could wish, the savour of life unto life, unto any great Number; yet in being the savour of death unto death to them that perish, we shall be Instru­ments of glorifying the Justice and Long suffering of Christ, and be Witnesses for God, that there has been a Prophet amongst them; our primary End is answered, our Labour is with the Lord, and we in the mean time are supported, tho' Israel be not gathered, for the word shall not return empty.

Nay farther, it is not enough that the Strain of our Preaching is adapted to the true Design of the Gospel, but we must at Heart sincerely in­tend it; otherwise, tho' our Discourses be un­exceptionable, yet if our Designs be wrong and base, though others be saved through our Mini­stry, we shall be cast-aways.

[Page 19]II. Let Christ be the Matter of our Preaching. Let us display the Divine Dignity and Loveliness of his Person, by the Light of his Word, as God manifest in the Flesh.

Let us unfold his Mediatorial Office, the Occa­sion, Design, and Purport of his great Under­taking.

Let us remind our Hearers of the Particulars of his Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Intercession.

Let us set forth the Characters he bears, as a Prophet, Priest and King; as a Shepherd, Cap­tain, Advocate and Judge.

Let us demonstrate and shew the Sufficiency of his Satisfaction, the Tenor and Excellence of the Covenant confirmed with and by him, our Justification by his Righteousness, Adoption thro' our Relation to him, Sanctification by his Spirit, our Union with him as our Head, and safe Con­duct by his Providence; and how Pardon, Grace and Glory accrue to the Elect through his Sureti­ship and Sacrifice, and are dispensed by his Hand.

Let us in his Name declare and explain his most holy Laws, and teach the People whatever Duties he has commanded, to God, our Neigh­bour, and our Selves.

Let us quicken the Saints to Duty, raise their Hopes, establish and comfort their Souls, by the exceeding great and precious Promises of his Gos­pel, which in him are yea and amen.

[Page 20]I but just give short and imperfect Hints of these Things, and refer to the Apostolical Wri­tings, which you'll find are made up of Discourses on these and such like Topicks.

III. Let the Manner of our Preaching on any Subject, distinguish it from mere Discourses on Na­tural Religion, by a continual Regard to Christ.

If we are upon the Perfections of God, let us consider them as shining in his Son, and exem­plify'd in his Undertaking, who is the brightness of his Father's glory, and express image of his per­son, Heb. i. 3.

If we set forth Gospel-Blessings and Promises, let us consider them as purchased by a Saviour's Blood, and distributed by his Bounty; For by his own blood he has obtained eternal redemption, Heb. ix. 12. And from him the whole body is supplied, Eph. iv. 16.

If we take notice of the Providence of God, let us not forget that all power is given to Christ, in heaven and in earth, Mat. xxviii 18. And that he is head over all things for the church, Eph. i. 22.

If by the Terrors of the last Judgment we persuade Men, let the wrath of the Lamb be de­nounced, and the dreadful Reckoning for abused Grace and a slighted Saviour; for this is the con­demnation, John iii. 19.

[Page 21]If we are assisting the Devotions of the People in Confession, Prayer, or Praise, let their Repen­tance spring from looking on Christ whom they have pierced, Zech. xii. 10. Let their Faith in Prayer fix steadily on Jesus, as to him is owing our Ac­ceptance and Success, and our boldness at the throne of Grace flows from regarding Christ as our great High Priest, Heb. iv. 14, 16. And let us teach them to give thanks to God the father thro' him, to whom it is owing that God is our Father, Col. iii. 17.

When we are upon the Subject of Duty, Christ is by no means to be forgotten; for to persuade Men to practical Godliness, is one of the most difficult Parts of a Minister's Work. Men will hear with a curious Satisfaction a speculative Dis­course; and with some Joy attend to the Displays of God's Grace; nay, a Felix may tremble when Judgment is preached: Many indeed will bear to hear of Duty too; but to induce them to practise it, hic labor, hoc opus: Here we had need call in all Helps, and take all Advantages, which the Gospel as well as the Light of Nature can furnish. In other Discourses, we are rather attacking Sa­tan's Out-works, a blind and prejudiced Under­standing; in practical Subjects we assault Satan's strongest Fort, a corrupted Will: We may gain the Understanding on our Side, and gain some share of the Affections; but to subdue a perverse Will, and make Men good practical Christians, is not so easy a Thing, that we can afford to spare any Motive or quickning Consideration. But here I must be more particular in explaining how we should regard Christ in preaching Duty.

[Page 22]1. Let us represent Duty as the natural and necessary Fruit of Faith in Christ, and Love to him. When by Faith we behold a crucified Je­sus, do we not tremble at the Severity of Gods Justice, and regret and hate those Sins that occa­sioned his Sorrows? When we farther consider, that by his stripes we are healed, can we forbear to love him who hath first loved us? Shall we not live to him that died for us? Can we have the Heart to crucify him afresh? No, let us make his Service our Business, his Sufficience our Con­fidence, his Life our Example, and his Blessings our Portion and Choice.

From such Actings of Faith and Outgoings of Love, flows that divine Temper which constitutes the new Creature, and lays the Foundation of all right Gospel-Obedience. Thus therefore let us continually trace Gospel Duties up to their Foun­tain-head, that the People may learn, 'tis not out­ward Reformation that will stand the Test in the Day of Judgment, but an inward Renewal of the Soul; that the tree must first be made good, before there can be any good fruit; and that all must be done for Christ's sake, and flow from faith work­ing by love, Gal. v. 6.

2. Let us enforce Duties with Motives respect­ing Christ; as grateful Love to him should con­strain us; as Fear of his Wrath should awe us; as we would approve our selves the Disciples and Followers of Christ; as we would enjoy Commu­nion with him; as we would promote his Honour and Interest; and as we would have Joy, and not Confusion, at his appearing. Not that we should [Page 23] neglect any Motives which the Light of Nature can furnish, and are level to the Capacities of the People: We have need enough of all; but if we go no further than these, our Exhortations will want far the greatest Part of their Weight: We must beseech and exhort by the Lord Jesus, 1 Thess iv. 1.

3. Let us consider Duties, as to be performed by the Grace of Christ: Telling the People, that our Fruitfulness depends on our being engrafted into this Vine; and that a Holy Walk is being led by the Spirit; and when we do good, it is not we, but the grace of God that is in us; that out of a sense of Weakness, we must be made strong, and do all things through Christ strengthning us, Phil. iv. 13.

4. Let us consider all good Works as accepta­ble through the Merits of Christ; and remind our Hearers, that could we do all, we were but unpro­fitable servants; and that we must seek to be found at last, not having on our own righteousness, but that which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 9.

IV. Let us deliver our selves in a Style becoming the Gospel of Christ: Not with great swelling words of vanity, or in the Style of the Heathen Sophists, or Words that Man's Wisdom teacheth, and may perhaps sound best in our own Ears; but let us use great plainness of speech, and seek to find out such acceptable words, as may best reach the Understanding and Affections of the bulk of an Auditory.

[Page 24]As for the affectionate Part of a Discourse, Brethren, I suppose, upon a View of antient and modern Learning, you allow that the Men of the East, and next to them the antient Greeks, ex­celled in Fire, and Works of the Imagination; and that the Moderns inhabiting milder western Climates, even the French (from whom upon many Accounts we should expect the most of this Sort) produce but an empty Flash, in comparison of the solid Heat of the Antients; and rather a­muse us with little Delicacies, than by masterly Strokes command our whole Souls. Now the Scriptures are the noblest Remains of what the East has produced, and much surpass the best of the Greeks in the Force of their Oratory: Let us take the Spirit and Style of them, and thence borrow bold Figures and Allusions, strong De­scriptions and commanding Address to the Passions. But I'm prevented in all I would say on this so important Head, by the Archbishop of Cambray's Dialogues concerning Eloquence, which I'm as lit­tle capable of improving upon, as I am of com­mending them as they deserve.

And now, Brethren, let me lay before you some Reasons and Motives to back this friendly Admonition concerning preaching Christ.

(I.) 'Tis the way to have our Labours accep­ted of Christ, and to have Communion with him in our Work: — Even Paul cries out, Who is sufficient for these things? With how much more reason have we? Does not our chearful Progress in our Work depend on a divine Afflatus, and the Spirit dispensed by Christ? But [Page 25] if we take no Notice of him in our Preaching, and do not distinguish ourselves from the moral Philosophers of the Gentiles, how can we expect any more of this enlivening and encouraging Pre­sence of Christ than they had; nay, we have less ground to expect it, if we wilfully slight and slur so noble a Revelation, which they were never favour'd with.

(II.) 'Tis the way to win Souls to Christ, and make lively Christians. The Success of the Gos­pel is certainly no less owing to the Power of its Motives, than to the Clearness, Fulness, and Pu­rity of its Precepts. These peculiar Motives of the Gospel have all such a Respect to Christ, that they are enervated if he be disregarded: The Gospel Scheme is what God in his Wisdom has pitch'd upon to reform Mankind, and save them; and he seems in Honour concerned to crown it with greater Success than any other Scheme what­soever; the preaching of Christ crucified is the power of God, 1 Cor. i. 23, 24 If we maim the Gospel, and suppress a good Part of it, we can expect but a very defective Success in the Nature of Things; nay, may we not fear God's Honour is concerned in such Case to blast us, and we shall be like to labour almost in vain.

Observation agrees with this Theory: The great Masters of Reason, who have less regard to Christ in their preaching, may, indeed, have a Charm for one of an hundred, who have a Taste of the Beauties of fine Reasoning, and be of use to them, whilst the Bulk of an Auditory is asleep: Alas! with what Heart can we go on, entertain­ing [Page 26] two or three, to the starving of most of the Souls in an Auditory. May we not also observe a happier Effect of a Strain prudently evangelical on Christians themselves; that they who sit un­der it are more lively, zealous, ready to every good Work, and heavenly-minded, than those Christians who have heard less of the Gospel.

(III.) It is a direct Imitation of the Apostles of Christ: Christ himself, whilst upon Earth, preached the Gospel in Parables, in a concealed Manner, distantly and with reserve: He could not so fully take the Advantage of his Resurrection, Satis­faction, Ascension, and the like, not yet done, made or proved: He had many things to say, which his Disciples could not then bear, but he declares them afterward by his Spirit in his A­postles: They therefore are the true Pattern of our preaching, now, after the Mystery of Re­demption is brought to light, and hath its full Evidence.

How then did the Apostles preach Christ? 'Tis endless to attempt a full Detail of Particulars; any part of the Apostolical Writings is Authority suf­ficient to our Purpose; and therefore I've been sparing in Quotations all along, as needless, to those who will look into these Writings with this View. And here we don't desire to alledge or insist upon any Passages in their Writings, which may be supposed to be writ and inserted for Rea­sons peculiar to that Age and Country in which the Apostles wrote, and in which perhaps we are not so much obliged to imitate them in our preach­ing; for what will remain after all these are put [Page 27] out of the Account, will, I am satisfied, be as full to our Purpose, as these that are struck off.

I'll only then, by way of Specimen, select some of the Apostles Discourses on Duties most moral, where we are aptest to forget a mention of Christ, or respect to him, that it may at once appear the Apostles shunned not the pressing such Duties, or a regard to Christ, in the treating on them.

I Cor. vi. 8. Honesty is pressed by these Mo­tives—the unrighteous thieves and extortioners, shall not inherit the kingdom of God (which in the Style of the New Testament is Christ's Kingdom of Grace and Glory.)—That Christians are con­verted by the spirit of Christ, and justified by his righteousness.

I Cor. vi. 15. Chastity is enjoyned, as our bodies are members of Christ, as we are one spirit with him, temples of the Holy Ghost, and bought with a price.

I Cor. viii. and ix. Alms is recommended, as it will bring a large Tribute of praise to God for our subjection to the Gospel of Christ—and Christ became poor for our sakes.

Tit. iii 2 Evil speaking is forbidden, because we were foolish and wicked; but the grace of God has made the difference; not for our righteousness, but of his free mercy he has regenerated us, and given us his holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, by whom we are justified, and heirs of glory.

[Page 28] Rom. xiii. Subjects are commanded to obey Magistrates, because the Gospel-day is come, and we should put on Christ Jesus.

Eph. v. 25. Husbands are charged to love their Wives, as Christ loved the Church.

Eph. v. 22. Wives obedience is urged, be­cause the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church.

Tit. ii. 9 Servants are exhorted to their Duty, as they would adorn the doctrine of Christ— be­cause grace so teacheth, and that we look for Christ's appearance, who gave himself for us, that we might be holy.

Now what is there in these Motives peculiar to one Age or Nation? Are not all these as good now as formerly? And are Men so ready in their Duty, that we have no need of them?

Nay, it is worth Observation, that the Apostles do not confine themselves to Motives peculiarly adapted to the Duty they are pressing, and which serve to enforce one Duty rather than another; but, as you may look back & see, when such proper Motives are not at hand, they take without any scruple common or general ones, which will e­qually enforce any Duty whatsoever.

And why should not we introduce the Pecu­liarities of the Gospel on all Occasions, as frequent­ly as the Apostles did? If our Schemes of Theo­logy will not allow us, we have reason to suspect [Page 29] we are in a different Scheme from the Apostles. Are we afraid Men will make perverse use of such Doctrines as the Apostles used for Motives? The Apostles chose to venture it, and why should not we? If we will not dare to preach such a Gospel as may be perverted by Men of corrupt Minds to their own Injury, we must not expect to be Instruments of any Good: If we'll be the savour of life to some, we must expect to be the savour of death to others, or not preach at all.

I confess even the Remonstrant Scheme (which, I think, considerably sinks the Doctrines of Grace) does allow room to regard Christ abundantly more than most Preachers of that Set do: I would meet them on their own Principles: What hinders their frequently inculcating the Merits of Christ, the Depravity of our Natures, the Necessity of Regeneration, the Aids of Grace, and Union and Communion with Christ? These Topicks, it were to be hoped, might have their Effect: But alas! how few of the Remonstrants improve to Advan­tage so much of the Gospel as they hold and re­ceive: And it makes me less inclined to this Scheme, that it so generally draws those that em­brace it into a Strain of Preaching, even on prac­tical Subjects, so different from that of the Apo­stles; and inclines them, I know not how, to sup­press those glorious Motives (which yet their own Principles might allow) by which the Apostles enforced Gospel Duties.

(IV) So only shall we deserve the Name of Preachers of Christ—Only did I say? I am a­fraid this may sound too harsh —Come let us [Page 30] put the Matter as soft and candid as common Sense will allow us— So shall we most evident­ly or best deserve this honourable Title.

Whilst a Preacher keeps off from the Peculia­rities of the Gospel, and says nothing but what the Light of Nature would also suggest and autho­rize, give me leave to say, a Stranger might pos­sibly doubt whether he is a Deist or a Christian; the Question is like an imperfect Mathematical Problem, which equally admits of different So­lutions.

Suppose the Ghosts of Paul and Seneca to come, meer Strangers, into an Assembly where one was haranguing the People in this abstracted Man­ner; I am apt to think Seneca would claim him as a Philosopher of his own Sect and Religion. Now if Paul should also make his claim to him as a Minister of Christ, how could the Question be decided without allowing Seneca to be a Preacher of Christ also.

On the other Hand, If a Preacher picks out some of the Truths of the Gospel of Christ, and even the peculiar and glorious Truths of Christi­anity, but so unhappily manages them, as not to lead People to Holiness, and the Imitation of Christ thereby, what is this to the Purpose of Preaching, to the Design of Christ and the Gos­pel? Such are quite oft that Scheme which is cal­culated to destroy the works of the devil, and to teach men sobriety, righteousness, and godliness: It is not only Christ without us we are to preach, but Christ in us, and our putting on Christ Jesus by a holy Heart and Life.

[Page 31]If the Apostle James should come again, and make a Visitation to our Churches, and hear such a Preacher, he would imagine he was got among such People as he writes against in his Epistle; he would be apt, when the Minister had done, in his Zeal for Christ, to take the Text in Hand a­gain, and supply what the Preacher had omitted, viz. the Application; and to say to the Auditors, Know ye not that faith without works is dead? If the Preacher should here interrupt him, saying, ‘Hold, spare thy Pains, the Spirit of God will make the Application, and teach Men Holi­ness;’— would not James reply, ‘I and the rest of the Apostles were taught to preach o­therwise, and to give particular Exhortations to Duty; we judged we might as well leave it to the Spirit, without our Pains, to reveal the Do­ctrine, as to instruct Men in the Practice of the Gospel.’

Upon the whole, Brethren, let it be our Re­solution to study and preach Christ Jesus: On this Subject, there is room for the strictest Reasoning and most sublime Philosophy; it deserves, invites and inspires the strongest Fire of the Orator; in extolling Christ, we cannot shock the most deli­cate Taste by overstrained Hyperboles; here the Climax may rise till it is out of Sight; our Ima­gery cannot be too strong and rich; and what more moves than an Apostrophe to Christ? Or what Prosopopoeias more commanding than those in which he is introduced?

Should our Lord himself appear and give you a Charge at your Entrance ea the Ministry, [Page 32] would he not say (what indeed he has said al­ready:)

‘As the Father hath sent me, so send I you to preach the kingdom of God; that every knee may bow to me, and every tongue confess me: — teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and tell them, that with­out me they can do nothing; that when they have done all, they are unprofitable servants, and must be found in my righteousness: — be­come all things to all men; seek words which the Holy Ghost teacheth; that you may gain souls, and bring in my sheep for whom I laid down my life; — If ye love me, feed my sheep: — I have called you friends; do all in my name, and to my honour; so I will be with you always; and if you thus watch for souls, you shall give up your ac­count with joy at my appearing — This is the Preaching, which tho' it seem foolish to many, shall prove the power of God and wisdom of God: cast forth the net on this side, and so may you ex­pect to catch many souls: be followers of my A­postles as they are of me, and in my name shall ye do wonders: If you preach me, I and mine shall therein rejoice, be not ashamed of my Gospel, and I will not be ashamed of you.’

But to arrive at any tolerable Perfection in Preaching Christ, is a work of Time, the Result of a careful Perusal of the Scriptures, and study­ing the Hearts of Men: It requires the mortify­ing of the Pride of carnal Reason, a great Con­cern for Souls, and humble Dependance on the Spirit of God, with the lively Exercise of Devotion in our Closets.

[Page 33]As for the Reasoning Part on the more agreed Points of our Religion, a young Preacher sooner may get to considerable Excellence: but the Christian Orator is longer in finishing: We may sooner get necessary Truths into our own Minds, and come at Minds of our own Size and Taste; but by proper Motives and Ways to reach Souls of different Make and Turn, even the lowest of the Vulgar, is what very few quickly arrive at: But let us not despair; if we thus regard Christ in our Ministrations, we may very reasonably ex­pect the Assistance of his Spirit, and we shall be able to do all this thro' Christ strengthning us.


DISCOURSE II. Of particular and experimental PREACHING. Address'd to YOUNGER MINISTERS.


RIGHTLY to divide the Word of Truth is the necessary Care of a Minister, if he would be approved of God, and be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, 2 Tim. ii. 15. And it is a Skill worth studying for, and labouring to attain: Our Success, and the [Page 36] Good of Souls, depends upon it more than is com­monly imagined.

No question you may have heard many honest People express their Dissatisfaction with many Preachers, in such Terms as these: ‘They go on constantly in a general Way that does not come close to the Heart, reaches not my Case and Ex­perience, and I cannot edify by them.’—Their Complaint is not altogether without Meaning or Reason, as I hope you'll be convinc'd by and by.

To keep a little in view that Passage of Scrip­ture I've mentioned, the dividing the Word may mean these four Things.

I. Going through the variety of Gospel Subjects: Declaring the whole Counsel of God, the Doc­trines of Grace, Threatnings, Promises, and Du­ties of Morality; and giving each its due Pro­portion.

Some finding their Thoughts flow most readily and affectionately on the Doctrines of Grace, and that by these they best command the Affections of the Hearers, are altogether upon them; and neglect to teach the people to observe what Christ has commanded them I bear many of them wit­ness they have a zeal for God, but I wish it were more according to knowledge: They do not sure sufficiently consider that Holiness is the Design of Christianity; and our Preaching on other Heads, is in order the better to enforce Duty, and make Men like to Christ.

[Page 37]I am afraid, from what I've observed, that this Strain of Preaching will encrease the Number of such Hearers, whom our Saviour describes by the stony Ground in the Parable of the Sower; name­ly, such who are all Notion and Affection, with a forward Profession; but have an unsubdued Will, no Root in themselves, and bring forth no fruit to God. This Strain, I fear, though it brings many toward Christ, will bring but few safely to him: Many of their Hearers, with Christ much in their Mouths, will prove but Hypocrites settled on their Lees, and Slaves to Lust. Nor is this Strain more happy for the uniform Growth of the sincere Christian: They that fit under it, are too frequently low, imperfect, and partial in prac­tical Godliness; distemper'd with Conceit and preposterous Zeal for Words and Phrases, and Things of little or no Consequence; perplexed and perplexing others with a thousand ground­less Scruples; children in understanding, and it were happy were they so in Malice too; but a­las! their Narrowness of Mind infects the Heart with uncharitable Affections to Christians of diffe­rent Perswasions.

Others having not arrived at the Relish of the Doctrines of Grace themselves, suppress them in their Preaching, and are altogether on Morality; enforcing it with no Motives of the Gospel, ex­cept some of those addressed to Fear.—— These, if they are Masters of much Fire, may convince some; but it fares with most of their Convicts, as with the Man in the Parable, out of whom the unclean Spirit went for a while; hut finding his House empty, returned with seven more; and [Page 38] the latter End of such is worse than the Beginning. —Or else, the awakened Hearer takes up with a proud Dependance upon a mistaken, external, and Pharisaical Righteousness. — Or else the convinced Sinner, not being by his Teacher led to Christ, proceeds not, settles not, but abiding long under the doubtful Concern, is wearied with it, weary of it, and comes to nothing; which seems to be the thought in Hos. xiii. 13. Ephraim is an unwise son; he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.—Or lastly, if any are converted under his Ministry, 'tis very usual that they are forced to desert it, to find rich­er and sweeter Pasture for their Souls.

Some of their Hearers may possibly prefer this Strain of Preaching; but it does not thence follow they are the better for it: And here I'll recite a Paragraph out of Remarkable Passages in the Life of a private Gentleman. ‘Spiritual searching Discourses I did not so much savour as meer moral Doctrines; tho' God knows too immoral myself.— The Hopes I had conceived of the Strength of my good Resolutions render'd them grateful—Se­neca's Morals I read with great Pleasure— Mr. Baxter's Saints Rest frighted me, so in read­ing a few Pages, I threw it by!’

Thus with Regret he tells us what little Pro­fit he had in that Way, of his Fondness of which he was ashamed, when he came to be of Paul's Mind, to count all dross and dung that he might gain Christ.

[Page 39]II. The putting of a Thought in several distinct Views and Lights for different Purposes and De­signs. The sacred Writers are herein our Pat­tern, and that not by Chance, but for wise Rea­sons. One View is designed to raise one Affecti­on, another View, to excite another of a diffe­rent Sort: And farther, one of the Views is de­signed as an Antidote against the Poison, which the Corruption of Mens Hearts might draw out of the other.

For instance, the Terms and Way of our Justification and Salvation are frequently stated thus—

That we must be found in Christ, having on the righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 9. and we must be made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. v. 21.

And this View is exquisitely adapted to hum­ble us, to draw forth Love and Gratitude, and encourage our Hopes and Dependance.

But lest this Phraseology alone made use of, should beget Security, at other Times we are told—

That by works a man is justified, and not by faith only; and that faith without works is dead, Jam ii. 24, 26. and that the Enquiry at the last Day shall be, who has fed the hungry, cloathed the naked? &c. Matt. xxv.

And most commonly these two Views are uni­ted in the same Paragraph; that one may prevent [Page 40] the ill Consequences Man's Perverseness would draw from the other: As Physicians finding some dangerous Effect likely to follow from a Drug of sovereign Virtue, mix some other with it to pre­vent the fatal Consequences.

So we are said to be elect according to the fore­knowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spi­rit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, 1 Pet. i. 2.

Again we are told, that by grace we are saved through faith, the gift of God, not of works; for we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, Eph. ii. 8.9, 10.

I may give another Instance, in the different Ways the Scripture speaks of Power and Duty.

Sometimes we are told, that we cannot come to Christ except the Father draw, John vi 44. That without Christ we can do nothing, John xv. 5. That if we live, it is not we, but Christ that liveth in us, Gal. ii. 20.

Now these Views tend to hide Pride from Man, to create a Diffidence of ourselves, and to centre our Hopes and Dependance in Christ.

But lest the slothful and wicked Servant should make his Impotence his Excuse; we are called upon to turn and make us new hearts, exhorted to ask and we shall receive, and are assured God will give the Spirit to them that ask him, Luke xi. 9, 13.

[Page 41]And how happily are these two Views united in Phil. ii. 12, 13. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that work­eth in you to will and to do.

Now, less skilful Dividers of the Word deal entirely in one of these Views only, and neglect the other; and whilst they are labouring to ex­cite one good Affection, they raise another of a bad Tendency together with it: To this in part is owing that there are so many low or distempe­red Christians. Nor is this Partiality more happy at effecting the real Conversion of Sinners, who generally under such Management are either left asleep, and settled in a fond Conceit of their own Righteousness; or else stumble at the rock of of­fence, (in a different Manner indeed from what the Jews did) thinking to find by Christ a Way to Heaven without Holiness or moral Honesty.

III. Distinctly explaining and enforcing particu­lar Duties, and opposing particular Sins. It is true, the whole Scheme of Gospel Duty is dedu­cible from the general Heads of Faith and Love; but alas! most Mens Minds are slow, confused, and erroneous in long Deductions, and it is our Business to lead them on in every Step, and to shew what particular Duties to God, our Neigh­bour, and our Selves, will flow from these Prin­ciples, and are necessary to make the Man of God perfect. We must particularly teach them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-kindness and charity, if we would not leave them blind and unfruitful, [Page 42] 2 Pet. i. 7. And we should in a particular Man­ner speak of the fruits of the Spirit, as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance; and at proper Seasons explain and enforce each of them, Gal. v. 22, 23 We should apply the Lamp of the Word to detect and disgrace all the particular works of darkness, and to make manifest the fruits of the flesh; such as adultery, lasciviousness, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like, Gal. v. 19, 20, 21.

If I should read to a sick Person a learned Lec­ture of the Benefit of Health, and exhort him to take care to recover it; but never enquire into the Nature of his Disease, or prescribe proper Me­thods and Medicines for the Cure; he would hardly acquiesce in me for his Physician, or resign the Care of his bodily Health to me.

Nor is it a more likely Way to the Soul's Health to rest in general Exhortations to Holiness only, without distinctly handling the several Branches thereof, and Sins opposite thereunto.

IV. Particularly applying to the several Cases, Tempers, and Experiences of the Hearers. Besides many Thoughts suited in general to all Cases, there might properly arise in the Application of most Subjects, Thoughts distinctly proper to the Converted and Unconverted, to notional Hypo­crite, and meer Moralist, to Mourners, to Back­sliders and lazy Christians, and at several Times to a much greater Variety of Characters, and Persons.

[Page 43]Now such particular Addresses, when the Case is lively drawn, in the natural Language of the Sort of Men intended, and judiciously and art­fully spoken to, are the closest, most weighty, and most useful Parts of the Application.

That this is the true Way of addressing an Auditory, viz. to divide them into several Classes, and distinctly speak to each, will be plain, if we look thro' the Apostolical Writings, and I might add the Prophetical also, with this View; and we shall find that both Prophets and Apostles fre­quently take Care to distinguish the holy and the vile, the Converted and the Unconverted. As for instance, as to their Knowledge and Appre­hensions of Things. 1 Cor. ii. 14, 15. The na­tural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit— they are foolishness to him—he cannot know them: But the spiritual judge all things. And also as to their Obedience to the Law. Rom. viii. 7, 8. The carnal mind is enmity against God—is not subject to God's law, nor can be subject, or please God.

They particularly rebuke Scoffers, and confute Gainsayers — behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish —as for Instance, those who denied or cavilled at the Resurrection. 1 Cor. xv. Thou fool, that which thou sowest, is not quickened ex­cept it die, &c. and also those that were for a Faith without Works. Jam. ii. Wilt thou know, vain man, that faith without works is dead? &c.

They address to carnal stupid Sinners in an aw­ful Way; denounce woe to them that are at ease: [Page 44] As Paul when he made Felix tremble, Acts xxiv. 25. or as Stephen, Acts vii. 51—54. Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised, &c.

They lead convinced Sinners to Christ; to those that are enquiring they say, If ye will enquire, en­quire ye, return, come, turn to the strong hold; if the Lord hath torn, he will heal: As in Acts ii. 38. Repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, &c. Acts xxvi. 31. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, &c.

They reason with the Moralist, and those that trust in themselves that they are righteous; shew­ing their righteousness is as filthy rags. Rom iii. The law saith, there is none righteous, but all the world are guilty before God; therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified; but the righ­teousness of God is manifested, that God might free­ly justify them that believe on Jesus; therefore man is justified by faith; boasting is excluded by the law of faith. And Gal. iii. Ye received the Spirit by the bearing of faith — the gospel was before preached to Abraham—they that are of the works of the law, are under the curse. But the law could not disannul the covenant confirmed before, but was a school-master to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith; they then that are Christ's, are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

They sharply rebuke and expose pretending Hypocrite, shewing them their Abominations, detecting and confounding the Wretches that delight to know God's ways, and hear his word, but [Page 45] will not do it: As Peter, Acts viii. 21. Thou hast no part in this matter; thy heart is not right in the sight of God; and James in chap. ii. Shew me thy faith without thy works — the devils believe and tremble.

They spirit up Christians that have but a little Strength, and perswade them to make farther Advances in Religion; that he that is feeble may be as David: as in Heb. v. at the end, and the beginning of ch. vi. Ye are dull of hearing — for the time ye ought to have been teachers — strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age — therefore leaving the first principles, let us go on to perfection.

They deal with the several Sorts of distemper'd Christians tenderly, and yet plainly and faith­fully; as particularly with those who idolized one Minister, and despised others; telling them, it is not by might or power of man, but by God's Spirit, that the Gospel is successful; as in 1 Cor. iii. While one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who is Paul or A­pollos, but ministers by whom ye believed? 'Tis God that giveth the increase — Paul, Apollos, Cephas, all are yours. — They endeavour to sof­ten those of too rigid a Temper, exhorting them not to speak to the grief of those whom God hath smitten: as in 2 Cor. ii. 7. Ye ought rather to for­give and comfort him: I beseech you confirm your love towards him. Gal. vi. 1. If a man be over­taken in a fault, restore him in the spirit of meek­ness, considering lest thou also be [...]. — They talk roundly to those, who are apt to make [Page 46] God the Author of Sin; who say we unavoidably pine away in our iniquities, and how can we then be saved? as in Jam. i. 13. &c. Let no man say, I am tempted of God; for God tempteth not any man.

Declining Christians are quickened, awakened, and put in mind of the love of their espousals: as in Rev. iii. 2. be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die.

They awfully warn those who are in danger of sinning and falling back to Perdition; telling them, the righteousness they have done will be re­membred no more, and God's soul will have no plea­sure in them: as in Heb. vi 4 &c. It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, &c. if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh.

They encourage the persecuted and afflicted; telling them, when they pass thro' fire and water, God will be with them, and that when they are try'd they shall come forth as gold, and be the Lord's in the day that he maketh up his jewels: As in Rom. viii. 18. The sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compar'd with the glory that shall be revealed. And Heb xii. We are compas­sed with a cloud of witnesses — Jesus endured the cross and is set down at the right hand of the Ma­jesty on high — whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and that for our profit — chastening yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness. And more parti­cularly, those that lament Relations dead in Christ, are told, they shall go to be happy with them, [Page 47] tho' the dead shall not return; as in 1 Thes. iv. 13, 14. Sorrow not as others that have no hope; for them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

There are also particular Lessons for strong Christians, viz. to be tender to the Weak, and to be publick-spirited, that as Ephraim should not envy Judah, so neither should Judah vex Ephraim: Rom. xvi. Him that is weak in the faith receive— Let not him that eateth, despise him that eateth not — Let none put a stumbling-block in his bro­ther's way — Let not your good be ill spoken of — Hast thou faith, have it to thy self — Bear the infirmities of the weak — Let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification. And in 1 Cor. viii. Knowledge puffs up; but charity edifies — Let not your liberty be a stumbling-block to the weak — nor through thy knowledge let thy weak brother perish, for whom Christ died — If meat make my brother to offend, I'll eat no flesh whilst the world stands. Again they are told, that a mark is set upon the men that deplore the Sins of the Times; and a book of remembrance is written for those who distinguish themselves by their Piety in Times of abounding Wickedness: as in Rev. iii. 4. Thou hast a few names who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

You find also a suitable Portion for those who are groaning under Corruption; who complain they were shapen in iniquity, and their actual er­rors are past understanding: in Rom. vi. Altho' I am carnal, sold under sin, and what I would I do [Page 48] not, and what I hate that I do; in my flesh dwells no good, and to perform good I find not, yea with the flesh I serve the law of sin (oh wretched man that I am) yet I consent to God's law, and delight in it after the inner-man; it is not then I that do this evil, but sin that dwelleth in me — I thank God through Christ, with my mind I serve God's law, and God will deliver me from the body of this death. And they are told how God has laid on Christ our iniquities, and he will be the Lord our righteousness and strength: 1 John ii. 1. If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

The Humble and Penitent, who are of a con­trite spirit, and tremble at God's word, are com­forted, 2 Cor. vii. Ye were sorry indeed, 'twas but for a season — 'Twas after a godly manner — I rejoice in it — Such sorrow worketh repentance not to be repented of — It wrought in you careful­ness, fear, desire, zeal and revenge; you have ap­proved your selves clear in this matter.

They who want Direction, and cry out, Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! are sent to God for Counsel, Jam. i. 5 If any lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, and it shall be given him.

The deceiver and the deceived, (viz. those of evil Minds, who seduce others, and those that are misled in the Simplicity of their Hearts) are to be distinctly and differently treated, Jude 22. On some have compassion, and others save with fear.

[Page 49]As for those of the House of Israel in Desertion, who mourn after the Lord, who walk in darkness and see no light, and say, the Lord hath forsaken me, there were, I believe, few, if any, in those Days of the plentiful Effusion of the Spirit, when the Gospel-Church was in its Infancy, and a Na­tion was to be born in a Day; but few, I say, who had Doubts about their Sincerity: they had Per­secutions, Distress, and Exercises of another Sort; and those were sufficient. I am apt to think such Cases were also rare in the Beginning of the Re­formation from Popery: which seems to be the Occasion of some of the first Reformers confound­ing Faith with Assurance. However, there are laid up, in the New Testament, some proper Hints of Counsel, for such as should in after-times labour under the Hidings of God's Face; as, to examine themselves—For this to beseech the Lord —To clear themselves of Sin—Not to faint in well-doing; and the like.

Brethren, from your Acquaintance with the Scriptures, you'll easily perceive that I could as happily run this Specimen much farther thro' the sacred Writings. And if you peruse the Wri­tings of the most powerful & successful Preachers, particularly the Puritan Divines, you'll see that they herein imitated the great Leaders of the Christian Profession; and were large in their par­ticular Application to several Sorts of Persons; suiting their Discourses to all the Variety of the Hearts of Men, and Sorts & Frames of Christians, according to the true Precepts of Oratory and Christianity. In this Way they found their own Hearts warmed, and thus they reached the Hearts [Page 50] of their Hearers; whilst many were imagining the Minister had been told of their Case, and made the Sermon for them: and so was verified that Passage in Heb. iv. 12. The word of God is quick and powerful—a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart.

Now what Success can we reasonably expect, if we do not take into close Consideration the Case of our several spiritual Patients?

If a Man professing Physick should administer or give out one constant Medicine for Fevers, and another for Consumptions, and so for other Distempers, without considering the Age, Consti­tution, Strength, and Way of Living of his Pa­tient; and not vary his Method and Medicines as those varied; we should hardly call this the regular Practice of Physick: Nor can I think this general and undistinguishing Way will be more safe, or likely to answer its End, in Divinity than in Medicine.

Now I rest persuaded, Brethren, the thing is so evident you can't but allow, 'tis the best to suit our selves to all the Variety of Tempers and Ex­perience of the Hearers, if it can be done; and I hope I may successfully offer some Thoughts up­on the Way how this Skill may be attained.

Above all then, carefully study your own Hearts, and preach over the ruder Sketches of your Sermons to your selves first; by which Means the corresponding Workings of your own Hearts and Affections may furnish you with pro­per [Page 51] Thoughts wherewith to apply closely to all, whose Temper, and Experience, and Case is like your own: for what is supplied to your imperfect Notes, out of the applicatory Meditations of your own Minds on the Subject, will very probably, according to the usual way of the Spirit, happily and powerfully reach those of the same Make in like Circumstances.

But alas! one Man's Experience falls far short of all the Variety of Men's Hearts, and of the Spirit's Work; nay, those whose Heads are turn­ed for close and regular Thought, and whose Time has been spent in Study and Letters, as they go on more rationally and evenly in Religion, have less variety of Experience, than many of a different Mold and Way of thinking. Here it will be needful then to look out of our selves, and take a larger View, in order to be acquainted with Cases and Tempers different from our own; and with such Methods of the Spirit's Work, as we our selves have never experienced, but many others have. Now the best and original Way of getting this Acquaintance with Men, and with God's Workings in them, (and I may add of Sa­tan's Workings also) is by conversing freely with the serious People of our Flock.

I know your Thoughts will prevent me with an Objection: You'll say, this is almost impracti­cable, especially amongst Persons of Politeness and Figure; these alas! too rarely will use any such Freedom with us, in laying open their Hearts, and communicating their Experiences to us, as to give us the needful Information. — If we ever [Page 52] do arrive at any Acquaintance with the Expe­rience of Christians, 'tis little thanks to such as these; they expect we should preach suitably to them, and that with as much reason as Nebuchad­nezzar demanded of the Wise Men to interpret a Dream they knew not. The middle and lower Sort of People indeed, are more unreserved to grave Ministers of Age and Standing; but will hardly use the same Freedom with young Men.

To help you over this Difficulty, I would ob­serve; that as for the Polite, and Men of some Thought and Reading, your own Experience, with the Allowances and Corrections a moderate Skill in Human Nature will enable you to make, may lead you into happy Conjectures at their Way of Thinking: Besides, in the time of their Visitation, under some sore Affliction, you shall find them more communicative; and an Hour's free Dis­course, with such as can give a rational and intel­ligible Account of themselves, in a Season when they are disposed to do it, is as valuable and use­ful, as it is rare and difficult to enter into.

Again, have an Eye upon the serious Youth, whom Nature and Providence has designed to place in a superior Class; and especially at a Time when the Impressions of Religion are new to them: You shall find them more open than elder Per­sons, if you court their Intimacy, and relieve their Bashfulness: And if you can see into the Heart of a Youth, then with the proper Allow­ances for the Alterations that Age and Business will make, you may pretty well guess at their Turn of Mind in more advanced Years.

[Page 53]With the Generality of serious and more ad­vanced Christians, there needs not so much Nice­ty, to get into such a spiritual Intimacy with them as we desire; the laying aside Nicety and Cere­mony, and getting into such a grave good-natu­red Way as our Character requires, is more than half-way to our Purpose: Where this is insufficient to encourage the People to Freedom, lead them into it by communicating first, either what your selves have experienced, under the Name of a third Person (if Modesty or Prudence require) or else what you have learned from others, with­out betraying the Confidence they have put in you: By these Methods we shall seldom fail of drawing serious People on to such a Freedom, as will be of Use to them and ourselves. — If we heartily go about it, we are pretty sure to succeed.

I may farther Hint at a compendious Way for the gaining much Knowledge of Men's Hearts in a little Time. viz. If you have any tolerable Skill in the different Tempers and Complexions of Mankind, distribute in your Thoughts your People into Classes, according to their natural Ge­nius and Temper, and select one of each Class to be more particularly acquainted with; for amongst those whom Nature has formed alike, you shall find upon farther Enquiry, a strange Uniformity in the Spirit's Work and Way of Proceeding with them.

I might recommend a Way of knowing these things at second Hand, viz. from the most po­pular and experimental Authors; but this way is far inferior to the other; and we shall but faintly [Page 54] paint any Phaenomenon of the Heart, by copying another Picture; 'tis infinitely preferable to do it from the Life. Yet would I earnestly recom­mend the Perusal of such Authors, as deal much in an experimental Strain, and have been very successful in it; but with a different Design, viz. That we may learn from them, how to describe, in a discreet and lively Manner, such Cases as we our selves have observed; and how to address properly to those Cases, with the like Thoughts and Expressions, as have in the Course of their Preaching happily answered the End.

After all, rightly to divide the Word of Truth, with true Wisdom, is a Matter of no small Diffi­culty; but if we carefully and diligently go about it, with a Zeal for our Master's Interest, and sen­sible of our own Insufficience, asking wisdom of God, we know he giveth liberally, and will sure­ly make us wise to win souls, to the Honour of his Name, and our own rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus; to whom with the Father and Holy Spirit, that one God whom we adore, be paid the highest Honours and Praises to eternal Ages. Amen.


A LETTER To a FRIEND Concerning the most useful WAY of PREACHING.

Written in the German Language by the late Reverend and Celebrated Dr. AUGUSTUS HERMANNUS FRANCK, Professor of Divinity in the University of Hall in Saxony, Pastor of a Church, and Director of the charitable FOUNDATIONS there. Translated into Latin by Order of his SON, the present Professor FRANCK, & out of the Latin into English by DAVID JENNINGS.

BOSTON: Printed in the YEAR MDCCXL.



THE good Acceptance which the two preceeding Discourses met with, when they were first published by the Author, (a lit­tle before his Death) and the speedy Demand of a second E­dition, together with the fre­quent Enquiries which have been made for them since they have been out of Print, encourages this Republication of them. Were it proper for me to add any thing to that Recom­mendation which is prefixed to them, I might mention the Acceptance which they have also met with in Foreign Parts. For, besides a large Edition printed in Scotland, they have lately been translated and published in the German Language, by Order of the Reverend Dr. FRANCK, the pre­sent worthy Professor of Divinity in the Univer­sity of Hall in Saxony. The Reverend Dr. WATTS, who corresponds with that Professor, sent him these Discourses the last Year; with which he was so well pleased, as not only to give them a very high Encomium in his next Letter to the Doctor, but to get them translated into [Page 58] High-Dutch, and inserted in a Collection of Pa­pers, which is published in that Country about once a Month, for the Advancement of Religion. In return for this Present, which proved so very acceptable to the good Professor, he soon after sent the Doctor a Latin Translation of a Letter, which his excellent Father, and Predecessor in the Divinity Chair at Hall, had published in the German Language, pretty much on the same Sub­ject; which the Doctor has been so kind as to communicate to me, and which I have translated into English, and here added to these Discourses of my Brother's; in hopes that, by the Blessing of God, it may be a considerable Means of fur­thering the good Design of them, viz. to form skilful Labourers for the Lord's Vineyard, and to revive that too much neglected Strain and Way of preaching, which large Experience has abun­dantly proved to be most useful and successful.

The two proceeding Discourses were originally prepared for Academical Lectures, and were de­livered by the Author to a Set of Pupils, who were training up under his Instruction for the Service of the Sanctuary. In the Letter, which is now added, we have the Sentiments of one of the most celebrated Preachers and Divines, and perhaps one of the most truly Apostolick Men, that some past Ages have known, on the same Subject: A Man whom God did very uncom­monly own, not only as a Preacher and a Tutor, but above all in that almost miraculous Work (if I need say almost) his building and establishing the Orphan-House at Glaucha in the Suburbs of Hall; a Work which both in the Beginning and Pro­gress [Page 59] of it can be attributed to no Means so pro­perly as to the Power of Faith. A Historical Ac­count of that Affair, wrote by the Professor him­self, as it was laid before Frederick I. King of Prussia, to whose Dominions Hall belonged, and who in the Year 1700 gave a Commission to four of his Privy Counsellors to examine strictly into it, was afterwards published, under the Title of Pietas Hallensis, and has since been translated in­to English. I suppose it will not be unacceptable, to such Persons especially as have not read that larger Account, to give a brief Abstract of it in this Place.

When the Professor was first settled as a Mini­ster at Glaucha, he, according to the Custom of charitably disposed Persons in those Parts, appoin­ted one Day in every Week for the Poor to come to his Door for Alms. Their Miseries, but espe­cially the gross Ignorance and Wickedness which generally prevails among that sort of People, very sensibly touch'd him; and above all to see Num­bers of Children among them growing up in that dissolute Way of Life, was to him a very affec­ting and pitiful Sight. This made him resolve on some Attempt for their spiritual as well as their bodily Relief. Accordingly every Thursday, which was his Day for distributing Alms, he took all the Poor that came, into his House; and there, besides giving them Money, he instructed the Children, in the Presence of the Elder Persons, in the Principles of Religion, and concluded with Prayer. This Exercise was set up in the begin­ning of the Year 1694. The Number of the Poor who came to this Exercise (many of them [Page 60] probably for the sake of the Alms) soon increasing, and consequently the Charge that attended it in­creasing too, obliged the Professor to seek for some Assistance in carrying on this good Work. For that Purpose therefore he set up an Alms-Box in his Parlour, with these Words written over it, 1 John iii. 17. Whoso hath this World's Goods, and seeth his Brother have need, and shutteth up his Bowels of Compassion from him, how dwelleth the Love of God is him? and under it, 2 Cor. ix. 7. Every Man according as he purposeth in his Heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loveth a chearful Giver. This was intended aS a tacit Admonition to all that came in, to open their Hearts towards the Poor. About a quarter of a Year after this Box was set up, a certain Per­son put into it at one time, to the value of Eigh­teen Shillings and Six Pence English. When the Professor took this Sum into his Hands, he said, in full Assurance of Faith, ‘This is now a consi­derable Fund, worthy to be laid out in some important Undertaking; therefore I will even take this for the Foundation of a Charity-School.’ And immediately he laid out eight Shillings of it in Books, and hired a poor Student to teach the Children two Hours in a Day. When his Stock was just spent, some Friends who came to visit the Professor, and were much pleased with his charitable Essay, contributed more; upon which the two Hours teaching were enlarged to five, and Alms were distributed to the Children three times a Week, to engage them to come more constantly to School. But after Matters had gone on in this Way for some time, this Professor but too plainly saw that all his Endeavours upon those [Page 61] poor Vagrants were like to be frustrated, by their keeping such bad Company out of School-time. Some of them ran away with their Books, and re­turned to School no more. This made him re­solve to choose out twelve of the most hopeful of the Children, and to venture upon their Main­tenance, as well as their Education. At first he put them out to Persons of known Integrity and Piety, to be educated by them. But as this little Beginning came to be known abroad, several Per­sons sent in Contributions to carry on so good a Design; particularly the Lord put it into the Heart of a Person of Quality to give a Thousand Crowns, and two other Persons contributed Four Hundred. Upon which a House was purchased, and converted into an Hospital for the poor Or­phans. This was in the Year 1696. Afterwards Alms were sent in by several other Persons; ma­ny of them came from unknown Hands Accor­dingly more Children were still admitted into the Hospital, till the House grew too strait for them; which put the Professor on a Design of building a large and commodious Hospital; for he clearly foresaw, that the hiring of more Houses, scattered up and down, would be attended with very great Inconveniences. One Gentleman had lately sent him five hundred Crowns, with a Desire that some part of that Sum might be disposed of to poor Stu­dents; which the Professor looked upon as a Call of Providence, to make indigent Scholars a part of his Care. This enlarged his charitable Design beyond his former Intention. He now wanted a Building that would hold at least two hundred Persons; but his Stock of Money was by this time so far spent, that, as he writes, he had not enough [Page 62] to build a small Cottage. No wonder then that several of his Friends disswaded him from so ha­zardous an Undertaking! But the Lord strength­ened his Faith in so powerful a Manner, and sup­ported him with such a Presence of Mind, as car­ried him above all Discouragement. Accordingly July 13. 1698. the Foundation of a spacious Hos­pital was laid, in THE NAME OF GOD, without any settled Fund, or so much as a Promise from any great Persons to contribute to the building of it. ‘And now, the Professor writes, I was to wait upon God, and from Week to Week to receive at his Hand what he would be graci­ously pleased to furnish me with for carrying on the Building.’ It must also be remembered, that the weekly Expence of maintaining the Poor, which he had already under his Care, was very considerable; but nothing could discourage the pious Professor, his Faith kept Pace with his grow­ing Charity, and he had a firm Trust in Provi­dence for the fulfilling those kind Desires, which he was confidently perswaded God had put into his Heart. Nor were his Expectations in this Matter at all disappointed; for the Building was carried on successfully, and the Poor supported all the time merely by seemingly accidental Contribu­tions, which were sent in from time to time by charitable Persons, living not only in Germany, but in most other Protestant Countries in Europe. So that in the Year 1702 the Hospital was fini­shed, which had cost five thousand Pounds, and was peopled with above two hundred Poor. The Steps of Providence in carrying on this Affair were indeed very extraordinary. God several Times suffered the good Professor's Faith to be [Page 63] tried by very pressing Necessities; as when the Workmen were to be paid, the Poor to be main­tained, and yet the Stock of Money was quite exhausted, and there was no rational Prospect of any further Supply. This often happened, but his Recourse was always to God by Prayer, which as constantly met with a gracious Answer. I will here set down two or three Passages of this sort, by way of Instance, out of a great Number that are recorded in the Pietas Hallensis Memorable Instances of the Power of Faith and Prayer!

At one time, he writes, all Provisions were gone, when the Steward declared there was a Necessity of buying some Cattle to furnish the Table, and other Necessaries. Under these pressing Circumstances I found one Comfort, which was a Presence of Mind in Prayer, joined with a confident Dependance upon the Lord, who heareth the very Cry of the young Ra­vens. When Prayer was over, I heard some­body knock at the Door, which when opened there was an Acquaintance of mine holding in his Hand a Letter, and a Parcel or Money wrapt up, which he presented to me, and I found therein fifty Crowns, sent a great Way for the Relief of our Poor.

At another time, there was Want again in every Corner. The Steward brought me his Book and desired me to defray the Weekly Charges▪ My Recourse was to God through Faith. The Expences were necessary, and I saw not the least Provision, nor any way to pro­cure it. This made me resolve to retire into [Page 64] my Closet, and to beg the Lord's Assistance in so pressing a Necessity; but as I was preparing for Prayer, I received a Letter from a Mer­chant, intimating that he was ordered to pay a thousand Crowns to me for the Relief of the Hospital. This put me in mind of that Saying, Isai. lxv. 24. It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Nevertheless I entred into my Closet, but instead of begging and praying, as I had designed, I praised and extol­led the Name of the Lord.

Another time, I stood in need of a great Sum of Money, insomuch that an 100 Crowns would not have served my turn, and yet I saw not the least appearance how I might be supplied with an hundred Groats. The Steward came and set forth the Want we were in. I bid him to come again after Dinner, and I resolved to put up my Prayers to the Lord for his Assistance. When he came again after Dinner, I was still in the same Want, and so appointed him to come again in the Evening. In the mean time a Friend of mine came to see me, and with him I joined in Prayers, and found my self much moved to praise and magnify the Lord for all his admirable Dealings towards Mankind, even from the beginning of the World; and the most remarkable Instances came readily to my Remembrance whilst I was praying. I was so elevated in praising and magnifying God, that I insisted only on that Exercise of my present Devotions, and found no Inclination to put up many anxious Petitions to be delivered out of [Page 65] the present Necessity. At length my Friend taking his leave, I accompanied him to the Door, where I found the Steward waiting on one Side for the Money he wanted, and on the other, a Person who brought an Hundred and fifty Crowns for the Support of the Hospital.

Thus was this famous Hospital, which has since been one of the most illustrious Ornaments and Supports of the Protestant Interest in Germany, built without any other Fund but that of Faith. Surely, we must say, This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our Eyes. Whether it may pass for a Miracle or no, yet thus much I take for certain, that if any Popish Monastery had ever been founded in the same Manner, and such remark­able Steps of Providence had attended the Build­ing of it, as did actually attend this Protestant Hospital at Hall, the World would have rung with the Noise of the Miracle, and it had indeed been a much better Miracle than any which the Papists boast of. But to return to the Story. The Hospital being thus finished, at least as far as was intended when the Foundation was laid, it was still to depend immediately on Providence for its future Support and Maintenance Nor for this did the Professor's Faith fail, nor were his Hopes disappointed; for the Author of the Preface to the English Translation of Professor FRANCK's Christus s [...]crae Scripturae Nucleus, informs us, that in the Year 1706 the State of the Hospital was as follows.

Ten Schools, in which 988 Children were in­structed by 72 Masters. The Number of Persons [Page 66] lodged and subsisted in the Hospital was 360, and 84 poor Students of the University had their Diet there. Eight poor Widows were maintained, with a Chaplain and a Maid Servant, and Provision also was made for the Relief of casual Poor

The Death of this excellent Professor, which happened in the Year 1727, in the 65th Year of his Age, filled many Persons with Fear, that this good Work of Charity, now it must be deprived of the Support of his Influence and Prayers, would languish and die too, but in this their Fears have been happily disappointed. It was Honour e­nough for this holy Man to be such an illustrious Instance of Faith, and to be the Instrument of so great and good a Work: But the Lord has since made it appear that the Work was his, and that the Residue of the Spirit is with him. For I find in the before-cited Preface, that at the Conclusion of the Year 1731, which was four Years after Dr. FRANCK's Death, the number of the Scholars and Children in the several Schools of the Or­phan-House amounted to 2300, and the number of Students who instructed them to 160. I am further informed by the Reverend Mr. Zeigen­hagen, the present worthy Pastor of the German Church at St. James's, that the Hospital still con­tinues in a very flourishing State, and that some further Additions were made to the Buildings, but about three Years ago.

Many useful Instructions might be deducted from this Narrative. What Arguments for a Providence, what Encouragement to Prayer, what [...] to Work of Charity, might it yield us? [Page 67] But I have already swelled this Preface almost be­yond all reasonable Bounds, and therefore must not insist here on these Topicks.

I have only to observe further, that the Letter which follows was written by this great and good Man about two Years before his Death, in which we have his Opinion and Judgment, ripen'd by Age and large Experience, concerning the most useful Way of Preaching. And what Minister, who is in good Earnest concerned to approve him­self faithful in his Work, to advance the Honour of Christ, and do good to Souls, would not be glad to consult so great and experienced a Master? And who would not pay some considerable Defe­rence to the Judgment of such an Apostolick Man, a Man so highly honoured of God, as Pro­fessor FRANCK was?

The good Professor himself had, it seems, such an Opinion of this little Piece, as to desire it might be transmitted to Posterity. He therefore insert­ed it entire in a Preface to a Quarto Volume of Sermons which he published in the Year 1726, on purpose, as he there declares, that it might not be lost, as single Sheets are apt to be; but that Posterity might know his Thoughts upon this Matter And after the End of it, he declares in a very solemn Manner, as in the Presence of the Lord, that what he had thus written was the Re­sult of his own Experience; and that these Rules and Directions which he had given to other Mi­nisters, were the same that he had constantly fol­lowed and practiced upon in the whole Course of his own Preaching and Ministry.

[Page 68]May this Publication of them in our own Language prove a Means, thro' the Blessing of God, of form­ing many such useful and successful Preachers of the Gospel, in our Country, as that holy and ex­cellent Man was in his. May many Ministers be made wise hereby to win Souls to Christ, to save themselves and them that hear them. So shall this little but valuable Treatise redound through the Thanksgivings of many to the Glory of God.

David Jennings.

A LETTER To a FRIEND Concerning the most useful WAY of PREACHING.

Honoured and dear Friend,

IN Answer to the Question which you have proposed to me, viz. How a faithful Minister, who earnestly desires to save and to edify the Souls of his Hearers, to gain Sinners unto Christ, and to inflame their Hearts with a growing Love to their Saviour, may best adapt his Preaching to these excellent Purposes? I can only at present suggest a few things briefly; whereas if I had more Leisure, I should choose to write more copiously on so weighty a Subject.

[Page 70]I. I must take it for granted that a Minister, who sincerely desires and who is likely to do good by his Preaching, is such a one, both in Heart & in Life, as St. Paul describes, 2 Tim. i. 13, 14. Who holds fast the form of sound words (or the pure Apostolic Doctrine) which he has heard, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus; and who keeps that good thing which has been committed to him by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in him.

II. It will not a little subserve the good Ends proposed in the Question, for a Minister, very frequently, to lay down in his Sermons the di­stinguishing Marks and Characters both of the Converted and of the Unconverted, and that with all possible Plainness, that so every one of his Hearers may be able to judge of his own State, and may know to which of these two Classes he belongs. But then great Care must be taken that those distinguishing Characters are justly drawn: For it may easily happen, thro' a Preacher's Un­skilfulness in this Affair, that the Unconverted, on the one hand, may be deceived into a good Opinion of their present State, and may grow thereupon more secure and careless; and that some converted Persons, on the other hand, may be unreasonably disquieted and filled with ground­less and fruitless Fears. However, a prudent Minister, who has experienced a Work of Grace upon his own Heart, will have no great Difficul­ty so to describe it to others, as sufficiently to guard against the Mistakes on both sides; and to lead both one and the other, by the unerring Light of Scripture, into the Knowledge of the true State of their own Souls.

[Page 71]III. For this Purpose also let a Minister care­fully and clearly distinguish in his Preaching, be­twixt mere Morality and true Religion; betwixt the moral honest Man and the sound Believer, who, from a deep Conviction of the Depravity of his Nature and the Errors of his Life, has learn'd to hate Sin from his Heart, and lives by the Faith of the Son of God. For it is hardly credible what Multitudes of Persons there are, even in Christian Countries, where the Gospel is publickly and faithfully preached, who, though they are wise enough in other Matters, yet in this are they grosly ignorant, and thereby miserably deceive their own Souls.

IV. And, because this kind of Self-Deceit is so very common, it is highly necessary for a Mini­ster to instruct his Hearers with all possible Plain­ness, in the Duty of Self-examination; and very often to exhort them to it: As more especially to enquire, If ever they were awakened from their natural Sleep in Sin? If they have escaped out of the Snare of the Devil? If ever they have had a lively and affecting Sense of the Corruption of their own Hearts, and of the Misery of their natural State? And, in short, whether they have good and solid Reasons to conclude that they are regenerate Persons? Whether they can find in themselves the genuine Marks of a true Conver­sion to God, and a living Faith in Christ? &c. Or whether, on the other hand, they do not con­clude that they are true Christians and in a State of Salvation, merely from their being moral ho­nest Men, and their not living in any gross and scandalous Sin? And, perhaps too, from their say­ing [Page 72] Prayers, hearing Sermons, and frequenting the Places of public Worship, and from their practising such like outward Duties of Religion? Or again, whether they do not flatter themselves that their eternal State is safe, merely because their Lives are not altogether so bad as the Lives of some others?

V. It would also be of very considerable use for a Minister often to explain, and to shew the Difference betwixt a Legal and an Evangelical Frame and Principle of Religion; or betwixt that slavish Fear, by which alone it is that some Per­sons, even of a serious Turn of Mind, are forced and dragg'd as it were to their Duty, and that E­vangelical Newness of Spirit, that filial Love to God and Delight in his Service, which usually grows and flourishes in the Soul where it is once planted, and which produces a free, unconstrain­ed and acceptable Religion. This would be an excellent Means, not only of awakening Sinners out of their carnal Security, but of turning them throughly unto God, to a holy Walk and to a pleasurable Converse with him, even such as be­comes his Children. And for this End it is of very great Moment, that a Minister not only instruct his Hearers what they must do, and how they ought to act, but that he also labour fully to ap­prise and to convince them, by the Evidence of Scripture, of their own native Weakness and Impotency for all that is spiritually good; and that he further shew them, by the same Word of Truth, from whence they must look for, and from whom they may hope to receive, all Grace and Strength, not only to renew their Souls in [Page 73] their first Conversion, but also afterwards to ena­ble them to perform every Duty, as well of out­ward as of inward Religion. They must be told that they can do nothing without Christ, accord­ing as he has assured us, John xv. 5. Without me ye can do nothing. And again, that by the Help of his Grace they may do all things, according as St. Paul writes, Phil. iv. 13. I can do all things thro' Christ strengthning me. Thus should Gospel Ministers constantly make it the Aim and Drift of their Preaching, to lead their Hearers to Christ, and to his Grace; to Him by whose stripes we are healed, and whose Blood takes away all the Sins of all that truly repent & believe, & by whose divine power all things are given to us that pertain to life and godliness, 2 Pet. i. 3. Thus the Holy Apostles preached; these were the Topicks which they insisted much upon; and if their Example is not followed in this matter, it will be no wonder if our modern Preaching comes vastly short of the Success of theirs: And by this means some of our Hearers will be in danger of sinking into a mere Legal Frame and Spirit of Bondage, while they are press'd to Duty and Working, but not en­couraged by the Grace of Christ, nor directed where to look for Strength to perform it; and others of them will take up with a false Peace, a carnal Security, for want of being directed to Christ, who is the only Foundation of the Sin­ner's reasonable Hope and solid Comfort. But on the other hand, when both these Points are well explain'd and duly insisted on, no other Means are so powerful to awaken secure Sinners, to bring them to Christ, and to settle their Souls in solid [Page 74] Peace and Comfort. Hereby, under the Influ­ence of the Spirit of Christ, they find themselves transported as it were into a new Life; and now they go on with Vigour and Pleasure in the Prac­tice of universal Piety.

VI. It would further be useful, and it is highly necessary that Ministers should not only preach up the Necessity of Conversion, and instruct their Hearers to depend on the Grace of Christ for it, but also that they should, very frequently, in their Sermons explain the Nature and the whole Pro­gress of Conversion, sometimes more largely and distinctly, and at other times more briefly, en­deavouring thereby to lead their Hearers into a true Knowledge of the State of their Souls; and shewing them how they must repent of their Sins, what they must do to be saved from their natural Misery and Ruin, and, in short, how they may obtain the full Salvation of the Gospel; that so every one may be able to give an Answer to that most important Question, What must I do that I may be a Child of God and inherit eternal Life? For let a Minister entertain his Hearers with the sublimest Doctrines of Christianity, let him also declaim against Sin and exhort them to their various Duties in the most earnest and pathe­tick manner, and let all be adorned with the fi­nest Beauties of Wit and Eloquence; yet, after all, if his Sermons are not so contrived and fram­ed as, at the same time, to inform the Ignorant how they may obtain an Interest in the Gospel-Salvation for themselves, and what Means and Methods God has appointed for that Purpose; what will it profit them? No more than a parcel [Page 75] of Shreds of Cloths, of various Dyes, tho' they were of the finest Thread and liveliest Colours, would serve the Purpose of a Man who wants a handsome Garment; whereas a Sermon that informs the ignorant Sinner, not only of the Necessity of Conversion, but also how that happy Change may certainly be effected in his own Soul, may not unfitly be compared, in respect to its Usefulness, to a complete Garment, made all of a Piece, well fitted to the Man's Shape that wants it, and which he may therefore put on and wear with Honour and Pleasure.

But now in order to all this, a Minister must take Pains with his own Heart, as well as in com­posing his Sermons; he must have a Zeal for Christ, and must aim at nothing so much as to bring Sinners to him▪ This should be in some Measure the Design and Drift of every Sermon that he preaches, that so if a Person should hap­pen to hear him but once in all his Life, he might, even by means of that one Sermon, get some No­tion of the one thing needful, and be just enter'd at least into the Way of Salvation. For this should every Minister study and strive, and for this should he continually pray that God would fill his Heart with pious Zeal and holy Wisdom, that so he may divide the Word of Truth aright, and administer Grace unto Hearers.

VII. It might probably make some good Im­pressions on the Minds of the People, was a Mi­nister pretty often to inculcate, with great Plain­ness and Seriousness, the Necessity of Prayer; and more particularly what need they have to pray [Page 76] very earnestly to the God of all Grace that he would set home his Word upon their Hearts, that he would bring the good Seed to Perfection in their full and blessed Conformity to himself. And further, so great is the Ignorance of many Per­sons concerning the Duty of Prayer, that they seem to have no other Notion of it than merely a reading some Forms out of a Prayer-Book. This makes it to be as necessary, as it would pro­bably be a useful thing, for a Minister to lead them, as it were by the Hand, into this Path of their Duty; that is, to explain it to them in a most easy and familiar manner, to shew them that it requires no great Art and Skill to pray acceptably unto God; for they are to speak to him as Children to a loving Father, they are to spread before him their Sorrows and Complaints, they are to tell him of the State and Condition of their Souls, just as they find and feel it; and they need not be at all sollicitous about Propriety of Expression and elegant Phrases in their secret Prayers; for God regards the Sense of the Heart, rather than the Language of the Lips. The Scriptures them­selves furnish us with several Examples of such artless and yet acceptable Prayers. Let a Mini­ster then diligently instruct his Hearers how they are, in the first Place, to get their Hearts dispo­sed for Prayer; and it may be of use too to assist and furnish the more ignorant with Words and sit Expressions; but at the same time let him in­form them that they need not tie themselves to use those very Words, nor any Form whatever; but that they should learn to pour out their Hearts unto God, in such Words by which they can best express the real Sentiments and Affections of their [Page 77] own Souls, according to the Psalmist, Psal. lxii. 8. Ye people, pour out your hearts before him.

VIII. It is further extreamly necessary that Ministers should very often take Occasion to ex­plain in their Sermons that Renewing or Change of the Mind, which is so essential to all true Reli­gion, and which yet, alas! but very few Persons seem to understand, or indeed to have almost any Notion of. Nor is it enough to explain that first and mighty Change, which is at once made in a Sinner at his Conversion, when he comes to love that Good which before he hated, and to hate that Evil which he before loved, when from being an Unbeliever he becomes a Believer; or when his false and dead Faith is changed into a true and saving one: But that further progressive Change should also be much recommended, in which the Christian must be improving to the very End of his Life, which St. Paul refers to, 2 Cor. iii. 18. But now (the Veil which was upon the Heart being taken away, and the Spirit of the Lord ha­ving taken up his dwelling in it, Verses 16, 17.) we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord. Hereby the Mind is more and more renewed, the Christian grows up in the Spirit and Temper of Christ, and his lovely Image is drawn upon the Soul in fairer Lines every Day than other.

IX. It is of considerable Moment also that the whole Faith and Duty of a Christian be represent­ed in its most amiable and attractive Light, that so Sinners may be won to Religion upon a full [Page 78] Conviction, that if they would do well for them­selves and obtain true Peace and Comfort, the shortest, the surest, and indeed the only Way is to turn in good earnest from Sin to God and Ho­liness; and that Religion is by no means a grie­vous and melancholy thing, which any need be afraid of, but full of Pleasure and greatly de­sireable even for its own Sake; and tho' it calls us indeed to a present Combat, and requires us to sight and strive against Sin; yet this is but in or­der to Peace and to a certain Victory, which will much more than recompence the Toils of the War.

X. It were much to be wished that Ministers would not take up more of their Sermons than needs must in explaining their Text, but rather, after as short an Explication of it as is sufficient to lead their Hearers into the true Sense and Mean­ing, (which must by no means be neglected) ha­sten to the Application; and in that, let a Mini­ster address himself to his Hearers with a becom­ing Seriousness and Earnestness; let him apply his Subject both to Saints and Sinners, to the Con­verted and to the Unconverted, in order to a­waken the Secure and Careless, and to build up true Believers in their Faith and Holiness. Ex­perience would soon shew that this is by far the more profitable Way, than to spend almost the whole Discourse, as some do, in explaining their Text and Subject, and then close with a very short Application, because the Time is gone.

XI. It were also greatly to be wished, that those Under-Shepherds of the Flock of Christ would [Page 79] make it more designedly and zealously the Pur­pose of their Preaching to bring Sinners to him, who is the great Shepherd of the Sheep; that they would strive by the most winning Argu­ments they can possibly use, and especially by such as the Grace of the Gospel will naturally suggest, to perswade and even to compel them to come to him. As the Hen when she lights on a few Crumbs or Grains of Corn, how earnestly does she invite her Brood to come and share the Treasure with her! She will by no means be sa­tisfied nor leave off calling them till they come. Thus did our blessed Saviour; how graciously did he call and invite Sinners to come to him in the Days of his personal Ministry upon Earth! As Matt. xi. 28. Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, &c. A­gain John vii. 37, 38. If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink: He that believeth on me, as the scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. And much to the same Purpose we find him speaking in several other Places. Thus also we hear the Prophet Isaiah, in the Old Testament, inviting Sinners unto Christ, Isai. lv. 1. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the wa­ters, &c. and thus St. Paul, in the New Testa­ment, 2 Cor. v. 11. We beseech you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. And thus doth the Apostle John over and over in his divine Wri­tings. Remarkable to this Purpose also are those Words of our blessed Saviour concerning Jeru­salem, Matt. xxiii. 37. How often would I have gathered thy children even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing! Christ called Sinners to come to himself, as their proper Lord and Master, [Page 80] as their only Redeemer and Saviour; whereas we, says St. Paul, preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, 2 Cor. iv. 5. and therefore we endeavour to bring Sinners not to ourselves, but to Him. But now in order to this, and that a Minister may be thus happily successful in his Preaching, he must not only sincerely love his People and have an affectionate Concern for their Salvation, but he must be an ardent Lover of Christ too; he must wish and desire and covet nothing so much as to bring all that hear him to Christ, to deliver every one of them, as it were, into his gracious Arms, could he but perswade them to be so happy; that thus they may learn, even by the Example of their Minister, to love the Lord Jesus.

XII. For this purpose it is farther requisite that a Minister should very often take Occasion to dis­play, in the most lively Colours that he can, the Excellency and Glory of Christ's Person, the Kindness of his Heart and the exceeding Riches of his Grace both as he is God and Man, as he is now a glorious triumphant Saviour, as well as once he sustained & executed the same Office in a hum­bled & suffering State. And that he further inform his Hearers what excellent Blessings are treasured up in Christ to be bestowed on all his Friends and People, that so they may be drawn to him by a Principle of Desire and Love, that they may most willingly give him their Hearts; and that so it may be the Breathing of their Souls and the Matter of their most earnest Prayer to Christ, that he would be pleased to manifest his Love to them, that he would shed it abroad in their heart by his [Page 81] holy Spirit, Rom. v. 5, that he would more and more reveal to them the Glory of his Majesty, that he would impress and affect their Minds with a lively Sense of it, that so they may yet more and more love and honour him their heavenly Spouse, by whom it is that they have, and that they farther hope for Access to and Acceptance with the Father, and with whom they also hope to dwell for ever and ever.

XIII. The Love of Christ ought to be much more insisted on by Preachers than what is com­monly done; because when we apply to ourselves in a right Manner, his Passion, Death and Atone­ment, his Merits, and that Purchase of Salvation which he hath made for us, the Knowledge of his Love to us, and of our Pardon and Justification thro' Faith in his Blood, it is the truest Spring and most powerful Attractive of our Love to him. Now the more we love Christ, and that for this very Reason, because he first loved us, the better will every other Branch of our Religion flourish, every other Grace and every Duty will then flow from its proper Fountain; and therefore the more a Minister endeavours to instil this Principle of sacred Love into the Hearts of his Hearers, the more comfortable Success will he probably see of his Labours, in their spiritual Improvement and growing Obedience to the Gospel.

But especially, and in the first Place, let every Minister look to his own Heart; and see to it that he himself loves Christ fervently, lest he should be as the sounding brass and as the tinkling cymbal, which the Apostle speaks of, 1 Cor. xiii. 1. [Page 82] And besides, without a sincere Love to Christ in his own Soul, there will be little Probability of his recommending him effectually to the Love of others. It is not enough for him to preach a great many Sermons upon the Love of Christ, and to exhort his Hearers to love him; for if his own Heart is not warmed with this sacred Love, his Discourses on that Subject will be apt to be cold and lifeless, and therefore unprofitable and fruit­less. Nothing could be more pertinently an­swered in a few Words, to one that asked ano­ther, How he might learn to be a good and a useful Preacher? than this, Si multum ames Chris­tum, You must learn to be a zealous Lover of Christ.

But then let it be further noted, that sincere Love to Christ will always express itself not only in Words, but by suitable or correspondent Ac­tions. So our Saviour has taught us, John xv. 14. Ye are my friends, said he, if ye do whatsoever I command you; i. e. this is the best and most sub­stantial Evidence of your sincere Friendship, and that you truly love me.

XIV. I reckon also the Duties of Self-denial and Weanedness from the World and its carnal Pleasures, and, in short, from all the present things of Sense and Time, to be among those more important and necessary Subjects which Ministers should often preach upon, oftner indeed than most of them do. These are Subjects which our Saviour Christ, when he was a Preacher upon Earth, very much insisted upon in his Sermons, as you may see particularly Matt. xvi. 24, 25, 26. [Page 83] If any man will come after me, let him deny him­self, and take up his cross and follow me. Luke xiv. 26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, &c. yea and his own life also, i. e. in Comparison of me, he cannot be my disci­ple. And how needful are these Subjects now? For alas! how many Persons are there, who can talk well about Christ and Religion, nay who carry a fair Appearance of Virtue and Godliness, and who perform many outward Duties with Re­putation and Honour, and yet not having learn­ed to deny themselves, their Love of the World not being sufficiently mortified, they are easily overcome in a Day of Trial, and sacrifice their Religion and their Souls to their worldly Interest. Let Self-denial then be earnestly recommended, and that, not merely as a moral Virtue or philo­sophical Attainment, I mean not upon such Prin­ciples only as the Heathen Moralists used to insist upon; but let it be recommended and urged as a Christian Grace, as that which flows chiefly from Love to Christ, even such a Love as will make us ready to deny ourselves the Pleasures, Riches and Honours of this World, all manner of sensual Gratifications, and our very Lives themselves, [...] for his Sake, as Christ not only ex­pects but requires of us, Matt. xvi. 25.

XV. Tho' the diligent reading of the Scrip­tures themselves, even the inspired Writings of the Prophets and Apostles, and the very Words of our Saviour Christ, should be chiefly recom­mended, as they are undoubtedly far preferable to any other Books of mere human Composure; yet besides these a Minister may very profitably [Page 84] recommend to his Hearers some other good Books of Religion, both ancient and modern, to be read by them at home in their own Closets or Families: Such Books I mean as are written in a truly evan­gelical Strain, and with a Spirit of lively Devo­tion and Piety, which would be no inconsiderable Means, both of preserving and nourishing the Fire of divine Love in their Hearts. I might mention, by way of Instance, Martin Statius's Lutherus Redivivus, which is nothing else but an Abridgment of Luther's Works, in which the most considerable Passages are collected into a narrow Room, and such Passages more especially, as have the most direct and powerful Tendency to awaken and to excite the Minds of Men to lively practical Religion. However, I mention this but as one Instance, out of a great many ve­ry excellent and useful Books which the Provi­dence of God has now furnished his Church with­al, and which we ought to account as a precious Treasure to it. And further, let not any Mini­ster think that 'tis the People only who are to be profited in their Souls by the reading such good Books, while all the use that he is concerned to make of them for himself, is only to form his Stile by reading them, or to borrow Thoughts from them, or it may be to steal Sermons out of them (which is shamefully the Practice of too many Preachers) but he should read them, chiefly and in the first Place, with a View to his own spiritual Edification. He should endeavour so to use and improve the Gifts which God has bestowed on o­ther Men, as that his own Soul may be the better for them as well as the Souls of the People to whom he preaches

[Page 85]XVI. Once more, let faithful Ministers by no means forget to recommend it to their Hearers, that they would familiarly acquaint themselves and converse with serious, lively, and growing Chris­tians, and with such more especially as excel in the Gift and Spirit of Prayer; for as a live Coal kindles another that is cold and dead, so will the savoury Discourse, the fervent Prayers and the holy Conversation of warm and lively Christians, be a probable Means of kindling the same Fire of divine Love in the Souls of dead Sinners; or at least of nourishing & improving the sacred Flame in the Hearts of their more intimate Christian Friends. Ministers should therefore do all they can to promote such Christian Conversation, a­mongst the more serious part of their Hearers: Observing however the Rules of necessary Pru­dence, particularly that of the Apostle, 1 Cor. xiv. 40. Let all things be done decently and in or­der. They should exhort them as St. Paul does the Colossians, Col. iii. 16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and ad­monishing one another in psalms and hymns and spi­ritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord; to which pious Purpose that large and rich Treasure of sacred Hymns, both ancient and modern, with which God has graciously blessed his Church, is not a little conducive, for which therefore we are bound to render him immortal Praises.

Thus I have briefly answered your Question, and given you my Thoughts on the most useful Way of Preaching. May God, for Christ's Sake, attend what I have written with his effectual [Page 86] Blessing. To him I would now humbly offer up the following Prayer.

‘O Lord God! give, I beseech thee, both now and at all times hereafter to thy Church, Pastors and Teachers after thine own Heart, even such as shall bring the Sheep of Christ into his Fold, and who, thro' the Influence of thy good Spirit, shall feed them with saving Knowledge and Understanding. Make every Preacher of thy Word to know and always to remember, that neither is he that planteth any thing, nei­ther he that watereth, but thou art all in all, who alone canst give the Increase. Let none of them vainly presume on their own Skill and Ability to do any good by their preaching, and obtain any good Success; but let them all hum­bly wait upon thee, and by fervent daily Prayer let them seek for and obtain the Aids of thy Grace, to enable them to dispense the Word of Life, and thy Blessing render their Preach­ing happily successful to the Souls of those that hear them.’ Amen.


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