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was sweet, I was glad in the Lord;" but ye trees and clouds, angels, how often was it interrupted by joyful and grateful tears. I wondered, wept, I confessed my sins, I asked myself, is it all reality? Am I deceived? Can it be? that my heart should be the mansion of that God, who dwelleth in the high and holy place, whose name is Holy! Satan witnessed and envied, but could not prevent my joys; for I strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." It was then," the joy of the Lord was my strength.'
HINTS TO YOUNG MINISTERS.
Hint the First.
To a young minister, many parts of the Sacred Scriptures will appear obscure, the meaning of which, in a few years, will be opened to his mind. And although some such texts remain inexplicable, there are others, the right understanding of which, he considers intimately connected with his peace and usefulness. He consults the living, reads the works of the dead,-meditates on the word itself, and is not satisfied. What shall he do?
Pray for divine teaching, relative to such particular portions of scripture. Mention them to the Lord, lamenting his darkness; trusting divine faithfulness; pleading his necessities as a minister; persevering in his applications.
The judgment is generally settled, after such a procedure. It may, perhaps, acquiesce in the sense some good man has given of it; but this he could not do, by his own unassisted reasoning. Or, he may obtain a view of it, which differs from his commentator.
The importance of this method appears in several things. The mind is generally satisfied in its apprehension of the truth; is much encouraged to implore divine teaching; and can with confidence recommend it to his hearers. Knowledge so obtained, is accompanied with a peculiar savour, or pleasure, and its influence is powerful and permanent.
The views of Scriptures which I have thus obtained, I have never
It is good to have "an unction from the Holy One," that we may "know all things."
Hint the Second.
IMPROVEABLE by a young minister, is an opportunity peculiarly favourable to study.
This may present itself to him, in such a place, and at such seasons, when he may be disposed to defer the consideration of the subject. A text occurs to the mind, with circumstances which establish, illustrate, or enforce it.
The pleasure it affords, determines him to pursue the subject at some future opportunity. Necessity alone will justify his neglect of the present advantage, It may be done by writing a few words in a pocket book, even in company, or on a journey. And should the light shine on the mind on Lord's-day evening, or Monday morning, it will be wise to follow it whilst it shines.
The importance of this is thus evident.
1. It secures the advantage of divine assistance. He is then like a mariner sailing the instant wind and tide are in his favour, although on some consideration he might wish to defer sailing. Should he lose the favourable opportunity, another may not soon occur. He must not only wait for the Lord, but wait on him also, whenever he presents himself to the soul, or gives an intimation of his mind on any subject.
Should the minister omit the improvement of such an occurrence, and refer it to a more convenient season, he may be like a miller preparing the sails of his mill, when the wind has ceased to blow. If he will not wait on the Lord, is it probable that the Lord will wait on him? No; his dispensations concur with his word, to promote in us a life of dependence on him.
2. A second advantage accruing from this respectful attention to divine aid, is, that it furnishes the minister with a variety of subjects for the pulpit; which if properly arranged, will be ready at his call, to finish them by study, and preach on them, as occasion demands.
3. It will reconcile his mind to a cross which he must bear,that of studying for several days, and not being able to find a text dividing itself, or a subject which he can feel, so as to study it with pleasure, and prepare it for the pulpit. This he can bear, when he knows, that the last week he studied half a dozen sermons, by improving the assistance with which he was favoured; and that he is watching every season, desirous of making the most of it.
Hint the Third.
LET the young minister preach on that subject, which he feels at the present time, most impressive on his own spirit.
A temptation to depart from this occurs, when he has the
prospect of preaching on some peculiar occasion, for which he inclines to reserve the subject, in which he finds great pleasure. This subject requires attentive care.
1. Because those sermons which come from the heart of the preacher, generally reach the hearts of many hearers. answers to face in the water, so the heart of man to man." The parts of a sermon which are most interwoven with experience, are generally acceptable and profitable.
2. If we disregard this attention to our own frame of mind, we may be disappointed in expecting its return when we desire it. The subject may lose its savour. The manna was given for present use; that which was sinfully preserved, became useless and offensive.
Indeed it betrays great distrust of God, who can afford us truth, and the experience of truth, equal to our day.
Hint the Fourth.
YOUNG ministers are under strong temptations: when called to preach on special occasions-as funeral or fast sermons, to consult human authors in the first place, instead of the word of God.
This is productive of indolence, and when detected, exposes himself to contempt, as one who preaches the sermons which other ministers composed. It is often followed by disappointment; and after a man has read an author, he has obtained but few ideas, and little profit. On one occasion, I was called to preach a funeral sermon,read Dr. Bates on death,- -was charmed, but did not meet the assistance I expected. I immediately read the book of Job and Ecclesiastes, and found myself presently furnished. This incident has influenced me for more than twenty years, always to read, at least those parts of Scripture, in which the subject is mentioned, before I read any human author; and look up to God to fix my thoughts, enlighten my knowledge, and impress my heart with
EXCUSES FOR NEGLECTING PRAYER.
THERE is a principle prevailing in some Christians, which objects to the duty of praying, until they feel the influences of the Holy Spirit, qualifying for, and disposing them to the exercise.
The evil tendency of this principle is apparent. First, in the encouragement it gives to slothfulness. Witness the numerous meet
ings of one class of professing Christians, who have frequent meetings for public worship, and never express a single prayer to God. Let experience speak, in those who have yielded to the temptation, whether they have not previously declined in the vigour of their graces, "restrained prayer before God," in its fervency and frequency, and then declined it so far as to excuse the omission of it. I once tried the experiment, and resolved to wait for the assistance of the Spirit of Grace, without asking for it: but I soon found sin and misery gaining on me. The charge," be not slothful," roused me from my lethargy; and my feelings convinced me, that whomsoever the principle might suit, it was not adapted to promote my best interest.
It is asserted, by an eminent divine, that "prayer will make a man leave his sin; or sin will constrain him to cease from prayer." And numbers have confirmed the fact, that the neglect of prayer has strengthened sin, and paralized the soul in secret, domestic, and public prayer. The gift and grace of prayer have been diminished, other duties coldly performed and neglected;-the temper has been carnalized, the affections frozen; the conversation accommodated to worldly persons, and peace of mind has given way to lukewarmness and indifference. And often has such a mind become an easy captive to temptation,-been "drawn away and inticed" to open
Secondly. The principle is delusive, as it leads the mind to expect the assistance of the Holy Spirit without asking for it. It makes the present feelings a law, instead of the will of God, which leads to enthusiasm. Such persons pretend to wait for the Spirit; but is not waiting without desire, graceless? Is it not indolent? Is it not hypocrisy? And if such waiters for the Spirit pretend to desire it, why not express the desire according to the command of God, that "men ought always to pray, and not to faint?"
If this one thing be desired of the Lord," the resolution will be, "that will I seek after." While "they keep silent," will not "their bones" wax old?" Is not this prayerless frame "a transgression," which they should "confess to the Lord," with prayer, that he would forgive the iniquity of their sin?" Would it not become them to pray," Lord open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise ?"
Thirdly. It gives force to Satan's temptations. Should the enemy of souls now suggest that prayer is unnecessary to him who knows what we need,-whose kindness requires no persuasion, whose purposes cannot be altered-or that for such a sinner to pray is presumption;-or that a heart so indisposed by worldly business, distracted by family cares, oppressed by bodily weakness, is a sufficient excuse; will not such a mind readily" fall into temptation," and even seek relief in it? The want of utterance under the influence of hardness of heart, and the power of unbelief, must afford advantage to him against whose "wiles" we are exhorted to
be guarded by "all prayer.”
The above-mentioned evils are used by Satan to justify the neglect of prayer; well knowing, that the safety and comfort of the Christian are associated with obligations of duty,-" continue instant in prayer," that is, invincible, " praying always with all prayer and perseverance."
"Watch and PRAY,-that ye enter not into temptation."
Fourthly. The excuse for not praying, until divine influences indite the prayer, justifies the total neglect of it; for this cannot always be known. One supposes freedom in prayer is an evidence; but the vilest characters feel this with self complacency. They feel liberty in expressing their wishes to God.
A second fixes on a comfortable frame of mind, but this may arise from a favourable change in the nervous system, or any desirable event.
A third from the exercise of gifts with pleasure and acceptance; but this may prove no more than a ready utterance from a good memory, and freedom of speech.
A fourth from enthusiasm ; as a speaker who, advising the hearers not to use the forms of the church, informed them, that the Spirit of God, who knew their mistake, had directed him to correct it; when they were all dissenters, and did not use the forms of the church.
Fifthly. The principle is discouraging,
To the young Christian, who has little experience or discernment. He may be led to neglect prayer, from the example of his elders.
To distressed believers; the tempted, the afflicted, and the backslider. Looking more to bad example than to the word of God, Call they may forget their duty. "Is any afflicted, let him pray." "on me in the day of trouble."
"Take with you words."
And what must the minister do in a disconsolate frame? On this principle be struck dumb, because he does not feel the influences of the Spirit to warrant his prayer!
In a word,—when in health and prosperity, the person delivered from trouble may feel indisposed to prayer; and when in trouble cease to pray, because he despairs of deliverance, and thinks prayer useless, until he receives the gracious assistance of the Spirit without it.