Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary

113 Exhortation


The act of laying such motives before a person as may excite him to the performance of any duty. It differs only from suasion in that the latter principally endeavours to convince the understanding, and the former to work of the affections. It is considered as a great branch of preaching, though not confined to that, as a man may exhort, though he do not preach; though a man can hardly be said to preach if he do not exhort. It seems, however, that there are some, who, believing the inability of man to do any thing good, cannot reconcile the idea of exhorting men to duty, being, as they suppose, a contradiction to address men who have no power to act of themselves. But they forget, 1. That the Great Author of our being has appointed this as a mean for inclining the will to himself, Is. 55:6,7. Luke 14:17,23.–2. That they who thus address do not suppose that there is any virtue in the exhortation itself, but that its energy depends on God alone, 1 Cor. 15:10.–3. That the Scripture enjoins ministers to exhort men, that is, to rouse them to duty, by proposing suitable motives, Is. 58:1. 1 Tim. 6:2. Heb. 3:13. Rom. 12:8.—4. That it was the constant practice of prophets, apostles, and Christ himself, Is. 1:17. Jer. 4:14. Ez. 37. Luke 12:3. Luke 3:18. Acts 11:23. “The express words,” says a good divine, “of scriptural invitations, exhortations, and promises, prove more effectual to encourage those who are ready to give up their hopes, than all the consolatory topics that can possibly be substituted in their place. It is, therefore, much to be lamented that pious men, by adhering to a supposed systematical exactness of expression, should clog their addresses to sinners with exception and limitations, which the Spirit of God did not see good to insert. They well not say that the omission was an oversight in the inspired writers; or admit the thought for a moment, that they can improve on their plan: why then cannot they be satisfied to “speak according to the oracles of God, without affecting a more entire consistency? Great mischief has thus been done by very different descriptions of men, who undesignedly concur in giving Satan an occasion of suggesting to the trembling enquirer that perhaps he may persevere in asking, seeking, and knocking, with the greatest earnestness and importunity, and yet finally be cast away.”

Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.

Charles Buck on the Biblical Covenants (Complete)
Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary