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ON WANT OF SUCCESS IN THE MINISTRY. To the Editor of the Christian still the minister of Christ, “ who Guardian.
would have all men come to the MR. EDITOR,
knowledge of the truth, and be “ Want of success in the mi- saved ;" who is desirous that, as nistry,” has been a frequent source the people of his charge hear of of lamentation by ministers, and Christ Jesus, they may so walk in doubtless by some good and simple- him,“ adorning the doctrine of God hearted men, disinterestedly an- their Saviour in all things ;” and, xious for the welfare of souls. The especially, that those who profess complaint, and the subject, dis- to believe in him may be “exçussed, as it has at times been, in amples to the flock in conversation, different religious publications, has in faith, in charity, in patience," occasionally occupied my thoughts. such a minister will still have cause Its being brought forward in your for lamentation that all is not as his number for January, and recently in heart desires with many. a sister publication of great excel- But the chief ground of the comlence and respectability, has led me plaint alluded to, appears to be, to think upon it again; and especial- that little or no success attends the ly, from some late observations and ministerial efforts of some labourers conversations with a few friends. By in the word and doctrine. Excelyour permission, and if deemed suf- lent, much to the purpose, and imficiently deserving and important, I portant, as have been the remarks would present, through the medium made at different times on the subof your esteemed miscellany, a few ject, in both the Christian Guardian hints to my clerical brethren who and the Christian Observer, and peruse its highly interesting and deeply as they deserve every one's useful numbers.
serious consideration, there are yet I am willing to admit, that, in two points not sufficiently adverted many cases, the ground of complaint to, in which the subject has at is real; there may be peculiar dis- times struck me, and on which I pensations of Providence towards would now offer a few words. the people; they may previously Permit me first, however, to prehave turned a deaf ear to the mise, that it does not always argue Gospel, and the Lord may see fit real success, i. e. soul-conviction to visit their sin upon them. But and soul-prosperity, when hearers there are instances, in which the crowd upon us; for complaint may be considered ima- by novelty, if they have not had the ginary, and regarded as the disap- Gospel before, or in that particular pointment of a too sanguine mind, way it is now presented to them; at the result of efforts conceived nor when they expatiate upon the in its own wisdom and carried on excellence of our sermons, and in its own strength ; or, at the seem ready to “pluck out their defeat of expectations entertained own eyes and give them unto us :" without a'due consideration of the for many will say as others do, character of the complainant, of will “ anon receive the word with human nature at large, and his flock joy,” and to-morrow “fall away,” in particular; who may by local or will attempt to serve themselves habits, associations, connexions, by us, and make religion a stepand previous instructions, be ping-stone to some place or condeeply rooted in different senti- nexion, or the attainment of some ments. Certainly, where the suc- selfish object. Nor does it absolutecess desired is most abundant, ly demonstrate real success, when
many are drawn * It is not my intention, by any part of inducements to both, sufficient to this remark, to discourage agents of any command all the stores of wisdom kind in the good cause of Bible or Missionary Societies. Where true religion enters the * I do not lose sight of the lamentable heart, such services for Christ and his king- cause of all this, which is the low views dom cannot but follow in one way or other; such a preacher has of the person and work but then, they will be engaged in, and ren- of Christ, of bis religion, and of the headered from proper motives, that will, in the venly state : but to enter into an illustraend, redound to the glory of God, and the tion of this, would lead to too extended a honour of the instrument.
our hearers commence teachers, or can stay his hand, or say missionary, or Bible subscription unto him, What doest thou ? and collectors * ; for many like to appear whose agency and blessing can great in, or get at the head of, a alone ensure success. party, and will do these things to But God works by means, and be thought some great ones, or lead in the gathering of souls employs others after them. Nor, on the other human instruments; and it therehand, does it argue want of success, fore behoves them to look well to in reality, as it respects conversion their goings. A great deal has of the soul to the knowledge, and been said to point out the error and fear, and love of God, and their absurdity of shooting over the heads edification by our ministry, if we do of hearers in general, of dealing in not see our hearers follow us in ad- high language and lofty sentiments; miration, since some are too intent but in arguing for “great plainness upon walking humbly with their of speech,” some good men have God, or adoring the beauties and gone so far as to strip the Gospel excellencies of the Saviour, to idol- message and testimony of all its ize his servant; nor if we do not beauty, elevation, and attractivehear them puff our efforts, or extol ness, and by a mistaken notion of our compositions, since many are the Apostle's expression, and a not so quick-sighted to perceive our morbid indifference to the elegant weak side, nor so disingenuous as simplicity, dignified terseness, atto take advantage of it. Nor yet if tractive similitudes, sublime treawe do not find them engage at once sures of wisdom and knowledge, in all the plans we propose; many and unsearchable riches of Christ, have not the means we imagine, or they have used such “ plainness," have crosses and checks, calls and that instead of being called to surclaims we do not discover ; or are
the Saviour in all his beauty naturally too diffident to show them- and loveliness, his suitableness, selves openly, or may be supporting majesty, and grace, there has, and assisting us, and the cause of indeed, appeared to their hearers God, in a secret though effectual no form nor comeliness in way.
Christ, that they “ should desire But, in whatever success, or the bim ;” nor any pleasantness” in want of it, may be supposed to con- his religion, that they should be sist, the one as well as the other engaged by it; and scarcely any may certainly be resolvable into elevation or glory in the sublime obvious causes. Some of these prospects it calls upon us to have been well defined, on the one contemplate, that the affections side, and affectingly exposed on of men should be excited towards the other, in the articles before al- them *. luded to; and God forbid, that I A minister's main concern while should for a moment lose sight of preaching Christ, I admit, and it the great Cause, “who giveth and must be admitted by others, will withholdeth, ,” “ who openeth and be to inculcate repentance and no man shutteth," and shutteth and faith, Acts, xx. 21; but there are
discussion of the subject,
and knowledge with which he is solation;" now “with all authority," acquainted, or can bring into ser- and now “ with all the meekness vice; and, whilst labouring at this, and gentleness of Christ;” bringinstantly, “ in season and out of ing forth out of our treasury, and season,” and using“ great plainness from the inexhaustible storehouse of speech” too, he need not be of the Scriptures, “ things new and other than “ a sweet savour of old," and the old in a new manner? Christ;" constraining men to de- Look at the teaching and preaching part, not chilled or disgusted, of the Apostles, and especially to through want of illustration, po- that of St. Paul, in each of these verty of matter, or badness of taste, connexions. Witness him declaring but exclaiming of the “chiefest “the unknown God, at Athens, among ten thousand,” “How great with wisdom and prudence, learnis his goodness, and how great is ing, instruction, and good fidelity; his beauty!” of his religion, “ As witness his conduct before Agripfor me and my house, we will serve pa, displaying firmness, ability, arthe Lord;” and in regard to the gument, and affectionate appeal. bliss of heaven, “When shall I There is “ great plainness of come to appear before God?” “Oh speech;” but what engaging beauty that I had wings like a dove, for, and persuasive pathos also shines then would I flee away and be at through each instance, illustrative, rest." We are to be “ wise in doubtless, of that procedure and winning souls;" we are to dispense the consequent effects, to which he
lively word,” the “ saving alludes when writing to the Corinhealth of God's grace.” Should we thians, 2d Epistle, xii. 16. We. then avoid those arguments, and are certainly responsible for our reject that illustration, language, talents and attainments, gifts and and manner, so far as we can com- endowments, opportunities and mand or cultivate either, which is means in all these respects; and if obviously implied in the term we aim not to improve them for the “ winning ?” Some children are glory of God and the good of souls, best won by a flower, and some by how can we expect a reward ? a peach; in either case, who would Another cause, that I have often strip off a leaf, despoil the one thought upon, as occasioning the of its colour, or the other of its want of success complained of, in bloom? Should we not, as if we some, is the affecting, or rather were desirous to gain the object, aping the manner of other men. If rather add to the garnish of each, these read not formal, unadorned if possible ? Should we ministers, compositions, always measured as then, in a dull heavy style, and by it were by the line and the rule, and a cold repulsive sameness, make wrought by an invariable formality our hearers as indifferent as we ap- of method and style, whatever be the pear to them to be? Should we subject, the theme, or the occasion, deal out only the soporific draught, in a dull and apparently uninteresttill a lethargic habit is induced into ing manner; or tell their tale with the whole mass, and it becomes many repetitions, and in as gloomy neither " cold nor hot?” Rather, monotonous a mode as though they should we not“ seek out and set in were imitating the last dying moans order suitable proverbs,” like the of a drone, and thereby repel wise preacher in Israel, “and their hearers; they are studying to search to find out acceptable read, or pronounce, or speak like words?” Should we not “ beseech, some one who has adopted a singuentreat, exhort:” now as “ sons of lar manner, either from his own pethunder,” now as ministers of con- culiar turn of character and thought,
to assist his enunciation, or give mental one, on the objects of our effect to his tones; and though all ministry. A minister's great aim, this may sit well on him, it appears in order to produce effect, should ridiculous and absurd in them, and be to arrest attention, to be heard renders them contemptible to all, distinctly, and to adopt that clear except those whose partiality or pronunciation, without descending affection renders them blind to such to local barbarisms, in which people folly, and to the growth of bad are accustomed to hear one another; habits thus acquired. I have re- not as classical scholars in dead marked some of these creatures of languages, but as rational creatures, imitation : now rapid, now slow, conversing in a language that is innow dropping their voice in a gen- telligible to all. teel cadence till half a dozen words But I will not unnecessarily exare lost, and now giving a strange pand this paper. For every purpedantic accent unknown among pose, I would have a minister contheir flock; till, disappointed and sider his object; and praying conperplexed in different ways, or settinually for divine guidance and on thinking in a wrong train, they success in it, I would have him get begin to fall off*.
absorbed in that object; and let his How injurious any thing is that hearers see that he forgets himself, tends to make a man appear not or rather, forgets his model and is himself, might be made evident by himself, in his grand and glorious noticing the mode of memoriter occupation. Let him, “in simplipreaching which some adopt; but city and godly sincerity,” stand as this method is mostly practised forth as an ambassador for Christ; among the dissenters (many of let him address dead souls,
prowhom are thus thought by their less claim reconciliation, and propound intelligentand undiscerning hearers, its terms with earnestness, fervour, to preach all from the heart, while and amplitude, with suitable matter, they are only delivering, like a argument, and energy. The work school-boy, a got up task, and oft- of the ministry; the occasion and times out of another's book), I omit opportunities of employing it; the the more particular notice of it; magnitude, importance, interest, only observing, that with all the and consequences of it; all require advantages it gives for action and that he should so declare the counaddress,
emphasis and tone, I have sel of Heaven. God and men, seen it fail of the expected effects, angels and evil spirits, are interestboth among church ministers and ed in his efforts ; heaven, hell, and dissenters : the man has not ap- eternity, are involved in the result. peared himself, or, as it is said, If he views the discharge of his not at home.
office in such lights and relations, Sir, these observations may ap- if he weighs it in such balances, he pear trifling to some persons, but I will feel it seize his whole soul am persuaded the things noticed whenever he engages in it, and have great effect, and a very detri- command the occupation and em
ployment of all his powers; and * Thus, for instance, in a certain district, he will not have occasion to follow where peculiar circumstances afford the clergy a privilege of their hearing each other others, but as they follow Christ; frequently, which might naturally be sup
and if his “ heart's desire and posed to induce improvement in manner, I prayer to God is,” that his word am told, several of them have, from one, may be glorified, and precious souls caught the mode of pronouncing God like saved, while he will gladly spend Gode, and of dropping the letter r in syl- and be spent, as himself, for such lables; and other such singular and novel fancies, till some of their words can scarcely ends, the considerations just enube apprehended by the most attentive hearers. merated will inspire what will tend to success. It will not then matter sanctification and redemption," our whether he read his sermon, or « all and in all.” But, should he preach from well-digested thoughts not see all the good effects that he extempore, or memoriter ; all will longs for, whilst he“ possesses his be life, and animation, and warmth: soul in patience,” he will have cause and with the blessing of God it will for consolation, in the assurance tell, and especially if Christ be set that “in singleness of heart, ás unforth clearly and fully (though not to the Lord,he has aimed to diswith the mysticism you had just charge his office, and “ give full cause to complain of in a former proof of his ministry” among men. communication on the subject), as
SOPHRON. our “wisdom and righteousness,
BENEFICIAL EFFECT OF SUNDAY SCHOOLS *.
FROM THE NEW YORK CHRISTIAN HERALD. « THE first serious impressions it was nearly two months before he on my mind, were occasioned by a heard me use any profane language. reproof from my little sont, for pro- I then broke out as usual, and utfaneness. I sent him to the Sun- tered some profane expressions. I day school, not because it was a saw him, but it was too late. He religious institution, but because it said nothing, but his mind seemed was a source of instruction to him. to labour. This was a little past When he returned I questioned twelve o'clock.-Early in the evenhim, and answered his questions, ing, I asked John if it was not time as I did not attend public worship. for him to go to bed? He did not In the course of the conversation, go. At length I told him to come I told him that such as were guilty to me and be undressed. He came, of wickedness would go to hell; and soon began to weep. I asked among other vices that subjected him the reason, and bade him tell persons to punishment, I mentioned
• Father,' he replied, you profaneness. About an hour after said that folks who swore must go wards I observed that something to hell, and I do not want you to seemed to dwell on his mind. He go there.' Judge then of
feelsaid, ' Father, did you not say that ings. It was enough to make the folks who swore must go to hell ?' stones cry out. Still I was that *Yes,' was my answer. He replied, hardened wretch (although at the
Father, I have heard you swear.' time I was obliged to retire, and This troubled me much, and I re- give vent to my feelings), that I selved that he never should hear tried to drive every thing like conme swear again. I however had viction far from me; and when the no idea of renouncing the practice Spirit of God was striving with me, except in his presence; and so I actually called in the aid of spiclosely did I guard my tongue, that rituous liquor to calm my troubled
mind. But I have now some rea* Extract of a letter from one brother to son to hope that God, according to another, both residing in the Western Dis
the riches of his grace, has had trict of the state of New York, in answer to a request that he would communicate the mercy on my soul.
My constant occasion of his first serious impressions. prayer is, that I may be faithful of About seven years of age.