« AnteriorContinuar »
SOME Christian ministers fail in their effect on their hearers, by not entering as Philosophers into the state of human nature. They do not consider how Low the patient is reduced that he is to be treated more as a child that he is to have milk administered to him, instead of strong meat. They set themselves to plant principles and prove points, when they should labor ta interest the heart. But, after all, men will carry their natural character into their ministry. If a man has a dry, logical, scholastic turn of mind, we shall rarely find him an interesting preacher. One in a thousand may meet him, but not more.
The Christian will sometimes be brought to walk in a solitary path. God seems to cut away his props, that he may reduce him to himself. His religion is to be felt as a personal, particular, appropriate possession. He is to feel, that, as there is but one Jehovah to bless, so there seems to him as though there were but one penitent in the universe to be blessed by Him. Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre was brought to this state. She might have said, “I know not where Peter is: he is gone away perhaps into the world-perhaps to weep over his fall. I know not where John iş. What are the feelings and states of my brethren, I know not. I am left here alone. No one accompanies and strengthens me. But if none other will seek my Lord, yet will I seek him!” There is a command ing energy in religious sympathy. A minister, for example, while his preaching seems effective, and life and feeling shew themselves around him, moves on with ease and pleasure. But there is much of the man here. If God thange the scene-if discouragements meet him if he seem to be laid by, in any measure, as an instrument-if the love of his hearers to tris person and ministry decay-this is a
vere trial: yet most of us need this trial, that we ay be reduced simply to God, and may feel that e whole affair is between Him and ourselves. A ad fish will swim with the stream, whatever be ; direction: But a living one will not only resist
e stream; but, if it chooses, it can swim against it. he soul, that lives from God, will seek God, and llow God-more easily and pleasantly, indeed, if e stream flow toward the point whither God ads; but, still, it will follow God as its sole rest id centre, though the stream of men and opinions ould hurry it away from him.
RAVITY is, doubtless, obligatory on ministers. 'he apostle connects it with simplicity. Yet it just be natural-not affected. Some men give very thing in an oracular style: this looks like ffectation, and will disgust others: they will attriute it to religion, but this is not a sanctified grav. :y. Other men are always disposed to levity: not hat a man of original fancy is to be condemned, or thinking in his own way: but the minister must Consider that he is a man of a consecrated characer; if it should not be difficult to himself to make ransitions from levity to gravity, it will be difficult o carry others with him therein. Who has not felt, f God brings him into a trying situation, in which he ees that it is an awful thing to suffer or to die, that Fravity is then natural? every thing else is offensive! l'hat, too, is evil, which lets down the tone of a company: when a minister loses his gravity, the company will take liberties with him. Yet, with a right principle, we must not play the fool. Gravity must be natural and simple. There must be urbanity and tenderness in it. A man must not formalize on every thing. He, who formalizes op every thing, is a fool; and a grave fool is perhaps more injurious than a light fool.
We are called to build a spiritual house. On workman is not to busy himself ia telling anothat his duty. We are placed in different circumstal ces, with various talents: and each is called to what he can. Two men, equally accepted of Gda may be exceedingly distinct in the account whid they will give of their employ.
A REGULAR clergyman can do no more in the dirlcharge of his duty, than our church requires da him. He may fall far short of her requirements but he cannot exceed, by the most devoted life, the duties which she has prescribed. What man earth is so pernicious à drone, as an idle clergyman!..a man, engaged in the most serious profession in the world: who rises to eat, and drink and lounge, and trifle; and goes to bed; and then rises again, to do the same! Our office is the most laborious in the world. The mind must be always on the stretch, to acquire wisdom and grace, and communicate them to all who come near. It is well, indeed, when a clergyman of genius and learn ing devotes himself to the publication of classics and works of literature, if he cannot be prevailed on to turn his genius and learning to a more ja. portant end. Enter into this kind of society, what do you hear? "Have you seen the new edition de Sophocles!"_“No! is a new edition of Sophocleste undertaken:"_ and this makes up the conversa tion, and these are the ends, of men who, by propa fession, should win souls! I received a most useful hint from Dr. Bacon, then Father of the University, when I was at College. I used frequently to visi him at his Living, near Oxford: he would say of me, “What are you doing? What are your studies?"_"I am reading so and so.”_"You art i quite wrong. When I was young I could tums: any piece of Hebrew into Greek verse with easta
But, when I came into this parish, and had to teach ignorant people, I was wholly at a loss; I had no furniture. They thought me a great man, but that was their ignorance; for I knew as little as they did, of what it was most important to them to know. Study chiefly what you can turn to good account in your future life." And yet this wise man had not just views of serious religion: he was one of those who are for reforming the parish -making the maids industrious, and the men sober and honest-but when I ventured to ask, “Sir, must not all this be effected by the infusion of a divine principle into the mind?--a union of the soul with the great head of influence?"_"No more of that; no more of that I pray!”
A wise minister stands between practical Atheism and Religious Enthusiasm.
A SERMON,that has more head infused into it than heart, will not come home with efficacy to the hearers. “You must do so and so: such and such consequences will follow if you do not; such and such advantages will result from doing it:" this is cold, dead, and spiritless, when it stands alone; or even when it is most prominent. Let the preacher's head be stored with wisdom; but, above all, let his heart so feel his subject, that he may infuse life and interest into it, by speaking like one who actually possesses and feels what he says.
Faith is the master-spring of a minister. "Helll is before me, and thousands of souls shut up there in everlasting agonies - Jesus Christ stands forth to save men from rushing into this bottomless abyss He sends me to proclaim his ability and his love:
I want no fourth idea!--every fourth idea is col temptible.-every fourth idea is a grand imper: nence!"
The meanness of the earthen vessel, which con veys to others the Gospel treasure, takes nothing from the value of the treasure. A dying hand may sign a deed of gift of incalculable value. A sher herd's boy may point out the way to a philosopher. A beggar may be the bearer of an invaluable present.
A WRITER of Sermons has often no idea how many words he uses, to which the common people affix either no meaning, or a false one. He speaks, per haps, of "relation to God;" but the people, who hear him, affix no other idea to the word, than that of father, or brother, or relative. The preacher must converse with the people, that he may acquire their words and phrases.
It sometimes pleases God to disqualify ministers for their work, before he takes them to their res ward. Where he gives them wisdom to perceive this, and grace to acquiesce in the dispensationsuch a close of an honorable life, where the des sire to be publicly useful survives the power, is a loud AMEN to all former labors.
On Infidelity and Popery. INFIDEL writings are ultimately productive of little or no danger to the church of God. Nay we are less at a loss in judging of the wisdom of Providence in permitting them, than we are in judging of many other of its designs. They may shake