James Spencer Cannon.

Lectures on pastoral theology online

. (page 1 of 62)
Online LibraryJames Spencer CannonLectures on pastoral theology → online text (page 1 of 62)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



Part of ihe ■ ^


which was presected by
Messks. R. L. a^d a. Rtuabt.

I JiooA-, No ' L..I

uW- cAcLdAJ^u^ (yrCu^a/i^^^yr'-

^^^/ frs.

^- /ii ..


cydj. eX (/^^ >^^








1 853.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, ty


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New-York.


OP & 97 ClifF, cor. Frankfort Street.


■* ' BY



James Spencer Cannon, the author of the lectures contained in this
volume, was born in the island of Curacoa, January 28, 1776. His father
was a sea-captain, and of Irish extraction ; his mother was a native of New-
England. Captain Cannon's home was in the city of New-York, from which
port he usually sailed ; and Mrs. Cannon seems to have frequently accom-
panied her husband upon his voyages. The latter fact will account for the
birth of James at Curagoa, and also for the interment of Mrs. Cannon in
the Friends' burying-ground in the city of Baltimore, Md.

Upon the death of Mrs. C, the captain placed his three children, Joseph,
William, and James Spencer, the youngest, in the academy of Peter Wilson,
LL.D., at Hackensack, N. J. Here they remained three or four years, when
death deprived them of their father. Captain C. had taken passage for
Charleston, S. C, in a vessel commanded by Philip Freneau, the poet. Dur-
ing the progress of the voyage, a violent storm arose, and Mr. Freneau, who
was not a practical navigator, being unable to manage the vessel, gave up
the command to Captain Cannon ; and while the gale was still raging. Cap-
tain C. was knocked overboard by the jib-boom and lost.

The orphans were made to feel the cruelty of the wicked ; two persons
took charge of the estate of the deceased, and the lawful heirs never received

A Biographical Sketch of the Author.

a penny of their father's property. But the Father of the fatherless raised
up a warm friend for James in the person of Henry Brevoort, Esq., of Hack-
ensack, who from the time of Captain C.'s decease down to James's hcensure
defrayed all the expenses of his education.

James began his classical studies under that able and pious teacher, Dr.
Wilson, and finished them under the Doctor's successor, the Rev. Alexander
Millar. The Rev. Dr. Peter Labagh, who was a fellow-student of Dr. Can-
non, declares that he was an indefatigable student, and enjoyed, in an emi-
nent degree, the afiection and confidence of his teachers.

In the year 1794, James, together with Dr. Labagh and the Rev. Garret
Mandeville, made a profession of religion ib the Reformed Dutch church of
Hackensaclv, then under the pastoral care of Rev. Dr. Solomon Freligh ; and
Dr. C. then prosecuted his theological studies under the care of his pastor
until the spring of 1*796, As, however, Dr. Freligh was not a Professor of
Theology, and could not give the certificate which was required by the Clas-
sis. Dr. C. went to Dr. Livington on Long Island, and for two months prose-
cuted his studies, at the end of which time Dr. L. gave him the usual
professional certificate. Hereupon he and Mr. Peter Labagh presented
themselves to the Classis of Hackensack, and after a thorough and satis-
factory examination, protracted through two days, they were both licensed
to preach the gospel.

After his lictnsure. Dr. C. received several calls from churches then vacant,
but finally determined to devote himself to the care of the united churches
of Millstone and Six-Mile-Run, which had recently become vacant by the
resignation of the Rev. Mr. Van Harlingen. Upon the termination of the
collegiate relation between these two churches. Dr. C. devoted the whole of
his time to the church at Six-Mile-Run. This was his only field of labor,
where for thirty years he quietly but most successfully cultivated the vine-
yard of the Lord.

One Avho knew him well, thus speaks of him as a minister : " His preach-
ing was- characterized by a clear exhibition of divine truth, and was thought
to be peculiarly adapted to the tastes and various exercises of the pious.
He was a Barnabas rather than a Boanei'ges. His labors were attended with
an even and gradual success, rather than by any thing of the nature of

A Biograjtliical Sketch of the Author.

revivals. As a member of the Cliurcli judicatures, lie was mild and judicious,
and stood high in the confidence of his brethren."

In 1826, he was elected Professor of Pastoral Theology and Ecclesiastical
History and Government, the duties of which office he continued to fulfil
with distinguished fidelity and success till the time of his death. The Church
was bereaved of his services and example on Sabbath, the twenty-fifth of
July, 1852.

Do you wish proof of his learning ? These lectures will afford you the
fullest demonstration. Do you wish to hear of his benevolence ? Go ask
the poor, who never w^ent empty from his door. Do you wish to know his
courtesy, his unwearied diligence in the discharge of duty, his piety? Ask
your pastors, who owe so much to him ; or go to those of his old parishion-
ers who still survive him ; from these you will learn that we do well to
mourn the loss of our father and friend.




I. Pastoral Theology, as a science — defined.
II. An Evangelical Pastor, tlie subject of a Divine call.
IIL The Evangelical Pastor a Gospel Minister — Distinguished,
First. From Patriarchs.

1. His order purely ecclesiastical.

2. Is not a sacrificing priest.

3. The dispensation under which lie acts, not typical.

4. His office not derived from the law of primogeniture. .

5. Serves a Saviour crucified, etc.
Second. From the Priests and Levites under the Law.

1. His official parentage not sacerdotal.

2. Not required to offer up animal sacrifices.

3. Not directed by the Ceremonial Law, etc.

4. Is subordinate to no earthly high priest.
Third. From apostles, projihets, workers of miracles, etc.

Lastly. From "Licentiates " — Their functions defined — Limits of, etc.
rV". Tlie Pastoral Office involved in the gospel ministry — Their commission to preach,
administer sacraments, "feed the flock," govern, etc. — Their office the same,
whether local or itinerant. Ordained as foreign missionaries.
V. Tlie great end of, the glory of God and the salvation of men — Effects of, etc.
VI. Special qualifications, the first branch of the science of Pastoral Tlieology.



These qualifications are.
First. A special call of God

Analytical Table of Contents.

L Under the New Testament Dispensation, this call is,

1. Immediate, from Christ himself, and hence extraordinary —

Apostles, prophets, etc., necessity of, at the opening of the
New Dispensation — Has ceased to exist.

2. Ifedlate, through ordinary means, by the Church.

n. This mediate call of God to the pastoral office is

Partly internal, which comprehends, First, True conversion —
Second, A fervent desire for the salvation of souls — Third, Due
qualifications — not affected by variations in circumstances and
events of —
Partly external.

III. The external instrument is, the Church of God. Proofs: 1. God

commands it — 2. The agents, episcopal presbyters, with the mem-
bers of the Church — This the primitive and ancient custom —
Cyprian quoted — Also, "Waddington.

IV. This power of the Church, not a sovereign or despotic, but a minis-

terial and limited power. Scripture proofs: Heb. xiii. 7; 2 Tim.
ii. 1 ; Acts xx. Proper suboi'dination of the congregation to the
gospel ministry. Their consent, either tacit or expressed, etc. —
This ministry to be maintained and perpetuated — Patronage un-
scriptural and unlawful.

V. A regular call by tlie Chiirch, followed by Ordination. Various uses
of — Observed by the apostles — Not now essential — May be pri-
vate, but ordinarilj^ public, and on the Sabbath — Reordination —
Deposition, for impiety, heresy, etc.

VI. The power of ordination, in whom vested — The gospel ministry —
Acts xiv. 2.3 examined — Terms used by the apostles to denote it.
Further proofs — Dr. Owen quoted — Also Calamy — Hypothetical
cases, how answered.

VII. Ordination, sine titulo.
Practical reflections :

" Count the cost" — The ministry not be sought as a mere pro-
fession — A special call of God to the work indispensable — Let
each one ask, Have I received it? — Exhortation to such — These
have "no confidence in the flesh," etc. — Obstacles unavailing
with such — Their trials — Their encouragements.



Second. A second qualification, suitable intellectual endowments.

I. Required by the Word of God. Proofs : \. Their name — 2. Design
or end of their ministry — 3. From the subjects of their preaching —
4. From the power of infidel opponents — 5. From their position
in civil society.
II. Objection. " The apostles were unlearned men," etc. Ans.
1. Inspiration in them supplied the place of learning.

Analytical Table of Contents. iii

2. "With tlu-m necessary — No such necessity now exists.

3. Human erudition — In what sense necessarj' — relatively and

ordinarily — Robert Hall quoted.

HI. The measure of knowledge — Cannot have too much — How revealed.

1. Not by oral traditions, but by writing — Importance of a know-

ledge of Greek and Hebrew, etc.

2. Necessity of, from the infinite variety of matter in the Sacred

Scriptures — Julian and Pope Paul IT. quoted — Answer to
fanatical objections — The true question stated.
rV. A mind well stored with a knowledge of Bible theology indispensa-
ble — To be attained only by searching the Scriptures — Ignorance
of, its injurious effects — Rowland Hill quoted — Duty to study the
Scriptures further enforced — John Newton and Luther quoted —
Value of theological schools — May be abused — Rowland Hill on —
No objection to.

Y. Motives to urge the evangelical pastor to increase his intellectual
stores of knowledge.

TnmD. A third qualification, A development of the graces of the divine life.
1. Heaven! y-m'mdedness — 2. HumUity — Pi-actical observations: 1. Uses to
be made of the various knowledge attained — 2. Also of the above-named
Christian graces.



To heavenly-mindedness and humility are added,

3. Harmlessness or inofFensiveness.

4. Prudence.

5. Oxavity — The Evangelical Pastor cautioned against, (1.) Contracting of

heavy debts — (2.) Acceptance of invitations to social pai'ties and
feasts — Jerome quoted — (3.) Must shun the company of open enemies
of his religion, such as atheists, deists, and scoffers — (4.) Must avoid
the habit of disputation — (5.) Also all exhibitions of violent anger,
weakness of mind arising from fear, etc.

6. Zeal. Tlie term defined — Its object, the salvation of men — Christ, the

great pattern of — The apostle-s — Tlie Reformers — Its necessity — Must
comport witli the other graces — A false zeal to be guarded against.
•7. Fortitude — E.\plained — Its source, faith in God's Word — Tests of— Fi-om
worldly prosperity, the influence of the press, lukcwarnuiess, prevail-
ing errors, etc.
FoUKTii. A fourth qualification of the evangelical pastor. "An aptness to teach" —
Murks of a want of — The possession of, how known.
Practical reflections :

The various duties and trials of the gospel ministry, inferred from the
graces required as a qualific.'ition of that oflice— The duty of, to abound
in prayer— In self-examination— Further cautions and exhortations to.

iv Analytical Table of Contents.




Necessary gifts or endowments of those who are " apt to teach." These are two:
the gift of pra3^er, and the gift of preaching the Word.
FIRST. The Gift of Prayer.

I. Prayer an es^tential part of the public worship of God — In what it
consists — The first act of worship under the New Dispensation —
Necessity of, on the part of Christian pastors — The act of public
pastoral prayer defined — Hence,

1. The Christian minister "is the representative of those who

believe with the heart." — Vitringa.

2. To whom to be addressed — Gentilism — the theology and ritual

worship of the Church of Rome mostly borrowed from
Pagan temples — Divided into Latreia and Douleia — Error
of— Praj'er to be addressed, not to the Virgin Mary and to
saints, but to God alone.

3. Pastoral praj'er must be audible and in a known tovgue — Dif-

ference between silent or secret and audible prayer — Be-
longs to the pastor alone — The practice of the Church of
Rome in ofi'ering prayers in an unknown tongue, opposed
by the practice of the Hebrews under the Law, and by
Christ and the primitive and ancient Christians.

4. Pastoral prayer must be diversified in matter — Intellectual —

Consistent with and based upon God's promises.

II. For the performance of this duty, the pastor must be well quali-
fied by,

1. The Grace of prayer. The talent and spirit of prayer ex

plained — The grace of prayer defined.

2. The gift of prayer, what? — Excludes written forms — Other-

wise the gift of prayer unnecessary — Liturgical forms, how
far allowable.

III. No Divine Law to enjoin written forms of prayer alone, either
public or jn-ivate — Proofs that the Lord's Prayer furnishes no
authority for:

1. It was designed by Christ as a model.

2. If not, as no other form was given, no other can be used —

Dilemma of our adversaries.

3. Was not used by the apostles, etc., as the basis of written

forms — Palmer quoted — No proof in history of the exist-
ence and use of apostolical liturgies.

4. Public priiyers not to be restricted to the Lord's Prayer —

Jt was given before the crucifixion, and hence contains
no direction to pray in the name of Christ, etc. — Vain
repetitions practised by the heathen and imitated by the
Church of Rome — Cautions against — How regarded by
primitive believers.

Analytical Table of Contents. y

5. It furnishes no authority to bind the consciences of any by

written forms.

rV. The argument for exclusive written forms, as drawn from the alleged
practice of Christ — Synagogue worship — Ground of concessions
of their utility by the evangelical churches, etc. Arguments
against the above :

1. The synagogue liturgies not prescribed by the Spirit of

God — Were of human origin.

2. No authority to be derived therefor from Christ's ministra-

tions while on earth — Dean Prideaux quoted.

3. Christ not a regular minister of any synagogue.

4. The synagogue form of worship not copied by the apostles —

Ephes. vi.

6. Final argument against written forms, as drawn from the

synagogue prayers, etc.

V. The plea of expediency, in the use of written forms, considered— If
expedient only, then the "Book of Common Prayer" cannot, as
some pretend, be of divine authority — Alleged early origin of
liturgies — That of Matthew, of Peter, of James, of Mark, etc. —
Fallacy of — True sources of, pointed out — Began first to be en-
forced in the early part of the fifth century — Not complete even
in the seventh century — The yift of public prayer therefore not
to be restrained by the alleged antiquity of liturgies — Argument
of uniformity — Fallacj' of

VI. Alleged objection against prayer without written forms, that they
are made up of "crude and undigested thoughts," considered.

1. The allegation not proved.

2. The Church cautioned against inedifying pastoral prayer.

3. This evil not found in any well-governed churches.

4. Not true of able and faithful pastors, whose business is

YII. Another objection against extemporaneous prayers is, that we are
not prepared to say "Amen" to the petitions offered — Fallacy of.

YIIL Arguments in support of extemporaneous prayer.

1. Proof from the book of Psalms — The apostles and primitive

Christians used no written forms — The early Fathers re-
ferred to and quoted.

2. Extemporaneous prayer better adapted to the spirit of devo-

tion — Dr. Watts and Bishop Wilkins quoted.

3. It gives scope to the improvement of the gift, and to the

operation of the grace, of prayer — Opposite tendency of
the use of written forms — This evil felt by the most ardent
friends of the "Book of Common Prayer" — Archbishop
Seeker and Mr. Talbot.

4. It is best adapted to the diversified circumstances in the

natural and spiritual life of his flock — Episcopalians,
dilemma of.
IX. The gift of prayer a talent which the Evangelical Pastor is bound to
e.xercise— Also to improve — 1. Fanaticism rebuked — 2. Inspira-

Vi Analytical Table of Contents.

tion not promised, nor to be expected — The gift of prayer to be
improved — (1.) By renewed communications of the Holy Spirit —
(2.) By familiarity with the devotional parts of Scripture — (3.)
By mental improvements — (4.) By exercising the gift of prayer.
' (5.) By cultivating the graces of the Spirit.

Practical reflections:

Difference between saying prayers and praying — Review past
experience in prayer — Consider its present exercise — Prayers of
the hypocrite, the formalist, and the true Christian, compared —
Necessity of the grace of prayer — How acquired — The only source
of growth in grace — ^A graceless minister described — Exhortation
to steadfastaess.




The Westminster Directory, regarding the "Book of Common Prayer." The fore-
r^oing arguments against, seasonable. The Evangelical Pastor must regard the
three things following in his public prayers, namely: the matter, the order, and the
manner of.

I. The matter. Directions:

1. The pastor must study the various states of his own heart.

2. Must read and etudy, especially, the devotional parts of


3. Must strive to know the state of his flock.

4. Must engage in secret' prayer — Examjjles ; Luther, John

Knox, Welsh, Leighton.

5. Must carry with him the various wants of all.

6. Must depend upon and supplicate the aid of the Holy Spirit

II. The order of prayer — Necessity thereof for edification.

1. Gives expression to the nature of public worship.

2. The only way to avoid omissions, repetitions, etc.

3. Also to promote devotion.

1st. Rules for preserving this order in prayer:

1. Habitual thinking on all important subjects.

2. Must distinguish generals from particulars.

3. Connect things of the same kind.

4. Pressing evils and special mercies should occupy much

thought in prayer.

2d. Various general methods of prayer — Some divide the matter into
ten parts, others into eight, others five, and others again, two —
I recommend the five following parts, namely :

1. Invocation. Its nature and object explained — Should vary in


2. Confession. Its nature and importance — Comprehends two

things, a sense of guilt and contrition — A form of, in the

Analytical Tahle of Contents.


liturgy of the Reformed Church — To be accompanied with
short professions of faith.

3. Petition. Should occupy a large place in prayer — Subjects

of, numerous.

4. Thanksgivincf. This duty, obvious — Subjects of, numerous.

5. Intercession. In belialf of others — It is either, (I.) General.

for all classes and conditions of men; or, (2.). Particular,
for individuals — Manner of concluding prayers.

III. Manner of prayer. This embraces three things :

1. Gesture. Tlie posture must express reverence — Different foi-ms

of — standing, kneeling, bowing the head — The first to be
preferred^The gestures should be few — Eyes should be

2. Pronunciation, or tone of voice. Must be distinct — Kot dic-

tatorial — Neither too low nor too elevated.

3. Style, or language. General directions for.
Practical reflections :

Must distinguisli between, 1. The extraordinary and the ordi-
nary gifts of the Spirit; and especiall}^, 2. Between the gifts and
the graces of the Spirit.

(1.) Prophecy, an extraordinary gift; (2.) Miracles, another;
(3.) Doctrinal knowledge, an ordinary gift; (4.) Utterance, an-
other; (5.) The talent of performing audible prayer, another —
Fui'ther directions and cautions — Conclusion.




SECOND. The Gift of Preaching the Word.

Introduction — Design of, to be "teachers" — Distinction between the
gift of prayer and that of preaching — The latter the most important —
The redemption of sinners, the great end of all God's works — Difficul-
ties to encountei' — Not to be overcome by perpetual miracles, but by
a special ministry — The wisdom of God in this arrangement — Unlike
the orations of the heathen, which were limited to one nation, the
publication of the gospel is universal — Hence the superiority of the
divine ordinance of "preaching," as a means of salvation — the primi-
tive number large — Wonderful effects of, prove its divine origin —
Preaching, not ritualism, the great work of the gospel ministry — Its
awful responsibilities — Hence, the "gift of preaching" an essential
qualification of the Evangelical Pastor.

I. The term preaching defined — It signifies to convey a message — Is
descriptive of the Christian ministry as an office — Its design or

L Preaching is both a gift and a dnt;i. Consider it as a ...ut.
The terra defined — Is susceptible of improvement — Is

viii Analytical Table of Contents.

imperiously demanded by the nature of the service — ^This is
evident, (1.) from Paul's instructions to Timothy and Titus;
and, (2.) from the nature of the duty of preaching.
2. Directions for the improvement of this gift :

(1.) The renewing grace of God in the heart — Examples : Luther,
Knox, Brainard.

(2.) By ihe improvement of the mental powers.

(3.) By frequent conversation with pious and experienced Chris-
• - (4.) By the outpourings of the Spirit of God upon the people.

(5.) By selecting useful matter, and studying the manner of

II. Preaching comprehends two things, namely: 1. The sermon itself
as a piece of composition ; and, 2. The delivery of it.

1st. The seemon as a composition. This includes five things:
First. The proper subjects for — The Scriptures the only source of — Departures
from, in the early ages, by substituting the teachings of Aristotle for
those of Christ — In Wiekliffe's time — The Romish Church — Many Pro-
testants labor to suppress the preaching of the gospel, by substituting
systems of human device — ^Socinianism — Deism — The subjects of preach-
ing various — Those suitable for ordinary discourses are :

(1.) The fall and depravity of human nature.

(2.) Tiie evil of sin, and destruction of the impenitent.

(.S.) The perfection of the moral law — Its penalties, etc,

(4.) The Saviour, in his person, offices, and states.

(5.) The constitution of tlie covenant of grace.

(6.) Tiie operations of the Holy Spirit.

(7.) Tiie privileges of God's people, etc.

But tlie preacher is not confined to these. He must preach
historical, prophetic, and typical discourses — Difficult passages
— Directions in treating them — A caution — Topics not to be
dwelt on, such as ancient heresies, Millerism, temperance, the
divine decrees, etc.
2d. Directions for the selection of proper subjects.

1. The preacher must keep in view the end of his mission, to

preach " Clirist crucified."

2. He must preach to those who hear Mm, not to the absent.

3. He must watch the various changes in the religious states of

his flock — Move with caution among tlicm — Consult the
judicious among liis church officers — Guard against gossips
— Not be too much in the streets.

Online LibraryJames Spencer CannonLectures on pastoral theology → online text (page 1 of 62)