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QUALIFYING HIMSELF FOR HIS OFFICE,
When a young Minister sets out, he should sit down and ask himself hoW HE MAY BEST QUALIFY HIMSELF FOR HIS OFFICE.
How does a physician qualify himself? It is not enough that he offers to feel the pulse. He must read and inquire, and observe, and make experiments, and correct himself again and again. He must lay in a stock of medical knowledge before he begins to feel the pulse.
The Minister is a Physician of a far higher order. He has a vast field before him. He has to study an infinite variety of constitutions. He is to furnish himself with the knowledge of the whole system of remedies. He is to be a man of skill and expedient. If one thing fail he must know how to apply another. Many intricate and perplexed cases will come before him: it will be disgraceful to him not to be prepared for such. His patients will put many questions to him: it will be disgraceful to him not to be prepared to answer them. He is a merchant embarking in extensive concerns. A little ready money in the pocket will not answer the demands that will be made upon him. Some of us seem to think it will, but they are grossly deceived. There must be a well furnished account at the banker's.
But it is not all gold that glitters. A young Minister must learn to separate and select his materials. VOL. III.
A man who talks to himself will find out what suits the heart of man: some things respond: they ring again. Nothing of this nature is lost on mankind it is worth its weight in gold, for the service of a Minister. He must remark, too, what it is that puzzles and distracts the mind: all this is to be avoided : it may wear the garb of deep research, and great acumen, and extensive learning; but it is nothing to the mass of mankind. | One of the most important considerations in making a sermon, is to disembarrass it as much as possible. The sermons of the last century were like their large, unwieldy chairs. Men have now a far more true idea of a chair. They consider it as a piece of furniture to sit upon, and they cut away from it every thing that embarrasses and encumbers it. It requires as much reflection and wisdom to know what is not to be put into a sermon, as what is.
A young Minister should likewise look round him, that he may see what has succeeded and what has not. Truth is to be his companion, but he is to clothe her so as to gain her access. Truth must never bow to fashion or prejudice; but her garb may be varied. No man was ever eminently successful in his ministry, who did not make Truth his friend. Such a man might not see her, indeed, in all her beauty and proportions; but, certainly, he saw and loved her. A young
Minister should remember that she does not wear the dress of a party. Wherever she is, she is one and the same, however variously men may array her. He, who is ignorant of her prominent and distinguishing features, is like a musician who plays half score: it grates on every well-formed ear; as fatal error finds no corresponding vibration in the renewed heart. Truth forms an immediate acquaintance with such a heart, by a certain fitness and suitableness to its state and feelings. She is something different from the picture which a Church
man draws of her. A Dissenter misses her perfect figure. A Frenchman distorts her features in one way, and an Englishman in another. Every one inakes his own cast and colour too essential to her.
Knowledge, then, and Truth, are to be the constant aim of a young Minister.' But where shall we find them? Let him learn from a fool, if a fool can teach him any thing. Let him be every where and always a learner. He should imitate Gainsborough. Gainsborough transfused Nature into his landscapes, beyond almost any of his contemporaries; because Gainsborough was every where the painter. Every remarkable feature or position of a tree-every fine stroke of Nature-was copied into his pocket-book on the spot; and, in his next picture, appeared with a life and vivacity and nature, which no strength of memory or imagination could have supplied.
There is a certain wise way, too, in which he should accustom himself to look down on the pursuits of all other men.
No man of eminence in his profession is destitute of such a partial feeling for his profession; though his judgment may remonstrate with him there on, as an unfounded partiality. The Minister, however, is REQUIRED so to view all other pursuits. He alone is the man, whose aim is Eternity. He alone is the man whose office and profession, in all their parts, are raised into dignity and importance by their direct reference to Eternity. For Eternity he schemes, and plans, and labours.
He should become a philosopher also. He should make experiments on himself and others, in order to find out what will produce effect. He is a fisherman: and the fisherman must fit himself to his employment. If some fish will bite only by day, he must fish by day: if others will bite only by moon-light, he must fish for them by moon-light. He has an engine to work, and it must be his most assiduous endeavour to work his engine to the full extent of its powers : and, to find out its powers, is the first step toward success and effect. Many men play admirably on the organ, if you would allow to them that there is no difference between an organ and a harpsichord, but they have utterly mistaken its powers. Combination is the unrivalled excellence of the organ; and therefore he only can display its powers, who studies the chords and stops in all their infinite variety of resolution and composition, rather than the rapid motion of his fin
But all the Minister's efforts will be vanity, or worse ihan vanity, if he have not Unction. Unction must come down from heaven, and spread a savour and relish and feeling over his ministry. And, among all the other means of qualifying himself for his office, the Bible must hold the first place, and the last also must be given to the word of God and prayer.
WHICH A MINISTER HAS REASON TO EXPEC'T
DISCHARGE OF HIS PUBLIC DUTY.
Men have carried their views on this subject to extremes. Enthusiasts have said that learning, and that studying and writing sermons, have injured the Church. The accurate men have said, « Go and hear one of these enthusiasts hold forth !"
But both classes may be rendered useful. Let each correct its evils, yet do its work in its own way.
Some men set up exorbitant notions about accuтасу. But exquisite accuracy is totally lost on mankind. The greater part of those who hear, cannot be brought to see the points of the accurate man, The Scriptures are not written in this manner. I should advise a young Minister to break through all such cobwebs, as these unphilosophical men would spin round him. An humble and modest man is silenced, if he sees one of these critics before him. He should say, “I am God's servant. To my own Master I stand or fall. I will labour according to the utmost ability which God giveth, and leave all consequences to him."
We are especially taught in the New Testament, to glorify the Spirit of God: and, in his gracious operations in our ministry, we are nearer the Apostolic Times than we often think ourselves.
But this assistance is to be expected by us, bourers in the vineyard; not as rhapsodists. Idle