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that all his indolent habits must be broken up, if he has the most distant hope of becoming a useful minister of Christ! If he is not willing to harness himself for labour, he had better never enter the field. All the springs of his life will run down without effort. His hope and courage will sink and die away, if he has no spirit of enterprize. He will soon become a burden to himself
, and a cumberer of the ground. Perhaps I conceded too much, when I said, that such ministers might be good men. A slothful minister is a contradiction, which it is very difficult to reconcile with the lowest standard of holiness. A man who is born for immortality; ruined by sin; redeemed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; put into the sacred ministry ; set to watch for souls; promised a reward that outweighs all the material universe; and yet, murmur at hardship, and complain that he must spend and be spent in the service of his Redeemer! My young friends, we hope better things of you. God expects better things. The Church demands them. The age, the land which gave you birth, and nurtures you for scenes of toil and triumph such as the generations that are gone have never witnessed, expects better things of you, and things that accompany salvation to your own souls, and to this dying world.
To be eminently useful, you must also be men of prayer. In this respect every minister would do well to keep before his mind the example of such men as Luther, Knox, Whitfield, and Martyn. Nothing has so powerful a tendency to
. subdue the unhållowed affections of the mind, and the grosser appetites and passions of the body; nothing will so certainly control and direct your thoughts, and elevate them above all that is base and grovelling, trilling and little, as frequent and intimate fellowship with God. The great secret of mortifying a worldly spirit is to cultivate a heavenly one. “Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed, by the renewing of your minds." No where does the world appear so much like an empty shadow, and no where is its baleful influence so certainly counteracted, as in sweet communion with things unseen. You will find also, that prayer furnishes the strongest stimulus, the most powerful incitement to self-denying duty and toil. And who has not observed that intelligent, earnest prayer improves all the powers and properties of the soul, and
wakes up the mind from her sluggishness and apathy, to the exercise of the best and most ennobling affections? No where does that wonderful system of truth, that “ mighty range of motive," disclosed in the Bible, obtain its sure and certain dominion over the soul, if not in the frequency, seriousness, and joys of familiarity with God. Were the history of ministers made known, I have no doubt that you might trace the distinguished usefulness of the most distinguished men to their closets. If
you will review your own history, I think you will not fail to see that those periods of it have been most distinguished for usefulness, that have been most distinguished for prayer.
The late Dr. Payson, in suggesting a few hints to a youthful brother in the ministry, among other most valuable remarks, has the following: « The disciples, we read, returned to Jesus, and told him all things; what they had done, and what they had taught. I think that if we would every evening come to our Master's feet, and tell him where we have been; what we have done; and what were the motives by which we have been actuated; it would have a salutary effect upon our whole conduct. While reading over each day's page of life, with the consciousness that he was reading it with us, we should detect many errors and defects which would otherwise pass unnoticed.” It is this familiarity with Jesus—they are these unaffected approaches to the throne of grace, through all the sins and duties, the mercies and trials of his course, that make the useful minister. I have seen ministers of very reserved habits in their intercourse with men, who were eminently useful because they conversed with God. You will greatly abound in the duty of prayer, if you are ever eminently useful in the sacred office.
It is also indispensable to distinguished and permanent usefulness in a minister of the gospel, that he mortify an aspiring spirit. Do not contend for pre-eminence. If you are thrown among those who contend for it, retire from the conflict. Strive to do good, and if your motives are impeached, let your habitual deportment be your only defence of them. I say again, beware of an aspiring spirit. There is scarcely any thing that has a stronger tendency to neutralize and counteract the benevolent designs of good men, than a self-complacent, aspiring spirit. Beware of it. Learn of him who was “meek and lowly in heart.” He "that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself
shall be exalted.” “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
A minister of the Gospel, to be eminently useful, must also be distinguished for no small share of earnestness and zeal. On this point I feel afraid of leaving a wrong impression on your minds. Zeal, without judgment and discrimination, spoils a man for a minister of the Gospel. A venerable clergy man once said, "I would make deficiency in prudence the ground of quite as serious and insurmountable objection against laying hands on a candidate for the ministry, as I would a deficiency in piety or knowledge.” Be ye "wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
You have seen many a man who possessed commendable qualifications for the sacred office, concerning whom, after all, it might be said, he is not a safe man. You may possess exemplary piety, and distinguished talent, but without practical wisdom, you cannot become a useful minister. And yet discretion may degenerate into timidity; may even lead to a trimming and calculating servility. A minister's character that is formed on the highest models of usefulness, must be distinguished for decision, energy, and zeal, as well as self-diffidence and discretion. There is no danger that your zeal will be too ardent, so long as it is the expression of simple benevolence. Seek not your own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent you,
and you cannot be too zealous. Only be sure that your heart glows with the benevolence of the Gospel, and the flame cannot rise too high. True zeal will find its choicest aliment in cultivating the spirit of Jesus Christ. At a great remove from that false fervour and electric fire which has its origin in a selfish and ambitious mind, which hurries men on to act without consulting the sober dictates of their understanding, and which is distinguished for its subtilty, turbulence, and fickleness, it takes its rise from the meek and gentle spirit of holy love. It is warmed and fanned into flame by every breath of heavenly affection. It is simple, because it has nothing to disguise. It is strong and steady, because it is deliberate and cautious. It is unwearied, because, like the heaven-born charity from which it flows, wit seeketh not its own." And where shall we look for such a spirit, if not in the ministers of Christ? Where are there
, incentives to such a spirit, if not in the cross of Christ? Where did Paul find it, where did the primitive Christians find it, but in the love of Christ? What can support such a
spirit, but those awful and touching realities, those weighty and tender truths which are exhibited with such irresistible energy and vividness, in that wonderful redemption of which you hope to become the messengers to your apostate fellow men? A slight and cursory view of your great work, my young friends, will not answer the purpose of your high calling. Your minds must be roused to the importance of it; you must think intensely, and feel deeply; all your powers of body and mind must be awakened and invigorated in the service of your divine Master; nor should your resolution be impaired, or your efforts relaxed, till you are summoned from the field.
There is another topic on which I will make a few observations, which has an intimate relation to your usefulness, as the ambassadors of the Gospel of peace: and that is, the importance of exercising a kind and fraternal spirit. Charity suffereth long and is kind. Charity is not easily provoked. Charity thinketh no evil. Charity beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. O, if this spirit of kindness
--this mutual forbearance—this patience of injury-this freedom from suspicion and jealousy—this spirit of fraternal love and confidence were more prominent in the character of the ministers of Christ, how would they adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, and recommend religion to the world! If I do not misinterpret, nor pervert the signs of the times, the day is near when there will be a peculiar demand for the cultivation of this spirit in the American churches. Deeply does it concern you, to wipe away this dark and foul reproach which stains the ministerial character, “If a man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar; for if he love not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?" How often have we seen the usefulness of ministers lamentably circumscribed through the want of a kind and affectionate spirit! There are ministers who need nothing but brotherly kindness to make them patterns of every thing that is praiseworthy. I know that the constitutional temperament of good men is various; but there is no apology for the man whose external light is on the wane, because the glow of kindness declines within. You live in such an evil world; a world where there are so many occurrences that are unavoidably painful—so many wrongs to be encountered and forgiven, and where there are such frequent requisitions for the exercise of a kind spirit, that if you do
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not take special pains to cultivate it, all the better feelings of your hearts will be suppressed, and the manly and generous spirit of a heaven-born religion will lose its glory in the envyings and suspicions of an earthly and selfish mind.
In a word, gentlemen, strive to possess the uniformity of character which the Gospel requires. It is worth much effort, watchfulness, and prayer, to guard against the more common faults and blemishes of ministerial character. It concerns you to cultivate every grace and virtue, and to be adorned with all the beauties of holiness. The usefulness of a minister of the
a Gospel depends much on this uniformity of character. As “dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” Little things have more to do in the formation of a spotless moral character, than we are at once willing to believe. Especially beware of little deriations from sterling rectitude. “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.” Little things exert a prodigious influence on the character of the ministers of the Gospel. It is impossible for the man who neglects them to command respect, or to be extensively useful. It is this uniformity of ministerial character which conciliates confidence and veneration, and which everywhere bespeaks a benevolent and elevated mind. Such a minister of the Gospel will not live in vain. He may have his superiors in some particular traits of excellence, but in that happy assemblage of excellencies that go to form the useful minister of Jesus Christ, he is one of the lights of the world.
ART. III.—THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SABBATH AS A
1. The end of civil government is the happiness of the people. That form of government is, therefore, the best, which most effectually promotes this end. There has never been a more unreasonable doctrine advanced, than that certain men, or certain families, have a right to rule over a peo
a ple, for the accomplishment of their own purposes. It may