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sively and sneeringly, of his ministerial labors -- and strive in many ways to make him of little repute, even among those who would be his friends. This can not be otherwise than a source of perpetual disquiet and unrest to the pastor, so called, and of distraction to the Church. It unsettles both — the preacher most effectually. Honestly, a man under these circumstances had better be a hewer of wood or a member of congress! or any thing else that does not involve absolute disgrace, than a settled pastor, liable ever to a removal, not only violent, but painful and injurious.
Out of this condition of things grows the rapidly increasing secularization of the clergy. There is a feeling almost universal among ministers — not of distrust toward God – but a feeling, we might say a conviction deepening every day under the pressure of existing facts, not only that the preacher can have no hope of permanence in the pastoral relation, but that however faithfully, however long, or however successfully he may serve the cause of Christ, when his activity ceases, his support ceases along with it. Hence that division of attention and interest between spiritual and secular pursuits. One has his farm, another his merchandize, another still traffics in city lots, while a fourth ministers to bodies well as minds diseased. There is a rainy day coming, for which provision must be made. Pleasantly settled to-day as pastor of a congregation, to-morrow a change may
There is no assurance of permanent and recompensing employment in the ministry, and so the thought of the preacher is to cultivate a farm, to open a store, to edit a newspaper, in which way a family may be provided for, and pleasant visions of a home and independence be realized.
This thought he proceeds to act upon; and the consequence is that he devotes less time to his study ; his sermons are more hastily prepared; his soul is not in his work as it once was; his ministry grows barren of good results; and he is a fortunate man indeed if he is not led to attempt the moral impossibility of serving both God and Mammon.
The remedy for this bad condition of things that prevails in all denominations, in all churches, taking from the attractiveness and influence of the pulpit, and hindering the progress of the gospel of Christ — the remedy for all this evil will be found in a well and wisely organized system of itinerancy. Such a system would furnish every society and
congregation with a preacher, and every preacher with a society and a work for him to do. It would diversify over the whole field of labor the entire talent of the ministry, and thus remove those causes which rend and distract churches, and retard their growth. It would take the preacher from his farm, his merchandize, his school-room, from any secular pursuits in which so many at the present time are engaged to the neglect of the duties of their calling, and devote him to the high and sacred offices of his ministry. It alone can fulfil the command: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
This system need not be, we would not recommend that it should be, in all respects, nor in many respects, such as obtains in the Methodist Church. Its system has many serious and even radical defects, as even its warmest friends are beginning to concede. Measures are being discussed in the ecclesiastical bodies of the denomination with reference to a thorough revision and reform; when, not only will obnoxious and in harmonious features be removed, but new ones, and those essentially important to the adaptation of the system to the demands upon it, will be incorporated with the good of the old, and thus the system become a greater power than ever in the land and the world. But changed as it may be, it shall only be with all of change and modification a perfected system of itinerancy. It would be easy enough, we are sure, with the long-tried and eminently successful experiment of an itinerant ministry before us, the results of which prove the wisdom and sagacity of the founders of Methodism, - it would be quite easy to avoid any error into which they fell, and features which lessen the adaptation of their system to the requirements of our times.
It is scarcely necessary to assert, in this Christian age, that it is God's settled arrangement to convert the world by “the foolishness of preaching." The Christian ministry, in no very remote sense, is one of His own appointment, designed by Him to be one of the chief instrumentalities in the salvation of our race. It possesses an energy, an influence, a power, which scarcely belong to any other means. The Bible, filled with immortal truths, may be sent to every house in the land; and books and newspapers, devoted to the advocacy and defence of its doctrines, be scattered widely and thickly abroad; — and they may do good, they will do
good, — but they arrest not the attention so soon, nor impress so powerfully the divine lessons of the Cross on the understanding and heart, as the living preacher's voice. Salvation may at times be wrought out by another agency, but it will still remain true, that, as a general thing, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God as preached by human lips. It has been quaintly observed, that, to employ other means to the neglect of the ministry, is only “throwing sickles into a field of grain with no men to wield them.” Scarcely any thing is accomplished. A few straws may be cut down by a random throw, but the harvest, ripe for the reapers, will never be gathered, nor the yellow sheaves brought home with joy, unless the sickles are wielded by the living hand.
Were the gospel preached as it should be — did such a system obtain with reference to the ministration of the divine Word as the wants of our times and the condition of the Church demand - a system based upon a right appreciation of the aggressive character of the gospel, and its power to demolish sin in its strong holds, and in all its combined operations — how soon would the golden age of promise be ushered in, moral health circulate through every artery and vein of the body politic, and the songs of redemption echo from every hill, and through every valley, and along every shore of the whole earth! How soon would the victories of the cross sweep the face of this human world of wrong, injustice and oppression, pour the light of life into its darkest corners, and write Freedom, Equality, and Love on the institutions of all lands!
It should be the first business as well as the first care of a Christian sect-claiming as it does by the very fact of its separate existence to hold a better form of doctrine, and to have a mission assigned it beyond that of every other sect to devise and adopt such an economy, especially so to organize its ministry, and to furnish a system of apostolic labor and pastoral watch-care, as that its gospel shall be most widely and successfully preached, and its cause most surely and permanently promoted. It will need, for the prosecution and accomplishment of its work, not only a carefully chosen ministry - a ministry of the most liberal culture, combined with the richest Christian experience — but it will also need so to provide in its ecclesiastical system as that this ministry shall have its appointed fields of labor, and be rendered most powerful and successful by the diversification of its entire talent over the broadest territory it can advantageously occupy. To supervise the labors of its ministry will also form a portion of its duty – to sustain and cooperate with it, and increase its efficiency by every means in its power, not subjecting it to the caprice and control of independent societies and congregations. If it shall neglect thus to provide for and superintend and encourage and protect its ministry, leaving it to be settled " and "unsettled, called and dismissed, as the good or ill humor, the friendships or the enmities of men shall preponderate, – reserving to itself only the powers of fellowship and of discipline- it shall leave undone that with which it is legitimately charged, and which concerns its highest interests.
Adopting the system of itinerancy for its ministry, a sect or church need make no additional provision for home missionary labor. Its entire field, so to speak, is missionary ground; and every preacher an evangelist whose commission is to carry the gospel to every creature. It plants its cause in the remotest settlements, and makes wildernessplaces vocal with the song of redemption. Not waiting until individual zeal and energy and self-sacrifice have first taken possession, and turned and tilled and planted, it equips and sends laborers into all parts of the vineyard, and makes the work of occupancy, of sowing and reaping, its own. The ignorant, the unbelieving and sinful, are sought out under its direction; and knowledge, faith and salvation imparted. It concerns itself with bold and expansive plans for the redemption of the world, and by its judicious yet energetic and untiring efforts, speeds the march of truth, purity and love. Such a Church is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
A. C. B.
The Religion of Zoroaster.
[Continued.] The extant monuments of Zoroastrianism are in great part fragmentary and full of breaks and dislocations : their authorship is also scattered over a long tract of time. Although the Zend-avesta is supposed to have been reduced to writing in its present form at some time under the dominion of the Arsacidae, yet much of it is believed to have been preserved among the Magi by oral tradition from an antiquity wholly unknown. From the composition of the Gâthâs of the Yasna to such late works as the Sadders and the Kissah-i-Sanjan we may safely reckon a lapse of a thousand years. The time is likely to exceed rather than fall short of that. It is obvious that so long a period must have witnessed many changes and modifications both in doctrine and practice. The system was not a fixed, inanimate object, forever the same, but a living phenomenon in a course of incessant, though slow, transformation, development and decay ; and never precisely the same in two successive centuries. Yet the Magi, like all other priests, held their church to be one and immutable; and they attributed all its tenets, new and old, to the pure and perfect revelation made to Zarathustra in the olden time. The latest books as much claimed to be his teachings as the earliest. It is no longer possible to determine how much is the work of any one individual sage, who succeeded in impressing his own views upon his contemporaries; but the Gâthâs, or sacred hymns of the Yasna, being the most ancient part, are more likely than any
other to have been the work of Zoroaster. It is not improbable that some of those hymns were actually composed by him; at all events he is not to be held responsible for anything that is only found in later books. It would be an important point gained if we could fix, with tolerable accuracy, the time when each doctrine or observance was introduced or changed. If that could be done, we should then be able to trace many of them to their proper sources. This is practicable, however, only to a limited extent. We