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soaks into the earth; and that constant and gentle flow of the river of life which fertilizes, and which makes the trees of the Lord ever verdant and fruitful.
This discussion also teaches us that the kingdom of heaven is not so near as many imagine. This age does not answer the description given in the Bible of that which is to precede the period when the kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdoms of our Lord. We are too boastful and vain-glorious, and too fond of eulogizing “ this glorious era," " the nineteenth century." We are nowhere taught that the ultimate triumphs of the Church will be preceded by a vain-glorious age; when his people will sound the trumpet and boast as they that are putting off the harness. On the contrary, we are told of tribulation; and are taught that in the age introductory to the millenium, the conflict between the Church and its enemies will rage with the greatest fury; because that, when Satan knows his time is short, he will come down in great wrath. The most bloody battle of modern days, was that which preceded and obtained the general peace of Europe. And before the Church yet triumphs from shore to shore, before the last fortress of the enemy is dismantled, there will be a conflict which will cause the earth to tremble. Popery is yet what it was in the days of its Gregories, and Clements, and Johns. And Mahometanism is yet what it was in the days of its Alis and Omars. And Heathenism has lost nothing of its sullen resistance to the truth. Nor will these always look quietly on, and behold without an effort to resist it, their territories won over to the Prince of Peace. There is yet a battle to be fought, when, as seen in vision by him of Patmos, the blood will come up to the horses' bridles. True, the result is not doubtful Victory will perch upon the banner of the people and saints of the Most High. But until the battle is fought and won, let us cease glorifying our age and ourselves. Let every Christian stand in his lot and do his duty. There is yet much land to be occupied-and many enemies to be subdued—and many difficulties to be surmounted. That land is not to be occupied, nor are these enemies to be overcome, nor these difficulties to be surmounted by visionary theories and visionary anticipations. The Church must pray more, do more, give more. It must be embued with holier enterprise, and put forth loftier exertion. Instead of putting off her armour as if the work were done, she must
be girding it on, as if it were just commencing. The watchword should pass along the whole host of God's elect, Go FORWARD. In obedience to this command let us go forward ; and then, in due time, will be heard the cry from earth and heaven, Hallelujah, salvation, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Peculiar FastiDIOUSNESS OF THE AGE IN RE
SPECT TO MINISTERS.
By John H. AVERY.
The time shall come, says Paul to Timothy, when the people shall have itching ears. The time has come. A prurient sensation pervades the community, an itching, teasing desire to hear something new. It desires novelty for its own sake. It seeks originality rather than permanent utility.
Why is it that the bosom of the Church is torn by intestine faction; that the gentle dews of heaven are withheld ; that spiritual death pervades the land ? Why, but because the people, to a great extent, will not endure sound doctrine ; but "after their own lusts heap to themselves teachers; having itching ears." Other diseases spend themselves, or are thrown off; this cleaves like leprosy. The more it is gratified, the more it burns. Other maladies kill the body, this the soul. How often does it embitter the Christian's sweet hopes, and weigh down the aspirations of his bright faith? How can his soul be lifted to the throne of God in prayer, while weighing the force of the speaker's petitions ? How can it be filled with active, fervent, and delightful love, when carping and cavilling at the preacher's words?
So delicate are the sensibilities of some, that the least repetition in a discourse is past endurance; the use of what they term "cant phrases," insupportable ; the bare mention of the word hell, barbarous, insufferable. Now are any so grounded in the faith, as no longer to need“ line upon line, and pre
cept upon precept?" Nay, are not those very persons who complain of repetition, among the most forgetful hearers of God's word? When we consider how large a portion of every evangelical discourse is Bible truth, truth from the lips of Jehovah, truth which will constitute the delightful theme of the Christian's contemplation through eternity, how heinous appear such complaints ? What, are these sacred truths so hacknied, that we cannot think upon them, for one short hour, unless arrayed in the meretricious garb of earthly beauty? How, then, can we bear the thought of dwelling upon them for ever in heaven? And what though they are sometimes found couched in what are termed “cant phrases ?" Are they not the same hallowed, precious truths still ? And the word hell and the like-do these convey aught of terror to the mind that does not " hang around the second death ?" Besides, if we do not call things by their right names, by what terms shall we designate them?
But how large a part of the encomiums and strictures, passed upon almost every discourse, have reference merely to the costume. How much attention is given to the manner, how little to the spirit with which they are uttered !
How often do a whole assembly watch the frail creature who, with trembling hand, is lifting the veil that shrouds the mercy-seat! They mark his gestures, his diction, his intonation, any thing but the glories of that God he is struggling to reveal.
It is this fastidious spirit, moreover, that steels the heart of the impenitent against the influence of truth. Instead of taking the posture of trembling penitents to hear God's message, from the lips of His minister, they assume the attitude of critics. While the man of God portrays the terrours and glories of Jehovah, they criticise. While he pours out his soul in prayer on their behalf-they criticise. Thus are the very arrows of the Almighty rendered powerless.
It is this, also, that pours poison into the life-blood of the new-born soul. He learns to cavil almost as soon as he draws his breath in the spiritual world ; and thus but too often converts the “ sincere milk of the word” into wormwood and gall. It is this that blasts his growth. And shall we cherish it, until it have penetrated the very core of the heart, and poisoned every thought, and sensibility, and feeling? Shall God's holy day be spent in speaking or
hearing some new thing ?". With what utter apathy do we but too often regard what we deem a common-place preacher ?
“ As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
Even so, or with much more contempt"are men's eyes but too often turned upon the humble, devoted, though less gifted servant of Jesus. It is not the gem they seek, but the casket. What cause for fear that God will give them nothing else!
The time was, when the first inquiry in reference to a candidate for settlement, was—" Is he a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost ?" Now the inquiry has come to be, whether he is a smart man. But the smartest are not always the best men. Hence, it often happens that the Head of the Church gives people a smart man, and “ sends leanness into their souls.” Now, when they find themselves pining and starving, they turn against the man of their choice, and rest not day nor night until he is dismissed. And it may be that he is as ready to go, as they are urgent to have him go. For smart men can always get settlements at short notice. Nor are those, to whom the thing is referred, reluctant to grant dismissal; since it is often the case, that those, who make the greatest noise abroad, are least respected at home.
But the evil, of which we speak, stops not here. The manner in which the minister discharges pastoral duties, subjects him to great illiberality of stricture. If he visit much, he acquires the character of a great visiter. And this poor family and that complain bitterly that “notwithstanding the minister visits others so much, he has been inside of their house but ten times in a whole year.” If, on the other hand, he finds it necessary to study some, and cannot therefore visit every individual of his parish many times in the course of the year, they will say—“ To be sure he does very well in the pulpit; but then he is no pastor.”
If he dress well, he is extravagant. If ill, penurious. “But whereunto shall I liken this generation ? It is like unto children sitting in the market-place, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, we have piped unto you, but ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, but ye have not
lainented." For one minister "comes neither eating nor drinking, and they say he hath a devil ;” another comes “eating and drinking, and they say, behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners.”
But, the fastidiousness of the age is exhibited in nothing more strongly than in a craving desire for excitement. It has arisen to such a height, that it can neither be gratified, nor allayed. It cannot be gratified ; for like all other morbid appetites, it acquires strength by indulgence, and cries continually, “Give, give." It cannot be allayed, at least, until all unnatural stimuli are withdrawn. A large number in almost every church in the land attend meeting, not so much to be enlightened, as quickened; not so much to gain clearer views of God and His law, as to be wrought into a spiritual frame. Hence, they do not come from their closets, with hearts prepared to “receive with meekness the engrafted word;" but with a mass of ice encircling them, to be melted away by the power of the preacher. If, therefore, their frozen hearts are not melted, they must have another minis. ter, one who can move them. This is the chief cause of the pastoral removals, so frequent at the present day. And they will doubtless increase, until this accursing spirit is checked. For God is not honoured, his blessing is not sought, the truth is not sufficiently recognised, that man speaketh to the ear, but God only to the heart. Besides, excitement, produced by external means merely, is but too often mere animal excitement, or the result of sympathetic imitation. And those who are the subjects of it, therefore, become more and more fastidious and querulous. Why? Because the human soul is so constituted that the oftener deep emotion is elicited, without terminating in action, selfdirected, self-sustained action, the harder does it become to renew such emotion. For the soul is, for the most part, passive in such a process; and, therefore, becomes more and more callous and obtuse, until no human means can move it. For confirmation of this remark, look at those who have often been the subjects of religious impression. Has not every successive excitement of this kind left them worse than it found them, until perhaps, they have become past feeling? Is it then at all strange, that those who frequent the house of God for the sake of mere excitement, should come away disappointed, when they do not find it, and dissatisfied with the preacher who has not furnished it?