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poorest, than enriched by such means, than | tion be undeserving of the name except on derive a revenue from such sources. And the ground that it comes first in what we when you look around on your own brethren have to say. There may be no skill to who minister to large congregations, and detect in the language you employ a tenlive, none of them in splendour, but some dency to error; or in its looseness great of them in comparative ease, you will not uncertainty in your utterance of truth. envy or repine. They deserve and require There may be no promptitude of memory, all they receive. You will remember that enabling your hearers to recognise an old Christ makes the difference. Believe that discourse in a slightly altered form, or old he is wise and good even in these arrange | thoughts expressed in somewhat different ments. Bear the yoke willingly. “A man's | language. What ther? Shall errors and life consisteth not in the abundance of the | imperfections, because not readily discerned, things he possesseth.” Make your patient be therefore harmless ? Verily not. Men endurance of this lot an occasion of mani are often unprofited when they cannot disfesting your submission to Jesus Christ. cover the cause. They cannot, as some He gives you an opportunity which he has others might, trace back the production to not given to all, of showing that you can the process of which it is the ultimate expresserve him for very love's sake. Improve sion, but they simply know that they have the opportunity. Do this “heartily, as gained no benefit. * No nail has been fastunto the Lord." Be sure in such a case ened in a sure place; no special, abiding that he is looking down upon you with effect has been wrought upon their souls. complacency, and saying, “I know thy The attempted recollection of the sermon works, and tribulation, and poverty, but is a failure, and it identifies itself, after it thou art rich."
has been heard, neither with “ trains of Celibacy has sometimes been recom thought," nor " with trains of emotion." mended as a remedy for the poverty of our This will almost always be the case if, prepastors ; but the advantage which would suming on incapacity in our hearers, we can result from its universal, or even frequent allow ourselves to be careless in our prepaadoption, would be more than counter ration for the pulpit. Fluency, à fine balanced by its inevitable mischiefs. Se voice, and “a forced show of force," can cular employments might possibly in some never accomplish the work of the Christian instances be associated without damage, minister. and indeed with very wholesome results, The mental power of the inhabitants of with the ministry of the word. The case our villages ("mere rustics”), especially of your predecessor shows that tuition, at of those in which an intelligent ministry least on a limited scale, may be thus asso has long been enjoyed, is often greatly ciated without at all impairing the efficiency underrated. But granted that it is as of the ministry. But, as a general rule, meagre as city witlings delight to represent, one calling is quite enough for any ordinary so much the greater is the need of an inman to follow with success.
structive ministry; a ministry adapted to III. Do not underrate, my brother, the excite the attention, to stimulate the inteldemand for mental culture made in such a lect, to form the mind, to guide the judge position. It often happens that in situa ment, as well as to awaken the conscience tions of this kind, the presence of one or and save the soul. Let none of us, my two intelligent hearers operates as a suffi brethren, think that we can achieve these cient stimulus to intellectual exertion. purposes without much toilsome study. A These will be present, and therefore careful style of diction almost entirely new to you preparation must be necessarily made. And may have to be formed (no mean labour) it is well when this is the case ; for none of ere you can even be understood. A student us are unaffected by such circumstances. becomes familiar with the language of the But in other instances no such stimulus schools ; it is easy, natural, to him to emexists. Intellect in any but the common ploy it, but it will often be wholly unin. est measures is unknown. Education is telligible to the majority of his hearers. very limited. There is no acquaintance But where dulness does not characterize with reasoning; no power to detect any our hearers, equally great is the need, illogical feature in the construction of a in these situations, of habits of carediscourse ; no ability to say whether a ful thought on account of the sameness figure be apt, in good taste, well wrought of our congregations. We preach always out and applied ; or whether an introduc- l to the very same people. Year in, year out, scarcely a new face greets us, except occa- tage will result to a portion of our hearers, sionally that of a transient guest. Your , and it is discouraging to think that we may revered predecessor must, in many cases, | preach all our lives long to some persons, have preached to some of his hearers to the promotion of whose advantage our throughout the whole of their lives. In ministry is not adapted. Nothing remains, their infancy, youth, manhood, they liste perhaps, but that we should, first of all, learn ened to him. He instructed them in child to know ourselves correctly, and then enhood in the first principles “ of the oracles deavour, by diligent cultivation, to develop of God.” He ad ministered solemn ad and strengthen those powers wherein we monition, or whis pered sweet comfort to find ourselves defective. them, when they were passing through the IV. Let not freedom from competition valley of the sh adow of death. Such an induce any remission of diligence in your instance is very pleasing to contemplate ; ministerial and pastoral labours. There is but ever y bright object has its shaded side, no doubt an advantage, on the score of and such cases as these have their in comfort, in the absence of competition. cide ntal disadvantages, although the ad A little dissatisfaction or restlessness on van tages, we doubt not, preponderate. Our the part of any of your hearers cannot so bearers become so thoroughly accustomed readily be gratified by their exchanging one to our style and method, and to our very place of worship for another. They must tones, as well as to our habits of thought, attend the one chapel which the village that what appears striking to an occasional contains, or no other, except at great inlistener, is to them commonplace and in convenience and no little expense. It is of operative. If we had a constant succession no use to be dissatisfied on account of of new hearers, or even frequent changes, trifles. Much annoyance will thus be the mischief arising from superficiality and avoided, as well as by the impracticability sameness would be in some degree avoided. l of odious comparisons. But you will see But as the change does not transpire in the l at once the corresponding danger to which congregation, it must, in a sort, occur in we are exposed, and the disadvantage in the preacher. Variety and freshness are relation to our ministerial labours which we indispensable. Old texts may be used are likely to incur from the lack of even a without injury, but the employment of old wholesome emulation. The remedy, my sermons, or fragments of them, would be brother, is always to labour as under the little other than ruinous. Diligent study eye of the Master whom we serve; ever for to discover new things as well as old, is in his sake to use our utmost efforts; always dispensable to prolonged success in situa to do the best of which at the time we are tions like these.
capable. Let us derive from the thought There is still one more view of the of his constant inspection that stimulus matter upon which I detain you for a which we cannot obtain from the conmoment. There is one class of minds tiguity of our fellow-servants. He is always to which the discourses of every preacher | near. “His eyes are as a flame of fire,” are most of all adapted, and these and his “judgment is always according to are the minds which resemble his own. truth.” If this be our endeavour, we shall In the metropolis and other large places not only please him, but secure the steady, there will be found a sufficient variety of faithful adherence of those to whom we preachers to allow the public to choose minister. It were a poor thing, my brother, that religious instructor they most of all to retain your hearers because there is no approve, and it is reasonable to suppose other preacher to whom they can resort; that their choice will fall on one whose but it will be a great thing if, by the mental characteristics adapt themselves, efficiency of your ministrations, you attach whether they know it or not, to their own them so closely to you, that they would not mental constitution. Those in whom the leave you if they could. logical and those in whom the imaginative v. Look forward to frequent losses of element preponderates, may each and all those fellow-workers whom you are least find a preacher after their own heart. These able to spare. This is a feature in the varieties exist in our hearers in villages as experience of most pastors, but especially well as in towns, but the corresponding of those who labour in rural districts. Our variety cannot be found in preachers, since villages do not, as a rule, increase in popu. very often there is but one in the vicinity. | lation, but there is nevertheless a constant It is all but inevitable that some disadvan. | increase in families. The explanation of
course is, that many persons are always opportunity of gaining a more thorough leaving the villages for our cities in general, acquaintance with our charge, a freedom but especially for the metropolis. And from the tyranny of fashion and many of those who leave us are the more intelligent, the foolish demands of society in its higher active, and enterprising. The very qualities circles. But for these advantages you need which render them so useful to us, in not any previous preparation, whilst it is promise or in fact, inevitably lead to their possible that some good may result from departure from us. Meanwhile, those who, the brief references which have been made by lack of intelligence or energy, or Christian to your coming dangers and trials. You will life or zeal, are of least service, are those expect them and be prepared to meet them. who are most likely to remain. The dull, But I release your attention. Brother, the indolent, the stumbling-blocks, the there is no work half so great, half so benecumberers of the ground, continue with us, ficial, half so delightful, as the ministry of till death (in answer, perhaps, to our the everlasting Gospel. This duty is our prayers) takes them away, and those who delight. We feel it to be a labour indeed, would compensate for their defects or coun- | but a labour of love. What theme is like terbalance their influence, are gone to bless ours? Who would not rather proclaim the other churches. Often our village churches unsearchable riches of Christ, than by his are but nursery grounds in which tender | eloquence lead captive the astonished mul. shoots are planted and reared until they titude, or rule in the Senate of our land ? acquire a strength and beauty fitting them Nothing is so dear to our hearts, nothing to grace the lawns of the wealthy Village so necessary for mankind, as the Gospel of churches are rarely so strong for useful Christ. Great indeed is the honour which service as to the eye of a casual observer God has conferred upon us by putting us they appear. Those who compose them into the ministry. Throw into this great often reside at considerable distances from work all your powers of body, soul, and the chapel, which they enter only on the spirit. Let this be your "earnest expectaLord's day, and then in some sad cases) tion and hope, that Christ may be magnified but for a single service. Sunday schools in you," and that in nothing you may be and prayer-meetings under such circum- ashamed.” Make full proof of your minisstances are in danger of languishing, and try. Let it be seen how vast an improvethe removal of our active young friends to ment the ministry of the Gospel can occasion other places becomes doubly painful. We in him who preaches it, and how mighty must relieve ourselves by the consideration and transforming an effect it may accomthat our loss is the gain of other churches, | plish in your hands on society around. and no loss at all to the universal Church Prove it to the utmost. “We have this trea
sure in earthen vessels.” Some abatement I do not doubt, my brother, that there of the effect of the Gospel will ever result are some advantages to be enjoyed in spheres from the necessary imperfection of the like ours which are not to be secured in an agency. Be resolved that by the grace of equal degree in prominent positions. There God this abatement shall in your case be are opportunities for study, accessibility on reduced to the lowest possible limit. May the part of our people, sometimes greater God render you, and all of us, “ faithful simplicity of character and manners, the unto death."
BY THE REV. C. ELVEN. “ So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."-Rom. xiv. 12. AMONG innumerable fallacies which exert a baneful influence on the Christian character, none probably are more injurious than the disregarding or ignoring our individual obligation and responsibilities. It is a fallacy common to the world as well as to the Church. For example: a committee, a board of managers, and even the higb court of Parliament, agree to perpetrate some grievous wrong, which no one individual, with his personal character at stake,
would have dared to do; but if you charge them individually with the wrongdoing how prompt the reply, “Oh, it was the committee, it was the board, it was the Parliament;" forgetting that in the great decisive day there will be no summoning or judging committees, boards, or parliaments, as such, but every one must give an account of himself to God.
But we would more particularly direct our observations on this subject to that phase of it which affects the Christian character and the Church of Christ. How often when we have inquired of an individual member concerning the church with which he was associated, the ready answer has been, with a significant shrug of the shoulders, “ Oh, sir, we are in a very cold and declining state!” Yet evidently the sad confession is made with great self-complacency, because it is the We that are in so deplorable a condition, ignoring the fact that the greater includes the less, and the aggregate number every separate unit. Moreover, upon inquiry you will find that very self-complacent complainer is one of the coldest of the cold, and not only is making no effort to promote a revival, but, like an iceberg in the midst, is chilling the atmosphere all around him. “I am as good as my neighbours," says a worldly man in the midst of no very honourable neighbourhood; and let him say it, let him lay the flattering unction to his soul that he will be judged by such a self-constituted standard. But, oh, Christian, thou whose soul is lighted with wisdom from on high, give such fallacies to the wind, and awake to thine individuality and personal responsibility!
We have also detected the same delusion in an opposite direction. Upon inquiry of an individual concerning the state of the church to which he belonged, the reply has been, with a smile of satisfaction, “Oh, sir, we are all alive, and the church is in peace and prosperity.” But upon inquiry we have discovered that this self-same member is doing nothing to promote that prosperity. Many of his brethren and sisters are truly alive to their privileges and responsibilities, in every way co-operating with their pastor to bring sinners to the Saviour, but he, “ good, easy soul,” is content to be a looker-on, to do good by proxy, and to satisfy himself with the piety of others, as though the Church was a joint-stock company, in which, active or passive, every shareholder claims his quota of the profits. But "we have not so learned Christ." That slothful servant who hid his lord's money was not permitted to share in the profits of his industrious fellow-gervants, however he might previously have cherished the delusion that, upon the whole, the profits would be very satisfactory, inasmuch as the two, the five, the ten talents, had all been well improved, and that he would say in the day of reckoning, “ Lord, we have done well with our talents.” Instead, however, of thus merging his individuality, he was met with the withering rebuke, “ Thou wicked and slothful servant.”
Christian reader! dost thou need an argument to awaken thee to a personal concern, and a personal devotedness ? Think, then, of God's individual regard to thee. If thou art indeed an “ heir of God, and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ,” has he not chosen thee personally in Christ from before the foundation of the world? Was not thy very name written in the Lamb's book of life Nor did Jesus die for an indiscriminate mass, but laid down his life for his sheep, and, as a Shepherd in caring for his flock, cares for every individual sheep and lamb. Thou wast personally on his heart when it was pierced on the cross. And now that, as your great High Priest, he ministers in the heavenly temple, your name is engraven on his breast-plate, and rejoicing in the anticipation of a personal inheritance in heaven, you may well sing,
" Lord, I believe thou hast prepared,
Unworthy though I be,
A golden harp for me."
Christians with the imperative obligation of individual usefulness. You cannot 80 neutralize yourselves, however you might wish, as to exert no influence either for good or evil. It is an undeniable, and at the same time a most affecting consideration, that we are so linked together in society that we must necessarily communicate our dispositions to those about us : we mutually affect each other. If we are going to heaven we shall be instrumental in drawing others along with us; and the same if we are going to perdition.
The influence of one evil word or action in a way of impression or example may surpass all calculation, and, like the dropping of a single thistle-seed, which may soon be so prolific as to cover the whole garden, the seed-thought of evil, carelessly deposited in a youthful mind, may result in a harvest of ripened wickedness and unending woe. Such will be the result of “gowing to the , flesh.” And, oh! how it will aggravate the doom, and intensify the remorse, of the seducer, the godless parent, the unholy professor, and the “blind leader of the blind," to be assailed for ever by the curses of the victims of their individual influence and example. Christians, then, will surely consider that among the talents God has given, and for the use of which a strict account will be required, individual influence involves a pre-eminent responsibility. Nor let any Christian reader plead that his position is so humble, his abilities so weak, or his time so occupied, that he can do nothing. The thought is from beneath, and, if cherished, will prove an opiate that will not only benumb you, but, being found in that bye-path meadow, you will only be awakened by the blows of Giant Despair, and be brought to your right mind by the horrors of Doubting Castle. All the agencies in nature might be neutralised, if, having the reasoning faculty, they could so pervert it as to conclude that their individual influence would be inefficient.
" What if the little rain should say,
So small a drop as I
I'll tarry in the sky ?
Should in its fountain stay,
Cannot create a day?
The cool, refreshing shower ?
And beautify the flower ?" Even Moses at first was betrayed into this false reasoning, saying, “ Who am I, Lord, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? I am not eloquent, neither heretofore nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant, but I am of slow speech, and of a slow tongue.” Yet Moses became a star of the first magnitude in the firmament of the Church. Gideon also, when called to go out against the Midianites, said, “Oh, my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel ? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." Yet to this day “the sword of the Lord and of Gideon” is a watch-word to inspire the courage of the hosts of Israel. Rather let us emulate the noble heroism of the son of Jesse, who, instead of whining over his own diminutiveness as compared with the gigantic stature of the Philistine, rushed to the conflict, and, with his single arm, laid the defiant champion low.
Alas! that so many who join our churches regard them as dormitories in which they may compose themselves to slumber, rather than as fields in which they are called to labour. Henceforth let every individual Christian reflect upon the influence of his example in the world, and seek, by his own personal integrity and purity, to raise the tone of its morals in the domestic, commercial, and political relations of life.