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Secondly. The christian pastor should be a man of good natural abilities. I will not say, that great talents are ordinarily indispensable in the ministry: I do not believe they are. But I do not see on the other hand, how a weak man can ever successfully discharge all the critical and arduous duties of the pastoral office, even in a small parish. He may deserve all possible credit for good intentions ; he may be loved and even revered for his piety ; but how can his judgment be confided in—who shall go to him for counsel in the trying emergency-or how is it possible for him ever to gain that general influence which is so essential to much usefulness? To say nothing of public instruction, how can a man of feeble intellect
preside in the church, refute error, take the lead in difficult cases of discipline, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the wandering, and convince gainsayers ? Surely it is not enough that a man have fervent piety and an earnest desire to be put into the priests' office!' His talents must be respectable-he must have at least an ordinary share of good common sense.
And this leads me to say, that not even every highly gifted and cultivated and pious mind is formed for usefulness in the pastoral office. A man may grasp the spheres with Newton, or soar above all created heights with Milton, or trace the mysterious operations of mind with Locke and Edwards-he may possess all that is brilliant in genius or profound in talents, and yet lack what we term common sense. And so sure as he lacks this, he can never be a useful pastor. He must first come down, or come up, and live and commune and think with common men.
Thirdly. The christian pastor should be a man of education. That a good share of human learning is re
quisite in a public teacher, is now so generally admitted, as to require no argument. But the friends of religion are not, perhaps, so well united on the point just specified. Some may suppose that men can succeed better as pastors without much knowledge, than as preachers. But I am not aware, that palpable ignorance appears to any better advantage out of the desk than in; and appear it often will, in the intercourse of a pastor with his flock, when his education is materially deficient. He cannot choose his own positions when exposed to attack, or bide his own weakness; but must go forth daily to meet all classes of men upon their own ground. How extremely embarrassing, without armor, to encounter talent and knowledge, enlisted as they too often are on the side of error and the world ? How can a pastor of small attainments enlighten and instruct the ignorant of his flock, and how much less can he secure the respect and confidence of the enlightened ? In here and there an instance, the fervent piety and plain good sense of an unlettered minister, combined with other rare qualifications, may give him influence and respectability ? But how sel- . dom will this be the case ? And when it is the case, how niuch more good might he do, had he enjoyed early and ample advantages for the cultivation of his own mind?
Fourthly. Maturity of age and judgment and a considerable acquaintance with mankind, are essential qualifications for the pastoral office. I have long thought that ministers are apt to settle too early in life, and every year's observation goes to strengthen and confirm this opinion. When a young man of sanguine temperament and glowing picty, looks abroad upon a world lying in wickedness, and hears the daily call for more laborers, he is not unfrequently so impatient to be in the field, that
every month of preparation seems a year. How can he linger in College, or remain in a Theological Seminary, when souls are perishing, and he might be preaching the everlasting Gospel, and perhaps saying many from going down to the pit? Thus he plausibly reasons, and the benevolence of his motives I shall not question.
But I am fully convinced that many of our youth, and not a few of their friends and patrons, take a limited and partial view of this great subject. They seem to think, that the earlier a man enters the spiritual field, the longer time he will have to labor; and that the amount of good done must be exactly proportional to the time employed in doing it. But I conceive it is by no means certain, that a young man who takes the oversight of a church and congregation, at the age of twenty one or two, will labor more years in the vineyard, than another who is ordained at twenty eight, or even later. On the contrary, I am strongly inclined to think, that upon an average, those ministers who are settled near the age of thirty, actually preach as many years as those who commence eight, or ten years earlier. And there are obvio ous reasons why it should be so. The work of the ministry is a great work. The duties of a pastor are extremely arduous, especially at first. They require much physical as well as intellectual vigor. But the constitution is not ordinarily consolidated much under the age of thirty. From twenty to twenty five it is yet in its greenDess, and of course incapable of sustaining that constant pressure of care and toil, which is inseparable from the pastoral office. Hence, chiefly, so many invalids in the sacred profession. Hence so many blighted hopes, bereaved churches, and early graves. Let our youthful
Levites then, who are chiding the sluggish years that keep them away from the altar, repress their premature aspirations, and rather esteem themselves happy in being allowed ample time for preparation. They will find it quite another thing to have the care of one or two thousand souls, from what they are apt to anticipate ; and after a year's experience will be much more likely to wish they had waited longer, than to regret that they did not setile sooner.
But supposing it morally certain, that the minister who enters the desk at twenty, will labor ten years longer than if he had waited till thirty, it by no means follows that he will do more good. The usefulness of a minister must depend upon his christian experience, his theological attainments, the maturity of his judgment, the weight of his personal character, and his acquaintance with men and things. And it cannot surely be doubted, that other things being equal, the man of thirty has a sounder judgment, and more general knowledge, and greater weight of character, and is in all respects better qualified for the pastoral office than the youth of twenty one. Of course, the former enters the sacred profession under far better advantages than the latter, and with the same degree of zeal and faithfulness can do more good in the same time.
I appeal to you, my brethren, whether you have not known young preachers of fine talents and great promise, exceedingly deficient in pastoral qualifications; and of course, extremely embarrassed in discharging the ordinary duties of the ministry ? Has not the usefulness of some been greatly circumscribed by rashness, by timidity, or by palpable errors in judgment, which the ripening of a few more years might have prevented? For my own
part, I cannot but think, that many of the difficulties, which ultimately end in dismission, originate in the want of age and experience at first; and that from the same causes, not a few are led, in the commencement of their ministry, to sacrifice their own judgment and independence, so as never to gain that influence, either at home or abroad, which might have been established and turned to the very best account.
Indeed, when we turn our attention for one moment to the responsibilities of the pastoral office; when we think of its ever varying, and continually pressing and arduous duties; when we consider what maturity of christian experience, what wisdom, what prudence, what meekness, what forbearance are required ;-how can a youth just passing from his minority, a child almost, be adequate to such a station ? Especially, how can he grow up to his full stature under all the pressure of weekly preparations for the desk, of hourly hindrances and exhausting parochial duties, in a great and popular congregation ? Will you insist upon age and experience in your representative at a foreign court, or in any station of great civil responsibility at home, and at the same time account these qualifications unimportant in the ambassador of Christ,-in one to whom are committed the eternal interests of thousands?
I confess it weighs much with me, that under the Jewish ceremonial law, no man could be invested with the priests' office, till he was thirty years old ;-for, although this law is not binding upon us as it was upon the sons of Aaron, still there must have been a reason for it. Infinite wisdom decided that it was inexpedient for them to exercise the sacred function at an earlier age, and surely it cannot be supposed, that the office of a