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be skilful in the discharge of his ministerial duties, “ ing the word of truth.' rightly dividbe endless to enumerate the various It would ways in which the well-meant discourses of a pious clergyman may be defective. Some have been already intimated; others are as follow:-he may be too little solicitous to probe the hearts of his hearers; or he may go beyond the depths to which they can follow him; or he may dwell too much in general positions, without reaching their affections, or coming home to their necessities; or he may spend more time in proving that certain doctrines are true, than in applying them to the heart and conscience; or he may propound as matters of controversy what should rather be taken for granted, and converted to the instruction; or he may be unable purposes of direct the minds of his hearers, to symto throw himself, as it were, into pathize with their feelings, and to meet their prejudices. These are but a few of the many illustrations which might be offered; and which every minister may easily follow up as far as they may be applicable to
But, passing by these broadly marked cases, even the most conscientious minister has ample reason to inquire whether the seed which he sows is of a right quality; whether his doctrines are strict ly scriptural; whether he gives to every part of Divine revelationdoctrinal, preceptive, hortatory, consolatory-its just proportion; whether he keeps back any thing; whether he over-states any thing; or whether in any other particular he is acting as an unwise or unfaithful husbandman, as respect this important part of his labours. It is not perhaps sufficiently considered by some concientious and religious ministers, how much care, and thought, and patience, are requisite to ascertain if we may thus keep up the allusion, the various kinds of soil which come under their culture, and the many minute circumstances which may affect the ultimate product. A minister, even though anxious for the spiritual welfare of his people, may yet be deficient in clearly exhibiting in his discourses some of the doctrines of Divine truth; or in bringing down those doctrines to practice; or in discriminating the characters, and ascertaining the necessities, of different classes of hearers, with a view to adapt the seed to the soil; not administering false comfort where reproof is requisite, or, on the other hand, making the hearts of the righteous sad, whom God hath not made sad; but applying his instructions, his admonitions, and his consolations, after the model of the sacred Scriptures, and with a just adaptation to the circumstances of his people. There is often a great defect, even among clergymen of piety, in not studying the human heart, and not taking sufficient pains to suit their discourses to the actual wants of their hearers. minister has not sown aright merely because he has enounced again and again certain fundamental truths of Divine revelation; he must diligently pray and study, in order to
his own case.
But in vain, in the natural world, does a sower sow the best seed, and the genial influences of heaven, the on the most prepared soil, unless sun, and air, and moisture, are duly vouchsafed from the Author of every temporal and spiritual benefit, to promote its vegetation. The pious husbandman therefore looks up to Him who maketh his sun to shine to afford him these ordinary blessupon the just and upon the unjust, ings of his gracious providence. And shall not the Christian labourer in his Lord's vineyard, look up to his Divine Master for corresponding benefits?
While he mourns ministry, should be not ask wheover the inadequate success of his ther he has kept before his eyes with sufficient prominence, his constant dependence upon God, who alone can crown his labours with
Success; whether he has habitually looked up for the grace of the Holy Spirit for himself and the people committed to his charge; and whether he has, both in his preaching and living, worthily honoured that Divine Agent, the supreme Enlight ener, and Comforter, and Sanctifier of the human soul? The Holy Spirit is represented in Scripture as capable of being " grieved" and "resisted," and at length" quenched;" and will not some, or all, of these consequences result, not only where a minister is notoriously careless and unfaithful; but where, though diligent, he trusts, in selfconfidence, to his own clear statements, and impressive appeals, and active labours, -as if the efficacy were in the means and instrument, and not in the grace of that overruling Power who directs them to their appointed end.
But, even where the seed is good, and the soil is prepared, and the influences of heaven are favourable, there still may be faults in the sowing, as respects time, or place, or manner, or various other circumstances which may affect the future harvest;-or, to drop the metaphor, there are many points in the personal conduct and character of the clergy, even among those who are sincere and pious, which may greatly impede the success of their ministerial labours. A few of these will be attempted to be specified in a future paper,
(To be continued.)
FAMILY SERMONS.-No. CLXII.
expiated human transgression; he had been delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification; and nothing now remained but that he should ascend to the right hand of the Majesty on high, to claim his promised exaltation, and to confirm and dispense the blessings of his mediatorial kingdom. His ascension consummated the mysterious plan of our redemption; as the Apostle teaches,— "Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." With a view to our spiritual profit, in considering the passage before us, we shall first make a few remarks on the subject of our Lord's ascension, and secondly endeavour to shew what improvement we should derive from it.
I. In considering our Lord's ascension, we are naturally led to view it in connexion with his previous sufferings and humiliation. It was only in consequence of these that he became capable of any exaltation, in addition to that which he had enjoyed with his Father before all worlds. His Divine nature could neither be diminished nor exalted: he was from eternity "in the form of God," endued with every possible excellence and perfection. No addition could be made to his power or his wisdom; to his immeasurable happiness, or eternal duration. But, in mercy to us guilty and perishing sinners, by a mysterious union, he had assumed our nature; he had been made in the likeness of man, and, being found in fashion as a man, had humbled himself to death, even the
Luke xxiv. 51. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and car-death of the cross. The Godhead ried up into heaven.
THE text relates to the last action of our Lord upon earth. He had fulfilled all the objects of 's first advent; he had unfolded his Divine doctrines; he had exhibited his own spotless example; he had
could not suffer: but, by means of his incarnation and mediatorial office, he had become subject to pain, and reproach, and death itself; and speaking of him in this capacity, the Apostle adds, "Therefore," that is, precisely on account of his having gone through the
work of his humiliation," therefore God hath highly exalted him." This exaltation commenced on the third day after his crucifixion, that hour of his deepest abasement; for then he burst the bonds of death, and asserted his victory over the grave, His triumph thus begun, he shewed himself for forty days as a victor, in the very scenes of his late humiliation; when at length the appointed time for his return to his Father being accomplished, having discoursed with his disciples respecting the affairs of bis kingdom, and given them a command to teach and baptize all nations, he led them out to Bethany, and lifted up his hands and blessed them; and while they beheld, he was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven, His exaltation was now complete. He was raised to the right hand of God, as a conqueror returning with the spoils of his great victory. He bad "come from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, glorious in his apparel, travelling in the great ness of his strength, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." The Apostle describes his exaltation to heaven in the most triumphant language; "God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet." Thus exalted to his throne in heaven, he was exhibited in his eternal supremacy, and invested with a claim to universal adoration; as the same Apostle informs us, in the conclusion of the passage from the Epistle to the Philippians already quoted; where he says, "God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue
should confess that Jesus, is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
But his own personal exaltation was not the only purpose of the Redeemer's triumphant ascension to heaven, and his session at the right hand of God. For we learn, that it was for us that he thus entered within the veil, as the great High Priest of our profession. The attitude in which the text describes bim, blessing his disciples as he ascended, well depicted the nature of the office which he was about to assume. He went to prepare mansions for his people, that where he is they might be also. He went also, as the Apostle teaches, as forerunner;" thus giving his followers a pledge of their own ascension in due time, to the same scenes of everlasting enjoyment. He went, moreover, "to appear in the presence of God for us;" bearing our names engraven on his breast-plate, and pleading his atoning sacrifice for the remission of our sins. He went also to bestow gifts upon men; not merely those special and miraculous gifts which he shed abroad upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, but every spiritual blessing to the end of time. He was exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins. His characteristic gift, that which constituted the great promise of his ministry,—as his own first advent did of the ministry of those who went before him, and his second advent of the ministry of those who have followed him,-was the effusion of the Holy Spirit; a gift which he still conti nues to dispense in the ordinary influences of that Divine Agent, as the Instructor, the Comforter, and the Sanctifier of his people. Every blessing of the new covenant, our repentance, our regeneration, our faith, our pardon, our peace with God, our progress in holiness, our victory over our spiritual enemies, and our final glorification, flows from this inexhaustible fountain.
II. But while by the eye of faith we behold the rising Saviour thus receiving and dispensing such inestimable gifts, let us inquire, in the second place, what spiritual instruction we ought to learn from his ascension. To those who witnessed the miracle recorded in the text, it was said by the angels, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this sanie Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." They were not to be satisfied with the indulgence of a use less curiosity, or transient admiration, but were to lay to heart the certainty of his second advent; and, as a proof of their faith, were to return to Jerusalem, in obedience to his last command, there to await the promised descent of the Holy Spirit. And thus, if our reflections on this stupendous event have been confined to barren speculations, it may be said to us, Why stand ye gazing, as it were, into heaven, to witness this great sight, as though nothing more were necessary than to admit the fact as an article of belief, without any reference to its import and conse quences. How different the lan guage of our church in the collects for Ascension-day, and the Sunday after, where this great event is alluded to. We are there taught so to reflect upon the ascension of Christ to heaven, that we ourselves may, in heart and mind, thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; and to pray for the Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us to the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before. We must turn this great article of our creed to a practical account; it should strengthen our faith, confirm our patience, animate our zeal; inspire our hopes, stimulate our vigilance, and raise our affections to things above, where Christ sit teth at the right hand of God. St. Paul frequently adverts to the ascension of Christ, thus making use
of it for the purposes of spiritual instruction and consolation. For example, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, he says, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have nof an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmi ties; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obs tain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." And while we thus derive repose and confidence from the consideration of his continued intercession for us in heaven, let it be our object here on earth; to promote the interests of his blessed kingdom. Let us live to his glory; let us exert ourselves for the extension of his spiritual dominion, both in our own hearts and throughout the world. And, under every circumstance of life, let us ever keep in mind that this same Jesus shall come again in like manner as he was taken up into heaven; let us therefore give diligence to make our calling and election sure, in order that we may be prepared to witness his second advent with joy, and not with grief. Yes-he shall come again; he shall come for objects of the highest moment; he shall come as a King, a Judge, a Conqueror; he shall come to consummate the purposes of his grace, and the requirements of his justice; to raise the dead; to judge men and fallen angels; to discriminate their characters; to pronounce and execute sentence upon the wicked; to receive his children to himself; to exalt them body and soul to his everlasting glory; to be glorified in his saints, and admired in them that love him; and then, having put down all rule, and all authority and power, to deliver up the present dispensation of his mediatorial kingdom to God, even the Father; to establish his glorious and eternal kingdom, and to introduce a new
heaven and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness. There may we be for ever with him! There may we see Him as he is, and advance to all eternity in resemblance. to his image, and in the enjoyment of his love! And to this end let us be habitually prepared for his appearance, and give diligence to be found of Him in peace. Amen.
To the Editor of the ChristianObserver.
I AM induced to submit to your readers, whether the following interpretation of Romans ix. 3. does not convey a more probable expression of St. Paul's meaning, than any other that has been mentioned by your correspondents. I would simply place the words " Hvxoμnv γὰρ αυτος ἐγὼ ἀνάθεμα εἶναι ἀπὸ T8 Xplore," in a parenthesis; and construe" Huxouny" literally "I did wish," instead of "I could wish." The whole passage would then run thus: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, (for I myself did wish to be accursed from Christ,) for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh," &c. This interpretation, if warranted, appears to me to afford a satisfactory solution of the difficulty; and nothing surely could be more natural than that St. Paul, when contemplating the misery of his countrymen, on account of their rejection of the Messiah, should have been led to reflect upon his own former unhappy state; the recollection of which was painfully calculated to increase that heaviness and sorrow of heart which he felt on their account. I would submit, whether the construction which I have given of "nuxoμny," which is in the preter-imperfect tense, is not more literally correct than the English version. Had it been intended to convey the mean
ing which has been given to it by our translators, "I could wish," I conceive that the conjunction “av" would have been inserted, though I am aware that the imperfect tense has, in some cases, (for example, Acts xxv. 22; 1 Cor. ii. 8; 2 Cor. xi. 1.) the force of the optative mood, without that addition. is sufficient, however, for my purpose, that it has not that force necessarily; and the right meaning of the passage seems to me to have been obscured by assigning the optative meaning to it in the present instance. I need scarcely add, that the absence of authority for the pointing of the original text, fully allows of the insertion of the parenthesis which I have proposed; and it is in favour of my argument, that no writer abounds more in parentheses than St. Paul.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
NOT having yet observed in your pages a review of Dr. Copleston's treatise on Necessity and Predestination, or any extracts from that publication, I take the liberty of sending you the following passage, which forcibly points out the necessity of deep humility of heart for a faithful reception of the Gospel, and appears to me calculated to be eminently serviceable to the interests of religion, especially coming from the pen of a writer of such deserved reputation as the learned Provost of Oriel College.
"It is not by the opposition the world offers to an innocent and holy life; it is not by the severe self-denial and oppressive services which the Gospel exacts from us ; it is not even by the strict observance required of moral purity and social duties alone, that the path of life is rendered so narrow, and that man is so reluctant to enter upon it. The difficulty consists not so