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afforded him in social intercourse, will find his own soul largely and variously benefited in return.

If, on the contrary, he seeks not to aid his Master's cause in this way, but permits his speech to be tinctured with levity, and becomes a trifler in private life, what must be its natural effect upon himself? His character will lose that firmness and sobriety which are essential to his calling. His thoughts will too often be drawn from things heavenly, and fixed upon this earth. His zeal will become languid, and he who is a clergyman no where but in the pulpit, will find that his own spirituality is decaying, and the spring of holy fruitfulness drying up in his soul. It is a law of our nature, that the frivolity which dwells upon the lip, passes by an easy and natural transition to the head, and infects the heart. Where it exists, Christian graces must languish. On this point, we will quote the dying testimony of one, who, though he ended his career at the early age of eighteen, had attained a ripeness in his spiritual character not often seen in one so young. It was addressed to a member of his family. "There is nothing," said Wilberforce Richmond, "so opposed to religion to the mind of Christ, as levity and trifling. It will keep you back more than any thing. Take my solemn warning, I speak from my own experience. You will never be a consistent Christian, and you will never grow in grace, if you indulge in habitual trifling conversation. It is not like the mind of Christ. Your temper is volatile, and Satan may use it as a snare to injure your soul. Piety and levity cannot long dwell in the same heart. One will destroy the other."

And how many there are, who, by watching the workings of their own minds, might record a similar testimony! Life, should not be with any, a time to trifle. Its moments are fleeting too fast away-its hours are too rapidly hurrying us to the tomb. There is too much to be effected-too mighty a work to be done to admit of frivolity. It is indeed a fearful thing, to live-to know that on this narrow span of time, events are hanging of such momentous consequence-to feel, that soon an Eternity will burst upon us with its awful disclosures, and its changeless state. With us, the night is passing away; the day, the unending day is at hand. Not in vain then was that exhortation of the Apostle-" be ye sober." But if this is applicable to the private Christian, with what added emphasis does it appeal to the Christian minister! If St. Paul could write to the Church of the Ephesians, that "foolish talking and jesting are not convenient," does not the charge come with double power to him who stands between the living and the dead, as the messenger of God to sinful and apostate man? Shall he, whose

business is with Eternity-the effect of whose labors will last long after the light of the sun has been quenched-shall he stoop to mingle in the idle raillery of those around him? Shall he not rather, bear ever written on the tablet of his mind, that confession of David: "There is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether"! With what feelings can he pass from the midst of levity to join in the solemn duties of his profession? He may be summoned, while the half-uttered jest is yet upon his lips, to go forth and see the last hours of some one committed to his charge-to stand by the dying sinner, when Eternity is opening to his view, when his lips are quivering with a long forgotten prayer, and for the first time, he asks in the agony of his spirit," what must I do to be saved?" Or, it may be his lot, to administer the comforts of our most holy faith to the departing Christian, and to aid him in gathering up the energies of his soul, for the last, stern conflict. Will his spirit be fitted for duties like these when he has just been mingling in the frivolity of the world? No, if the Christian minister seeks nothing beyond his own spirituality, and that frame of mind which shall fit him to deal with the souls of dying men, he will let his conversation be such as becometh the Gospel of Christ.

But again let us look at the influence of religious conversation upon those who are careless, and indifferent to spiritual things. The Christian minister, when mingling with his people, is often called to meet such. Thus, he may frequently have an opportunity of speaking a word for their religious good. We by no means mean, that he should attack all upon this subject, whom chance may throw in his way; for this will disgust, much oftener than it will edify. There must generally be a disposition, and a willingness in those whom he addresses, to listen to pointed, personal conversation, or its introduction is without benefit. It should be his endeavor, therefore, to discover, whether this is the case. But, we do mean, that in every thing which passes, he should so act and speak, that those around him should never forget, that he is an "ambassador of Christ." There are, indeed, many ways in which the minister of Christ can promote his Master's cause, by his intercourse with those who are only worldly in their feelings. He can rebuke vice and irreligion, should their advocates throw off the k mask in his presence. He can combat those opinions so often thrown out in every circle, which although specious in appearance, are dangerous in their tendency, and at variance with the precepts of the gospel. It will thus be in his power to promote a sound tone of moral feeling. When a fit occasion presents itself, he can also inculcate those high and sublime truths of our

faith, which have a bearing upon the immortal destinies of man. It is indeed difficult sometimes, to draw the line between that fear, which would hold back the truth lest man may be offended, and that prudence which should prevent us from doing any thing to injure the cause we would advance. But we have reason to believe there is too much truth in that remark of Thomas Scott, that "zeal for the honor of the gospel, and love to the souls of men, are grievously sacrificed to urbanity, in this age of courteous insincerity." We should remember, however, that even the irreligious expect the minister of Christ to stand forth as the champion of religion, and to act on all occasions as though its interests were dear to him. They are aware, that he has taken on him a vow "to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified;"-they are sensible too of the truth of that maxim, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." When therefore he has passed hours in their company, without one allusion to show his clerical character-without one word to indicate, that he cares for any thing beyond this world, have they not reason to believe, that his hopes and wishes are, like their own," of the earth, earthly.'


If religion is the leading feature in the Christian's character, why should he not show it? Why should it be so often the only subject proscribed, or the introduction of which is met with chilling indifference? Religion is made too much a thing of Sabbaths, and churches, and death-beds-a subject, which men seem to think has peculiar periods allotted to it, beyond which it should not be permitted to encroach. They forget, that it is an every-day business-to be mingled with all the concerns of our life, and to exert its influence on all our actions. It seems often in society as if it was looked upon as a disagreeable topic, to which there was a secret agreement never to recur. With regard to every thing which concerns it, a studied silence is observed. This is carried to such a degree in exclusion even of serious moral topics, that many modern Christians, when selecting a subject for conversation, might well look back

Robert Hall, although (as we remarked before) he was sometimes called to lament his own deficiencies in this duty, was yet fully aware how it ought to be performed. He thus speaks in one of his sermons, "the seasonable introduction of religious topics is often of such admirable use, that there are few qualities more enviable than the talent of "teaching from house to house:" though the modern state of manners, I am aware, has rendered this branch of the pastoral office much more difficult than in former times." "The extent to which they should be carried must be determined by circumstances, without attempting to prescribe any other rule than this, that the conversation of a Christian minister should be always such as is adapted to strengthen, not impair, the impression of his public instructions." (Hall's Works, v. 1, p. 142.)

to the age of Augustus, and learn a profitable lesson from the poet, (heathen though he was,) who adorned his court:

"Sermo oritur, non de villis domibusve alienis,
Nec, male, nec ne lepus saltet. Sed quod magis ad nos
Pertinet, et nescire malum est, agitamus: utrumne
Divitiis homines, an sint virtute beati ?
Et quo sit natura boni? Summumque quid ejus ?"
Horat. Serm. L. II. Sat. 6. v. 78.

"The offence of the Cross" has not, indeed, by any means ceased, and it often requires courage, to introduce before men, the name or the doctrines of the crucified Nazarene. But when even the minister of Christ is seen, apparently shrinking from this avowal, and displaying an interest in every thing else but what it is supposed should be nearest to his heart, we well know what effect must be produced on the unbelieving. Let him, on the contrary, "walk worthy of the vocation, wherewith he is called"-standing before the world as a living "epistle, known and read of all men," and proclaiming to all by his actions, that he has something higher to which he looks forward, than the fleeting things of time, and those around him will feel, that there is indeed a reality in religion, that they have in truth souls to be saved or lost.

Look at the necessary influence, either for good or evil, which must be produced on any one who is not in heart a Christian, by the manners and conversation of him, who is his spiritual guide. Every interview must be to him either " a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death." The worldly man meets his clergyman with feelings which he entertains for no other individual. He remembers, that from his lips he is accustomed to listen to the tidings of the word of life, and that he is set to "watch for his soul as one that must give account." In what a vantage ground then of influence does the pastor stand, when he meets with the members of his flock! Ought he not to show by his actions, that he knows he is engaged in a work which admits not of trifling-that he has the salvation of those around him at heart-that he feels that the careless and irreligious should give no slumber to their eyes till the great interests of eternity are secured? When the irreligious man leaves the company of such a clergyman, he will often find reflections like these passing through his mind; "Here is one, who seems to be influenced in all his life and conversation by the precepts of religion. He at least must believe in its truth, and its necessity for those who have as yet no share in its saving influences. And if he seeks the salvation of those around him so diligently, should not they be aroused to consider the subject?"

If such are not the thoughts suggested by the conversation

of the Christian minister, have we not reason to fear, that they are too often like these? "And this," he may say to himself," and this is he who is in some measure responsible for my salvation. Can religion have much place in his heart, when the mention of it is never heard on his lips? Is frivolity a fruit of faith, or a proof of the indwelling of the Spirit? Can he believe that those without an interest in the gospel are treading on the brink of a precipice, when he gives no evidence of it by his conduct? and when he talks of every thing but religion? Why, he himself seems as much devoted to the world as any one. He is too careless to believe that ruin is hanging over the unconverted, and I again may trust that all will be well." Whether such an inference is warranted or not, there is no doubt of the fact, that it is often drawn from the worldly and frivolous conversation of the clergyman. Let him then who ministers at the altar, when called to mingle with the careless and the indifferent, go forth with the determination to show by his conduct, that he feels his solemn responsibilities. If he fails in this point, he will effectually neutralize any benefit which might have been derived from his public instructions.*

Look over the memoirs of the servants of God, and you will meet with numberless instances of the power of a single sentence, spoken in simplicity for the cause of Christ. The conversation of the Christian is like the seed which the traveller carelessly casts forth in his path, and leaves to its fate. Much must perish, yet some grains may live, and afterwards spring up and bear abundant fruit. He may be thrown into contact with a stranger, and the changes of conversation afford an opportu


Bishop Otey, in his charge to the clergy of Tennessee, in 1834, has these remarks. "But there is nevertheless a danger to which he," (i. e. the clergyman) "is exposed, far more subtle in its nature, and more insidious in its approach, than any allurements to manifest and palpable violations of duty. În his intercourse with society, even in the best state in which we can expect to find it, he has need of constant exertion, to preserve the tone of his feelings, and to exhibit that seriousness of mind-that dignity of deportment, and gravity of demeanor, without which, all his other qualifications for usefulness will be of little avail, and will produce but slight impression. In the ordinary mingling of the world, there prevails a species of levity, which in others may perhaps, be deemed harmless trifling, but which in the Christian minister must be regarded as a serions dereliction from duty-forgetfulness of his high and holy calling, and virtual abandonment of the solemn obligations of his office. Let me not be understood however, my brethren, as inculcating an austerity of manners, amounting to a repulsive severity; this perhaps is equally injurious with levity. A happy mean between the two, issuing in the exhibition of that cheerfulness which indicates a contented and thankful heart, and a conscience at peace, is, I conceive, the reasonable object of desire, and of possible attainment in this case. I should not have deemed remark upon this subject necessary, but that I know, that the habits of social intercourse are too often such in the world, as to tempt to a freedom of speech and action, which are afterward censured as frivolous and unbecoming."

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