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church of God, if every one of her ministers would, at all times, be guided by that injunction of the apostle-"Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
In that solemn vow, taken upon him by each minister of the cross, he promises, by every means in his power, "to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever." But it is not by the ministrations of the pulpit alone that he is to advance his Master's cause. He is to watch for times when he may speak a word for Christ. The command is-"Preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort." In his hours of social intercourse-in his daily communication with the people of his charge, there will ever be openings of which he may avail himself, to produce a salutary impression. We ask, then," what manner of person ought he to be in all holy conversation and godliness!"
It will be acknowledged, that the broad principle on which the minister of Christ should act is, to endeavor to do in every way as much good as possible to the souls of his fellow men. This rule applies as much to his conversation as it does to his actions. But it is here he is most liable to fail; and the reason is obvious. It is easier in the warfare we are waging, to concentrate all our power in some great effort, than to keep up that daily and hourly attack upon the kingdom of Satan, which is our duty. Hence the eloquence of the pulpit is upheld, the press sends forth its thousand volumes in defence of religion; and all this is undertaken cheerfully, nay zealously. But when the Christian is called to carry his principles with him into the private duties of life-and to seek, in his hourly intercourse with his fellow men, to advance his Master's cause, then he shrinks back. He feels that there are times when he would prefer to lay aside his armor, and float along quietly with the current of society. But such sentiments should never be entertained by the minister of the gospel: especially when the immense importance of this influence, as the necessary complement of his public labors, is considered.
The public instruction of the sanctuary may alarm us, and we may be "almost persuaded" to yield to the truths set forth; but when the sound has died upon our ear, we can dissipate its effect in our converse with the world. Yet if there is a voice which meets us in the private intercourse of friendship, constantly bringing back to our minds the same great truths, we cannot but give them our attention.
From the Service for the Ordination of Priests.
Fearful indeed, is the responsibility which rests upon each one in the formation of the characters of those around him! a responsibility too from which none can escape, not even the weakest. Every one to whom God has granted the liberty of speech-nay, every one to whom is given the power of conveying even a single idea to the mind of another, may contribute in some degree to modify his character. Look how much the whole complexion of the soul may be changed by the operation of a single thought. Its influence ceases not as the sound of our voice dies away. In the mind of him to whom it is imparted, it often long afterwards "lives, and moves." Neither does it stand there isolated, and alone. Perhaps it touches some secret spring, and awakens a train of reflections, of which he who first gave it birth never dreamed. By the principle of association, another thought which seems naturally to arise from it, is called into being, and then another from this, until they flow on in long succession, to end we know not where. Sometimes, the sentiment thus lightly imparted in conversation, which was forgotten at once by the speaker, has remained in the mind of him who heard it, recurring to his memory again and again, through a length of years. How powerful an effect then may a single sentence produce in modulating character, and who would carelessly take the responsibility of fixing in the mind of another, that thought which is to link to itself such important results.*
What a striking hypothesis, by the way, is that of Coleridge -connected with his curious history of the German servant girl, familiar no doubt to our readers-that no thoughts which have once entered into the mind ever perish--that instead of passing away, as we are accustomed to believe, or being utterly blotted out they are only for a time, concealed and buried beneath more recent impressions-that they are inscribed upon the imperishable tablet of the memory, there to remain for ever; like those buried cities of Italy, safe and uninjured, though their very existence was forgotten. Every one's experience furnishes at least something analogous in confirmation of this idea. How often do thoughts which for years have slumbered, again suddenly flash upon us in all their force, we know not how, or whence ! The words of an old song-the incidents of our childhood.
The celebrated Dr. Paley is an example of this. When living at the University in a course of thoughtless idleness, the simple rebuke of a companion, recalled him to duty, and altered the whole tenor of his future life. This was the first thing which "awakened reflection and stimulated the great powers of his mind and vigorous action." (Life, p. 5.)
-the feelings which then influenced us, but which had for years perished from the memory, suddenly awake from their silence, and sweep back over the soul. There is fearful solemnity in the thought that in our unguarded moments of social intercourse, we may fix in the minds of others, thoughts and influences which we would not wish to remain there for ever, especially if we follow out the suggestion referred to that this is the mysterious record implanted within man, which is one day to give with unerring certainty, the long history of his life, at that day when the thoughts of all hearts shall be called into judgment-nothing lost-nothing forgotten. To use the beautiful illustration of an eloqent writer-"In the web of human thought which has been weaving upward through successive generations, each individual has entwined his intellectual history; and now and then some lofty mind has drawn upon it some rare and luminous device. And thus through coming years shall it be inwove with all human conceptions, till the last infant of the species shall have drawn upon it his silver line of thought. Then shall it be suspended in the tapestry of that spacious temple where the race shall reassemble, alike for intellectual as for moral retribution." And in that dread hour, is it not probable that the mind will awake with terrific energy from its sleep of years, and revive the long hidden secrets of the breast? This mysterious scroll will then be unrolled-every careless thought will rise from its concealment, and man will find that through life, he has been within himself an unerring record by which he is now to be judged. As the spirit in that last and terrible hour, is thus compelled to wander back in thought, and regard the deep inscriptions written by the workings of its own unhallowed passions as it unwillingly retraces the ideas which it supposed effaced for ever, how important will every conversation become in which it was engaged! What cause for joy or anguish may be contained in every idea which has been imparted to it!* How strong a motive does this furnish for striving after inward holiness, but more than all, how powerful an inducement is given to cach one, so to model his conversation, that he may not
* The author of the "Natural History of Enthusiasm," has something like this in his last work: "Memory has not really parted with any of its deposites, but holds them faithfully, (if not obediently) in reserve, against a season when the whole will be demanded of it. Might not the human memory be compared to a field of sepulture, thickly stocked with the remains of many generations? But of all these thousands whose dust heaves the surface, a few only are saved from immediate oblivion, upon tablets and urns; while the many are, at present, utterly lost to knowledge. Nevertheless, each of the dead has left in that soil an imperishable germ; and all, without distinction, shall another day start up, and claim their dues." Physical theory of another Life, p. 72.
VOL. I.-NO. I.
write on another's mind, any thing which may be a cause of anguish, in the judgment of the last day! Now, we see but darkly, yet even in this twilight of our knowledge we can behold some of the effects of this moral power committed to our hands. Never however, in this life, can the full weight of its influence be disclosed-never, till we behold the secrets of all hearts revealed, and know, even as we are known, can we fully realize the power which man has in forming the character and destiny of his brother. But we see reason enough, why so often in scripture, the exhortation is given, that we should guard the tongue lest evil proceed from it! And when results so important may flow from one light expression, or one careless speech, is it not reasonable, that we should "give an account for every idle word we utter, in the day of judgment?"
These considerations give emphasis to the exhortation of the apostle, that our speech be such as is "good to the use of edifying." We are indeed far from being the advocates of that indiscreet zeal, which would violently obtrude religion on the notice, at all times and seasons; for we are well aware of the injury which such a course often produces. There is " a time to be silent," as well as "a time to speak." We would deprecate too, that species of cant, which is continually bringing in the name of our Maker on every occasion, and pretending to see in every occurrence, however trining, the marks of a special interposition of Providence. This is as revolting to good taste, as it is to a spirit of true piety. Neither would we be understood as restraining the cheerfulness of friendly converse, for such is not by any means the object of religion. Its influence is not exerted to repress the warm and generous feelings of our nature, or to prevent their proper expression. Religion would not seal up the fountains of social intercourse; it would only purify them. Its object is to hallow all the feelings, and while it would regulate man, even in the freedom of his conversation, still it would only do it, so far as to prevent aught which might be injurious to another, or unworthy of himself. But we contend that the Christian minister should so meet with those who are entrusted to his care, that he may not pass by any opportunity which is afforded him, of promoting their spiritual welfare.*
We are told by the biographer of the celebrated Robert Hall, that a forgetfulness of this rule was one of his faults. "It was also much to be regretted, that when in company he did not keep habitually in view, the good which his great talents and high character qualified him to impart. His conversation, though always conveying information on the various subjects generally brought forward in cultivated society, did not indicate the prevailing purpose of leading the minds of others in a right direction. Or, if he entered society with this
Cecil, speaking on this subject, says "What passes, on these occasions, too often savors of this world. We become one among our hearers. They come to church on Sunday, and we preach: the week comes round again, and its nonsense with it. Now if a minister were what he should be, the people would feel it. They would not attempt to introduce the dawdling, silly, diurnal chat! When we countenance this, it looks as though, "On the Sunday I am ready to do my business; and in the week, you may do yours." This lowers the tone of what I say on the Sabbath. It forms a sad comment on my preaching.' Cecil's Works, vol. ii, p. 496.
But let us leave this general view of the subject, and go to some more special considerations. We would advert then first, to the effect which the habitual improvement of opportunities of religious conversation with his flock, will have upon the Christian Pastor himself. It will increase his own spirituality. If he is ever setting a guard upon his speech, lest in carelessness he might say something injurious to those around him, this feeling of restraint will be a perpetual moniter to keep his thoughts above the world. He will not dare to let his mind stray off from eternal things, lest it cause him to "speak unadvisedly with his lips." This single reflection will be ever bringing back his feelings to their proper channel. It will aid him in "keeping his heart with all diligence." And what can better kindle up his zeal, or impress more deeply upon him the value of immortal souls, than the continual and earnest desire to advance his Master's glory, and the salvation of his people, by leading to the truth, those with whom he is brought in contact. How will it add energy to his prayers, that courage may be granted him fearlessly to confess before men, the name of Christ crucified, and that the words which he shall speak, may by the grace of the Holy Spirit, "be so grafted inwardly in their hearts, that they may bring forth in them the fruit of good living!" In short, it is evident, that he who goes forth from the retirement of his study, with the wish to benefit others by the opportunities
determination, he frequently permitted the circumstances into which he was hrown to divert him from his purpose, thus giving away his admirable conversational powers to the mere casual train of topics, many of them trivial in interest. There could not but be various acute remarks, and every now and then a piece of valuable disquisition, or a most important sentiment, or an eloquent flow of striking observation; yet there was not a systematic bearing towards positive utility. Often, indeed, has Mr. Hall lamented this defect; often, as we have been returning from a party which he had kept alive by the brilliancy and variety of his observations, has he said, ' Ah! sir, I have again contributed to the loss of an evening, as to every thing truly valuable: go home with me, that we may spend at least one hour in a manner which becomes us.'" Life, by Olinthus Gregory, p. 48.