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both in thinking and in speaking: and thus by a hard practice for two or three years, a man may render himself such a master in this matter, that he can never be surprised, nor will new thoughts ever dry up upon him. He must talk over to himself the whole body of divinity, and accustom himself to explain, and prove, to clear objections, and to apply every part of it to some practical use.
He must go through human life, in all the ranks and degrees of it, and talk over all the duties of these; consider the advantages or disadvantages in every one of them, their relation to one another, the morality of actions, the common virtues and vices of mankind; more particularly the duties of Christians, their obligations to meekness and humility, to forgive injuries, to relieve the poor, to bear the cross, to be patient and contented in every state of life, to pray much and fervently, to rejoice ever in God, and to be always praising him, and most particularly to be applying seriously to God through Jesus Christ, for mercy and pardon, and for his grace and Spirit; to be worshipping him devoutly in public, and to be delighting frequently to commemorate the death of Christ, and to partake of the benefits of it. All these, I say, he must talk over and over again to himself; he must study to give his thoughts all the heat and flight about them that he can: and if, in these his meditations, happy thoughts, and noble and tender expressions, do at any time offer themselves, he must not lose them, but write them down; and in his pronouncing over such discourses to himself, he must observe what words sound harsh, and agree ill together; for there is a music in speaking, as well as in singing; which a man, though not otherwise critical in sounds, will soon discover. By a very few years practice of two or three of such soliloquies a day, chiefly in the morning when the head is clearest, and the spirits are liveliest, a man will contract a great easiness both in thinking and speaking.
But the rule I have reserved last is the most necessary of all, and without it all the rest will never do the business: it is this; that a man must have in himself a deep sense of the truth and power of religion; he must have a life and flame in his thoughts, with relation to those subjects: he must have felt in himself those things, which he intends to explain and recommend to others. He must observe narrowly the motions of his own mind, the good and bad effects that the several sorts of objects he has before him, and affections he feels within him, have upon him; that so he may have a lively heat in himself, when he speaks of them; and that he may speak in so sensible a manner, that it may be almost felt that he speaks from his heart. There is an authority in the simplest things that can be said, when they carry visible characters of genuineness in them. Now if a man can carry on this method, and by much meditation and prayer draw down divine influences, which are always to be expected, when a man puts himself in the way of them, and prepares himself for them; he will often feel, that while he is musing a fire is kindled within him, and then he will speak with authority and without constraint; his thoughts will be true, and his expressions free and easy : sometimes this fire will carry him, as it were, out of himself; and yet without any thing that is frantic or enthusiastical. Discourses brought forth with a lively spirit and heat, where a composed gesture, and the proper motions of the eye
and countenance, and the due modulations of the voice concur, will have all the effect that can be expected from any thing that is below immediate inspiration: and as this will be of use to the hearers, so it will be of vast use to the preacher himself, to oblige him to keep his heart always in good tune and temper; not to suffer irregular or forbidden appetites, passions, or projects to possess his mind : these will both divert him from going on in the course of meditation, in which a man must continue many years, till all his thoughts are put in order, polished, and fixed; they will make him likewise speak much against the grain, with an aversion that will be very sensible to himself, if not to his hearers : if he has guilt upon him, if his conscience is reproaching him, and if any ill practices are putting a damp upon that good sense of things, that makes his thoughts sparkle upon other occasions, and gives him an air and authority, a tone of assurance, and a freedom of expression.
Such a method as I have been opening has had great success with all those that I have known to have tried it. And though every one has not that swiftness of imagination, nor that clearness of expression, that others may have, so that in this men may differ as much as they do in their written compositions ; yet every man by this method may rise far above that which he could ever have attained to any other way: it will make even exact compositions easier to him, and him much readier and freer at them. But great care must be used by him, before he suffers himself to speak with the liberty here aimed at in public; he must try himself at smaller excursions from his fixed thoughts, especially in the applicatory part, where flame and life are more necessary, and where a mistaken word or an unfinished period are less observed and sooner forgiven, than in the explanatory part, where men ought to speak more severely. And as one succeeds in some short excursions, he may give himself a further scope, and so, by a long practice, he will at last arrive at so great an easiness both in thinking and speaking, that a very little meditation will serve to lay open a text to him, with all the matter that belongs to it, together with the order in which it ought to be both explained and applied. And when a man has attained to a tolerable degree in this, he is then the master of his business; he is master also of much time, and of many noble thoughts, and schemes that will arise out of them.
This I shall prosecute no further; for if this opening of it does not excite the reader to follow it a little, no enlargements I can offer upon it will work upon him. But to return to preaching, and so conclude this chapter. He that intends truly to preach the gospel, and not himself ; he that is more concerned to do good to others, than to raise his own fame, or to procure a following to himself, and that makes this the measure of all his meditations and sermons, that he may put things in the best light, and recommend them with the most advantage to his people; that reads the scriptures much, and meditates often upon them; that prays earnestly to God for direction in his labours, and for a blessing upon them; that directs his chief endeavours to the most important, and most indispensable, as well as the most undeniable duties of religion; and chiefly to the inward reformation of his hearers' hearts, which will certainly draw all other lesser matters after it; and that does not spend his time nor his zeal upon lesser or disputable points, this man so made, and so moulded, cannot miscarry in his work: he will certainly succeed to some degree; the word spoken by him shall not return again: he shall have his crown and his reward from his labours : and to say all that can be said, in one word, with St. Paul, he shall both save himself, and them that hear him.
THE CONCLUSION. I HAVE now gone over all that seemed to me most important upon this head, of the pastoral care, with as much shortness and clearness as I could; so now I am to conclude. The discourse may justly seem imperfect, since I
say nothing concerning the duties incumbent on bishops, But I will upon this occasion say very little on that head. The post I am in gives me a right to teach priests and deacons their duty; therefore I thought, that without any great presumption I might venture on it: but I have been too few years in the higher order, to take upon me to teach them, from whom I shall ever be ready to learn. This is certain, that since, as was formerly said, the inferior orders subsist in the superior, bishops must still be under all the obligations of priests : they are then, take the matter at lowest, bound to live, to labour, and to preach as well as they. But why are they raised to a higher rank-of dignity and order, an increase of authority, and an extent of cure ? And why have Christian princes and states given them great revenues, and an accession of secular honours ? All this must certainly import their obligation to labour more eminently, and to lay themselves out more entirely in the work of the gospel; in which, if the greatest encouragements and assistances, the highest dignities and privileges belong to them; then, according to our Saviour's example and decision, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and who declared, that he who is first shall be last, and he who is the greatest must be the servant of all; then, I say, the higher that any are raised in this ministry, they ought to lay themselves out the more entirely in it, and labour the more abundantly. And as our obligations to Christ and his church tie us to a greater zeal and diligence, and to a more constant application of our care and thoughts; so the secular supports of our honours and revenues were given us, to enable us to go through with that extent of care and jurisdiction that lies upon us. We are not only watchmen to watch over the flock, but likewise over the watchmen themselves. We keep the door of the sanctuary, and will have much to answer for, if through our remissness or feeble easiness, if by trusting the examination of those we ordain to others, and yielding to intercession and importunity, we bring any into the service of the church, who are not duly qualified for it. In this we must harden ourselves, and become inexorable, if we will not partake in other men's sins, and in the mischiefs that these may bring upon the church. It is a false pity, and a cruel compassion, if we suffer any considerations to prevail upon us in this matter, but those which the gospel directs. The longer that we know them before we ordain them, the more that we sift them, and the greater variety of trials through which we may make them pass, we do thereby both secure the quiet of our own consciences the more, as well as the dignity of holy things, and the true interest of religion and the church : for these two interests must never be separated; they are but one and the same in themselves; and what God has joined together, we must never set asunder.
We must be setting constantly before our clergy their obligations to the several parts of their duty; we must lay these upon them, when we institute or collate them to churches, in the solemnest manner, and with the weightiest words we can find. We must then lay the importance of the care of souls before them, and adjure them, as they will answer to God in the great day, in which we must appear to witness against them, that they will seriously consider and observe their ordination-vows, and that they will apply themselves wholly to that one thing. We must keep an eye upon them continually, and be applying reproofs, exhortations, and encouragements, as occasion offers : we must enter into all their concerns, and espouse every interest of that part of the church that is assigned to their care: we must see them as oft as we can, and encourage them to come frequently to us; and must live in all things with them, as a father with his children. And that every thing we say to stir them up to their duty may have its due weight, we must take care so to order ourselves, that they may evidently see that we are careful to do our own. We must enter into all the parts of the worship of God with them; not thinking ourselves too good for any piece of service that may be done; visiting the sick, admitting poor and indigent persons, or such as are troubled in mind, to come to us; preaching oft, catechising and confirming frequently; and living in all things like men that study to fulfil their ministry, and to do the work of evangelists.
There has been an opinion of late, much favoured by some great men in our church, that the bishop is the sole pastor of his whole diocese; that the care of all the souls is singly in him, and that all the incumbents in churches are only his curates in the different parts of his parish, which was the ancient designation of his diocese. I know there are a great many passages brought from antiquity to favour this; I will not enter into the question, no not so far as to give my own opinion of it. This is certain, that such as are persuaded of it ought thereby to consider themselves as under very great and strict obli