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agreeably to these admissions : Added to this, we might mention the dishonour done to God, in some congregations, by slighting the prayers of the church; many either not coming into his house till this part of the service is nearly ended, or acting, when there, as if they forgot that the worship of the holy God was to be their employment. His language is, “Them that honour me, I will honour.” But can we suppose, that, when a slight is put upon that part of the service which peculiarly teaches us our dependence upon God, he will bless such a people —lf to these omissions we add a want of earnestness, in secret, family, and social prayer, for the influence of the Holy Spirit (for, alas! how few are continually and earnestly pleading with God for this blessing !) we shall see that it is on account of the lukewarmness of his people, God gives not his blessing to their assemblies. But, as one who desires to bring the subject nearer to himself, and to benefit his brethren, I would mention another cause why there is not a more abundant spiritual influence at present ; and that, one which connects itself with the more pious part of the clergy. I most freely admit, that they are in general men who are devoted to the work of the ministry, and desirous to use the best means of promoting the religion of the Scriptures; and that, so far are they from deserving the reproaches which have been cast upon them, that it may be justly said, they are men of firm religious principle, of sound doctrine, and of holy lives. The points in which they fall short arise partly from the peaceable state of the church, which induces them to be better pleased with the world as the world is better tempered towards them; and partly from their not sufficiently honouring the Holy Spirit, by frequently exhibiting him in his various offices of the Convincer of sin, the Enlightener of the mind, the Comforter, the Remembrancer,
the Helper of our prayers; in short, as that Person in the blessed Trinity who is to work all our works in us, as the Lord Jesus has done all for us. We ought never to lose sight of this, that the conversion of sinners is a work which none but an Almighty Power can effect. We do not so often as we ought hear ministers declaring their own utter insufficiency, except as instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit, and hence earnestly entreating their congregations to pray for his Divine influence that their labours may be blessed. Connected with the defect just noticed, is a failure in fully exhibiting the Lord Jesus Christ;-making him, as it were, the chief figurein the picture, and connecting the whole circle of doctrines, precepts, promises, and exhortations with him as a centre. If we lose sight of our. blessed Redeemer, we shall find some obscurity in every doctrine. Exclude him as a motive, or as an example, and the precepts will not be followed with the same delight, nor appear with such beauty as in his perfect character. Omit him in the promises, and there will be no rock upon which they stand ; while in Him they are all yea and amen. Unless this point be kept in view, the influence of the Holy Spirit will be very confined: for it is his special office to honour Christ; as our Lord says, “He shall glorify ne, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Another ministerial defect, is the not setting forth the whole counsel of God. Some confine themselves mostly to doctrines; others almost exclusively to practice; without attending to the proportion or harmony of truth. So that some congregations acquire a doctrinal turn, while others hear little of those cheering truths which are the grand motives to practice. Ministers also should preach more frequently and pointedly upon conversion; plainly declaring to their people, that there are but two grand divisions of men, and sins,” and those who are “alive” to God; shewing how far natural sweetness and amiableness of disposition fall short of the graces of the Spirit; laying open the holy law of God as the ministration of condemnation, and alarming the impenitent by the clear exhibition of the Judgment and its consequences. Unless this plain and practical mode of preaching is adopted, it will be in vain to rest upon general statements of human depravity. The sinner must be convinced of the sins of his own heart and of his own life, and ef his consequent danger, before he can be led to feel that he must indeed be born again before he can enter into heaven. From the feeble manner in which these important truths are often treated it happens, that any immediate or powerful impression from hearing the word of God, so as from that day to be turned unto the Lord, is not only not expected, but is considered as mere enthusiasm. And H. in point of fact it was frequenty thus in the apostolic times. The three thousand baptised on the day of Pentecost were converted by a single sermon ; Lydia's heart was opened under one discourse; and Dionysius, Damaris, and others, became believers under St. Paul's preaching to the Athenians. What took place then has frequently happened since; and there are even at this day many plain, practical, excellent Christians, who can recollect, equally with the first Christians, the sermon which first affected their minds with a sense of the weight and awful importance of eternal things. But when the hope is almost exploded, it cannot be surprising if the thing itself should rarely follow. to the Lord to give an immediate blessing to his word, can they often expect to receive it? I mention but one more cause
those who “are dead in trespasses
If ministers do not look
of the ministry. Pious ministers are indeed the lights which are set upon an hill, but there are not so many of them as could be wished who are burning and shining lights; who appear with that lustre which we see in Herbert, in Leighton, in Brainard, and some worthies of another day. Here I would use the language of the excellent Mr. Cecil “: “I am afraid,” says he, “ that there is too much of a low, managing, contriving, manoeuvring temper of mind among us. We are laying ourselves out more than is expedient to meet one man's taste, and another man's prejudices. The ministry is a grand and holy affair; and it should find in us a simple habit of spirit, and an holy but humble indifference to all consequences.” This want of simplicity prevents that zeal which nothing but success will satisfy ; that hea. venly-mindedness which soars far above the applause of men; that “wrestling with God” in a course of fervent secret prayer, and on days of extraordinary devotion, which brings the minister from his closet to the pulpit like a soldier ready armed for the battle, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost. To these different causes, affecting the nation, the church, and the ministers, we may in some reason attribute the want of more enlarged success in the preaching of the Gospel in the present day. As it is not with any view to censure, that these causes are pointed out—for that would ill become a private individual—but from an earnest desire that good may be done, I would conclude the present paper by suggesting a few of those means which, by Divine grace, might be useful for this purpose. 1st. I would respectfully suggest to such of our legislators as have the cause of religion at heart, the propriety of using all means in their power for removing our national sins, especially those disgraces to our statute book, the frequent repe* Vol. IV. p. 107, of his Werka
tition of oaths of office upon every trifling occasion, and the public gambling of the lottery. 2d. Let private Christians in general remember, that if they expect true religion to prosper, they should act up to their convictions; they should honour the Lord in private as well as in public; and especially they should habitually, in their families and in their closets, pray that the aids of the Holy Spirit may be granted to the church in general, and to their own minister and congregation in particular. 3d. Let the ministers of the Gospel, and to them I would speak with brotherly affection, bear in mind St. Paul's words to Timothy: " Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” Let them, therefore, use every scriptural means for raising their own personal religion. Let them, when they meet, stir up each other's minds by the most spiritual conversation, and by earnest prayer. Let them keep days of secret fasting and communion with God, and in those days especially plead for their people. Let them, when unsuccessful, not rest satisfied in the idea that they have no power to effect the work; but let them examine their spirit, their motives, their doctrines, and their lives. Let them suspect themselves, and pray to the Lord to shew them the reason why they are not more successful. Let them maintain a constant dependence upon him, and a constant watchfulness over, their own spirits, lest they should depart from a childlike humility. In short, let them be emphatically “men of God,” having his name written as it were on their foreheads; going forth to their work, with heaven in their eye, the Bible in their hand, and their Saviour in their hearts. 4th. Let the clergy throughout *he land point out to their congregations the necessity of the Holy Spirit's influence to bless the preachCubist. Obsery. No. 120.
ing of the Gospel. Let both ministers and people humble themselves before God for those sins which may have in any degree withheld from them that influence; and let every Christian family unite in imploring that this blessing may be granted. There is no blessing more distinctly promised in answer to prayer than this. Our Saviour not only makes the general declaration, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you;” but he reasons with his people : “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the JHoly Spirit to them that ask him.” May the Lord pour out a spirit of prayer upon his people, and incline them earnestly to plead for this blessing: the happiest effects may then be expected to follow. I am, &c.
I take the liberty of addressing you upon a subject of very great importance in itself, and particularly interesting to me, and to those who may be in similar circumstances. The subject I would call your attention to is this: A young man completes his education at the University, and enters into holy orders; but without any just views of the nature, extent, and vast importance of the ministry; lamentably deficient in the qualifications necessary for the great work he has engaged in ; in short, a perfect stranger to the power of that religion he has undertaken to teach. After a time, he awakes out of his awful sleep; he comes to himself; he sees his aggravated guilt; he finds that he has rashly and presumptuously engaged in a work of all others the most weighty and responsible—a work, for the performance of which he finds he is altogether unqualified: be finds, that, so far from being called to it by the 5 E
To the Editor of the Christian Observez
I cannot but think that the observations of your correspondent J. F., in your Number for September, on the union of the offices of tutor and of parochial minister, are open to some considerable objections. They appear to me not to take sufficiently into the account the peculiar duty of a parish priest; and to be likely, in opposition, I fully believe, to the intentions of the writer, in various cases to speak peace where there is no peace. J. F. is of opinion, that “the disadvantages of this union are not so great as they appear.” To establish this position, all the disadvantages which seem important should be scrutinised. Your correspondent, however, notices only one, the consumption of time in the work of schoolmaster. And this disadvantage he at once transfers to the class of clerical advantages. He expresses his concurrence in “the common observation, that more is often done in the way of study by men who devote to it the comparatively little leisure time which remains to them, from their daily calling, than by those who have nothing else to do.” The present question is not merely with respect to study, but with respect to parochial labours. ...And even from that view of the subject J. F. does not shrink.
“For my own part,” he adds, “I do not see that those serious clergymen who have schools, do less, either in study, preaching, composing, or visiting the sick, than their serious brethren, who have none.” Of his own personal experience every man is the judge. I do not, therefore, controvert that of J. F. But it is directly contrary to my own observation: and contrary also, in my judgment, to the conclusions which, in ordinary cases, reason would antecedently form. Were the fact generally according to J. F.'s experience, the clergyman to be pitied and comforted would be, not the person who is constrained to unite in himself the two offices under consideration, but the incumbent who is prevented from uniting them; the incumbent who is not permitted to add to the undiminished extent of his professional labours, the usefulness resulting from exertions as a tutor. J. F. proceeds to remark, that if the schoolmaster should ever obtain the emancipation for which he longs, it is to be feared that his projects of more devoted occupation in ministerial studies and labours might prove in a great measure visionary: and asks whether his vacations de not disappoint him, and whether be does not find that he projected much and gets little done—Suppose the facts to be precisely as J. F. im: which has a tendency to recommend That the facts commonly are precisely as J. F. implies, I believe to be undeniable. And the cause of their being thus, is in my apprehension evident: it is the union of the two offices: an union which, by having habitually withdrawn the clergyman, in a greater or in a less degree, from his professional employments, has rendered an active return to them pro-Portionally difficult and unattractive. In the next place, J. F. alleges, that there are actual advantages which accompany the union of the offices of clergyman and preceptor; and specifies two, which he terms collateral. One of them is, that the clergyman is thus taught patiently to bear his cross under the drudgery, the expense of time, the irritations, the vexations, which attend a school: the second (not perhaps altogether clistinct from the former), that a school is a daily trial of temper and of principle.—Every cross, which a person cannot avoid, it becomes him to bear patiently. Every trial, which he must necessarily undergo, he must strive to turn, under the grace of God, to profit. Yet I pre-sume that a clergyman would be employed more advantageously, not merely to others, but to himself, in strenuously discharging his profes“sional duties, thān in exercising himself to patience, under the idea that, by superadding another employment, he has rendered himself partly unable to discharge them. If the circumstances specified by J. F. are to be deemed positive advantages, why should not the incumbent take to himself the farther moral advantage of a third occupation, as of that of a land-surveyor He would thus have the additional benefit of exercising his patience under the troubles and disappointments of his new employment; and of being taught to bear the cross of not being able faithfully to discharge the office either of clergyman or of tutor.
the union of the two offices 2
Plies, is there any thing in them
Then comes, according to the statement of your correspondent, “one advantage of the very first moment, the direct result of his maintaining the double character of tutor and minister: His school is a church; his scholars are a congregation. What though he should visit fewer sick beds, or the same sick bed less frequently, on account of his school 2 Is not rising youth a more promising field than declining age f"—His school, if he have one, is a corner of his parish; and as such, is to be trained by him in religion. But it is only a corner; and is not to occupy a disproportionate share qf his ministerial labours. And it is a new corner, subjoined and tacked on by himself; and cannot abrogate or impair the previously existing rights of the parish at large. The leading and pervading defect in the well-intended observations of J. F. appears to be this. Although he does not overlook the previous obligation resting on the parochial minister, to private professional labours among his flock; the obligation does not maintain in your correspondent's arguments its genuine strength. Those arguments might be just, if applied to the case of a person taking upon himself at the same moment two functions which should not only be compatible each with the other, but also of such a nature that additional attention to one of them might fairly be estimated as countervailing diminishcd regard to the other. But that is not the present case. The incumbent is already an incumbent; already bound by the unalterable obligations resting on the minister of a parish. By engagements at his ordination he is bound, in addition to his public labours, “to use private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole within his cure, as need shall require and occasion shall be given:” and never to “cease his labour, his care and diligence, until he have done all that lieth in him, according to his bounden duty, to bring all