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Such a life is full of light, and such are the men who are sustained for service by hope, and who infuse hope into the bosoms of others. They press on, and exert themselves, for they are “saved by Hope.” This strong power of hope may, in some degree, affect the settledness of pastors as well as others. It is not very rare to find a minister resting for a year or two from the charge of a flock, and occupied in othersometimes even in secular -engagements.
When an enterprise is on hand, they are not used to regard any man as a fixture, not to be spared from his present station. They draught him off to take charge of a publication, or colportage, or new missionary scheme, feeling that their best men are most in their place in any new and important work. By such means they fill the eye of the public, and give an impulse that has a powerful effect on their first movement in any new scheme.
Preaching, though alike in its aims and objects, differs considerably in its method in Scotland and the United States. We are doctrinal—they experimental. We refer continually to Scripture for proof
—they found on Scripture, but treat the hearers as if they knew the proof. We are solemn and objurgatory—they solemn and entreating. We draw our illustrations from Scripture, and from past agesthey, without compromising the dignity of the chair, gather illustrations from the events of the time. We feel it a duty to be textual, and often to explain
the connexion between text and context — they frequently use a text but as a motto, or catch a collateral idea from it, and treat that with great spirit, as if it were the real subject indicated.
One sometimes longed for more Bibles in the pews, and more calls to refer to them. It is true the hearers are quick of apprehension, but they might be the better of having the scriptural foundation fixed more clearly in their minds. The more quick and impulsive, the more need of solid instruction. They see the thing, but they do not want to dwell on it. One feels as if Hall's Contemplations, or Meikle's Solitude Sweetened, could not have been meditated by American minds. What a spring would be made in the Divine life if more of the conteinplative, meditative, self-acquainting, and God-acquainting spirit were cultivated by a people so lively and ardent! The preachers who cultivate these may lack something in early popularity, but will gain in permanent weight and usefulness ; while with regard to Scotch preaching, the remark may with equal propriety be reversed.
Good specimens of the “motto” text were given by two of the excellent preachers who took share in the New York winter course of “ Sermons to Young Men.” Dr Cheever's was, “Son, remember;" and Dr Tyng's, “ Run, speak to this young man.” By this choice they were left at liberty to “ remember” or to “speak” anything, and they used their freedom skilfully and usefully. Yet when, a few weeks
after, a religious newspaper mentioned that one hearer had ever since had a sound in his ears of, “Run, speak to this young man,” following him wherever he went, one felt a wish that the text so fixed had been something more definite and instructive-to say nothing of the hasty impulse which had published such an incident. It was true the young man was haunted by a sound, but was he thereby converted? or was the result certain to be sound conversion? If it were, was it prudent thus to hasten before the public? Very likely the avidity of editors for news is one reason why the people seem such a “hasty nation," while the judicious disapprove this haste. This young man's spirit of a sound that haunted him reminds me strongly of a letter from a valued friend, written in the heat and glory of the “Great Unknown's” writing the Tales of my Landlord. The letter ran thus : “ Sir Walter Scott told me that he must give utterance to a foolish rhyme that had haunted him for days, hoping thereby to get rid of it. He then recited with great force
Cuckoldy moy, my boy, my boy,
What shall I do to give thee joy?' The words are too absurd, but they in my turn haunt me in bed and out of it, at work or at play, and I now write them to you instead of uttering them, hoping thus to escape from them without inoculating you." This idle tale is not designed to mock at the sound which might prove the fore
runner of a salutary change in the young man, but to suggest the imprudence of making a paragraph about it in the newspaper.
People in England talk of the “aristocracy of wealth” in the United States. It is true, that in a land so open to all manner of enterprise, the acquisition of wealth gives a man influence, not only as its holder, but as the man of skill who obtained it. They who speak thus, however, have set their mark of aristocracy at a grovelling level. There is an aristocracy of moral worth and consistent piety, and an aristocracy of scientific and philosophical knowledge, within whose circle the "aristocracy of wealth," without these higher attributes, can find no standing. The faithful and consistent pastor becomes the man of his circle. His influence is felt in his city and in his state. His presence renders a public meeting more respectable than that of ten men of mere wealth. His influence as a chairman will be of more weight than that of a “real live lord” in England, while he will escape those complimentary flatteries which our intelligent aristocracy endure as best they may, and estimate at their true emptiness.
If a clergyman speaks at a public meeting, he is sure of attentive listening. His Thanksgiving Sermon gives the tone to the people for the year. His inaugural address, or popular lecture, is expected before it is delivered, and discussed after.
Even amongst the very worldly there does not
seem such an absence of the religious element as in Britain. Religion is not a proscribed topic. All treat it as a real thing, and admit the claims of their own souls. The gay, the giddy, and the neglectful, seem aware that they must undergo a change before they can enter the kingdom. This may be imputed to the experimental style of pulpit address. We state the principle, and leave it to produce its effect; they draw the inference from the principle, and dwell on it in such a manner as to arrest those who would not dwell long enough on the subject to draw it for themselves. The solemn deep tone from a pulpit in Hartford often still awakens an echo in the cells of memory, “Hear me! sinner, hear me!” and convinces me that there is a moral power far overmastering that of wealth, which rests at the foot of American society.