« הקודםהמשך »
mission you receive from God; your right to undertake the office of a Christian minister you derive from Him. In the course of his provi. dence, your mind has been so influenced as to desire to devote yourself to the service of God in the ministry of his holy word; by the same providence you have been placed where you have had the means of obtaining such a degree of religious knowledge as may qualify you to fulfil the office of a Christian teacher and pastor; and to God you still look for such supplies of grace and heavenly wisdom, as shall enable you faithfully and acceptably to do the work of an evangelist,' and for that blessing on your diligent and sincere endeavours to do good and to glorify your heavenly Father, without which no human efforts can prosper. All that we can do, and all that we pretend to do, is solemnly to implore that blessing; to offer to you and to the people with whom his providence has connected you, in the spirit of pure friendship and good will, such counsel as may appear to us suitable on such an occasion, and affectionately and devoutly to commend’ both them and · you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all then who are sanctified.''
We extract the following excellent advice on the design of the Ministry, and the kind of preaching which a Christian Instructor should adopt :
“No one can doubt that it ought to be the first object of a Christian teacher, to lead his hearers to greater and still greater degrees of piety and holiness ; to make them well acquainted with their duty to God, to their fellow-creatures and themselves, and to urge them to fulfil it, that they may adorn and recommend the doctrine of God their Saviour, and finally obtain immortal blessedness. His public instructions therefore should be generally and strictly of a practical nature. But as infidelity has in all ages prevailed, and probably, to a greater or less extent, will still prevail, it will be proper for a Christian preacher occasionally to turn the attention of his hearers to the evidences of the divine origin and authority of Christianity, that they may know on what ground their faith rests, may be prepared to withstand the assaults of those who may attempt to shake their confidence, may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, and to confute, if not to silence, the scoffer. And as various and discordant views of Christian doctrine are taken, and erroneous religious principles must, in some respect or other, be unfavourable to genuine cheerful piety, to steady consistent virtue, and consequently to human excellence and happiness, it may be his duty to guard his hearers against those principles of religious faith which appear to him to have no foundation in the word of God, and to recommend and enforce those which he deems to be alone sanctioned by Christ and his apostles. But what method does wisdom direct him to pursue ? You know, my young friend and brother, that controversial preaching receives no commendation from me. I cannot consid as wi proper that a Christian preacher should be perpetually or frequently sombating opinions which his hearers have never held, or have abjured,
and labouring to defend those which they cordially receive, and on the open profession of which, as the dictates of the sacred oracles, their separation from others and their union as a religious society are founded : especially, since discourses of this nature do not appear to me very favourable to genuine humility, and Christian charity. Occasions may indeed occur, but I am persuaded very rarely, when the preacher may feel himself called upon, by some peculiar and local circumstances, to point out to his hearers distinctly the unscriptural grounds of opinions that may have been studiously brought forward and speciously maintained ; but generally, am fully convinced, the best method of opposing error is to inculcate truth. I can feel no hesitation in recommending to you thus publicly what I have often in private advised, as being at once the least Offensive, and the most efficacious means of enlightening the minds of your hearers, and of confirming them in the belief of what you and they regard as the doctrines of the Gospel of Christ; to frame your public discourses in accordance with these doctrines, without noticing what you consider erroneous in the creed of others; to take occasion to explain the passages of Scripture on which the doctrines you reject are founded, upon your own principles, without controverting the deductions which others
may draw from them. By occasional discourses on such passages, free from all parade of critical learning, you may preserve
those who hear
you from prevailing erroneous doctrines, establish them firmly in the truth, give them confidence in their faith, and enable them to withstand those who may attempt to subvert it. But remembering that the purest faith is of little value unless it lead to corresponding purity of conduct, you will endeavour to render every attempt to illustrate the doctrines of Scripture subservient to the spiritual edification of your hearers, and their growth in the virtues and graces of the Christian character.
You, my dear sir, I am fully persuaded, will not think that you have discharged the obligations of a Christian minister, when you have retired from the pulpit. You will regard it as a very important, and at the same time a very pleasing part of your duty, if the circumstances of your congregation should furnish you with the opportunity to communicate religious instruction to the young. By a faithful and judicious attention to them, you may greatly assist the private labours of parental piety and wisdom, or supply their absence : you may impart and fix in the youthful mind those principles of virtue which shall exert a constant and happy influence on the character in every succeeding period of life ; you may counteract the influence of evil propensities or prevailing bad example ; you may lay the foundation of a noble superstructure of religious and moral knowledge, and excite and confirm such a love of truth and consistency as shall prevent the sacrifice of religious principle to gain, ambition, or fashion, which is too commonly witnessed amongst us at this day.
“ As the duties of a Christian minister are not confined to the pulpit or the house of God, so neither are they confined to the day of the Lord. Offices of a more private and special nature must be discharged by him. He is rightly to divide the word of truth, “in season and out of season ;' to seek for opportunities of doing good, especially to those whose highest and spiritual interests ought to be most dear to him. If it be an essential mark of pure and undefiled religion in every one who bears the name of Christ, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,' much more will this be necessary to complete the character of a faithful Christian pastor. To the chamber of sickness—to the house of mourning, he will not be a stranger. By the bed of languishing he will encourage the penitent, he will administer consolation to the humble and the desponding, he will endeavour to strengthen the faith that is weak, to raise the hopes that are faint and low, to dissipate the groundless fear, and to disperse the clouds that prevent the light from on high from shining in upon the truly Christian heart. By his friendly unobtrusive counsel, he will aid those who are oppressed with sorrow to bear the burden which he cannot remove or lighten, and show them how to convert temporal evils into everlasting benefits. All this, and more than this, my friend and brother, you will be prepared and anxious to do, that you may ‘ present yourself approved unto God, a workman not ashamed.'
The inward supports, the faith and courage, the supreme fidelity to Truth and God, in connection with which alone the Ministry of the Gospel can be a blessing to mankind, are spoken of with the earnestness of knowledge and experience by the venerable preacher :
“ For such labours as these, you, my young friend and brother, are I trust prepared ; and in such labours, by the grace of God, without whose blessing no labour can be successful, I trust you are resolved to persevere, even should you be called to 'endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. And your courage will not fail, nor will your diligence be relaxed, if you are habitually under the influence of the motive proffered by the apostle ; if you study to present yourself approved unto God.' Nothing is so efficacious to support us in the discharge of any duty, as the persuasion that we are under the eye of God: nothing so powerfully tends to carry us through any dangers and difficulties in the accomplishment of a holy and virtuous purpose, as the consciousness of his approbation, and the hope of his final acceptance. In the service of God you are engaging; and to Him who appoints to you this service, your views should be continually directed. This was the principle that ruled in the breast of your revered Lord; and in this respect he has left an example which all who, like him, are engaged in promoting the interests of truth and holiness and virtue, should studiously follow. • I receive not honour from men,' said he to the Jews, • I seek not my own glory; there is One who seeketh and judgeth.' * The Father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things which please him.' • How can ye believe,' said he to those who rejected him, 'who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?' And in the true spirit of his Master, the apostle Paul declares, With me it is a very small thing that I should
be judged of you, or of men's judgment: he that judgeth' me is the Lord.' Do I seek to please men ?' he asks. If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.' To the approbation of the wise and good, no one who is deserving of it will be indifferent. The esteem of our brethren is one of the natural rewards of duty; and it is consistent with the design of the former of our frame, that we should not be wholly unconcerned about this reward. We may and ought to rejoice in it as the consequence of our good conduct: but we must not make it the motive of our actions. • The fear of man bringeth a snare ;' the love of human praise is not less ensnaring. You, I trust, my dear sir, will not yield to the one, nor covet the other. What your conscience dictates, you will speak and do, regardless both of the censure and the applause of the world. The censure, the calumny, the opposition of the world, you must expect. To the religious principles you maintain, the world is now vehemently opposed; and so long as you avow them, you must proceed through ill report. It is indeed well that the spirit of the age, notwithstanding the religious fervour that prevails, restrains the fury of the bigot and the fanatic; otherwise it is probable that we, like the first confessors, should, 'through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.'
“ The approbation and praise of the world at large you will not receive; but there are those in the world of whose praise you may be too desirous. When even among the most rational classes of Christians, we see so much stress laid upon the possession and exercise of popular talents in a preacher ; when the gratification of the ear seems even amongst them to be more highly valued than the services of devotion, and the communication of sound rious and moral instruction, there is a danger that the young preacher should be led to study the arts of popularity, rather than the furnishing of his mind with an extensive and accurate acquaintance with scriptural and moral truth ; and seek to obtain for himself the admiration and praise of his hearers, rather than their increasing knowledge of the Word of God, and of their own hearts, and their continual advancement in the Christian life and cha. racter. Be it your anxious desire, your constant and earnest endeavour, my young friend and brother, to present yourself approved to God,' whose judgment is infallible, whose decisions are equitable, whose favour is life, whose loving-kindness is better than life. The praise and favour of man cannot support you in the trials which in the course of your labours
must have to sustain ; nor comfort you amidst the se. cret sorrows, which in proportion to your fidelity you will probably be called to endure; nor give you hope, when the time comes at which you must render an account of your stewardship. Fulfil
Fulfil your ministry with a single eye to Him who seeth in secret; seek his approbation above all things, and you will be a workman not ashamed.' All the praise of man that is desirable, you will by this means most effectually obtain; and thus obtained, it will not be attended with danger. On the contrary, it will tend to give weight to your counsels, efficacy to your admonitions, and power to the influence of your example. Study to present yourself approved to God,' as his faithful servant, and the genuine disciple of his Son, and you may justly expect that his work
will prosper in your hands. Your zeal and diligence will by this means be supported and quickened, your labours will be well directed, and carried on wisely and perseveringly. You will not be disheartened if your success should not always be equal to your desires and your hopes, since you will feel assured that the divine blessing is not withheld on account of any unfaithfulness on your part. You will have all the comfort that an enlightened zeal in the service of God and man can admi. nister, and you will look forward with joyful anticipation to the day, when for having been faithful in a few things, you shall be made ruler over many things, and enter into the joy of your Lord.'”
The Address to the Congregation is from Mr. John James Tayler. It is wise, gentle, affectionate, tender, and, which is necessary where these qualities are found, melancholy. Alas. there is a pensiveness about every thing that connects itself with the beauty and holiness of man's moral nature. It excites a state of longing and desire, and the consciousness of deficiency and want. But such pain is sanctifying,--and he who has the power of exciting it is a true benefactor to the soul. What is the eloquence that dazzles and astonishes to the eloquence that lingers, like a heavenly voice, in the still, sad soul, and awakens the sighings of aspiration? It is, indeed, impossible for any man of sensibility to introduce a young Minister to his solemn charge, or to speak of what may lie before him, without strong
nd sad emotion. What may not occur to take the edge of hope from the finest spirit? What certain disappointments are awaiting the most faithful, and the most able? What humiliations, self upbraidings, bitter agonies of solitary despondency, utter abandonment to the sense of weakness and insufficiency, tears almost of despair, shed in secret, over the bareness and poverty of both intellect and spirit, must be the certain lot of that man, who with any elevation of nature, any communion with Christ, prepares himself to speak worthily to the highest faculties of his fellow men? They must be wonderfully gifted, or wonderfully careless, to whom these things are unknown. But through such struggles lies the way to that pure, trustful, unambitious service which God blesses and accepts.
We extract the passage which describes the relations of Duty and Affection, and the sentiments which should determine the intercourse of People and Pastor. “ Your young Minister,
my Christian friends, has this day received most judicious and affectionate counsel and advice from the lips of an experienced and venerated instructor; whose words of wisdom and love, I do not doubt, he will lay seriously to heart. Allow me, as a friend equally of yourselves and of him—in a very few words, obviously sug. gested by the train of foregoing observations—to remind you, as the