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He assigns to his servants the posts at which they are to labor.—When He sent out His disciples, He did not permit them to go where they pleased ; He told them where to go, and where not to go. 6 Go not into the
way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But
go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Peter was sent to Cesarea to preach. When the Jews would not at first receive the Gospel when Paul preached it to them at Corinth, he said he would now turn to the Gentiles; but the Lord told him in a vision at night, that he should not; and, in obedience to the vision, he remained yet a year and six months at Corinth. When the elders of Miletus and Ephesus besought him with tears to remain with them, he declined; for he was “bound in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem.” No one can read the history of the ministry of the apostles, without feeling and seeing clearly, that they did not pass from one place to another at random, or according to their own caprice, but that a higher hand directed them to their fields of labor.
It is so still. Christ shows His ministers where to labor—to what part of His vineyard they are adapted, and in what field they may be most useful. Having a call from God to go to a certain place is not an idle cant phrase. It would indeed be strange, if God took care of sparrows, and suffered not a hair to fall from our heads without His will, and yet did not direct in the settling of a minister at his post, when such great, such eternal consequences, depend upon it. Does God take care of sparrows, and yet not concern Himself in directing His ministers to such fields of labor as are suited to their capacities and gifts? Who can believe it? Surely the interests of a congregation of immortal souls are of more value than many sparrows. Surely the Master shows his servant where He desires him to labor.
Christ tells his servants what to preach.—They must receive the word from His mouth. They must preface all their teachings with, “Thus saith the Lord!" If even an angel from heaven should preach another Gospel, he is accursed. No one dare add to it, or take from it. If he adds to it, God will add to him the plagues that are written in it. If he takes from it, God will take from him his part out of the book of life. He must in no way soften down its strictness, or make its awful threatenings less terrible. He dare not pervert it to suit itching ears. He may not prophesy smooth things, and cry peace, peace, when God hath not spoken peace. He must in no way accommodate it to the tastes and wishes of
The word is not his, but the Master's who sent him. In preaching this word he must be the faithful servant of Him for whom he acts.
Christ alone blesses his labors and makes them effectual.—What can man do to dispose the wills of men to the truth? What can man do to work faith in those who hear? What can man do to change the carnal mind and make it spiritual? This is all beyond his power. He can sow the good seed, but he cannot create the soil, and make it fruitful, so that it shall produce fruit to God's glory. It must be mixed with faith in them that hear; but this faith cannot be produced by the minister; it is the gift of God. Without this faith the “word profiteth nothing." The inefficiency of all that the minister, of himself, can do is strongly asserted in that oft-quoted passage: "Who, then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave the increase.” This shows
that ministers have nothing of their own-they are not Masters, or sources, but only servants for Christ.
As we have now seen: Christ calls His ministers to their office-He prepares them for their work—He invests them with authority to act in His name—He assigns them their proper field of labor-He gives effect and increase to their ministry. Here then they stand-nothing in themselves, or of themselves, but all things in Christ. What humility, what faithfulness, what child-like dependence on Christ does this office require! Highly responsible is the work, and glorious its eternal reward.
THE LITTLE CHILD'S PRAYER AGAIN.
As the readers of the GUARDIAN will remember, we for some years have been collecting and publishing all we could find in illustration of the little prayer beginning,
“Now I lay me down to sleep.” Rev. M. Sheeleigh, of Stewartsville, N. J., to whom we have before been indebted for similar favors, kindly sends us the following incidents. The second incident is from an unknown writer in the Lutheran Observer. In transmitting them to us, Mr. Sheeleigh says:
“The following paragraph has just fallen under my eye on turning over a file of old papers.
It possesses a double interest, as its subject became a pious and useful minister, and composed many hymns, numbers of which are found in the hymn books of all churches. Such as these are widely and familiarly known:
“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds;"
Mr. Newton was born in England in 1725, and died in 1807. He lost his mother when he was seven years old, and his conversion to God took place in early manhood."
THE POWER OF EARLY IMPRESSIONS. John Newton-a name known to all the friends of religion, both for the remarkable features of his religious history, and for the usefulness of his religious life-broke away in his youth from the restraints of a religious education, and became profligate, addicted to every vice, connected himself as a mariner with a vessel engaged in the slave-trading--and will you look in a mind so deeply debased for any remaining traces of a pious education, and of a mother's prayers? Behold him wandering upon the sands of Africa, so debased and wretched in character as to be despised and cast out by the negro savages. And can the memory of a mother's influence reach him here? He lies down upon the sands for his repose for the night—his thoughts stray back to the scenes of childhood-he finds himself repeating the little prayer, conned in the nursery:
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
pray the Lord my soul to take.” The influence of other days rushes back over his mind with overpower. ing impressions. By the grace of God his soul is renewed; and the sequel you know. It may seem a small matter to you now, ye mothers, that your children are fixing upon their minds the impression of these simple forms of religious thought. But if you are binding upon the hearts of these children the cords by which, after wandering so far, they are to be brought back to hope and heaven, ye are doing a great work.
“NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP.” " Mrs. Ross,
r.go home with me and stay to-night?” said little Alice Bell to the minister's wife, who was visiting, with her husband and children, among the members of his congregation.
The family, of which Alice was the youngest, made no profession of religion. Mr. Bell was a good man in his way, that is, he was honest and kind, but he had never become a child of God.
Luther went home with Alice, and a pleasant romp they had. At last the children's bed-time came. Now, Luther had been taught to kneel down by his papa's knee and to repeat his prayer before going to bed. So the artless child, in the absence of his parents, walked confidently up to Mr. Bell and knelt down, folded his little hands, and, in a clear voice repeated
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
pray the Lord my soul to take,
So quietly did the child act, that the old man was scarcely aware of his intention until saying " Amen." He arose, and going to each he kissed them good-night.
Little Alice stood in childish astonishment, wondering what the strange proceeding meant.
When the children were fast asleep, the family sat in quietness. Each seemed to be pursuing an absorbing train of thought. At last Mrs. Bell broke the silence, as a tear sparkled on her cheek, saying, “What a sweet child !”
Mr. Bell took no part in the conversation thus started, but leaving the family circle, retired to his bed room.
He passed a restless night, and to the oft-repeated question of his wife, "If he was ill ?” he only replied "No."
Morning came, and while breakfast was being prepared the cheerful “good-morning.” of the children, and their playfulness, seemed to drive away the singular gloom of kind Mr. Bell. The chairs were placed, and they sat down to breakfast.
Luther, wondering why they did not have worship, looked from one to another as they began to eat without the “grace" they always had at home. Thinking, no doubt, that they had forgotten, he turned his eyes to Mr. Bell and said, almost in a whisper, “We didn't pray.” It was too much. The old man left the table. Going to his room, he fell
upon and wept and prayed.
Mr. Bell and most of his family now stand at the Lord's table with their neighbors, showing how God “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hath perfected praise.” Luther did what many sermons and exhortations had failed to do; and now he and Alice may both repeat their little prayers by Mr. Bell's knee, while with his hands upon their heads he smiles and echoes heartily the amen; and the family altar is erected and loved.
"Feed my lambs,” said Christ; and it may be that the tender lamb may lead the straying sheep into the fold.
OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL.
BY THE EDITOR.
The individual and the official, either in Church or State, though comprehended in the same person, cannot be made wholly identical, neither can they be entirely separated from each other. An office-bearer, whether in Church or State, cannot act wholly as if he were a mere individual, nor wholly as if he were only an official. It is a mistake for a pastor to act as if he had no office; but it is just as great a mistake for him to act as if he had only an office, and had ceased to be an individual among his fellow
A minister who always acts with only his official character in view, isolates himself too much from his fellows, and becomes stiff, formal, if not imperious and tyrannical. Instead of being truly a head of a social body, infusing his spirit into all around him and under his care, he is really a mere power, holding itself outside of and aloof from the sphere which he is to animate by his whole life.
Of the mere official the Pharisees may be taken as the type. Those of them who stood in office seem never to have practically remembered that they were also men. They practically acknowledged no relation to the people except an official relation. Hence, their life flowed not in sympathy with the mass to whom they ministered. Instead of a ministry, which though over the people was still the organ to the people, and of the people, they were a mere caste, whose official acts were only a power, but not a life. They were men who stood aloof from the people in the cold dignity of their office. They were afraid of the contamination of the multitude, and regarded those who knew not the law in all the subtle technicalities in which learnedly involved it, as hopelessly accursed! and thus refused to sympathize with the very classes of men, whom they were commissioned to elevate and save.
Of the true pastor, who in the office does not leave out of view the man, Christ is the beautiful type. He never suffered his high office to be out of His mind, nor did it fail to appear in all His acts; but it did not appear as mere office; it was always humanized, and adjusted with true and proper sympathy to the state and condition of those to whom He ministered. He sunk, merged, diffused his office with his daily life. He entered our nature truly—entered into flesh and blood-became one among men-mingled His life with the lives of men. He made His life to be felt, not merely in synagogue and temple, but in hearts and homes, on highways and among fishermen, among the sick and sorrowing, among the devout and the sinful. He touched the people at all points with His hands and His heart. His presence every where was holiness, and strength, and consolation.
Hence, when we review His life and ministry, we scarcely know which, whether His office or His individual life, makes the strongest impression on us. Both seem completely and symmetrically mingled into one blessed whole. In His official acts He is never cold, formal, or imperious; in His individual acts He is never without a sense of dignity and authority. The solemnity of the office, and the sympathy and tenderness of the man always appear in due proportion.
When the pastor fails to cultivate the social, he is sure to become officially imperious. Not mingling with the people, he loses that sympathy which alone enables him, like his Master, to be touched with a feeling of all their infirmities and needs. Acting only officially, he will treat all alike, without that adaptation for which the Gospel so sweetly provides in its varied resources, and of which he is the bearer to needy man. The varied needs of the people with which his familiar sympathetic intercourse with them keeps him always deeply acquainted, is the element in which all his official functions must be humanized-in which, through his official acts, heaven becomes earth, that earth may become heaven - the divine human, that the human may become partaker of the divine. Thus, his official acts will not be stiff, starched, isolated, imperial, but truly human while they remain no less divine.
The idea we have sought to present is forcibly illustrated in civil official life by an incident and a remark of the late President, whose words were always full of point, and often profoundly wise. Among the crowd of plain and humble people, who constantly sought access to the Presidentoften on most trivial matters, as viewed from the standpoint of his high office, but of deep and earnest interest to them in their humble state, was an old lady, who called on him to get an order to stop the
of Treasury Clerk who owed her a board bill of $70, so that she might get her pay.
As his custom, he listened to such cases with patience and true sympathy. After showing her in the most careful manner, that he could not possibly engage in collecting small debts, and advising her to appeal to the regular courts, he politely dismissed her. When she was