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as the

is passing in relation to the ministry. Time was when nearly all intellectual stimulus society enjoyed came from the pulpit. It was the fountain of all wisdom, and the minister the central figure in society. But now rivals have sprung up to catch the public ear and divide the public attention, and both the lecture and the press are brought into constant comparison with the pulpit. They have many advantages : in time, in variety of topics, in facility of adaptation. They are often superficial and unscrupulous, but they are always active and enterprising; pushing themselves in every direction, and keeping themselves before the public eye. They have, indeed, so completely changed the relative position of the pulpit, that there are not wanting croakers to cry that the day of the pulpit is past, little dreaming that this change, rightly interpreted, is as truly an emancipation of the ministry, and a preparation for intensified power, relief of the apostles from the distribution for the poor was a benefit to their ministry.

The pulpit finds rivals in its own sphere also. The Sabbathschool is gradually but powerfully modifying the work of the ministry. The adoption of uniform lessons, with their elucidation by our strongest minds, is already leading to changes in the topics selected for preaching, as well as in the manner of their treatment; and the end of these modifications is not yet.

Besides, there is the practice, now so common, of publishing the sermons of eminent preachers in weekly issues; by which the pastor, in an obscure village, finds himself every Sabbath brought into comparison with Spurgeon, Beecher, and Talmage, and the best preachers of all denominations; thus making a demand upon him vastly greater than has been made on any previous generation.

Oh, if Paul were here to-day, he who said to Timothy, a man of unusual consecration, and a sickly man, too, "Stir up the gift that is in thee.” “Meditate on these things, give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear unto all;" would he not say to us, “Rouse yourselves to the work of the hour; let neither the press nor the platform surpass you in intellectual vigor or in practical activity."

There is no intellectual stimulus like prayer. We can remember to have been thrown for an hour into the society of some vigorous thinker, and we have found ourselves quickened for weeks by his thoughts; or we have been temporarily associated with some ardent worker, and his activity has proved contagious. But where is there a thinker like our God, one who thinks so quickly, so purely, so unerringly? To dwell with him in earnest, living prayer, will rouse the energies of the soul supremely, and stimulate every intellectual faculty to its utmost tension. The man that abides with God cannot be dull; prayer will kill dulness, or dulness will kill prayer; as is often seen in the vigor with which men, ordinarily dull, will preach when their piety is kindled with the revival spirit. But intellectual activity needs regulation also. Many who feel most keenly the necessity for meeting all the demands of this fastidious age, give themselves with unremitting diligence to every study which can enlarge the mind, and qualify them for their work. But in so doing they often place that first which should be second, and allow the storing of the mind and the preparation of the pulpit to encroach on the time and strength which belong of right to the closet.

Says Dr. Doddridge (and I quote him with peculiar pleasure, as he was never suspected of undervaluing study, but his intellectual activity was the marvel of his contemporaries) :

Let it be your constant concern that study may not interfere with devotion, nor engross that valuable time which should be consecrated to the immediate service of your God. God is the Father of our spirits, and it is upon this sacred influence that they depend for an improvement in knowledge as well as in holiness. Now if we are abandoned by him, our genius will flag, and all our thoughts become languid and confused; and it will be in vain that we seek the assistance of books; for when he ceases to act by them, the most sprightly writers will appear dull, the most perspicuous obscure, and the most judicious trifling; whereas, if we entertain a continual regard to him in the constant exercise of lively devotion, we shall engage his assistance and blessing in our studies, and then our success will quickly appear to ourselves and brothers; the most difficult task will be easy, and we shall despatch more in an hour than we could otherwise have done in a day.

But what is still more desirable, when we are conversing with God we are preparing for that world of light where our capacity will be most gloriously improved; where we shall be surrounded by the wisest and best society, who will be opening daily new scenes of knowledge, and where God will reveal fresh objects by a more direct influence upon our spirits than any which we have hitherto known in our brightest or serenest moments. Let us be diligent and zealous in the service of our God, and we shall be excellent scholars a thousand years hence. . . Let us remember that by every hour which we unduly take from God to give to our books, we forfeit some degree of future happiness which might have been the reward of that hour, had we spent it aright.

But prayer affects the pastor and promotes his efficiency,

(2) Spiritually, by purifying his motives and methods, and revealing God in his Word and works.

(a) Purifying his motives and methods. It is a beautiful sight when a young man consecrates to the work of the ministry the dew of his youth, and enters with unselfish love upon what is truly the holiest of all employments. But actual experience in it soon reveals to him that a thousand influences are at work to dim the lustre of his consecration and defile the purity of his motives. I need not mention the grosser forms of temptation, nor the snares of idleness or pecuniary speculation, but only those evils which attack the heart, and eat silently into the soul as doth a canker. There is danger of professional formality. Dealing with the most tremendous truths, which at every presentation affect the soul of speaker and hearers for ever, in a sense holding in our hands the eternal destiny of those to whom we minister, there is danger that our very familiarity with these subjects may blunt our sensibilities and harden our hearts; and that we may learn to call to duties in which we are ourselves remiss, exhibit to others privileges we do not enjoy, and point to attainments after which we do not strive.

Professional jealousy. There is danger that there should crawl into the soul that canker-worm of unfavorable comparison among the pastors in the same city, association, or state; and we should forget that what we address to others is specially obligatory upon ourselves. “Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves." There is danger too of

Professional ambition. Of using the wonderful elements of power in the ministry to serve personal ends—the acquirement of reputation or salary or eminent position ; forgetful of that terrible impeachment wherein Paul contrasted the spirit of some ministers in his day with that of his faithful and beloved Timothy, “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state; for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.” (Philippians ii. 20, 21.)

To yield to these seductions a place in our hearts, and an influence over our lives, will dim the lustre of our consecration, and eat out the very life of godliness, for the Spirit of God will be grieved. As our motives must be pure, so also must our methods.

The influence of modern society may easily become corrupting to methods of pastoral labor, chiefly in making them hasty and superficial. Says the author of “Ecce Homo," in reference to England and English society:

Not only in the church, but among the teaching class at the universities and schools, as idleness was the besetting sin of the last age, industry is the besetting sin of the present; or, more correctly, the idleness has been succeeded by a merely external and superficial industry. In all the professions a man's first duty now is to renounce the ambition of becoming distinguished for activity; the temptation chiefly to be avoided is that of undertaking more work than he can do in first-rate style. The quality of work must be improved; and for that end, if necessary, the quantity reduced. A higher and calmer sort of activity must be arrived at-economy in energy, expenditure without waste, zeal without haste. The moral teachers of the community should set the example of an industry thus tempered, of a proper distribution of life between solitude and society, between contemplation and action. They are the last persons in the world who should allow the work to be spoiled by the unreasonable expectations of others. How can they direct the actions of others, if they have not independence enough to direct their own?'

If language like this can apply to the comparatively quiet and deliberate life of England, what shall we say of the feverish excitement of American society; and of the West, where that excitement is intensified ? The pastor finds himself constrained not only to make things move, but to make a show of moving them, and influences are constantly at work to drag him into superficial and worldly methods of labor. Official members call for them; denominational standing seems to demand them; a rivalry of denominations in the same place pleads the necessity for them; how is it possible that the pastor can be honest and true to God, and keep both motives and methods pure? Only in one way—by keeping himself in the presence of God. “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is on my right hand I shall not be moved.” “My soul wait thou only upon God, for

my expectation is from him."

“Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord: for ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight; for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.” (Isaiah lii. 11, 12.) Our advance will be neither too fast nor too slow, when we thus keep step with him. But in so doing we shall have to encounter worldly influences, and disappoint the expectations of worldly-minded professors; for God, in man's sight, appears a slow worker. But when we are brought into sympathy with him, to work with him, and as he is working, we shall be willing to take all the time which is necessary to do everything well; and so at last shall we actually accomplish the most; for as there shall be no haste, there shall be no waste, and he truly makes the most of life who walks with God and does his will.

In thus securing purity of motive and method by prayer, we shall also enjoy another spiritual advantage

(b) Revelation of God in his Word and works. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “A good understanding have all they that do his commandments.” “The secret of the Lord is

1 "The Church as a Teacher of Morality.”—Prof. J. R Seeley.

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with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." I need not attempt either to prove or describe how the spirit of prayer brings with it the revelation of God, both in his Word and works ; how the golden gates of truth's temple are thrown wide open, and we are made free of her inner shrine; how we see, or rather experience, things which are hid from the merely intellectual investigator; and how, in a single moment of search under the light which communion with God brings, we discover more hid treasures than in whole days of exploration under human lights. “These things are still hid from the wise and prudent, and are revealed unto babes;" and whenever our souls are filled with their sweetness, we are constrained to thank God it is so appointed. This enlightenment extends also to the works of God, which become to the prayerful soul instinct with heavenly life. We see him in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath; in the discoveries of science, and in the agitations of society; nay, the very trials of personal and public life, the calamities and convulsions of the world, do not hide but reveal God to the soul that walks in holy communion with him. “I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." Here have we reached a point of view from which we can see clearly the relation of prayer to pastoral efficiency; for it is when, and it may be said only when, the soul is thus aglow with heavenly life, and the mind is filled with heavenly truth, that we are ready to teach others also; then is the pastor “like unto a man that is a householder, that bringeth forth out of his treasures things new and old."

It is worthy of remark, too, that only in this spiritual illumination which prayer gives can we find adequate help to meet the distracting demands now made upon the active ministry. It is claimed that the minister of our times must be a good preacher, both expounding the Word of God and solving the problems of life. He must be a good pastor, faithfully visiting and caring for the wants of his flock. He must be a good organizer, developing and consolidating the resources of his people. Besides, he must take an interest in reformatory movements, and must find time to watch the progress of science, and allow not the great movements of the age to pass from under Christian influence. But how shall one man, in one short life, be able to meet such numerous and diverse claims ? how shall he find time that while he neglects no practical duty, he may yet keep up an intelligent acquaintance with the world's progress, now when knowledge is so broad, and life so short? How shall he discern between false progress and true; between that which is transient and that which is abiding; between that which ought to have his attention and that

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