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of varied and important learning. And, commissioned by the great Head of the church, how brilliant and triumphant his course from one city and province to another! And why did Divine wisdom enlist those gigantic powers in the work of the holy ministry?-why, but that the work called for a powerful instrumentality?
Another momentous achievement was the Reformation from papal corruptions; an event that gave immortality to the names of Luther, Calvin, and others. And who have exhibited greater learning or talent? Think that the church had slept had been almost extinct, for centuries. Think of the ignorance and prejudices of the multitude. Think of a domination over reason and conscience, supported by the combined energies of church and state, throughout an entire continent. Think that every stir for freedom was watched with a jealous eye by prelates and emperors. What must have been the inflexibility of character, the courage, the intellectual strength, that could successfully engage in an onset against such an array of sin and despotism?
A somewhat similar emergency, at a later period, brought up such men as Wesley, Whitefield, and the immortal Edwards, to re-instamp the image of God on the world. The church was to be rescued from desperate worldliness, formality, and fatal errors; and Divine wisdom selected the instruments.
The modern enterprise of missions, also, is a magnificent movement. And who does not know, that the pioneers and chief actors in this cause, at home and abroad, have been men of vigorous intellect and accomplished scholarship, as well as inextinguishable benevolence.
It is thus that cultivated talent, and learning, as well as piety, have been associated with every important moral revolution. We deduce from the fact, an argument for a ministry of elevated character. There is as much scope for effort, as much demand for energy, for skill, for comprehensiveness of plan, and boldness of action, now, as there ever has been. And divine Sovereignty is not intending to lay aside the great principles on which it has always acted. If it has glorious objects to be achieved, and the gospel ministry be its chief instrumentality, it will still demand a ministry of intellectual strength and resources, as well as moral purity.
4. A ministry of vigorous character is to be expected from the language of prophecy relative to the glory of the latter day. The church, in all its departments, is yet to exhibit a more glorious aspect. She is to shake herself from the dust; to arise and shine, the glory of the Lord being risen upon her; appearing comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an army with banners. Her course is to be that of victory and triumph; till the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.
The church has her great Captain of salvation: and if destined to rise above her littleness and her distractions, and to hold dominion through the earth, it is reasonable to expect He will qualify and appoint for her, leaders worthy of himself, worthy of her true character, and worthy of the glory to be achieved. He will summon to her aid, men wise in counsel, prompt and energetic in action; such, that "one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.' Very possibly reference was had in part to the ministry of the coming day, in the cheering predictions, "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth." "He that is feeble among them at that day, shall be as David; and the house of David as God, as the angel of the Lord."
In such prophecy, the leading idea is obviously that of power. The church, in her day of glory, will have a ministry able to sway her counsels, and direct her grandest efforts, with a wisdom that all shall admire. They will be chosen of God, and prepared for the times. And do we now discern some signs of the approaching day? Do we witness the beginning of conflicts, that, under God, are to result in the submission and devotion of the world to Christ? How great the responsibility of the ministry at such a crisis; and the necessity for
men of uncommon wisdom and energy, as well as unshrinking faithfulness! Which leads me to observe,
5. The importance of an able ministry is manifest, from the strength and number of the forces to be encountered and overcome. The human heart in every age is desperately wicked, and of course inveterately opposed to the Gospel. It has its thousand errors and prejudices-its thick darkness and delusion. The onset upon this enemy of God, styled in Scripture "enmity" itself, demands all the skill and power of the best cultivated, as well as sanctified talent. There is also a systematic and wide-spread infidelity. It has in its service, genius, learning, wealth, and station. It never exhibited more stratagem, boldness, or energy and malignity of purpose, than now. To expose its sophistry, and silence its blasphemies, and rescue the millions it would ensnare and ruin for ever; there are clearly needed minds that can pour forth light like the sun in his strength. But we wrestle not merely against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, against the prince of the power of the air. Where is stronger intellect, greater knowledge, or a more wily adversary to be encountered? Where are movements more insidious, varied, complicated, rancorous, against God and human welfare? Who can count the armies, and estimate the resources, wielded by this Master spirit of sin and delusion? And can it be wise to send out men of feeble mind, to expose the devices, and thwart the schemes, and subvert the empire of such an adversary? It is not thus that Christianity is to make its way over the earth. While it trusts in the grace and power of Heaven, it demands for the conflict the ablest minds God has created and sanctified. And the better they are disciplined, furnished, and directed, the surer the hope of speedy and universal triumph.
6. A ministry of strength is manifestly called for, by the grandeur and importance of the objects to be gained. The field of action is a province of God's empire in revolt and ruin. The ministry is an embassy of reconciliation from the Sovereign. Its aim is the recovery of this alienated world. Where is the enterprise, in its nature so grand, in its relations so momentous? Who can measure the interests staked upon its issue? Who can tell the importance of a successful result ?-its importance to God, to the world, to the universe? And how obviously absurd to commit the keeping and direction of such a cause to the undisciplined, the rash, or the ignorant. When difficulties between a monarch and a portion of his empire, or between two independent states, are to be adjusted, who is commissioned for the emergency? When life, or character, or property of great amount is at issue, who is sought for a defence? When a high-minded people, roused by oppression, resolve on freedom, who are selected to guide her counsels and direct her armies? The wisest, surely, and the strongest. And strange indeed, if to men of inferior capacity can be intrusted the rights and interests of the eternal throne! Strange, if secondary powers can satisfy, when a world of intellect, an empire of mind in ruin, is to be brought back to God, and trained for his glory! What are liberty, property, character, life, or thrones that perish-compared with the honor of God, and the inheritance of the saints? In itself considered, the loss of a single soul is a greater calamity than the extinction of the sun, or the burning of a world. In itself considered, the conversion of one sinner is an event of higher moment, of deeper interest, than the creation of a million suns or systems. That soul, from the ever augmenting and enduring nature of its faculties, has, obviously, a value above that of the material universe. And the recovery of such souls has been deemed an object worthy of the solicitude of angels, and the sacrifice of the Son of God. Does not the object, then, demand the highest powers of the best cultivated minds? But, again,
7. The all-absorbing and imposing character of worldly objects and improvements calls loudly for an efficient ministry:-such a ministry, as, in the
name and power of God, may arrest attention, and turn off the eye from beholding vanity. We live at a period of great enterprise, and in a land affording scope for bold experiment in every direction. Genius is on the stretch for improvement, and continually throwing out its new discoveries. And, as regards secular prosperity, the nation is evidently putting on her strength and rapidly advancing. Canals, crossing large states, are no longer regarded with wonder. Our rail-road system is levelling or penetrating mountains, lifting up valleys, and arching wide rivers. Immigration, meanwhile, is pushing its onward march, clearing away forests, and building up cities. Whilst, in the older states, manufacturing establishments and large moneyed institutions are multiplying, and rising in pride and power. Nor is the intellectual world unaffected by the spirit of the age. Who is not amazed at the manner in which the press is pouring out its periodicals and volumes, and the rapidity with which literary institutions, of every character and grade, are springing into being? When was there ever more enthusiasm or success in pursuits of science? In what age has the bar of justice, or the hall of legislation, displayed severer conflict, or more electrifying eloquence? When has the human mind, in all departments of worldly enterprise and ambition, been excited to keener intensity? or brought out results more adapted to absorb public attention, and hide eternity from the view?
Now, we would not allay this spirit of enterprise; we would not arrest this imposing march of improvement: we would only have it all sanctified by the Gospel, and made subservient to Christ's kingdom. And, to that end, we do see, in these imposing movements, occasion for corresponding increase of energy in the church, and redoubled power in her ministers. For what but a strong Christian influence is to save the public mind from being so absorbed in matters of time, as utterly to forget God, and judgment, and eternity? And who, if not the angels of the church, can be expected to throw around a heavenly radiance, that shall present worldly men and worldly objects in their proper character? And what other influence, indeed, can be expected to save the church herself, from being led captive by "the god of this world?" Perhaps, in her whole history, the church has never been in circumstances of greater peril from this deceiver than now. Where is the scheme of avarice or ambition in which she is not eagerly participating? And how is her pride thus fostered, her spirit of prayer checked, and her mind diverted from the great business of her high calling? And who of her sons is not thus directly encouraged to make a covenant with death, if wealth is in prospect, rather than, like Moses and Paul, sacrifice all for Christ and his kingdom, and secure a treasure in the heavens? At such a crisis, what but new energy in Zion's watchmen is to save her and her children from being ingulfed in that general tide of worldliness, which threatens to drown millions in perdition?
The ministry is also a profession: and needs for its success the respect and confidence of the community. But to secure these, it must have an elevated intellectual character. It must keep pace with the general progress of society. Is it stationary while every thing else is advancing? By losing its relative standing and power, it at once weakens its hold upon public esteem, and thus cripples, if not annihilates, its influence. True policy will give it such resources, such energy, that it can grapple with the stoutest minds, and become, by its well directed strength, the object of respect, of veneration, instead of scorn or pity. Yes; true wisdom would say, let it have the learning that can enlighten every circle; let it have a power of reasoning that can carry conviction through all ranks; let it have a divine eloquence that can thrill, and charm, and move, at pleasure. Yes; give it the ability and courage to hold up the cross of Christ, and to present Gospel truth and eternal realities in all their greatness; and it becomes "mighty through God." Let the cause of salvation be thus sustained, and all the bustle, and parade, and imposing grandeur of worldly enterprises cannot obscure its majesty, or impede its progress.
8. A ministry of great strength is called for, by the prospect of unwonted excitements in the civil and religious world. To scenes of conflict and revolution we are distinctly pointed by prophecy. Says Jehovah, "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until he come, whose right it is; and I will give it him." And again, "The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: the Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake." To similar scenes allusion is also made in the Revelation of St. John, under a variety of imagery-"lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." From such striking illustrations, scattered throughout the Bible, we are led to anticipate fearful collision and devastation, such as the world has not yet seen. Nations will be shaken; kingdoms moved; thrones demolished; and new social organizations established-harmonizing with the spirit and genius of the Gospel. The church will be kindled to her primitive zeal, and unite her powers, and boldly claim for her Sovereign the spiritual empire of the world. And every such movement may be expected to rouse the jealousy, and wrath, and resistance of her great adversary and his legions.
We are instructed by past history, too, as well as prophecy, to anticipate great commotion and excitement. When have important changes ever been effected in public sentiment, or in the state of society, without a degree of violence? In science, in government, in religion, the conflict has always been sharp. And often have the hearts of the virtuous failed them, in looking for those things that were coming on the earth.
A moment's view of the world will, at once, reveal to the eye abundant occasions for excitement. They are seen in the organizations of civil society. They are seen in the conflicting systems of religion. They are seen in the spreading sway of infidelity, superstition, and lawless violence. Before men can universally be brought to concede to each other their rights, and to God his dominion, immense changes, of an exciting character, must obviously take place.
The storm then is certainly coming on. Already, indeed, are the elements in commotion. We hear the thunder. We perceive the agitation. We see, here and there, the uplifted hand of violence. And, should God permit, very little seems needed to plunge our nation, at once, in domestic or foreign war. And we see, that, without any miracle of providence, a very few years, nay, a few months, might involve states, nations, kingdoms, and the general church of Christ, in one scene of convulsion and dismay.
At such a crisis, we need, for Zion's sake, a ministry of unwonted wisdom, foresight, and power. We need, in the holy office, men who can stand amid high excitement, without being thrown off their balance-men who can look at the raging tempest with a calm and courageous heart. We need men enlightened into all truth and duty-men of enlarged and liberal views, as well as of inflexible integrity and firmness. We need a ministry, above all selfish considerations and party bickerings; that can keep its eye and hand steadily upon the "ark of God," come what may. Which suggests one other consideration, viz. :
9. This elevation of character in the ministry will contribute to union among all the truly faithful. And who that looks over our Zion, with any thing like an angel's love, or an angel's pity, must not desire such a result?" that they all may be one." This is indeed practicable. For the Savior has enjoined it, and fervently prayed for it. And such a ministry as we now contemplate, embracing in its comprehensive survey the great truths, and designs, and interests of the holy kingdom, and looking at things on the grand scale of immortality, and trusting in God, can easily keep in check its native pride, ambition, and other warring lusts;-it can easily merge all minor matters in the mighty enterprise of strengthening and extending the empire of Christ. And when the watchmen thus come to see eye to eye, and lift up the voice together, dissension in the church will cease, and all her energies be concentrated for preparing and sending forth the chariots of salvation, And thus very soon might it be said, in reference
to the number and character of her messengers, the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place."
With these views of the importance of an able ministry, we are very naturally excited to inquire,
II. BY WHAT MEANS MAY SUCH A MINISTRY BE SECURED TO THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD?
1. Candidates for the holy office must set for themselves a very high standard of ministerial character. In this day of action, and call for labor, and of openings for usefulness, there is a natural tendency to rush into the field without preparation, without maturity of judgment, without discipline of mind, without knowledge, without that balance of powers which is the result of well-proportioned cultivation of systematic and prolonged training. This tendency must not be encouraged by the guardians of the church. It must be patiently and manfully resisted by candidates themselves. They must settle it as a first principle, that qualifications enter into every call to preach the Gospel-that "no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron"- -a name signifying a mountain of strength.
Let ardent or indolent youth, then, not take counsel of their own feelings and prepossessions. Let them not ask for the most moderate acquisitions that will possibly answer. Let them not be satisfied with the low standard adopted by many others entering the sacred office. Let them rather look at the standard sanctioned by holy apostles and prophets, and still demanded by the word and providence of God. And let it be their solemn, unalterable purpose, to come up to it, be the cost of time, and toil, and self-denial what it may. Let this purpose be sacredly adhered to, and, instead of here and there one magnifying his office, and pouring light on his generation, we should soon see numbers in every district, standing forth as pillars of fire, to illumine the whole moral heavens, and bless mankind.
To reach such eminence must indeed require time and effort. The requisite mental discipline and stores of knowledge are not the miraculous gift of Heaven. They are the result of close and long application. And let such as have not patience and conscience to abide this process, think again, what it is to be an ambassador from God! Numbers are desirable; but not without qualifications. The real influence and usefulness of the profession depend much more on its character than its numerical array. Why did not the Savior, at once, send out hundreds or thousands, instead of twelve well instructed, to sustain his cause and evangelize the world? O that all such as aspire to the same blessed work, would emulate the character of those holy men! Then might we again hope to witness apostolic triumphs in every church and every land.
2. Another means of securing an able ministry, dictated by common sense as well as Scripture example, is, to select the most promising spirits, even in childhood, and train them in faith and prayer, with the hope and trust that God will call them to the office. Our present system of charitable education for the ministry, so far as it extends, is well, if its principles be but faithfully adhered to. It considers native talent and persevering study, as well as piety, indispensable in its candidates; but it aids only such as are already pious. While this system is doing great things for Zion, it is very far from meeting the present exigencies of the church and a dying world. We seem to need that forethought, and that confidence in God's promises, which should lead us to regard as peculiarly his property, multitudes of bright young immortals now springing into being, and ready to take their places in the sabbath-school and the sanctuary, and to be consecrated wholly, as trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, for the glory of Zion and for the healing of the nations. Let, then, the hearts of pious fathers be turned anew to their children; and let the devout mother regard her most promising son as peculiarly God's property. And let those who have no such bright offspring, without grudging, or envy, or partiality, adopt the most