« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ry, is a melancholy fact too evident to be denied by the most careless observer. When this desirable state of mind and of habit shall be realized with respect to the great body of them, then “the time, even the set time to favour Zion, will have come.” Then shall the signal be given for the whole body of our population to come up, willingly and efficiently, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. For, that the mass of our professing people have not made higher attainments in christian feeling, and christian effort ; that they have not more knowledge of truth ; more piety; more zeal; more comprehensive views of the deplorable state of the world ; more deep sympathy for the destitute and the perishing ; and a more active spirit of benevolent exertion for enlightening the world—I hold to be more owing to a defect of zeal on the part of the clergy themselves, than to any other single cause, next to the native depravity of the human heart. If the great body of our ministers were thoroughly imbued with the apostolick spirit, and animated to a corresponding tone of habitual exertion, we should soon witness glorious days in our beloved country.
10. Finally ; in the views which have been taken of this subject, you, my young friends, may find much matter for serious personal application. The great office, the awful office which we have been contemplating ;-the office on which so much depends in reference to unnumbered millions,--for soul and body, for time and eternity ;-ibis is the office which you seck ;-for which you have come hither to prepare ;-to which all your studies and intercourse
here will be, or ought to be, directed. Solemn undertaking! Momentous enterprise ! Oh, if you could foresee the unutterable consequences which will result from this enterprise, to yourselves, and to all the multitudes whom you may, in the course of your lives, approach and influence, the present would be an hour of deep solemnity with every one whom I address. May the Lord give you grace to ponder well in your hearts what you are about, and what is before you! May the Lord give you grace to consider seriously the furniture which you need for this mighty work ; especially THAT DEEP, ARDENT, ACTIVE PIETy, which lies at the foundation of all other useful furniture. You need, it is true, other attainments, and much of other attainments; but without THIS, you will be of little use as ministers of Christ. Without this, directing, warming, animating, and sanctifying all your other accomplishments, they will be as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
Think, I pray you, what a day it is, in which the Head of the Church has cast your lot! No preceding generation of ministers ever saw such a day as this! Such openings for usefulness ; such calls to exertion ; such multiplied and extensive fields whitening to the harvest ; such abundant and potent means for doing good to mankind. To live now, is a talent put into your hands, for which you must give an account. Have you an ardour of piety, a tone of moral sentiment, a spirit of enterprise corresponding with this day? If not, give yourselves no rest till you in some good measure attain them all. If an ancient heathen rhetorician, in giving directions
for the attainment of the “sublime.” in writing, could say "Spare no labour to educate your soul to grandeur, and to impregnate it with great and generous ideas ;” much more may the same language be addressed to a candidate for the gospel ministry, in the present stage of the Church's progress. Take unceasing pains to get large views of ministerial furniture, ministerial duty, and ministerial success. Strive to “educate your souls to grandeur” of conception, and grandeur of wishes, and hopes, and enterprise for the moral benefit of your fellow men. Aim high. Let no petty plans satisfy you, either as to acquirement or exertion. Every one of you, however humble bis talents, is really disposed to make the most of what God has given him, might cause his influence to be felt to the ends of the earth.
Think, further, what a weight of responsibility, if you
live to sustain it, will soon devolve upon you. When I see more than a hundred theological students before me, amounting to nearly a thirteenth part of the whole number of our ministry; and recollect that, in a little time, the reins of ecclesiastical administration will drop from the hands of those who now bear them,--and who, alas ! have so much reason to mourn over the defective manner in which they have borne them ;--and that a large part of the weighty trust will devolve on you, I can scarcely express my emotions. Is it so, my young friends, that this beloved Church; this truly primitive and apostolick Church; this Church for which our fathers have prayed and laboured so much; this Church, which, though repeatedly involved in the flame of contro
versy and trial, yet, like the burning bush”at Horeb, has not been "consumed," but has been mercifully brought forth more thrifty and flourishing; this Church, in the future destiny of which the peace, edification, and eternal welfare of so many myriads are involved ;-is soon to be committed, under God, to YOUR MANAGEMENT, associated with those who, in other places, are, like yourselves, training up for the work? And is it true that so much, under God, depends upon your spirit, attainments, and character? that what you shall be, fifteen or twenty years hence, THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH WILL BE? 0, then, gird up the loins of your minds; be sober and watch unto prayer. Let a sense of your
incalculable responsibility daily rest upon you. Let it impel you in your
studies, give new fervour to your devotions, and impart a deeper tone of solemnity to all your intercourse, both with one another, and with allaround you. Remember, in going out, and in coming in, in sitting down and in rising up, that you are consecrated men, bound to live and to die for the Church of God. Cultivate a deep and babitual spirit of prayer. Covet earnestly the best gifts; and shriok from no labour, either in study or in self-denial, that will prepare you to perform with more efficiency your Master's work. Consider no sacrifice as too great for the promotion of the Redeemer's kingdom. Set up no banner, in any case, but that of Christ. Let all carnal ambition, pride, envy, contention, and unhallowed emulation be put away from among you. Be always ready to surrender every personal feeling for the sake of brotherly love and edification. Cher
ish more and more the feelings of a holy brotherhood, pledged to Christ, and to one another by indissoluble ties. Remember that, united, you will stand, and by the spirit and strength of Christ, can do all things; but that, divided, you must fall; and that in every fall of the christian ministry, the cause of the Redeemer bleeds and mourns. Resolve, that, if the Church be corrupted with error, agitated by controversy, or torn by schism, the sin shall not lie at your
If her walls be broken down, by folly or wickedness, see that you be found in the breach, fighting and praying for her restoration. And if ever a time should come in which you can do nothing more, at least be found weeping between the porch and the altar, saying, Spare thy people, O Lord, bless thy heritage, save them, and lift them up for ever! But, if you are faithful, iny young friends, such a time will never come. Yes, if only the little band, now seated within the sound of my voice, should all happily prove to be animated with the spirit of the primitive heralds of the cross, there is no presumption in saying, that, you alone, under God, would form a pledge to our beloved Church of her spiritual prosperity.
The God of all grace grant that you may act a part more worthy of the sacred office than we, who have preceded you, have ever done! May He preside over your studies; endow you with all those gifts and graces which will fit you for the faithful performance of his great work; and form you to be "chosen vessels” for building up his Church, and bearing the treasures of his love to a dark and miserable world ; and to his name be the glory! Amen!