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full service is employed, and in a church, (the most suitable place for a marriage ceremony,) the whole bridal party should kneel around the altar during the prayer, joining audibly in the Lord's Prayer; and the newly married couple should again kneel to receive the closing benediction, "God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve and keep you, &c.," which the minister should pronounce with his hands upon the heads of the parties married.
When the ceremony is at a private house, and the minister and parties are Methodists, all may kneel; but even then the minister and the parties should understand each other upon this point before the ceremony begins.
9. In order to adapt the prayer somewhat to surrounding circumstances, if the minister is not already sufficiently informed, he should endeavor to ascertain what parents, brothers, sisters, &c., are expected to be present. This can usually be done to a great extent, if not altogether, through the messenger who calls to engage his services. But it is usually expedient to ask an interview with the parties at the house, before they enter the room for the ceremony, in order that there may be an understanding in regard to the length of the service, the use or omission of the ring, the standing or kneeling during prayer, &c.
10. In case of any mistake of any kind during the service, the minister, above all others, should maintain his self-possession. This will go far toward allaying nervousness in others, and making the whole party to feel assured and at ease
if the master of ceremonies lose his self-command, it is easily seen and becomes contagious. And there is no one thing that will do more to steady the nerves of a young minister, than the thought that he is performing a religious ceremony, and in the presence of God.
11. Every minister should endeavor to qualify himself to perform the marriage ceremony in a becoming and impressive manner. In order to this, the first requisite is to have a good ceremony to use. Such a ceremony is not a thing to be extemporized. On this account most Christian denominations have their prescribed marriage services. And yet many of these services are either adapted to but one set of circumstances, or are in other respects awkward and defective. It is our design, therefore, to obviate this difficulty by supplying a variety of services adapted to different tastes and circum
12. A suitable ceremony having been selected, the minister should commit it to memory-if he does not already know it. This will enable him to pronounce it, not only correctly and deliberately, but with the proper emphasis and inflections. To rattle or mumble through a ceremony, or to repeat it incorrectly, or even with a parrot-like formality, is discreditable to a minister; while, on the other hand, if he renders the service with grace and dignity, he not only does justice to those who employ him, and credit to himself, but pleases the whole company, and prepares the way for other calls in the same line; all of which may inure greatly to his advantage in the work of the ministry.
13. As a general rule it is advisable for the minister to hold the open Manual in his hand during the ceremony, even if he has no occasion to read from it. The presence of the book indicates order and authority, and gives dignity to the whole ceremony. If it is egotistic and unseemly for a minister to close the Bible after taking his text, (as much as to say, "I want no further authority for what I say,) is it not for the same reason better to hold the Manual in the hand, and open before us during the ceremony, even though we have no occasion for using it?
14. A minister should notice not only the parties on such occasions, but their parents especially, if present. To them it is an occasion of solemn interest and solicitude; and attentions from the officiating minister not only please for the time, but are likely to be remembered. The same is to some extent true of similar attentions to other relatives and guests.
15. Of course, every well-bred minister will be pleasant and affable in any company. But these qualities are especially in place at a wedding party. And yet no minister should forget his office or compromise his dignity for a moment, even at a wedding. And both his own health and the proprieties of the occasion will usually require him to retire early from the company.
16. Finally, every minister should endeavor to keep up an acquaintance with all the families he thus constitutes; and to exert an influence over them, that shall tend both to their temporal and eternal welfare.
SUGGESTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS UPON THE VISITATION OF THE SICK.
1. In order that the greatest possible good may result from the visiting of the sick, it is well distinctly to apprehend the objects for which such visits are made. These are not merely to meet the expectations of our parishioners; or acquire influence in community, and over individuals and families, by expressions of sympathy with the aflicted. Alí these may result from the discharge of this duty; but there are other specific ends to be sought, of far greater importance.
2. If the sick person is a Christian, our object
should be to alleviate his sufferings by our sympathy; to cheer and comfort him by the promises of God, and by the prospect of joy and peace at last; to strengthen his faith; confirm his hope; and aid him, so far as in you lieth, to bear his sufferings patiently, trusting in him who "doeth all things well."
3. But if the sick person is an unbeliever and impenitent, the great object should be, by the blessing of God, to lead him to realize his true condition as a sinner, and to turn penitently to Christ for mercy and salvation. If already penitent, the effort should be so to set forth the plan of salvation through faith in the one and only sacrifice for sin, that the poor penitent will believe on the Only Begotten of the Father, and be saved from wrath through him.
4. The means by which these ends are to be attained, are, conversation with the sick person; the citing or reading of appropriate passages of the Word of God with comments; singing appropriate hymns; prayer with and for the afflicted; and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
As to the manner and spirit in which these means are employed, the following observations may not be unacceptable:
1. It is often a question whether a minister should or should not visit a person whom he knows to be sick. If the sickness is slight, and he is not asked to call, he may reasonably doubt whether a visit from him is either expected or desired. But in case of severe or long continued affliction, the case is different. If the person is a member of his church, it is expected that he will visit him, if he knows it, whether invited to do so or not. The same is generally true where the sick person is a member of his congregation. But if neither a member or a hearer, it will usually be best to ascertain whether or not a visit will be agreeable, before
calling for religious conversation and prayer. The same rule will apply where the sick person belongs to another denomination, but whose pastor may be sick or absent. In large cities at least it would generally be regarded as an impropriety for a minister to go uninvited to visit a sick person who belonged to another church, and had a pastor of their own. And some would regard a visit to an irreligious sick person, without invitation, in the same light.
The truth is, that members and hearers should relieve their pastor of all these delicate questions of propriety, by informing him, if a visit from him is desired. He ought never to be expected to visit the sick, even of his members, without a request to do so. And it is well publicly to request the congregation, to send for him whenever the sick would like to see him. Even where the person visited is a member of the church, it is often far more agreeable to make such visits upon invitation. And yet it would never do for a minister to neglect all the sick of his charge, unless specially invited to visit them. He must therefore be governed by circumstances, and the usages in the community in which he labors; and will need much wisdom and discretion to avoid seeming intrusion on the one hand, and apparent neglect on the other. But of the two evils apparent forwardness will be much more readily excused, even by the irreligious, than apparent neglect. Besides, we are more likely to fall short of duty, than to go beyond it in the matter of visiting the sick.
2. Such visits should be made, as far as possible, at a time when the patient is least fatigued, and most tranquil and composed.* If you are called upon for the visit, the messenger will usually be able to
* As a general rule, such visits should be made in the forenoon, and, if practicable, before the visit of the physician.