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inspired fishermen should have projected such a scheme of Christianity.
Revealed religion, then, is in accordance with the course of
To reason against or reject it, on the principles commonly adopted by infidels, is to call in question the whole system of things around us. Nor will it answer any valuable purpose to laugh or mock at it. "There is argument neither in drollery nor in jibe." If, in spite of this striking accordance with the course of nature, it can be proved false, let the evidence be fairly brought forward. Let its miracles be set aside. Let its prophecies be shown not to have been uttered. And then let it be shown how it is that such a system has originated from such a source—a system which has bowed the intellects of such men as Bacon, and Locke, and Boyle, and Hale, and Boorhave, and Newton, and Edwards, and Dwight. But if the demonstration cannot be made out,-if a single doubt remains, it will not do to deride this religion. It will no more do to meet the announcement of hell with a jeer, than to stand and mock at convulsions, fevers, and groans;— nor should men laugh at the judgment any more than at the still tread of the pestilence, or the heavings of the earthquake; -nor will it be at all more the dictate of wisdom to contemn the provisions of redemption than to mock the pitying eye of a father, or to meet with contempt the pensive sigh of a mother over our sufferings, or to jeer at the physician who comes reverently, if it may be, to put back from us the heavy, pressing hand of God.
[CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR, 1832.]
The Christian Ministry, with an Inquiry into the Cause of its Inefficiency. By the Rev. CHARLES BRIDGES, B.A., Vicar of Old Newton, Suffolk, and Author of "Exposition of Psalm cxix." New York: Jonathan Leavitt. Boston:
Crocker and Brewster, 1831. In two vols., 12mo.
THIS work has been republished in this country, with a recommendatory notice by the Rev. Dr. Milnor of New York. We invite the attention particularly of our clerical readers to it, as a practical work of high value on the duties of their calling. It is plain, simple, and thorough in its character; evidently the production of a man ardently attached to the ministry; abounding in scriptural views of the nature of this great office; and illustrating those views, in a full and interesting manner, by the sentiments of eminent ministers of the gospel, and by pertinent anecdotes from the lives of distinguished pastors and preachers. It is not such a work, indeed, as we should expect from those profound British thinkers, Foster and Hall; but it is such a book as we most love to peruse in those moments of care and perplexity, of doubt and despondency, when we seek not for profound discussion, or new views, but when we wish for scriptural encouragement in our work, and ask for the friendly aid and counsel of an experienced pastor, and the voice of Christian friendship to cheer us in the arduous toils of this self-denying office. To induce our readers to become possessed of a book eminently adapted, we believe, to do good, we shall give its outlines by recording the titles of the chapters, and by a single extract-presenting
views which we wish particularly to commend to the attention of our readers, and which may serve as a fair specimen of the general style of the work. The volume contains a discussion of the following subjects:-General view of the Christian ministry-General causes of the want of success in the Christian ministry--Causes of ministerial inefficiency, connected with our personal character-The public work of the Christian ministry The pastoral work of the Christian ministry-Recollections of the Christian ministry.
The extract which we shall present relates to habits of study:
"Nor let it be thought, that studious habits must necessarily infringe upon the more active employment of our work. What shall we say to the nine ponderous folios of Augustine, and nearly the same number of Chrysostom,--volumes not written like Jerome's, in monastic retirement, but in the midst of almost daily preaching engagements, and conflicting, anxious, and most responsible duties,volumes not of light reading-the rapid flow of shallow declamation, but the results of deep and well-digested thinking? The folios, also, of Calvin, the most diligent preacher,* and of Baxter, the most laborious pastor of his day, full of thought and matter, bearing the same testimony to the entire consistency of industrious study with devoted ministerial diligence. The secret of this efficiency seems to have much consisted in a deep and important sense of the value of that most precious of all talents-time, and of an economical distribution of its minutest particles for specific purposes. Mr. Alleine would often say, 'Give me a Christian that counts his time more precious
"What shall I say of his indefatigable industry, even beyond the power of nature, which, being paralleled with our loitering, I fear will exceed all credit? and may be a true object of admiration, how his lean, worn, spent, and weary body could possibly hold out. He read every week in the year three divinity lectures, and every other week over and above; he preached every day, so that (as Erasmus says of Chrysostom) I do not know whether more to admire the indefatigableness of the man, or his hearers. Yea, some have reckoned up that his lectures were yearly one hundred and eighty-six, his sermons two hundred and eighty-six, besides Thursday he sat in the presbytery," &c.-Clark's Lives.
than gold.' Mr. Cotton would express his regret after a departure of a visitor, I had rather have given this man a handful of money, than have been kept thus long out of my study.' Melancthon, when he had an appointment, expected not only the hour, but the minute to be fixed, that time might not run out in the idleness of suspense. Seneca has long since taught us, that time is the only thing of which it is a virtue to be covetous.' And here we should be like the miser with his money-saving it with care, and spending it with caution. It is well to have a book for every spare hour, to improve what Boyle calls the parentheses or interludes of time, which, coming between more important engagements, are wont to be lost by most men, for want of a value for them and even by good men, for want of skill to preserve them. And since goldsmiths and refiners,' he remarks, are wont all the year long to save the very sweepings of their shops, because they may contain in them some filings of dust of those richer metals, gold and silver, I see not why a Christian may not be as careful not to lose the fragments and lesser intervals of a thing incomparably more precious than any metal-time; especially when the improvement of them by our meletetics may not only redeem so many portions of our life, but turn them to pious uses, and particularly to the great advantage of devotion.'" pp. 58-60.
The work is designed evidently for the clergy of Great Britain, and particularly those of the Established Church. Coming from the bosom of that church, and designed for its members, we hail it as an omen of great advancing good. We regard it as an indication of no small progress toward a better state of things there, that such a work as this is patronized, and that, in less than five months, a second edition has been demanded. But though intended particularly for that church, it is adapted to Christian ministers of all denominations. Indeed, it contemplates the work of the ministry as it was appointed by the Lord Jesus, and, wherever read, it will do good.
With one thing we have been particularly struck in its perusal, viz. that no small part of its illustrations, and of the anecdotes and authorities introduced on the subject of the
This fact is a
ministry, are taken from this side the ocean. voluntary tribute to the descendants of the Puritans, which we were not quite prepared to expect from England, and especially from the bosom of the Established Church. As a people, we are young. We have no established religion. We have been without ecclesiastical patronage, without the fostering care of government, without sinecures, and without such independent provision for the ministry as to give leisure for that intellectual advancement which might be expected under an established religion. Preachers in this land are doomed to toil; and one of the most laborious and active occupations here is, without doubt, the Christian ministry. It is a tribute of which we would speak with deep interest;—it is a voice which we desire all men to hear in favour of our free institutions, when foreigners turn their eyes to this country for illustrations of the true nature of the pastoral office, and for examples of self-denying industry and faithfulness among the heralds of salvation. We turn instinctively to our free institutions, and look over our history with new gratitude and delight, to trace the moulding power of their organization in this country, in forming the ministry. We ask ourselves whether the nature of our institutions is fitted to give appropriate beauty and largeness to the embassy which the preacher bears? And what is the kind of ministry which is best adapted to our civil and religious organization, and connected with the preservation of our civil rights, and the welfare of the church of God?
Commending the book which is the occasion of our remarks to the cordial notice of our readers, we desire, at this interesting period of the history of our republic, to do as much as in us lies to hold before our countrymen what we deem to be the appropriate character of this class of men, and from the memory of the past, the aspect of the present, and the anticipations of the future, to keep full in the public eye a subject on