Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

names of office, by which the facred scriptures distinguish clergymen, are names which import diligence, labour, and application.

Overseers,* stewards, ministers or servants, shepherds, watchmen, labourers, &c. offices all, which include the utmost fidelity and care, the most unwearied industry and application : and can it be possible for any man to imagine, that he fulfils a station, thus represented in the word of God, by a life of dissipation; or by a perfunctory discharge of the Jegal Sunday's duty ? Le: such a one only contemplate the life of the shepherd tending his flock,-the laborious and watchful life ;-and then ask his own heart, “ do I as a Shepherd of the flock of Christ, thus discharge my duty towards them?” He must have a very callous or a very de. praved heart, who can apply such a question, and be uninfluenced by the answer of his conscience:-especially after he considers, that the chief shepherd will one day require a very striet account of the flock committed to his trust; and will deem the watchman guilty of the death of the soul which perishes through his neglect of giving proper warn. ing. See Ezekiel xxxiii.

There are other names, in sacred scripture, applied to this holy function, which express honour and purity, as well as application ; such are those of ambassadors, rulers, and angels. All of which, taken together, will, I am assured, be suffici. ent to convince you, that he who chuses the life of a clergyman, as a station of indolence, inactivity and self-indulgence, wholly mistakes the nature of his office, and is in danger of the grossest crimes; as well as of the severest punishment from that dread master, whose service he so wretchedly abuses.

We, who are accustomed to see so many crowding into the sacred office, every Ember-week, are apt to admire whence it should come to pass, that in the first days of the church, candidates for holy orders were so few; and that a compulsion was frequently necessary to bring men to the acceptance of the highest dignities in their profession. The temporal emoluments, it is true, were not then lo considerable; but the profession was equally honourable, and the power of doing good, and promoting the salvation of men, great and desirable. Whence then, (fince we must not resolve it wholly into temporal views) whence could the manifest difference arise, but from the different apprehension, which

. they

* Emoxogos, Bishops.

they and we entertained of, the office; froin the clear and right knowledge which they had of its importance, labori. ousness and difficulty ; and the total ignorance or inconsideration of these matters, wherewith too, too many of our young candidates now come for imposition of the bishop's hands?

Here then there is evidently a fault : but you will say, where does it lie? Let every man judge and determine for himself of the different sources of this prevailing and very pernicious evil. My opinion, you know, my dear brother, has always been, thai much of it is to be laid to the charge of our education.-Do not imagine that I am going, with solne in our days, imprudently to decry and abuse our Universities; or to rank the learning, which is gained there, amongst the useless and unavailing. Very far from it; so far, that I think there is not a worse mark of the declining state of true lite. rature amongst us, than the grievous disregard and contempt which is thrown upon the learned languages and sciences; while translations, pamphlets, and retail periodical performances, become almost the only study of our fashionable readers. Much of this is owing to some ingenious men in our times, who, having little skill in any other language than their own, have, from a kind of self-defence; drawn their pens, and fought against classic and other literature, which they have attacked under the plausible and odious names of pedantry and pride.—But I stop short

Allow me to say, that I am perfectly satisfied, from clear and undoubted facts, of the high utility and necessity of the learning which is acquired at our Universities: I have only to object, and from my heart to wish, chat some improvements could be made to the advantage of those who are designed for holy orders. Flushed with Greek and Latin, with philosophical or metaphysical knowledge, a young man, utterly unskilled in divinity or elocution, enters into orders, as soon as he has taken a degree: and having perhaps no plan of fudy whereupon to proceed, never improves at all the stock of knowledge he brought from the university; and thus never can become a good divine and minister of a parish.*

[ocr errors]

* It should be remembered that these letters were written near fifty years ago. At present an attendance on theological lectures

vol. xiv. Chm. Mag. Feb. 1808.

[ocr errors]

N

It preside in churi, fo deftructen, if a year are lo importwn

It is therefore an object worthy the attention of thofo who preside in church and state, that some remedy should be fought for this evil, so destructive to religion and good ino. rals. And might it not be well, if a year at least were al signed to the study of those sciences, which are so important in themselves, and so indispensably necessary for those, who profess to instruct others in the way of life, and to instruct them publickly, in a living voice ? Could any man be brought to believe, if the fact was not too notorious to be de. nied, that the candidates for such an oflice are never profes. sedly taught divinity or elocution!

Let us hope, in this sensible age and with so many confpicuous men in our church and universities, this matter will meet with the serious consideration which its importance justly merits.'

But I have filled my paper, and must therefore take my pen from the table. Farewell, and believe me, &c. Yours.

· J. G.

DESCRIPTION OF A CHRISTIAN.

Christian is the highest style of man. Young. TT is unpleasing to remark, how few of the number who

I profess the faith of Christ, and bear the name of Chris. tians, fulfil the sacred obligations of that faith, or live agree. ably to the truth and importance of that name. Yet nothing can be more certain, than that the profession of a faith, and the bearing a name, without a correspondent life and actions, will be worse than unavailing—will be pernicious and fatal : a reflection which many Christians seem not much inclined to make. What St. Paul says of the Jew, and his privileges, may justly be applied to the Christian; “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly: neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh : but he is a Jew, who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, bụt of God.”

Have

iş required of all students designed for the church, still it is to be lamented that a ritual professorship, such as hath been described and proposed in our former numbers, is not established in our Universities for more practical benefit. Ep.

Have we not, then, in these words, a key to the grand and inolt essential characteristic of the Christian ? He is not one who depends upon external privileges or ceremonies : who places his hope of salvation in any outward work or seryice; or who fondly thinks that his mere profession of the faith, or attachment to a peculiar church, his obedience to enjoined modes or forms, or his knowledge of the great principles of his religion, will alone recommend him to God, or ensure his future and eternal felicity.--But convinced, that God will accept only the heart, he endeavours, that from thence, as the fountain, may flow the free and uniform streams of willing obedience. Engaged by the love of God in Chrift, he loves him in return; and this love in his soul is the active and vigorous principle of all his conduct, both to God and man.

Hence it is, that in every external act of duty to his Father and Redeemer, he is always found zealous, regular, and constant. The same divine love which bows his ready knee to private prayer in his closet, carries him with devout cheerfulness, to the assembly of the saints, to the great congrega. tion, that he may unite in the praises of the Lord : and if he be master of a family, engages him to call together his happy house, that they may present their joint supplications before the throne of grace. Actuated by the same engaging prin. ciple, he omits no opportunity, which his situation allows, of remembering him in the blessed communion, who forgot not the dearest interests of his creatures; and will never fail those, who gratefully remember his adorable mercies to mankind. The hypocrite, it is true, may perform these services; but the Christian only performs them acceptably, for he performs them in love. And to mark the difference between such a one and a mere professor, be it observed, that the religion of the former continually attends him, and is never laid aside, like a Sunday fuit: in all the offices and occurrences of life, as he acts upon the same principle, so he acts rightly and conscientiously. It is true, he is not, he cannot be supposed absolutely free from error or mistake; but he is always free from wilful and corrupt prevarication.

Whatever relation he bears in life, he considers it his duty to fulfil that relation, as to Christ, and not to men: hence he becomes a faithful and an affectionate husband, a tender and careful father, a kind brother, a steady and zealous friend, an obliging and hospitable neighbour, a worthy master, and a loyal subject. In all his dealings with others, he maintains the fricteft integrity and justice, ever bearing in mind, and

acting

the dearenng him in the unity, which, fame eng

acting conformably to that golden rule of moral conduct which the gospel delivers, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, in the like circumstances and situation.” A rule, which alone would serve to render him be. nevolent and charitable, as well as juft; were he not animated to be so by a thousand other motives, which concur to make him exemplary in works of humanity and pity.

While thus the Christian endeavours (through the love of him in whom he believes) to fulfil every duty towards God and man, he forgets not himself ; but desirous to eradicate every evil temper, to destroy every corrupt passion, and to gain a perfect renovation of his nature, he watches with assiduous care over his soul, examines his heart with impartial feverity, mortifying every vice to which he finds himself, prone, cultivating every virtue of which he perceives the deficiency: to this end he places always before him the great example of his beloved Saviour; and knowing that he is called to imitate him, and then only can be stiled a Christian properly, when he has the mind or disposition which was in Christ, he makes it his labour to trace out the virtues and tempers in Jesus peculiarly designed for imitation, and conftantly copies after them, however faintly, however imperfectly.

Convinced especially how much depends upon inward tempers, these he watches with especial diligence; and as words and actions flow from them, his first care is to purify the fountains, as well assured that then the streams will flow clear. Humility he rightly judges the basis of all Christian virtues, and love the perfection; no wonder therefore, that he is above measure fiudious in the improvement of them

These are some faint outlines of the character of a Chris. tian ; a character, which infidels themselves must acknow. ledge to be amiable; and after which, if all who bear the sa. cred name would aspire, no argument would be found so effeétual co silence every opposer of our most holy faith. But, alas! we are not, we do not even attempt to be what we pro. fefs. We fit down in a languid indifference, content our. selves with some faint efforts, some weak external services; and wedded either to profit or pleasure, are neither warmed by the love of Christ, nor influenced by those high objects which our faith presents to us. Yet we may be bold to say, that as no man here upon earth is, or can be so happy as the true Christian, so no honour can be equal to that which attends this excellent character. But of these points more hereafter. Let it be observed, that as we have here been

drawing

« PoprzedniaDalej »