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Hall went from our shores, and have not been deemed unworthy coadjutors in the cause, for which Martyn, and Swartz, and Vanderkemp toiled, and died. To furnish more such men is the no blest object of the toils and prayers of American christians. .
There is an entire field of thought connected with this subject into which we cannot now enter. We refer to the question whether this object will not take care of itself; whether there is need to aid those who are coming forward, or whether numbers sufficient, would not of themselves, seek a preparation for the holy ministry. We can only advert to the well known facts, 1. That true worth is retiring and modest; and needs to be sought out, and urged onward. 2. That talent and piety are often found in humble life, and encompassed with poverty. 3. That there is an alarming want of ministers in this land, of those who are qualified for their work, and that the increase by 10 means keeps pace with that of our population. 4. That the way to prevent the land from being overrun with preachers of every character and qualification, except the right, is to raise the standard of the ministerial character, to diffuse knowledge, and make the people restless and dissatisfied under an ignorant or a bigoted ministry; to fit men for their office, and to furnish the churches with men of sense and piety and learning. Ministers enough of some order there will be. Every land is furnished with priests of religion ; and the number of such priests is in exact ratio to the ignorance of the people, and the corruption of the form of religion. Infidelity has its priest in every man, who is sworn, by his talent and influence, to propagate the scheme. Paganism has its thousands of altars, and its array of priests to attend on every altar. In France, under the Romish church, four hundred thousand, or one man in every sixty-two of the inhabitants, are ecclesiastics; in Spain, one hundred and eighty thousand, or one in; every sixty-one of the population, are supported by the church; and so, under the same system, it will be in this country, unless protestants betake themselves to their duty, and train up men well qualified for the ministry. Every man knows also, that ignorant and unqualified preachers abound in all christian denominations. The question is not, whether there will be ministers of religion. It is, whether they shall be qualified for their work; whether the protestant churches of this land, will train men for the holy office; or whether the disciples of fanaticism and of ignorance, the high priests of infidelity, and the vast array of secular clergy, and monks, and nuns, under the guidance of the Jesuit, shall take possession of the country, and prey like the locust, on the avails of our toil, and abide in the dwelling places of our wealth and our arts. The christian world has but to take its choice. The
churches have the great question before them. It is, whether this land shall submit to the teachings of ignorance, the ravings of fanaticism, the dogmatisms of infidelity, the guidance and support of numberless hordes of Jesuits; or to the instructions of a pious, educated and sober ministry.
Our land has been blessed hitherto with the toils of holy men. They live in memory, and in the fruits of their deeds.
"We give in charge
We seek that other men may be reared to occupy the place of the illustrious and the pious dead; to spread the triumphs of the gospel through all the vales, and in all the hills of this land, and throughout the world. No more deep-felt and ever-abiding desire dwells in our bosoms, than that revivals of religion may diffuse their rich and peaceful fruits, in all the mansions, and schools, and towns of our republic. We have no more fervent prayer to offer for the land which gave us birth, and which has been rendered sacred by the blood shed by our fathers, and by the prayers which they offered, and by the descent of the Holy Ghost, than that it may be continually blessed with the ministrations of the gospel of peace, producing its appropriate, its immediate effect on the souls of men. In all our visions of the future glory of America, all our conceptions of the magnificence of our power ; the monuments of our arts; the blessings of our liberty; we anticipate as chiefest and brightest in the splendid prospect, the uime when the gospel of peace shall be borne from the lips of every herald of salvation, with the directness and power which have crowned it in the days of our Edwardses, our Tennants, our Dwights, and our Paysons.
Art. IV.-Hints DESIGNED TO AID ChristiANS IN THEIR £r
FORTS TO CONVERT MEN TO GOD.
Hints designed to aid Christians in their efforts to convert men to God.
phia, 1832. PP: 32.
“They appear to love the doctrines of the gospel,” said a young clergyman, in a familiar conversation with his reverend instructor, President Dwight, twenty-five years ago : “ and do they love the duties of it also ?” rejoined the President, with a significancy that has not been forgotten. The belief of certain doctrines, and particularly of those which relate to the sovereignty of God in the dispensation of his grace, and the experience of certain feeling in view of those doctrines, had then perhaps, among the orthodox in New England, a disproportionate place in the standard of repur ted piety. The importance of a sound creed and of spiritual es perience, it is hoped, is cot less extensively felt now than it wa then; but the necessity of an entire practical devotedness to God is beginning, we trust, to be more deeply impressed on the mind: of christians. He who would be reckoned the servant a God, must do him service, and in the doing of it, chiefly, mus find his evidence of acceptance. His submission must be proved, not merely by pleasurable emotions in view of the sovereignty of God, but also by a consent of the will to his law; and christian love is better distinguished by a cheersul constancy of obedience amidst the trials of life, than by complacential feelings alone, in the favored moments of religious impression. Siill, we have continually new occasion for the complaint that our standard of practical religion is defective. As the field of benevolent enterprise is opening, our past and present remissness becomes the more apparent. Much remains to be done for the conversion both of “ those who are far off, and of those who are nigh,” which the majority of professing christians seem as yet scarcely to feel their obligations seriously to attempt. Their negligence as to direct efforts for the conversion of sinners around thein, is the more wonderful, as this is an office to which the “first love" of the renewed mind most naturally and powerfully inclines it. Few there are, who on finding peace with God, do not ardently engage in it; and yet so heartless and discouraged, and fettered by the customs of the world, do the great body of christian professors soon become, that scarcely any other duty, which is equally obvious, is so generally neglected. While much is done to evangelize the heathen; to send the gospel to the destitute on our borders, to reform our prisons, to dry up the sources of intemperance, to pour the light of trut'i upon the minds of the young, and to carry the machinery of religion into erery department of life; there are thousands every where connected with the members of our churches, on whom the means of salvation are lost, because there are none to carry home to their bosoms just that kind of direct influence for their conversion to God, which is daily exerted in gaining them over to all the secular purposes of life. In seasons of revivals, indeed, the duty in question is not entirely neglected; yet even then, too many in the churches seem to imagine, that to pray for the conversion of sinners, and to persuade them to be present when the gospel is preached, satisfies their obligations; while in ordinary seasons, many--very many, even of those who meet with the church every sabbath in the sanctuary,
might conclude, so far as any direct expression of concern for them individually is to be regarded, “that no man careth for their souls.”
We are happy to know, however, that in some of our churches, another spirit is beginning to be manisest; and our carnest desire is that in this day of gracious visitation, it may be extended and strengthened, until the love of Christ and the love of souls, shall be the grand controling principle in our churches ;--blending all their hearts, and intercourse, and lives, in the work of redeeming mercy. But zeal alone is not sufficient. The purest aims need direction ; aud both to encourage and direct exertions, in regard to this duty, was the design of the manual whose title we have placed at the head of ibis article. It consists, as the title imports, of " bints!;" Fet are these hints so obviously founded on the great principles of the gospel and methods of divine grace in the conversion of sinders, as immediately to commend themselves to the experienced miod, while they are so comprehensive as to embody no unimportant measure of practical instruction. To us they appear excellent, and better suited than any thing of the kind that we have seen, to make the church that should follow them, in the exercise of its various gifts, what Paul so fervently desired the church at Ephesus to be; and what he said it was the design of God, in the work of the ministry, to make the whole church, “a body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, to the increase of itself in love."
The volume appears to have been prepared jointly by Dr. Skinner, of Philadelphia, and President Beecher, of Illinois College; and on an occasion which rendered it especially important; of which they have given the following notice in the advertisement.
On January 31st of this year, a large number of christians, members chiefly of the Fifth Presbyterian church ot' Philadelphia, entered into a covenant, in the presence of a vast assembly, to make direct, vigorous, and persevering efforts for the immediate conversion of sinners. It was a transaction of the deepest solenralls, and will be followed by the most serious results. May those who were concerned in it, never forget the obligations thus assumed, nor be found unfaithful in discharging them. Tb assist these christians in performing the work which they on that night bound themselves by covenant with God and one another to undertake, was the motive which led to the preparation of this little manual.
The directions are arranged under the following heads ;—The Luty, and its importance ;-Preparation ;—Things to be done ; Cautions ;--Manner of performing the duty ;--Concluding remarks In the progress of the work, concise doctrinal statements are oc
asionally introduced on some of those subjects which have a leading influence, in directing the conduct of christians in a revival, and concerning which they have frequent occasion to converse with others. These were indispensable; for if christians act under a false theory, their directions will be erroneous, and instead of promoting a revival, will impede it; will discourage some, and establish, in false hopes, the confidence of others; will perplex with doubt, or embitter with prejudice ; will confirm in slothful inaction, or encourage to fruitless endeavors. Whatever may be said of theories in religion, every intelligent christian, not to say every thinking man, will have his theory on those great subjects which engage the attention of men in a revival, such as the nature of sin, of the change in regeneration, and of dependence on the Holy Spirit; the ground of the singer's obligation to repent ; his ability, as a moral agent, to do whatever belongs to the change; the character of his exercises under conviction ; the feelings of God towards him ; and the consistency of the statements, which are made on one part, with those which are made on other parts of these subjects. Why, indeed, should any one hesitate on this point? A theory is not of course a mere conjecture, nor an hypothesis, nor a philosophical speculation ;-but a general proposition established, or claiming to be established, by its proper evidence-a principle, or a system of principles, founded on facts. True theories are the foundation of science-the basis of a great part of our reasoning, and the most important part of our knowledge : and they certainly are not less important in the knowledge of God and his kingdom, than on subjects pertaining only to the present life. On such subjects as those to which we have just referred, the views entertained, whether true or false, cannot terminate in speculation. They join their character to the feelings, the communications, and the measures of those who adopt them. Let an observing man compare the hints in this volume with any other system of directions on the same subject, prepared under the influence of a different theory, even although the difference be unessential to the christian faith, as for example, Stoddard's Guide to Christ, and he will read on almost every page, the theory of the writer. Or let him sit down with two sensible christians, whose views thus differ, and listen to their conversation with a circle of serious enquirers on the concerns of salvation, and while he will perceive a general resemblance, he will also mark a spe.cific difference, corresponding to their respective theories. Our wisdom then is, not to proscribe all theory, but to look well to the foundations of our own; for if true, its importance is great and extensive as are the subjects comprehended within its scope ; and if false, its injurious tendency is proportionably great.