What Saith the Scripture?


Phila delphia > REVIVAL LECTURES by Charles G. Finney (page 3 of 5)



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Charles G. Finney

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Charles Grandison Finney

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Table of Contents
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A right discharge of the duties of a minister requires great wisdom - The amount of success in the discharge of his duties (other things being equal) decides the amount of wisdom employed by him.

Several passages of Scripture ascribe conversion to man - This is consistent with other passages which ascribe conversion to God - Several important particulars in regard to preaching the Gospel.

The importance of the cooperation of the Church in producing and carrying on a revival - Several things which Churches must do, if they would promote a revival and aid their ministers.

God has established no particular system of measures to be employed - Our present forms of public worship have been arrived at by a succession of new measures.

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He that winneth souls is wise. - Proverbs 11:30.

I lectured last, from the same text, on the methods of dealing with sinners by "private" Christians. My object at this time is to take up the more public means of grace, with particular reference to the duties of Ministers.

As I observed in my last Lecture, wisdom is the choice and pursuit of the best end by the most appropriate means. The great end for which the Christian ministry is appointed, is to glorify God in the salvation of souls.

In speaking on this subject I propose to show:

I. That a right discharge of the duties of a minister requires great wisdom.

II. That the amount of success in the discharge of his duties (other things being equal) decides the amount of wisdom employed by him in the exercise of his office.


Truth is the outward means, the outward motive presented first by man and then by The Holy Spirit. Take into view the opposition of the sinner himself, and you see that nothing, after all, short of the wisdom of God and the moral power of the Holy Spirit, can break down this opposition, and bring him to submit Still, the means are to be used by men - means adapted to the end, and skillfully used. God has provided that the work of conversion and sanctification shall in all cases be done by means of that kind of truth, applied in that connection and relation, which is fitted to produce such a result.
I know ministers are sometimes amazed to hear it said that Churches are not awake. No wonder such ministers do not know how to wake a sleeping Church. There was a young licentiate heard Brother Foote the other day, in this city, pouring out truth, and trying to waken up the Churches; and he knew so little about it that he thought Mr. Foote was abusing the Churches. So perfectly blind was he that he really thought the Churches in New York were all awake on the subject of religion. So, some years ago, there was a great controversy and opposition raised, because so much was said about the Churches being asleep. It was all truth, yet many ministers knew nothing about it, and were astonished to hear such things said. When it has come to this, that ministers do not know when the Church is asleep, no wonder we have revivals! I was invited once to preach at a certain place. I asked the minister what was the state of the

Church. "Oh," said he, "to a man they are awake." I was delighted at the idea of laboring in such a Church, for it was a sight I had never yet witnessed, to see every single member awake in a revival. But when I got there I found them sleepy and cold, and I doubt whether one of them was awake.

Here is the great difficulty in keeping up revivals, to keep the Church thoroughly awake and engaged. It is one thing for members to get up in their sleep and bluster about and run over each other; and a widely different thing for them to have their eyes open, and their senses about them, and be wide awake, so as to know how to work for Christ.
Often, when sinners are awakened, the ground is lost for want of wisdom in following up the blow. Perhaps a rousing sermon is preached Christians are moved, and sinners begin to feel, and yet, the next Sabbath, something will be brought forward that has no connection with the state of feeling in the congregation, and that is not calculated to lead the mind on to the exercise of repentance, faith, or love. It shows how important it is that a minister should understand how to produce a given impression, at what time it may and should be done, and by what truth, and how to follow it up till the sinner is broken down and brought in.

A great many good sermons that are preached, are lost for the want of a little wisdom on this point. They are good sermons, and calculated, if well timed, to do great good; but they have so little connection with the actual state of feeling in the congregation, that it would be more than a miracle if they should produce a revival. A minister may preach in this random way till he has preached himself to death, and never produce any great results.

He may convert here and there a scattered soul; but he will not move the mass of the congregation unless he knows how to follow up his impressions - so to execute a general plan of operations as to carry on the work when it is begun. He must not only be able to blow the trumpet so loud as to start the sinner up from his lethargy, but when he is awakened, he must lead him by the shortest way to Jesus Christ; and not, as soon as sinners are roused by a sermon, immediately begin to preach about some remote subject that has no tendency to carry on the work.
Perhaps they will begin to look serious, or to talk about it, or to cavil about it. Now, if the minister is wise, he will know how to observe those indications, and to follow right on, with sermons adapted to this class, until he leads them into the Kingdom of God. Then, let him go back and take another class, find out where they are hid, break down their refuges, and follow them up, till he leads them also, into the Kingdom. He should thus beat about every bush where sinners hide themselves, as the voice of God followed Adam in the garden: ADAM, WHERE ART THOU? till one class of hearers after another is brought in, and so the whole community converted. Now, a minister must be very wise to do this. It never will be done till a minister sets himself to hunt out and bring in every class of sinners in his congregation - the old and young, male and female, rich and poor.
The novelty of the error attracted their attention so much that they forgot the answer. And in that way he gave many of his people new objections against religion, such as they had never thought of before. If a man does not mingle enough with mankind to know how people think nowadays, he cannot expect to be wise to meet their objections and difficulties.

I have heard a great deal of preaching against Universalists, that did more harm than good, because the preachers did not understand how Universalists of the present day reason. When ministers undertake to oppose a present heresy, they ought to know what it actually is, at present. It is of no use to misrepresent a man's doctrines to his face, and then try to reason him out of them. He will say of you: "That man cannot argue with me on fair grounds; he has to misrepresent my doctrines in order to confute me." Great harm is done in this way. Ministers do not intend to misrepresent their opponents; but the effect of it is, that the poor miserable creatures who hold these errors go to hell because ministers do not take care to inform themselves what are their real errors. I mention this to show how much wisdom a minister must have to meet the cases that occur.
What do politicians do? They get up meetings, circulate handbills and pamphlets, blaze away in the newspapers, send ships about the streets on wheels with flags and sailors, send conveyances all over the town, with handbills, to bring people up to the polls - all to gain attention to their cause, and elect their candidate. All these are their "measures," and for their end they are wisely calculated. The object is to get up an excitement, and bring the people out. They know that unless there can be an excitement it is in vain to push their end. I do not mean to say that their measures are pious, or right, but only that they are wise, in the sense that they are the appropriate application of means to the end.

The object of the ministry is to get all the people to feel that the devil has no right to rule this world, but that they ought all to give themselves to God, and "vote in" the Lord Jesus Christ as the Governor of the universe.

Now, what shall be done? What measures shall we take? Says one: "Be sure and have nothing that is new." Strange! The object of our measure is to gain attention, and you must have something new. As sure as the effect of a measure becomes stereotyped, it ceases to give attention, and then you must try something new. You need not make innovations in everything. But whenever the state of things is such that anything more is needed, it must be something new, otherwise it will fail. A minister should never introduce innovations that are not called for. If he does, they will embarrass him. He cannot alter the Gospel; that remains the same. But new measures are necessary, from time to time, to awaken attention, and bring the Gospel to bear upon the public mind. And a minister ought to know how to introduce new things, so as to create the least possible resistance or reaction. Mankind are fond of form in religion. They love to have their religious duties stereotyped, so as to leave them at ease; and they are therefore inclined to resist any new movement designed to rouse them up to action and feeling. Hence it is all-important to introduce new things wisely, so as not to give needless occasion for resistance.
A minister once appointed an anxious meeting, which he duly attended, but instead of going round to speak to the individuals, he began to ask them the catechism question: "Wherein doth Christ execute the office of a priest?" About as much in point to a great many of their minds as anything else.

I know a minister who held an anxious meeting, and went to attend it with a written discourse, which he had prepared for the occasion. This was just as wise as it would be if a physician, going out to visit his patients, should sit down at leisure and write all the prescriptions beforehand. A minister needs to know the state of mind of individuals, before he can know what truth it will be proper and useful to administer. I say these things, not because I love to do it, but because truth and the object before me, require them to be said. And such instances as I have mentioned are by no means rare.

A minister should know how to apply truth to all the situations in which he may find dying sinners going down to hell. He should know how to preach, how to pray, how to conduct prayer meetings, and how to use all the means for bringing the truth of God to bear upon the kingdom of darkness. Does not this require wisdom? And who is sufficient for these things?


The amount of a minister's success in winning souls (other things being equal) invariably decides the amount of wisdom he has exercised in the discharge of his office.

That is, if a man wins souls, he does skillfully adapt means to the end, which is, to exercise wisdom. He is the more wise, by how much the greater is the number of sinners that he saves. A blockhead may, indeed, now and then, stumble on such truth, or such a manner of exhibiting it, as to save a soul. It would be a wonder indeed if any minister did not sometimes have something, in his sermons that would meet the case of some individual. But the amount of wisdom is to be decided, other things being equal, by the number of cases in which he is successful in converting sinners.

Take the case of a physician. The greatest quack may now and then stumble upon a remarkable cure, and so get his name up with the ignorant.

But sober and judicious people judge of the skill of a physician by the uniformity of his success in overcoming disease, the variety of diseases he can manage, and the number of cases in which he is successful in saving his patients. The most skillful saves the most. This is common sense. It is the truth. And it is just as true in regard to success in saving souls, and true in just the same sense.
And the minister who does it shows that he is wise.
Fears are often expressed respecting those ministers who are aiming most directly and earnestly at the conversion of sinners. People say: "Why, this man is going to work in his own strength; one would imagine he thinks he can convert souls himself." How often has the event showed that the man knew very well what he was about, and knew where his strength was, too.

He went to work to convert sinners so earnestly, just as if he could do it all himself; but that was the very way he should do. He ought to reason with sinners and plead with them, as faithfully and as fully as if he did not expect any interposition of the Spirit of God. But whenever a man does this successfully, it shows that, after all, he knows he must depend for success upon the Spirit of God alone.

There are many who feel an objection against this subject, arising out of the view they have taken of the ministry of Jesus Christ. They ask us: "What will you say of the ministry of Jesus Christ - was not He wise?"

I answer: "Yes, infinitely wise." But in regard to His alleged "want of success" in the conversion of sinners, you will observe the following things:

(a) That His ministry was vastly more successful than is generally supposed. We read in one of the sacred writers, that after His resurrection and before His ascension, "He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once" (1 Corinthians 15:6). If so many as five hundred brethren were found assembled together at one place, we judge that there must have been a vast number of them scattered over the country.

(b) Another circumstance to be observed is that His public ministry was very short, less than three years.

(c) Consider, too, the peculiar design of His ministry. His main object was to make Atonement for the sins of the world. It was not aimed so much at promoting revivals. The "dispensation of the Spirit" was not yet given. He did not preach the Gospel so fully as His apostles did afterwards. The prejudices of the people were so fixed and violent that they would not bear it. That He did not, is plain from the fact that even His apostles, who were constantly with Him, did not understand the Atonement. They did not get the idea that He was going to die; and consequently, when they heard that He was actually dead, they were driven to despair, and thought the thing was all gone by, and their hopes blown to the winds. The fact was that He had another object in view, to which everything else was made to yield; and the perverted state of the public mind, and the obstinate prejudices prevailing, showed why results were not seen any more in the conversion of sinners. The state of public opinion was such that they finally murdered Him for what He did preach.

Many ministers who have little or no success are hiding themselves behind the ministry of Jesus Christ, as if He were an unsuccessful preacher.

Whereas, in fact, He was eminently successful, considering the circumstances in which He labored. This is the last place, in all the world, where a minister who has no success should think of hiding himself.


(a) That he never was called to preach, but has taken it up out of his own head; or

(b) That he was badly educated, and was never taught the very things he needs most to know; or

(c) If he was called to preach, and knows how to do his duty, he is too indolent and too wicked to do it.
Ministers are sometimes looked down upon, and called very ignorant, because they do not know the sciences and languages; although they are very far from being ignorant of the great thing for which the ministry is appointed. This is wrong. Learning is important, and always useful. But after all, a minister may know how to win souls to Christ, without great learning; and he has the best education for a minister, who can win the most souls to Christ.
When young men come out of the seminaries, are they fit to go into a revival? Look at a place where there has been a revival in progress, and a minister is wanted. Let them send to a theological seminary for a minister.

Will he enter into the work, and sustain it, and carry it on? Seldom. Like David with Saul's armor, he comes in with such a load of theological trumpery, that he knows not what to do. Leave him there for two weeks, and the revival is at an end. The Churches know and feel that the greater part of these young men do not know how to do anything that needs to be done for a revival, and the complaint is made that the young ministers are so far behind the Church. You may send all over the United States, to theological seminaries, and find but few young ministers fitted to carry forward the work. What a state of things!

There is a great defect in educating ministers. Education ought to be such, as to prepare young men for the peculiar work to which they are destined.

But instead of this, they are educated for anything else. The grand mistake is this: that the mind is directed too much to irrelevant matters; it is carried over too wide a field, so that attention is diverted from the main thing and the young men get cold in religion. When, therefore, they get through their course, instead of being fitted for their work, they are unfitted for it.

Under a pretense of disciplining the mind, attention is in fact scattered, so that when the young men come to their work, they are awkward, and know not how to take hold, or how to act, to win souls. This is not universally the case, but too often it is so.

It is common for people to talk loudly and largely about "an educated ministry." God forbid that I should say a word against an educated ministry! But what do we mean by an education for the ministry? Do we mean that they should be so educated, as to be fitted for the work? If they are so educated, the more education the better. Let education be of the right kind, teaching a young man the things he needs to know, and not the very things he does not need to know. Let them be educated for the work.

Do not let education be such, that when young men come out, after spending six, eight, or ten years in study, they are not worth half as much as they were before they went. I have known young men come out after what they call "a thorough course," who could not manage a prayer meeting, so as to make it profitable or interesting. An elder of a Church in a neighboring city, informed me of a case in point. A young man, before he went to the seminary, had labored as a layman with them, conducting their prayer meetings, and been exceedingly useful among them. After he had been to the seminary, they sent for him and desired his help; but, oh, how changed! He was so completely transformed, that he made no impression; the members soon began to complain that they would "die" under his influences; and he left, because he was not prepared for the work.

It is common for those ministers who have been to the seminaries, and are now useful, to affirm that their course of studies there did them little or no good, and that they had to unlearn what they had there learned, before they could effect much. I do not say this censoriously, but it is a solemn fact, and in love I must say it.

Suppose you were going to make a man a surgeon in the navy. Instead of sending him to the medical school to learn surgery, would you send him to the nautical school, to learn navigation? In this way, you might qualify him to navigate a ship, but he is no surgeon. Ministers should be educated to know what the Bible is, and what the human mind is, and how to bring the one to bear on the other. They should be brought into contact with mind, and made familiar with all the aspects of society. They should have the Bible in one hand, and the map of the human mind in the other, and know how to use the truth for the salvation of men.
I wish to be understood. I do not say, that I would not have a young man go to school. Nor would I discourage him from going over the field of science. The more the better, if together with it he learns also the things that the minister needs to know, in order to win souls - if he understands his Bible, and understands human nature, and knows how to bring the truth to bear, and how to guide and manage minds, and to lead them away from sin and lead them to God.
(a) A measure may be introduced for effect, to produce excitement, and be such that when it is looked back upon afterwards, it will seem nonsensical, and appear to have been a mere trick. In that case, it will react, and its introduction will have done more harm than good.

(b) Measures may be introduced, and the revival be very powerful, and the success be attributed to the measures, when in fact, it was other things which made the revival powerful, and these very measures may have been a hindrance. The prayers of Christians, and the preaching, and other things, may have been so well calculated to carry on the work, that it has succeeded in spite of these measures.

(c) But when the blessing evidently follows the introduction of the measure itself, the proof is unanswerable, that the measure is wise. It is profane to say that such a measure will do more harm than good. God knows about that. His object is, to do the greatest amount of good possible. And of course He will not add His blessing to a measure that will do more harm than good. He may sometimes withhold His blessing from a measure that is calculated to do some good, because it will be at the expense of a greater good. But he never will bless a pernicious proceeding. There is no such thing as deceiving God in the matter. He knows whether a given measure is, on the whole, wise or not. He may bless a course of labors notwithstanding some unwise or injurious measures. But if He blesses the measure itself, it is rebuking God to pronounce it unwise. He who undertakes to do this, let him look to the matter.
It may be illustrated by the case of a minister who goes to sea. He may be learned in science, but he knows not how to sail a ship. And he begins to ask the sailors about this thing and that, and what this rope is for, and the like. "Why," say the sailors, "these are not ropes, we have only one rope in a ship; these are the rigging; the man talks like a fool." And so this learned man becomes a laughing-stock, perhaps, to the sailors, because he does not know how to sail a ship. But if he were to tell them one half of what he knows about science, perhaps they would think him a conjurer, to know so much. So, learned students may understand their Latin very well, and may laugh at the humble Christian, and call him ignorant, although he may know how to win more souls than five hundred of them.

I was once distressed and grieved at hearing a minister bearing down upon a young preacher, who had been converted under remarkable circumstances, and who was licensed to preach without having pursued a regular course of study. This minister, who was never, or at least very rarely, known to convert a soul, bore down upon the young man in a very lordly, censorious manner, depreciating him because he had not had the advantage of a liberal education - when, in fact, he was instrumental in converting more souls than any five hundred ministers like the one who criticized him.

I would say nothing to undervalue, or lead any to undervalue, a thorough education for ministers. But I do not call that a thorough education, which they receive in our colleges and seminaries. It does not fit them for their work. I appeal to all experience, whether our young men in seminaries are thoroughly educated for the purpose of winning souls. Do THEY DO IT?

Everybody knows they do not. Look at the reports of the Home Missionary Society. If I recollect right, in 1830, the number of conversions in connection with the labors of the missionaries of that society did not exceed five to each missionary. I believe the number has increased since, but is still exceedingly small to what it would have been had they been fitted, by a right course of training, for their work. I do not say this to reproach them, for, from my heart, I pity them; and I pity the Church for being under the necessity of supporting ministers so trained, or of having none at all. They are the best men the Missionary Society can obtain.

I suppose I shall be reproached for saying this. But it is too true and too painful to be concealed. Those fathers who have the training of our young ministers are good men, but they are ancient men, men of another age and stamp from what is needed in these days, when the Church and world are rising to new thought and action. Those dear fathers will not, I suppose, see with me in this; and will perhaps think hardly of me for saying it; but it is the cause of Christ. Some of them are getting back toward second childhood, and ought to resign, and give place to younger men, who are not rendered physically incapable, by age, of keeping pace with the onward movements of the Church. And here I would say, that to my own mind it appears evident, that unless our theological professors preach a good deal, mingle much with the Church, and sympathize with her in all her movements, it is morally, if not naturally, impossible, that they should succeed in training young men to the spirit of the age. It is a shame and a sin, that theological professors, who preach but seldom, who are withdrawn from the active duties of the ministry, should sit in their studies and write their Letters, advisory or dictatorial, to ministers and Churches who are in the field, and who are in circumstances to judge what needs to be done. The men who spend all, or at least a portion, of their time in the active duties of the ministry, are the only men who are able to judge of what is expedient or inexpedient, prudent or imprudent, as to measures, from time to time. It is as dangerous and ridiculous for our theological professors, who are withdrawn from the field of conflict, to be allowed to dictate, in regard to the measures and movements of the Church, as it would be for a general to sit in his bedchamber and attempt to order a battle.

Two ministers were one day conversing about another minister, whose labors were greatly blessed - in the conversion of some thousands of souls. One of them said: "That man ought not to preach any more; he should stop and go to - (a theological seminary which he named), and proceed through a regular course of study." He said the man had "a good mind, and if he were thoroughly educated, he might be very useful." The other replied: "Do you think he would be more useful for going to that seminary? I challenge you to show by facts that any are more useful who have been there. No, sir, the fact is, that since this man has been in the ministry, he has been instrumental in converting more souls than all the young men who have come from that seminary in the time."

Finally: I wish to ask, who among you can lay any claim to the possession of this Divine wisdom? Who among you, laymen? Who among you, ministers? Can any of you? Can I? Are we at work, wisely, to win souls?

Or are we trying to make ourselves believe that success is no criterion of wisdom? It is a criterion. It is a safe criterion for every minister to try himself by. The amount of his success, other things being equal, measures the amount of wisdom he has exercised in the discharge of his office.

How few of you have ever had wisdom enough to convert so much as a single sinner? Do not say: "I cannot convert sinners. How can I convert sinners? God alone can convert sinners." Look at the text: "He that winneth souls is wise," and do not think you can escape the sentence. It is true that God converts sinners. But there is a sense, too, in which ministers convert them. And you have something to do; something which, if you do it wisely, will ensure the conversion of sinners in proportion to the wisdom employed. If you never have done this, it is high time to think about yourselves, and see whether you have wisdom enough to save even your own souls.

Men! Women! You are bound to be wise in winning souls. Perhaps already souls have perished, because you have not put forth the wisdom which you might, in saving them. The city is going to hell. Yes, the world is going to hell, and must go on, till the Church finds out what to do, to win souls. Politicians are wise. The children of this world are wise; they know what to do to accomplish their ends, while we are prosing about, not knowing what to do, or where to take hold of the work, and sinners are going to hell.

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He that winneth souls is wise. - Proverbs. 11:30.

One of the last remarks in my last Lecture was this, that the text ascribes conversion to men. Winning souls is converting men. I now design to show that:

I. Several passages of Scripture ascribe conversion to men; and that:

II. This is consistent with other passages which ascribe conversion to God.

III. I also purpose to discuss several further particulars which are deemed important, in regard to the preaching of the Gospel, and which show that great practical wisdom is necessary to win souls to Christ.


There are many passages which represent the conversion of sinners as the work of men. In Daniel 12:3 it is said: "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Here the work is ascribed to men. So also in 1 Corinthians 4:15: "Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel." Here the apostle explicitly tells the Corinthians that he made them Christians, with the Gospel, or truth, which he preached.

Again, in James 5:19, 20, we are taught the same thing. "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."

I might quote many other passages, equally explicit. But these are sufficient abundantly to establish the fact, that the Bible does actually ascribe conversion to men.


Here let me remark that to my mind it often appears very strange that men should ever suppose there was an in consistency here, or that they should ever have overlooked the plain common sense of the matter. How easy it is to see that there is a sense in which God converts them, and another sense in which men convert them.

The Scriptures ascribe conversion to four different agencies - to men, to God, to the truth, and to the sinner himself. The passages which ascribe it to the truth are the largest class. That men should ever have overlooked this distinction, and should have regarded conversion as a work performed exclusively by God, is surprising. So it is that any difficulty should ever have been felt on the subject, or that people should ever have professed themselves unable to reconcile these several classes of passages.

The Bible speaks on this subject, precisely as we speak on common subjects. There is a man who has been very ill. How natural it is for him to say of his physician: "That man saved my life." Does he mean to say that the physician saved his life without reference to God? Certainly not, unless he is an infidel. God made the physician, and He made the medicine too. And it never can be shown but that the agency of God is just as truly concerned in making the medicine take effect to save life, as it is in making the truth take effect to save a soul. To affirm the contrary is downright atheism. It is true, then, that the physician saved him; and it is also true that God saved him.. It is equally true that the medicine saved his life, and also that he saved his own life by taking the medicine; for the medicine would have done no good if he had not taken it.

In the conversion of a sinner, it is true that God gives the truth efficiency to turn the sinner to God. He is an active, voluntary, powerful agent, in changing the mind. But the one who brings the truth to the sinner's notice is also an agent. We are apt to speak of ministers and other men as only instruments in converting sinners. This is not exactly correct. Man is something more than an instrument. Truth is the mere unconscious instrument. But man is more: he is a voluntary, responsible agent in the business. In a sermon, I have illustrated this idea by the case of an individual standing on the banks of Niagara.

"Suppose yourself to be standing on the banks of the Falls of Niagara. As you stand upon the verge of the precipice, you behold a man, lost in deep reverie, approaching its verge, unconscious of his danger. He approaches nearer and nearer, until he actually lifts his foot to take the final step that shall plunge him in destruction. At this moment, you lift your warning voice above the roar of the foaming waters, and cry out: 'Stop!' The voice pierces his ear, and breaks the charm that binds him; he turns instantly upon his heel; all pale and aghast he retires, quivering, from the verge of death. He reels and almost swoons with horror; turns, and walks slowly to the hotel; you follow him; the manifest agitation in his countenance calls numbers around him; and on your approach he points to you, and says: 'That man saved my life.' Here he ascribes the work to you; and certainly there is a sense in which you had saved him. But, on being further questioned, he says: "'Stop!" How that word rings in my ears. Oh, that was to me the word of life!' Here he ascribes it to the word that aroused him, and caused him to turn.

"But on conversing still further, he says: 'Had I not turned at that instant, I should have been a dead man.' Here he speaks of it (and truly) as his own act. But you directly hear him say: 'Oh, the mercy of God! If God had not interposed, I should have been lost!' Now, the only defect in this illustration is this: In the case supposed, the only interference on the part of God was a providential one; and the only sense in which the saving of the man's life is ascribed to Him, is in a providential sense. But in the conversion of a sinner there is something more than the providence of God employed; for here, not only does the providence of God so order it, that the preacher cries: 'Stop!' but the Spirit of God urges the truth home upon him with such tremendous power as to induce him to turn."

Not only does the minister cry: "Stop!" but through the living voice of the preacher, the Spirit cries: "Stop!" The preacher cries: "Turn ye, why will ye die?" The Spirit sends the expostulation home with such power that the sinner turns. Now, in speaking of this change, it is perfectly proper to say, that the Spirit turned him; just as you would say of a man who had persuaded another to change his mind on the subject of politics, that he had converted him, and brought him over. It is also proper to say that the truth converted him; as, in a case when the political sentiments of a man were changed by a certain argument, we should say that argument brought him over. So, also, with perfect propriety, may we ascribe the change to the preacher, or to him who had presented the motives; just as he would say of a lawyer who had prevailed in his argument with a jury: "He has won his case; he has converted the jury." It is also with the same propriety ascribed to the individual himself whose heart is changed; we should say that he has changed his mind, he has come over, he has repented. Now it is strictly true, and true in the most absolute and highest sense; the act is his own act, the turning is his own turning, while God by the truth has induced him to turn; still it is strictly true that he has turned, and has done it himself. Thus you see the sense in which it is the work of God; and also the sense in which it is the sinner's own work.

The Spirit of God, by the truth, influences the sinner to change, and in this sense is the efficient Cause of the change. But the sinner actually changes, and is therefore himself, in the most proper sense, the author of the change. There are some, who, on reading their Bibles, fasten their eyes on those passages that ascribe the work to the Spirit of God, and seem to overlook those which ascribe it to man, and speak of it as the sinner's own act. When they have quoted Scripture to prove it is the work of God, they seem to think they have proved that it is that in which man is passive, and that it can in no sense be the work of man.

Some time ago a tract was written, the title of which was, "Regeneration, the Effect of Divine Power." The writer goes on to prove that the work is wrought by the Spirit of God; and there he stops. Now it had been just as true, just as philosophical, and just as scriptural, if he had said that conversion was the work of man. It is easy to prove that it is the work of God, in the sense in which I have explained it. The writer, therefore, tells the truth, so far as he goes; but he has told only half the truth. For while there is a sense in which it is the work of God, as he has shown, there is also a sense in which it is the work of man, as we have just seen. The very title to this tract is a stumbling block. It tells the truth, but it does not tell the whole truth. And a tract might be written upon this proposition that "Conversion, or regeneration, is the work of man" which would be just as true, just as Scriptural, and just as philosophical, as the one to which I have alluded. Thus the writer, in his zeal to recognize and honor God as concerned in this work, by leaving out the fact that a change of heart is the sinner's own act, has left the sinner strongly entrenched, with his weapons in his rebellious hands, stoutly resisting the claims of his Maker, and waiting passively for God to make him a new heart. Thus you see the consistency between the requirement of the text, and the declared fact that God is the author of the new heart. God commands you to make you a new heart, expects you to do it; and, if ever it is done, you must do it.

And let me tell you, sinner, if you do not do it you will go to hell; and to all eternity you will feel that you deserved to be sent there for not having done it.


I shall now advert to several important particulars growing out of this subject, as connected with preaching the Gospel, and which show that great practical wisdom is indispensable to win souls to Christ.

(a) First, all preaching should be practical. The proper end of all doctrine is practice. Anything brought forward as doctrine, which cannot be made use of as practical, is not preaching the Gospel. There is none of that sort of preaching in the Bible. That is all practical. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16:17).

A vast deal of preaching in the present day, as well as in past ages, is called doctrinal, as opposed to practical preaching. The very idea of making this distinction is a device of the devil. And a more abominable device Satan himself never devised. You sometimes hear certain men talk a wonderful deal about the necessity of "indoctrinating the people." By which they mean something different from practical preaching; teaching them certain doctrines, as abstract truths, without any particular reference to practice. And I have known a minister in the midst of a revival, while surrounded with anxious sinners, leave off laboring to convert souls, for the purpose of "indoctrinating" the young converts, for fear somebody else should indoctrinate them before him. And there the revival stops!

Either his doctrine was not true, or it was not preached in the right way.

To preach doctrines in an abstract way, and not in reference to practice, is absurd. God always brings in doctrine to regulate practice. To bring forward doctrinal views for any other object is not only nonsense; it is wicked.

Some people are opposed to doctrinal preaching. If they have been used to hear doctrines preached in a cold, abstract way, no wonder they are opposed to it. They ought to be opposed to such preaching. But what can a man preach, who preaches no doctrine? If he preaches no doctrine, he preaches no Gospel. And if he does not preach it in a practical way, he does not preach the Gospel. All preaching should be doctrinal, and all preaching should be practical. The very design of doctrine is to regulate practice. Any preaching that has not this tendency is not the Gospel. A loose, exhortatory style of preaching may affect the passions, and may produce excitement, but will never sufficiently instruct the people to secure sound conversions. On the other hand, preaching doctrine in an abstract manner may fill the head with notions, but will never sanctify the heart or life.

(b) Preaching should be direct. The Gospel should be preached to men, and not about men. The minister must address his hearers. He must preach to them about themselves, and not leave the impression that he is preaching to them about others. He will never do them any good, further than he succeeds in convincing each individual that he is the person in question.

Many preachers seem very much afraid of making the impression that they mean anybody in particular. They are preaching against certain sins - not that these have anything to do with the sinner; they would by no means speak as if they supposed any of their hearers were guilty of these abominable practices. Now this is anything but preaching the Gospel.

Thus did not the prophets, nor Christ, nor the apostles. Nor do those ministers do this, who are successful in winning souls to Christ.

(c) Another very important thing to be regarded in preaching is, that the minister should hunt after sinners and Christians, wherever they may have entrenched themselves in inaction. It is not the design of preaching to make men easy and quiet, but to make them ACT. It is not the design, in calling in a physician, to have him give opiates, and so cover up the disease and let it run on till it works death; but to search out the disease wherever it may be hidden, and to remove it. So, if a professor of religion has backslidden, and is full of doubts and fears, it is not the minister's duty to quiet him in his sins, and comfort him, but to hunt him out of his errors and backslidings, and to show him just where he stands, and what it is that makes him full of doubts and fears.

A minister ought to know the religious opinions of every sinner in his congregation. Indeed, a minister in the country is inexcusable if he does not. He has no excuse for not knowing the religious views of all his congregation, and of all that may come under his influence. How otherwise can he preach to them? How can he know how to bring forth things new and old, and adapt truth to their case? How can he hunt them out unless he knows where they hide themselves? He may ring changes on a few fundamental doctrines - Repentance and Faith, and Faith and Repentance - till the Day of Judgment, and never make any impression on many minds. Every sinner has some hiding place, some entrenchment, where he lingers. He is in possession of some darling LIE, with which he is quieting himself. Let the minister find it out, and get it away, either in the pulpit or in private, or the man will go to hell in his sins, and his blood will be found on the minister's skirts.

(d) Another important thing to observe is, that a minister should dwell most on those particular points which are most needed. I will explain what I mean.

Sometimes he may find a people who have been led to place great reliance on their own resolutions. They think they can consult their own convenience, and by-and-by they will repent, when they are ready, without any concern about the Spirit of God. Let him take up these notions, and show that they are entirely contrary to the Scriptures. Let him show that if the Spirit of God is grieved away, by and by, when it shall be convenient for the sinner to repent, he will have no inclination.

The minister who finds these errors prevailing, should expose them. He should hunt them out, and understand just how they are held, and then preach the class of truths which show the fallacy, the folly, and the danger of these notions.

So, on the other hand, he may find a people who have such views of Election and Sovereignty, as to think they have nothing to do but to wait for "the moving of the waters." Let him go right over against them, urge upon them their ability to obey God, show them their obligation and duty, and press them with that until he brings them to submit and be saved.

They have got behind a perverted view of these doctrines, and there is no way to drive them out of the hiding place, but to set them right on these points. Wherever a sinner is entrenched, unless you pour light upon him there, you will never move him. It is of no use to press him with those truths which he admits, however plainly they may in fact contradict his wrong notions. He supposes them to be perfectly consistent, and does not see the inconsistency, and therefore it will not move him, or bring him to repentance.

I have been informed of a minister in New England, who was settled in a congregation which had long enjoyed little else than Armenian preaching, and the congregation themselves were chiefly Armenians. Well, this minister, in his preaching, strongly insisted on the opposite points, Election, Divine Sovereignty, Predestination, etc. The consequence was, as might have been expected where this was done with ability, that there was a powerful revival. Some time afterwards this same minister was called to labor in another field, in this State, where the people were all on the other side, and strongly tinctured with Antinomianism. They had got such perverted views of Election and Divine Sovereignty, that they were continually saying they had no power to do anything, but must wait God's time. Now, what does the minister do, but immediately go to preaching the doctrine of Election. And when he was asked how he could think of preaching the doctrine of Election so much to that people, when it was the very thing that lulled them to a deeper slumber, he replied: "Why, that is the very class of truths by which I had such a great revival in -"; not considering the difference in the views of the people. You must take things as they are; find out where sinners lie, pour in truth upon them there, and START THEM OUT from their refuges of lies. It is of vast importance that a minister should find out where the congregation is, and preach accordingly.

I have been in many places in times of revival, and I have never been able to employ precisely the same course of preaching in one as in another.

Some are entrenched behind one refuge, and some behind another. In one place, Christians will need to be instructed; in another, sinners. In one place, one set of truths; in another, another set. A minister must find out where people are, and preach accordingly. I believe this is the experience of all preachers who are called to labor from field to field.

(e) If a minister means to promote a revival, he should be very careful not to introduce controversy. He will grieve away the Spirit of God. In this way, probably, more revivals are put down than in any other. Look back upon the history of the Church from the beginning, and you will see that ministers are generally responsible for grieving away the Spirit and causing declensions by controversy. It is the ministers who bring forward controversial subjects for discussion, and by and by they get very zealous on the subject, and then get the Church into a controversial spirit, and so the Spirit of God is grieved away.

If I had time to go over the history of the Church from the days of the apostles, I could show that all the controversies that have taken place, and all the great declensions in religion, too, are chargeable upon ministers. I believe the ministers of the present day are responsible for the present state of the Church, and it will be seen to be true at the judgment. Who does not know that ministers have been crying out "Heresy," and "New Measures," and talking about the "Evils of Revivals," until they have got the Church all in confusion? Oh, God, have mercy on ministers! They talk about their days of fasting and prayer, but are these the men to call on others to fast and pray? They ought to fast and pray themselves. It is time that ministers should assemble together, and fast and pray over the evils of controversy, for they have caused it. The Church itself would never get into a controversial spirit, unless led into it by ministers. The body of Church members are always averse to controversy, and would keep out of it, only they are dragged into it by ministers. When Christians are revived they are not inclined to meddle with controversy, either to read or hear it.

But they may be told of such and such "damnable heresies" that are afloat, till they get their feelings enlisted in controversy, and then farewell to the revival. If a minister, in preaching, finds it necessary to discuss particular points about which Christians differ in opinion, let him BY ALL MEANS avoid a controversial spirit and manner of doing it.

(f) The Gospel should be preached in those proportions, that the whole Gospel may be brought before the minds of the people, and produce its proper influence. If too much stress is laid on one class of truths, the Christian character will not have its due proportions. Its symmetry will not be perfect. If that class of truths be almost exclusively dwelt upon, that requires great exertion of intellect, without being brought home to the heart and conscience, it will be found that the Church will be indoctrinated in those views, but will not be awake, and active, and efficient in the promotion of religion. If, on the other hand, the preaching be loose, indefinite, exhortatory, and highly impassioned, the Church will be like a ship with too much sail for her ballast. It will be in danger of being swept away by a tempest of feeling, when there is not sufficient knowledge to prevent its being carried away with every wind of doctrine. If Election and Sovereignty are too much preached, there will be Antinomianism in the Church, and sinners will hide themselves behind the delusion that they can do nothing. If, on the other hand, doctrines of ability and obligation be too prominent, they will produce Arminianism, and sinners will be blustering and self-confident.

When I entered the ministry, there had been so much said about Election and Sovereignty, that I found it was the universal hiding place, both of sinners and of Christians, that they could not do anything, or could not obey the Gospel. And wherever, I went, I found it indispensable to demolish these refuges of lies. And a revival would in no way have been produced or carried on, but by dwelling on that class of truths, which hold up man's ability, and obligation, and responsibility.

It was not so in the days when President Edwards and Whitefield labored.

Then, the Churches in New England had enjoyed little else than Armenian preaching, and were all resting in themselves and their own strength. These bold and devoted servants of God came out and declared those particular doctrines of grace, Divine Sovereignty and Election, and they were greatly blessed. They did not dwell on these doctrines exclusively, but they preached them very fully. The consequence was that because in those circumstances revivals followed from such preaching, the ministers who followed continued to preach these doctrines almost exclusively. And they dwelt on them so long that the Church and the world got entrenched behind them, waiting for God to come and do what He required them to do; and so revivals ceased for many years.

Now, and for years past, ministers have been engaged in hunting them out from these refuges. And here it is all-important for the ministers of this day to bear in mind that if they dwell exclusively on Ability and Obligation, they will get their hearers back on the old Armenian ground, and then they will cease to promote revivals. Here are ministers who have preached a great deal of truth, and have had great revivals, under God.

Now, let it be known and remarked, that the reason is, they have hunted sinners out from their hiding places. But if they continue to dwell on the same class of truths till sinners hide themselves behind such preaching, another class of truths must be preached. And then if they do not change their mode, another pall will hang over the Church, until another class of ministers shall arise and hunt sinners out of those new retreats.

A right view of both classes of truths, Election and Free-agency, will do no hurt. They are eminently calculated to convert sinners and strengthen saints. It is a perverted view that chills the heart of the Church, and closes the eyes of sinners in sleep. If I had time, I would remark on the manner in which I have sometimes heard the doctrines of Divine Sovereignty, Election, and Ability preached. They have been exhibited in irreconcilable contradiction, the one against the other. Such exhibitions are anything but the Gospel, and are calculated to make a sinner feel anything rather than his responsibility to God.

By preaching truth in proper proportions, I do not mean mingling all things together in the same sermon, in such a way that sinners will not see their connection or consistency. A minister once asked another: "Why do you not preach the doctrine of Election?" "Because," said the other, "I find sinners here are entrenched behind Inability." The first then said he once knew a minister who used to preach Election in the forenoon and Repentance in the afternoon. But, bringing things together that confound the sinner's mind, and overwhelm him with a fog of metaphysics, is not wise preaching. When talking of Election, the preacher is not talking of the sinner's duty. It has no relation to the sinner's duty. Election belongs to the government of God. It is a part of the exceeding richness of the grace of God. It shows the love of God - not the duty of the sinner. And to bring Election and Repentance together in this way is diverting the sinner's mind away from his duty. It has been customary, in many places, for a long time, to bring the doctrine of Election into every sermon. Sinners have been commanded to repent, and told that they could not repent, in the same sermon. A great deal of ingenuity has been exercised in endeavoring to reconcile a sinner's "inability" with his obligation to obey God.

Election, Predestination, Free-agency, Inability, and Duty, have all been thrown together in one promiscuous jumble. And, with regard to many sermons, it has been too true, as has been objected, that ministers have preached: "You can and you cannot, you shall and you shall not, you will and you will not, and you will be lost if you do not!" Such a mixture of truth and error, of light and darkness, has confounded the congregation, and been the fruitful source of Universalism and every species of infidelity and error.

(g) It is of great importance that the sinner should be made to feel his guilt, and not left to the impression that he is unfortunate. I think this is a very prevalent fault, particularly in books on the subject. They are calculated to make the sinner think more of his sorrows than of his sins, and feel that his state is rather unfortunate than criminal. Perhaps most of you have seen a lovely little book, recently published, entitled "Todd's Lectures to Children." It is exquisitely fine, and happy in some of its illustrations of truth. But it has one very serious fault. Many of its illustrations, I may say most of them, are not calculated to make a correct impression respecting the guilt of sinners, or to make them feel how much they have been to blame. This is very unfortunate. If the writer had guarded his illustrations on this point, so as to make them impress sinners with a sense of their guilt, I do not see how a child could have read through that book and not have been converted. Multitudes of the books written for children, and for adults too, within the last twenty years, have run into this mistake to an alarming degree. They are not calculated to make the sinner condemn himself. Until you can do this, the Gospel will never take effect.

(h) A prime object with the preacher must be to make present obligation felt. I have talked, I suppose, with many thousands of anxious sinners.

And I have found that they had never before felt the pressure of present obligation. The impression is not commonly made by ministers in their preaching that sinners are expected to repent NOW. And if ministers suppose they make this impression, they deceive themselves. Most commonly any other impression is made upon the minds of sinners by the preacher than that they are expected now to submit. But what sort of a Gospel is this? Does God authorize such an impression? Is this according to the preaching of Jesus Christ? Does the Holy Spirit, when striving with the sinner, make the impression upon his mind that he is not expected to obey now? Was any such impression produced by the preaching of the apostles? How does it happen that so many ministers now preach, so as, in fact, to make an impression on their hearers that they are not expected to repent now? Until the sinner's conscience is reached on this subject, you preach to him in vain. And until ministers learn how to preach so as to make the right impression, the world never can be converted. Oh, to what an alarming extent does the impression now prevail among the impenitent, that they are not expected to repent now, but must wait God's time!

(i) Sinners ought to be made to feel that they have something to do, and that is, to repent; that it is something which no other being can do for them, neither God nor man; and something which they can do, and do now. Religion is something to do, not something to wait for. And they must do it now, or they are in danger of eternal death.

(j) Ministers should never rest satisfied, until they have ANNIHILATED every excuse of sinners. The plea of "inability" is the worst of excuses. It slanders God so, charging Him with infinite tyranny, in commanding men to do that which they have no power to do. Make the sinner see and feel that this is the very nature of his excuse. Make the sinner see that All pleas in excuse for not submitting to God are acts of rebellion against Him.

Tear away the last LIE which he grasps in his hand, and make him feel that he is absolutely condemned before God.

(k) Sinners should be made to feel that if they now grieve away the Spirit of God, it is very probable that they will be lost forever. There is infinite danger of this. They should be made to understand why they are dependent on the Spirit, and that it is not because they cannot do what God commands, but because they are unwilling. They are so unwilling that it is just as certain they will not repent without the Holy Ghost, as if they were now in hell, or as if they were actually unable. They are so opposed and so unwilling, that they never will repent in the world, unless God sends His Holy Spirit upon them.

Show them, too, that a sinner under the Gospel, who hears the truth preached, if converted at all, is generally converted young; and if not converted while young, he is commonly given up of God. Where the truth is preached, sinners are either Gospel-hardened or converted. I know some old sinners are converted, but they are rather exceptions, and by no means common.
(a) It should be conversational. Preaching, to be understood, should be colloquial in style. A minister must preach just as he would talk, if he wishes fully to be understood. Nothing is more calculated to make a sinner feel that religion is some mysterious thing that he cannot understand than this formal, lofty style of speaking which is so generally employed in the pulpit. The minister ought to do as the lawyer does when he wants to make a jury understand him perfectly. He uses a style perfectly colloquial.

This lofty, swelling style will do no good. The Gospel will never produce any great effects until ministers talk to their hearers, in the pulpit, as they talk in private conversation.

(b) It must be in the language of common life. Not only should it be colloquial in its style, but the words should be such as are in common use.

Otherwise they will not be understood. In the New Testament you will observe that Jesus Christ invariably uses words of the most common kind.

The language of the Gospel is the plainest, simplest, and most easily understood of any language in the world.

For a minister to neglect this principle is wicked. Some ministers use language that is purely technical in preaching. They think to avoid the mischief by explaining the meaning fully at the outset; but this will not answer. It will not effect the object in making the people understand what he means. If he should use a word that is not in common use and that people do not understand, his explanation may be very full, but the difficulty is that people will forget his explanations, and then his words are so much Greek to them. Or if he uses a word in common use, but employs it in an uncommon sense, giving his special explanations, it is no better; for the people will soon forget his special explanations, and then the impression actually conveyed to their minds will be according to their common understanding of the word. And thus he will never convey the right idea to his congregation. It is amazing how many men of thinking minds there are in congregations, who do not understand the most common technical expressions employed by ministers, such as regeneration, sanctification, etc.

Use words that can be perfectly understood. Do not, for fear of appearing unlearned, use language which the people do not understand. The apostle says: "If I know not the meaning... he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me" (1 Corinthians 14:11). And: "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (v. 8). In the apostle's days there were some preachers who were marvelously proud of displaying their command of language, and showing off the variety of tongues they could speak, which the common people could not understand. The apostle rebukes this spirit sharply, and says: "I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (v. 19).

I have sometimes heard ministers preach, even when there was a revival, when I have wondered what that part of the congregation would do, who had no dictionary. So many phrases were brought in, manifestly to adorn the discourse, rather than to instruct the people, that I have felt as if I wanted to tell the man: "Sit down, and do not confound the people's minds with your barbarian preaching, that they cannot understand."

(c) Preaching should be parabolical. That is, illustrations should be constantly used, drawn from incidents, real or supposed. Jesus Christ constantly illustrated His instructions in this way. He would either advance a principle and then illustrate it by a parable - that is, a short story of some event, real or imaginary - or else He would bring out the principle in the parable. There are millions of facts that can be used to advantage, and yet very few ministers dare to use them, for fear somebody will reproach them. "Oh," says somebody, "he actually tells stories!"

Tells stories! Why, that is the way Jesus Christ preached. And it is the only way to preach. Facts, real or supposed, should be used to show the truth. Truths not illustrated, are generally just as much calculated to convert sinners as a mathematical demonstration. Is it always to be so?

Shall it always be a matter of reproach, when ministers follow the example of Jesus Christ in illustrating truths by facts? Let them still do it, however much the foolish reproach them as story-telling ministers! They have Jesus Christ and common sense on their side.

(d) The illustrations should be drawn from common life, and the common business of society. I once heard a minister illustrate his ideas by the manner in which merchants transact business. Another minister who was present made some remarks to him afterwards. He objected to this illustration particularly, because, he said, it was too familiar, and was "letting down the dignity of the pulpit." He said all illustrations in preaching should be drawn from ancient history, or from an elevated source, that would keep up the dignity of the pulpit. Dignity indeed! Just the language of the devil. He rejoices in it. Why, the object of an illustration is to make people see the truth, not to bolster up pulpit dignity.

A minister whose heart is in the work does not use an illustration in order to make people stare, but to make them see the truth. If he brought forward his illustrations from ancient history, it could not make the people see; it would not illustrate anything. The novelty of the thing might awaken their attention, but they would lose the truth itself. For if the illustration itself be a novelty, the attention will be directed to this fact as a matter of history, and the truth itself, which it was designed to illustrate, will be lost sight of. The illustration should, if possible, be a matter of common occurrence, and the more common the occurrence the more sure it will be not to fix attention upon itself, but to serve as a medium through which the truth is conveyed.

The Savior always illustrated His instructions by things that were taking place among the people to whom He preached, and with which their minds were familiar. He descended often very far below what is now supposed to be essential to support the dignity of the pulpit. He talked about hens and chickens, and children in marketplaces, and sheep and lambs, and shepherds and farmers, and husbandmen and merchants. And when He talked about kings (as in the marriage of the King's son, and the nobleman that went into a far country to receive a Kingdom), He made reference to historical facts that were well known among the people at the time. The illustration should always be drawn from things so common that the illustration itself will not attract attention away from the subject, but that people may see, through it, the truth illustrated.

(e) Preaching should be repetitious. If a minister wishes to preach with effect, he must not be afraid of repeating whatever he may see is not perfectly understood by his hearers. Here is the evil of using a written sermon. The preacher preaches right along just as he has written it down, and cannot observe whether he is understood or not. If he should interrupt his reading, and attempt to catch the countenances of his audience, and to explain where he sees they do not understand, he grows confused. If a minister has his eyes on the people to whom he is preaching, he can commonly tell by their looks whether they understand him. If he sees that they do not understand any particular point, let him stop and illustrate it; and if they do not understand one illustration, let him give another, and make it clear to their minds before he goes on. But those who write their sermons go right on, in a regular consecutive train, just as in an essay or a book, failing, through want of repetition, to make the audience fully comprehend their points.

During a conversation with one of the first advocates in America, he expressed the view that when preachers experience difficulty in making themselves understood, it arises from the fact that they do not repeat their points sufficiently. Said he: "In addressing a jury, I always expect that whatever I wish to impress upon their minds, I shall have to repeat at least twice; and often I repeat it three or four times, and even as many, times as there are jurymen before me. Otherwise, I do not carry their minds with me, so that they can feel the force of what comes afterwards." If a jury, under oath, called to decide on the common affairs of this world, cannot apprehend an argument, unless there is so much repetition, how is it to be expected that men will understand the preaching of the Gospel without it?

In like manner the minister ought to turn an important thought over and over before his audience, till even the children understand it perfectly. Do not say that so much repetition will create disgust in cultivated minds. It will not disgust. This is not what disgusts thinking men. They are not weary of the efforts a minister makes to be understood. The fact is, the more simple a minister's illustrations are, and the more plain he makes everything, the more men of mind are interested. I know, in fact, that men of the first minds often get ideas they never had before, from illustrations which were designed to bring the Gospel down to the comprehension of a child. Such men are commonly so occupied with the affairs of this world, that they do not think much on the subject of religion, and they therefore need the plainest preaching, and they will like it.

(f) A minister should always feel deeply upon his subject, and then he will suit the action to the word, and the word to the action, so as to make the full impression which the truth is calculated to make. He should be in solemn earnest in what he says. I heard a most judicious criticism on this subject: "How important it is that a minister should feel what he says.

Then his actions will, of course, correspond to his words. If he undertakes to make gestures, his arms may go like a windmill, and yet make no impression." It is said to require the utmost stretch of art on the stage for the actors to make their hearers feel. The design of elocution is to teach this skill. But if a man feels his subject fully, he will naturally do it. He will naturally do the very thing that elocution laboriously teaches. See any common man in the streets who is earnest in talking; see with what force he gestures. See a woman or a child in earnest - how natural! To gesture with their hands is as natural as it is to move their tongue and lips: it is the perfection of eloquence.

No wonder that a great deal of preaching produces so little effect. Gestures are of more importance than is generally supposed. Mere words will never express the full meaning of the Gospel. The manner of saying it is almost everything. I once heard a remark made, respecting a young minister's preaching, which was instructive. (He was uneducated, in the common sense of the term, but well educated to win souls.) It was said of him: "The manner in which he comes in, and sits in the pulpit, and rises to speak, is a sermon of itself. It shows that he has something to say that is important and solemn." That man's manner of saying some things I have known to move the feelings of a whole congregation, when the same things said in a prosy way would have produced no effect at all.

A fact which was stated upon this subject by one of the most distinguished professors of elocution in the United States, ought to impress ministers. (The man was an unbeliever.) He said: "I have been fourteen years employed in teaching elocution to ministers, and I know they do not believe the Christian religion. Whether the Bible is true or not, I know these ministers do not believe it. I can demonstrate that they do not. The perfection of my art is to teach them to speak naturally on this subject. I go to their studies, and converse with them, and they speak eloquently. I say to them: 'Gentlemen, if you will preach naturally, just as you speak on any other subject in which you are interested, you do not need to be taught. That is just what I am trying to teach you. I hear you talk on other subjects with admirable force and eloquence. Then I see you go into the pulpit, and you speak and act as if you do not believe what you are saying.' I have told them, again and again, to talk in the pulpit as they naturally talk to me. Yet I cannot make them do it; and so I know they do not believe the Christian religion."

I have mentioned this to show how universal it is, that men will gesture right, if they feel right. The only thing in the way of ministers being natural speakers is, that they do not DEEPLY FEEL. How can they be natural in elocution, when they do not feel?

(g) A minister should aim to convert his congregation. But, you will ask: Does not all preaching aim at this? No. A minister always has some aim in preaching, but most sermons were never aimed at converting sinners. And if sinners were converted under them, the preacher himself would be amazed. I once heard a story bearing on this point. There were two young ministers who had entered the ministry at the same time. One of them had great success in converting sinners; the other, none. The latter inquired of the other, one day, what was the reason of this difference. "Why," replied his friend, "the reason is, that I aim at a different end from you in preaching. My object is to convert sinners, but you aim at no such thing; and then you put it down to the Sovereignty of God that you do not produce the same effect, when you never aim at it. Take one of my sermons and preach it, and see what the effect will be." The man did so, and preached the sermon, and it did produce effect. He was frightened when sinners began to weep; and when one came to him after meeting to ask what he should do, the minister apologized to him, and said: "I did not aim to wound you, I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings!" Oh, horrible!

(h) A minister must anticipate the objections of sinners, and answer them.

What does the lawyer do, when pleading before a jury? (Oh, how differently from human causes is the cause of Jesus Christ pleaded!) It was remarked by a lawyer, that the cause of Jesus Christ had the fewest able advocates of any cause in the world. And I partly believe it. Does not a lawyer go along in his argument in a regular train, explaining anything that is obscure, and anticipating the arguments of his antagonist? If he did not, he would lose his case, to a certainty. But ministers often leave one difficulty and another untouched. Sinners who hear them feel a difficulty, and never know how to remove it, and perhaps the minister never takes the trouble to know that such a difficulty exists. Yet he wonders why his congregation is not converted, and why there is no revival. How can he wonder at it, when he has never hunted up the difficulties and objections that sinners feel, and removed them?

(i) If a minister means to preach the Gospel with effect, he must be sure not to be monotonous. If he preaches in a monotonous way, he will preach the people to sleep. Any monotonous sound, great or small, if continued, disposes people to sleep. The falls of Niagara, the roaring of the ocean, or any sound ever so great or small, has this effect naturally on the nervous system. And a minister cannot be monotonous in preaching, if he feels what he says.

(j) A minister should address the feelings enough to secure attention, and then deal with the conscience, and probe to the quick. Appeals to the feelings alone will never convert sinners. If the preacher deals too much in these, he may get up an excitement, and have wave after wave of feeling flow over the congregation, and people may be carried away as with a flood, and rest in false hopes. The only way to secure sound conversions, is to deal faithfully with the conscience. If attention flags at any time, appeal to the feelings again, and rouse it up; but do your work with conscience.

(k) If he can, it is desirable that a minister should learn the effect of one sermon, before he preaches another. What would be thought of the physician who should give medicine to his patient, and then give it again and again, without trying to learn the effect of the first? A minister never will be able to deal with sinners as he ought, till he can find out whether his instruction has been received and understood, and whether the difficulties in sinners' minds are cleared away, and their path open to the Savior, so that they need not go on stumbling and stumbling till their souls are lost.


Until the late revivals, professional men were rarely reached by preaching, and they were almost all infidels at heart. People almost understood the Bible to warrant the idea that they could not be converted. The reason is obvious. The Gospel had not been commended to the conscience of such men. Ministers had not reasoned so as to make that class of mind see the truth of the Gospel, and feel its power; consequently such persons had come to regard religion as something unworthy of their notice.

Of late years, however, the case is altered, and in some places there have been more of this class of persons converted, in proportion to their numbers, than of any other. That is because they were made to understand the claims of the Gospel. The preacher grappled with their minds, and showed them the reasonableness of religion. And when this is done, it is found that this class of mind is more easily converted than any other.

They have so much better capacity to receive an argument, and are so much more in the habit of yielding to the force of reason, that as soon as the Gospel gets a fair hold of their minds, it breaks them right down, and melts them down at the feet of Christ.
(a) No set of men can stand the labor of writing sermons and doing all the preaching which will be requisite.

(b) Written sermons are not calculated to produce the requisite effect. Such preaching does not present the truth in right shape.

It is impossible for a man who writes his sermons to arrange his matter, and turn and choose his thoughts, so as to produce the same effect as when he addresses the people directly, and makes them feel that he means them. Writing sermons had its origin in times of political difficulty. The practice was unknown in the apostles' days. No doubt written sermons have done a great deal of good, but they can never give to the Gospel its great power.

Perhaps many ministers have been so long trained in the use of notes, that they had better not throw them away. Perhaps they would make bad work without them. The difficulty would not be for want of mind, but from wrong training. The bad habit is begun with the schoolboy, who is called to "speak his piece." Instead of being set to express his own thoughts and feelings in his own language, and in his own natural manner, such as Nature herself prompts, he is made to commit another person's writing to memory, and then he mouths it out in a stiff and formal way. And so when he goes to college, and to the seminary, instead of being trained to extempore speaking, he is set to write his piece, and commit it to memory.

I would pursue the opposite course from the beginning. I would give him a subject, and let him first think, and then speak his thoughts. Perhaps he will make mistakes. Very well, that is to be expected in a beginner. But he will learn. Suppose he is not eloquent, at first. Very well, he can improve.

And he is in the very way to improve. This kind of training alone will raise up a class of ministers who can convert the world.

But it is objected to extemporaneous preaching, that if ministers do not write, they will not think. This objection will have weight with those men whose habit has always been to write down their thoughts. But to a man of different habit, it will have no weight at all.

The mechanical labor of writing is really a hindrance to close and rapid thought. It is true that some extempore preachers have not been men of thought. But so it is true that many men who write sermons are not men of thought. A man whose habits have always been such, that he has thought only when he has put his mind on the end of his pen, will, of course, if he lays aside his pen, at first find it difficult to think; and if he attempts to preach without writing, will, until his habits are thoroughly changed, find it difficult to throw into his sermons the same amount of thought, as if he conformed to his old habit of writing. But it should be remembered that this is only on account of his having been trained to write, and having always habituated himself to it. It is the training and habit that render it so difficult for him to think without writing. Will anybody pretend to say that lawyers are not men of thought? That their arguments before a court and jury are not profound and well digested? And yet every one knows that they do not write their speeches.

I have heard much of this objection to extempore preaching ever since I entered the ministry. It was often said to me then, in answer to my views of extempore preaching, that ministers who preached extemporaneously would not instruct the Churches, that there would be a great deal of sameness in their preaching, and they would soon become insipid and repetitious for want of thought. But every year's experience has ripened the conviction on my mind, that the reverse of this objection is true. The man who writes least, may, if he pleases, think most, and will say what he does think in a manner that will be better understood than if it were written; and that, just in the proportion that he lays aside the labor of writing, his body will be left free to exercise, and his mind to vigorous and consecutive thought.

The great reason why it is supposed that extempore preachers more frequently repeat the same thoughts in their preaching, is because what they say is, in a general way, more perfectly remembered by the congregation, than if it had been read. I have often known preachers who could repeat their written sermons once in a few months, without the fact being recognized by the congregation. But the manner in which extempore sermons are generally delivered is so much more impressive, that the thoughts cannot in general be soon repeated without being remembered.

We shall never have a set of men in our halls of legislation, in our courts of justice, and in our pulpits, who are powerful and overwhelming speakers, and can carry the world before them, till our system of education teaches them to think, closely, rapidly, consecutively, and till all their habits of speaking in the schools are extemporaneous. The very style of communicating thought, in what is commonly called a good style of writing, is not calculated to leave a deep impression. It is not laconic, direct, pertinent. It is not the language of nature.

In delivering a sermon in this essay style of writing, it is impossible that nearly all the fire of meaning, and power of gesture, and looks, and attitude, and emphasis, should not be lost. We can never have the full meaning of the Gospel, till we throw away our written sermons.
I mean just as I say. I am not now going to discuss the question whether all education ought not to be theological. But I say education for the ministry should be exclusively so. But you will ask: Should not a minister understand science? I would answer: Yes; the more the better. I would that ministers might understand all science. But it should all be in connection with theology. Studying science is studying the works of God. And studying theology is studying God.

Let a scholar be asked, for instance, this question: "Is there a God?" To answer it, let him ransack the universe, let him go out into every department of science to find the proofs of design, and in this way to learn the existence of God. Let him ransack creation to see whether there is such a unity of design as evinces that there is one God. In like manner, let him inquire concerning the attributes of God, and His character. He will learn science here, but will learn it as a part of theology. Let him search every field of knowledge to bring forward his proofs. What was the design of this plan? What was the end of that arrangement? See whether everything you find in the universe is not calculated to produce happiness, unless perverted.

Would the student's heart get hard and cold in study, as cold and hard as college walls, if science were pursued in this way? Every lesson brings him right up before God, and is, in fact, communion with God, which warms his heart, and makes him more pious, more solemn, more holy. The very distinction between classical and theological study is a curse to the Church, and a curse to the world. The student spends four years in college at classical studies, with no God in them; and then three years in the seminary, at theological studies; and what then? Poor young man! Set him to work, and you will find that he is not educated for the ministry at all.

The Church groans under his preaching, because he does not preach with unction, or with power. He has been spoiled in training.
(a) That it is letting down the dignity of the pulpit to preach in this colloquial, lawyer-like style. They are shocked at it. But it is only on account of its novelty, and not for any impropriety there is in the thing itself. I heard a remark made by a leading layman in regard to the preaching of a certain minister. He said it was the first preaching he had ever heard, that he understood, and the minister was the first he had heard who spoke as if he believed his own doctrine, or meant what he said. The layman further said that when first he heard the minister preach - as if he really meant what he said - he came to the conclusion that such a preacher must be crazy! But, eventually, he was made to see that it was all true, and then he submitted to the truth, as the power of God for the salvation of his soul.

What is the dignity of the pulpit? What an idea, to see a minister go into the pulpit to sustain its dignity! Alas, alas! During my foreign tour, I heard an English missionary preach exactly in that way. I believe he was a good man, and out of the pulpit he would talk like a man who meant what he said. But no sooner was he in the pulpit than he appeared like a perfect automaton - swelling, mouthing, and singing, enough to put all the people to sleep. And the difficulty seemed to be that he wanted to maintain the dignity of the pulpit.

(b) It is objected that this preaching is theatrical. The Bishop of London once asked Garrick, the celebrated actor, why it was that actors, in representing a mere fiction, should move an assembly, even to tears, while ministers, in representing the most solemn realities, could scarcely obtain a hearing. The philosophical Garrick well replied: "It is because we represent fiction as reality, and you represent reality as a fiction." This is telling the whole story. Now, what is the design of the actor in a theatrical representation? It is so to throw himself into the spirit and meaning of the writer, as to adopt his sentiments, and make them his own: to feel them, embody them, throw them out upon the audience as a living reality.

Now, what is the objection to all this in preaching? The actor suits the action to the word, and the word to the action. His looks, his hands, his attitudes, and everything, are designed to express the full meaning of the writer.

Now, this should be the aim of the preacher. And if by "theatrical" be meant the strongest possible representation of the sentiments expressed, then the more theatrical the sermon is, the better. And if ministers are too stiff, and the people too fastidious, to learn even from an actor, or from the stage, the best method of swaying mind, of enforcing sentiment, and diffusing the warmth of burning thought over a congregation, then they must go on with their prosing, and reading, and sanctimonious starch. But let them remember, that while they are thus turning away and decrying the art of the actor, and attempting to support the "dignity of the pulpit," the theaters can be thronged every night. The common sense of the people will be entertained with that manner of speaking, and sinners will go down to hell.
1. That he should be popular.

2. That he should be learned. These are very well. But the point that should be the first in their inquiries is: "Is he wise to win souls?" No matter how eloquent a minister is or how learned, no matter how pleasing and how popular is his manners, if it is a matter of fact that sinners are not converted under his preaching, it shows that he has not this wisdom, and your children and neighbors will go down to hell under his preaching.

I am happy to know that many Churches will ask this question about ministers, and if they find that a minister is destitute of this vital quality, they will not have him. And if ministers can be found who are wise to win souls, the Churches will have such ministers. It is in vain to contend against it, or to pretend that they are not well educated, or not learned, or the like. It is in vain for the schools to try to force down the throats of the Churches a race of ministers who are learned in everything but what they most need to know.

It is very difficult to say what needs to be said on this subject, without being in danger of begetting a wrong spirit in the Church towards ministers. Many professors of religion are ready to find fault with ministers when they have no reason; insomuch, that it becomes very difficult to say of ministers what is true, and what needs to be said, without one's remarks being perverted and abused by this class of professors. I would not, for the world, say anything to injure the influence of a minister of Christ, who is really endeavoring to do good. But, to tell the truth will not injure the influence of those ministers who, by their lives and preaching, give evidence to the Church that their object is to do good, and win souls for Christ. This class of ministers will recognize the truth of all that I have said, or wish to say. They see it all and deplore it. But if there be ministers who are doing no good, who are feeding themselves and not the flock, such ministers deserve no influence. If they are doing no good, it is time for them to betake themselves to some other profession.

They are but leeches on the very vitals of the Church, sucking out its heart's blood. They are useless, and worse than useless. And the sooner they are laid aside and their places filled with those who will exert themselves for Christ, the better.
Pray for ministers, that God would give them this wisdom to win souls.

And pray that God would bestow upon the Church the wisdom and the means to educate a generation of ministers who will go forward and convert the world. The Church must travail in prayer, and groan and agonize for this. This is now the pearl of price to the Church - to have a supply of the right sort of ministers. The coming of the millennium depends on having a different sort of ministers, who are more thoroughly educated for their work. And this we shall have so sure as the promise of the Lord holds good. Such a ministry as is now in the Church will never convert the world, but the world is to be converted, and therefore God intends to have ministers who will do it. "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest" (Luke 10:2).

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And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword . - Exodus 17:11-13.

You who read your Bibles will recollect the connection in which these verses stand. The people of God, in subduing their enemies, came to battle against the Amalekites, and these incidents took place. It is difficult to conceive why importance should be attached to the circumstance of Moses holding up his hands, unless the expression is understood to denote the attitude of prayer. But then his holding up his hands, and the success attending it, will teach us the importance of prayer to God, for His aid in all our conflicts with His enemies. The cooperation and support of Aaron and Hur have been generally understood to represent the duty of Churches to sustain and assist ministers in their work, and the importance of this cooperation to the success of the preached gospel. I shall make this use of it on the present occasion. As I have spoken of the duty of ministers to labor for revivals, I shall now consider the importance of the cooperation of the Church in producing and carrying on a revival.

There are various things, the importance of which in promoting a revival have not been duly considered by Churches or ministers - things which, if not attended to, will make it impossible that revivals should extend, or even continue for any considerable time. In my last two Lectures, I have been dwelling on the duties of ministers, for it was impossible for me to deliver a course of lectures on revivals, without entering more or less extensively into that department of means. I have not done with that part of the subject, but have thought it important here to step aside and discuss some points, in which the members of the Church must stand by and aid the minister, if they expect to enjoy a revival. In discussing the subject, I propose to mention:

I. Several things which Christians must avoid, if they would support ministers.

II. Some things to which they must attend.


I tell you THEY WILL GO TO HELL if this is their religion! That is not the way to heaven!

Rest assured that where this spirit prevails in the Church, however good the minister may be, the Church has taken the course to prevent a revival.

Be the minister ever so faithful, ever so devoted, ever so talented and eloquent, though he may wear himself out, and perhaps destroy his life, he will have little or no revival.

Where there are very few members, or none, a revival may be promoted without any organized effort of the Church, because there is no Church to organize; and in such a case, God accommodates His grace to the circumstances, as He did when the apostles went out, single-handed, to plant the Gospel in the world. I have seen instances of powerful revivals where such was the case. But where there are means, God will have them used. I had rather have no Church in a place, than attempt to promote a revival in a place where there is a Church which will not work. God will be inquired of by His people, to bestow His blessings. The counteracting influence of a Church that will not work, is worse than infidelity. There is no possibility of occupying neutral ground, in regard to a revival, though some professors imagine they are neutral. If a professor will not give himself to the work, he opposes it. Let such a one attempt to take middle ground, and say he is "going to wait and see how affairs shape" - why, that is the very ground the devil wants him to take. Professors can in this way do his work a great deal more effectually than by open opposition. If they should take open ground in opposition, everybody will say they have no religion. But, by taking this middle course they retain their influence, and thus do the devil's work more effectually.

In employing ministers Churches must remember that they have only employed leaders to lead them on to action in the cause of Christ. People would think it strange if any country should propose to support a general, and then let him go and fight alone! This is no more absurd, or destructive, than for a minister to attempt to go forward alone. The Church misconceives the design of the ministry, if the minister is left to work alone. It is not enough that they should hear his sermons. That is only the word of command, which the Church is bound to follow.
Another thing is true in regard to this point, and worthy of notice. When the Church is sunk down in a low state, professors of religion are very apt to complain of the Church, and of the low state of religion. That intangible and irresponsible being, the "Church," is greatly complained of by them, for being asleep. Their complaints of the low state of religion, and of the coldness of the Church or of the minister, are poured out dolefully, without any seeming realization that the Church is composed of individuals, and that until each one will take his own case in hand, complain of himself, and humble himself before God, and repent, and wake up, the Church can never have any efficiency, and there never can be a revival. If, instead of complaining of your minister, or of the Church, you would wake up as individuals, and not complain of him or them until you can say you are pure from the blood of all men, and are doing your duty to save sinners, the minister would be apt to feel the justice of your complaints, and if he would not, God would either wake him up or remove him.
A minister, some years since, was laboring where there was a revival; and was visited by an elder of a Church at some distance, who wanted him to go and preach there. There was no revival there, and never had been. The elder complained about their state, and said they had two excellent ministers, one of whom had worn himself completely out, and died; and the other had exhausted himself, grown discouraged, and left them. They were a poor and feeble Church, and their prospects very dark, unless they could have a revival, and so he begged this minister to go and help them.

The minister at last replied by asking: "Why did you never have a revival?" "I do not know," said the elder; "our minister labored very hard, but the Church did not seem to wake up, and somehow there seemed to be no revival." "Well, now," said the minister, "I see what you want; you have killed one of God's ministers, and broke down another so that he had to leave you; and now you want to get another there and kill him; and the devil has sent you here to get me to go and rock your cradle for you. You had one good minister to preach for you, but you slept on, and he exerted himself till he absolutely died in the work. Then the Lord let you have another, and still you lay and slept, and would not wake up to your duty.

And now you have come here in despair, and want another minister, do you? God forbid that you should ever have another while you do as you have done. God forbid that you should ever have a minister till the Church will wake up to duty."

The elder was affected, for he was a good man. The tears came into his eyes, and he said it was no more than they deserved. "And now," said the minister, "will you be faithful, and go home and tell the Church what I say? If you will, and they will be faithful, and wake up to duty, they shall have a minister, I will warrant them that." The elder said he would, and he was true to his word; he went home and told the members how cruel it was for them to ask another minister to come among them, unless they would wake up. They felt it, and confessed their sins, and wakened up to duty, and a minister was sent to them, and a precious and powerful revival followed.

Churches do not realize how often their coldness and backwardness may be absolutely the cause of the death of ministers. The state of the people, and of sinners, rests upon their mind; they travail in soul night and day; and they labor in season and out of season, beyond the power of the human constitution to bear, till they wear out and die. The Church knows not the agony of a minister's heart, when he travails for souls, and labors to wake up the members to help, but still sees them in the slumber of death. Perhaps they will sometimes rouse up to spasmodic effort for a few days, and then all is cold again. And so many a faithful minister wears himself out and dies, and then these heartless professors are the first to blame him for doing so much.

I recollect a case of a good minister, who went to a place where there was a revival, and while there heard a pointed sermon to ministers. He received it like a man of God; he did not rebel against God's truth, but he promised God that he never would rest until he saw a revival among his people. He returned home and went to work; the Church would not wake up, except a few members, and the Lord blessed them, and poured out His Spirit; but the minister laid himself down on his bed and died, in the midst of the revival.
Sometimes Church members will talk among themselves about the minister's imprudence, and create a party, and get into a very wrong spirit, because the wicked are displeased. There was a place where there was a powerful revival, and great opposition. The Church became alarmed, for fear that if the minister was not less plain and pointed, some of the impenitent would go and join some other congregation. And so one of the leading men in the Church was appointed to go to the minister, and ask him not to preach quite so hard, for, if he continued to do so, such-and-such persons would leave the congregation. The minister asked: "Is not the preaching true?" "Yes." "Does not God bless it?" "Yes." "Did you ever see the like of this work before in this place?" "No, I never did."

"Then, 'get thee behind me, Satan.' You have come upon the devil's errand! You see God is blessing the preaching, the work is going on, and sinners are converted every day; and now you come to get me to let down the tone of preaching, so as to ease the minds of the ungodly." The man felt the rebuke, and took it like a Christian; he saw his error and submitted, and never again was heard to find fault with plainness in preaching.

In another town where there was a revival, a woman who had some influence (not pious) complained very much about "plain, pointed, personal preaching," as she called it. But, by and by, she herself became a subject of the work. After this some of her impenitent friends reminded her of what she used to say against the preacher for "preaching so hot."

She said her views were altered now, and she did not care how hot the truth was preached; not even if it was red hot!
The evils of these parties are very great. They are often got up at great expense; and the most abominable gluttony is practiced in them. I have been told that in some instances professed Christians have made great entertainments, and excused the ungodly prodigality in the use of Jesus Christ's money, by giving what was left, after the feast was ended, to the poor! Thus making it a virtue to feast and riot, even to surfeiting, on the bounties of God's providence, under pretense of benefitting the poor. This is the same in principle with a splendid ball which was given some years ago, in a neighboring city. The ball was got up for the benefit of the poor, and each gentleman was to pay a certain sum, and after the ball was ended, whatever remained of the funds thus raised, was to be given to the poor.

Truly this is strange charity: to eat, and drink, and dance, and when they have rioted and feasted until they can enjoy it no longer, they deal out to the poor the crumbs that have fallen from the table. I do not see, however, why such a ball is not quite as pious as such Christian parties. The evil of balls does not consist simply in the exercise of dancing, but in the dissipation, and surfeiting, and temptations connected with them.

But it is said they are Christian parties, and that they are all, or nearly all, professors of religion, who attend them. And furthermore, that they are concluded, often, with prayer. Now I regard this as one of the worst features about them; that after the waste of time and money, the excess in eating and drinking, the vain conversation, and nameless fooleries, with which such a season is filled up, an attempt should be made to sanctify it, and palm it off upon God, by concluding it with prayer. Say what you will, it would not be more absurd or incongruous, or impious, to close a ball, or a theatrical performance, or a card party with prayer.

Has it come to this; that professors of religion (who profess to desire the salvation of the world), when calls are made upon them from the four winds of heaven, to send the Gospel, to furnish Bibles, and tracts, and missionaries, to save the world from death, should waste large sums of money in an evening, and then go to the Missionary Meeting and pray for the heathen?

In some instances, I have been told, they find a salve for their consciences in the fact that their minister attends their parties. This, of course, would give weight to such an example; for if one professor of religion made a party and invited the minister, others would do the same. The next step they take may be for each to give a ball, and appoint their minister a manager! Why not? And perhaps, by and by, he will do them the favor to play the fiddle. In my estimation he might quite as well do it, as go and conclude such a party with prayer. I should advise any congregation that is calculating to have a circle of parties, in the meantime to dismiss their minister, and let him go and preach where the people would be ready to receive the Word and profit by it, rather than have him stay and be grieved, and killed, by attempting to promote religion among them, while they are engaged, heart and hand, in the service of the devil.

Professors of religion should never arrange anything that may divert public attention from religion, without having first consulted their minister, and made it a subject of special prayer. And if they find it will have an adverse effect, they ought never to do it. Subjects will often come up before the public which have this tendency; some course of Lectures, some show, or the like. Professors ought to be wise, and understand what they are about, and not give countenance to any such thing until they see what influence it will have, and whether it will hinder a revival. If it will do that, let them have nothing to do with it. Every such thing should be estimated by its bearing upon Christ's Kingdom.


That is to say, things which they must do if they would promote a revival and aid their minister.

For instance, when they want a minister, they will cast about and see how cheaply they can get one. They will calculate to a farthing how much his salt will cost, and how much his flour, and then set his salary so low as to subject him to extreme inconvenience to pay his way and keep his family.

A minister must have his mind at ease, to study and labor with effect, and he cannot screw down prices, and barter, and look out for the best chances to buy to advantage what he needs. If he be obliged to do this, his mind is embarrassed. Unless his temporal wants are so supplied, that his thoughts may be abstracted from them, how can he do his duty?
Remember, you are dealing with Christ, and He calls you to place His ministers in such a situation, that, with ordinary prudence, temporal embarrassment may be out of the question.
I have seen Christians who would be in an agony, when the minister was going into the pulpit, for fear his mind should be in a cloud, or his heart cold, or he should have no unction, and so a blessing should not come. I have labored with a man of this sort. He would pray until he got an assurance in his mind that God would be with me in preaching, and sometimes he would pray himself ill. I have known the time when he has been in darkness for a season, while the people were gathering, and his mind was full of anxiety, and he would go again and again to pray, till finally he would come into the room with a placid face, and say: "The Lord has come, and He will be with us." And I do not know that I ever found him mistaken.

I have known a Church bear up their minister in prayer from day to day, and watch with anxiety unutterable, to see that he had the Holy Ghost with him in his labors! When Christians feel and pray thus, oh, what feelings and what looks are manifest in the congregation! They have felt anxiety unutterable to have the Word come with power and take effect; and when they see their prayer answered, and when they hear a word or a sentence come WARM from the heart, taking effect among the people, you can see their whole souls look out of their eyes! How different is the case where the Christians feel that the Minster is praying, and so there is no need for them to do so. They are mistaken. The Church must desire and pray for the blessing. God says He will be inquired of by the house of Israel. I wish you to feel that there can be no substitute for this.

I have seen cases in revivals, where the Church was kept in the background in regard to prayer, and persons from abroad were called on to pray in all the meetings. This is always unhappy, even if there should be a revival, for the revival must be less powerful and less salutary in its influences upon the Church. I do not know but that I have sometimes offended Christians and ministers from other places, by continuing to call on members of the Church to pray, and not on visitors. It was not from any disrespect, but because the object was to get that Church which was chiefly concerned, to desire, and pray, and agonize for a blessing.

In a certain place, a "protracted meeting" was held, with no good results; but, on the contrary, great evils were produced. I was led to make inquiry for the reason, and it came out that throughout their meetings not one member of their own Church was called on to pray, but all the prayers were made by persons from elsewhere. No wonder there was no good done. The leader of the meeting meant well, but he undertook to promote a revival without getting the Church into the work. He let a lazy Church lie still and do nothing, and so there could be no good result.

Churches should pray for ministers as the agents for breaking down sinners with the word of truth. Prayer for a minister is often made in a set and formal way, and confined to the prayer meetings. They will say their prayers in the old way, as they have always done: "Lord, bless Thy ministering servant whom Thou hast stationed on this part of Zion's walls!" and so on; and it amounts to nothing, because there is no heart in it. The fact often is that they never thought of praying for him in secret; they never have agonized in private for a blessing on his labors. They may not omit it wholly in their meetings, for if they do that, it becomes evident that they care very little indeed about the labors of their minister. But that is not the most important place. The way to present effectual prayer for your minister is, when you are in secret, to wrestle with God for success to attend his labors.

I knew a case of a minister in ill-health, who became depressed and cast down in his mind, and was very much in darkness, so that he did not feel as if he could preach any longer. An individual of the Church was awakened to feel for the minister in such a situation, and to pray that he might have the Holy Ghost to attend his preaching. One Sabbath morning, this person's mind was very much exercised, so that he began to pray as soon as it was light, and prayed again and again for a blessing that day.

And the Lord in some way directed the minister within hearing of his prayer. The person was telling the Lord just what he thought of the minister's situation and state of mind, and pleading, as if he would not be denied, for a blessing. The minister went into the pulpit and preached, and the light broke in upon him, and the Word was with power, and a revival commenced that very day.
And yet perhaps that very Church which left the minister dependent on the ungodly for his bread, would turn round and abuse him for his want of faith, and his fear of men. The Church ought always to say to the minister: "We will support you; go to work; let the truth pour down on the people, and we will stand by you."
Or, he may find the house too warm, and the people, instead of listening to the truth, are fanning themselves and panting for breath. By and by a woman faints, and makes a stir, and the train of thought and feeling is all lost, and so a whole sermon is wasted. These little things take off the attention of people from the words of eternal life. And very often it is so, that if you drop a single link in the chain of argument, you lose the whole, and the people are damned, just because the careless Church does not see to the proper regulation of these little matters.
It is very common, when things are wrong, to have it all laid to the sexton, or caretaker. Often, however, the sexton is not to blame. If the building is cold and uncomfortable, very often it is because the fuel is not good, or the stoves not suitable, or the place is so open it cannot be warmed. If it is warm, perhaps somebody has intermeddled, and heaped on fuel without discretion. Or, if the sexton is in fault, perhaps it is because the Church does not pay him enough for his services, and he cannot afford to give the attention necessary to keep the place in order. Churches sometimes screw down the sexton's salary to the lowest point, so that he is obliged to slight his work. Or they will select one who is incompetent, for the sake of getting him cheap. Let an adequate payment be made for the work, and it can be done, and done faithfully. If one sexton will not do it rightly, another will, and the Church must see that it is done aright. What economy! To pay a minister's salary, and then, for the want of a small sum added to the sexton's wages, everything is so out of order that the minister's labors are all lost, souls are lost, and your children and neighbors go down to hell!

Sometimes this uncleanliness, and negligence, and confusion, are chargeable to the minister. Perhaps he uses tobacco, and sets the example of defiling the house of God. Perhaps the pulpit will be the filthiest place in the house. I have sometimes been in pulpits that were too loathsome to be occupied by human beings. If a minister has no more piety and decency than this, no wonder things are "at loose ends" in the congregation. And generally it is even so.
Unless the Church will take off these responsibilities, and cares, and labors, he must either neglect them, or be crushed. Let the members be WIDE AWAKE, let them watch and bring in children to the school, teach them faithfully, and lay themselves out to promote a revival in the school.
(Hebrews 10:24). The minister cannot do it, he has not time; it is impossible he should study and prepare sermons, and at the same time visit all the members of the Church as often as is necessary to keep them advancing. The members are bound to watch over each other's spiritual welfare. But how is this done? Many do not know one another. They meet and pass as strangers, and never ask about one another's spiritual condition. But if they hear anything bad of one, they go and tell it to others. Instead of watching over them for their good, they watch for their halting. How can they watch for good when they are not even acquainted with each other?
There was a pious young woman, who lived in a very cold and wicked place. She alone had the spirit of prayer, and she had been praying for a blessing upon the Word. At length she saw an individual in the congregation who seemed to be affected by the preaching, and as soon as the minister came from the pulpit, she came forward, agitated and trembling, and begged him to go and converse with the person immediately. He did so, the individual was soon converted, and a revival followed. Now, one of your stupid professors would not have seen that that individual was awakened, but would have stumbled over half a dozen such without noticing. Professors should watch every sermon, and see how it affects the congregation. I do not mean that they should be stretching their necks and staring about the house; but they should observe, as they may, and if they find any person affected by preaching, they should put themselves in his way, and guide him to the Savior.
Christians should take their portion to themselves. Though the sermon should be quite searching to them, they should still make the honest application, lay it alongside their heart, and practice it, and live by it.

Otherwise, the preaching will do them no good.
When the minister is wise to devise plans for usefulness, and the Church ready to execute them, they may carry all before them. But when the members hang back from every enterprise until they are actually dragged into it - when they are opposing every proposal, because it will cost something, they are a dead weight upon a minister.

I was once attending a "protracted meeting," where we were embarrassed because there were no lamps to the building. I urged the people to get them, but they thought the expense would be too much! I then proposed to get them myself, and was about to do it, but found it would give offense, and we went without. But the blessing did not come, to any great extent. How could it? The Church began by calculating to a nicety how much it would cost, and they would not go beyond that exact figure to save souls from hell.

So, where a minister appoints such a meeting, such people object, because it will cost something. If they can offer unto the Lord that which costs nothing, they will do it. Miserable helpers they are! Such a people can have no revival. A minister might as well have a millstone about his neck, as such a Church. He had better leave them, if he cannot teach them better, and go where he will not be so hampered.
Such members tie up the hands of the minister, and discourage his heart.

Why do they employ a minister? Is it to amuse them by preaching? Or is it that he may teach them the will of God, that they may do it?


They "dwell in ceiled houses" themselves, and let "the house of God lie waste" (Haggai 1:4). Or the professors of religion counteract all the influence of the preaching by their ungodly lives. Or perhaps their worldly show (as in most of the Churches in this city) annihilates the influence of the Gospel.
Yet these very Churches are not willing to have their minister absent a few days to attend a "protracted meeting." "We cannot spare him; he is our minister, and we like to have our minister here"; while at the same time, they hinder all he can do at home. If he could, he would tear himself right away, and go where there is no minister, and where the people would be willing to receive the Gospel. But there he must stay, though he cannot get the Church into a state to have a revival once in three years, to last three months at a time. It. might be well for him to say to the Church: "Whenever you are determined to take one of these long naps, I wish you would let me know it, so that I can go and labor somewhere else in the meantime, till you are ready to wake again."
There is actually one man in that Church who is himself able to support a minister, but still they have no minister and no preaching!

The Churches have not been instructed in their duty on this subject. I stopped in a place where there was no preaching. I inquired of an elder in the Church why it was so, and he said it was "because they were so poor." I asked him how much he was worth; he did not give me a direct answer, but said that another elder's income was about five thousand dollars a year; and I finally found out that this man's was about the same.

"Here," said I, "are two elders, each of you able to support a minister, and because you cannot get outside help, you have no preaching. 'Why, if you had preaching' it would not be blessed." Finally, he confessed that he was able to support a minister, and the two together agreed that they would do it.

It is common for Churches to ask for help, when in fact they do not need any help, and when it would be a great deal better for them to support their own minister. If they get funds from the Home Missionary Society, when they ought to raise sufficient themselves, they may expect the curse of the Lord upon them, and this will be a sufficient reason for the Gospel proving to them a curse, rather than a blessing. Of how many might it be said: "Ye have robbed God, even this whole Church (Malachi. 3:9).

I know a Church which employed a minister for half the time, and felt unable to pay his salary for that. A Women's Working Society in a neighboring town appropriated their funds to this object, and assisted this Church in paying the minister's salary. The result was, as might be expected; he did them little or no good. They had no revival under his preaching, nor could they ever expect any, while acting on such a principle. There was one m an in that congregation who could support a minister all the time. I was informed by a member, that the Church members were supposed to be worth two hundred thousand dollars. Now if this be true, here is a Church with an income, at seven per cent., of fourteen thousand dollars a year, who felt themselves too poor to pay two hundred dollars for the support of a minister to preach half the time, but would suffer the women of a neighboring town to work with their own hands to aid them in paying the sum. Among the elders of this Church, I found, too, that several used tobacco; two of them, however, subsequently signed a covenant, written on the blank leaf of their Bible, in which they pledged themselves to abandon that sin for ever.

It was in a great measure simply for want of right instruction that this Church was pursuing such a course, for, when the subject was taken up, and their duty laid before them, the wealthy man of whom I am speaking said that he would pay the whole salary himself, if he thought it would not be resented by the congregation, and do more hurt than good; and that if the Church would procure a minister, and go ahead and raise a part of his salary, he would make up the remainder. They can now not only support a minister half the time, but all the time, and pay his salary themselves.

And they will find it good and profitable to do so.

As I have gone from place to place laboring in revivals, I have always found that Churches were blessed in proportion to their liberality. Where they have manifested a disposition to support the Gospel, and to pour out their substance liberally into the treasury of the Lord, they have been blessed both in spiritual and in temporal things. But where they have been parsimonious, and let the minister preach for them for little or nothing, these Churches have been cursed instead of blessed. And, as a general thing, in revivals of religion, I have found it to be true that young converts are most inclined to join those Churches which are most liberal in making efforts to support the Gospel.

The Churches are very much in the dark on this subject. They have not been taught their duty. I have, in many instances, found an exceeding readiness to respond, when the subject was laid before them. I knew an elder who was talking about getting a minister for half the time, because the Church was poor, although his own income was considerable. I asked him whether his income would not enable him alone to support a minister all the time? He said it would. And on being asked what other use he could make of the Lord's money which he possessed, that would prove so beneficial to the interest of Christ's Kingdom, as to employ a minister not only half, but all the time, in his own town, he concluded to set himself about it. A minister has been obtained accordingly, and I believe they find no difficulty in paying him his full salary.

The fact is, that a minister can do but little by preaching only half the time. If on one Sabbath an impression be made, it is lost before a fortnight comes round. As a matter of economy, a Church should lay itself out to support the Gospel all the time. If they get the right sort of a minister, and keep him steadily at work, they may have a revival, and thus the ungodly will be converted, and come in and help them; so that in one year they may have a great accession to their strength. But if they employ a minister only half the time, year after year may roll away, while sinners are going to hell, and no accession be made to the strength of the Church from the ranks of the ungodly.

The fact is, that professors of religion have not been made to feel that all their possessions are the Lord's. Hence they have talked about giving their property for the support of the Gospel! As if the Lord Jesus Christ were a beggar, and they were called upon to support His Gospel as an act of almsgiving!

A certain merchant was paying a large part of his minister's salary: one of the members of the Church was relating the fact to a minister from another place, and spoke of the sacrifice which this merchant was making. At this moment the merchant came in. "Brother," said the minister, "you are a merchant. Suppose you employ a clerk to sell goods, and a schoolmaster to teach your children; and you order your clerk to pay your schoolmaster, out of the store, such an amount, for his services in teaching.

Now, suppose your clerk gave out that he had to pay this schoolmaster his salary, and should speak of the sacrifices that he was making to do it: what would you say to this?" "Why," said the merchant, "I should say it was ridiculous." "Well," said the minister, "God employs you to sell goods as His clerk, and your minister He employs to teach His children, and He requires you to pay the salary out of the income of the store.

Now, do you call this your sacrifice, and say that you are making a great sacrifice to pay this minister's salary? No: you are just as much bound to sell goods for God as he is to preach for God. You have no more right to sell goods for the purpose of laying up money than he has to preach the Gospel for the same purpose. You are bound to be as pious, and aim as singly at the glory of God, in selling goods, as he is in preaching the Gospel. And thus you are as fully to give up your whole time for the service of God as he does. You and your family may lawfully live out of the profits of this store, and so may the minister and his family, just as lawfully, If you sell goods from these motives, selling goods is just as much serving God as preaching; and a man who sells goods on these principles, and acts in conformity to them, is just as pious - just as much in the service of God - as he is who preaches the Gospel. Every man is bound to serve God in his calling; the minister by teaching; the merchant by selling goods; the farmer by tilling his fields; and the lawyer and the physician by plying the duties of their professions. It is equally unlawful for any one of these to labor for the meat that perisheth. All they do is to be for God, and all they earn, after comfortably supporting their families, is to be dedicated to the spread of the Gospel and the salvation of the world."

It has long enough been supposed that ministers must be more pious than other men, that they must not love the world, that they must labor for God: that they must live as frugally as possible, and lay out their whole time, and health, and strength, and life, to build up the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. This is true. But although other men are not called to labor in the same field, and to give up their time to public instruction, yet they are just as absolutely bound to consider their whole time as God's; and have no

more right to love the world, or accumulate wealth, or lay it up for their children, or spend it upon their lusts, than ministers have.

It is high time for the Church to be acquainted with these principles. The Home Missionary Society may labor till the Day of Judgment to convert people, but will never succeed, till the Churches are led to understand and feel their duty in this respect. Why, the very fact that they are asking and receiving aid in supporting their minister from the Society while they are able to support him themselves, is probably the very reason why his labors among them are not more blessed.

I would that the American Home Missionary Society possessed a hundred times the means that it now does, of aiding feeble Churches that are unable to help themselves. But it is neither good economy nor piety to give funds to those who are able, but unwilling, to support the Gospel. For it is in vain to attempt to help them, while they are able, but unwilling, to help themselves.

If the Missionary Society had a ton of gold, it would be no charity to give it to such a Church. But let the Church bring in all the tithes to God's storehouse, and He will open the windows of heaven and pour down a blessing (Malachi 3:10). But let the Churches know assuredly that, if they are unwilling to help themselves to the extent of their ability, they show the reason why such small success attends the labors of their ministers.

Here they are, "sponging" their support from the Lord's treasury! How many Churches lay out their money for tea, and coffee, and tobacco, and then come and ask aid from the Home Missionary Society! I will protest against aiding a people who use tea and tobacco, and live without the least self-denial, wanting to offer God only that which costs them nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).

Finally: if they mean to be blessed, let them do their duty - all their duty, put their shoulder to the wheel, gird on the Gospel armor, and come up to the work. Then, if the Church is in the field, the car of salvation will move on, though all hell oppose, and sinners will be converted and saved. But if a Church will leave all the labor to the minister, and sit still and look on while he is working, and themselves doing nothing but complain of him, they will not only fail of a revival of religion, but, if they continue slothful and censorious, will, by and by, find themselves in hell for their disobedience and unprofitableness in the service of Christ.

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These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. - Acts 16:20, 21.

"These men," here spoken of, were Paul and Silas, who went to Philippi to preach the Gospel, and very much disturbed the people of that city, who supposed that the preaching would interfere with their worldly gains.

And so they arraigned the preachers of the Gospel before the magistrates of the city, as culprits, and charged them with teaching doctrines, and especially employing measures, that were not lawful.

In discoursing from these words I design to show:

I. That, under the Gospel dispensation, God has established no particular system of measures to be employed, and invariably adhered to, in promoting religion.

II. That our present forms of public worship, and everything, so far as measures are concerned, have been arrived at by degrees, and by a succession of New Measures.


Under the Jewish dispensation, there were particular forms enjoined and prescribed by God Himself, from which it was not lawful to depart. But these forms were all typical, and were designed to shadow forth Christ, or something connected with the new dispensation that Christ was to introduce. And therefore they were fixed, and all their details particularly prescribed by Divine authority. But it was never so under the Gospel.

When Christ came, the ceremonial or typical dispensation was abrogated, because the design of those forms was fulfilled, and they were therefore of no further use. He being the Antitype, the types were of course done away at His coming. THE GOSPEL was then preached as the appointed means of promoting religion; and it was left to the discretion of the Church to determine, from time to time, what measures should be adopted, and what forms pursued, in giving the Gospel its power.

We are left in the dark as to the measures pursued by the apostles and primitive preachers, except so far as we can gather from occasional hints in the Book of Acts. We do not know how many times they sang, how many times they prayed, in public worship, nor even whether they sang or prayed at all in their ordinary meetings for preaching. When Jesus Christ was on earth, laboring among His disciples, He had nothing to do with forms or measures. He did from time to time in this respect just as it would be natural for any man to do in such cases, without anything like a set form or mode. The Jews accused Him of disregarding their forms. His object was to preach and teach mankind the true religion. And when the apostles preached afterwards, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, we hear nothing about their having a particular system of measures for carrying on their work; nor do we hear of one apostle doing a thing in a particular way because others did it in that way. Their commission was: "Go and preach the Gospel, and disciple all nations." It did not prescribe any forms. It did not admit any. No person can pretend to get any set of forms or particular directions as to measures, out of this commission. Do it - the best way you can; ask wisdom from God; use the faculties He has given you; seek the direction of the Holy Ghost; go forward and do it.

This was their commission. And their object was to make known the Gospel in the most effectual way, to make the truth stand out strikingly, so as to obtain the attention and secure the obedience of the greatest number possible. No person can find any form of doing this laid down in the Bible. It is preaching the Gospel which there stands out prominently as the great thing. The form is left out of the question.

It is manifest that in preaching the Gospel there must be some kind of measures adopted. The Gospel must be presented before the minds of the people, and measures must be taken so that they can hear it, and be induced to attend to it. This is done by building churches, holding stated or other meetings, and so on. Without some measures, the Gospel can never be made to take effect among men.


Our present forms of public worship, and everything so far as measures are concerned, have been arrived at by degrees, and by a succession of New Measures.

Many years ago, ministers were accustomed to wear a peculiar habit. It is so now in Roman Catholic countries. It used to be so here. Ministers had a peculiar dress as much as soldiers. They used to wear a cocked hat, bands (instead of a cravat or stock), small clothes, and a wig. No matter how much hair a man had on his head, he must cut it off and wear a wig. And he must wear a gown. All these things were customary, and every clergyman was held bound to wear them, and it was not considered proper for him to officiate without them. All these had doubtless been introduced by a succession of innovations, for we have no good reason for believing that the apostles and primitive ministers dressed differently from other men.

But now all these things have been given up, one by one, in America, by a succession of innovations or new measures, until now, in many places, a minister can go into the pulpit and preach without attracting special notice, although dressed like any other man. And in regard to each of these alterations the Church complained as much as if it had been a Divine institution given up. It was denounced as an innovation. When ministers began to lay aside their cocked hats, and wear headgear like other men's, it grieved the elderly people very much; it looked so "undignified," they said, for a minister to wear a round hat. When, in 1827, I wore a fur cap, a minister said: "That is too bad, for a minister."

When ministers first began, a few years since, to wear white hats, it was thought by many to be a sad and very undignified innovation. And even now they are so bigoted in some places that a clergyman lately told me how, in traveling through New England last summer, with a white hat, he could perceive that it injured his influence. This spirit should not be looked upon as harmless; I have good reason to know that it is not harmless. There is at this day scarcely a minister in the land who does not feel himself obliged to wear a black coat, as much as if it were a Divine institution. The Church is yet filled with a kind of superstitious reverence for such things. Thinking men see this to be mere bigotry, and are exceedingly in danger of viewing everything about religion in the same light on this account.

So, in like manner, when ministers laid aside their bands, and wore cravats or stocks, it was said they were becoming secular, and many found fault.

Even now, in some places, a minister would not dare to be seen in the pulpit in a cravat or stock. The people would feel as if they had no clergyman, if he had no bands. A minister in this city asked another, but a few days since, "if it would do to wear a black stock in the pulpit?" He wore one in his ordinary intercourse with his people, but doubted whether it would do to wear it in the pulpit.

So in regard to small clothes: they used to be thought essential to the ministerial character. Even now, in Roman Catholic countries, every priest wears small clothes. Even the little boys there, who are training for the priest's office, wear their cocked hats, and black stockings, and small clothes. This would look ridiculous amongst us. But it used to be practiced in America. The time was when good people would have been shocked if a minister had gone into the pulpit wearing pantaloons instead of small clothes. They would have thought he was certainly going to ruin the Church by his innovations. I have been told that, some years ago, in New England, a certain elderly clergyman was so opposed to the "new measure" of a minister's wearing pantaloons that he would, on no account, allow them in his pulpit. A young man who was going to preach for him had no small clothes, and the old minister would not let him officiate in pantaloons, but said: "My people would think I had brought a fop into the pulpit, if they saw a man there with pantaloons on; and it would produce an excitement among them." And so, finally, the young man was obliged to borrow a pair of the old gentleman's clothes, and they were too short for him, and he made a ridiculous figure enough. But anything was better than such a terrible innovation as preaching in pantaloons! Reason, however, has triumphed.

Just so it was in regard to wigs. I remember one minister, who, though quite a young man, used to wear an enormous white wig. And the people talked as if there were a Divine right about it, and it was as hard to give it up, almost, as to give up the Bible itself. Gowns also were considered essential to the ministerial character. And even now, in many congregations in this country, the people will not tolerate a minister in the pulpit, unless he has a flowing silk gown, with enormous sleeves as big as his body. Even in some of the Congregational churches in New England, they cannot bear to give it up.

Now, how came people to suppose a minister must have a gown or a wig, in order to preach with effect? Why was it that every clergyman was held obliged to use these things? How is it that not one of these things has been given up in the Churches, without producing a shock among them? They have all been given up, one by one, and many congregations have been distracted for a time by the innovation. But will any one pretend that the cause of religion has been injured by it? People felt as if they could hardly worship God without them, but plainly their attachment to them was no part of their religion, that is, no part of the Christian religion. It was mere superstition. And when these things were taken away, they complained, as Micah did: "Ye have taken away my gods" (Judges 18:24). No doubt, however, religious character was improved by removing these objects of superstitious reverence. So that the Church, on the whole, has been greatly the gainer by the innovations. Thus you see that the present mode of a minister's dress has been gained by a series of new measures.
The same difficulties have been met in the effecting of every change, because the professing Christians have felt as if God had established just the mode which they were used to.

(a) Psalm Books. Formerly it was customary to sing the Psalms. By and by there was introduced a version of the Psalms in rhyme. This was "very bad," to be sure. When ministers tried to introduce them, the Churches were distracted, the people displayed violent opposition, and great trouble was created by the innovation. But the new measure triumphed.

Yet when another version was brought forward, in a better style of poetry, its introduction was opposed, with much contention, as yet a further new measure. Finally came Watts's version, which is still opposed in many Churches. No longer ago than 1828, when I was in Philadelphia, I was told that a minister there was preaching a course of Lectures on Psalmody, to his congregation, for the purpose of bringing them to use a better version of psalms and hymns than the one they were accustomed to. And even now, in a great many congregations, there are people who will rise and leave, if a psalm or hymn is given out from a new book. If Watts's version of the Psalms should be adopted, they would secede and form a new congregation, rather than tolerate such an innovation! The same sort of feeling has been excited by introducing the "Village Hymns" in prayer meetings. In one Presbyterian congregation in New York, within a few years, the minister's wife wished to introduce the Village Hymns into the women's prayer meetings, not daring to go any further. She thought she was going to succeed. But some of the careful souls found out that it was "made in New England," and refused to admit it.

(b) "Lining" the hymns. Formerly, when there were but few books, it was the custom to "line" the hymns, as it was called. The deacon used to stand up before the pulpit, and read the psalm or hymn, a line at a time, or two lines at a time, when then the rest would join in. By and by, they began to introduce books, and let every one sing from his own book. And what an innovation! Alas, what confusion and disorder it made! How could the good people worship God in singing without having the deacon to "line" the hymn in a "holy" tone; for the holiness of it seemed to consist very much in the tone, which was such that you could hardly tell whether he was reading or singing.

(c) Choirs. Afterwards, another innovation was brought in. It was thought best to have a select choir of singers sit by themselves, so as to give an opportunity to improve the music. But this was bitterly opposed. How many congregations were torn and rent in sunder by the desire of ministers

and some leading individuals, to bring about an improvement in the cultivation of music, by forming choirs! People talked about "innovations," and "new measures," and thought great evils were coming to the Churches, because the singers were seated by themselves, and cultivated music, and learned new tunes that the old people could not sing.

It used not to be so when they were young, and they would not tolerate such novelties in the Church.

(d) Pitchpipes. When music was cultivated, and choirs seated together, then the singers wanted a pitchpipe. Formerly, when the lines were given out by the deacon or clerk, he would strike off into the tune, and the rest would follow as well as they could. But when the leaders of choirs began to use pitchpipes for the purpose of pitching all their voices on precisely the same key, what vast confusion it made! I heard a clergyman say that an elder in the town where he used to live, would get up and leave the service whenever he heard the chorister blow his pipe. "Away with your whistle," said he; "what, whistle in the house of God!" He thought it a profanation.

(e) Instrumental music By and by, in some congregations' various instruments were introduced for the purpose of aiding the singers, and improving the music. When the bass viol was first introduced, it made a great commotion. People insisted they might just as well have a fiddle in the house of God. "Why, it is a fiddle, it is made just like a fiddle, only a little larger; and who can worship where there is a fiddle? By and by you will want to dance in the meeting-house." Who has not heard these things talked of as though they were matters of the most vital importance to the cause of religion and the purity of the Church? Ministers, in grave ecclesiastical assemblies, have spent days in discussing them. In a synod in the Presbyterian Church, it was seriously talked of by some, as a matter worthy of discipline in a certain Church, that "they had an organ in the house of God." This was only a few years ago. And there are many Churches now that would not tolerate an organ. They would not be half so much excited on being reminded that sinners are going to hell, as on hearing that "there is going to be an organ in the meeting-house." In how many places is it easier to get the Church to do anything else than work in a natural way to do what is needed, and wisest, and best, for promoting religion and saving souls? They act as if they had a "Thus saith the Lord"

for every custom and practice that has been handed down to them, or that they have long followed themselves, even though it is absurd and injurious.

(f) Extemporary prayers. How many people are there who talk just as if the Prayer Book was of Divine institution! And I suppose multitudes believe it is. And in some parts of the Church a man would not be tolerated to pray without his book being before him.

(g) Preaching without notes. A few years since a lady in Philadelphia was invited to hear a certain minister preach, and she refused, because he did not read his sermons. She seemed to think it would be profane for a man to go into the pulpit and talk, just as if he were talking to the people about some interesting and important subject. Just as if God had enjoined the use of notes and written sermons. They do not know that notes themselves are an innovation, and a modern one too. They were introduced in a time of political difficulty in England. The ministers were afraid they should be accused of preaching something against the Government unless they could show what they had preached, by having all written beforehand. And, with a time-serving spirit, they yielded to political considerations, and imposed a yoke of bondage upon the Church. And now, in many places, extempore preaching is not tolerated.

(h) Kneeling in prayer. This has made a great disturbance in many parts of the country. The time has been in the Congregational Churches in New England, when a man or woman would be ashamed to be seen kneeling at a prayer meeting, for fear of being taken for a Methodist. I have prayed in families where I was the only person that would kneel. The others all stood. Others, again, talk as if there were no other posture but kneeling, that could be acceptable in prayer.
(a) Lay prayers. Much objection was formerly made against allowing any man to pray or to take a part in managing a prayer meeting, unless he was a clergyman. It used to be said that for a layman to pray in public, was interfering with the dignity of ministers, and was not to be tolerated. A minister in Pennsylvania told me that a few years ago he appointed a prayer meeting in the Church, and the elders opposed it and "turned it out of house." They said they would not have such work; they had hired a minister to do the praying, and he should do it; and they were not going to have common men praying.

Ministers and many others have very extensively objected against a layman's praying in public, especially in the presence of a minister; that would let down the authority of the clergy, and was not to be tolerated. At a synod held in this State, there was a synodical prayer meeting appointed. The committee of arrangements, as it was to be a formal thing, designated beforehand the persons who were to take part, and named two clergymen and one layman. The layman was a man of talent and information equal to most ministers. But a Doctor of Divinity got up and seriously objected to a layman being asked to pray before that synod. It was not usual, he said; it infringed upon the rights of the clergy, and he wished no innovations! What a state of things!

(b) Lay exhortation. This has been made a question of vast importance, one which has agitated all New England and many other parts of the country, whether laymen ought to be allowed to exhort in public meetings.

Many ministers have labored to shut up the mouths of laymen entirely. Such persons overlooked the practice of the primitive Churches. So much opposition was made to this practice, nearly a hundred years ago, that President Edwards had actually to take up the subject, and write a labored defense of the rights and duties of laymen. But the opposition has not entirely ceased to this day. "What, a man that is not a minister, to talk in public! It will create confusion; it will let down the ministry: what will people think of ministers, if we allow common men to do the same things that we do?" Astonishing!

But now all these things are gone by in most places, and laymen can preach and exhort without the least objection. The evils that were feared, from the labors of laymen, have not been realized, and many ministers are glad to induce laymen to exercise their gifts in doing good.
So it has been in regard to all the active movements of the Church.

Missions and Sunday Schools have been opposed, and have gained their present hold only by a succession of struggles and a series of innovations.

A Baptist Association in Pennsylvania, some years since, disclaimed all fellowship with any minister that had been liberally educated, or that supported Missions, Bible Societies, Sabbath Schools, Temperance Societies, etc. All these were denounced as New Measures, not found in the Bible, and that would necessarily lead to distraction and confusion in the Churches. The same thing has been done by some among the German Churches. And in many Presbyterian Churches there are found those who will take the same ground, and denounce all these things, with the exception, perhaps, of an educated ministry, as innovations, new measures, "going in your own strength," and the like, and as calculated to do great evil.
(a) The apostles - who were great innovators, as you all know. After the Resurrection, and after the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, they set out to remodel the Church. They broke down the Jewish system of measures, and rooted it out, so as to leave scarcely a vestige.

(b) Luther and the Reformers. You all know what difficulties they had to contend with, and the reason was, that they were trying to introduce new measures - new modes of performing the public duties of religion, and new expedients to bring the Gospel with power to the hearts of men. All the strange and ridiculous things of the Roman Catholics were held to by Rome with pertinacious obstinacy, as if they were of Divine authority; and such an excitement was raised by the attempt to change them, as well- nigh involved all Europe in bloodshed.

(c) Wesley and his coadjutors. Wesley did not, at first, break from the Established Church in England, but formed little classes everywhere, which grew into a Church within a Church. He remained in the Episcopal Church; but he introduced so much of new measures as to fill all England with excitement, and uproar, and opposition; and he was everywhere denounced as an innovator and a stirrer up of sedition - a teacher of new things which it was not lawful to receive.

Whitefield was a man of the same school, and, like Wesley, was an innovator. I believe he and several individuals of his associates were expelled from College for getting up such a new measure as a social prayer meeting. They would pray together and expound the Scriptures, and this was such a daring novelty that it could not be borne. When Whitefield came to America what an astonishing opposition was raised! Often he well nigh lost his life, and barely escaped by the skin of his teeth. Now, everybody looks upon him as the glory of the age in which he lived. And many of our own denomination have so far divested themselves of prejudice as to think Wesley not only a good, but a wise and pre-eminently useful man. Then, almost the entire Church viewed them with animosity, fearing that the innovations they introduced would destroy the Church.

(d) President Edwards. This great man was famous in his day for new measures. Among other innovations, he refused to baptize the children of impenitent parents. The practice of baptizing the children of the ungodly had been introduced into the New England Churches in the preceding century, and had become nearly universal. President Edwards saw that the practice was wrong, and he refused to do it, and the refusal shook all the Churches of New England. A hundred ministers joined and determined to put him down. He wrote a book on the subject, and defeated them all. It produced one of the greatest excitements there ever was in New England.

Nothing, unless it was the Revolutionary War, ever produced an equal excitement.

The General Association of Connecticut refused to countenance Whitefield, he was such an innovator. "Why, he will preach out of doors, and anywhere!" Awful! What a terrible thing that a man should preach in the fields or in the streets! Cast him out!All these were devoted men, seeking out ways to do good and save souls.
A book, still extant, was written in President Edwards' time, by a doctor of divinity, and signed by a multitude of ministers, against Whitefield and Edwards, their associates and their measures. A letter was published in this city by a minister against Whitefield, which brought up the same objections against innovations that we hear now. In the time of the late opposition to revivals in the State of New York, a copy of this letter was taken to the editor of a religious periodical with a request that he would publish it. He refused, and gave for a reason, that if published, many would apply it to the controversy that is going on now. I mention it merely to show how identical is the opposition that is raised in different ages against all new measures designed to advance the cause of religion. In the present generation, many things have been introduced which have proved useful, but have been opposed on the ground that they were innovations. And as many are still unsettled in regard to them, I have thought it best to make some remarks concerning them. There are three things, in particular, which have chiefly attracted remark, and therefore I shall speak of them. They are: anxious meetings, protracted meetings, and the anxious seat. These are all opposed, and are called " new measures."

(a) Anxious meetings. The first that I ever heard of under that name were in New England, where they were appointed for the purpose of holding personal conversation with anxious sinners, and to adapt instruction to the cases of individuals, so as to lead them immediately to Christ. The design of them is evidently philosophical, but they have been opposed because they were new. There are two modes of conducting an anxious meeting, either of which may effect the object in view.

(1) By spending a few moments in personal conversation, in order to learn the state of mind of each individual, and then, in an address to the whole meeting, to take up their errors and remove their difficulties.

(2) By going round to each, and taking up each individual case, and going over the whole ground with each one separately, and getting them to promise to give their hearts to God. Either way the meetings are important, and have been found most successful in practice. But multitudes have objected against them because they were new.

(b) Protracted meetings. These are not new, but have always been practiced, in some form or another, ever since there was a Church on earth.

The Jewish festivals were nothing else but protracted meetings. In regard to the manner, they were conducted differently from what they are now.

But the design was the same: to devote a series of days to religious services, in order to make a more powerful impression of Divine things on the minds of the people. All denominations of Christians, when religion prospers among them, hold protracted meetings. In Scotland they used to begin on Thursday, at all their Communion seasons, and continue until after the Sabbath. The Episcopalians, Baptists, and Methodists, all hold protracted meetings. Yet now, in our day, they have been opposed, particularly among Presbyterians, and called "new measures," and regarded as fraught with all manner of evil, notwithstanding that they have been so manifestly and so extensively blessed. I will suggest a few things that ought to be considered in regard to them.

(1) In appointing them, regard should be had for the circumstances of the people; whether the Church is able to give attention and devote time to carrying on the meeting. In some instances this rule has been neglected.

Some have thought it right to break in upon the necessary business of the community. In the country they would appoint the meeting in the harvest-time, and in the city in the height of the business season, when all the men are necessarily occupied, and pressed with their temporal labors.

In defense of this course it is said, that our business should always be made to yield to God's business; that eternal things are of so much more importance than temporal things, that worldly business of any kind, and at anytime, should be made to yield and give place to a protracted meeting.

But the worldly business in which we are engaged is not our business. It is as much God's business, and as much our duty, as our prayers and protracted meetings are. If we do not consider our business in this light, we have not yet taken the first lesson in religion; we have not learned to do all things to the glory of God. With this view of the subject - separating our business from religion, we are living six days for ourselves, and the seventh for God. REAL DUTIES NEVER INTERFERE WITH EACH OTHER.

Weekdays have their appropriate duties, and the Sabbath its appropriate duties, and we are to be equally pious on every day of the week, and in the performance of the duties of every day. We are to plow, and sow, and sell our goods, and attend to our various callings, with the same singleness of view to the glory of God, with which we go to Church on the Sabbath, and pray in our families, and read our Bibles. This is a first principle in religion. He that does not know and act on this principle, has not learned the "A B C" of piety, as yet. Now, there are particular seasons of the year, in which God, in His providence, calls upon men to attend to business, because worldly business at the time is particularly urgent, and must be done at that season, if done at all; seed-time and harvest for the farmer, and the business seasons for the merchant. And we have no right to say, in those particular seasons, that we will quit our business and have a protracted meeting. The fact is, the business is not ours. And unless God, by some special indication of His providence, shows it to be His pleasure that we should turn aside and have a protracted meeting at such times, I look upon it as tempting God to appoint one. It is saying: "O God, this worldly business is our business, and we are willing to lay it aside for Thy business." Unless God has indicated it to be His pleasure to pour out His Spirit, and revive His work at such a season, and has thus called upon His people to quit, for the time being, their ordinary employments, and attend especially to a protracted meeting, it appears to me that God might say to us in such circumstances: "Who hath required this at your hand?"

God has a right to dispose of our time as He pleases, to require us to give up any portion of our time, or all our time, to duties of instruction and devotion. And when circumstances plainly call for it, it is our duty to lay aside every other business, and make direct and continuous efforts for the salvation of souls. If we transact our business upon right principles, and from right motives, and wholly for the glory of God, we shall never object to go aside to attend a protracted meeting, whenever there appears to be a call for it in the providence of God.

A man who considers himself a steward or a clerk, does not consider it a hardship to rest from his labors on the Sabbath, but a privilege. The selfish owner may feel unwilling to suspend his business on the Sabbath. But the clerk who transacts business, not for himself, but for his employer, considers it a privilege to rest on the Sabbath. So we, if we do our business for God, will not think it hard if He makes it our duty to suspend our worldly business and attend a protracted meeting. We should rather consider it in the light of a holiday. Whenever, therefore, you hear a man pleading that he cannot leave his business to attend a protracted meeting - that it is his duty to attend to business, there is reason to fear that he considers the business as his own, and the meeting as God's business. If he felt that the business of the store or the farm was as much God's business as attending a protracted meeting, he would, doubtless, be very willing to rest from his worldly toils, and go up to the house of God and be refreshed, whenever there was an indication on the part of God, that the community was called to that work. It is highly worthy of remark, that the Jewish festivals were appointed at those seasons of the year when there was the least pressure of indispensable worldly business.

In some instances, such meetings have been appointed in the very pressure of business seasons, and have been followed with no good results, evidently for the want of attention to the rule here laid down. In other cases, meetings have been appointed in seasons when there was a great pressure of worldly business, and have been signally blessed. But in those cases the blessing followed because the meeting was appointed in obedience to the indications of the will of God, and by those who had spiritual discernment, and understood the signs of the times. In many instances, doubtless, individuals have attended who really supposed themselves to be giving up their own business to attend to God's business, and in such cases they made what they supposed to be a real sacrifice, and God in mercy granted them the blessing.

(2) Ordinarily, a protracted meeting should be conducted throughout, and the labor chiefly performed, by the same minister, if possible. Sometimes protracted meetings have been held, and dependence placed on ministers coming in from day to day, and there has been no blessing. The reason has been obvious. They did not come in a state of mind which was right for entering into such work; and they did not know the state of people's minds, so as to know what to preach. Suppose a person who is sick should call a different physician every day. Neither would know what the symptoms had been, what was the course of the disease or of the treatment, what remedies had been tried, or what the patient could bear.

The method would certainly kill the patient. Just so in a protracted meeting, carried on by a succession of ministers. None of them get into the spirit of it, and generally they do more harm than good.

A protracted meeting should not, ordinarily, be appointed, unless they can secure the right kind of help, and get a minister or two who will agree to stay on the ground till the meeting is finished. Then they will probably secure a rich blessing.

(3) There should not be so many public meetings as to interfere with the duties of private prayer and of the family. Otherwise Christians will lose their spirituality and let go their hold of God; and the protracted meeting will prove a failure.

(4) Families should not put themselves out so much, in entertaining strangers, as to neglect prayer and other duties. It is often the case that when a protracted meeting is held, some of the principal families in the Church, I mean those who are principally relied on to sustain the meetings, do not get into the work at all. And the reason is, that they are "cumbered with much serving." They often take needless trouble to provide for guests who come from a distance to the meeting, and lay themselves out very foolishly to make an entertainment, not only comfortable but sumptuous.

It should always be understood that it is the duty of families to have as little working and parade as possible, and to get along with their hospitality in the easiest way, so that they may all have time to pray, and go to the meeting, and to attend to the things of the Kingdom.

(5) By all means guard against unnecessarily keeping late hours. If people keep late hours, night after night, they will inevitably wear out the body; their health will fail, and there will be a reaction. They sometimes allow themselves to get so excited as to lose their sleep, and become irregular in their meals, till they break down. Unless the greatest pains are taken to keep regular, the excitement will get so great, that nature will give way, and the work will stop.

(6) All sectarianism should be carefully avoided. If a sectarian spirit breaks out, either in the preaching, or praying, or in conversation, it will counteract all the good of the meeting.

(7) Be watchful against placing dependence on a protracted meeting, as if that of itself would produce a revival. This is a point of great danger, and has always been so. This is the great reason why the Church in successive generations has always had to give up her measures - because Christians had come to rely on them for success. So it has been in some places, in regard to protracted meetings. They have been so blessed, that in some places the people have thought that if they could only have a protracted meeting, they would have a blessing, and sinners would be converted of course. And so they have appointed their meeting, without any preparation in the Church, and have just sent for some minister of note and set him to preaching, as if that, would convert sinners. It is obvious that the blessing would be withheld from a meeting got up in this way.

(8) Avoid adopting the idea that a revival cannot be enjoyed without a protracted meeting. Some Churches have got into a morbid state of feeling on this subject. Their zeal has become all spasmodic and feverish, so that they never think of doing anything to promote a revival, only in that way.

When a protracted meeting is held, they seem to be wonderfully zealous, but then sink down to a torpid state till another protracted meeting produces another spasm. And now multitudes in the Church think it is necessary to give up protracted meetings because they are abused in this way. This ought to be guarded against, in every Church, so that they may not be driven to give them up, and lose all the benefits that protracted meetings are calculated to produce.
By this I mean the appointment of some particular seat in the place of meeting, where the anxious may come and be addressed particularly, and be made subjects of prayer, and sometimes be conversed with individually. Of late, this measure has met with more opposition than any of the others.

What is the great objection? I cannot see it. The design of the anxious seat is undoubtedly philosophical, and according to the laws of mind. It has two bearings:

(a) When a person is seriously troubled in mind, everybody knows there is a powerful tendency to conceal it. When a person is borne down with a sense of his condition, if you can get him willing to have it known, if you can get him to break away from the chains of pride, you have gained an important point towards his conversion. This is agreeable to the philosophy of the human mind. How many thousands are there who will bless God to eternity, that, when pressed by the truth, they were ever brought to take this step, by which they threw off the idea that it was a dreadful thing to have anybody know that they were serious about their souls.

(b) Another bearing of the anxious seat is to detect deception and delusion, and thus prevent false hopes. It has been opposed on the ground that it was calculated to create delusion and false hopes. But this objection is unreasonable. The truth is the other way.

Suppose I were preaching on the subject of Temperance; and that I should first show the evils of intemperance, and bring up the drunkard and his family, and show the various evils produced, till every heart were beating with emotion. Then I portray the great danger of moderate drinking, and show how it leads to intoxication and ruin, and that there is no safety but in TOTAL ABSTINENCE, till a hundred hearts are ready to say: "I will never drink another drop of ardent spirit in the world; if I do, I may expect to find a drunkard's grave." Now I stop short, and let the pledge be circulated, and every one that is fully resolved is ready to sign it. But how many will begin to draw back and hesitate, when you call on them to sign a pledge of total abstinence! One says to himself: "Shall I sign it or not? I thought my mind was made up, but this signing a pledge never to drink again - I do not know about that." Thus you see that when a person is called upon to give a pledge, if he is found not to be decided, he makes it manifest that he was not sincere. That is, that he never came to that resolution on the subject, which could be relied on to control his future life.

Just so with the awakened sinner. Preach to him, and, at the moment, he thinks he is willing to do anything; he thinks he is determined to serve the Lord; but bring him to the test; call on him to do one thing, to take one step, that shall identify him with the people of God or cross his pride, and his pride comes up, and he refuses; his delusion is brought out, and he finds himself a lost sinner still; whereas, if you had not done it, he might have gone away flattering himself that he was a Christian. If you say to him: "There is the anxious seat, come out and avow your determination to be on the Lord's side," and if he is not willing to do so small a thing as that, then he is not willing to do anything, and there he is, brought out before his own conscience. It uncovers the delusion of the human heart, and prevents a great many spurious conversions, by showing those who might otherwise imagine themselves willing to do anything for Christ that in fact they are willing to do nothing.

The Church has always felt it necessary to have something of the kind to answer this very purpose. In the days of the apostles baptism answered this purpose. The Gospel was preached to the people, and then all those who were willing to be on the side of Christ were called on to be baptized.

It held the precise place that the anxious seat does now, as a public manifestation of a determination to be a Christian.

In modern times, even those who have been violently opposed to the anxious seat, have been obliged to adopt some substitute, or they could not get along in promoting a revival. Some have adopted the expedient of inviting the people who are anxious for their souls, to stay, for conversation, after the rest of the congregation have retired. But what is the difference? This is as much setting up a test as the other. Others, who would be much ashamed to employ the anxious seat, have asked those who have any feeling on the subject, to retain their seats when the rest retire. Others have called the anxious to withdraw into a Lecture-room.

The object of all these is the same, and the principle is the same - to bring people out from the refuge of false shame. One man I heard of, who was very far gone in his opposition to new measures. In one of his meetings he requested all those who were willing to submit to God, or desired to be made subjects of prayer, to signify it by leaning forward and putting their heads down upon the pew before them. Who does not see that this was a mere evasion of the anxious seat, that it was designed to answer the same purpose, and that the plan was adopted because it was felt that something of the kind was important?

Now, what objection is there against taking a particular seat, or rising up, or going into the Lecture room? They all mean the same thing; and they are not novelties in principle at all. The thing has always been done in substance. In Joshua's day he called on the people to decide what they would do, and they spoke right out in the meeting: "The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey" (Joshua 24:24).


(a) The Old School, or Old Measure party, have persevered in their opposition, eagerly seizing hold of any real or apparent indiscretions in the friends of the work In such cases the Churches have gradually lost their confidence in the opposition to new measures, and the cry of "innovation" has ceased to alarm them. Thus the scale has turned.

(b) But now mark me: right here, in this state of things, the devil has, again and again, taken the advantage. When the battle has been fought and the victory gained, the rash zeal of some well-meaning, but headstrong individuals, has brought about a reaction, that has spread a pall over the Churches for years. This was the case, as is well known, in the days of President Edwards. Here is a rock, upon which a lighthouse is now built, and upon which if the Church now run aground, both parties are entirely without excuse. It is now well known, or ought to be known, that the declension which followed the revival in those days, together with the declensions which have repeatedly occurred, were owing to the combined influence of the continued and pertinacious opposition of the old School, and the ultimate bad spirit and recklessness of some individuals of the New School.

The note of alarm should be distinctly sounded to both parties, lest the devil should prevail against us at the very point, and under the very circumstances where he has so often prevailed. Will the Church never learn wisdom from experience? When will it come to pass that the Church will be revived, and religion prevail, without exciting such opposition in the Church as eventually brings about a reaction?
They have been taken up with the evils, real or imaginary, which have attended this great and blessed work of God. That there have been evils, no one will pretend to deny. But I believe that no revival ever existed since the world began, of as great power and extent as the one that has prevailed for the last ten years, which has not been attended with as great or greater evils. Still, a large portion of the Church have been frightening themselves and others, by giving constant attention to the evils of revivals. One of the professors in a Presbyterian Theological Seminary felt it his duty to write a series of letters to Presbyterians, which were extensively circulated, the object of which seemed to be to sound the note of alarm through all the borders of the Church, in regard to the evils attending revivals. While men are taken up with the evils instead of the excellences following a blessed work of God, how can it be expected that they will be useful in promoting it? I would say all this in great kindness, but it is a point upon which I must not be silent.
Look at the Methodists. Many of their ministers are unlearned, in the common sense of the term - many of them taken right from the shop or farm, and yet they have gathered congregations, and pushed their way, and won souls everywhere. Wherever the Methodists have gone, their plain, pointed and simple, but warm and animated, mode of preaching has always gathered congregations. Few Presbyterian ministers have gathered such large assemblies, or won so many souls. Now, are we to be told that we must pursue the same old, formal mode of doing things, amidst all these changes? As well might the North River be rolled back, as the world converted under such preaching. Those who adopt a different style of preaching, as the Methodists have done, will run away from us. We must have powerful preaching, or the devil will have the people, except what the Methodists can save! Many ministers are finding out already, that a Methodist preacher, without the advantages of a liberal education, will draw a congregation around him which a Presbyterian minister, with perhaps ten times as much learning, cannot equal, because he has not the earnest manner of the other, and does not pour out fire upon his hearers when he preaches.
If I had a voice so loud as to be heard at Princeton, I would speak to those young men on this subject. It is high time to talk plainly. The Church is groaning in all her borders for the want of suitable ministers. Good men are laboring, and are willing to labor night and day, to assist in educating young men for the ministry, to promote revivals of religion; and yet when young men come out of the seminary some of them are as shy of all the measures that God blesses as they are of Popery itself.

Shall it be so always? Must we educate young men for the ministry, and have them come out frightened to death about new measures? They ought to know that new measures are no new thing in the Church. Let them go to work, and keep at work, and not be frightened. I have been pained to see that some men, in giving accounts of revivals, have evidently felt it necessary to be particular in detailing the measures used, to avoid the inference that new measures were introduced; evidently feeling that even the Church would undervalue the revival unless it appeared to have been promoted without new measures. Besides, this caution in detailing the measures in order to demonstrate that there is nothing new, looks like admitting that new measures are wrong because they are new, and that a revival is more valuable when it is not promoted by new measures. In this way, I apprehend that much evil has been done; and if the practice is to continue, it must come to this, that a revival must be judged of by the fact that it occurred in connection with new, or with old, measures. I never will countenance such a spirit, or condescend to guard an account of a revival against the imputation of old or new measures. I believe new measures are right; that is, that it is no objection to a measure, that it is new, or old.

Let a minister enter fully into his work, and pour out his heart to God for a blessing, and whenever he sees the want of any measure to bring the truth more powerfully before the minds of the people, let him adopt it and not be afraid, and God will not withhold His blessing. If ministers will not go forward, if they will not preach the Gospel with power and earnestness, if they will not turn out of their tracks to do anything new for the purpose of saving souls, they will grieve the Holy Spirit away, and God will visit them with His curse, and raise up other ministers to do His work in the world.
The only thing insisted upon under the Gospel dispensation, in regard to measures, is that there should be decency and order. "Let all things be done decently and in order"(1 Corinthians 14:40). We are required to guard against all confusion and disorderly conduct. But what is meant by decency and order? Will it be said that an anxious meeting, or a protracted meeting, or an anxious seat, is inconsistent with decency and order? I should most sincerely deprecate, and most firmly resist, whatever was indecent and disorderly in the worship of God's house. But I do not suppose that by "order," we are to understand any particular set mode, in which any Church may have been accustomed to perform its service.


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"Sermons from the Penny Pulpit"
by C. G. Finney
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