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an honeft good heart was fufficient to propagate
it, without any aid derived from the cabinet^ of
princes, or the fchools of human fcience, he took
twelve poor illiterate men into his company, ad-
mitted them to an intimacy v/ith himfelf, and,
after he had kept them a while in tuition, lent
them to preach the good tidings of falvation to
their countrymen. A while after he fent feventy
more, and the difcourfes, which he delivered to
each clafs at their ordination, are made up of the
moft wife and benevolent fenciments, that ever fell
from the mouth of man. All the topicks are pure
theology, and all unpolluted with puerile conceits,
human politicks, literary dreams, ecclefiaftical
traditions, party difput^s, and all the other dlf-
jgraces of preaching, which thofe fandimonious


XXX A brief DifertalioH

hypocrites, fcribes, and pharifees, and pretended
doctors and rabbles had introduced into it.

Jeius Chrift had never paid any regard to the
place, where he delivered his fermons; he had
taught in the temple, the fynagogiies, publick
walks, and private houies; he had preached on
mountains, and in barges and fhips. His mif-
fionaries imitated him, and convenience for the
time was confecration of the place. He had been
equally indifferent to the pojiure, he flood, or fat,
as his own eafc and the popular edification re-
quired. The iime alfo had been accommodated to
the fame end. He had preached early in the
morning, late in the evening, on fabbath days and
fcftivals, and whenever elfe the people had leifure
jind inclination to hear. It had been foretold, the
Mefllah fhould noi lift up, nor cry, nor caiife his voice.
to be heard in the flreeis, that is, fhould not ufe the
artifices of thofe, who fought for popularity. It
fhould feem, Jefus Chriil ufed very little adion:
but that little was jull, natural, grave, and ex-
preffive. He fometimes wept, and always felt:
but he never expreffed his emotions in a theatrical
manner, much lefs did he preach as a drowfy pe-
dant declaims, who has no emotions to exprefs.

The fuccefs, that accompanied the miniitry of
our Emanuel, was truly allonifhing. My foul
overflows with joy, my eyes with tears of pleafure,
while I tranfcribe it. When this Sun of righteouf-
nefs arofe with healing under his wings, the difin-.
terefted populace, who lay all negle^led and for-
lorn, benighted with ignorance and benumbed
with vice, faw the light, and hailed the brightncfs
of its rifing. Up they fprang, and after him in
multitudes men, women, and children went. Was


on Publick Preaching, xxxi

he to pafs a road, they climbed the trees to fee
him, yea the blind fat by the way fide to hear him
go by. Was he in a houfe, they unroofed the
.building to come at him. As if they could never
get near enough to hear the foft accents of his
voice, they prefTed, they crouded, they trod upon
one another to furround him. When he retired
into the wildernefs, they thought him another
Mofes, and would have made him a king. It was
the fineft thing they could think of. He, greater
than the greateft monarch, defpifed worldly gran-
deur: but to fulfil prophecy, fitting upon a bor-
rowed afs's colt, rode into Jerufalem the Son of the
Higheji, and allowed the tranfported multitude to
ftrewtheway with garments and branches, and to
aroufe the infenfible metropolis by acclamations,
the very children lliouting, Hofannah ! Hofannah
in the higheji ! Hofannah to the fon of David! Blejfed
be he, that cometh in the name of the Lord !

The Rabbies prcttnded, the populace knew not
the Iwjj, and were curfed, and it is certain they
knew not i\io'it gloffes of the law, which traditionifts
affedted to teach : but this ignorance was their
happinefs. It would have been well for the teach-
ers, had they never known them. The populace
did know the law, and often quoted it in its
true fenfe. What myftery is there in the ten com-
mandments ! or what erudition is requifite to de-
termine, whether he, who opened the eyes of the
blind, were a worfhipper of God, or a fmner! It
is a high privilege of poverty, that it is a ftate dc'
gage, difengaged, detached, unbialfed, and neareft
of all others to free inquiry. The populace are not
worth poifoning by ecclefiaftical quacks, for they
cannot pay for the drugs. Their fenfes of feeing


xxxii A brief D'ljjertation

?.nd hearing, their faculties of obferving, refitt-
ing, and rcafoning, are all as equal to religious
topicks as thcfe of their fuperiors, and more fo,
becaufe unfophifticated. If they apply themfclvts
to examine, their atteftation is a high degree of
probability, if not a demonftration. It was glc-
rioufly faid by a blind beggar to a bench of cur-
mudgeons. Why I herein is a marvellous things that
r^, with all your great books and broad phylade-
rics, long titles and hard names, wife looks and
academical habits, kno"^ not whence Jefus is, and yet
he hath opened my eyes. New we, we blind beg-
gars, we curfed people, who knov^ not the law, we
who are altogether born in fin, we know that God
heareth notfinners, . . If this man vjere not of God,
4^^ he coidddo nothing.

This popularity, obtained by publick preach-
ing fupported by a courfe of beneficent adions,
many of which were miraculous, excited the envy
of the leading churchmen, and they determined to
deftroy Jefus. They dare not appeal to the peo-
ple, his conflant auditors and companions: but
they pretended loyalty to C^efar, and love to their
country, and taxed the Prince of Peace with
Jtirring up fedition. We know the iffue. Let us
draw a vail over this horrid part of the hiflory of
mankind, and let us pafs on to the principal ob-
ject of our attention.

Jefus Chrill taught no fecrets, and he had com-
jiianded his apoftles to publifh upon the houfc
tops what they had heard in private converfation.
He charged them not to decline the publick
preaching of the divine word after his death : but


(6) John ix.

en Ptihlick Preaching, xxxiTi

to preach it to every creature. He promifed them
extraordinary affiftance for this extraordinary
work, and lie fulfilled his promife, and exceeded
their expectations, about fix weeks after his cruci-

The birth, life, do6lrine, example, miracles,
crucifixion, refurreflion, and afcenfion of Chriit
made a large addition to the old fubjedls of preach-
ing. The old ceconomy was a rude delineation,
the new was a finiilied piece. It was no new doc-
trine, it was an old plan brought to perfedtion, and
fet in finiihed excellence to laft for ever. It was
the religion of love to God and man made obvious
and univerfal.

Chrift, in the courfe of his miniftry, had likened
publick preaching to a concert of mufick,the grave
deep tones of John the baptift were all in perfeft har-
mony with the foft and lively airs of his fuccefibrs ;
a method of inftrudion contemned by the partial :
but juftified by the fons of true wifdom. Agreea- (?)
bly to this notion, he gave the holy Spirit fo as to
form a variety of perfe6t preachers, each excellino-
in his own fphere. James and John were fons of
thunder. Barnabas was a/^« of confolation, Peter (8)
was formed to preach to Jews, and Paul to convid (9)
and convert Gentiles. By this admirable oeco- (i)
nomy the wolf dwelt with the lamb^ the leopard lay
down with the kid, the calf the young lion, and the
failing zffochted together, and a little child might have
led them, AfTuredly they, who have made them-Zj*
felves ftandards of excellence, and have required of
ail others uniformity to themfelves, have neither

Vol. II. e underftood

. (7) Mat. xi. 17, &c. (8) Marklii. 17. (9) Ads iv. 36.
(0 Gal.ii. 7, 8. (2) Ifaiahxi. 6,


xxxlv A brief Bijferlathn

underftood the world of nature nor the oeconomy
of redemption.

The apoftles exaftly copied their divine mafter.
They confined their attention to religion, and left
the fchools to difpute, and politicians to intrigue.
Their dodrines were a fet of fa6ts of two forts.
The firft were within every man's obfervation, and
they appealed for the truth of them to common
fenfe and experience. The others were fads,
which from their nature could be known only by
teftimony. To the truth of thefe they bore wit-
nefs, and avowed the credibility of their evidence.
The firft required reafoning, the laft faith. Thefc
doftrines they fupported entirely by evidence, and
neither had, nor required, fuch affiftance as human
laws or worldly policy, the eloquence of the
fchools or the terror of arms, the charms of money
or the tricks of tradefmen could afford them.
Their gofpel was a fimple tale, that any honeft
man might tell. As to all the circumftantials of
publick preaching, time, place, gefture, ftyle, iia-
bits, and fo on, it was their glory to hold thefe
indifferent, and to be governed in their choice by
a fupreme attention to general edification.

Great was the fuccefs of thefe venerable men;
Their fervices were highly acceptable to God, to
whom they were a fweet favour of Cbriji-, they dif-
fufed the knowledge of him in every placCy and he
made them always triumph in Chrijl^ he opened doors,
(5) into which they entered, and preached Chrijl's gofpel.
They formed multitudes of religious focieties,
called churches, and they had the pleafure of feeing
them choole from among themfelves honeft and
able men to preach the divine word, and to admi-

(3) 2 Cor. ii. 15. 14. 12.

on Puhlick Preaching, xxxv

nifter the (landing ordinances of Jefus Chrift, in
the abfence, and after the death of the apoftles.
Thefe were called hijhops, infpe6lors, ox Jeers ^ as the
old prophets were, and he, who wants to be in-
formed that this primitive brother was not a lord
in lawn, wants at the fame time to be told, that if
a child want hread\\\% parent fhould not give him
a fione^ if he wilh iorfijh, he fhould not be mortified
with z fcorpion.

The high efteem, in which chrifllans held the
apoftles, excited the envy of bad men, and they
prefently poured themfelves into chriftian churches
tofharethe benefits. Thefe adled over again the
part of the old falfe prophets, and they were
treated by the apoftles as the true prophets had
treated the former impoftors. They forefaw, how-
ever, and foretold, that men of this fort, after their
deceafe, would proftitute religion to worldly pur-
pofes, and afiTociate the fpirit of the devil with the
profefTion of chriftianity. They knew the weak-
neis of fome pious men, and the defperate proje6ts
of the wicked. They remembered the ftateof the
Mofaical ceconomy, and they recolleded the pro-
phecies of their divine mafter. They, therefore,
apprized fucceeding chriftians of their danger, by
deicribing the men, by direding the fervants of
Chrift to adhere to the written word, and whenever
apoftates fliould arrive at power enough to fet


to withdraw from them. They afiured them, they ^^
would be perfecuted : but they charged them to
e 2 ftand

■ (4) Thefe things teach. . . If any man teach othenvife,
and confent not to wholefome words, even the words of car
Lord Jefus Chrifi . , from fiich WITHDRAW thyfelf, i Tv:P..
vi, 3.6, 2 Thefl". iii. 6.

xxxvi A brief Dijfertation

ftand firmly in chriftian liberty, and to hold fafl: both
t-^ the FAITH and the profession of it, and they pro-
niifed them the prefence, the bleffing, and the fup-
port of God. They never fo much as hinted, that
the church might let itfelf to the flate, that any had
a right to give laws to confcicnce, to appoint cere-
monies of divine woriliip, and to enforce both by-
penal fandions : but, confidering Chrift as having
Jinifbed his religious plan, charged their fucceflbrs
to keep -what they had cGmmitted to their trujl unfpot-
ted and unrebukeable until thefecond appearing of Jefus

(6) Chrifi. The longell liver of thele inlpired men
defcribed in bold allegorical Ityle, like that of the
old prophets, the nature and duration of the apo-
ilacy, and doled the holy canon by threatning all^

(7) who fhould increafe or diminiOi the divine word.

Here we are arrived at that part of the hiftory
of publick preaching, at which a confident chris-
tian, efpccially an uniform proteftant, ought to
paufe, in order to form a juil notion of the perfec-
tion of the pulpit. Here we have the whole of
the revealed will of God, the whole body of chrif-
tian fcience, confequently, a perfed preacher,
■whatever opinions and dodrines he may hereafter
meet with in the future hiftory of preaching, will
think himfelf thoroughly fiirnifloed unto every good
work^ although he dilbelieve them all. Future
preachers may be counfcl on different fides of
queftions, which may arife: but not a foul of them
may give law. No mortal may hereafter afcend an
eminence, and fay. You have heard the gofpel fay
fo and io: but I fay the diredt contrary.

Here we have all the genuine motives and fup-


(5) Heb.iv. 14. X. 23. (6) i Tim. vi. 13, 14.
(7) Rev.xxii. i8j 19.

en Puhlick Preaching, xxxvii

ports of the facred fyftem; truth fupported by
reafon and argument, chrillian inftitutes main-
tained by motives pure and chriftian like them-
felves, confequently, a perfect preacher, how zea-
lous foever he may be to propagate chriftianity,
will not think himlelf authorized either to ex-
change thefe motives for others of a fecularkind, or
to incorporate thefe, which have been tried and
found to be mighty through God to bring every
thought into ohedience to Chrijl^ with fuch as fupport
civil ftates and trading companies. Should future
hiftory fhew him a fct of men rifing up in the
church, and procuring from kings charters to em-
power them to trade in divinity, and afligning
them a fet of opinions as a company's flock to
trafiick v^ith, he would not think himfelf obliged
to pawn his Ibul to raife a fum, that might enable
him to buy in and trafBck too.

Here, in the do6lrine of Christ, is all the mef-
fage, and in the example of Christ the only right
manner of delivering it. PaiTion may think the
fyftem wants heat — Pride may imagine it wants
ornaments — blind -zeal may luppofe it wants power
• — the voluptuous may fay. It is not plealure — ■
black robes may declare it is not learned — long
robes may vow it is not law — there may be found
coxcombs or lunaticks, who may deny it ev^n
common lenfe — yea knaves or idiots may take
heart and call it a cheat — But what fays the cool
confiilent chriftian ? What have thoufands of fuch
men faid? Why they have iurveyed the chrillian
religion neat as it came cut of the hands of its di-
vine creator, Chrifl the Lord of this new world,
and proclaimed. Behold! it is vc/y good! Who is
this that darkensth counfelby words without knowledge I


xxxviii A brief DJfertation

Give glory to God, revealed religion refembles the
natural woilfl, each came from the fame wifdom,
and each is analogous to the other, perfeSf and en-
tire^ end lacking nothing.

■ The apoflles being dead, every thing came to
pafs exactly as they had foretold. The whole
chrift'an fyilem underwent a miferable change,
preaching fhared the fate of other infbitutions, and
this glory of the primitive church was turned in-
to a lie. The degeneracy, however, was not im-
mediate, it was (low and gradual, and brought on
by degrees, juil as a modeft youth becomes a pro-
fligate man.

Before any man takes up the writings of thofe
uninfpired authors, whom we call Fathers, it
would be well ro read S. Luke's introduction to
his gofpel. Many have taken in hand to fet forth . .
a declaration of thofe things^ which are mofi fiirely
believed among us , . . but it feemed good to me . .
having had perf(5i under/landing of all things from
the veryfirfl^ to write unto thee^ in ordcr^ mofi excellent
Theophilus. It feems, the love of writing, and of
becoming authors early poflTelTed fome good
chriftians, who had not a ferfeof underftanding of
the fubjefts, of which they wrote. " We certain-
ly believe the principal articles, which they declare :
but not as they declare them. I write that thou
mayeft bicw the certainty of thofe things •, for they
defcribe them fo as to render them doubtful." We
take no notice of the force of the original terms ^
it is plain, this is the general meaning of the

Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenjeus,
and other fathers nearell the times of the apoftles
weie writers of this kind, Clement of Alexandria


en Publick Preaching xxxix


was a very good man, he preached to the church,
and taught fchool, and his mifcelLwies may fairly (7)
{land for a pattern of the whole; chrillianity is
tliere : but how fadly mixed and mifmatched with
pagan philofophy and Jewifh allegory, the thun-
ders of an apoitle with the fquibs of an enthu-
fiaft ! The partiality of a fcholar for his tutor, the
JQve of a profelyte for his cafuiil, and a thoufand
odier incidents may have preferved old letters and
papers, which charity would have buried in obli-
vion, into which, in all probability, the manly
works of fome primitive bifhops have funk.

Some wifned to convert pagan philofophers,
they, therefore, philofophized too, and proved
Mofes and Chrift, by Sophocles and Plato. Others
longed for Jewilli profelytes •, the Jews loved alle-
gory ; chriftianity then was allegorized. Some
endeavoured to convert the pagan populace •, the
populace loved finery •, the ceremonies of chriftia-
nity, then, were adorned. Others hoped to re-
commend religion to gentry -, the pulpit, then,
was fet by the laws of the theatre^ went by the
rhetorick of Ariftotle, and was known to be good
by keeping tim.e with the maxims of Tully. This
was a degradation of the wifdom of God unworthy
of men, who fmcerely believed the fpirituality and
divinity of the word of God. With tliefe premo-
nitions, we look into the churches after the death
of the apoftles.

It muft be allowed, in general, that the fimpli-
clty of chrillianity was maintained, though under
gradual decay, during the firft three centuries.
Chriftians aflembled on the firft day of the week


(7) 2Tf«Jjt*«T«.

xl J hrlef Bijfertation

for pnblick worfliip. Prayer was offered to the
deity in the name of Jcfus Chrift. Pfalms and
hymns were fung in praife of God the creator, the
preferver, and redrerrier of men. The facred writ-
ings were read. 1 he word of God was preached,
its dcftrines explained, and its duties enforced.
The ignorant were clafTed in focieties and inftruft-
ed. They, who underftood the doctrine of Chrift,
were admitted members of the church by baptifm
on their own profefllon of faith and repentance.
The death of Chrift was commemorated as he
had appointed. The churches, having no other
fupport, refted wholly upon religious princi-
ple, and the chief attention of the bilhops
and teachers was to difteminate that-, confequent-
ly, publick preaching was frequent, plain, popu-
lar, and powerful •, and although there are many ex-
ceptions, efpecially among the Origenifts, yet
during this period chriftianity made a rapid and
extenfive progrefs, and its fuccefs was wholly
owing to inftrudlion fupported by argument and

The next five centuries produced many pious
and excellent preachers, both in. the Latin and
Greek churches. The doifbrine, however, con-
tinued to degenerate, and the pulpit, along with all
other inftitutes, degenerated with it. It is im-
pofTible, in this fketch, to inveftigate particulars :
we will juft take a curfory general view.

The Greek pulpit was adorned with fome elo-
quent orators. Bafil, Bifliop of Casfarea, John
Chryfoftom, preacher at Antioch, and afterwards
patriarch (as he was called) of Conftantinoplc, and
Gregory Nazianzen, who all flouriftied in the
fourth century, feem to have kd the faftiion of


on Puhlick Preaching^ ' xlt

preaching in the Greek church. Jerom and
Auguftine did the fame in the Latin church. Had
the excellencies only of thefe great men been imi-
tated by their contemporaries and fuccelTors, the
imitators would have been competent orators : but
very far from able minifters of the New Tefta-
ment : but their very defeds were adopted as pul-
pit endowments.

The Greeks called fermons Homilies^ that is,
publick dilcourfes fpoken to the common people. (§>
The Latins named them at lirft traEls^ or treatifes,
that is, publick difcourfes in which fubjeds were
Hated, argued, and thoroughly difcujfed\ after-
ward they called them fermons, or fpeecheSy per-
haps fome fermons were nothing more ! (g^

Preaching was not originally affigned to any
particular order of men : but in this period the
pulpit was thought worth inclofmg, and mono-
polizers were ready to rent and improve it. Jefus
Chrift was of the tribe of Judah, of which tribe
Mofes fpake nothing concerning priejihood: yet it was (ij
his cujlom to read and expound in a fynagogue
every Sabbath day. When Paul and Barnabas went (2)
into the fynagogue at Antioch on the Sabbath day and
fat down^ after the reading of the law and the pro -
phets, THE RULERS <?/ the fynagoguc fcM to intreat
them to preach, with which complaifant invitation
Paul inftantiy complied. When Chriftian afTem- (3^
blies firll met, all^ who had ability, might preach


(R) 0/[*i?.(a abo/>iiXo? multitudo-vulgus-plebs.

(9) Auguft. Tradatus in Joan.— Gandent. Brixiens. EpirQ.
Traaatus varii.— ■ — Vi'ftor utic. Lib. i.— — Vincent. Lerin..
C. xl.

(i) Heb. vii. 14. (2)LukeIv. 15,16. (3)Aft5xiii. I4>I5»

Vol. IL f

3{lii A brief Dijfertation

(4) one by one. Yea, the very women under both
oeconomies prophefied, that is, uttered in publick
the higheft fort of inftrutflion by preaching. The
latter was prohibited by the apoftle of the Gentiles
for excellent reafons : but it is yet fuppofed by
fome chriftians to have been only a local or tem-
porary prohibition. Let me have the honour of
\ faying one word here, by way of apology for the
preaching part of the fair fex. They revere the
authority of S. Paul ; but they underftand him,
with fome expofitors, in that fenfe, which beft a-
grees with their inclination to pleafe the other fex by
chatting. They fay, Gentlemen in lawns and gowns
and hoods, and rings and rofes and trinkets, clad
in the attire, and difplaying the delicacy of ladies
in the pulpit, excited in them a ftrong prejudice
in favour of female claim. They fay, a congre-
gation confiding of twelve frequently contains ten
of their fex, and where an unpenfioned majority is
for them, who fliall be againll them ! Befide, they
are provoked to fpeak, for they are wearied with
liftening year after year to what is not worth hear-
ing. They add, they a.-e able at all adventures,
to put a prieft in petticoats to the bluih, by con-
trafting their ufurpations with his, as, for example,
their harmlefs pulpit leftures with his grave de-
finitions and invefligations begun with a religious
oath, and finiihed with a canonical curfe. We have
prated, fay they, but never perfecuted : tattled
nonfenfe, but Ihed no human blood : befide, to
make a lady head of the church, and yet deny the
fex the liberty of preaching to the members, is ge-
nuine rectified fpirit of myitery.


(4) I Cor. xiv. 31.

on Puhlick Preaching, xllii

To return; For fome time preaching was com-
mon to bifhops, elders, deacons, and private bre-
thren in the primitive church : in procefs, it was
reftrained to the bifhop, and to fuch as he fhould
appoint. They called the appointment ordination,
and at lafl: attached I know not what ideas of
myftery and influence to the word, and of domi- > /
nion to the bilhop, who pronounced it. The \

word ordain was originally equal to appoint, and if
twenty chriftians nominated a man to inftru6t
them once, the man was appointed or ordained
a preacher for the time. If they requefted him to
continue to inftru6t them, he was reputed to be
ordained or appointed their minifter in future, as
long as they pleafed. Thefe nominations were ac-
companied with prayer, and Ibmetimes with the
blefiing and good wifhes of the feniors, exprefled
by the old cuftom of laying the hand upon the
head. From thefe fimple tranfadions came in
procefs of time a longer train of abfurdities than I
have room to relate. (j)

When a bifhop or preacher travelled, he claim-
ed no authority to exercife the duties of his func-
tion, unlefs he were invited by the churches, where
he attended publick worfhip. The primitive
churches had no idea of a bifhop at Rome pre-
fuming to diftate to a congregation in Africa.
Nothing, however, was more common than fuch

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