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win the soul of man and lead him back to God. It is truth going forth from a human heart through human lips, that is to be powerful unto salvation. And while this adaptedness in the Christian system to the wants of man confirms our confidence in its divine origin, it leads us to admire the wisdom and the condescending goodness of God; of God clothing the divine in the human, that he might according to the laws of humanity raise up fallen men to the divine; of God making himself Emmanuel, and in Christ reconciling the world unto himself; of God making us fellow-workers with himself in a work which angels cannot do.
2. Our subject suggests the importance of giving as much attention as possible in our ministerial studies to the realities of practical life. I know very well that great principles are always influential; that it is a matter of great moment to be able to rise above the tangible and contemplate the ideal ; to grasp those generalizations which, comprehend whole systems, & a universe of · thought covering all the details of truth and life. But I hold it
of greater moment to be able to present those truths in such a form as to meet the actual condition of men; for one to live in this sublime atmosphere of mighty principles, and yet so to mingle with men as to infuse into them the spirit which animates him, to adapt his thoughts to their wants, and by meeting them when they can be met, to raise them up to think and feel and act aright. And this cannot be done by one who contemplates not man as he is; not simply man at large, in general, but men in all their ignorance, error, infirmity, in all their strength for evil or for good.
I know very well, also, that the careful study of the Bible, and of his own heart, will give to the minister a knowledge of human nature of inestimable importance to his ministry, even though he scarcely go beyond the limits of his study and his pulpit. I reverence the men who can and do come forth from their retirement, simple, untrained in the world's ways, and ignorant of a multitude of things familiar to their hearers, yet laden with rich truths, and uttering sentences to which every heart responds, because based on principles common to man. Such a power is great, and highly worthy of regard. Still our age
and our world demand this, and also something more. This should never be sacrificed, but the other should be added to it, the knowledge of practical life, an acquaintance with men and things as they exist and move around us.
The conjunction of the two is altogether possible, and forms the great man and the effective preacher.
Necessarily, in their course of preparation for the ministry, our young men are to some degree secluded from the world; necessarily, our ministers are confined for a large portion of their time to the study: yet observation teaches the importance of securing as much of such practical knowledge as possible in legitimate ways. The opportunities afforded of spending leisure weeks or months in the active employment of some of our benevolent institutions, have proved of great benefit to many of our candidates for the ministry, by bringing them into contact with various characters, and teaching them how men, under the various circumstances of life, think and feel with reference to religion. And it may be remarked, in this connection, that the practicalness and efficiency for which the American Pulpit is distinguished, may be traced to the fact that here the minister is regarded, and regards himself so much as one of the people, not belonging to a separate class having no common sympathies with them; and also, and greatly to this kindred fact, worthy of careful notice, that so many of our ministers, instead of being simply a student race brought up amid books in cloistered halls, have been called from active operation in some other part of the field of life to the ministerial work, or through the stern imperiousness of poverty have been compelled to work their way to the pulpit, thus being brought by experience to the acquisition of a knowledge which no books could furnish. I repeat the thought, the minister who would be effective must remember that he is a man, and that nothing that belongs to a man is foreign to him.
3. Our subject suggests the importance of the pastoral relation, and of the right discharge of pastoral duties. I can do little more than barely allude to this, though perhaps the most significant suggestion of our subject. It is in the cultivation of such sympathy between the preacher and the people that the chief value of the pastoral relation is found. The faithful pastor is brought directly into contact with men of various characters, and in various circumstances. There is no such relation as that which subsists between him and his affectionate people ; scarcely any so intimate and confidential. He has access to their homes and hearts; he is their friend. And if he rightly conducts himself in his appropriate sphere, he is made a partaker of their joys and their sorrows; he becomes acquainted with all their peculiar and diversified circumstances, learns where the burden presses, in what shape temptation to sin most frequently assails them, and is most likely to be successful ; knows when the heart is softened, or when it is hard and stern, and possessed by angry passions. Going from house to house as a friend and a father, or as a loving brother, his heart is touched, and he may go back to his study, and come thence to the pulpit with things new and old adapted to their wants, and with a loving heart and a brother's voice he may speak to them that which will do them good. It is his privilege, as it is his duty, to lead them beside still waters, to make them lie down in green pastures, to supply them with the appropriate food and care; and to do this, he must be acquainted with their wants.
Fidelity in pastoral duty, I am well assured, in connection
with other faithfulness, will add greatly to the richness, the appropriateness, the practical value and efficiency of the pulpit discourses. And while the minister must ever regard the pulpit as “his throne,” and on no account neglect preparation for it, he will be greatly aided in his performance there by proper intercourse with the people of his charge. I know the opinions of those who would be strenuous to maintain a dignified reserve on the part of the minister, who would draw broadly the distinction between the Clergy and the Laity, and assert something of peculiar sanctity and mysterious awe in the character of the minister, as giving more force to what he says; who would throw the garb of mystery around the Christian priesthood as likely to impress men : but depend upon it, it is the man who is known as the sympathizing friend, who will most truly command the hearts of those who statedly hear him. He greatly errs who neglects to cultivate, by the right discharge of pastoral duty, that acquaintance and sympathy with men, which the pastoral relation was undoubtedly designed, and is so eminently adapted to produce; while it will obviously be greatly for the advantage of every congregation to secure the services of an affectionate and faithful pastor, and by the performance of their reciprocal duties, by treating him as a brother or a father, by opening to him their hearts, unbosoming their cares, and cheering him by a participation in their joys, to keep alive his sympathy with them, and help him to be unto them an able minister of the gospel of grace.
BY REV. R. E. PATTISON, PROF. IN NEWTON THEO.
THE SPIRIT RETURNING TO GOD.
“The spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”—Eccles. 12: 7. In death man is the subject of a great change. It is not simply the change which these bodies experience; these frames dissolving and returning to the dust whence they were taken. Nor is it merely an exchange of worlds, the passing from one class of associates to another; to be met and to be treated on the principles which govern men in their intercourse in this life. The change effected by death is something more than a severing of those ties which bind men together in their present relations. Though through death we are to preserve our identity, and shall ever after that event be the same persons as have here lived and
acted, have enjoyed and suffered, have obeyed or sinned, the mode of our existence and action will unquestionably be very different. Though after the resurrection we shall have bodies, and therefore a suitable habitation, yet they will be spiritual bodies. This term may not express any specific idea as to their nature, still it does deny to our future bodies the usual properties and accidents of matter, to which they are now subject. They will be altogether unlike our present bodies as to their nature, and hence equally so in their relations to other beings.
Of nothing have we more satisfactory evidence, either from reason or from Revelation, than that both the mode of existence and the manner of action of body and soul in a future state will differ in many and important points from what they are in the present. As to the body we can form no very definite anticipations. Nor is it necessary that we should, farther than the assurance that it will be united to the spirit which it is to clothe.
As to the spirit's mode of action, though ignorant of much, we are sufficiently informed to enable us to prepare for our eternal state. No reflecting mind can for a moment doubt that the soul. at death, will enter upon a wider range of knowledge and action than is opened to it in this life.
But whatever other changes we may be the subjects of at death, by none can we be affected so seriously as by the change in the manner of knowing God. We shall have an intimate acquaintance with God, such as we have not in this life. We shall not only have a more perfect, a more distinct and comprehensive knowledge of Jehovah, but my text intimates that the manner of knowing him will be more direct. “The spirit shall return to God who gave it." This is language adapted to our present conceptions and capacities. As if the reason why we see and feel no more the presence of the Deity is because we are removed to a distance from him ; as if we were not with God, though it is “in him that we live and move and have our being." Whatever truth there is in the idea that God has a throne more central to his universe than earth ; where he manifests himself more gloriously than he does here, or would do here, were we ever so holy, or were angels to make this their abode; yet most of the effect attributed to a change of place by which we are brought nearer to, the Almighty is manifestly effected by a change in ourselves. We shall be able to see and know God with as much greater readiness and distinctness, compared with what we now do, as is the difference between a distant and a near view of material objects. That which in the distance is obscure becomes palpable and distinct when brought in contact with our senses. The same change, however, might be effected by an improvement in the power and perfection of our senses. Objects, the mere existence of which in the distance is now discovered with difficulty and uncertainty, would, under an increase of the power of vision, reveal to us their minutest parts, and
“ have our
their most delicate texture. So when it is said “the spirit shall return to God who gave it,” whatever may be its change at death as to residence or place, if spirit can be said to have either, the great change will be in its being made to open its eyes, if I may so speak, on the Divine Perfections, moral as well as natural.
The great change to be experienced then at death, is an increased vividness in our apprehension of the existence of God, accompanied necessarily with a kind of living consciousness of our personal relation to him. We find it difficult, if not impossible, to express this state of mind by a single term.
We perceive what is out of, or foreign from ourselves; we are conscious of the operations and actions of our own minds; we apprehend an idea, a proposition, a principle. This last is too vague, and does not necessarily imply actual existence. Neither the first nor the second designates the complete fact. It is not merely God without us that we to know, but ourselves in God, and God in us. Our own mental states will be an object of as distinct cognizance as the existence and attributes of God. We shall not only be conscious of our own mental exercises, but of exercises in their living connection with Him in whom we being."
An abiding conviction that there is a God, is in this life, a difficult attainment. Though none but the fool can deny his existence, it is not a conviction that has prominence in our ordinary reflections. It would be a great attainment to be as conscious that there is a supreme spiritual Being, as we are sensible that there is a sun in the heavens in a cloudless day. Though many would not be more ready to surrender their belief of his existence than they would their knowledge of the existence of that luminary, still that there is a God is a conclusion arrived at in a different manner. It is the deduction of reason, enlightened by a divine Revelation. The Bible teaches us that there is a God. What we see around us of design impresses upon us the irresistible conviction that there must be a Maker. And the events daily transpiring within our limit of observation disclose to us the operations of a moral Governor. These produce conviction, when thought of and deliberately considered. But as they are the results of an intellectual process purely, they may be unnoticed or forgotten, and hence fail to exert at the time any influence upon our conduct or character. If we have rightly interpreted our text, this forgetfulness, or this want of cognizance and consciousness, will cease after death. There will probably never be a moment when we shall be upmindful of God in whom we live and move and have our being, more than we now are insensible to the warmth and light of the sun when it shines upon us in its effulgence; or, than we now are unconscious, when awake, of the ceaseless flow of thoughts and feelings which distinguish each individual from every other being in the universe. Every man has the witness within himself of his personal iden