« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
system of pastoral instruction by classes, much farther than it has been generally attempted. For while mankind inherit one common nature, and have many common wants, trials, dangers, and temptations, in many other respects, their circumstances are widely dissimilar; and of all these, a pastor may avail himself, to the abundant increase of his usefulness, by taking the several clases as he finds them in his congregation :—the aged, the young, the fathers, the mothers, the men in active and prosperous business, old professors, and young christians. I have, for example, known the best effects from a separate meeting for the old and grey-headed, of about the same standing, who were not professors of religion - - of another for men deeply immersed in cares and gainful business—and of another for mothyoung
families. And I will venture to say, that any minister, who shall adopt and pursue the method of pastoral instruction which is here recommended, will be surprised at the number and importance of the topics, which, as he passes from one class to another, will suggest themselves to his mind.
But whatever method you adopt, pass by none of your flock. Feed Christ's sheep. Feed his lambs: and if possible bring all the straying back to his fold. In your manner of address be plain, be affectionate, be serious, be faithful. Never continue an exercise longer than you can command attention. Never permit yourself to wander into regions of unprofitable speculation. Never lose sight of Jesus Christ and him crucified.
The poor you will have with you always, and they will have a right to a full share of
time and attention. Visit them often in their lowly habitations. Accept of their plain hospitality in such a way, as to convince them, that you value it more than the sumptuous banquet. Kindly inquire into their circumstances, and encourage them to entrust you with their necessities. Inculcate upon them the graces of contentment and resignation. When they are virtuous and pious, esteem it a high privilege to help them forward in their journey to the promised land. When they are vicious and improvident, use every argument and motive to reclaim them. Never give over, till you bring them to the sanctuary and to the cross of Christ. Thus you will secure their confidence, awaken their gratitude, elevate their views, and by the grace of God, save them from going down to the pit. Take much notice of their children. See that they attend the schools of the parish, as well as the Sabbath School and Bible Class; and afford all the aid in your power, to bring them up in habits of industry and soþriety ; but above all “ in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." In your intercourse with the rich, be on your
you will always be in danger. Not so often, however, from their want of friendship, as from their kindness. Go not often to their feasts. By so doing, many have been “snared and taken." It will, moreover, swallow up too much of your precious time. What other labourer can afford to sit
two hours over a single meal; and who has less time to spare for these ceremonies than a minister of the gospel ? Receive the friendly tokens of your parishioners with gratitude ; but beware that their gifts do not bribe you to neglect their spiritual interests. O how hard is it for a pastor, to deal as faithfully in a magnificent drawing-room, as in a humble cottage. Especially how difficult to tell your greatest benefactor, that he is an enemy to God, and that without repentance and faith and holiness, he must perish! I have often thought, that this is one reason, why it is so hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. His wealth, his influence, and his largesses, encompass him about with a kind of tripple wall, which a pastor top rarely has the courage to break through, that he may carry to his conscience the unwelcome topics of death and eternity.
Gird yourselves up then, my young brethren, to this difficult, this self-denying part of your work. Make no compromises. Accept no man's person. Requite not the kindness of your affluent friends with the cruel neglect of their souls. But the more they minister to you in “carnal things,” the more do you
minister to them in “spiritual things,” The more they study your present comfort, the more earnestly do you seek their future and eternal welfare.
When your friends praise your fine sermons, as they often will, whether they are really fine sermons or not, remember that the impartial may form a very
different judgement; and that whatever your fellow worms may think, there is much imperfection in your best performances. I would give more for the criticisms of one sagacious enemy, than for those of a score of admirers. When all is peace and quietness in your parish, then is your time to be up and doing. Then fortify every weak and assailable point. Then throw around your people as many of the silken cords of love as you can.
in your parish, and they men of influence, inquire in the first place, whether you may not have given reason for dissatisfaction. And if you find that you owe them an explanation, or an apology, make it frankly-make it promptly. It will do more to gain or disarm them, than any other course you can possibly take. If you have enemies who are secretly plotting against you, never seem to know but that they are your friends. If they speak against you, have no ear and no memory for it. If you want any little favour, go to them for it. They will rarely refuse you, and no man can long be the enemy of one whom he is in the habit of obliging. Ask their advice in matters pertaining to their profession or line of business, and follow it whenever you can. If a parishioner becomes dissatisfied and avoids you, take no notice of it. If when you meet him he passes by without seeing you, greet him as usual. The next time you meet, take him by the hand if he will give it, and if not, when another convenient opportunity presents, offer him the same token of kindness. In
the mean time, if he is in affliction comfort him, if he is “hungry feed him—if he is thirsty give him drink." The opposite course, of assaulting him with your
and green withes,” will never succeed; for “ the weapons of our warfare are not carnal." It will never do for a minister to keep his checkbook, and mark off one after another, as enemies, the moment he discerns any indications of hostility, or dislike. No minister however popular at first, or however great his talents may be, can hold his place comfortably five years, if when he sees a known, or suspected opposer coming, he either meets him with a kind of perpendicular defiance, or to avoid him, passes over to the other side of the street.
In the discharge of parochial duties, the sick and the afflicted will have the strongest claims upon your time and attention. Let these claims always be held sacred. Wait not to be sent for. Hasten to them as soon as you know that they are in distress. And while on your way to the sick chamber, or the house of mourning, lift up your soul in prayer to God, that he will put thoughts into your heart and words into your mouth ; that he will enable you to be faithful and bless your visit. If the sickness be severe, let your remarks be few and direct, and
your prayers commonly short ; but let your calls be frequent. When there is imminent danger in the case, study not to conceal it ; but urge upon the sick man the infinite importance of immediate preparation for death. If it is one of the sheep, or one of the