« AnteriorContinuar »
is followed by a hatred of civil coercion; and one of in and employ the very refuse of society—if ye will the most strongly marked symptoms of the times is patronize the intemperate, the improvident, the licena most unnatural sympathy with crime and criminals, tious, the vile, why do you not take care to classify to the setting aside of the truth of God's Word, and your workmen? Why are the old and the young, to the obstruction of the course of common justice. the good and the bad, the 'sober and the drunken,
II. There is a general contempt for the authority the religious and the irreligious, the pious and the of rulers and of parents. Men have learned to speak impious, all huddled together, and dealt with as if evil of dignities. Nor is this to be marvelled at, for there were no difference between virtue and vice, the wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men between the man that fears God and the man who are exalted. Now, they who have broken loose from fears him not? At all events, why do you not put the restraints of religion, will soon show their con- the young under the special care of a vigilant and tempt for magisterial, and judicial, and parental virtuous guardianship? why are they to be corrupted authority. They who honour not God, cannot be and debauched by a premature intercourse with expected to honour the king; and they who reverence adult profligates, who glory in their shame, and who not their Father in heaven, will not highly esteem rejoice in the revelation of their carnal mysteries to their earthly parents. Much of the common con- the young, and lure them on to sin by fictitious and tempt for rulers arises from their regardlessness of sometimes genuine narratives of a vulgar blackguardreligion. They think themselves officially exempted ism that appears brave and romantic in the eyes of from religious duties. They have been taught so. the inexperienced? Would you deal so with your They believe it, they act upon it, and consequently own children? It may also be asked, Why do ye, they have little moral weight in society, whatever their who are obliged by law to provide a teacher for the civil power may be. In the same manner, many young, defer the duties of the schoolmaster till the parents, falling away from attendance on religious close of the day's labours, when the bodies of his ordinances, draw away their children after them. pupils are worn out with fatigue, and the spirit, symOr, if they attend irregularly, their families soon claim pathetically crushed under the body's suffering, is inthe same privilege, and thus the evil increases, and capable of any steady intellectual exercise. Let the will increase, in a fearful ratio, if not counteracted schoolmaster meet his pupils in the morning, when by the benevolent and co-operative aggression of the their bodies are strong, and their minds clear and evangelical Churches.
active, and their progress will be very different from ..The loose and disorderly state of society is to be what it is now, under the present system of evening attributed also to the want of domestic religion, even tuition. Besides, if the teacher did his duty, he among those who regularly attend divine ordinances. might so instruct, and exhort, and warn, and counsel In how few houses do we find family worship! The his pupils, as to prepare their minds more thoroughly pressure of extreme poverty, the sickening and sink- for the discharge of all their personal and relative ing of the heart through hope deferred, the want duties during the day. The power to better the of self-respect, the helplessness of continual depend condition of the working classes is not wanting, if ence, the desperation of men losing sight of God, in there were the will. Much might be done, and the adversity of their circumstances, and growing should be done; and if the compulsory interference hardened under the petrifying power of accumu- of the Government do not teach employers their duty lating misery-all these, and many other causes, are to the employed, the employed themselves may one rapidly breaking down our family altars, removing day break out to the confusion and scattering of those our household candlesticks, and turning many a who disregard and lose sight of the injunctions of Bethel into a den of practical atheists. If the Lord common humanity. prevent not, what is to be the end ?
IV. The low popular estimate of the ministerial Much moral evil also arises from young men and character.—Some look upon ministers of the gospel, women being employed at too early a period of life. and honour them as ambassadors of Christ. Others They soon learn to shift for themselves. They leave have a respect for them, and treat them civilly, the parental roof, place themselves under the charge Others do not hesitate to question their motives, and of strangers, who care for nothing but the little pit- speak lightly of their profession. While great multance of room rent received from these young de- titudes speak with a virulence and a vehemence of serters or outcasts from their fathers' houses. They the heralds of salvation, as if they were the enemies shift, and come and go'as they please they are often of their kind, the hinderers of all social and political corrupted, seduced, and ruined for life. Nay, more, regeneration. Why is all this? many young persons of both sexes marry early, with- Much of it may be traced to the indolence of the out forethought, or prudence, or provision of any ministers of the Establishment. The people were kind, either domestic or personal; and the result of as sheep having no shepherd. They were left, ne. such premature alliances is an enormous increase of glected-no man cared for them, and, by a natural ignorance and vice.
reaction, they soon began to care for nobody; and III. The sources of corruption. These are as even when these ministers were roused to a sense of various and as numerous as the pursuits, and occupa duty, it was too late. Again, the Dissenting ministers tions, and positions of the parties corrupted. The had enongh to do during the deadening Moderatism gathering together of great masses of young and old of the Establishment, to keep evangelical truth in our mills, our workshops, our factories, and ware- alive in a few places, and thus the great mass of the houses, is a wholesale cause of ruin to thousands people escaped and ran off from the house and ordiand tens of thousands. But it may be asked, "Where nances of God. The ministers of the Establishment is the remedy for such an evil?” The remedy, were caressed by the aristocracy, while the Dissent. to some extent, lies in the hands of employers. ing ministers were the favourites of the common They can do much, but they do little. “ What can people. The one class supported the claims of we do?" say the proprietors of our vast establish-Government, the other the claims of the multitude. ments for laborious industry. Why, if ye will take The one were looked on by Dissenters as political tools, the other were regarded by the Establishment, and zealous interest in the cause of truth and righas political agitators. Religion suffered at the hands teousness. Co-operation would beget intimacy, and of both; and multitudes who went to the house of friendship, and affection; and thus the whole Chris. God to get the bread of life, received nothing but tian body would move on with a steady step. Each the stale bread of a heartless Moderatism, or bread under its own denominational banner, and keeping fermented with the sour leaven of political Volun- its own rank of independent but united aggression, taryism. Both had stepped down from their own would bear down with an irresistible pressure on the platform, and put themselves on a level with worldly / multitudinous confederacy of the enemies of Christ, politicians; and their power, as well as many of their and of his cause and kingdom. Would to God we followers, forsook them, when they entered the arena saw such work going on, under the blessing of the of mere secular contention, and took up the wea- Head of the Church! In order to carry forward pons of mere carnal warfare; and hence the office and this united enterprise, there should be, work of the Christian ministry came to be lightly 1. A cordial co-operation of all evangelical minisesteemed. 66
ters throughout the whole country, and more espeThe envy and jealousy of these antagonist parties cially in our large and populous towns. Such a cogreatly affected their character, and weakened their operation would leave every minister at perfect influence among the people. There was no fraternal liberty to work according to his own measure of feeling, no Christian union among them; nay, not so judgment and experience. Nothing more would be much as friendly co-operation, since the rise of the required of him than to work within a certain given Voluntary controversy. In their mutual conflicts, time, within a certain locality- to do his best and the spirit of discord was engendered, and singular his uttermost to overtake, and endeavour to reclaim, exchanges of principle and of party, on the side of by the mild and persuasive spirit of the gospel, the professing Christians, showed a vast ainount of lati- great masses that are perishing. The harvest truly tudinarianism, that shifted and shuftled about with is plenteous, but the labourers are few. May the a thorough regardlessness alike to consistency, to Lord send forth labourers into his harvest ! From authority, and discipline.
their labouring in the same field, from their meetThe character of ministers has also been much in- ings, their brotherly conferences and consultations, jured by narrow and congregational views of duty. the spirit of congregational exclusiveness would give They had a flock-from that they had their living. way to the enlarged and comprehensive spirit of a They looked not beyond the confines of their own great national missionary movement. To accomplish little sheep-fold. They preached, they administered this most desirable purpose, ordinances, and visited, and fell asleep, as if their 2. A portion of every large town should be cut off task were done. If their congregations prospered, as a field of missionary experience. There would be all was well—they cared for nothing beyond; and this advantage in taking a small section :-The labour thus, instead of the broad character of a catholic, to the ministers would be less burdensome; the fruits evangelical ministry, they have circumscribed them- of their visitation would be sooner manifest; their selves within the narrow range of a congregational experience would grow with their work, and would partisanship, which lives for itself, does everything better qualify them for their subsequent labours; for itself, contributes a little for gospel enterprise nay, more, the experience of the whole would be the abroad, but has done little or nothing for the rapidly experience of every one, when they met from time increasing heathenism at home. Many Churches to time to compare notes together, and sum up their present the singularly anomalous character of a re- collective exertions. Of course, the extent of the gard for the heathen of other lands, but live con- section would depend upon the number of ministers iended and regardless in the midst of great multi- who were to carry on the work from house to house. *ades who are perishing for lack of knowledge at It would be necessary, nome, and who are growing from day to day more 3. To divide the section into divisions-one for Treclaimable. What say ye to this, ye ambassadors each minister. This would be the special field of of Christ? What say ye to this, ye rulers in the his missionary exertion, and so small, as not seriously zouse of the Lord ? What say ye to this, ye mem- to encroach on his duties to his own congregation. bers of Christ's mystical body!
A certain time should be set for visiting all the V. Means of reclaiming the reclaimable. The fun families; but the number of visits may perhaps be damental injunction, on which are based all mission left to the convenience and discretion of each minisary enterprises, both at home and abroad, is : “Go yeter. The general purpose should be to stir up the and preach the gospel unto every creature”—not to people to a proper sense of their moral and spiritual your little flock only, not to your congregation alone, condition, in the sight of God, and the gospel offer bat to every creature; and if all the ministers of the should be freely and fully expounded, and held out gospel would join in this great home mission, the to all. promise would, doubtless, be realized to them,“ Lo, Now, having cut off a section of a town, say oneI am with you alway." Nor should our teaching fourth, or any other proportion, according to the be confined to churches or schools, but extended to number of labourers; and having divided that section that familiar, domiciliary instruction, which arrests into divisions containing a manageable number of the attention, engages the sympathies, and draws families, so that each minister may easily visit forth the affections of households, not only in regard each household in his district in the course of to the messenger, but also in regard to Him who three months, the visitors may then meet, compare, sends both the messenger and the message. The arrange, and sum up the amount of their statistical union of Christian ministers in this work would draw information regarding the religious circumstances forth the active services of their respective office- and condition of the whole section. This being acbearers, who would rejoice to aid their minister in complished, the ministers will proceed to the second kis labours of love, and would rouse their several section, and on to the third, fourth, &c., in order, in the congregations to take a more lively, and prayerful, same way. The labourers will work together; they
will cheer one another on; they will aid one another regular worshippers in any place of worship, but of
important benefits will follow to both ministers and
moved. 2. The devotional exercises of ministers in families. 9. The Church will be in her proper position as a These should be short and pertinent, and applicable, Church militant-her combined energy will be felt, as far as possible, to the peculiar circumstances of the and her power acknowledged. family. The reading a portion of the Word of God, Many collateral and consequent advantages if at all convenient, should not be omitted. The might be enumerated as the probable result of this disease and the cure of souls might be briefly set united evangelical movement. These topics we forth in a few judiciously selected passages; and the have not time to discuss, nor to enter on at all. closing prayer should bear impressively on the spiri. One thing is certain, such a movement would furnish tual condition of the family, por should mention of the Church with most valuable statistics for her their temporal well-being be neglected, when the future guidance. If even one single soul were minister speaks to God on behalf of the household. awakened in this or that neighbourhood—if one or The children, if present, should be addressed, and other were brought to Christ in this or that familycatechised with all patience and gentleness. Kind. they would be so many lights shining in dark places, ness to the children never fails to awaken grateful by which the dwellers in darkness might be shown feelings in the heart of the parents. To advance the the way of salvation; but, whatever might be the work,
issue, the ministers of the everlasting gospel would 3. A prayer-meeting should be held in one of the have this consolation, that they were in the way of several districts once a week, over which the mini-commanded duty, and that they did what they could. ster should preside. It is very profitable to have the The Lord direct our minds into the love of God, and presence of the, elders and other office-bearers on into the patient waiting for Christ, and stir us up to these occasions, and to let them take part of the duty so effectually that no one, not even the poorest, work, either in opening or closing the meeting with the most despised, the most abandoned, can say, “No prayer. By being thus brought together, the office. minister ever cared for me or mine—no messenger bearers and the people become acquainted, and the ever came to my door with glad tidings of salvation former are better fitted for duty by taking a share in -no ambassador of Jesus ever warned, or instructed, the exercise. The elders who officiate are exalted in or counselled me; but I have been left to live in ignothe estimation of the people; and settle down in the rance, without God and without hope, as if there were minds of the hearers as men having authority, to no help for me in God.” The Lord give us wisdom in whom deference is due-as men who work, and who all things ! ought to be highly esteemed for their work's sakeas men of gifts and graces, of prayer and piety, A CURIOUS CHAPTER IN THE LIFE OF whose moral and spiritual standing command esteem
PRESIDENT EDWARDS. and reverence.
The district prayer-meetings have this advantage Wao has not heard of the great and the good Jonaabove stated meetings in a place of worship. In the than Edwards, President of New Jersey College, in latter you have always the same audience. They America, and author of so many theological workswho least need instruction are most ready to attend; which will live as long as the English language! And whereas, in the former, you have a new audience who that has become acquainted with his history, each time, and that audience often consists, not of does not reverence the memory of the man, the
minister, and the divine! There is one part of his we see the mischievous smile of Esther Edwards life, however, over which a veil of mystery hangs, (how we do love that name, for her sake and the and of which we have never seen a satisfactory ex sake of the noble Jewish maid that bore it!)–Esther, planation. We refer to his dismission from his church his lovely daughter, so good, and yet so lively and at Northampton. It is generally known that his piquant, when asked “if the room and fire were people quarrelled with him on the question of com- needed ?” To those, however, who may be disposed munion, and that they never rested till they had to smile at all this as needless preciseness, it may be forced him to resign his charge, and sent him adrift proper to state that it may have been assumed by on the wide world. On many accounts, this conduct Edwards for the purpose of bearing more decided may be reckoned to have been as extraordinary as it testimony against the looseness of manners prevailing was inexcusable. He had been long the idol of his in New England at that period. It appears, from flock, and he was regarded by many of them as their several passages in his sermons, that customs obspiritual father. Under his ministry, several re- tained among his members, and among the best markable revivals had taken place, particularly in regulated families in the community, which, he says, the years 1734 and 1740. Harmless and inoffensive persons might be inclined to laugh at hearing conin his manners, and recluse in his habits, he spent demned,” but which (such is the progress of society most of his time in his study, seldom visiting any of in what may be termed the decencies of life) would his people, and provoking no man. He was now in not now bear to be publicly mentioned. The New the very zenith of his popularity, his writings having Englanders appear, moreover, to have been sadly adspread his fame far and wide; he was consulted as an dicted to all sorts of junketings and merry-makings oracle; and so high did he stand in the estimation of things which, of all others, the solemn pastor of Nor. his brethren, that, within a short time after his leav- thampton could never relish at any period of his life, ing Northampton, he was unanimously called to and which, being in advance of his age in point of preside over the College where the New England morality, he could not reconcile with the high stanpastors received their education. Nor was there dard of piety introduced with its revival. anything in his views of communion that would seem, But the moral distance between the flock and their at first sight, calculated to excite prejudice in the pastor was destined to be still more palpably brought minds of his people; the principal point on which he out by an incident which occurred in 1744. In that differed from them being that he held" visible saint- year, having been informed that books of an improper ship” to be the only true term of admission to Chris. character were in circulation among the young peotian ordinances—a doctrine which we might suppose ple in town, his zeal was immediately kindled; he would have been anything but obnoxious to Inde- procured a list of those suspected, and having conpendents, the descendants of the Puritans of Old voked “the brethren of the Church,” without any England. And yet such was the man who was dis warning, he laid before them the startling intelli. missed in the most summary, and, we might say, dis- gence, and proposed a thorough investigation. Taken graceful way, by the almost unanimous vote of bis by surprise, the “ grey fathers” consented; upon people, and whom, after dismissing, they would which, pulling out his list, he read the names of the hardly allow to enter the pulpit again, even when, defaulters, and summoned them, apud acta, as we in the child-like humility of his soul, he offered to Presbyterians would say, to compear before him at sapply it when occasionally vacant! And such is his house, and answer for their conduct. How much the only reason usually assigned for their conduct ! more efficiently might the matter have been managed Let us endeavour, however, to analyze a little more by a judicious session, quietly dealing with the parties closely a denouement so remarkable. Such an exer- in private, and setting before them the sinfulness of cise may be interesting even as an exhibition of their conduct: but to blurt it out before all “ the kuman nature, and it is not without its moral. brethren of the Church !” The whole proceeding,
There can be no doubt, in the first place, that Ed. besides being formally irregular, indicates a much wards, with all his meekness, was a strict, even stern, larger proportion of simplicity and good intention, disciplinarian. His seventy rules for the regulation than of prudence and knowledge of the world. The ef his own daily conduct, are, in some points, strin- consequences were such as might have been exgent to a degree almost amounting to ascetism, for pected. The old people, many of whose children which an apology may be found in the weakness of were implicated, began to feel indignant at being his constitution. But he carried the same rigid taken in; and the young were grievously offended. standard of moral discipline into the management of So long as his rigid morality was confined to the his family. If, for example, they went abroad to pulpit or his own family, it gave no offence, bevisit their friends, they were never permitted to re- cause it excited no alarm; but this proposal of a main after nine o'clock in the evening, nor were they domiciliary purgation enlisted against him at once all allowed to sit up long after that time with any visi. the pride of youth and the force of custom. In his tors. One of his biographers has extolled another praiseworthy anxiety to purify his flock-at that part of his domestic economy: “ If any gentleman time nearly embracing the whole township—of the desired acquaintance with his daughters, after hand accursed leaven, he had thrust his hand, burning somely introducing himself by properly consulting the with zeal, into their very bosoms; and no wonder parents, he was allowed all proper opportunity for it, that, coming into contact with their cool temperat and a room and fire, if needed; but he must not intrude ture, it should have produced a painful and rapid reon the proper hours of rest and sleep, nor the religion vulsion. and order of the family." All very proper, say we; Even this offence, however, might bave been got but, alas, for the romance of courtship! The "gen- over, had it not been followed, as it speedily was, by tleman,” we opine, after passing through the freezing the promulgation of his views on communion. Mr. atmosphere of so many punctilios, must have been Stoddart, the grandfather and predecessor of Edlright glad of “the room and fire!” And yet Ed. wards, had unfortunately held views on this subjecwards had a delightful family. We can alınost fancy 1 directly opposite to those which his colleague and
grandson saw it his duty to adopt. The old man convert that into the subject of their profession which