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The Christian will sometimes be brought to walk in a solitary path. God seems to cut away his props, that he may reduce him to Himself. His religion is to be felt as a personal, particular, appropriate possession. He is to feel, that, as there is but one Jehovah to bless, so there seems to him ; as though there were but one penitent in the universe to be blessed by Him. Mary Magdalene át the Sepulchre was brought to this state. She might have said " I know not where Peter is: he is gone away-perhaps into the world-perhaps to weep over his fall. I know not where John is. What are the feelings and states of my brethren, I know not. I am left here alone. No one accompanies and strengthens me. But, if none other will seek my Lord, yet will I seek Him!". There is a commanding energy in religious sympathy. A Minister, for example, while his preaching seems effective, and life and feeling shew themselves around him, moves on with ease and plea
But there is much of the man here. If God change the scene-if discouragements meet him—if he seem to be laid by; in any measure, as an instrument--if the love of his hearers to his person and ministry decay--this is a severe 'triał: yet most of us need this trial, that we may be reduced simply to God, and may feel that the whole affair is between Him and ourselves. A dead fish will swim with the stream, whatever be its direction: but a living one will not only resist the
stream; but, if it chuses, it can swim against it. The soul, that lives from God, will seek God, and .follow God --more easily and pleasantly, indeed, if the stream flow toward the point whither God leads; but, still, it will follow God as its sole rest and centre, though the stream of men and opinions would hurry it away from Him.
GRAVITY is, doubtless, obligatory on Ministers. The Apostle connects it with sincerity. Yet it must be natural -not affected. Some men give every thing in an oracular style: this looks like affectation, and will disgust others : they will attribute it to religion: but this is not a sanctified gravity. Other men are always disposed to levity: not that a man of original fancy is to be condemned, for thinking in his own way: but the Minister must consider that he is a man of a consecrated character: if it should not be difficult to himself to make transitions from levity to gravity, it will be difficult to carry others with him therein. Who has not felt, if God brings him into a trying situation, in which he sees that it is an awful thing to suffer or to die, that Gravity is then natural? every thing else is offensive! That, too, is evil, which lets down the tone of a company: when a Minister loses his gravity, the company will take liberties with him. Yet, with a right principle, we must not play the fool. Gravity must be natural and simple. There must be urbanity and tenderness in it. A man must not formalize on every thing. He, who formalizes on every thing, is a fool; and a grave fool is perhaps more injurious than a light fool.
We are called to build a spiritual house. One workman is not to busy himself in telling another his duty. We are placed in different circumstances, with various talents :: and each is called to do what he can. Two men, equally accepted of God, may be exceedingly distinct in the account which they will give of their employ.
A REGULAR Clergyman can do no more in the discharge of his duty, than our Church requires of him. He may fall far short of her requirements; but he cannot exceed, by the most devoted life, the duties which she has prescribed. What man on earth is so perpicious a drone, as an idle Clergyman!-a man, engaged in the most serious profession in the world: who rises to eat, and drink, and lounge, and trifle; and goes to bed; and then rises again, to do the same! Our office is the most laborious in the world. The mind must be always on the stretch, to acquire wisdom and grace, and to communicate them to all who come near. It is well, indeed, when a Clergyman of genius and learning devotes himself to the publication of classics and works of literature, if he cannot be prevailed on to turn his genius and learning to a more important end. Enter into this kind of society--what do you hear ?_“ Have you seen the new edition of Sophocles?”—“ No! is a new edition of Sophocles undertaken ?". and this makes up the conversation, and these are the ends, of men who, by profession, should win souls! I received a most useful hint from Dr. Bacon, then Father of the University, when I was at College. I used frequently to visit him at his Living, near Oxford: he would say to me, “ What are you doing? What are your studies?” – “I am reading so and so”_“You are quite wrong. When I was young I could turn any piece of Hebrew into Greek verse with ease. But, when I came into this parish, and had to teach ignorant people, I was wholly at a loss: I had no furniture. They thought me a great man, but that was their ignorance ; for I knew as little as they did, of what it was most important to them to know. Study chiefly what you can turn to good account in your future life.” And yet this wise man had not just views of serious religion: he was one of those who are for reforming the parishmaking the maids industrious, and the men sober and honest-but when I ventured to ask, Sir, must not all this be effected by the infusion of a divine principle into the mind?-a union of the
soul with the great head of influence?"- No more of that, no more of that, I pray!"
A wise Minister stands between practical Atheism and Religious Enthusiasm.
A SERMON, that has more head infused into it than heart, will not come home with efficacy to the hearers. “ You must do so and so : such and such consequences will follow if you do not : such and such advantages will result from doing it:”— this is cold, dead, and spiritless, when it stands alone; or even when it is most prominent. Let the preacher's head be stored with wisdom; but above all, let his heart so feel his subject, that he may infuse life and interest into it, by speaking like one who actually possesses and feels what he says.
Faith is the master-spring of a Minister. “ Hell is before me, and thousands of souls shut
there in everlasting agonies Jesus Christ stands forth to save men from rushing into this bottomless abyss-He sends me to proclaim his Ability and his Love: I want no fourth idea !--every fourth idea is contemptible!—every fourth idea is a grand impertinence !”