Sidor som bilder

ample encouragement, from the very circumstance of his convictions, to conclude that he has been elected of God unto salvation, and that it is, therefore, at once his privilege and his duty, to press into the kingdom of heaven.

Christians are under obligations to praise God for a certain, sure salvation. God has made the salvation of his people, not only possible, but sure. In pursuance to the eternal purpose of God's love, Jesus Christ came certainly to save his people from their sins. We are under obligations to bless and praise God that the covenant of his mercy, which he has made with his people in Christ the Mediator, is ordered in all things and sure; that the Mediator is, in every respect, the Savior of all who believe in him, and is both the Author and Finisher of his people's faith. As the great and good Shepherd, he gives his sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand.


A few words in conclusion, to those who are yet strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. To you, we would address the appropriate exhortation of the apostle Peter: "Wherefore, the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure. The doctrine of election does not preclude the diligent use of the means of salvation. You cannot be saved, continuing in carelessness and impenitence. To sit down at ease, and say you are waiting till God, by a kind of miracle of grace, shall call and convert you, is a great perversion of the doctrine of his electing love. If you realized the worth of your souls, and believed that you can only be saved by seeking and obtaining the grace offered in the gospel, surely you could not feel satisfied to live another day without making an effort to "flee from the wrath to come," and lay hold on eternal life. Your duty is to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near. If you never feel any anxiety about the salvation of your precious souls, and never make any exertions for their salvation, you can never expect, on rational grounds, to be made the subjects of eter nal life. If you are chosen to salvation, it is through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. Work, then, O work the work of God, while it is called to-day; the night cometh wherein no man can work. Amend your ways and your doings. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. These are duties, in the neglect of which you cannot hope for salvation; for God has positively ordained, that glory, honor, and immortality, shall be attained only by timely repentance, and patient continuance in well-doing.



Late President of Jackson College, Columbia, Tennessee.


LUKE 10:7. For the laborer is worthy of his hire.

No. 9.

"The duty of active benevolence seems to be better understood and more generally practised by Christians, in the present, than in any preceding age, since the time of the apostles. The belief is becoming common, that a liberal and systematic appropriation of money, for the advancement of religion, is not less essential to Christian character, than the offering of prayer or the forgiveness of injuries. The prompt and cheerful response made to the various and repeated calls of benevolence at home and from abroad, is one of the most auspicious signs of our times. But the pleasure we take in bearing this honorable testimony to the pious liberality of many individuals and churches, is not a little diminished by some painful exceptions, that truth and justice require us to make.

In the midst of wealth and luxury, the public advocate of any large department of Christian enterprise, is not unfrequently repulsed by manifest indications of displeasure, where he had every right to expect tokens of cordial approbation. Instances are not rare, in which a sordid thirst for gain seems to have acquired a complete ascendancy over every generous feeling. The heart is firmly barred against the most thrilling appeals of want or of wo, and the hand grasps its golden idol with the tenacity of a dying miser. In surveying the deplorable condition of some of our churches, one would suppose, that the spirit of mammon had escaped from the nether world, gained access to the garden of the Lord, and seduced from their allegiance, not a few of the professed friends of Zion.

Wherever the church becomes absorbed in worldly pursuits, religion languishes, her institutions are poorly sustained, the claims of benevolence are generally unheeded, and the efforts of the minister, paralyzed. In many cases, one of the first symptoms of religious decline, is the reluctance with which Christians contribute for the support of their preacher. His services are neither appreciated nor rewarded, and to obtain the necessaries of life for himself and family, he is perhaps compelled to spend a portion of his time in some secular employment. From his worldly pursuits he enters the sacred desk, like the strong man shorn of his strength, and offers in sacrifice, the sick, the lame, and the blind. Then may be seen the powerful influence of mutual reaction. The more secular the minister becomes, the less are his people inclined to support him; and the less they are disposed to aid him, the more is he devoted to the world.

* Published by request of the Presbytery of West Tennessee.

The great Author of our religion has connected the prosperity of his church on earth with the instrumentality of a pious, active ministry; and has plainly pointed out many important reciprocal duties between the pastor and his flock. While the gospel herald is required to be wholly given to his work, a corresponding duty is enjoined upon those, who are profited by his instructions. They are taught that "the laborer is worthy of his hire," and are directed to afford him a competent support. This duty is in itself so reasonable and just, that we are surprised it should ever be neglected by those, who can feel the claims of justice and gratitude; but our surprise is increased to astonishment, when we remember that this neglect involves a disregard of the explicit injunction of Jesus Christ.

It is my purpose, on this occasion, in a plain and practical way, to urge upon Christians the duty of affording their pastors a comfortable and respectable support.

I come not to plead my own cause, nor to enforce my own claims, nor to seek redress for wrongs of my own. I speak by the direction of others in behalf of that class of men, who have consecrated their time, their talents, and their all, to the public good.

I am not unaware how fashionable it has become in some circles to reproach and abuse the clergy. One says that they are aspiring after power and influence, ever ready to sacrifice the public good to selfish, earth-born ambition. Another goes yet farther, and affirms that they have dark designs of a political nature to accomplish, that they would fain append the church to the state and seize the reins of government. A third declares that the clergy are an idle, indolent, profitless class of men, who consume the products of the industrious without returning an equivalent. It is quite unnecessary that I should enumerate all the forms of scandal in which this hostility to the clergy has been exhibited by the depraved and vicious, nor does the occasion or my subject admit of a formal refutation of these calumnies. But the first argument that I shall adduce to prove that a pious, intelligent, industrious ministry are entitled to support, shall be based upon,

I. The Benefits which the Civil Community derive from their Labors.

That bad men have been found among the clergy; that ambition, knavery, and corruption, have sometimes been concealed under the "borrowed mantle of seeming goodness," no one will pretend to deny. Judas was a base traitor; Pope Alexander VI. was little less than an incarnate demon; Wolsey's heart was inflated with pride and ambition; and many others have inflicted incurable wounds upon the religion of Christ. But what then? Do the mal-practices of a few prove the corruption of all! Will the defection of a dozen soldiers cast suspicion upon a whole army of patriots? Will the acknowledged villainy of a score of public officers convince us that none are to be trusted? Would you pronounce him wise, who should affirm that neither light nor heat can proceed from the sun because a few dark spots are visible upon his disc? Equally wise and equally consistent are those, who cast indiscriminate aspersions upon the clergy, because some of the profession have disgraced their high and holy calling. Let every tree be judged by its fruit, and where censure is really deserved let it be freely bestowed.

The world has yet to learn the deep debt of gratitude justly due to preachers of the gospel. During that long and dreary period, in which the earth was enveloped in thick folds of intellectual darkness, by whom were the few scattered sparks of science and literature kept from total extinction? To whom is the world indebted for the preservation of those valuable monuments of ancient taste and genius, which have exerted such a happy influence upon the intellectual character of succeeding ages? History answers, the clergy.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Who has obtained for us the blessings of religious liberty? Who first opposed the formidable power of a corrupt and secularized church, that has done more to disgrace Christianity than all other causes combined? Who broke the chains of moral bondage and demolished the barriers that had long impeded the communication of thought and feeling? The history of the sixteenth century replies, a preacher of Wittemberg. He planted his foot fast by the standard of truth, and with the firmness and strength of an Hercules, resisted the powerful and repeated shocks, made by the united forces of ambitious prelates and misguided princes. Let the calumniator of the clergy carefully examine the records of history; let him make a collection of all the scholars, civilians, military chieftans, and potentates, who have ever rendered important services to mankind; let him select the brightest star from this brilliant constellation of worthies; and its light will be eclipsed by the superior lustre of that luminary, which guided the Protestant Reformation.


Who does not know that the moral and mental character of a people is moulded in a great degree by their religious guides? The remark has long 30 since passed into a proverb, and the history of every nation confirms its truth.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

When Hophni and Phinehas became openly scandalous in their lives, as a matter of course, corruption spread among the people; but when Ezra and Nehemiah waged war upon wickedness in all its forms, reformation followed, and industry, sobriety, and social happiness were the natural and salutary fruits of their faithfulness and zeal.

But we need not recur to ages past for illustrations of this truth. Turn your eyes, for a moment, to the present condition of poor, degraded Ireland. Who does not feel like weeping over the poverty, the wretchedness, and the crimes of this unhappy country? The presence of a strong military force aided by the civil power, is scarcely sufficient to restrain the people from pillage, murder, and rebellion. Millions of money are yearly appropriated by the British government to keep the Irish in subjection. Turn now to Scotland, and behold her industrious, intelligent, and peaceable inhabitants. Contrast the morality, the comfort, and the thrift of her peasantry, with the vices, the squalid poverty, and the idleness of the same class in Ireland. What has produced this amazing difference among the inhabitants of sister kingdoms, almost contiguous? Other causes have doubtless had some influence, but if you leave out of view the religious institutions, the pious and learned ministry of Scotland, you omit the most efficient cause of her prosperity. Ireland is oppressed and downtrodden by a corrupt and vicious priesthood, that connive at crime and keep her enthralled in superstition and ignorance. Scotland is blessed with religious teachers, who endeavor to elevate the character and improve the temporal as well as spiritual condition of her inhabitants. These remarks are perhaps too unqualified; for, in Ireland even, there are some bright spots on which the eye may rest with pleasure. Her northern population is far more intelligent, industrious, and moral, than those of the south. The reason is obvious. In the north of Ireland, the people have long been furnished with religious institutions much like those of Scotland, while the south has been kept in degradation by the minions of the Pope. The picture of Scotland, too, has its dark shades. The Highlanders are generally poor, rude, and ignorant, for they have never enjoyed the advantages of a pious, industrious ministry. These apparent exceptions, when properly examined, go far towards confirming the truth of our position.

en sat O WRI ts of upon th

If one comparison is not sufficient, spread before you the map of Christendom, examine its brigthest features, mark well the nations that are most prosperous and happy, and you will find their religious institutions upheld and directed by devoted preachers of the gospel. Were I to select a single instance to illustrate the happy influence and efficiency of the ministry in its social, de civil, and moral relations, I would point you to the bleak and barren moun

tains of France; I would introduce you to the parish of Waldbach in the Ban de La Roche, which was blessed with the labors of the indefatigable, enterprising Oberlin. The lot of this humble servant of God, was cast among these idle, ignorant, uncivilized mountaineers, but one step removed from actual barbarism. Under the guidance of his plastic hand, the character of the people underwent a complete transformation, and the face of nature seemed changed. Schools for children and youth were established, adult societies for the promotion of agriculture and the arts were organized, and the institutions of religion cheerfully sustained. The story of this marvellous reformation among semi-barbarians reached the city of Paris and elicited the warmest commendations from the French monarch, who conferred upon this mountain pastor, special tokens of his royal favor.

The king's ministers frankly confessed that Oberlin had given them important lessons in the science of government, and taught them the best method of civilizing a people and rendering them happy. Thus we see that a faithful minister in a retired parish, opposed by formidable obstacles, did more to promote the temporal welfare of a community, than a king and his ministers could do in the usual forms of legislation.

Make the survey of our own country; visit those towns and villages in which no spire points the weary pilgrim to his future home; where the sound of the preacher's voice is never heard, and you will find profaneness, intemperance, and vice, in its most shameless forms, triumphant. Notice the order, the morality, and the general intelligence of the inhabitants of that village, which, for some years, has been favored with the regular and faithful ministrations of pious clergymen; and you cannot but feel the importance of sustaining a welleducated ministry, even on the ground of its utility to civil society.

The expense of erecting jails and penitentiaries; the salaries of judges, sheriffs, clerks, and lawyers, is no small tax upon the community. All this is supposed to be essentially necessary to the well-being of society. Laws must be enforced, crimes detected and punished. Would it not be a most important improvement in our system of criminal jurisprudence, if means could be devised to prevent those crimes, which it is the design of the law to punish? And will not that legislative assembly, which shall construct a code of laws to destroy the power of temptation and thereby to prevent the commission of crime, deserve the highest honors that a grateful people can bestow? Why then should the gratitude of a nation be withheld from the clergy, who are laboring to implant virtuous principles in the human heart, that temptation may be deprived of its power and the law of its victim? Nor are their labors without success. Ask our judges and they will tell you, that nearly four-fifths of the criminal cases, that come before them for adjudication, had their origin in intemperance. To the same cause may be traced no small portion of the misery and wretchedness in our country. Now the fact is well known, that where the temperance reformation has succeeded, crimes have been greatly diminished; and in some places jails have become untenanted, and criminal courts find no business. I do not claim the merit of these happy results for the clergy exclusively: they have had many prompt and efficient coadjutors; but who does not know that they have been the prominent leaders in this great and noble enterprise? Their agency in advancing the cause of virtue and morality in the community, is no less conspicuous in other departments of Christian enterprise. But let this suffice.

The remark is no less trite than true, that our government is based upon virtue and intelligence. Ministers of the gospel, we have seen, are the successful advocates of the former, but what have they done in the cause of education? Let the present state of our schools, academies, colleges, and universities answer. By general consent the work of education seems to be consigned to the clerical profession. In our country we have about ninety col

« FöregåendeFortsätt »