« AnteriorContinuar »
cian and surrounding friends fear if you alarm, lest the disorder should be aggravated; and you fear, unless you do, that a soul will be lost. In the next house you have a different case of conscience to solve, which requires much critical knowledge of Christian casuistry. In the third you meet with the young, and need to possess the rare gift of making yourself agreeable to them, that you may open to yourself a door of usefulness here. You pass on to a fourth, and find a family of your charge who are ruining the immortal souls intrusted to their care by misplaced fondness and cruel indulgence. Here you have a task requiring all your skill and knowledge. To let the matter pass is unfaithfulness to God and unkindness to a misguided family. To speak, and escape the displeasure of your auditors, is no easy task. Next you meet with a decided worldling, and again with a skeptic, or perhaps an opposer. Is any other than a person of intelligence qualified for such a work?
2. To be a good pastor requires good conversational powers. A pastor should be able to converse with precision and ease, and if possible with elegance. In the company of people of education and refinement he should be able to appear and feel at home. For a' minister in such company to be thrown into embarrassment is a disgrace to his office and an injury to the cause in which he is engaged. Association is a principle of most extensive influence, and men very generally associate a cause with its advocates, and judge of the one from the other. Again: a minister must come in contact with the young and the ignorant, and he needs the ability of conversing in an easy, intelligible, and interesting manner with them. To acquire, therefore, an easy and agreeable diction is worth the most untiring efforts.
3. A pastor should be affable and easy in his manners. “Be courteous" is a command of Scripture, and so essential a qualification is this for a pastor, that many learned, pious, and highly gifted ministers have been nearly useless, as pastors, for want of it. “An affable man is one who may be approached and accosted without difficulty or embarrassment-one who has the happy talent of con. versing pleasantly and courteously, and of placing every one in conversation perfectly at his ease. The opposites of this quality are coidness, haughtiness, habits of taciturnity, arising from whatever cause, and, in short, every thing in manner that is adapted to repel or to prevent freedom and comfort of approach. The minister is not only called to visit from house to house, to address all classes of persons on the most important of all subjects, and to study to gain access to the minds of the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, but all descriptions of persons are in the habit of resorting to him in private, as well as in public, for counsel and aid. The perplexed, the doubting, the timid, the feeble, the desponding, are all, it may be, in succession seeking in him a counselor and guide. How unhappy when his personal manners are such as to repel and discouragemnay, more, in some cases how fatal to the eternal interests of men when, instead of a manner which invites confidence and inspires freedom of communication, the ambassador of Christ, by his repulsive mode of address, as it were 'breaks the bruised reed,' quenches the smoking flax,' or so completely chills and discourages the anxious inquirer as to deter him from ever making a second visit."*
* Miller's Letters on Clerical Manners and Habits.
4. A pastor should possess dignity of manners. I cannot better introduce this topic than by again quoting from the excellent book from which the last passage was cited. “By dignity," says Dr. Miller, “I mean that happy mixture of gravity and eleration in human deportment which evinces a mind habitually thoughtful, serious, and set on high things-an air and manner opposed to levity, opposed to that propensity to jesting which is so often manifested by some who bear the sacred office, opposed to what is groveling, opposed, in short, to every species of lightness or rolalility."-" The dignity of manner which I wish to inculcate may be impaired by various little infelicities of deportment into which those who are not delicately on their guard may be betrayed. I have known worthy men who had so little knowledge of human nature, and so little sense of propriety, that they suffered themselves to be involved in angry contentions with others, with stage-drivers, and with boatmen and other similar men, with whom they were brought in contact. It is unbecoming enough for any grave person to be involved in such coniroversies; but for a clergy man it is peculiarly unbecoming.”—“Another characteristic and advantage of dignity of manners is, that when properly exercised it tends to repress the risings and repel the approaches of impertinence.”—“ There is something defective, says Mr. Jay, especially in a minister, unless his character produce an atmosphere around him which is felt as soon as entered. It is not enough for him to have courage to reprove certain things, he should have dignity enough to prevent them; and he will if the Christian be commensurate with the preacher, and if he walk worthy of God, who hath called us into his kingdom and glory.”
III. The manner in which a pastor should conduct himself among his people, particularly while going “from house to house,” is a matter of no little importance.
1. His visits should be short. If due caution be not exercised here, these visits will make such heavy drafts upon his time that he will have little or none left for the cultivation of his mind and preparation for the pulpit. But if his visits be not allowed generally to exceed twenty minutes, or a half hour, he may perform twenty or more in each week, and still have as much time for study as his preparations require, or his health will allow.
2. In his pastoral visits he should make it a point to be decidedly religious; not that he should be abrupt in his method of introducing the solemn subject of religion, or force those into a religious conversation who manifest a determination to avoid it; but he should gain access for his subject, if possible, and never leave a house or company without leaving some testimony, direct or indirect, in favor of the cause of Christ. Unless there be circumstances which render it impracticable, or decidedly inexpedient, all pastoral visits should be closed with prayer. In these visits the youth, the children, and the domestics should receive particular attention. The latter particularly are too apt to be overlooked, even in Christian families. It will be found decidedly preferable to converse with the different members of the family alone whenever practicable. There is generally a strong reluctance to speaking freely in the presence of other members of the same family in most minds.
3. He should beware of the spirit of proselytism, and be much
more anxious to see people Christians than to see them attached to his particular branch of the church. There are some ministers who have very little success in the awakening or conversion of souls themselves, who nevertheless have tact enough (connected with no small portion of meanness) to enter into other men's labors and proselyte with success. No honorable person can respect such a minister. The moment a proselyting spirit is discovered in a minister his influence and respectability are seriously injured. It is, however, by no means a work of proselytism to gather those who have been awakened and converted under his own ministry into his church. Nor is it a work of proselytism to prevent, if possible, their being proselyted by others, or even to persuade men publicly to avow and support the sentiments they honestly believe.
4. A pastor should be faithful and persevering in his pastoral efforts. To visit so many families, and pray in so many houses, should never satisfy his conscience. It is possible in preaching to have no higher object than to preach a true and correct sermon; but a faithful minister will look beyond barely preaching a sermon. He is seeking for souls, and is not satisfied unless he secure them. So in visiting, the faithful pastor is after souls, and the visit is lightly regarded by him unless something toward their salvation is accomplished. I cannot better close these remarks than by referring, in the language of Mr. Wesley and Mr. Gilpin, to that most excellent of pastors, Mr. Fletcher. “Like a vigilant pastor," says Mr. Gilpin," he daily acquainted himself with the wants and dispositions of his people, anxiously watching over their several households and diligently teaching them from family to family. Esteeming no man too mean, too ignorant, or too profane to merit his affectionate attention, he condescended to the lowest and most unworthy of his flock, cheerfully becoming the servant of all that he might gain the more. In the performance of this part of his duty he discovered an admirable mixture of discretion and zeal, solemnity and sweetness. He rebuked not an elder, but entreated him as a father. To younger men he addressed himself with the affection of a brother, and to children with the tenderness of a parent, witnessing, both to small and great, the redemption that is in Jesus, and persuading them to cast in their lot with the people of God. In some of these holy visits the earnest and constraining manner in which he has pleaded the cause of piety has melted down a whole family at once. The old and the young have mingled their tears together, and solemnly determined to turn right humbly to their God. There were, indeed, several families in his populous parish to which he had no access, whose members, loving darkness rather than light, agreed to deny him admission, lest their deeds should be reproved. In such cases, where his zeal for the salvation of individuals could not possibly be manifested by persuasion and entreaty, it was effectually discovered by supplication and prayer. Nor did he ever pass the door of an opposing family without breathing out an earnest desire that the door of mercy might never be barred against their approaches.”
“With respect to his attendance upon the sick, he was exemplary and indefatigable. It was a work,” says Mr. Wesley, "for which he was always ready. If he heard the knocker in the coldest win. ter night, his window was thrown open in a moment. And when
he understood that some one was hurt in a pit, or that a neighbor was likely to die, no consideration was ever had of the darkness of the night or the severity of the weather; but this answer was always given, I will attend you immediately."
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
Art. III.—PAYSON'S LIFE AND WRITINGS. I. A Memoir of the Rev. Edward Payson, D.D., late Pastor of the Second Church
in Portland. By Asa Cummings, Editor of the Christian Mirror. Fifth edition. Boston and New-York. 1832. II. Sermons by the late Edward Payson, D.D. 8vo. Portland. 1828. III. Sermons by Edward Payson, D.D. 12mo. Portland. 1831. (Another
selection.) IV. Sermons for Christian Families, by Edward Payson, D.D. 18mo. Boston.
EDWARD Payson was an eloquent and eminently successful preacher. He was more-and this reveals the secret of his success, if not the mainspring which gave power to his eloquence; he was a zealous Christian, a man of prayer. His career, indeed, was brief: he was translated in his forty-fifth year; but it was glorious, and his memory is blessed. The cool, calculating disciple will probably consider his abundant labors and his untiring zeal as suicidal, and look upon his early though triumphant death as little better than self-immolation. There are those whose zeal for the glory of the Lord of hosts is amazingly dampened by their desire for, and, in their opinion, by the necessity of, self-preservation. It is, confessedly, the first law of nature; but it is a law not found in the ethics of Christ, nor deemed paramount by his apostles-a law which, though it may not be utterly trampled upon by their successors, yet has not the binding force of a cobweb when obedience to it would hazard the salvation of those for whom Christ died, or jeopard the advancement of God's glory. To spend and be spent, is the motto of Paul's legitimate successors. Like him, Payson counted not his life dear unto him so he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus. Enough for him to know,
“The less of this cold earth, the more of heaven :
The shorter life, the longer immortality." But it may be asked—and similar questions often arise--would not a greater share of prudence have insured a larger amouut of usefulness? To this, a categorical answer, of course, cannot be given. We know not, and have no means of ascertaining, what might have been. Although it will be apparent to every reader of his memoir that prudence would, in all probability, have prolonged his life, yet in man's brief history, and, least of all, in the history of an ambassador of Christ, length of life and usefulness are not synonymous. Had he labored less, and preached seldomer; had his errands of love in search of his Master's lost sheep, his visits of mercy to the sick and the dying, been more infrequent: in a word, what his hand found to do, had he not done with his might, Edward Payson might still have been an inhabitant of this lower world. He might have
'been, but we do not know that he would have been. It is written, “He that loveth his life shall lose it."
He was born in 1783. The precise date of his conversion is not ascertained. Favored with the instructions, example, and prayers of devotedly pious parents, he was early initiated in the duties of religion. At the age of three years, it is said, he would converse with his mother on religious topics; and although there is no positive evidence that he was a subject of regenerating grace at that early period, yet there can be no doubt that it was owing partly to the theoretical knowledge of the plan of salvation thus early acquired, and partly to the strict morality in which he had been nurtured, that his entrance into the spiritual kingdom was “ without observation.” The transition in some is indisputably far more obvious than in others; and the relative magnitude of this change depends greatly upon previous habits and instruction.
After graduating at the Harvard University in 1803, he took charge of an academy at Portland-an employment which, from the unceasing routine of the same duties, however favorable it may be to growth in grace, is not calculated for the development of talents which attract the public eye. It was while he held this situation that he made a profession of religion by uniting with the church of which his father was pastor. The church was Calvinistic, and his biographer, himself a Calvinist, has given us a sample of the embarrassments in which Mr. Payson thus early found himself involved with reference to the peculiarities of that creed :
" Scarcely two months,” he tells us, “had elapsed from the time he made a public profession of religion before Mr. Payson felt his mind embarrassed in relation to the doctrines of the Bible as understood by the Calvinists."--Memoir, p. 40.
The reader may possibly be inclined to wonder that so acute a mind as Payson's did not at least perceive the difficulties of Calvinism before he united with that branch of the church. In our own denomination the doctrines of the Bible, as understood by us, have never, in a single instance, so far as our experience extends, caused any embarrassment after an individual has united with us. And the reason, on a moment's reflection, is obvious. Arminianism is fair and aboreboard ; it has no hair-splitting distinctions without a difference. There is no indoctrinating process through which the young disciple is called to pass. The doctrines he is taught are the same after as they were before his conversion. Very different is the Calvinistic process. By our brethren of that order the gospel is preached to sinners with a fulness and a freeness as if they did really believe, without mental reservation, that all their hearers have a natural and a moral ability to comply with the gracious invitations of Christ. But after the sinner has embraced the Saviour, and united with the church, then the secrets of the creed are spread before him; and his mind, as in the case before us, begins to be “embarrassed in relation to the doctrines of the Bible as understood by Calvinists.”
The first intimation of Payson's perplexity on this subject, his biographer tells us, is in the following words, (apparently an extract from a letter to some friend :)—“I have lately read Cole's Discourses. It is a very comfortable doctrine for the elect, but not so for the sinner. My feelings say it is true, but reason wants to put