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with the youth and children of our charge. We are under the obligation imposed by the solemnity of a religious oath, (the most sacred of all oaths,) contained in our ordination vows, "to instruct the youth." As to the advantages of a general connection between the ministry and the youth of their charge, a volume would scarcely be sufficient to trace them. The fairest field for ministerial labor is among the young. There, if anywhere, may we look for the absence of fixed sinful habits and strong sinful passions. There, if anywhere, are to be found minds open to conviction, and among the converts from the ranks of the young we are to look for the materials for useful servants of the church. If the aged are converted, the days of their activity have gone by, and the time of their service is short. The young are the hope of the church, and the hope of the world. Their peculiar dangers also call for the faithful services of the ministry. It is their misfortune that their passions come to maturity much sooner than their understandings. Unlearned in the school of experience, buoyant and active, they are indeed in "slippery paths," and need a most zealous and affectionate inculcation of the lessons of the Bible. They are also exposed when, like wax to the seal, they are peculiarly susceptible of impression to the efforts of the abettors of error. Infidelity has of late assumed a new shape, and come forth paying court to the multitude and professing particular respect for the young. Semi-infidelity, if possible more dangerous than the former, under the name of Universalism, et cætera, is also particular in its professions of regard for the young. Under these circumstances the duties of the ministry to the youthful portion of the community have become extremely important and arduous; and it becomes every minister, as he regards the interests of religion and the welfare of the present and future generations, to seek to establish and keep up a close connection with the youth of his flock. He should watch over the Sunday school, meet with the superintendents and teachers, address the school, labor with the parents, establish and superintend Bible classes, and visit the children and youth, with affectionate solicitude. Unless this be done, and done in good earnest, we may expect to see our young people carried away in a flood from us, if not to see them whelmed in the gulf of infidelity and licentiousness.
8. Pastoral fidelity is essential to the piety of the ministry. No one who reads his Bible can doubt but that God enjoins the duties of the pastor as well and as strongly as those of the preacher. The minister also binds himself when he is received into the church to perform the former as well as the latter. If, therefore, he is appointed to the charge of a congregation, and only preaches, he violates a promissory obligation, and a Scriptural obligation. And is this any thing short of moral delinquency? Can it be otherwise than that his piety should decline apace? Can he be alive to God while he is daily bringing upon himself such fearful condemnation? Difficulties may be in the way, but they must be met. The disadvantages of being obliged to go among strangers every two years, diffidence and want of address, may interpose; but we entered the ministry with our eyes open: we also professed to be "moved of the Holy Ghost to take this office and ministry;" and there is now but one way to save our piety, perhaps our souls-we must meet our obligations and discharge them. But this is by no means the
only light in which the question is to be viewed. If it is a duty to go from, house to house in the service of our divine Master, it is also a high and holy privilege. The pastoral work has advantages and consolations peculiar to itself. How sweet is that nion of saints," that Christian fellowship, which is enjoyed by the servant of God while engaged on these errands of love! His intercourse is with the heirs of immortality. He enters the habitations where God is honored, and his worship made welcome-where the Son of peace has taken up his abode. He waters, and is watered; and as he goes he feels as the disciples felt whose hearts "burned within them" as they communed with the Saviour and each other. He retires home from these seasons of mercy with a heart softened and subdued, and sweet is his pillow while the blessings of those to whom he has ministered rest upon him. Conscience approves, and Heaven smiles, and his piety daily matures.
9. Faithful pastoral labor will be found one of the most efficient means of removing the financial embarrassments under which we, as a church, so generally labor. These embarrassments are no doubt owing, to a considerable extent, to two facts. First. As a church, we are still in our infancy. It is within the memory of some still living that not a Methodist church had been planted in this country. Other churches were already established, and had their houses of worship and institutions of learning when we were not yet a people. To build up a denomination is not the work of a moment, and we are just beginning to get systematized and established. Secondly. A large portion of our work is in parts still new. Methodism has been a pioneer upon the frontier, and admirable was the providence which raised up an itinerant ministry, zealous, bold, and self-sacrificing, for such a work as following up the tide of emigration. But it has been, and must still be done, at a great personal sacrifice on the part of the ministry. In the older parts of the work, however, we have not this latter difficulty. Yet the best of our annual conferences in their reports exhibit a great deficiency in finances. Now this state of things is fraught with mischief. It drives many of our best men to locations, or to seek wherewithal to feed and clothe their families in other churches. There is no need that these embarrassments should continue much longer. Our church is getting to be able, in most of the circuits and stations in the older conferences at least, to support the ministry comfortably and respectably; and if a general and faithful effort is made and persevered in, the work will be accomplished. Yet we may despair of its being done, unless our ministers are faithful in fulfilling their pastoral obligations. The obligation to render unto the ministry a support is consequent upon the ministry's rendering faithful services in "spiritual things." Selfish and cruel indeed must that congregation be who, having the ability to render a competent support, will still allow a diligent and faithful minister to live and labor among them in penury and embarrassment. I am persuaded such congregations are few.
If, however, a minister be appointed to a charge of not over three or four hundred, or even no more than two hundred or one hundred and fifty members, the whole of whom, with the regular members of the congregation, being so few, he might visit most or all of them in three months; and if after he has been in such a charge one or
two years numbers can say he has never so much as paid them a single visit; if, indeed, he has passed week after week, and scarcely visited a single family, while Bible classes, Sunday schools, the sick, and the delinquent are neglected,-need we be surprised that under a system whose ministers are supported by the voluntary contributions of the people, if such unfaithful men go away deficient? For one I am persuaded that there is no inconsiderable deficiency in the performance of pastoral duties in the conference of which I have the privilege of being a member; and while I rejoice to see measures going forward for relieving our ministry of those pressing embarrassments under which it has suffered, I am yet persuaded that the subject under consideration must be faithfully attended to if we would succeed.
10. The faithful discharge of pastoral duties is a debt of honor which we owe to our brethren in the ministry. In all associated bodies there are certain obligations by which the members of the association are bound, and which are the terms of the compact, and each individual is bound by every honorable principle faithfully to meet and discharge those obligations. In the Methodist Episcopal Church we solemnly covenant together to go out and labor in the Lord's vineyard "by preaching the word publicly and from house to house." We agree to take that part of the work which is assigned us, and to change our fields of labor once in two years, as the predecessors and successors of each other. Now if we be unfaithful in this work, we not only injure our brethren in our respective charges, but we violate the principles of honor toward our brethren in the ministry. Suppose our predecessor has been faithful in the discharge of his ministerial duties, and left his charge flourishing as the garden of the Lord. With weeping and fasting in labors, and watching with weary limbs, and often an aching heart, he has toiled to clear the heritage of the Lord. He has visited the sick, instructed the ignorant, comforted the afflicted, aroused the careless, and alarmed the vicious, by every means in his power. He has watched over the young, visited the Sabbath school, instructed the Bible class, and his labors have been blessed in the conversion of many souls. The time of his departure arrives, and with painful feelings on his part, and tears on that of his charge, he leaves them. Suppose his successor arrives, but soon discovers himself to be a man of another spirit. No vigilant watch-care is extended to the classes; the converts are neglected; the Sabbath school and the Bible class are overlooked. The connection between the pastor and the young, which had been formed with care, and maintained by untiring effort, is broken. The former pastor receives letters from his former friends filled with sorrowful tidings of backslidings and declensions. He visits the scene of his former labors, and finds the once fair and flourishing garden of the Lord, which he left blooming in beauty and redolent in fragrance, overrun with noxious weeds; while the plants he had cultivated with so much care are sickly or dying. Has he no cause to complain? Can he see the hedge broken down, and the wild boar out of the woods, and the beast out of the forest, devouring God's vineyard through the neglect of an unfaithful husbandman without feeling that every honorable principle has been sacrificed? Again: suppose a faithful pastor succeeds an unfaithful one, and finds every thing bearing the aspect of neglect. Perhaps from
the scene of his former arduous labors he comes to his new charge with impaired health, feeble lungs, and shattered nerves. He might perhaps be able to meet the labors which properly belong to him, but he finds the work of the two preceding years left for him to do. Both financial and spiritual matters are in confusion. His predecessor, by his culpable neglect, has virtually taken the bread out of his mouth, the clothes off from his back, and put a burden upon him which he has neither health nor strength to meet. Before him also is the poor consolation of reflecting that if he should succeed in improving matters, he has no security against their being again prostrated as soon as he shall leave. Is this an imaginary picture? Let those answer who have wept over the waste places of Zion.
11. Another argument in favor of fidelity in the pastoral work may be brought, or rather it comes to us from the state of our country. Its character is in the process of formation. Towns and villages are rising up, as by enchantment, all around us. Now the features which these towns and villages assume at the commencement they will probably retain, to a great extent, for generations to What has given to New-England her churches, her schools and colleges, her intelligence and enterprise, and made her emphatically
"The land of the free and the home of the brave?"
She was founded by the pilgrims. These noble men, with their indomitable love of liberty, their unwavering attachment to science and religion, impressed on New-England their "own image and superscription," and long may she wear it. Avoiding a few of the errors into which those pilgrim-fathers fell, let other towns and villages be formed on the same model. Let religion enter as largely into the plan, and let the ministry of our church, in connection with the general ministry of the nation, use every exertion in their power to give a decidedly religious character to every rising neighborhood in our land. Those ministers who are placed by the God of providence in the midst of the cities, towns, and villages of a rising nation act under a weight of responsibility which it is difficult adequately to estimate. Who can tell what may be the result of a single revival or of the conversion of a single individual, and who can tell what may be the result of a single pastoral visit? A prominent individual may be awakened: a single pastoral visit may turn the scale when he hangs trembling between life and death, and the conversion of that prominent and leading man may give a religious character to the whole place. On the other hand, neglect at such a time may be followed by the most sad consequences. That prominent individual may lose his serious impressions, become hostile to the interests of religion. Talent may raise him to eminence, and from his bad eminence may come down a powerful and successful opposition to all that is sacred. This is no fancy picture. A small effort at the decisive hour has often been followed by the most momentous consequences. A faithful pastor has planted in a single year the seed that has brought forth successive harvests in future generations. Religion, once fairly established in a family or village, may continue in that family or village to the end of time.
12. The last observation I shall make on this part of the subject is, that if a minister ever intends to begin the pastoral work, he must VOL. IX.-Oct., 1838. 48
begin young-at the very commencement of his ministerial career. I need not here remark on the power of habit, in general. Ministers, above all men, are observant here. They are the very men who are from Sabbath to Sabbath warning their hearers against becoming accustomed to evil, and of the necessity of habituating themselves to the service of God. But here I would particularly remark, that if the pastoral department of a minister's work be neglected while he is young, it is almost certain that it will be ever afterward. Neither the voice of conscience, nor ordination vows, nor the suffering cause of religion, nor the remonstrances of the people will cure a negligent minister of his inveterate habit. The only way, generally, is for him to give up the ministry; and if he will not discharge its duties, the sooner he does so the better. True, God may have called him to the work, and there may be a "Wo" resting upon him if he leave it; but it is better he should suffer the consequences of his own unfaithfulness than that he should occupy a place some more faithful man might otherwise fill. Besides, his wo may be less if he leave entirely than though he shut others out of the place which he refuses properly to occupy. But let a young minister come forward and enter upon this work in a spirit worthy of his high calling. He will meet with many difficulties, no doubt. He will find occasion for all the grace, firmness, self-denial, and tact of which he is master; but his profiting will appear to himself and to others. His successes will encourage him; he will be comforted of God; and the blessings and prayers of the pious will accompany him. This work will grow pleasant, and he will become skilful in it. A rich field of observation will open before him, from which he will gather choice materials for his ministry, and while he is thus "watching" others, the rich dews of divine grace and soft showers of mercy will be falling upon him, and his soul will be indeed "like a well watered garden, whose fruit shall not fail, and whose leaf shall not wither." He will be in God's hands the blessed instrument "of turning many to righteousness," who shall be as "stars in the crown of his rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
II. A second point of importance is the acquisition of suitable qualifications for the pastoral work. Great attention is deservedly paid to the acquisition of suitable qualifications for the pulpit. But how is it that so little is thought or said of pastoral qualifications? If any one suppose it an easy matter to be a good pastor, he need only make a fair trial to find himself greatly mistaken. There will be found in all denominations several excellent preachers to one thoroughly qualified and faithful pastor. This is doubtless owing, in part, to the fact that far less pains are taken to prepare for pastoral labor than for the pulpit; but it is also owing to the fact that pastoral duties require very important qualifications, and are duties of a very arduous character.
1. To be a successful pastor requires much intelligence. In this work all sorts of persons are encountered; human nature, in all its multiplied forms and varied phases, presents itself to our view. At one place you are by the bed of sickness, where an immortal being stands on the verge of the eternal world, and where to inspire a false hope might end in eternal ruin, or where to throw back an inquiring penitent into despondency might be equally fatal; or you may find a careless soul, whose sins are unforgiven, but the physi