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ANIMADVERSION ON HIMSELF.
SELF IN HIS HEARERS.
is a serious enquiry for a Minister, HOW FAR HE SHOULD ENCOURAGE ANIMADVERSION ON HIM
He will encounter many ignorant and many censorious remarks, but he may gain much on the whole.
He should lay down to himself a few principles.
It is better that a Minister smart than mistake. It is better that a traveller meet a surly, impertinent fellow to direct him his way, than lose his way. A Minister is so important in his office, that, whatever others think of it, he should regard this and this only as the transaction for eternity. But a man may be labouring in the fire: he may be turning the world upside down, and yet be wrong.
he must read his Bible. True! but he must use ALL means.
He must build his usefulness on this principle—if by any means. If the wheel hitches, let him, by any means, discover
where it hitches. This principle is to be worked continually in his mind. He must labour to keep it up to a fine, keen edge. Let him never believe that his view of himself is sufficient. A merchant, sailing in quest of gain, is so intent on his object that he will take a hint from any man. had all the meaning to which we pretend in our pursuits, we should feel and act like him.
A Minister must lay it down also as a principle, that he will never sufficiently understand his own pride and self-love ; and that confidence in his own sense, which cleaves closely to every man.
man. He must consider this as the general malady. Man is blind and obstinate-poor and proud. This silly creature, through ignorance of this principle, will not only not hear a vulgar hearer, who animadverts on him; but he will scarcely listen to a superior man among his hearers. He attends to such a one, because it would be indecent not to attend. But he finds some excuse for himself in his own bosom. He reverences what is said
very little, if at all. He strokes and flatters himself, and makes up the affair very well in his own mind.
A Minister should consider how much more easily a weak man can read a wise man, than a wise man can read himself: and that for this reason
-no man can see and hear himself. He is too much formed in his own habits-bis family notions -- his closet notions to detect himself. He, who
stands by and sees' a game played, has vast advantages over the players. Besides, preachers err systematically-learnedly-scientifically. The simple hearer has an appeal to nature in his heart. He can often feel that his Minister is
when he is not able to set him right. Dr. Manton, no doubt, thought he had preached, well, and as became bim, before the Lord Mayor; but he felt himself reproved and instructed, when a poor man pulled him by the sleeve, and told him he had understood nothing of his sermon: there was an appeal in this poor man's breast to nature: nature could not make any thing of the Doctor's learning. When Apelles took his stand behind his picture, he was a wise man: and he was a wise man too, when he altered the shoe on the hint of the cobler: the cobler, in his place, was to be heard.
A Minister should consider, too, that few will venture to speak to a public man. It is a rare thing to hear a man say~" Upon my word that thing, or your general manner, is defective or improper." If a wise man says this, he shews a' regard, which the united stock of five hundred flatterers will not equal. I would set down half the blunders of Ministers to their not listening to animadversion. I have heard it said-for the men, who would animadvert on'us, 'talk among themselves, if we refuse to let them talk to us--I have heard it said, “ Why don't you talk to him?”—“ Why don't I talk to him! because he will not hear!"
Let him consider, moreover, that this aversion from reproof is not wise. This is a symptom of the disease. Why should he want this hushingup
of the disorder? This is a mark of a little mind. A great man can afford to lose: a little insignificant fellow is afraid of being snuffed out.
A Minister mistakes who should refuse to read any anonymous letters. He may, perhaps, see nothing in them the first time; but, let him read them again and again. The writer raises his superstructure, probably,' on a slight basis; yet there is generally some sort of occasion. If he points out but a small error, yet THAT is worth detecting.
In the present habits of men, it is so difficult to get them to tell the naked truth, that a Minister should shew a disposition to be corrected: he should shew himself to be sensible of the want of it. He is not to encourage idle people: that could be productive of no possible good.
These are some of the reasons for a Minister's encouragement, in a judicious manner, of animadversion on himself in his hearers.
Sometimes, however, a man will come who appears to be an impertinent man, independently of what he has to remark---a man who is evidently disposed to be troublesome. Such a man came to me, with—“Sir, you said such a thing that seemed to lean to the doctrine of universal redemption. Pray, Sir, may I speak a little with you on that subject?” The manner of the man at once marked his character. He seemed to bring with him this kind of sentiment—" I'll go and set that man right. . I'll call that man to account." It was a sort of democratic insolence of mind. Instead of answering him as he expected, I treated him as a child. I turned it into an occasion of preaching a sermon to him :-"Sir, do you come to instruct me, or to be instructed? Before we enter on a question which has exercised the greatest men, we want a preparedness of mind: want a deep humility-a teachableness a spirit of dependence-of which you seem to me to have but little.”
On the other hand, a man may come, quite as ignorant as the other, yet a simple character. I have distressed him. Though he cannot, perhaps, be made to understand what he enquires about yet a Minister should say to himself, “ Have I puzzled him? He is wounded, and he comes for help.”
A Minister should remember that he is not always to act and speak authoritatively. He sits on his friend's chair, and his friend says
his things to him with frankness. They may want, perhaps, a little decorum; but he should receive them in the most friendly and good-humoured way in the world. A thing strikes this mạn and that man: he may depend on it, that it has some foundation.