« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
to avoid. I do not wish you to put on an affected humility and sanctimoniousness when you enter the pulpit. This would be going into the opposite extreme. But let your step, your countenance, your attitudes, your tones of voice, your whole deportment evince, that you have come from your closet, not to show off yourself, but to honor and recommend your Divine Master; not to attract to a poor, sinful, dying worm those
which should ever be fixed upon the cross of Calvary.
I am very affectionately, &c.
MY DEAR E.
I am glad to learn from a friend who heard your first sermon, that you went through the services with a good degree of propriety and self-possession. . We remembered you and felt for you, and our prayer was, not so much that your performances might be acceptable to the people, as that you might commend yourself to God, in the earnest and faithful exhibition of his truth. You ask for advice with reference to your future course ; and you know it affords me great
2 pleasure to give you my best thoughts, on all questions of duty and expediency. I do not wish you to seek for an immediate settlement. I hope you will not, for some time, be thrown into circumstances making it your duty to preach as a candidate. You are not yet four and twenty. You have not attained to that physical maturity, which is requisite for entering with safety upon the arduous duties of the sacred profession. Though you are probably as athletic now as you ever will be, it will take several more years to compact and consolidate your system. Many a young preacher has broken down his health, by settling prematurely, who might have served God and his generation through a long and useful ministry, if he had not been hurried into the profession.
While I am writing this letter, the painful intelligence has reached us, that the Rev. B-H, a
graduate of this College, and a young man of great promise, has died suddenly of brain-fever, at the age of twenty-four. Without taking any time to rest, after he left College, he betook himself with even more than his characteristic ardor to theological studies, at A-, which he completed last September, and in November, was settled at B-; and now, before the
end of March, he is in his grave! That he acted conscientiously in thus pressing on, I have not the shadow of a doubt nor that his confidential advisers, so far as
a they encouraged him, meant it for good; but that he entered upon the pastoral care too soon, I am equally
, well convinced. He had fine talents, his mind was highly cultivated and richly furnished; but he was too young, and I may add, too popular, for such a charge. He was always rather slender, than robust. What sermons he had were highly finished and greatly admired; but they could not have lasted long, and he unquestionably felt himself constrained to make efforts, which his physical constitution could not bear. Had he gone home, when he left the Seminary, and taken a year or two to recruit, and to write sermons, in some such course as I am advising you to take, I cannot help thinking that his valuable life might have been saved.
And this leads me to make another remark. It is now much more necessary
men should have age and health and a good stock of materials before hand, than it was half a century ago. Much more is required and expected. To give satisfaction, their discourses must be more polished and finished. They are expected to preach much oftener on week
days, and to attend many more private religious meetings. Then, there is also the Bible Class and the Sabbath School; and besides all these, a great amount of labor in one form and another, to keep the benevolent enterprizes of the church in healthy and vigorous action. In one word, the service is a great deal harder than it used to be; and therefore, it requires more time and experience and physical maturity and intellectual affluence to be prepared for it.
You, my son, are now a mere beginner. Writing sermons is comparatively a new business; and you can testify, that it is hard work. If you take upon yourself the pastoral care, you will soon have to bring out your two discourses on the sabbath, besides preparing for week day lectures; and let me ask, how much time it has hitherto cost you to write one sermon? A soldier should have a good supply of car
? tridges, or at least should learn how to make them with facility, before he approaches the enemy's lines. I know very well, that if your early preaching should prove acceptable to a vacant congregation, and the people should set their hearts upon you as the right man for them, they will tell you, you may exchange for the first year or two, as much as you please, and get what other help you can.
This will be kindly intended, and very flattering withal; but you will find it not so convenient to avail yourself of the indulgence, as you may imagine. The weeks come round with a young minister, amazingly quick Brethren in the vicinity will have their own duties and plans, which will often render it difficult for them to exchange, when you most need the accommodation. Saturday night will come without bringing
. along the agent, or clerical friend on whom you was depending, and you will be in great trouble. Where now are the two sermons, which must be preached in less than twenty-four hours, to come from? Besides, you will soon be convinced, that having so many different preachers, is neither edifying to the church, nor profitable to the congregation; and a sense of duty to your people will urge you on to efforts quite beyond your strength-efforts which will greatly endanger your health, and may bring you to an early grave. My advice then is, that instead of looking out for an early settlement, you decline preaching anywhere as a candidate, for a year, or two at least; and that you listen to no call, if you can help it.I mean unless the voice of God should be so clear in it, that you can say, “necessity is laid upon me.” Do you
ask what course you had better take-how I would advise you to spend your time before you enter upon the pastoral office? My answer is, spend it in preparation for that high and sacred office. You are pledged to devote yourself to the work of the christian ministry ; and there is no possibility of your being too well fitted for it. You are bound, therefore, not only to keep it constantly in view, but so to exercise your gifts, and enrich your mind with divine truth, that when you come to be settled, you may prove yourself “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I will
I mention several ways in which you may employ your time to good advantage.
You may, if you choose, spend a year or more, as