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ON THE EXTENT OF MINISTERIAL USEFULNESS.
THERE are certain seasons when a minister who has long been fixed in one situation feels a gloom over spreading his mind, and he is ready to consider himself as living to Jittle or no purpose. Month after month passes away, and though his congregation does not mate rially decline in numbers, and there is no marked diminution in their attention ; yet still he does not see the effect he wishes. The question is now rarely put, “What must I do to be saved ?” that most pleasing inquiry in the ears of him whose highest desire is to win souls. He seldom 6nds persons coming to speak to him on their spiritual concerns, or seeking religious advice and consolation. Where things are in this state, I am fully aware the minister should begin to inquire whether there be not a cause? He ought to examine well into the manner in which he discharges his ministerial duties; into the example set by himself and his family; and, almost more than all else, into the state of his own heart. If that be not right with God; and religious experience be at a low ebb in his own breast, he can hardly expect that he shall be the instrument of communicating life and animation to his people.
But though the want of apparent usefulness should thus lead every minister to take more heed to him self and his ministry, I believe that a groundless despondency often takes possession of the minds of those who are anxious to do good. Conscious of their unworthiness, and of the deficiencies of their services, and depressed by witnessing the disappointment of some of their hopes, they are too ready to conclude that they are “labouring in vain, and spending their strength for nought.” Sensible that they are undeserving the honour of being “workers together with God,” in
saving souls, they are easily persuaded that such honour will never be afforded them. A wretched kind of despondency seizes upon them; and their services, in consequence, become flat and uninteresting. I have sometimes thought that there are few books besides the Bible, from which a minister will, when in this state of depression, derive more comfort than his parish register of burials. True indeed it is somewhat, in its first appearance, like Ezekiel's roll, “written within and without, lamentation and mourning and woe.” The gloomy catalogue extending over many years, tells bim of the numbers he has consigned to the grave, but memory will recal circumstances attendant on each which will revive an interest in names almost forgotten. Not only will the tears of the widow, or the deep distress of the orphan family, or the agonizing grief of the bereaved parents weeping over the remains of a beloved child, give a sort of sentimental interest to the sable volume—but the minister will feel as a minister, when perusing the records he himself has made, of those“ whose place" in his parish “knoweth them no more.” Some will recur, who “died and gave no sign, which could revive the pastor's heart with a cheering hope, that he shall meet them with joy at the resurrection of the just. Of another perhaps he will be forced to say with inward regret and anguish, for that man I might have done inore, I intended to have employed other means to render the unfruitful fig-tree productive, but I procrastinated, and while I delayed, the sentence went forth“let no fruit grow on thee for ever.” On such an entry in his register, the faithful pastor will rarely cast bis eye, without dropping the tear of shame and sorrow,
and praying that this sin may not and successful policy of statesmen be laid to bis charge. But though the discoveries of philosophers; he will read a history of many but that page shall soon perish : disappointed hopes many appar. but our “ work is with the Lord, ently fruitless attempts—and many and our labour is with our God." prayers which appear unanswered; , It shall endure when “ the earth yet the minister who has laboured and all that is therein shall be for a length of time in the word burned up.” No estimate can and doctrine, will seldom have to reach the value of an immortal look over his register without soul-none therefore can tell what having some feelings of a joyous he has achieved, who has “ turned nature kindled in his soul-some a sinner from the error of his thanksgiving drawn forth to the ways, and saved a soul from God of grace, over the record death." of his "saints and servants departed True, the ambition of the minthis life in his faith and fear;” ister of Christ ought to rise high, whose faith and fear, under the Fain would he save the soul divine blessing, owed their ex- of every one that comes within the istence to his ministry. If the reach of his voice. And he ought perusal of this gloomy volume to labour most earnestly to keep forces upon our minds the affecting himself pure from the blood of all thought that we might have been men. But let us not despise the more successful in winning souls, day of small things. So long as had we been more faithful, more we can fix upon one, whom we diligent, and more self-denied in may venture to look on as a jewel our exertions; or if, in some in our crown of joy and rejoicing, instances we fear that we may have let us not yield to discouragement. been the savour of death, where we That one soul, if our whole minishoped to be the savour of life; yet terial life should not produce ano. still we ought not to pass over, ther, is a subject of more unfeigned without joy and thankfulness, those congratulation than the attainment instances (and, on reviewing our of all the honours and riches that register, we shall perhaps find them the world ever could bestow on its far more numerous than we sup- greatest favourites. But that soposed) in which we cannot doubt litary instance should do more than but we have been honoured by the make us contented with our regreat Shepherd, as the instruments ward; it should make us thankful of restoring a wandering sheep to to that God who has called us to the fold, and saving it from the serve him in this delightful service. jaws of the roaring lion who goeth Our flock may be poor and illiabout seeking whom he may de- terate, our abode may be mean, vour. Should we be able to find and our income scanty-we may one name recorded, to which be ready to think that if we had memory can add the delightful entered any other profession, we story, and tell how that soul was should have succeeded better; but won to God and prepared for all such feelings vanish, when we his heavenly kingdum ; shall reflect on the value of an immortal we dare to murmur and say we soul, and the result of our minishave lived to no purpose ? The terial labours. True; we do but page of history may record the little, but that little is eternal-it achievements of heroes—the deep shall never perish.
ON SOME MISTAKEN NOTIONS COMMON AMONG
CHRISTIANS. Mr. EDITOR--I have lately read pidity in killing one another, and some of the books on the lawful- saying it is nothing. ness of war, and without coming Our duty is at least to represent to any conclusion on the point war and its accompaniments in itself, I have been convinced that their proper light, nothing can the Christian world has been too justify the false colours in which it indifferent to the folly and mis- is arrayed by men who ought to chief of war, – to the petition know better. A defeat is no dis"Give peace in our time, O Lord," grace to a Christian people, though and to the promises of “ Peace on Melancthon speaks of it as such. * earth and good will towards men." The taking of Bhurtpore, and I have heard good men speak with blowing up men and ramparts in the greatest coolness on the bearing the air, is not a “ splendid achiev. of the battle of Navarino on mis- ment," though called so, in some siopary prospects, as if all the cala- highly respectable and religious mities of that scene were counter publications. A woman has lived in balanced by the fancied good. Now widowhood, and eventually married if that event opened a door to many another, because her husband cannot missionaries, still they must feel appear, being a deserter : surely shaine and grief at the inconsistency death, and disgrace, and adultery, of one Englishman preaching peace are heavy evils, consequent upon to Turks, and others mowing them military discipline, and these things down with the deadly weapons ought not so to be. The training of war. One professing great of a soldier and the chess-man-like value for souls and dread of the appearance of a regiment, so far eternal world; another rejoicing from being glorious, are in fact in that event which hurried such degrading to man. There are two numbers of immortal beings un- things which affect me alike, when prepared into that world. Surely I visit London-the stiff motionless this inconsistency must strike figures which stand at the Park even the Turks themselves, and gates, and those which walk up greatly tend to paralyze our and down between pasteboard exertions.
notices. An old soldier in this Now I only ask whether Chris- place prides himself that he always tians ought not to feel for the had the commendations of his unavoidable evils attending war, as superior for being a clean soldier much as for the unavoidable evils -on inquiry I found that 'a attending Hindooism ? Ought they clean soldier' does not mean one not to long for the promised paci- free from swearing, fornication, fication of the world, when men drunkenness, &c. which defile a shall beat their swords into plough- man, but one who uses pipe-clay shares, and their spears into and brushes his clothes. If these pruning hooks, when nation shall things were represented in their not lift up sword against nation, proper light, the profession of arms neither shall they learn war any would soon cease, being divested more; with as ardent a desire as they of the false glory which allures long for the time when men sball men into it, and princes would be throw away their idols to the moles content with peace and the unand to the bats? O house of Jacob! disturbed possession of their own O evangelical world! come ye and dominions. let us walk in the light of the Lord! Be amazed at men's stu- * Scott's Church History. Vol. II. JAN. 1829.
Another duty, and a very serious with much concern a commendation one for Christians to consider, is, of the piety and courage of Anund not to be ashamed of trade, even Messeeh, at the fall of Bhurtpore. of working with their own hands Anund's speech would be good in the thing that is good. Many a Jewish times, for the leader of a gentleman, and many a clergyman carnal Israel, but not for Christians, 'sends his sons into the army and the followers of the Prince of to India, because it is honourable, Peace, “ because the darkness is and because standing behind a past, and the true light now counter is dishonourable. “ My shineth.” “ Time will show," said brethren, have not the faith of our Anund, " whether Bolodeb or Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Jesus is God.” What, did Jesus glory, with respect of persons.” preside there ? would He have in
I am a friend of missions, and terfered with such a scene of blood my heart goes along with those and devastation? would Jesus who are labouring in that good not have been the God of the work. Their achievements under English had they not taken BhurtChrist Jesus are splendid, because pore? I admire Anund's "zeal for they overcome by the blood of the God” but lament that it is “ not Lamb and the word of his testimony, altogether according to knowledge." and love not their lives unto death. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let Let their names be indeed recorded us walk in the light of the Lord : with honour, but never let us coun- let us not be dazzled with martial tenance the idea that the most glory, for it has no glory in our brilliant exploits performed in the eyes, by reason of the glory that field of arms are for one moment excelleth. Let us follow after the to be compared with the services things which make for peaceof those who have employed their and keep our children from those lives in promoting the salvation of notions which render them ashamed their fellow men. I lately read of honest employments.
ON THE GOODNESS OF GOD. “ The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
The Lord is good to all : and his tender mercies are over all his works.”—Ps. cxlv. 8, 9. Who can read these words without good a Being, who watches over being impressed with the goodness us for our safety, who is “ slow to and loving kindness of the Lord ? anger and of great mercy;" knowWhere can we find language more ing that “he taketh pleasure in consolatory to the feelings of a true them that fear him," and obey his penitent? “ The Lord is good righteous commandments. Let us to all," and showers down upon then humbly prostrate ourselves the children of men his fatherly pro- before his footstool, and rely on tection amidst the dangers and evils his providence for all that can that are in the world. " His ten- make life happy, and death supder mercies are over all his works," portable. O my God! hear the and be “ maketh the sun to shine prayers of thy humble servant; upon the just and the unjust.” “speak peace to my soul ; ” raise Although frail man errs so fre. in my mind the joyful expectation quently from the sacred paths, yet of another and a better life, and “ the Lord is gracious and full of when I die, receive me into heaven compassion ;” he“ willeth not the for Jesus Christ's sake, to praise death of a sinner, but rather that he and bless thy holy name for ever. should repent and live.” Surely we Amen. ought to adore and obey so great and
ON SELECTING PORTIONS OF THE SINGING PSALMS
FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP.
MR. Editor—You will I doubt am not acquainted with the Rev. not inuch oblige many of your Gentleman who preached, and readers, if you will inform them therefore know not how he felt; whose office it is to fix the portions but surely when so many excellent of the Psalms to be sung. I observe selections have been prepared to in some churches it is the general guard against such improprieties, rule to give out four verses ; in it is time the Ministers of such others as constantly but three. I places as retain the use of the entire allow that the exact number is version, old or new, should take of minor importance, the main care that proper portions are selected point is their being properly se- for the day. More than once within lected; and this I trust would a very few weeks, I heard the first generally be the case, would the three verses of Psalm lxii. given minister take the trouble to point out; the second and third verses thein out to the clerk the preceding of which run thusday; and he would moreover often
How long will ye contrive my fall, have the advantage of preparing Which will but hasten on your own? his congregation for the ensuing You'll totter, like a bending wall, discourse by his judicious choice. Or fence of uncemented stone. The present inquiry is occasioned
To make my envied honours less, by the following circumstances,
They strive with lies, their chief delight; which occurred at a populous vil. For they, though with their mouths lage but a few miles from London. they bless,
The first four verses of the 18th In private curse with inward spite. Psalm were given out by the clerk,
The impropriety of putting such and I presume as a matter of course
words into the mouths of a Christian without reading them. The fourth
congregation, struck me so forcibly, verse runs thus
that I sought diligently for some By floods of wicked men distress'd, cause, and especially why the With deadly sorrow coinpass'd round; fourth stanza was not used as a With dire infernal pangs oppress'd, conclusion, which contains the In death's unwieldy fetters bound; Psalmist's resolve to place his Now thought I to myself, What
entire reliance on God for needed can be the reason of stopping here?
strength to bear the shock of all It is Advent Sunday, that surely
his foes. No reason was assigned, ought not to be the cause—perhaps
but that three verses of that Psalm the sermon will explain it; none
were usual. Surely these things the nearer—it was a plain discourse
ought not to be. A few hints from adapted to the day. At last I was
you in the next number of your left to conclude that no other reason
valuable work, will, I hope, induce could be assigned, but that the clerk
some to remedy this evil, and oblige had been used to give out the said
Your's four verses, without any considera
RUSTICUS. tion of what it was that he had so
Dec. 1828. solemnly called on the congrega
*** We apprehend it is in all cases tion to "sing to the praise and the Minister's duty to appoint what glory of God.” The third verse Psalms or Hymns shall be sung. He would have formed a proper con- is clearly responsible if anything clusion ; but if four verses must be
was improper is introduced ; and may, by
what some regard as a trifling neglect, sung, why not omit the third, and
incur very serious, if not ruinous, conclude with the fifth stanza ? I consequences.--EDITOR.