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tian system; to a few stones in the fabrick of the Divine operations, when a wide and unbounded
prospect lies before them? Why should they not rather attempt to rouse the moral and intellectual energies of mankind from the pulpit and press, by exhibiting the boundless variety of aspect which the revelations of Heaven present, that men may learn with intelligence and devout contemplation to meditate on all the works of the Lord, and to talk of all his doings? By enlarging and diversifying the topicks of religious discussion, they would have it in their power to spread out an intellectual feast to allure and gratify every variety of taste. The young and the old, the learned and the unlearned, yea, even the careless and the ignorant, the skeptical and dissipated, might be frequently allured, by the selection of a judicious variety of striking and impressive objects and descriptions, to partake of those mental enjoyments which might ultimately issue in the happiest results. The man of an inquisitive turn of mind, who is wont to throw every thing aside that has the appearance of religion, on the account of its dulness to him, might have his curiosity excited and gratified amidst an interesting variety; and from perceiving the bearing on the great realities of religion both for the present and future state, might be led to serious inquiry after the path that leads to immortality. In a word, to associate and intersperse the arts and sciences, and every department of useful knowledge with divine subjects, is to consecrate them to their original and legitimate ends, and to present religion to the minds of men in its most sublime, and comprehensive, and attractive form, corresponding to what appears to be the design of the Creator, in all the manifestations he has given of himself in the system of nature, in the operations of Providence, and in the economy of Redemption.
It may be replied, That the Lord has given a revelation to mankind in view of what they are, and not
of what they ought to be; therefore he was graciously pleased to grant one suited to their fallen condition. But is it not the duty of ministers of the gospel to address them as intelligent beings who have sinned, and not merely as those who have never transgressed? Are they not in some measure to follow that diversified and divine pattern which God has put into their hands as a guide and rule for their imitation? Or shall mortal man presume to be wiser than his Maker? Because God gives mandates and law to all the holy and exalted beings that surround his throne, is he the less capable of discerning what instructions, methods, means, and ways would be the most suitable to be unfolded to the inhabitants of this lower world? Or because his ambassadors are here on the ground, and see with what a wicked and rebellious race they have to treat, shall they pretend to be wise above what he has written, by greatly retrenching and circumscribing his communications ? Can they teach their King knowledge, and learn him wisdom ? As his understanding is infinite, his omniscience would certainly enable him to foreknow what things would be best to be revealed to our apostate race, dead in trespasses and sins. Doubtless he who gave existence to the inhabitants of the earth, and who implanted in them the various principles of their animal, intellectual, and moral natures, could determine what things would be the most favourable and effectual to arouse their energies, excite their attention, and to awake them to a solicitous inquiry concerning divine and eternal realities. And some of the varieties and glorious novelties which God has not been ashamed, but pleased to have recorded in his holy word, have been named. And what an interesting variety would be presented, were they chosen as the foundation of religious and publick discourses! This is one great and important end for which they were revealed to man. They are dispersed throughout the sacred pages, and are so valuable that men should seek for them as for hidden treasures. But especially we may be led to see, that if ministers of the gospel would hold forth variety in their publick discourses as a prominent trait, their conduct would be in accordance with the divine economy as manifested in the system of revelation.
4th. The particular examples of holy men of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ; of the Saviour and the Apostles, and many eminently worthy ministers of the gospel, may be held up for imitation as an encouragement to a variety of topicks and illustrations in the discharge of the ministerial office. The writings of Moses are extensive not only as historical records, but they are a rich fund from which may be derived abundant instructions, relating to social, civil, and religious life.
Besides those laws and regulations which were peculiar to the Jewish nation, a great variety of important rules are laid down to direct us in the various pursuits of life, and in the more immediate duties of religion. The Psalms of David are full of piety, and an almost continual scene of devotion; but how marvellous for their abundant variety of interesting subjects! The Proverbs of Solomon are a continued series of diversified texts, relating to worldly concerns, to the propriety or impropriety of human conduct, to moral principle, and to a godly or ungodly life. Isaiah and Jeremiah abound with beautiful and sublime varieties. The Saviour is the most interesting preacher, both as it respects temporal concerns and Christian morality, and those more solemn truths which immediately relate to eternity. Perhaps some may be ready to imagine the apostle Paul was averse to a variety of subjects in the preaching of the word, because he declared to the Corinthians, I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. This expression shows that the Apostle considered his great work and main business to be the preaching of the gospel: And that in the expounding of the old Testament, in his conversation and sermons, he aimed to prove that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, who was to come and be offered as a sacrifice for sin. And the more effectually to accomplish this great object, he avows, I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God. By the expression, “ whole counsel of God,” is not to be understood merely the five Calvinistical points; but that as he had opportunity, he unfolded all the great and important doctrines and duties of Christianity. The writings of this great Apostle of the Gentiles, and his avowal, I am made all things unto all men, that I might by all means save some, may serve to evince his variously extended views in relation to the subject now under consideration,
Now it may be replied, That the life of one man is far too short to exhibit all the varied subjects of some of the sacred historians, much more to endeavour to bring forward the varieties of all of them. Then as they have opportunity, let them abound with an interesting variety, and be imitators of those whom God holds forth as worthy examples. In the present age, some imitate the goodly prophetical and apostolical examples; and instead of having all their ministerial instructions confined within a very small compass, take a wide range as it respects their subjects and illustrations. And yet there is room for others to expatiate in the divine field, and to collect rich materials to add to their treasure. How much of it is still uncultivated ; but which will unquestionably be improved as a foundation for religious discourses and a means of accomplishing the various ends of the ministerial office.
Then let us, my brethren, be encouraged to hold forth an interesting variety as a prominent trait in our religious discourses, as we are presented with many manly, glorious, and godlike examples.
5th. An extensive variety in publick discourses, is the method best calculated to repress vice and promote virtue. One important object in the topicks and discussions from the pulpit, is the present good of community. The temporal welfare of individuals, of families, and society, demands the attention of Zion's watchmen; for a proper management of worldly concerns and the morals of a people, are intimately connected with the important duties and interest of the gospel. Hence, vice in all its deformities and destructive tendencies, must be depictured; and the beauties and beneficial results of virtue, strikingly delineated. But in order to this, appropriate discourses are highly important. And a sermon on morality should not be a rare thing, a phenomenon; but a portion of almost every discourse should be of such a nature. If 'a minister but once a year address his people on the subject of morals, and that discourse be a declamatory moral harangue, they will not be much impressed nor benefited. But if his discourses be frequently interwoven with Christian morality, they will believe him serious and interested in the truths he delivers; and virtue and vice will not be considered as empty names.
However Ivery well know that some professors of religion, and even deacons in the church, imagine that sermons on morality are almost useless, if not detrimental to the cause of religion. Their souls are pained, and they hang down their heads whenever they hear a text named of a moral nature. But let us query: How can they read their Bibles without being much grieved at heart? How can the multiplicity of moral texts be but grating to their feelings? Can they not discern them? Then they must have exerted all their moral faculties to have shut their eyes. But what would such have? Truly, if the sermons of their minister accord with their views, they must be all comprised in a small rotine of fundamental and doctrinal points; and an additional one containing their whole Calvinistical creed, as the climax of their di