« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
which is worthless? This aid he is to find in spiritual illumination through prayer. For, as a magnet thrust into the sand draws to itself the particles of metal, so does the soul filled with the Spirit of God discern the signs of the times, and learn to separate between the evil and the good, between the transient and permanent around him. “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies : for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers : for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts." (Psalm cxix. 98–100.)
I have left but small space in which to notice the practical influence of
2. The pastor's work; but it may be safely said that when he is rightly affected by it in his person, his work cannot but be correspondingly efficient. Let me then briefly indicate some of the directions in which this efficiency will appear.
(1) It will give effect to both his preaching and pastoral labors.It will impart to his efforts that undescribable power which we call unction, a power we cannot afford to be without. He will not be formal, nor worldly, nor hasty, nor dull. His whole manner will be affected by it, and his very voice will receive a tone which nothing else can impart; and whether he prays or preaches, or leads the prayer-meeting, or stands by the bed of the sick or the dying, or solves in any mode of service the mysterious problems of life, he will always and everywhere make himself felt as a “man of God."
When one that holds communion with the skies
The gale informs us, laden with the scent.' (2) It will enlarge the sphere of the pastorate. Many pastors find their spheres of labor much contracted. In this respect Illinois, and other Western States, are changing every year. At first our fields of labor were like our prairies, unfenced and unconfined; but the multiplication of churches in every community, the large foreign element
which presses on every side, and the recent heavy emigration to the farther West, have combined to shut many of our churches within narrow limits, almost too narrow for vigorous prosperity, if not actual existence. With many a pastor this is a great perplexity. He feels cribbed and confined, and yet the post must be held, and a change of pastors would bring no relief. Out on the prairie, where land is cheap, a man may occupy all he will for his house and its conveniences; but in a city, where every foot is precious, men must dig deep and build high. So when the field is narrow, and the room for outward growth is curtailed, we must seek a deeper and more heavenly consecration. And this can come only in prayer. By it we may overleap all barriers, and cast down all obstructions, and a pastor and his church, though confined to a narrow territory, can yet make themselves felt to the ends of the earth by reason of their power with God. But prayer will enable the pastor
(3) To grapple with the difficulties of the pastoral work. I will mention two as specimens of the rest.
(a) Difficulty of developing the character and the resources of the church.
This is the great need of our times. There is no possible way to meet the present and prospective calls of divine Providence except by a more thorough development of the character and resources of our membership; for, just as for ages there have been untold treasures of gold and silver hid in our mountains and valleys, waiting for the eye of man to discover, and the hand of man to bring them forth, so are there hid in our churches untold treasures, both of character and resources, waiting the skilled hand to bring them forth. This is the pastor's work. Others may give occasional help, but he must do it, or it will not be done. But it is a stupendous task. For while in some cases men are accessible and easily moulded, like the gold first gathered by the miner near the surface, by far the greatest part of what must be reached lies deeply imbedded in false ideas, in worldliness and selfishness; and by some means the rocks must be crushed before the precious ore can be liberated. The faithful pastor's heart often sinks as he finds his most earnest efforts fail, and his best laid plans defeated. But through prayer he can conquer. Prayer sets in motion the ponderous wheel of Divine discipline, which are able to break up old habits and prejudices, crush out worldliness, and release the soul for holy growth and activity. It is a cheering experience when he can see the course of Christian development in his people, following in the line of his prayers. Or take another; the
(b) Difficulty of dealing with chronic and crystallized evils in a church.
At the formation of a church the membership are generally united and earnest and self-sacrificing. But by-and-by, as wealth and members increase, and as burdens have to be borne which give occasion for exhibitions of selfishness, strifes and alienations arise, which affect the whole church. The particular acts in which they originate may be trifling, but that whereunto they lead is mournful. Change of pastors does not remove, but often aggravates the evil, and much of pastoral discouragement arises from this source. Half the strength of many pastors is absorbed in preventing chronic evils from fatally injuring the church. These are the “mountains " whose removal is only “possible to him that believeth.” These are the devils who “go not out but by prayer and fasting." Oh, that instead of the mountains so often moving the pastor, we knew how so to use the power placed within our reach that the pastor might move the mountains.
But, finally, prayer promotes the efficiency of the pastor, because it
(4) Affords him needed rest and comfort. The pastor is engaged in a great work, a work with which it is an exalted privilege to be connected. He has great resources. He has "exceeding great and precious promises," and all the certainty of the Divine purposes to make his success sure. Yet he has great obstacles. The enemy of souls fights him with special malignity. The world is opposed to God and his truth. Even the hearts of professed Christians are often hard; and the word preached falls on stony ground and among thorns. Plans and purposes at variance with the best interests of
. the cause thwart his wisest movements; his motives are misconstrued; his labors unappreciated; his efforts futile. So that there are times when all that is great in his work, and cheering in its spirit, and glorious in its prospects, is lost to view, shut out behind the clouds and darkness of present trouble. And, worst of all to bear, he feels a traitor within his own breast; and trembles lest, at such a time, something he may do or leave undone, something he may say or leave unsaid, may compromise the cause and glory of that Saviour whom he loves better than his life.
Then to whom shall he go? Whither shall he flee, but to that strong habitation whereunto he may continually resort?" There all his motives and his purposes are known; there his conflicts are comprehended, his efforts appreciated, and his very failings and errors looked upon with tender pity; and so to bathe in the calm sea of that loving Presence, to lean on that Bosom, and feel the throbbings of that loving Heart, is rest indeed.
Lord, what a change within us one short hour
Spent in thy presence will prevail to make!
What heavy burdens from our bosoms take! What parched grounds refresh as with a shower! We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;
We rise ; and all, the distant and the near,
Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear. We kneel, how weak! we rise, how full of power !
Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,
Or others—that we are not always strong; That we are ever overborne with care;
That we should ever weak or heartless be, Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer;
And joy, and strength, and courage are with thee?
WILLIAM M. HAIGH.
1 Archbishop Trench.
ND after six days Jesus takes with him Peter, and James, and John, and brings them
up into a high mountain apart by themselves (or, alone): and he was transfigured before them. And his garments became glistening, exceeding white ; such as no fuller on earth can so whiten. And there appeared unto them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answering says to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good that we are here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. For he knew not what he should say; for they were afraid. And there came a cloud overshadowing them; and there came a voice out of the cloud, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no one any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
This translation differs slightly from that of our English version, partly for the sake of a more exact rendering, and partly of a different Greek text. The reasons for the deviation will appear more distinctly in the sequel. The correspondent passages in Matthew are xvii. 1-13, and in Luke ix. 28-36, and though somewhat fuller in details, are less graphic than Mark's account, who, as Peter's companion in subsequent life, was himself almost an eye-witness of the occurrence which he describes. Peter refers to the Transfiguration, and speaks of himself as one of those “who were with Christ in the holy mount, and heard the voice which spoke to him from the excellent glory.” (2 Peter i. 16–18.) We shall have occasion to refer again to this testimony. John, who was also one of the witnesses, says nothing of it, but John wrote at a much later period, and partly with a supplementary design. Presupposing the existence of the other gospels