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the spiritual life: Fifth, Pleading from every principle warranted in Scripture; from our own necessity; the all-sufficiency of God; the merit and intercession of our Saviour; and the glory of God in the comfort and happiness of his people: Sixth, Intercession for others, including the whole world of mankind; the kingdom of Christ, or his church universal; the church or churches with which we are more particularly connected; the interest of human society in general, and in that community to which we immediately belong; all that are invested with civil authority; the ministers of the everlasting gospel; and the rising generation with whatever else, more particular, may seem necessary, or suitable, to the interest of that congregation where divine worship is celebrated.
III. Prayer after sermon, ought generally to have a relation to the subject that has been treated of in the discourse; and all other public prayers, to the circumstances that gave occasion for them.
IV. It is easy to perceive, that in all the preceding directions there is a very great compass and variety; and it is committed to the judgment and fidelity of the officiating pastor to insist chiefly on such parts, or to take in more or less of the several parts, as he shall be led to by the aspect of Providence; the particular state of the congregation in which he officiates; or the disposition and exercise of his own heart
at the time. But we think it necessary to ob serve, that although we do not approve, as is well known, of confining ministers to set or fixed forms of prayer for public worship; yet it is the indispensable duty of every minister, previously to his entering on his office, to prepare and qualify himself for this part of his duty, as well as for preaching. He ought, by a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, by reading the best writers on the subject, by meditation, and by a life of communion with God in secret, to endeavour to acquire both the spirit and the gift of prayer. Not only so, but when he is to enter on particular acts of worship, he should endeavour to compose his spirit, and to digest his thoughts for prayer, that it may be performed with dignity and propriety, as well as to the profit of those who join in it; and that he may not disgrace that important service by mean, irregular, or extravagant effusions.
OF THE PREACHING OF THE WORD.
I. THE preaching of the word being an institution of God for the salvation of men, great attention should be paid to the manner of performing it. Every minister ought to give diligent application to it; and endeavour to prove himself a workman that needeth not to be ashamed; rightly dividing the word of truth.
II. The subject of a sermon should be some verse or verses of Scripture; and its object, to explain, defend and apply some part of the system of divine truth; or, to point out the nature, and state the bounds and obligation, of some duty. A text should not be merely a motto, but should fairly contain the doctrine proposed to be handled. It is proper also that large portions of Scripture be sometimes expounded, and particularly improved, for the instruction of the people in the meaning and use of the Sacred Oracles.
III. The method of preaching requires much study, meditation, and prayer. Ministers ought, in general, to prepare their sermons with care; and not to indulge themselves in loose, extemporary harangues; nor to serve God with that which cost them naught. They ought, however, to keep to the simplicity of the gospel; expressing themselves in language agreeable to Scripture, and level to the understanding of the meanest of their hearers; carefully avoiding ostentation, either of parts or learning. They ought also to adorn, by their lives, the doctrine which they teach; and to be examples to the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
IV. As one primary design of public ordinances is to pay social acts of homage to the most high God, ministers ought to be careful not to make their sermons so long as to interfere with or exclude the more important duties
of prayer and praise; but preserve a just proportion between the several parts of public worship.
V. The sermon being ended, the minister is to pray, and return thanks to almighty God: then let a psalm be sung; a collection raised for the poor, or other purposes of the church; and the assembly dismissed with the apostolic benediction.
VI. It is expedient that no person be introduced to preach in any of the churches under our care, unless by the consent of the pastor or church session.
OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF BAPTISM.
I. BAPTISM is not to be unnecessarily delayed; nor to be administered, in any case, by any private person; but by a minister of Christ, called to be the steward of the mysteries of God.
II. It is usually to be administered in the church, in the presence of the congregation; and it is convenient that it be performed immediately after sermon.
III. After previous notice is given to the minister, the child to be baptized is to be presented, by one or both the parents, signifying their desire that the child may be baptized.
IV. Before baptism, let the minister use some words of instruction, respecting the insti
tution, nature, use, and ends of this ordinance; showing,
"That it is instituted by Christ; that it is a "seal of the righteousness of faith that the "seed of the faithful have no less a right to this "ordinance, under the gospel, than the seed of "Abraham to circumcision, under the Old Tes66 tament; that Christ commanded all nations "to be baptized; that he blessed little child'ren, declaring that of such is the kingdom of "heaven; that children are federally holy, and "therefore ought to be baptized; that we are, "by nature, sinful, guilty, and polluted, and "have need of cleansing by the blood of Christ, "and by the sanctifying influences of the "Spirit of God."
The minister is also to exhort the parents to the careful performance of their duty requiring,
"That they teach the child to read the word "of God; that they instruct it in the principles "of our holy religion, as contained in the Scrip"tures of the Old and New Testament; an "excellent summary of which we have in the "Confession of Faith of this church, and in "the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the "Westminster Assembly, which are to be re"commended to them, as adopted by this "church, for their direction and assistance, in "the discharge of this important duty; that "they pray with and for it; that they set an "example of piety and godliness before it;