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early hour, till dinner time, at least four days in a week, if not five. Sometimes you may be obliged to devote a few hours more to your preparations; but if you adhere rigidly to the system which I have recommended, you will, I have no doubt, in all ordinary cases find the time sufficient.

I am aware of the objection which may be made to all this, that it is altogether too mechanical. “My mind,” some one may say,

- will not work by square and compass.

I can never go into my study, as the cabinet maker does into his shop, when the clock strikes, and stay there just so many hours, and turn off about the same amount of work from one day to another. If I am to make sermons, I must wait till I feel like it, and then they will flow warm from the heart, and betray none of that stiffness and formality, which a rigid adherence to fixed hours would give them." I am convinced, my dear E., that this objection, from whatever quarter it comes, is far more plausible than valid. It is not true that the mind cannot be trained to put forth its best energies at stated seasons; and it by no means follows, that the results of regular study, will be less free and natural, than the fitful outpourings of a mind, that has never been brought under this sort of discipline. The longer any minister accustoms himself to wait for his sermons to come to him, in some bright hour, which he cannot anticipate, with any certainty, the more seldom will they come at all: so that if he ever does anything worthy of himself, or of his sacred profession, it will be by screwing himself up to the task, when he can wait no longer. He may call this what he

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pleases ; but it is just as mechanical, as bringing himself regularly to the work early in the week.

By adopting something like the system of weekly preparation for the pulpit, which I have above recommended, you will generally finish your discourses by Saturday, so as to look them over carefully, and have a good night's rest, and recruit your strength for the labors of the sabbath.

When you sit down to write, you sometimes will, no doubt, find it difficult to collect your scattered thoughts at the moment, and fix them upon the subject. If in these cases you take up a newspaper, or whatever other light reading may happen to be at hand, with the hope of luring the truants back, you will be disappointed. Nothing but stern and decided measures will answer. I would advise you to resort at once to Geometry, or Conic Sections, or some other equally inexorable discipline, to settle the business. I have myself often called in the aid of Euclid for a few moments, and always with good success. A little wholesome schooling of the mind upon lines and angles and proportions, when it is not in the right mood for study, will commonly make it quite willing to exchange them for the labor of composition, as the easier task of the two.

You will find yourself very much assisted in the choice of subjects, and in making your sermons, by keeping a scrap book always on your table, for putting down such texts and topics as strike your mind with peculiar force, especially in your daily reading of the scriptures. It often happens, that passages which we have read a thousand times suggest to us entirely


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new trains of thought, which, if noted down at the moment, may be easily wrought into some of our best sermons.

Sometimes you will merely put down the text; at others, the whole plan of a discourse will flash upon your mind in a moment, which you never could have got a glimpse of by a week's study; and it is a precious treasure, which you should by all means hoard up for future use.

In this way, by committing to paper texts and plans and hints and references on a great variety of subjects, as they are suggested to your thoughts, you will be every day growing richer in materials to work up, as you may need them; and you will always have an ample store, from which to make selections suited to your purpose, instead of being obliged to turn over the leaves of the Bible half a day for a text or a subject, and perhaps without fixing upon anything satisfactory after all. You may be greatly assisted also, by referring, under appropriate heads, to such striking historical facts and anecdotes, as you meet with in your reading, and as are most happily suited to illustrate and enforce religious truth, in your weekly ministrations. Let me caution you, however, to use such materials sparingly, lest you injure the texture of your own mind, and create in your hearers a disrelish for sober didactic discussion.

In writing your sermons, always use paper of a good substantial quality and the best black ink

you can find. Write on a large page, with an open fair hand and wide spaces between the lines, so that you can catch every sentence with a single glance of your eye. These are little things, to be sure, but they


are of more importance than most beginners are aware of. Young preachers are apt to write in a small crowded hand, without much regard to the quality of the ink, or the paper; because, while the thoughts are all fresh in their minds, they find no difficulty in the delivery. They forget, that the ink will fade, that their eyes will one day grow dim, and that they may want these very sermons to preach elsewhere. I never knew a minister of fifty regret that he wrote out his discourses in too large a hand when he was thirty; but I have seen many exceedingly embarrassed in trying to decipher their early duodecimos, when those that "look out at the windows began to be darkened," and they were actually obliged, as the last resort, to hold up the little manuscript as near their eyes as possible. This is extremely awkward, and extremely embarrassing. Begin on a bold and liberal scale. Buy your paper by the ream and your ink by the quart. Write your discourses in so sparse and legible hand, that you can run your eyes over them with perfect ease, as long as you live, and that your children's children may read them with nearly the same ease as the printed page. It makes a good sermon better to write it in a fair round hand—better for the preacher, better for the hearers, and better for those who may take an interest in the productions of his pen, after he is gone.

I am very affectionately, &c.



One of the great secrets of eminent usefulness in the pulpit, is skillful adaptation. When you sit down to prepare your discourses for the sabbath, therefore, the first thing is to consider the state of your flock. “Is there anything peculiar in the condition of the church or congregation at this time? Is any question, bearing upon the religious interests of the people, now agitated, which I can hope to settle? Is any dangerous error privily creeping in ? Does any fundamental doctrine need to be discussed ? Does vice in any one of its forms, call for prompt and decided public rebuke? Are there christian mourners who ought to be comforted ? Are there anxious sinners here and there in the congregation, who should be immediately pointed to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world ? Are there contentions and backbitings and evil surmisings to be reproved? Are the wise and foolish virgins slumbering and sleeping together? Is worldliness creeping into the church, and eating out the vitals of religion?” Questions like these, springing up in the mind of the preacher and seriously looked at, will greatly assist him in the choice of subjects, from week to week, and help him to make the most of favorable opportunities. Many who are very diligent and strike hard blows, spend their strength for naught,

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