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passions made upon the stage. The actor is sad or joyous; confiding or jealous; loves or hates; is forgiving or re
T is said that a clergyman once pro- vengeful; is reconciled or murders; breaks
[For the National Magazine.]
AN EARNEST MINISTRY.
actor, Garrick, why it is that the stage produces a stronger impression than the pulpit, when the pulpit deals in truth, and the stage in fiction? to which the actor replied: "Because the stage deals in fiction as if it were truth, while the pulpit deals in truth as if it were fiction."
It is an interesting question, how the actor of a farce is able to give it the air of truth. It may be supposed that it is by an affectation of emotions and passions that he does not feel-an exact counterfeit of the outward expression of feeling. This solution of the question is not to us entirely satisfactory, and we shall, therefore, venture to propose another.
The actor possesses himself of the truthfulness of the plot and details of a story. The imagination becomes excited, and so completely overrules the reasoning powers, that the circumstances of the tale - the conflicts, the reverses, the escapes, the catastrophe - pass before the mind, not merely as veritable history, but as present to the senses. The actor seems to himself to be the hero whom he represents. Hence he performs his part with heart, with power, with a tragic effect which makes his audience feel, in spite of themselves, that they see the real character before them, suffering or rejoicing, weeping or laughing, triumphing or dying; and the same feelings are excited which the facts themselves would inspire. An actor must reproduce surprising scenes in such a manner as to surprise; he must so represent pleasent scenes as to delight; he must so present tales of woe as to make his audience weep. If he fails in these objects, his performance itself turns out a failure; and fail he will, unless he has an imagination, and emotional power, which take him away from himself, and from the real objects and scenes around him, and impart to him the very being of his hero; surrounding him by the companions with whom he conversed, and the circumstances which molded his character and framed his destiny.
This we take to be the true explanation of the truthful and striking exhibitions of the benevolent and the malevolent
the case may be, living the life and being moved by the passions of his hero. Mere imitators never attain to this sublime elevation of the imagination. Their efforts want truth to nature, and, consequently, they fail to produce tragic effect. They produce a mere representation, a mere shadow, of the persons and scenes they represent, and, consequently, they fail to reach the great deep of the heart, and are set down as third or fourth rate actors.
Such we take to be the true philosophy of the impressiveness of the stage. And, if we are not mistaken, it differs in nothing essential from the philosophy of the power and impressiveness of the pulpit.
A minister of the Gospel must imbibe the spirit of the great Teacher, and feel the truth and the power of what he teaches. His zeal must arise from conviction, and his utterances must proceed from an inward force that no outward pressure can repress or retard. He must be able to say, with St. Paul, "Necessity is laid upon me, and woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." It is not the necessity of physical force, or the mere necessity of authority or of fear, but the necessity of responsibility, the necessity of love.
A divine call is indispensably necessary to the inward moral force and impulses of a preacher of the Gospel. This call will be followed by a high sense of responsibility to God. It will be both preceded and attended by a profound sense of the worth of souls; a sympathy for fallen humanity; a love for the race, and a strong desire to promote human happiness upon the largest possible scale. The awful fact that man is a sinner, and the astonishing and glorious truth that Christ died for sinners, must stand out before him, not as mere abstractions, but as truths of high import. What a fearful thing sin is, in its nature and consequences; and what mighty love it was that moved the Son of God to give his life for sinners, must not merely be matters of reflection, but they must stir up the great deep of the soul, bring into activity all its powers and passions, and set it into a blaze of holy enthusiasm. The convictions of a true minister of the Lord Jesus amount to in
spiration; his inward feelings are a divine ing communion with apostles and prophets, afflatus. until we imbibe their spirit, and live their life, which will prepare us to wake up the slumbering, raise the dead, and set the world in a blaze.
The imagination is sanctified, and the realization of the sublime truths which he unfolds, is as perfect as is consistent with this mortal state. The divinely author- The true earnestness of the Christian ized preacher feels himself standing "in ministry has a striking illustration in the Christ's stead," beseeching men to "be great apostle of the Gentiles. We see reconciled to God." He is David sweep- it not only in his public addresses, but in ing the strings of Zion's harp, and striking his whole life. That life was one of labor the highest, sweetest notes of praise. He and sacrifice. He endured hardships and is Isaiah crying, "Ho, every one that perils almost without number. He travthirsteth, come ye to the waters, and heeled to distant countries; wrought with that hath no money, come ye, buy and his own hands to supply his physical eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk with- wants; was in perils among robbers and out money and without price." He is among false brethren; suffered shipDaniel bending the knee, in profound wrecks; was a night and a day in the reverence, before the mighty God, fore- deep; experienced hunger and nakedness, telling the universal triumph of Messiah's and counted all things but loss for the kingdom, and foreseeing the Ancient of excellence of the knowledge of Christ. days seated upon his fiery throne of judg- He was a voluntary debtor to the Jews He is Peter preaching, on the day and to the Greeks; to barbarians and of Pentecost, repentance, and the gift of Scythians; to the wise and to the unwise; the Holy Ghost. He is Paul, standing up to the bond and to the free. With him the "in the midst of Mars Hill," and crying, Gospel was everything; the end of his "God now commandeth all men every-life was the conversion of sinners; the where to repent; because he hath ap- great idea completely subjected his powpointed a day, in the which he will judge ers, and constantly held them under its the world in righteousness by that man dominion. whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead;" and declaring before King Agrippa, "I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds;" and before Felix, the Roman governor, reasoning "of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." He is the beloved disciple, breaking out, with heavenly sweetness, "Little children, love one another."
Thus the spirit of prophets and apostles is perpetuated in the church; we live in the ages of inspiration, and the glorious days of the old confessors and martyrs are realized in our own times. It is this spirit that constitutes an earnest ministry. It is "feeling the powers of the world to come." St. John says, "That which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled of the word of life." It is seeing, tasting, and handling the word of life, that baptizes the soul with its vital power, and makes the living ministry a true expression of its great ideal. It is breathing the atmosphere of heaven; bathing in the stream of redeeming love; hold
The earnestness of which we speak is not necessarily noisy, and is never extravagant and fanatical. It may have inequalities and irregularities which would scarcely bear cold criticism. So have the mountain heights their crags and chasms; but so long as it is the outburst of inward feeling, inspired by the Holy Ghost, and the expression of deep and honest convictions, it is neither madness nor extravagance. The counterfeit of true earnestness of spirit is that affected, forced, ostentatious, extravagant, made-up excitement, which stuns the senses and bewilders the understanding, while it leaves behind it no good moral impression. It is noisy, but hollow; it is merely the show of great zeal, where there is nothing at the bottom but an unaccountable pride of appearances, and an obstinate purpose to force the world into an acknowledgment of superior religious attainments.
Bishop Asbury was a most shrewd observer and critic of men and manners. He studied his men; observed all their movements; pondered every casual remark he heard made about them, and often asked questions about them, calculated to elicit remarks which might help him in forming
a right estimate of the precise points, both of strength and of weakness of character, which was most prominently developed. An old preacher once related to us a circumstance which is illustrative of this fact, and also of the subject in hand. Coming into the district of a certain presiding elder, he met a plain, commonsense local preacher. "Is Brother much engaged?" asked the bishop. The shrewd old brother answered, "He hollars!" "He! he!" was all the bishop's reply. In his "Journal," this discriminating old sage, speaking of the religious exercises of the people in a certain place, says, "We have the form of the power of godliness." A grand distinction is here indicated. There is a mighty difference between "the power of godliness," and the mere form, or the outward show of the power of godliness.
Noisy, boisterous preachers, are not always earnest preachers. A man who makes a great noise in the pulpit, and in social meetings; who thunders and storms until he stuns the ears of his hearers, and nearly splits his own throat, and everywhere else wears the air of levity and worldliness, may be called a noisy preacher, or a loud professor of religion; but he really is not a truly earnest preacher, nor an earnest Christian. Boisterous mirth is no evidence of feelings of pleasure; nor are extravagant demonstrations of excited feelings any evidence of real earnestness.
Is such a ministry still needed? Is there anything in the temper of the times which bears upon this question? It is sometimes supposed that zeal has had its day, and done its work, and that now knowledge is to take its place; that the gifts of the earnest old preachers were suited to a state of society which no longer exists, and, consequently, it erroneous to suppose that their labors would now be as successful as they were in the new settlements, among the rustic inhabitants upon the frontier. There is, doubtless, some truth in this view; but we doubt if it is true to the extent which is often claimed. We see no necessity of making zeal and knowledge antagonisms. They are entirely consistent with each other, and each necessary in its place. In some directions ministerial education and improvement have been urged at the expense of the more important qualifications of the heart. What we insist upon is, that all other
qualifications of a minister, however necessary in their place, cannot compensate for the want of an earnest spirit. It always was, is now, and always will be, absolutely indispensable to success. Moreover, there are reasons why this qualification should now be especially insisted upon.
This is a fast age, and we Americans, are a fast people. We are in hot pursuit of wealth, honor, dominion, and glory. We work in earnest, and we play in earnest; we love in earnest, and we hate in earnest; we support our own party in earnest, and we abuse the opposition in earnest; we pray in earnest, and we fight in earnest. Every interest which is worth saving is driven as by steam, and half-way measures are scouted by all parties.
The devil is driving on his car with tremendous power. He is never idle, and he is not slow. He pushes on his subjects, in the way to hell, with vastly greater rapidity than he drove the swine down a steep place into the sea. There are giants in wickedness in these days, and there is a haste made in the ways of sin that is alarming, because it threatens to outstrip the message of salvation, and to lay waste the heritage of God. Sinners of all classes are zealous, scheming knaves, and hardened villains; licentious libertines and blasphemous infidels; narrow-hearted misers and reckless speculators; mammon worshipers, gamblers, swindlers, thieves and robbers; adulterers and murderers; rum sellers and rum drinkers; swearers and liars; Sabbath breakers and Bible burners; all, all are full of zeal-as full as the devil can fill them.
Now do not the maxims of wisdom and sound philosophy dictate that, in our conflicts with sin and Satan, we oppose zeal with zeal; that while the powers of hell are marching on with such terrible strides, the machinery of the Church should move with celerity? Such mighty forces are to be opposed; such fearful velocity is acquired in the movements of the enemy, that, of all things, tardy movements are the most absurd—a cool, hesitating policy, is suicidal. The Church must be broad awake, and her ministers must be "full of power by the Spirit of the Lord." Dreaming over the condition of the world will not answer now. If ever the earnestness and self-sacrifice of the martyrs were necessary to a minister of Christ, this is the time. If ever hesitating upon questions of
prudence and policy was madness, such is the case now. No man now can be considered entitled to the credit of sincerity if he be found pursuing a great enterprise without heart. And what shall be said of the minister of the Lord Jesus who, amid such fearful emergencies and perils, falls to sleep upon his post? A sad state of things is that which the prophet describes: "His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber." What a picture is this of the watchman placed upon the walls in time of danger. War rages without; the enemy is upon the city; and the watchman is sunk down into a dead sleep. Well will it be for him, if it does not fare with him far worse than it did with a sentinel, who was found, by Alexander the Great, sleeping upon his post; the great chief exclaiming, "Dead I found thee, and dead I leave thee," thrust him through the heart.
The enemies of the Church and of the truth are earnestly engaged in the dissemination of error. It was while men slept that the enemy sowed tares. If the Church and the ministry sleep, the enemy does not. He is ever wakeful and ever active. Heretics manifest an ardor in the cause of error, which should admonish ministers of Christ, and should reprove their supineness in the cause of truth. As in the days of Christ, they "compass sea and land to make one proselyte," while too often the heralds of the cross leave the cause of truth to take care of itself, or give it but a feeble support. While the abettors of a spurious Christianity are upon the alert-entering every open door, and seeking opportunities, by all possible means, to sow the seeds of error-while they seize upon the pulpit and the press; insinuate themselves into our schools and colleges; labor to corrupt the rising generation, and to take from us our children, who that has the zeal of God in his soul can hold his peace? Where are the Elijahs to cry out, "I am jealous for the Lord God of hosts," and to meet the priests of Baal in stern controversy ?
Witness the earnestness and sacrifices of Jesuit and Mormon missionaries. They penetrate the most distant and inaccessible regions; elude the most jealous and vigilant governments; they endure hardships and privations; they sacrifice the comforts of home and friendship; and all for the purpose of propagating fatal delusions.
The Mormons are found in South America; among the nations of northern Europe; in Africa, in China, and in Japan. The Jesuits are everywhere. They are to-day laboring to supplant the doctrines of the Reformation, in Great Britain and in the United States. The pope has found a few tools among those who were educated in the Protestant faith-sad instances of perversion, through Jesuitical agency, and of the depths to which men may fall from the faith of their fathers. Who is more earnest than Brownson, the editor of the Roman Catholic Quarterly, in Boston; and McMaster, the editor of the Freeman's Journal, in New-York? both educated in the Protestant faith, and both perverts to Romanism.
The foregoing facts are often urged, with great force, in favor of an educated and an intelligent ministry. But they may be urged with the same, or even with greater force, in favor of an earnest ministry. The fact is, merely human appliances are inadequate to the emergencies of the great conflict which is now raging between truth and error, sin and holiness. Science and education fight on both sides; but the great heart of Christianity is on one side alone, never being divided against itself. There is warmth on both sides; sustained zeal and energy on both sides; but true religious earnestness is only to be found upon the side of God and truth. And this principle is a great wonderworker. God is in it, and nothing can successfully resist it. It takes the citadel of the human heart by storm. We may not understand the secret of its power. The scorner may curl his lip and swear, and we need address to him no other reply than that which an apostle addressed to the contemptuous Jews: "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in nowise believe, though a man declare it unto you." When Joash, king of Israel, came to the prophet Elisha, under terror of a threatened invasion from the Syrians, the old prophet directed him to take arrows and strike upon the ground. "And he smote thrice and stayed; and the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldst have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it." It seems that the want of earnestness, in this symbolical act, was the precursor of failure. A warm
their sermons, it is likely that the old men have as little occasion for it as their younger brethren. Sometimes young men vapor about progress, when they them are standing still; and speak of the fathers as "behind the time," when they are vastly better posted up in the modern improvements than themselves. "Modern ideas" is a catch phrase in certain quarters; but we are not sure that we know precisely what it means. Taking the "ideas" of some "modern" men as examples, we should be inclined to think that it indicates old "ideas" diluted.
heart brought to the work puts us upon
There is almost a universal call for young men in our charges. Of this "the fathers" sometimes complain. Surely, say they, age and experience ought to qualify a man better to serve the Church, and should be a recommendation instead of a prejudice. How is the mystery to be explained? Why is it that we old preach
wear out our welcome among the people? Some say because we cease to read and study, neglect our intellect, and preach over our old sermons. In many instances this may be the true explanation of the case; but we doubt if this meets all the cases, or even a majority of them. It may be fairly doubted whether the fathers do not read about as much as their promising sons, and, as a class, we are mistaken if they are really behind the young generation, which is crowding them out of their places, either in theological knowledge or general information; and as for repeating
In the great majority of cases, we opine that the secret of our trouble is to be found in the decline of our enthusiasm. We lose the fire of youth, and it is a wonder if we do not, in the same proportion, lose the fire of the Holy Ghost. The consequence is, that the people freeze to death under our ministry. What ought we to expect but that we would be superseded by the young brood which come up full of life and vigor?
Two principal dangers threaten the Church at the present time. One is, that the ardor of the older portion of the ministry will die out. The other is, that the younger will take up with a spurious earnestness. Both these evils must be guarded against. So far as they prevail they spread blasting and mildew around them. The prosy common-places of a stereotyped old man, and the gilded emptiness, and noise about nothing, of a young caterer for fame, are about equally fatal in their influence upon the Church. If there is any excuse for either, perhaps the old men are entitled to the most forbearance; but really both are at fault. As a man comes up toward the end of his career, his hopes should beat higher; as he nears the shore, the breezes from the green hills of Paradise should fan the fire within him to a fiercer flame; as he has the fewer sermons to preach, and it becomes the more doubtful whether each one is not his last, he should assume the earnestness of a dying man; his last warnings should be full of earnestness and vigor. Happy, indeed, and worthy of double honor, are the fathers, who, as their natural form abates, increase in the strength of their faith, the power of their religious sympathies, the earnestness of their spirit, and the energy of their pulpit efforts. They may wear out, or burn out, but they will never become stale.