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-^KKY OF PmlB?^

tihtavy of t:he trheolcgical ^eminarjp


John M. Krebs

BR A5 .C4A V.5

The Christian library







Rev. Jonathan Going, of the Baptisl Church,

Rev, J. F. Schroeder, of the Protestajit Episcopal Church,

Rbv J, M. Krebs, of the Presbyterian Church.


N E W - Y O R K :

1 835


















Behold the awful portrait, and admire :

Nor stop at wonder — imitate and live Young.





:kh A

Custom seems to have rendered it almost neces-
sary, for an Author never to appear before the Pub-
lic without a Preface ; in which something, if not
concerning himself, yet concerning his work, is
looked for, as a respect due to his readers. Yet
Rousseau says, it is a part of the book never read,
unless by women and children. The author, how-
ever, indulges a hope that this is not very extensive-
ly true ; since, in writing the following introductory
remarks, he certainly intended, as will appear from
their length, something more than a ceremonious
conformity to example.

The design of this Series of Lectures was — to di-
versify a little the ordinary course of ministerial
instruction — to excite and secure attention by a de-
gree of allowable novelty and curiosity — and to
bring together various things pertaining to the same
subject ; so that they might aid eacii other in illus-
tration and improvement, by their arrangement and

But why are they published 1 The writer is
aware what an abundance of religious works is per-
petually issuing from the press ; and he would not
wonder, if some should think that he has too often
appeared before the public already. Yet he trusts
an author is not necessarily supposed to say to his
readers, " Now attend only to me." Snrely many
publications may be serviceable for diiferent pur-
poses, and in different degrees ; and a writer may
be allowed to conclude, that the production of his
pen may obtain a measure of welcome and useful
attention — without the vanity of supposing that it is
superior to every other, or the folly of expecting that
it is to supersede any other. If, too, the author be a
public teacher, and has met with acceptance, it is
natural to suppose that he will secure a considerable
number of connections more immediately his own,
and who will be rather partial to the writer, for the
sake of the preacher. Such was the case here. In
two or three days after this Course of Lectures was
finished, a large number of copies was called and
.subscribed for, by those who had heard them. —
Many of these applicants were persons whose opi-
nion and desire would have had weight with any
one who knew them ; while all of them had claims
upon the preacher, as stated, or occasional parts of
his audience.

The author can truly say that he yielded to pub-
lish, with a reluctance which only an ascertained
earnestness could have overcome. Yet he is now
glad, especially with regard to his own audience,
that the importunity was expressed, and has been
complied with. For nearly thirty-five years he has
been laboring to serve his present charge, in the
unity of the Spirit, and in the bond of peace, and he
hopes he may add, in righteousness of life : and
though he commenced his connection young, yet
such a period strikes far into the brevity of human
life, and calls upon him to think, and feel, and act,
with increasing seriousness and diligence, knowing
that the night cometh, wherein no man can work ;
and to be concerned that after his decease, his peo-
ple may be able to have the things he has spoken
alv^ays in remembrance. The work, therefore, as
a brief epitome of his preaching, will serve as a kind
of ministerial legacy to be perused, particularly by
the younger members of his church and congrega-
tion, when the clods of the valley will be sweet about
him ; and by which, though dead, he may yet speak
—perhaps, in some cases, to more purpose than while
living. The work may tend to correct some pious

mistakes both on the right hand, and on the left.—
It contams many of the author's views on important
subjects, after considerable experience and observa-
tion. For such remarks his station has been favor-
able, and his opportunities numerous ; especially
from the variety and latitude of his religious inter-
course. This has never been confined to Christians
of his own denomination. He has not sutTered pre-
judice so to magnily — what his convicdons might
have led him to consider the mistakes or imperfec-
tions of any who differ from him — as to make him
overlook their excellences as individuals or com-
munities ; or to prevent his mingling with them in
company, and co-operating with them in services ;
or to deprive him of that pleasure and profit which
he knows may be derived from those who cannot
frame to pronounce exactly the Shibboleth of a spi-
ritual tribe. He has always preferred to study reli-
gion, not in its abstractions, but in its subjects ; not
in its speculative opinions, but in its practical prin-
ciples ; not in its distant generalities, but in its ap-
propriated and particular influences. He has al-
ways endeavored to follow it out, from its too com-
mon confinement in certain notions, seasons, and
services, into actual and ordinary life; and toes-
teem and applaud it only in proportion as it exerts
and displays itself in that " wisdom which is from
above. Which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle,
and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good
fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy."

This may in some measure account for the desire
which has given rise to the publication. For it is
to be presumed, that there will be some considerable
conformity between the views of a minister and the
people of his charge after a voluntary, long, and per-
fectly affectionate connection. It" is certain that
these Lectures would not have been completely con-
genial with the taste of some hearers. They would
in any course of religious discussion have said,
" We want more of doctrine, and more of Christ."
Now we are far from treating these terms them-
selves with contempt or disrespect. We love the
^doctrines of the gospel ; and believe that it is a good
'thing that the heart be established with grace. We
attach importance to evangelical truth^; and have
no notion of piety without principle, or of goon fruit
but from a good tree — This is our creed : " By grace
are ye saved through faith ; and that not of your-
selves ; it is the gift of God : not of works, lest any
man should boast. For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which
God hath before ordained that we should walk in
them." Yet, we cannot be ignorant that the com-
plaint we have supposed, is too often the whining
and seditious jargon of a party ; and the very last
party in the world we should ever consult with re-
gard to preaching. These desperate adherents to
something not easily fixed and definable in senti-
ment, but always accompanied with a spirit as well
known and invariable in its operation, as any of the
laws of nature ; are, in spiritual things, what some
discontented zealots are in political ; and as the lat-
ter render the cause of rational liberty suspicious
and despicable, so the former disserve and disgrace
the cause of evangelical religion — They are gospel
radicals. They are not always even moral : they
are never amiable. They neither pursue nor think
upon the things that are lovely, and of good report,
They set at nought all sacred relations, proprieties,
and decencies ; while many of them abandon family
worship, and leave their children without any at-


tempu^ to bring them into the way everlasting, not
knowinji but they may be some of those against
whom God " lias sworn to have indignation for
ever," and not daring to go before him, or to be pro-
fane enough to take the work out of his hands. —
Self-willed are they ; self-confident; presumptuous;
censorious ; condemnatory of all that are not initia-
ted into their temper and exclusions. With regard
to their ministers, they are not learners, but judges;
and often make a man an oti'ender for a vvord. In
hearing, all is fastidiousness. Appetite has given
place to lusting. They go to the house of God, not
for wholesome food, but for something to elevate
and intoxicate. The preacher is nothing, unless he
can make them drink and forget their duty, and re-
member their danger no more. Their religion is
entirely an impersonal thing, any further than as
it consists in belief and delusion. They look for all
in Christ, not as the only source from which it can
be received unto us — this is truth — but as the only
residence in which it is to remain, while they them-
selves continue ihe same. They are complete in
him — not a.s to the all sulliciency provided in him
for their actual and entire recovery ; but without
their being new creatures. They look after nothing
in themselves — and nothing in themselves shcnild he
looked for as the ground of their acceptance with
God, or as seH-derived or self-sustained : but they
look after nothing in themselves even as the effect
of divine agency and communication — forgetful of
the inspired prayer, "Create in me a clean heart,
O God, and renew a right spirit within me :" re-
gardless of the assertion, " It is God that worketh
in you to will and to do of his good pleasure :" sub-
verting the promise, " Then will I sprinkle clean
water upon you, and ye shall be clean: and from
all your tilihiness and from all your idols will I
cleanse you ; a new heart also will 1 give unto you,
and a new spirit also will I put within you ; and I
"will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to
walk in my .statutes, and ye shall keep my judg-
ments and do them." Their stale is not a condition
to be submitted to any process of trial — as those ene-
mies to Christian comfort would have it, who ad-
monish persons to examine themselves whether thev
are in the faith ; and to prove their ownselves ; and
to give all diligence to make their calling and elec-
tion sure. Their peace requires that all this should,
without hesitation, be taken for granted ; while every '
thing is to be cried down as unbelief that would dare
to lead them to question, for an instant, their secu-
rity, or to keep them from being at ease in Zion. —
The sinner is not only guilty, but diseased — but
they are concerned only to remove the sentence of
condemnation, while the disorder is left. They ab-
solve, but not heal : they justify, but not renovate.
The king's daughter is all glorious within, while
her clothing is of wrought gold — with t'ncm Ihe
righteousness of Christ is a fine robe to cover a fil-
thy body. All their sin, past, present, and future,
is so completely done away, that it were folly to feel
anguish on the account of it. Their miscarriages
are not theirs ; but those of sin that dwelleth in
them. Tlieir imperfections are regretless, because
unavoidable — no man can keep alive his own soul.

Now we are willing to concede that all those from
whom we occasionally hear complaints, do not go
into these lengths; and we are persuaded that were
these worthier individuals perfectly informed con-
cernin£r the men we have very truly but inadequate-
ly sketched, ihey would exclaim, " My soul, come
not thou into their secret; and mine honor, to their
'system' be not thou united." Yet Ikey .sometimes
murmur, as if in sympathy with them ; and borrow
their language, unconscious whose technicality it is;
and are in danger that their good should be evil
spoken of. To be strenuous for evangelical preach-

ing is commendable ; but they view the desideratum
in too confi.ned an import. They think it, if not
improper, yet needless, for a minister to inculcate
many things which he must feel to be binding upon
him. "Oh!" say they, "the grace of God will
teach people all this." The grace of God will in-
cline and enable us to do all this : but it is the Bible
that teaches. This contains all our religious infor-
mation ; and we only want to be led into all truth.
The sacred writers never left these things to be
taught by the grace of God, without instruction. —
They never intrusted them to inference. They par-
ticularized and enforced them. There is not one
of Paul's Epistles, a large proportion of which might
not have been spared as impertinent, upon this plea :
for as surely as the former parts lay the foundation
doctrinally, the latter, labor to build us up on our
most holy faith. But these would restrain a public
teacher from the extensiveness of the gospel itself.
They would oblige him to hold forth Christianity
only in the first rudiments, not in the advanced
science. They would confine him to a kind of ab-
stract inculcation of a small class of principles;
which principles are indeed unspeakably important,
yet lose much of their importance, by being accom-
panied with certain alliances, and developments,
and applications. Yea, they would not willingly
allow him to do more than constantly iterate from
Sabbath to Sabbath, a few well-known and favored
sentiments, in a manner the most undeviating, and
in phraseology the most hacknied. They prefer a
scheme of divinity drawn up by some fallible fel-
low-creature, to the Scripture at large, which, like
God's other works, no one can perfectly systematize ;
but in which, as in Nature, we have, in.stead of me-
chanism, infinite freshness, and richness, and varie-
ty, and irregularity ; that is, order beyond our reach.
They are sure, if not to oppose, yet not to aid; if
not to stigmatize, yet not to countenance and ap-
plaud, any attempt the preacher shall make to ex-
tend the views of his hearers ; to improve their un-
derstandings ; to lead them through the whole land
of Revelation in the length and breadth thereof; in
a word, to do any thing that would follow up the
recommendation of the Apostle, " Leaving there-
fore the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us
go on unto perfection."

Here the Lecturer is unspeakably happy in being
able to say to the people he addresses, " Ye have
not so learned Christ." He, therefore, felt no em-
barrassment in the study or in the delivery of these
discourses. He had only to consult his own con-
victions, and was not necessitated to think of the
likings or dislikings of a sickly fancy, a perverted
orthodoxy, a party spirit, or an anathematizing
bigotry. IVeither would he ever consent to officiate
in any congregation where he could not stand fast
in Ihe liberty wherewith Christ has made him free.
This freedom bethinks a preacher cannot too high-
ly value and assert in the discharge of his work — A
freedom from the fear of man that bringeth a snare
— inducing and enabling him to say. as he rises from
his knees to enter the pulpit,

" Careless, myself a dying man,
Of dyins men's esteem ;
Happy, O God, if thou approve,
Though all beside condemn."

— A freedom (whatever advantages they may afford
him by their coUectiveness and arrangements) from
the feiterings and exclusivene.ss of human systems
of theology — a freedom from the least sense of any
cibligation requiring him, in the interpretation and
improvement of any passage of Scripture beft)re him,
to force its natural and obviovs meaning into any
frame of Arminian, or Calvinistic theory or authori-
ty — A freedom also from spiritual favoritism, and


which might lead him, from partiality, to shun to
declare all the counsel of God, as well as from

May the author be permitted to plead for a free-
dom of another kind 1 — An exemption from a wish
to gratify the few, at the expense of the profit of
many : an exemption from fastidiousness of compo-
sition and address : an exemption from such a prim-
ness of diction, as admits of the introduction of no
anecdote, however chaste, and shuts out the seizure
of all hints suggested by present feelings and occur-
rences : an exemption from the too serious appre-
hension of little faults in seeking to secure great
impressions. Here, to the intimidation and check-
ing of the preacher, how often is he told of the dig-
nity of the pulpit — as if there was any worthy, or
real dignity in a case like this, separate from utility !
What is the highest, and shoidd be the most admired
dignity in the preacher — but an apparent forget-
fulness of every claim, but his object ; and such an
absorbing solicitude for the attainment of it, as
leaves him unable to notice inferior things 1 With-
out such an impression, no man can do a great work
gracefully ; for if in the execution he is observed to
be alive and attentive to any littleness, it will revolt
the beholder, instead of pleasing him. An officer
in the midst of action, will be all occupied in urging
and completing the conflict — what should we think
of him if he turned aside after a butterfly, or show-
ed himself at liberty to mind and adjust his ring, or
his dress 1 Let a preacher be as correct as possible ;
but let him think of founding his consequence upon
something above minuteness and finesse. Let him
never imagine that his injluence, or dignity, will
ever be impaired by his feeling and displaying a no-
ble elevation ; an indifference to every thing else —
while the love of Christ bears him away, and he is
lost, in endeavoring to save a soul from death, and
to hide a multitude of sins. There is nothing with
which a preacher should be less satisfied than a
tame correctness, or his producing something that
will bear criticism, but which is as devoid of excel-
lence as it is free from defect. He that winneth
souls is wise. What is every other praise of an in-
strument, if it does not answer its end 1 What is
every other commendation of a preacher, if he be
useless 1 unimpressive 1 uninteresting % What is
it, that nothing is complained of, if nothing is ap-
plauded 1 What is it, that nothing offends, if no-
thing .strikes 1 What is the harangue that dies in
the hearing, and leaves nothing for the hearers to
carry away, to think of in solitude, and to speak of
in company 1 What but a fault is the smoothness
of address, that prevents every excitement that
would rend by terror, or melt by tenderness 1 A
sermon may resemble a French Drama that ob-
serves inviolably all the unities, and challenges se-
verity as a finished piece ; but excites no sentiment,
and produces no effect. But give us rather the
Shakspeare, who, with blemishes which a less
shrewd observer than Voltaire may detect, actually
succeeds ; arrests ; inspires ; and enchants. We
need not plead for coarseness or faults. A speaker
may be animated, yet decorous and orderly too ; but
in popular addresses, if either fails, it is far better
to sacrifice correctness to impression, than effect a
nicety of endeavor. Let the squeamishly hyper-
critical remember that he is laboring to little pur-
pose while consuming his time and attention in sub-
tle accuracies, and polished dulness. And let the
man who is in earnest about his work, never yield
to an under anxiety resulting from the possibility
of a trifling mistake ; and which, as Gray says of
penury, would repress his noble rage and chill the
genial current of his soul. Let him feel his subject,
find follow his ardor, recollecting that great excel-
lences or impressions will redeem small failures ;

and even prevent their being noticed — unless by the
little and perverse-minded, who only sit to discover
and remark any minute impropriety — adders to
every thing else in the charmer, charm he never so

There is also some difference between the heat of
delivery and the coolness of review; between the
leisure and discrimination of readers — and hearers.
More freedom therefore will be permitted in preach-
ing than in publishing ; and what the press may for-
bid, the pulpit may tolerate. Yea, the pulpit may
require it, especially for the sake of a large part of
the congregation. For these, though they have not
the advantage of culture, yet have souls as well as
others, and their moral wants must be attended to.
Now a preacher need not grovel down to the lowest
level of the vulgar; yea, he should always take his
aim a little above them ; in order to raise and im-
prove their taste : but he must not soar out of their
sight and reach. Yet he may be tempted to this by
the presence of others. But let him remember, that
those who are more educated and refined, ought, not
only to endure, but to commend his accommodation ;
yea, and they will commend, instead of censuring
him, if they are really concerned for the welfare of
their brethren less privileged than themselves. If
they are benevolent and pious, as well as intelligent,
they will always be more pleased with a discourse
suited to general comprehension and improvement,
than with a preparation, which, in other circum-
stances, they might relish as an intellectual treat for
themselves. To which we may add, that there is
not so great a difference here as some mistaken and
elaborate orators imagine. Genuine simplicity
knows a mode, which while it extends to the poor
and unlearned, will equally please their superiors.

' So it is when the mind is endued

With a well-judging taste from above;
Then, whether embcUisked or rude,
'Tis nature alone that we love.

" The achievements of art may amuse,
May even our wonder excite;
But groves, hills, and valleys diffuse
A lasting, a sacred delight.

In one of his charges, Archbishop Usher says to
his clergy, " How much learning and wisdom, my
brethren, are necessary to make these things plain !"
Could he have said any thing more fine and judi-
cious than this 1 Here is the proper direction and
exertion of a minister's talents, whether natural or
acquired. They are not to unfit him for any part
of his office — which they may easily do, at the sti-
mulation of vanity or pride; but to qualify and aid
him the better to perform it. It is to be feared that
some do not employ their abilities to make things
plain — if they do, we can but lament their deplora-
ble want of success. But it would seem as if their
aim was to dazzle, rather than enlighten ; to sur-
prise, rather than inform ; to raise admiration at
their difficult composition, rather than with the
Apostles to use great plainness of speech. Even
their claim to originality often regards only the
mode of representation. The ideas which they wish
to pass off as new, when examined, are found only
commonplace sentiments. The well is not really
deep ; but you cannot see to the bottom, because oif
their contrivance to make the water muddy. They
are not really tall; and so they strain on tiptoe. —
They have not a native beauty that always appears
to most advantage without finery; and so they
would make up the deficiency by excess, and com-
plexity, and curabersomeness of ornament. He who
cannot rise in the simple grandeur of a morning
sun, can excite notice by the gaudy brilliancy of



manul'aciured iireworks; and flame and sparkle
down, as well as up. To notice in some respects a
style that has been constructed (for it could hardly
have been involuntary) so inverted, involved, ob-
scure, difficidt — half blank verse; might seem to be
going out of the author's province. He leaves,
therefore, others to'remark, that this style, though it
may be extolled by the lower orders of professional
men, and half-educated artisans, and exciteable
youth, with a smattering of science and a bad taste;
it will never obtain the approbation of the really ju-
dicious and discerning. He leaves others to re-
mark, that it is disdained by scholars, and at war

Online LibraryUnknownThe Christian library : a reprint of popular religious works (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 120)