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It is fraught with more advantages than they possessed. It is better adapted to the growth of mind, and to social progress. It promises a better future. But to what does it owe its superiority ? We answer, mainly to the religion of Jesus Christ. Whose labors, then, contributed most directly and efficiently to its developement ? Those of the faithful ministers of that religion. Say what you may about the unfaithfulness of the priesthood, we are greatly indebted to it for the blessings of our civilization. None have done more to remove obstacles in the path of progress, to explode old errors, to overthrow evil institutions, and establish new and better, than those brave men who, in imitation of their divine Master, devoted their lives to the welfare of humanity. Such as Fenelon, and Oberlin, have contributed more to the sum of our social and civil good than any of the heroes, statesmen and philosophers whose names adorn the pages of modern history. Yes, the devoted pastor, guarding and guiding his rural flock, was a mighty agent of social progress. From him went forth an influence which gave a healthier tone, and a brighter hue to the civilization of our times. And who is doing more in our own age to promote the welfare of the race than our faithful pastor ? It is very true that all of our preachers are not entitled to this praise. It may be that some make
“God's work a sinecure,"
Their noble office.” Such there have been in all ages. But let not our ministry be judged by them. Our age has no more true, faithful, or efficient men, than are to be found in the ministry. From the sacred office we may select some of its brightest ornaments-men whose names, in the future, will add a fadeless lustre to the age in which they lived. When I remember their devotion to man's highest interests, and what they are accomplishing for the benefit of their race, I can truly say, I am not ashamed of the ministry of the gospel.
Such is the estimate which I put upon the labors of the faithful servant of the Redeemer. I can attach to them no less value, when I reflect upon their relation to man's spiritual interests. Here, perhaps, I should close this discussion ; but I cannot refrain from noticing some of the considerations growing out of it, which are calculated to render the sacred office attractive, and to inspire with greater faithfulness those who now occupy it. Duty to the ministry demands that these considerations be presented. In another part of this article, I spoke of the causes which deterred young men from entering the ministry; which tended to render the sacred office undesirable. I spoke of the splendid awards offered to business talent and energy. Here let me say that, to the soul ennobled by the loftiest ambition, the Christian ministry offers inducements infinitely superior to these. Reflect, for a moment, upon the nature of the soul upon which it labors. It is not changing and perishable like that matter which the engineer, architect, or sculptor moulds and shapes. The impressions which it receives, time cannot efface, nor can its changes destroy. The work, therefore, which the minister performs, the growth which he imparts to the soul, will stand an everlasting monument of his faithfulness. Is there not much in this consideration to excite noble ambition, and to arouse one's divinest powers? The Egyptian Kings gazed upon their completed pyramids with satisfaction. They knew that as long as their shadows stretched across the Nile, they would remind the world of their powerful builders. With kindred satisfaction the architect of St. Peter's surveyed the splendid monument of his skill. And when did Napoleon ever experience more satisfaction than that which he felt after he had tamed the awful wildness of the Alps,-conquered their rocky ruggedness, and left his proud name engraven upon their lofty tablets. But how much greater and more enduring the satisfaction enjoyed by him who has wrought beneficent changes in the human soul! Architectural beauty and grandeur must fade and crumble. Ere long, the gloomy pyramids will lose their symmetry and become shapeless mounds. Yes, and the rock-based Alps must doff their “ diadems of snow" and disappear. But the soul endures forever; and the good which has been wrought upon it will remain an im. perishable monument of its author. Who would not rather have his name cherished by a grateful soul he had benefited, than have it carved on rock, even though it was as solid as the pyramids, and as lofty as the Alps !
Again. Regard the instrumentalities which have been placed in the hands of the ministry. How much more sacred than the implements of the arts, or the enginery of mechanics. It wields the eternal truths of God; those which Christ preached, and in attestation of which he died; those which the glorious martyrs loved, and which gave courage and might to the great reformers of the Church. These truths are the preacher's instrumentalities. How can he touch them without being inspired and ennobled by the associations with which they are rife.
Consider next the aims of the ministry. They are higher than temporal good, for they relate to the permanent welfare of the soul. If true to his office, the minister prosecutes the greatest work which can engage the attention of man. I say this, because there is nothing in the outward universe so divine as man's spiritual nature, which he seeks to develope. And how exalted are the results of his efforts! He gives mankind something better than the means of physical wealth; something of greater utility than statuary and painting ; something more durable than civil institutions. From his hand comes character, mod. elled after the divine, whose hues are brighter than the rainbow, whose form is more symmetrical than the master-pieces of statuary, and which will adorn the high places of heaven when the noblest institutions of earth have perished. Surely there is no other sphere of action fraught with such inspiring reflections. And in what other sphere can be found such sources of deep and pure satisfaction. To know that one's name is identified with the cause of Christianity; to feel that one is contributing something towards its progress; to feel sure, as one looks forth into the distant future, that he will share in the delight of its last, great triumph,--this is satisfaction indeed. But the minister has other sources constantly surrounding him. Childhood sweetly blooming under his care, youth guided from the ways of sin to the path of virtue, manhood flourishing in its stateliness and strength, age ripening for immortality, souls redeemed from error's thrall, afflicted hearts soothed and comforted,—these are present sources of satisfaction which the faithful pastor enjoys. And these are not all. He has stood.
“Beside the bed where parting life was laid.”
There, cheered and sustained by his counsel, he has seen. an immortal soul sink calmly beneath the horizon of this changing life. Ah, yes; and with the eye of faith he has beheld that soul rise to its place among the blessed, bear. ing thither imperishable memories of him whose faithful. ness made its setting so serene, and its rising so glorious !
And what an inspiring history has the Christian ministry! By what illustrious names is that history adorned! How ennobling the influence which they must exert ! -Luther, Fenelon, Massillon, Oberlin, Channing, Ballou! Such names shine like everlasting stars. They will be seen and admired when the glory which encircles the conqueror's name, has faded. But, brighter than the lustre of their fame, shines that of the earnest Paul, who first planted the banner of the cross by pagan altars, and in the heart of idolatrous, cities proclaimed the everlasting gospel. And Paul shines but as the satellite of a greater than himself. The sacred office which he so worthily filled was consecrated by the labors of One whose name is above every name. 0, is there not much to inspire and ennoble, in these recollections !
Such are the sources of encouragement and satisfaction which belong to the Christian ministry. Such are its attractions. Are not the pleasures which wealth can pur. chase mean in comparison with these? Who would not rather be rich in such satisfaction, than possess the more sordid treasures which the millions covet? If these attractions are seen and felt by any young man who peruses these pages I shall not have written in vain. If but one is induced, by what I have written, to enter upon the labors of that ministry for which God has fitted him, I shall feel that my labor has been amply recompensed.
C. H. F.
Agencies in Salvation.
We propose to consider some of the agencies that effect the salvation of the soul. No sect that we are acquainted
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help. It isn one which will, witba prominhe result.ari
with, denies the fact of divine influences, and providential help. It is impossible, in fact, to hold any theory of salvation, even one which exalts extravagantly the office and power of the human will, without attributing to the government and grace of God a prominence and potency absolutely essential to the process and the result. Salvation is the attainment, either perfectly, or in part, of a divine life; the reception, voluntary or otherwise, of the divine spirit; an accordance of the mind and heart with heavenly truth and law; of course, therefore, there must be a positive agency of God in bringing his life in contact with ours, in dispensing his light to us, in revealing his truth and publishing the quickening energies of his love. We do not create the truth we acknowledge, the holiness we adore, the goodness we worship, the grace we inspire, the Christ we love. It is as sensible to think of a person becoming wise without a teacher, and with no books to study or things to learn; of a frame enlarging without food; of a flower developing without sunlight, air, and dew, as of a soul becoming Christian and rising into the ranks of the saved, without a Christian religion, a Holy Spirit, a parental God..
We say thus much as preface, and in general terms, that there may be no question of our entire concurrence with all believers, who ascribe an agency to the Deity in our salvation which makes us dependents on his grace. It is when we leave generalities and attempt definitions, that the difficulties and the deeper interest of the question meet us. For we shall find it impossible to appreciate the character, methods, and force of the divine influences, that conspire towards our salvation, until we have a clear idea of the needs and dangers of the human soul, and the work which God desires to see accomplished in it. All Chris. tians agree that Jesus, the gospel, and the action of the divine spirit, save men in every sense in which it is possible and desirable for man to have a Saviour. Differences and controversies spring out of divergent interpretations of the perils of human nature, of its natural abilities and infirmities, of its relations to God, and the nature of the salvation which it requires.
When the Calvinist affirms our reliance upon the Saviour and the divine spirit, he means that Christ died to