An Earnest Ministry—the Need of the Times

John Angell James, 1847



I. Earnestness is demanded of the Christian minister, by both his THEME and his OBJECT.

When Pilate proposed to his illustrious prisoner the question, "What is truth?" he brought before him the most momentous subject which can engage the attention of a rational creature; and if Christ refused to give an answer, his silence is to be accounted for by the captious or trifling spirit of the questioner—and not by any insignificance in the question. Truth is the most valuable thing in the universe, next to holiness; and truth, even that truth which by way of eminence and distinction is called 'the truth'—is the theme of our ministry. Take any branch of general science, be it what it may, and however valuable and important it may be considered, its most enthusiastic student and admirer cannot claim for it that supremacy which is implied in the expression, 'the truth'. Who shall adjust the claims to this distinction of the various physical and moral sciences, and declare, in opposition to the false pretensions of usurpers, which is the rightful possessor of the throne? Who? The God of truth himself; and He has done it—He has placed the Bible on the seat of majesty in the temple of truth, and has called upon all systems of philosophy to fall down and do it homage.

This is our subject—eternal, immutable truth. Truth given pure from its Divine Source, and bearing with it the evidence and impress of its own Omniscient Author. O what, compared with the truths of Scripture, are the loftiest and noblest of the sciences—chemistry, with its beautiful combinations and affinities; or astronomy, with its astounding numbers, magnitudes, distances, and revolutions, of worlds; or geology, with its marvelous and incalculable dates of bygone ages? What is matter, inert or organized, however diversified, classified, or combined with its laws of necessity, compared with minds and souls, and the laws of moral truth by which their free actions are regulated? What is nature, compared with the God of nature? What the heavens and the earth, compared with the 'marvelous mind' which looks out upon them through the organ of vision, as from a window commanding the grand and boundless prospect? What the fleeting term of man's existence upon earth, with its little cycles of care, sorrow, and labor, compared with the eternal ages through which the soul holds on her course of deathless existence? The works of creation are a dim and twilight manifestation of God's nature, compared with the grandeur and more perfect medium of redemption. The person of the Lord Jesus Christ is itself a wonder and a mystery, compared with which all other displays of Deity are darkness; this is the shekinah in the holy of holies of the temple of God's creation, towards which all orders of created spirits, from the most distant parts of the universe, reverently turn and do homage to the great God our Savior.

This, this, is our theme—the truth of God concerning himself; the truth of an incarnate Deity; the truth of man's redemption by the cross; the truth of the moral law, the eternal standard of rectitude, the tree of knowledge of good and evil; the truth of the gospel, the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of God; the truth of immortality, of heaven, and of hell—the truth couched under the symbols of the Levitical law, and the visions of the Jewish prophets, and fully exhibited in the gospels of the evangelists, and the inspired letters of the apostles. Again I ask, exultingly and rapturously, what are the discoveries and inventions of science, compared with these themes? Viewing man in relation to immortality, as sinful and accountable, what is art or science, compared with revealed truth? And shall we, can we, be otherwise than earnest in the promulgation of this truth? Shall we touch such themes with a careless hand and a drowsy mind? Shall we slumber over truths which keep in wakeful and energetic activity all other orders of created intelligences, and which are at once the object and the rest of the Uncreated Mind?

Let us look at the earnestness, with which the sons of science pursue their studies. With what enthusiasm they delve into the earth, or gaze through the telescope at the heavens, or hang over the fire; with what prolonged and patient research they carry on their experiments, and pursue their analyses; how unwearied in toil, and how enduring in disappointment, they are; and how rapturously they hold up to the world's gazing and wondering eye some new particle of truth, which they have found out after all this peering and prying into nature's secrets! Ministers of the gospel, is it thus with the men who have to find out the truths of nature, and shall we who have the volume of inspired revealed truth opened before us, drone, loiter, and trifle over its momentous realities? Shall the example of earnestness be taken from him who analyses man's lifeless flesh, to tell us by the laws of organic chemistry its component parts, rather than from him who has to do with the truths that relate to the immortal soul? Shall he whose discoveries and lessons have no higher object than our material globe, and no longer date than its existence—be more intensely in earnest than we who have to do with the truth that relates to God and the whole moral universe—and is to last throughout eternity? What deep shame should cover us for our lack of ardor and enthusiasm in such a service as this!

And then what is the purpose for which this truth—so grand, so solemn, so sublime—is revealed by God, and is to be preached by us? Not simply to gratify curiosity; not merely to conduct the mind seeking for knowledge to the fountain where it may slake its thirst; no—but to save the immortal soul from sin, death, and hell, and conduct it to the abodes of glorious immortality. The man who can handle such topics, and for such a purpose, in an unimpassioned careless manner, and with an icy heart, is the most astounding instance of guilty lukewarmness in the universe—to his self-contradiction, no parallel can be found, and he remains a fearful instance how far it is possible for the human mind to go in the most obvious, palpable, and guilty inconsistency. A lack of earnestness in the execution of that commission, which is designed to save immortal souls from eternal ruin, and to raise them to everlasting life, is a spectacle which, if it were not so common, would fill us with amazement, indignation, and contempt.

We have read the speeches of the great masters of eloquence, both of ancient and modern times—and have sympathized with the intense concern, and untiring effort, with which they gave utterance to the mighty words that flashed from their burning souls; and do we condemn as an enthusiast the Athenian orator who so agonized to save his country from the yoke of Philip; the majestic Roman who roused the indignation of the republic against the treason of Cataline; or our own Wilberforce, who for twenty years lifted his voice in appeals to the justice and mercy of a British Parliament against the atrocities of the slave trade? On the contrary, we deem no eulogy sufficient to express our admiration of their noble enthusiasm. But our praise of them, is the condemnation of ourselves! For how far short of them do we fall in earnestness, though the salvation of a single soul, out of all the multitudes that come under the influence of our ministrations—is an event, which is inconceivably more momentous in its consequences, because enduring through eternity, than all the objects collectively for which those men exhausted the energies of their intellects and lives.

Do we really believe that we are either a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death—to those who hear us? Or is this mere official phraseology, never intended to be understood in the ordinary import of the words? Is it a matter of fact, or only the solemn garnish of a sermon, the trickery and puffing of pulpit vanity—that souls are perpetually rising from beneath our ministry into the felicities and honors of the heavens—or dropping from around our pulpits into the bottomless pit? Are companies of immortal spirits continually summoned from our congregations to inhabit eternity, and supply heaven or hell, to swell the numbers of the redeemed, or to add to the multitude of the lost? If this be true, (and we are gross deceivers, mere pulpit actors, reverend hypocrites, if we do not believe in its truth) then where is the earnestness that alone can give consistency to our profession, and is appropriate to our situation, and adequate to our convictions? Have we really become so carelessly, so criminally familiar with such topics as salvation and damnation—that we can descant upon them with the same calmness, coolness, not to say indifference, with which a public lecturer will discuss a branch of natural philosophy? O where is our reason, our godliness, our consistency?

II. Earnestness is imperatively demanded by the state of the human mind, viewed in relation to the truths and objects just set forth.

This was glanced at in an earlier part of the work—but must be now resumed and amplified. The entreating and beseeching importunity which was employed by the apostle—and which is found to be no less necessary for us—presupposes on the part of its objects, a reluctance to come into a state of reconciliation with God, which must be assailed by the force of vehement persuasion. Although we have to treat with a revolted world, a world engaged in mad conflict with Omnipotence—yet if the guilty rebels were weary of their hostilities, and in utter hopelessness of success, were prepared on the first offer of mercy to throw down their arms, and in the spirit of contrition sue for pardon—ours would be an easy mission, and we might spare ourselves the trouble of earnestness and admonition. But the very reverse is the case.

"The carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." The hearts of men are fully set to do evil. We find them taken up, occupied, influenced, governed—by the palpable and visible things of the present life; and our business is to engage them in constant resistance to the undue influence of seen and temporal things, by a vigorous faith in the things that are unseen and eternal. Our aim and labor are, by the power of the unseen world to come, to deliver them from the spell of the present state, with whose pageantry they are enamored, and under whose fascination they are well pleased to continue. And all the while they are so occupied by the pursuits of business, so engrossed by the cares, comforts, and trials of life; and are in such breathless haste to pursue, such distracting bustle to possess, and such ardent hope to enjoy, the various objects of their earthly desires, that when we call their attention to serious godliness, as the one thing needful, we are deemed intrusive, audacious, and troublesome—as one who would stop another in a race, to offer him an object foreign to that for which he is contending.

But the difficulty does not stop here; if this were all, we would have only a very small share of the opposition which now calls forth our energy and requires our most strenuous efforts; for when we have succeeded in gaining a hearing and arresting attention, we have to contend not only with an indisposition to receive the truth—but a determined hostility against it. To those who are naturally disposed to think well of themselves--we have to produce a sense of utter worthlessness and depravity! To those who will only admit only a few imperfections and infirmities—we have to displace their feeling of self-esteem, by one of self-condemnation and self-abhorrence! We have to substitute for a general and unhumbled dependence upon Divine mercy, such a conviction of exposure to the curse of God's violated law, as makes it difficult for the trembling penitent to see how his pardon can be harmonized with the claims of justice—to offer salvation upon terms which leave not the smallest room for self-congratulation, or the operation of pride; indeed to carry such a message as frequently excites disgust, calls forth the bitterest enmity of the human heart, and arouses all its self-love in determined hostility.

And then the salvation exhibited in the gospel is not only opposed to the pride—but also to the passions, of fallen man. It requires the excision of sins dear as our right hand, the surrender of objects which have enamored our whole soul, the breaking up of habits which have grown with our growth, and strengthened with our strength.

Sometimes we have, in addition to all this, to summon our hearers to a war without, as well as to a conflict within, and to verify the words of Christ, that he came to send a sword instead of peace, and to set parents against children, and children against parents. What minister has not sometimes felt his courage ready to quail, and his steadfastness in danger of faltering, when called to lead on some persecuted convert to brave the cruel mockings, reproaches, frowns, threats, and violence—of his nearest and dearest earthly connections? I agonize as I write, to think what I, among others, have witnessed of this kind. Verily it is through tribulation that some, even in these peaceful times, are called to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And then, following on the difficulties of the Christian ministry, to prevent the first impressions of divine truth from vanishing like the cloud, or exhaling like the dew; to drive the inquirer from finding repose any where but at the cross of Christ; to guard the feeble, and to inspire the timid with courage; to detect the deceit of the heart, and to aid the novice in breaking off from besetting sins; to inspire a resolution of crucifying the flesh, and to stimulate the soul to an ever onward progress in sanctification; to meet the epidemic malady of our sinful nature, which assumes so many shapes, and appears under such a variety of symptoms, with a proportionate and well adapted variety of treatment; to help the believer to beat down his foes under his feet, and amid all his various trials, temptations, and difficulties, to continue steadfast, immoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, notwithstanding the counteracting influence of much unremoved corruption in his heart—this, all this, must require in him who has to do it, earnestness of the most collected and concentrated kind.

To carry on the ministry of reconciliation in this revolted world, with the intention and desire of recovering its inhabitants from sin and Satan unto God, when the opposition to be overcome is considered, must appear to every reflecting mind the most hopeless of all human undertakings, apart from the aid of the Holy Spirit. It is this alone that can induce us to continue in the ministry another hour. Without this agency, we must retire in utter despair. But this is not to be conceived of, much less expected, apart from human instrumentality; and man's earnestness is the very species of instrumentality which the Divine Agent employs. It is not the feeble ministrations of the lukewarm and the negligent, that God blesses for the conversion of souls—but the heart-breathed, fervent wrestlings of the ardent and the diligent. He makes the winds his messengers, and flames of fire his ministers.

There is then a double argument for earnestness, in the difficulties which are to be subdued in the accomplishment of our object, and the necessity of the cooperating agency of the Spirit of God. The former shows the indispensable necessity of such earnestness, and the latter encourages us to put it forth. Without it, we cannot look for the aid of the Spirit; and without the aid of the Spirit, it would be exerted in vain. May we be able to take a right view both of our obstacles and our resources!

III. Consider the aspect of the times, as affecting the human mind, and the objects of our ministry.

The view which has been just given of the difficulties that lie in the way of the faithful minister, applies to all countries and to all times, inasmuch as the depravity of human nature is co-extensive with the race of man. But still there may, and do, exist circumstances to give greater force to these difficulties, in one age and country, which are not found, at any rate to the same amount, in others. The features of our own age are strikingly impressive, and in no small degree hostile to the success of the gospel, and the prevalence of evangelical piety.

The sphere of human pursuits, whether we consider the active or speculative departments, is filled with unusual energy and excitement. Earnestness is the characteristic of the age. If we turn our attention to TRADE, we see men throwing their whole soul into its busy occupations, and laboring as if their salvation in another world depended upon their success on earth. What ardor of competition; what rage for speculation; what looking about for novel schemes, and what eagerness to embrace them when offered; what hazardous and reckless gambling do we see all around us; leaving out the impetus to all this which the railway system has introduced, and saying nothing of the multitudes, who, instead of plodding onward in the beaten path of regular trade, endeavor, by watching the stock market, to make one bound to wealth—how engrossing are the pursuits of secular business, in these days of large returns and small profits! Think of the consumption of time, and the absorption of soul, which are necessary to maintain credit and respectability; and also the strength of religious principle which is indispensable to follow the things that are just, true, honorable, and of good report. How many professors are in danger of being carried away, how many are carried away, by the tricks, artifices, and all but actual dishonesties, of modern trade?

What but a powerful and energetic ministry can be expected to rouse and help God's professing people to bear up against, and to keep in check, much more to subdue, this sordid and selfish spirit? What can be sufficient but an intense devotedness on the part of ministers to make unseen and eternal things, bear down the usurping power of seen and temporal things? Who but the man that knows how to deal with invisible realities, and to wield the powers of the world to come, can pluck the worldling from the whirlpool of earthly mindedness, which sucks down so many, or prevent the professing Christian from being drawn into it? If our own minds are not much impressed with the solemn glories and terrors of eternity, we cannot speak of these things in such a manner as is likely to rescue our hearers from the ruinous fascinations of Mammon. How we seem to want a Baxter and a Doolittle; an Edwards and a Howe; a Whitfield and a Wesley—to break in with their thunder upon the money-loving, money-grasping spirit of this ungodly age!

Then think of the engrossing power of POLITICS. What a spell has come over the popular mind from this source, since the tremendous outburst of the French revolution! For more than half a century the potency of this subject has been perpetually augmenting, until the rustic in the village, as well as the merchant in the city; the recluse student of the cloister, no less than the man of the exchange, have alike yielded themselves up to the influence of the newspaper, now accommodated, not only to every party in politics—but to every creed in religion, and at the same time cheapened down almost to the poorest member of society. This is matter neither of surprise, nor provided it does not thrust out of consideration other and still more important matters, of regret. It is but the constitution of our country developing the energies of its popular element. The people are claiming their share of power and influence; may they prepare themselves by knowledge and piety to exercise it rightly!

While all this is obvious in the state of modern society, will anyone deny that we need an earnest ministry to break in some degree the spell, and leave the soul at liberty for the affairs of the kingdom which is not of this world? When politics have come upon the minds, hearts, and imaginations of the people, for six days out of the seven, invested with the charms of eloquence, and decked with the colors of party; when the orator and the writer have both thrown the witchery of genius over the soul; how can it be expected that tame, spiritless, vapid common-places from the pulpit, sermons coming neither from the head nor the heart, having neither weight of matter, nor grace of manner; neither genius to compensate for the lack of taste, nor taste to compensate for the lack of genius; and what is still worse, having no unction of evangelical truth, no impress of eternity, no radiance from heaven, no terror from hell—in short, no adaptation to awaken reflection, to produce conviction, or to save the soul; how can it be expected, I say, that such sermons can be useful to accomplish the purposes for which the gospel is to be preached? What chance have such preachers, amid the tumult, to be heard or felt, or what hold have they upon public attention, amid the high excitement of the times in which we live? Their hearers too often feel, that listening to their sermons on the Sabbath, after what they have heard or read during the week, is as if they were turning from brilliant light, to the dim and smoking spark of a candle.

Another characteristic of our age is an ever-growing taste for elegance, refinement, and luxurious gratification. I cannot wonder at this, nor, if it be kept within proper bounds, greatly regret it. It is next to impossible that the progress of art, and the increase of wealth, should not add to the embellishments of life, and multiply the sources of tasteful enjoyment. But just in proportion as we multiply the attractions of earth—is the danger of our making it our all—and leaving heaven out of sight, and learning to do without it. This is now affecting the church, and the hardy and self-denying spirit of our practical Christianity is in danger of being weakened, and of degenerating into a soft and sickly wastefulness. Elegance and extravagance, luxurious entertainments and expensive feasts, are beginning to corrupt the simplicity that is in Christ—and amid sumptuous buildings, gorgeous furniture, costly dress, and mirthful decorations, professors of religion are setting their affections too much upon things upon earth, and turning away from the glory of the cross, to the vanities of the world.

Who is to call them off from this 'painted pageantry', and make them by God's grace feel how vain are all these things? Who can set up a breakwater against the billows of this ocean of worldly-mindedness, and guard the piety of the church from being entirely swept away by a flood of worldliness and ungodliness? Who but a pastor that can speak in power and demonstration of the Spirit, a man who shall rise Sabbath after Sabbath in the pulpit, clothed with a potency to throw into shadow, by his vivid representations of heaven and eternity, all these 'painted nothings', on which his hearers are in danger of squandering their immortal souls?

Akin to this is a continually augmenting desire after AMUSEMENT, for which droves of people are constantly yearning. A love for pleasure, diversion, and recreation, is an ever-increasing appetite—and there are those who are ever ingenious and ever busy to supply its demands. Godliness is no enemy to reasonable enjoyment, even though it be not strictly scriptural; and those who supplant the low and vulgar sensualities on which the multitude have fed, by pleasures more refined and elevated, are doing service to their country and to their species. But still, a taste for amusement, both mental and bodily, may be carried too far, and many foreseeing and deeply reflective minds are of opinion that it is prevailing too far now.

There cannot be a thoughtful mind, if it looks upon our sojourn in this world as a probation for eternity—but must reflect with serious alarm and grief upon the endless devices which are suggested by the wisdom that comes from beneath, to hide from men their duty and their destiny as immortal creatures. It seems as if by common consent, men were striving who should be most successful, by inventing new kinds of diversions, to blot from the mind all considerations of eternity.

Pleasure-taking is the taste of the day, a taste which has been increased into an appetite by the facilities for traveling afforded by railways. Before its desolating influence, the sanctity of the Sabbath, and with it of course the prevalence of godliness, are likely to be destroyed. It may be said that anything is better than the ale-house and the gin-shop. This is freely admitted—but it may be questioned whether some of the modern stimulants to pleasure do not lead to, and not from, those scenes of iniquity. The people, it is affirmed, must have recreation. Be it so—but let it be of a healthful kind, and let the great aim of all who have any influence upon the public mind be to endeavor to implant a taste for the recreations afforded by cheap and wholesome literature, by quiet home enjoyments, and, above all, by the sacred delights of true piety.

In connection with this may be mentioned, as one particular species of amusement, the taste for works of humor, which has much increased in this country within the last ten years. There is no sin in mirth; man is made to enjoy it, and there is a time to laugh as well as to weep. And he must be a very people-hater, a vampire which in the dark night of sorrow would suck the last drop of happiness from the human sufferer, who would forbid the smiles of gladness, and everything which ministers to the gratification of the laughter-loving heart. But it is a different thing from this, to wish to keep this propensity within due bounds, to prevent it from becoming the staple of life, and to remind men that they have other things to do in this world than to laugh and be merry.

Vaughan says, "A fondness for grotesque jokes and everlasting caricature, bears as little resemblance to manly feeling, as the ecstasies of a young lady over the last new novel. Truth is a grave matter, and can owe little ultimately to the services of a buffoon. It loses half its dignity, if often presented in association with the ridiculous. Those who find their chief pleasure in broad farce, are rarely capable of a due exercise of earnest and reverential feeling. Your great wits do not spare their best friends, and your votaries of fun are generally people prepared to sacrifice anything to their god. The mind which is accustomed to pay much homage to the laughers, too often forgets to pay a real homage to anything higher. In such a service, the fine edge of moral feeling is almost of necessity worn away. Not that we should send a man to the gallows because he has indulged a laugh. On the contrary, the man who cannot so indulge is not a man to our liking. There is something wrong in him, physically, mentally, and morally. All truly healthful men, in the spiritual as well as in the natural sense, know how to enjoy their laugh. But your great laughers are generally slow workers. To make a merriment of folly is not to displace it by wisdom. Our proper business here is neither to grin nor to whine—but to be men. We say not that good may never be done by means of ridicule—but we are convinced that its general effect is such as we have ventured to indicate."

These are wise and true sayings, as seasonable as they are important, and called for by the excessive taste for that species of composition which now prevails. If anything need be added in corroboration of these arguments it is the fact stated by the justly lamented Dr. Arnold, that since the publication of periodical works of humor, he had perceived a visible declension of manly sentiment and serious thoughtfulness among the elder boys of his school. This is strong and decisive testimony as to the influence of a continued indulgence in broad farce. Is there not precisely the same effect produced on the minds of our young men? Nothing can be more opposed to the serious spirit which true godliness requires, or more destructive of it, than this constant supply of new materials for laughter. Nor does the mischief stop with the young and the worldly, it is infecting the professors of religion. It is hard to conceive how earnestness and spirituality can be maintained by those whose tables are covered, and whose leisure time is consumed, by the bewitching inspirations of the 'god of laughter'. There is little hope of our arresting the evil, except we make it our great business to raise up a ministry who shall not themselves be carried away with the torrent; who shall be grave, without being gloomy; serious, without being melancholy; and who, on the other hand, shall be cheerful without being frivolous, and whose chastened mirthfulness shall check, or at any rate reprove, the excesses of their companions.

What a demand does this state of things prefer for the most intense earnestness in our Sabbath-day exercises, both our prayers and our sermons! In this modern taste we have a new obstacle to our usefulness of a most formidable kind, which can be subdued only by God's blessing upon our fidelity and zeal. Men are needed, who shall by their learning, science, and general knowledge, give weight to their opinions, and influence to their advice, in their private communion with their flocks; and shall, by their powerful and evangelical preaching, control this taste, and counteract it by a better.

Nor must I omit to notice, and to notice with peculiar emphasis, the impetus that is now given to the human understanding through all its gradations, from the highest order of intellect down to the humblest classes of the laboring population. I have already alluded to this subject—but on account of its importance must here refer to it again, and a little more at length. As regards the laboring classes, education is advancing among them with rapid strides. The poor must, and will, be instructed. The change of opinion on this subject that has come over a large portion of the community within the last quarter of a century, is indeed marvelous; and instead of tirades upon the danger of educating the people, we now hear from the same people, diatribes upon the evils of ignorance. This is a happy change, and its results will be auspicious—but they will not be without some temporary admixture of evil. It is really refreshing to read the schemes which are now put forth for the education of the working classes, by all parties in religion and politics. And improvement in education is not confined, and cannot be confined, to the lower classes. The 'universal mind' is awakened, and in motion onwards—it is in a state of intense excitement and irrepressible activity. Discoveries in science, and inventions in art, come so fast upon us, that we have scarcely recovered from the surprise produced by one, before another calls upon us to indulge in new wonder. Feats of human skill, especially in the department of engineering, are performed or projected, which make man, in the pride of his intellect, feel as if nothing was impossible to him.

As might be expected, knowledge is flowing, by the thousand rills of the press and cheap books, through every department of society. The annual expenditure of millions in cheap literature shows to what extent information on all subjects is reaching all classes from workmen upwards. Knowledge is the great idol around which the multitudes are gathering to pay their homage and record their vows. Is there anything in such a state of things at which the friends of godliness should take alarm? Quite the contrary. Christianity began her career, as every novice in history well knows, in the most enlightened age, and among the most polished nations of antiquity; and has never from that moment to the present, shrunk from the day-light of learning and science, to skulk in the darkness and gloom of barbaric ignorance; and its ministers should ever be foremost as the patrons of knowledge.

But it is evident that such a state of things requires their indomitable earnestness in the sacred duties of their calling, to secure for godliness its due pre-eminence amid all the various claimants upon the public attention. Allowing to general knowledge all the importance that is claimed for it, it is not, apart from godliness, a 'universal remedy', which can heal the disorders, and restore the moral health of diseased humanity. There are some who dream (and all history proves it to be but a dream), of repairing the moral disorders of the world, by the principles of reason and the aid of secular education. They think they can regulate society without godliness, and renew the heart of man without God. We might ask them what philosophy did for such purposes in Egypt its cradle, or in Greece its temple? They forget that by the permission of Providence a grand experiment was made in the latter country, during the five centuries next preceding the Christian era, by the sages of its schools, to see what knowledge, apart from Divine revelation, could do to reform the moral world, and make it virtuous and happy. We venture to call for the result, and if the advocates of 'human reason' refuse to give it, an apostle shall supply the answer—"The world by wisdom knew not God." Still more in point is his testimony in Romans 1:28-32.

It would seem as if, not satisfied with a single demonstration, our modern philosophers were hazarding a second trial. Again with still greater advantages, and with still greater confidence, they are flocking to the ordeal. Education is to be improved and extended; the press is pouring forth its cheap literature; science is broken down to such fragments, and measured out in such drops as even children's minds can receive and digest; and every appliance is to be furnished to give effect to the knowledge thus communicated; lecturers on all subjects are traveling through the country, and pouring forth streams of information in every direction; while rational and invigorating amusements are to come in to aid the general improvement. Those who believe in the sufficiency of knowledge alone to "improve the taste and raise the morals of the nation", indulge in the largest expectations that society will be morally reformed by these laborious efforts. But, without a prophet's eye, we may predict they are doomed to certain and bitter disappointment. We may confidently anticipate that the second experiment will have the same result as the first, and prove not only that the world by wisdom will never know God—but that nothing less than 'the foolishness of preaching' will achieve its moral reformation. The state of our popular literature, as molded to a considerable extent by these men, proves that the experiment of teaching mankind to do without godliness, is going on.

In much of what is read by the masses, there is unconcealed hostility to Christianity. Infidelity of the boldest and most daring kind is availing itself of many of the cheap publications of the day, with an energy and a success that would astound as well as alarm those who are not in the secret. But still many guides of the popular mind, perhaps most of them, would not patronize this open assault upon the foundations of our faith—they go a more insidious, though scarcely a less injurious way to work. They act upon the principle that the best way to attack godliness, and the least likely to shock prejudice and excite alarm, is to say nothing about it, to treat the whole subject as a negation, a nonentity, a thing to be forgotten, with which it is no part of their business to concern themselves, and which may be left to float quietly to the gulf of oblivion. In many cases false principles on the subject of revealed religion, are worked into the staple of scientific books, and many readers are made infidels almost before they are aware of the dreadful perversion. All that it is thought necessary to provide for the millions, in the way of reading, is amusement and general knowledge—and to a very great extent the object is accomplished. The laboring classes, with increasing knowledge, are more and more alienated from godliness. The masses are not won to Christianity—but sullenly stand aloof from it, doubting whether it deserves their attention.

In such a state of things, what kind of ministry is it that is needed? The answer is easy—men of earnestness; of earnest intellects, earnest hearts, earnest preaching, and earnest faith. Men whose understanding shall command respect, whose manner shall conciliate affection, and whose ministrations shall attract by their beauty, and command by their power. The accessibility of the laboring classes gives us an advantage in approaching them; neither prejudice nor fashion bars us out from them. We have neither to scale the walls of bigotry, nor to silence or evade the dogs of angry intolerance—the door is open, and we may walk in. But we must be men of the age, men who understand it; and who know how to avail ourselves of its advantages, and to surmount its difficulties. But I cannot do better here than refer to an admirable article on 'the Modern Pulpit', the following extract from which is to the point.

"What is good preaching? Alas, how many answers would be given to this question! And yet is not the true answer—the preaching by which souls are saved? Then, the best preaching must be that by which the greatest number of souls are saved. In order to that end, however, men must be brought within the sphere of the pulpit; and to bring the greatest number of men within that sphere is the design of Dr. Vaughan in his treatise, and it is ours. In one word, what we specifically lack in the modern pulpit is, 'adaptation'. Now we have read a good deal in our time, not more than enough, of the necessity of adapting the efforts of the pulpit to the constitution of the human mind, to man's moral nature, to his actual condition as fallen, guilty, wretched, and exposed to future punishment. And not seldom have we read most seasonable injunctions, addressed to our young ministers, on the personal adaptation of their discourses to the condition of individual men. All this we regard as of equal importance at all times, and in all conceivable circumstances. But at present our aim is to excite as much attention as we can to the truth, that along with these general and fixed adaptations, there is required a constantly varying adaptation to the constantly progressive changes of society."

The writer then goes on to explain what he means by this varying adaptation of the pulpit to the advancement in society, in reference to one portion of it, the working classes.

"Education is raising these great masses of the community into higher degrees of intellectual culture. New powers are at work. Incredible facilities are multiplied for diffusing knowledge, spreading opinions, and increasing the number of thinkers. Now in such an age, to say nothing of other views of society, it is obviously the duty of evangelical preachers to adapt themselves to the circumstances in which they are placed; not by withdrawing from the pulpit the great themes of the gospel, and substituting for them philosophic truth, or a rationalized gospel; but by such a general line of conduct with reference to the circumstances of a growingly enlightened age, and such a strain of preaching as shall lay hold of the public mind, and bring it under that doctrine, which, and which only, is the power of God unto salvation. Let there be a just estimate formed, and which to be just cannot be a low one, of the mental powers of the common people; a judicious and hearty sympathy with their real needs and reasonable wishes; a studious consideration of the means by which the multitude shall be brought back to the sanctuaries of godliness, which they have to a considerable extent deserted; an assiduous endeavor to connect the functions of the pastor with the literary cultivation of the people. For these purposes let there be correct information of their state of intellect, their prevailing habits, their peculiar temptations, their literary tendencies and aspirations, as to the books they read; let there be all this—but then let it be only as so much power put forth to bring these masses under the influence of the gospel. Oh, it were a noble triumph of the modern pulpit, to see men of strong principle, and self-controlling wisdom, gathering round them the most boisterous elements of our social atmosphere, conducting the lightnings with which its darkest thunder-clouds are charged, and showing to the nation they have saved, that the preaching of the cross is still the 'Power of God.'"

Of course such an enterprise of home-evangelization will require that our ministers shall be men of action. Adaptation, then, there may be, and should be, in the sermons and the general habits of the ministry, to the age in which they live, in the way of laying hold of public attention, widening the sphere of their action, and adding to their influence as preachers of the cross. Stronger intelligence, profounder thinking, more logical argumentation, more varied illustration, more lively composition, more refined sentiment, more genuine philosophy, may be required in this, than in some preceding ages; but all must be in harmony with the simplicity that is in Christ, and must appear only so much added to the height or ornaments of a pedestal which is to exalt the Savior, and not to exhibit an idol, however beautiful, in his place.

Having referred to the state of public opinion and feeling with reference to godliness among the lower classes, it may not be amiss to glance at the higher and more educated portions of the community. Many of these are moving in two lines, or in a stream that divides into two channels; and flows in two diverging directions; the devout and imaginative going off to 'ritualism', and a large part of the rest to 'philosophical infidelity'. Many of our men of letters have adopted a loose, unsystematized theism, which is in some cases a new edition of the opinions of our English deists of the last century; and in another, and a still more numerous class, bears a strong affinity to the pantheistic or mystic theory of the German philosophy. The disposition of modern science, in some of its more illustrious votaries, is to retire from revealed religion, as if ashamed to be seen in its company.

It is indeed a melancholy spectacle to witness such a man as Humboldt, whose eye has seen so much of the visible universe, and whose pen has recorded so ably the researches of his vast genius; whose intellect seemed formed by the Creator—not only to study his works but to proclaim his glories—send forth such a work as "Kosmos," and in that work declare it was no part of his business to trace the wonders he describes, to their still more wondrous Author! How deeply painful to see this high priest of nature officiating with such zeal and devotion at the shrine of matter, and yet never throwing one grain of incense on the altar of the Infinite Mind who made the worlds! Yet this is only a specimen of other similar cases. Alas, alas, that such a mind should be so warped by the modes of thinking prevalent among his countrymen, and should have sent forth perhaps his last gift to the lovers of science, with the atheistic pantheism too obviously interwoven in it!

In such a view of the state and tendency of educated minds in this age, I see an additional argument for an earnest, and at the same time intelligent and educated ministry. We need men, and we are not without them already, who can enter the lists and do battle with the seductive and dangerous forms of error that have done such mischief on the continent of Europe, and are likely, without great vigilance and stout resistance, to repeat the mischief here also. The spirit of this atheistic philosophy is at the present moment widely diffusing itself through the English and American mind. Education will no longer be confined to literature and natural science. A disposition and determination are formed to explore the 'world of mind', as well as that of matter, and to give to subjective studies a place, and that a very high one, perhaps above the objective ones. Psychology is now the favorite pursuit of great multitudes of reflective intellects, and will be still more so. The mind of Germany is operating with power and success upon the mind of England, to an extent which is surprising, and in some views of the case alarming. It is, one would think, impossible to trace the progress of transcendentalism, and to see how, as it diverged more and more widely from the metaphysics of our own land, it has associated itself with rationalism in theology, and led on to pantheism in philosophy—and not feel some apprehension for the result of its introduction to this country.

Perhaps the 'practical character of the English mind' will be one of our safeguards against a system which to the great multitude must ever remain a matter of mere scientific speculation. It may, however be feared that some of our young ministers, and our students in theology, especially those of speculative habits, captivated by the daring boldness, the intellectual vigor, and the theoretic attractions of the great German philosophers, may too adventurously launch forth on this dangerous ocean, and make shipwreck of their doctrinal simplicity, and practical usefulness. Let them be assured that neither the transcendentalism of Kant, nor the eclecticism of Cousin, is a safe guide for men who would be useful in saving souls. The warning voice has already been lifted up in high places on the other side of the Atlantic, where German philosophy was likely at one time to be received with avidity; and there will not be lacking voices to utter words of warning in this country also. It would not only be useless—but unwise to treat this, or any other system of philosophy, as the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which the command of God, and the flaming sword of the cherubim forbid us to approach—this, as well as every other object of human inquiry, may be studied, and by a cautious and discriminating mind, may be studied with advantage. I would by no means contend that there is nothing in the industry of German investigation, in its method of analysis, in its habit of considering everything subjectively; or even in the systems which are the fruits of its researches, which may not be borrowed with advantage by ourselves; but I must raise my voice in emphatic protest against what I see manifested by some in this country—the willing and entire surrender of the understanding to a school, the masters of which have left us no gospel but a fable, and no God but Nature.

A work has lately made its appearance, which is likely to be extensively circulated among those who have any taste for philosophical studies, or any wish to become acquainted with German literature, and which cannot fail to command attention, and will certainly secure for its accomplished author the admiration and respect of his readers; I mean the "History of Modern Philosophy," by the Rev. J. D. Morell. It is impossible to deny that this gentleman unites to fidelity as an historian, the impartiality and candor of a true philosopher, and great ability as a writer. It is on some accounts a happy circumstance that such a subject has fallen into his hands, since Mr. Morell's attachment to evangelical truth, will qualify him, I trust, to be a safe pilot for the English mind through the perilous seas he has undertaken to navigate. It may be hoped that his own attachment to the subjective system of philosophy will not lead his ardent readers and admirers to go further in that direction than his own discriminating and well-balanced mind would wish or approve; and I am quite sure that he would join with many, who are perhaps more apprehensive than he, is of the influence of German philosophy, in the opinion, that no more direct way can be taken by our young ministers to hinder their usefulness, than to allow such studies to obscure the simplicity of their thinking, or to deaden the energy of their manner, as preachers of the gospel; and I hope that he would also most emphatically say, "Beware lest any man spoil you (as preachers) through philosophy and vain deceit.

"What we need is, that the very system of doctrine which we now have, shall come to us not in word only—but in power. As things stand at present, our creeds and confessions have become effete, and the Bible a dead letter—and that orthodoxy which was at one time the glory of our churches, by withering into the inert and lifeless, is now the shame and the reproach of all our churches." (Chalmers)

Surely nothing more need be said to show and prove what kind of men are needed for such an age, and to indicate that for times of such excitement, we must have ministers of strong intelligence, simple faith, and entire devotedness. It is, in every view we can take of it, an earnest age, and earnest men alone can at such a time do anything anywhere, and least of all in the pulpit. Events, with trumpet-call, summon us to our post, with every faculty awake, and every energy engaged. Amid the din of business, of politics, of science, and of fashion; amid the jests of laughers, the eloquence of orators, and the clamor of politics—the voice of the preacher will not be heard, unless he speaks loudly. Nor shall he be listened to, unless he speaks earnestly and intelligently. We shall gain no heed for our holy religion—unless we put forth all our strength; it will be pushed aside, overborne, trampled down in the jostling crowd—if we do not exert our mightiest energies to bear it up, and to make way for it through the throng and the strife of earnest secularities.

Let us not deceive ourselves by substituting anything else for this. It may be all very well and proper in its place to keep pace with the times in which we live as regards other matters; in classical, mathematical, and philosophical literature, in academic degrees, in tasteful architecture; but these things, in the absence of a living power of intense devotedness, will be but as flowers to shed their fragrance upon our grave, or as sculpture to decorate our tomb!

IV. We may next contemplate the earnestness displayed by some other religious bodies, with which, it may be truly said, we have to compete, and in some instances to contend.

And first of all let us look at the activity of the Church of Rome. What a change has of late years come over that dreadful system, so far as its external circumstances are concerned! Many are disposed to think lightly of its present condition, efforts, prospects, and hopes—and it will be acknowledged it is unwise and imprudent for Protestants to lend their aid in magnifying the power and swelling the pride and expectations of the Man of Sin. But it is no less unwise and imprudent on the other hand to miscalculate his forces, to shut our eyes to his efforts, and to deny his victories. What we need is just as much of alarm as shall rouse us to action, without producing panic; enough of fear to lead us to buckle on our armor, and yet not so much as to paralyze our energy. Look at the condition and prospects of Popery now, as compared with what they were soon after the French revolution. Weakened by the withering scorn of an infidel philosophy, to which its own corruption had given rise, it was ill-prepared to sustain the shock of that solemn outbreak of human passion, and fell an apparently lifeless corpse before it. The Gallican church was subverted; its priests banished; its property confiscated; its places of worship closed. A French army was in possession of Rome, and the Pope a prisoner in France, while his adherents were trembling and dispersed in all parts of the world. The opponents of Romanism exulted in the confidence that its days were numbered, and its end was come. They exulted too soon. The lifeless corpse which then lay prostrate in Europe, has since then shown signs of returning animation, its wounds have been healed, it has risen from the earth, and recovering its full health, is going forth at this time with giant strength to contend with Protestantism for the mastery of the world.

Popery has gained political power in England. It is renewing its old fight in France for the education of the people; its chapels, its priests, its bishops, its monks, its missions, are everywhere multiplying. Its ancient craft and cruelty are again called into activity, as Tahiti can witness. It is drawing hundreds, if we include both clergy and laity, of influential people from the Church of England, and tainting with its spirit hundreds more who remain behind to diffuse the corruption still more widely. It has done much to blot from the memory of statesmen its past history, and to hide from their eyes its hideous form; and with an ardor kindling to an intense flame, and a hope flushed into a stronger confidence by these victories, it is still going on from conquering to conquer. Rome has however to set off against these bright signs, portents as fearful and appalling—the confiscation of ecclesiastical property and the dissolution of monasteries in Spain; the rapid defection going on in Germany; the conversion to Protestantism of whole congregations and parishes in the south of France; the rising spirit of free enquiry even in Italy; and the growth of knowledge and the advance of education everywhere.

The great battle of the Reformation has to be fought over again, we are in the field of action, the forces are mustered and the conflict going on; and we are unworthy of the position and false to our vows if we do not give our best and noblest energies to the cause. Let us take pattern from our foes, and imitate their intensity of action. They are in earnest—if we are not. Were it possible for us to see a perfect disclosure, in one bird's-eye view, of all that is going on in the Vatican—that most astounding instance of centralization, outside of the bottomless pit—could we see the gigantic intellects, burning hearts, and busy hands, that are working in that focus of all daring and mischievous attacks upon the world's intellectual and spiritual welfare, we would feel that we are safe from the tyranny of that audacious system, only under the vigilance of the Omniscient eye, and the protection of the Omnipotent arm. But that help and that vigilance are not to be looked for by the supine and lukewarm, and can be expected only by zealous activity and confiding prayer. (Since these pages were written, what wondrous convulsions have shaken all, and revolutionized some, of the nations by which the Papacy is upheld. While I write, the seat of the Beast, the throne of Antichrist, is tottering. The Pope is a fugitive, Rome is in the hands of the people, and Italy itself likely to become the domain of liberty! What shall the end of these things be?)

But this is not the only instance of earnestness which we should contemplate, and from which we should gain a stimulus for our own activity. The Church of England also is in earnest. Many of us can recollect the time when it was not so. A pervading secularity characterized her clergy; a drowsy indifference her people. If the clergy got their tithes, and ate, drank, and were merry; and the people got christening, confirmation, and the sacrament when they died—it was all they cared for. The only thing that moved either of them to a pang of zeal, was the coming of the Methodists into the parish; and when they were mobbed away, they relapsed again into their former apathy. Exceptions there were, bright and blessed—but they were only exceptions. Thank God it is not so now. A vivifying wind has swept over the valley of dry bones, and an army not only of living—but of life-giving, men has sprung up. Venn, Berridge, and Romaine; Newton, Cecil, and Simeon, have lived and have awakened a new spirit in the church to which they belonged. Look at that church as she is now to be seen, full of energy and earnestness—divided it is true into parties, as to theological opinion; to a considerable extent Romanized in her spirit, and aggressive in her designs; but how instinct with life, and a great deal of it life of the best kind! Even the clergy are all now active, preaching, catechizing, visiting the sick, instituting and superintending schools. The day is happily gone by when the taunt of fox-hunting, play-going, ball-frequenting parsons, could be with justice thrown at the clergy of the State-church—they are now no longer to be found in those scenes of folly and vanity—but at the bed-side of the sick man, or in the cottage of the poor one. We must rejoice in their labors and in their success, except when their object and their aim are to crush Dissenters. There are very many among them of the true apostolic succession in doctrine, spirit, and devotedness—many whose piety and zeal we would do well to emulate—many to be united with whom in the bonds of private friendship and public co-operation, is among the felicities of my life.

Sincerely and cordially attached to their church, they are laboring in season and out of season, to promote its interests. Who can blame them? Instead of this, let us imitate them. Their zeal and devotedness are worthy of it. I know their labors, and am astonished at them. Think of a clergyman, and multitudes of such there are, who, besides his other labors, spends four or five hours every day in going from house to house, visiting the sick, instructing the ignorant, comforting the distressed. Can we wonder that such men should lay hold on the public mind? Is it not in the natural course of things that it should be so? It is admitted that the clergyman of a parish has advantages for this species of pastoral occupation which we have not—he considers all the people within a certain topographical limit as belonging to him, as being in fact his charge; and most, if not all, of them, except such as by profession belong to other denominations, look upon him in the light of their minister. This ever active assiduity, in addition to the Lord's-day exercises, is admonitory to us. Can we see this new sight, the whole Church establishment, from the Archbishop of Canterbury down to the curate of the smallest village, with all their comprehensive agency of Pastoral Aid Societies, Ladies' District Visiting Societies, Scripture Readers, Church of England Tract Societies, and other means of influence and power, in busy commotion, dotting the land all over with churches and schools, and by all these efforts laboring so entirely to occupy the nation, as to leave no room for, and to prove there is no need of, any other body of Christians.

Can we have all this constantly before our eyes, and not see our need of an earnest ministry, not only if we would maintain our ground—but make any advance? Not that I mean to assert that the evangelical clergy would altogether wish to push us off the ground. I believe there are many who unfeignedly rejoice in the existence, operations, and success, both of the Methodists and Dissenters, and who would consider it a deep calamity for the nation if they were arrested in their career of evangelical ministration. The spirit of the Evangelical Alliance is diffusing itself abroad. Sectarianism is, I hope, beginning to wither at the root; and Christian charity is grappling with the demon of bigotry. But still we are at present not prepared for the fusion and amalgamation of all parties into one, and until then we may learn from each other; and with the most entire goodwill towards my brethren in the Church of England, without envy or jealousy, I call upon my other brethren, those within my own denomination, to imitate the zeal among the clergy of the Establishment, of which they are witnesses.

I am a Dissenter from conviction, as well as by education, and know not the lure which would induce me, or the suffering which would terrify me, to abandon my principles. I believe as I ever have believed, since I reflected upon the subject, that the Establishment of religion by the enactments of secular legislation—has no sanction from the New Testament—is a corruption of Christianity—and is injurious to its spirit. And I believe the time will come, when the same views will be entertained by all the genuine followers of Christ; hence I am, and ought to be, anxious, while I cultivate a spirit of brotherly love towards those who differ from me, to uphold, though without wrath, malice or any uncharitableness, the denomination by which my conscientious opinions are embodied and expressed.

Dissenters of England, and especially Dissenting ministers, I say therefore unto you, be in earnest; first of all, and chief of all, in attachment to the doctrines of evangelism, to the creed of Protestantism, to the great principles which God has employed in every age and country where true religion has had existence, to vitalize the dead, and purify the corrupt, world. Be it your prayer, your endeavor, your hallowed ambition, to possess a ministry of competent learning, and especially of soundly evangelical sentiment; a ministry which as regards their pulpit ministrations, shall be the power of God to the salvation of souls; a ministry which in the simplicity of their discourses and the intensity of their zeal, the fervor of their piety, and the all-comprehending extent of their labors, shall vie with the best specimens of the clergy of the Church of England. There is earnestness among them, and if we would not be swallowed up in the rising tide of their zeal, let us meet it with a corresponding intensity. Let each minister, in his own separate and individual sphere of action, set himself to work, and put forth all his energies, without waiting for cooperation with others. Not that I speak against cooperation. We have far too little of it, and this is our weakness. In polity we are too independent, and should be vastly improved as regards our internal condition and our external influence, if we were more compact. But as to pastoral earnestness, we need not wait for others—each man can do what he wills, and may do much, though no other man did anything. Pastoral activity, like Christian piety, is a matter of individual obligation, and no one is so dependent upon his neighbors, that he needs to halt until they are ready to march with him.

Nor is it necessary nor proper, advocate though I am of the Evangelical Alliance, that we should be silent as to our views of the spirituality of Christ's kingdom. As we are not to sacrifice love for truth, so neither are we to sacrifice truth for love, nor to throw away a smaller diamond of truth out of regard to a larger one. All truth must be held, as well as all love. I differ from some of my brethren in my views of certain confederations for the maintenance and spread of our Nonconformity, because I believe that whatever good they may do in one way, they do more harm in others; but I do not differ from them in my conviction that our principles ought, as a part of the New Testament, to be taught, and to be taught with earnestness. If true, they must be important, and if important at all, very important—subordinate I know, immeasurably so, to the doctrines whereby men are saved; but still of consequence. Provided the gross misrepresentation, the exaggerated statement, the studied caricature, the uncharitable imputation, the withering sarcasm, the bitter irony, and the malevolent ridicule—be expunged from controversy, and there be as much of the delicacy of love, as there is of the firmness of truth, there can be no harm—but must be much good, not only in stating our own opinions—but in answering those who differ from us. All systems of church-polity derive their value and importance from their subserviency to the cause of evangelism. Church-of-Englandism or Dissent apart from this, is but as the pole without the healing serpent which it was erected to exhibit; and to be zealous about either, except as viewed in reference to the truth as it is in Jesus, is but like contending about the wood of the cross, to the neglect of the Savior who was crucified upon it.

How, then, are we to meet that abounding zeal which we ourselves perhaps have been in no small degree the occasion of awakening—but by a corresponding vigor of action? We cannot advance, no we cannot keep our ground, without it. We have to contend against an energy which is astounding and all but overwhelming; and if this cannot move us to earnestness, nothing will.

V. This state of mind and action is within the reach of every minister of Christ.

Some men, from natural energy of character, may be more prone to, and better qualified for, this fervid and devoted zeal, than some others. They are of a more mercurial temperament than their phlegmatic brethren, who creep while they fly, and who require more stimulus to rouse them into activity, than is necessary to keep the others at their full speed. This is constitutional to a very considerable extent; but it is after all, more of a moral than a natural inability in many; and the sinners whom they address and call to repentance, and to whom they declare that the only hindrance they have to true religion is an impotence of will, are just as excusable for their lack of penitence and faith, as any minister under heaven is for a lack of earnestness. He may never be able to be a scholar, or a philosopher, or a mathematician, though he may acquire more of all these attainments than he supposes is within his reach, if he will but give himself to early rising, make a good apportionment of his time, and adopt a well-arranged plan of study. His situation and engagements may be such, however, that he may not hope to rise to eminence in these pursuits.

But nothing forbids his activity, zeal, and entire devotedness to the great work of preaching the gospel, and caring for men's souls. He may not be a consummate orator, for perhaps he has not voice for this; but he may, if he pleases, use what voice he has with good effect; he may not have the ability required for finished composition; but he can, if he gives time and labor, produce sermons full of spiritual power—he may not be able to attract around him the rich, the literary, or the great; but he can interest the poor, and engage the children of the Sunday-school, and perhaps, their parents; he may not have ten talents—but he need not wrap up his one in a napkin and bury it in the earth. Every man has one talent at least, with which he can busily trade and acquire profit for his employer and reward for himself.

If the pride of some men over-estimate the number of their talents; the modesty, or in some cases the indolence, of others, leads them to make too low a calculation of theirs. There is a source of latent energy in most men, which they have been so far from exhausting, that they have scarcely opened it; they have in many cases to break up virgin soil. I knew a minister of Christ, and loved him well, who was in a situation where he had done little, and feared he never should do more. Everything was dull around him, and he was dull with it. It pleased God to remove him to a new situation, and then he became a new man. He revived from his torpor, and everything revived around him. He now evinced an activity and energy which surprised himself and those who knew him. He formed a new congregation, instituted a variety of religious organizations of a useful kind, and was one of the most earnest men I knew. All this energy was not a new creation—but a resurrection. So it might be with many other ministers. Principles of activity are within them, only waiting for the influence of circumstances, or their own will, to give them life, motion, and vigor. Away then with the excuses of indolence, the fears of timidity, the objections of modesty, and the opiates of conscience; for it is these which prevent a man from being zealously affected in a good thing.

Every minister can be an earnest minister if he so wills—he is earnest when anything in which he has a deep interest is at stake. Let his house be on fire, or his health or life be in danger, or his wife or child be in peril, or some means of greatly augmenting his property be thrown in his way, and what intensity of emotion and vehemence of action will be excited in him! He needs but the pressure upon his conscience of the interests of immortal souls; he needs but a heart so constrained by the love of Christ, as to be borne away by the force and impetuosity of that hallowed passion; he needs but a longing desire to be wise in winning men to Jesus; he needs, in fine—but a heart fully set to accomplish the ends and objects of his office, to possess that high and noble quality of soul which it is the object of this work to recommend.

There are the same constitutional varieties in tradesmen as in ministers, and yet we never hearken to the former, when in justification of their failure for lack of energy, they tell us they have no physical capacity for, or tendency to, activity. Our reply to them is, that what is deficient in them by nature, must be made up by reason and resolution. I say the same to the preacher of the gospel, and while by the representation I would constrain his conscience by a sense of obligation, I would equally aim to interest his heart by awakening his hope. He may never with his measure of talent be able to reach the success of some more gifted and more favored brethren; but he may have a measure of his own, far more than enough to recompense any labor he may bestow; and instead therefore of spending his time in envying others, or sitting down in despair and doing nothing, because he cannot do as much as they, let him rise up, and have the blessed consciousness and reward of doing what he could.

Young ministers of the gospel, and students preparing for the ministry, who may read these pages, you can possess and exhibit real earnestness—all its delightful excitement, all its blessed results, and all its eternal consequences, are within your reach. There is no lion in the street, except such as your own imagination sees there, and your own sloth has placed there. Make the effort, it is worth the making—try, you can but fail, and it is better to fail, than not to make the attempt. Think what a result may issue from new devotedness. We have never yet any of us adequately estimated the immense importance and momentous consequences of our work. How can we? They are eternal, and who can duly estimate eternity? Do we believe what we preach, that the conversion of a soul is of more consequence than the creation of a world? Is this sober truth, or mere rhetoric? Is this fact, or the mere garniture of a sermon; only a dash of eloquence, an artifice of oratory? If true, and we know it is so, how momentous it is! A soul, weigh it in the balances of the sanctuary, and settle its worth; appraise its value. Salvation! wondrous word, and more wondrous thing. One word only—but containing millions of ideas; uttered in a moment—but requiring everlasting ages, and all the amplitude of heaven, for the unfolding of its meaning.

Archbishop Williams, once uttered this memorable speech—"I have passed through many places of honor and trust both in Church and State, more than anyone of my order for seventy years before; but were I assured, that by my preaching I had converted one soul to God, I would therein take more comfort than in all the honors and offices that have ever been bestowed upon me." What a confession from an archbishop, that he did not know he had been the instrument of converting a single soul to God; what importance does the confession stamp upon the work of saving souls; and what a stimulus should it supply to us who are engaged in this divine employment!

How vain and worthless a thing is the popular applause which some receive for their eloquence, compared with the proofs of usefulness in the conversion of immortal souls? What are the flatteries of the foolish or even the eulogies of the wise; what the honeyed compliments, or golden opinions of the most distinguished circle of admirers, weighed against the testimony of one redeemed sinner whom we have been the instrument of saving from death—but as the small dust in the balance! How have some men, preeminent for their intellectual might, and accustomed to fascinate the spell-bound multitude by the power of their eloquence, yearned amid all their popularity for some more substantial, satisfying, and abiding reward of their labor, than that admiration of their talents, which they were accustomed to receive! They were not unsusceptible to the emotions of vanity, nor ungratified by the expressions of applause, at the time—but when they found that this was all the result of their labors, they sickened at the incense and the honey, and exclaimed in the bitterness of disappointment, and the anguish of self-reproach, "Is this all my reward? Oh, where are the souls I have converted from the error of their ways?"

We have a striking proof of this in the late Dr. McAll, whom it was my privilege to call my friend. It was impossible for this extraordinary man to be ignorant either of his great powers, of the estimate in which they were held, or of the effect they produced on others by his pulpit exercises. Nor was he by any means unsusceptible of the influence of applause. But how empty did this appear to him as compared with the abiding results of real usefulness; which if he had not enjoyed in such large measures as some others, it was not for lack of any concern to obtain it. "Deeply affected was he often," says Dr. Leifchild, "by the fear of not being useful in his ministry." "I have admiration enough," he would say, "but I want to see conversion, and Christian growth in the converts." He spoke of some other neighboring ministers, whose churches he said resembled a garden which the Lord had blessed, or whose spots of verdure were more vivid than his own; but added, that his emotions in making the comparison, partook of a character that absorbed or overwhelmed him with sorrow for himself. I remember on one occasion after a brilliant speech from himself he listened to a much plainer and less oratorical brother, whose address, however, seemed to be penetrating the minds of the audience, and produced on their countenances an appearance of being deeply affected. At that moment, the speaker hearing a loud sobbing behind him, turned round; it was McAll. "Ah," he said afterwards, "I would give the world to be able to produce that effect in such a legitimate way." Though the desire thus ardently breathed, was elicited on the platform, it extended to every description of pastoral address. "Oh," said he to Mr. Griffin, again and again, "I care nothing what the people may think or say of my abilities if I may but be useful to souls!" and once with a kind of swelling indignation, "God knows, I do not want their applause, I want their salvation."

This is eminently instructive and impressive, and is one of the most convincing instances which the history of the pulpit can furnish of the worthlessness, compared with the salvation of immortal souls, of every object of pastoral pursuit, and every other reward of pastoral labor. This was not the confession and lamentation of one whose envy led him to depreciate the value of that which he had no hope of obtaining—but of one who was the admiration of every circle into which he entered, and whose surprising talents commanded the plaudits of all who heard him. How much of the power of that vast intellect, of that splendid eloquence, and of the admiration and eulogies which they drew upon him, would Dr. McAll have given up for a portion of the usefulness, which he saw was granted to the humbler but more effective talents of some of his far less gifted brethren. Let the men who are but too apt to envy such displays of genius, and who, when they see the spell-bound multitude listening in breathless silence, or dispersing with audible applause, fret because they cannot do as much with their enchantments, study the scene before us—let them follow Dr. McAll home from the crowded, fascinated, admiring congregation, leaving behind him the atmosphere perfumed and vocal with the delight of his hearers, to commune with God and his own heart in his closet, and there hear him exclaiming with a burst of agony, "Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has your arm been revealed?" Let them mark all this, and learn that, in the estimation of the most gifted minds, there is no object of pursuit so sublime, and no reward for pastoral labor so rich, as the salvation of immortal souls!

VI. We may next direct our attention to the fact that earnestness has usually been successful in the accomplishment of its object—and that little has ever been achieved without it.

I admit, and in the conclusion of this work shall more emphatically state, the necessity of a Divine influence to convert the soul; but still the Spirit works by means, and by means best adapted to accomplish the proposed end. We do not look for the Spirit to convert souls without the truth; it is by the presentation of this to the judgment, and by the co-working of Divine grace upon the heart, that the great change of regeneration is effected. It is evident, however, that this blessed result can take place only in those cases where the truth is really contemplated. The attention must be fixed upon it, or no result can take place. Attention, and to a certain extent abstraction of mind, may be said to be essentially necessary to the work of conversion. Hence those preachers are not only likely to be most useful—but are most useful, who have the greatest power of fixing their own attention upon the truth, and holding the mind abstracted from all other topics. When the attention is by their manner of preaching withdrawn from foreign matters, and fixed upon the truth then presented, the Spirit in a way of sovereign mercy gives forth his influence to change the evil bias of the heart towards the truth thus exhibited. We perceive in different preachers very various kinds of power to engage the attention—some do it by their commanding eloquence; others by their impressive delivery; others by their burning ardor; others by their melting affection; and some even by their eccentricity; but amid all these specific varieties of manner, we shall find power to arrest and fix the attention.

A preacher may be immeasurably inferior to many others in the vigor of his intellect and richness of his imagination, and yet may be very far their superior in seizing and holding the minds of his hearers. We cannot hope to do good if we do not succeed in gaining the attention of our hearers, and our expectations of accomplishing the objects of our ministry may be indulged with much confidence, if we can so preach as to compel our hearers to listen to us. There is a striking incident mentioned in the "Life and Remains" of Mr. Cecil, that master of pulpit eloquence. He was once invited to preach in a village, where the joyful sound of evangelical truth was rarely heard in the parish church, and where he thought it probable he should have no other opportunity to proclaim it. To his mortification, when he got half way through the sermon, he perceived that he had not succeeded in gaining that close attention of the people which he deemed essential to the success of his sermon. The time was going by, the case seemed desperate, and it occurred to him that something must be done, or the opportunity was lost; and pausing for a moment where the subject admitted of his trying his experiment, he said with some degree of that impressiveness which pertained to him, "Last Monday morning a man was hanged at Tyburn!" and then went on to make the recent execution bear upon the subject of discourse. The expedient of course succeeded, the wandering eyes of the congregation were fixed upon the preacher, and their truant minds upon the sermon. He gained their attention, and it was riveted to him throughout the remainder of the discourse. Such self-possession is a noble qualification for a public speaker—and the lesson taught by the anecdote is, that we must have the attention of our congregations, or we can do them no good; and that the more we command this, so as to lead them to think of the truth, the more likely we are to do them good. The history of all successful preachers will prove that amid a vast variety of means of gaining attention, they each had the power of doing so, and in that power lay the secret of their success.

Let any one who is at all in doubt whether the importance of earnestness is overstated in this work, consider who among departed ministers have been, and who among living ones are, the most distinguished as successful preachers of the word of God. If he applies this to the fathers and founders of Nonconformity, he will find that in the first rank stand Baxter, Bunyan, Doolittle, Clarkson, Flavel, Heywood, and Howe—and when he has read their glowing, pungent, and powerful appeals to the hearts and consciences of their hearers, he will not wonder that such sermons effected the high purpose for which all sermons should be preached, that is, the conversion of sinners. Coming on to latter times, it is unnecessary, after what has been said, to mention Whitfield and Wesley, except to reiterate that in addition to other high and nobler qualities, earnestness was the great means of their extensive success. They lived and labored for scarcely anything else than the salvation of immortal souls.

As a proof of the intensity of their zeal, reference may be made to the race of men into whom they breathed the fervor of their own souls, and whom they raised up to carry on their own great work. With here and there an exception, the present race of Methodist and Dissenting ministers are stiff, formal, cold-hearted men, compared with not only the leaders—but the immediate followers of those illustrious instruments of the modern revival of evangelical religion. How few of us are worthy to be mentioned with Coke and Fletcher, Rowland Hill, Berridge, and Grimshaw; with Cecil, Newton, and Romaine. What men were raised up in Wales by the Whitfield movement, Daniel Rowland, Jones of Llangan, Howell Harris, and their successors, John Elijah, Christmas Evans, and Williams of the Wern; men who caused the mountains of their romantic country to echo to their mighty voices, and who filled its vallies with the fruits of their impassioned oratory! If we look across the Atlantic, what a wonderful man do we discover in Jonathan Edwards, whose printed sermons, which were only in accordance with his ordinary ministry, are full of such earnestness as he exhibited in the specimen given earlier in this work, and whose ministry was so full of its successful results. Call to recollection Stoddard, Bellamy, Dwight, Davies, who in the land of the pilgrim fathers diffused abroad by their unreserved devotedness the savor of that Name which is above every name. In Scotland there have been the Erskines, the McLaurins, the Walkers, the Dicksons, and others of bygone days, whose remains tell us how they handled the word of God, and whose memoirs inform us of their success. In these venerated men we see the secret of all pastoral power; desire amounting to fervor for the conversion of sinners, and adaptation in their preaching to accomplish it.

If the illustrious company of reformers, who next to the apostles, present the most magnificent examples of burning zeal, be not referred to, if the majestic and mighty Luther, the profound Calvin, the heroic Zwingle, the intrepid Knox, the elegant and classic Melancthon, are passed over, it is not only because they are too well-known to need a mention—but also because they may be thought too high above the ordinary sphere of pastoral activity to be imitated—and yet if the pattern of the great Master himself is placed before us for contemplation and imitation, surely that of the most renowned of his servants need not be withheld. What singleness of aim, unity of purpose, and concentration of energy, were there in those rare and extraordinary men, and what less could have carried them on and through their noble career!

Descending to others, what men have been with us in the recollection of the present generation; the horizon has scarcely even yet ceased to glow with their radiance; the original and striking Fuller, the mighty Hall, the seraphic Pearce, and the lion-hearted Knibb; the intellectual Watson, and the masculine Bogue; the eccentric yet generous Wilks, the judicious Roby, the mild yet persuasive Burder, the pathetic Waugh, the wise and tender Griffin, the captivating and lovely Spencer, and the eloquent McAll. Honored be their names, fragrant their memories, and precious the recollection of their example! May we who survive cherish the recollection of their life and labors, and never forget that their greatness and their usefulness arose not more from their talents, than from their devoted earnestness in the cause of evangelical truth.

But coming to other and living examples, more upon the ordinary level, it may be well to look around upon those by whom in our own day, and before our own eyes, the ends of the Christian ministry and the object of evangelical preaching are most extensively accomplished, and to inquire by what order of means this has been done. It would be invidious to mention the names of living men, and to select from among the multitude those who are pre-eminent above their fellows in usefulness, in popularity, and in the constant exhibition of evangelical truth. Two names, however, may here obtain a place, honored by us all, and an honor to us; the names of men widely differing, yet of equally conspicuous and acknowledged excellences, who are too far above us to excite our envy, and whose celebrity will defend this willing, affectionate, and admiring testimony, from the charge of invidious selection or fulsome adulation; and who, each in his own sphere, one in the northern and the other in the southern hemisphere, is shedding the luster of an evening star, and reflecting upon the church the glory of that great Sun of Righteousness, in whose attraction it has been his delight through a long, and holy, and useful life, to revolve—who yet live, and long may they live, that our younger ministry may learn in the holy labors of Chalmers * and Jay, how beautiful and how useful is human genius when sanctified by grace, and devoted to an earnest preaching of the gospel of salvation.

* Alas, that so soon after this paragraph was penned, one of these venerated names should be expunged from the record of living men, and added to the list of the illustrious dead! Yes, the mighty Chalmers is gone; and to quote the address, selected by Mr. Jay as his funeral text for Rowland Hill, we may utter the wail and exclaim, "Howl, fir tree, the cedar has fallen! "The very glory and pride of Lebanon has fallen, and every one who surveys the gap which his removal has made in the forest, feels that there is no source of consolation under such a bereavement—but that which is supplied by the consideration that the Lord lives. It is beyond my ability to describe or to eulogize this wonderful man, whose death has clothed the whole church of God in mourning; I would therefore only say that ever since his vast intellect was irradiated by the light of truth, and his noble heart was brought by faith under the constraint of love to Christ, he has exhibited one of the finest specimens of the character I have attempted to delineate in this volume; so that every student of divinity in our colleges, and every minister of every denomination, may be directed to Dr. Chalmers, as one of the most beautiful types and models of an Earnest Minister. Dr. W. Lindsay Alexander's funeral sermon, which contains an admirable analysis of his mind and character, will well repay perusal.

But we are not considering now what may be done, and is done, by the gifted few, who by their rare endowments are fitted, and designed, to enrich our theological literature by their valuable works, or to gather around our pulpits the literary or philosophical spirits of the place in which they dwell; they are the exceptions in all denominations to the general rule of preachers, even as those who listen to them are the exceptions to the general rule of hearers. Our remarks apply to the men who move the masses, who operate upon the popular mind as it is most commonly found; and what are they? not men of high scholarship, profound philosophy, or elegant composition; but men of energy and earnestness, men laying themselves out for usefulness, men of business and of tact in the management of their fellow-men, men of heart, of feeling, and perseverance. Where is a large congregation, a flourishing, well-compacted church to be found? There is an earnest man. Where, in what country, or in what denomination, does one such man labor without considerable success? Where has the faithful, devoted, energetic preacher of evangelical truth, to use in a figurative sense the words of the Lord's forerunner, had to say, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness?"

Where do we find small congregations, dissatisfied or declining churches, and empty chapels? Where do the ways of Zion mourn, and her gates languish, because none come to her solemn feasts? Certainly not where the ministers are as flames of fire. No matter where, or under what discouraging circumstances, one of these sacred flames may commence his labors, he will soon draw around him a deeply interested and attentive congregation; no matter what may be the denomination with which he may be associated, he will not only excite the indifference, or subdue the prejudice, by which he is surrounded—but will awaken interest and conciliate regard. Under the magic power of his devotedness, blessed as it will be by God the Spirit, the gloom, desolation, and sterility of winter, will be followed by the verdure and beauty of spring; and the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for him, and the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose. In some cases the change has been as sudden and as complete as in Russia, from frosts and snows to flowers and fragrance—churches that seemed only the repositories of the dead, and places for monuments and epitaphs, have become crowded with living and listening hearers of the joyful sound—and chapels once far too large for the last remains of a former congregation, have been soon found too small for the new one that has filled up its place.

It would be a profitable exercise for anyone to look round upon some of our most successful ministers, and after surveying the extent of their usefulness, to say to himself, "How has that man done this? What have been the means by which, under God, he has accomplished so much?" Unhappily there are a few, perhaps, who are so enamored by what is literary, intellectual, or philosophical, that even in great pastoral success, they see little to admire or to covet, if it be not associated with scholarship and science. This is a bad state of mind, indicates a worse state of heart, and proves that the man who is the subject of it, has totally mistaken the end of the pastoral office. Some of our most useful preachers are far more conscious of their deficiencies in literature and philosophy than these supercilious scholars may imagine, and would purchase, at almost any cost, if they could be obtained, by money, the attainments which their limited education never enabled them to acquire; but at the same time they would not give up their usefulness for all the literature of Greece and Rome, with all mathematics and philosophy in addition—and amid their deficiencies in all that would give them weight and influence in the world of letters, they feel adoringly thankful for all that other kind of weight and influence which they have acquired in the church. Their labors in the pulpit have gained them an acceptance which is far more surprising to themselves than it can be to others.

Peradventure also, they may have launched on the sea of authorship, and have had a prosperous course, where many expected they must soon make shipwreck. None can be more sensible than themselves of defects in their compositions, and often they have been ready to blame their presumption in taking up their pen, and to resolve to lay it down forever; when perhaps some instance of usefulness has come to their knowledge, as if to reprove their vanity, wounded by a sense of their own deficiencies, and to make them thank God, and take courage. They knew their own department of literary action, and aimed at nothing higher than to be useful; willing to bear the sneer of literary pride, and endure the lash of critical severity, so that they might accomplish the only objects of their ambition, the salvation of immortal souls, and the establishment of believers in their holy faith.

Such men there are among us, who owe their success not to a finished education, for it was their misfortune not to enjoy this precious advantage to the extent to which it is now carried; nor to high scholarship, to which they make no pretensions—but to an intense desire to be useful, and to something of earnestness in carrying out the desires of their hearts. In addition to the direct usefulness of their labors, they may be useful in another way, by showing that where great literary acquisitions have been precluded, still simple earnestness without them, may be blessed of God for accomplishing in no inconsiderable extent the great ends of the Christian ministry.

It has been said, in reference to secular matters, that a man who has decision of character enough to make up his mind to be rich; who has a measure of talent to uphold his resolution; and a rigid system of self-denying economy, will ordinarily succeed—and observation seems to support the remark. With far greater certainty may it be said, that he who enters upon his ministry with an intense zeal for God; an ardent passion for the salvation of souls; a well sustained, deep piety, a tolerable share of talents and acquirements; and a fixed purpose in humble dependence upon God's grace, to be a useful minister of Christ, will not fail of his end. The failure of such a man would be a new thing in the earth. I know of no such case, and I do not expect to meet with one. In dealing with sinners and calling them to repentance, we tell each, he may be saved if he will—not intending by such an expression that he can be saved without the Spirit of God; but that he may secure that Divine power if he has faith to receive it—so we may also venture to say to every minister of Christ, it is his own fault if he is not useful; intending by such an assertion, that as the gospel he preaches is God's own truth; as preaching is his own institute; as the minister is his own servant; and as He has promised that his grace shall be added to them, it would seem as if in the case of entire or extensive failure, a minister has himself only to blame.

But we may look at the power of earnestness, as seen in the cause of error as well as in that of truth. It has as often served a bad cause as it has a good one. Islamism owes its existence and its wide dominion to this quality in its extraordinary founder. Mohammed exhibits one of the most amazing instances of this quality the world ever witnessed; and with what dreadful results was it followed in his case!

We may say the same of Popery; that stupendous fabric of delusion, which throws its dark and chilling shadow over so large a portion of Christendom, owes its erection and its continuance to the intense devotedness with which it has inspired its votaries—it is this that upholds a system constantly at war with the dictates of reason, the doctrines of revelation, and the dearest rights and liberties of humanity. It is the mysterious and indomitable earnestness of its priesthood, which has resisted the attacks of logic, rhetoric and piety, of divines, philosophers and statesmen, of wit, humor and ridicule; and which, in this age of learning, science, commerce and liberty, enables it not only to maintain its ground—but to advance and make conquests. The Church of Rome, which would in the hands of a lukewarm priesthood fall by the weight of its own absurdity, or be crushed by the hands of its constant assailants, is still strong in the hearts of its members—because each of them from the Pope down, through all its civil and ecclesiastical gradations, to its most insignificant member, is a type of concentrated and intensely glowing zeal.

The pages of ecclesiastical history furnish us with extraordinary instances of the power of the pulpit, in the sermons of some Popish preachers. I do not now refer to the court of Louis the Fourteenth, which, with that imperious and licentious monarch at its head, was subdued into a transient frame and season of devoutness, by the sermons of Massillon—but to the preaching of far inferior and less known orators; and to effects less courtly—but not less striking. When Connecte, an Italian, preached, the ladies committed their gay dresses by hundreds to the flames. When Narni in Lent, taught the populace from the pulpits of Rome, half the city went from his sermons, crying along the streets, "Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us!" When he preached at Salamanca, he induced eight hundred students to quit all worldly prospects of honor, riches, and pleasure, and to become penitents in diverse monasteries; and some of them eventually became martyrs. Such was the power of earnestness; but being devoted in this case to the cause of error, being directed rather to the imagination than to the heart, and intended to correct mere ceremonial irregularities, rather than to lead to repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we are not surprised that the storm of passion soon subsided; that Narni himself was so disgusted with his office, that he renounced preaching and shut himself up in his cell, to mourn over his irreclaimable contemporaries. This striking fact is replete with instruction, not only as showing the power of the pulpit—but also the essential feebleness of that religion which does not aim at the renovation of the heart, and the transient nature of that effect which is produced by mere rhetoric, unaccompanied by a sober exhibition of the truth to enlighten the judgment, to warm the affections, and to awaken the conscience.

But it is not only on this grand scale that we see the power and success of ardent zeal, even in a bad cause; for there is no system of opinions, and no course of religious practice, however remote, not only from the truth of revelation but from the dictates of common sense, and even the decorum of society—but if preached and propagated by men of intense ardor, will gain for a while disciples to believe it, and apostles to propagate it.

If men are really in earnest in 'blowing bubbles', some will be found to look at, admire, and follow them. I have already said that earnestness is contagious—a man in this state of mind and action is sure to draw some others under the influence of his own example. If this is the case with a bad cause, how much more may we expect it to be so in a good one! Everything then combines to prove that our lack of success must be traced up rather to our neglect of the right means to obtain it, than to any backwardness on the part of God to give his blessing to intelligent, judicious, and earnest exertions.

Surely, surely, there must be, I repeat, a latent power in the evangelical pulpit, viewed as a moral and well adapted means of impression, which has not, except by Whitfield and a few others, been studied, discovered, and applied. Surely if we had more intense piety, stronger faith, more knowledge of the human heart, more concern to obtain an impressive elocution, more ardent longings after the conversion of sinners, we could and would by God's grace, move and command the masses. There is, there must be, neglected power somewhere.

VII. The state of our denomination demands immediate and devoted attention to the subject.

In speaking of our own denomination, I find in its general condition much cause for thankfulness and congratulation. In the number of our churches and the competency of a very large number of their pastors; in our colleges and schools; in our missionary and other organizations; in our periodical and other religious literature; in our public spirit and liberality, I see signs of prosperity, and tokens for good—and if we are true to ourselves and to our cause, we have nothing to fear. Our opponents cannot do us so much harm as we may do ourselves. With a system of doctrine which we believe is taken from the New Testament, and a system of polity which in all its general principles is derived from the same source, we may not only stand our ground—but advance, if we will present the former in all its fullness, and administer the latter with discretion and charity.

Everything, under God's blessing, depends upon our ministry. This, which is important to every denomination, is especially so to ours. We go forth, not only unsupported by the wealth, power, and fashionableness of the Established Church—but without the aid of that elaborately organized combination which is to be found in some sections that separate from it. Our ministers, so to speak, do not contend in regiments formed in rank and file—but single handed, and should therefore be all picked men, each possessed of courage and of skill. Let us only take care to send none but such into the field, and we may hope for a still more abundant measure of prosperity than we at present enjoy.

There is room enough for all denominations in the vast wilderness of our neglected and unchristianized population, and we have no need to look at each other's labors with jealousy and envy. Satan is ruining souls faster than all of us united can save them! It is a mark of deep malignity of heart, and a proof that it is the distempered zeal of bigotry, and not pure love to God and souls, that moves us, when we see with uneasiness, the success of other denominations of evangelical Christians—and rejoice over their failure. To seize with avidity any acknowledgments of, and lamentations over, a lack of usefulness, and then tearing them from their connection and exaggerating their statements, to hold them up exultingly to the world, and tauntingly to the denomination from which in frankness and in sorrow they have come, may suit well with the strategy of political warfare, and serve the cause of a party—but ill accords with the spirit of divine charity, and cannot promote the interests of our common Christianity.

In many places of worship connected with the Establishment, even where the gospel is preached—but preached with feebleness, we find small congregations, and few souls converted to God. Do we rejoice over this? On the contrary, it is a grief and a lamentation. And is there a heart so envenomed with the gall of bigotry, as to rejoice in the confession now made, that many of our congregations are withering away under the effete ministrations of incompetent men? Such a withering is indeed going on in many places. The fact cannot be concealed, it is notorious. We have been incautious in the admission, not of bad men, for few of these ever find their way into our pulpits; not of heretical men, for we take care not to receive such; but of incompetent men—not always incompetent in intellect—but in talents for public speaking and the active duties of the pastorate. From this cause, combined with the increased energy and activity of the Church of England, our congregations are diminishing in some places, though multiplying and increasing in others.

With the freedom of action we possess, unrestricted by parochial limits and ecclesiastical laws; with the world all before us, and Providence our guide; with a good feeling towards us on the part of the middle and lower classes, we have every ground to hope for success—if we can obtain an adequate number of energetic and earnest preachers. But we have not taken sufficient care to find out and educate the right sort of men, and in some places are certainly losing ground. Considerable towns might be mentioned where congregations once numerous and flourishing, are reduced down to mere skeletons, under the dull and deadening influence of feeble, yet good men. It is more easy to settle an incompetent minister over a church than to remove him. It is true we have advantages for such removal not possessed by the Church of England. The pastorate is not in our churches a freehold; yet it must be confessed that even with us, the difficulty of getting rid of a pastor, except for immorality or heresy, and only on the ground of inefficiency, is great.

That a minister should wish to stay when he has preached away nearly all his congregation, breeds a suspicion of the purity of his motives, and is a reflection upon the integrity of his character. To reduce a congregation and scatter a church, first by inefficiency, and then by obstinacy in retaining the post in opposition to the wishes of the flock, and the advice of friends—is a serious matter to account for to God. Some such men talk of waiting for the leadings of Providence. One is at a loss to find out what rule of interpretation for ascertaining the will of God they have adopted—to everybody else but themselves, deserted pews and a dissatisfied, as well as a reduced church, are a sufficient indication that Providence is leading to their removal. In such a case one would suppose there needed no voice from heaven to say to the minister, "Arise, and go away!" nor any finger to come forth, and write "Ichabod" in flaming characters on the walls. It is sometimes said that the people must suffer the consequences of a hasty choice—and so far as they are concerned, they deserve it; but they suffer not alone, for the denomination suffers with them in its strength, character, and efficiency. The work of conversion, not only in our own denomination—but in the Church of England, and among the Methodists, goes on but slowly, and the spirituality of the great bulk of professors is too low. This is confessed and lamented by the Evangelical clergy, and by the Wesleyan ministers, as well as by ourselves. The Spirit's influence seems in some way and from some cause obstructed—and in the absence of this, our denomination is more likely to feel and manifest the visible results of it than almost any other—and such a consideration should lead us to more serious thoughtfulness and earnest prayer for a revived and intensely devoted ministry.