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the famous Merchants' Lecture in Broad Street, or at a Monthly meeting, surrounded as they may be, by their reverend fathers, and their church officers. As to visiting, is there any thing in the common concerns of life to render a christian less qualified for social intercourse? On the contrary, may not such intercourse, if conducted with prudence, be rendered by an increased knowledge of the world, additionally pleasant and profitable?
It seems to be universally allowed, that there is one secular employment, if honestly attended to a most laborious one, which is not thought derogatory to the character of a minister; I mean that of a schoolmaster. Why are not the various commercial or mechanical occupations in which mankind are usually engaged, equally honourable?
To add weight to these remarks, let any one attend to the situation of numbers of our dissenting ministers, who with large families, and small incomes, are reduced to a state of indigence and dependence, from which result consequences pectiliarly unhappy. There are cases, in which a minister dare not think for himself, or utter his sentiments on subjects of importance with that freedom they demand, lest he should offend some wealthy subscriber. 'In others, a society may make every exertion to manifest respect and affection for their pastor; occasional assistance from friends and public institutions may aid those exertions; and yet, after all, the minister remains destitute of the comforts, and scarcely possesses the
necessaries of life. How many instances are there in the established church, and amongst the different denominations of dissenters, in which a minister is, owing to the sentiments instilled into him at the college, or the academy, and his subsequent habits of life, reduced to the unhappy situation of the unjust steward? He cannot dig, and to beg he is ashamed !
It is readily acknowledged, that caution and prudence, are peculiarly necessary to be exercised by a minister who may be engaged in secular concerns; but have we not a right to expect, that he who is an instructor of others, should enforce his instructions by his own example ? But as we are all so much the creatures of education or habit, it is greatly to be lamented, that young men who have a view to the ministerial work should be instructed to consider themselves as beings of a sacred order, above the employments of common life; whereas the necessity which may probably exist of their maintaining themselves, in part at least, by other labours than the ministerial, ought, by their tutors more especially, to be carefully instilled into their minds. How few are there who can expect to be settled with congregations that can adequately support a minister with a family, or to meet with that prize in the lottery of life so anxiously sought after by some--a rich wife; who may not, however, always be remarkable for her good understanding, her beautiful countenance,*
1 Sam. xxv. 3.
or the qualities which alone produce and perpetuate domestic felicity. Instead of indulging in such speculations, how much more would it be acting in character as a man and a christian, to
* I am sorry to find such a man as the late excellent Mr. Job Orton, encouraging this kind of speculation in a letter to a young minister, of which the following is an extract.
" I hear Mr. has a very agreeable sister, whose “ charms have attracted your attention, and perhaps affections
I am a perfect stranger to the whole family, but if my information be right, that she hath little or no fortune, " I cannot think that such an alliance will be prudent, espe".cially as you have so little of your own, and perhaps are “ not remarkable for economy. There is an old rule which I “ remember in the grammar that deserves your attention : " Duo negativa plerumque vehementius negant. You will “ therefore think, and think again before you pursue such a "" scheme; especially as you may reasonably expect, consi“ dering your education, profession, and station, that you may “ meet with a wife with a handsome fortune, as many other dis“senting ministers have done."
Orton's Letters to Dissenting Ministers ; 2 vols. 12mo.Letter to Mr. Hughes.
“Although I do not wish to insinuate, that prudential motives are to be disregarded in forming the conjugal relation; yet I beg leave to express my opinion, that when persons enter the marriage state, from motives of pure affection founded on mutual esteem, and a firm conviction that they are formed to render each other happy, they, with whatever trials it may please Providence to visit them, generally, if not always, experience a rich remuneration in the delights which spring from an union of hearts, and an ardent, habitual inclination to share each others cares and pleasures, by which the former are divided and the latter are doubled. On the contrary, how many have felt to their cost, that the grand ingredient recommended by Mr. Orton, has not produced
have in view the admonitions and the example of the great Apostle Paul, who although possessed of titles, office, and authority, to which no modern teacher can possibly lay a just claim, so far from deeming secular employments a degradation of his character, appears to glory in his being able thus to address his fellow labourers :- I have coveted no man's silver or gold, or apparel. Yea you yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring, you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.-Ye remember, brethren, our labour and travel; for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable to any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. You conjugal felicity. Let young men in general, and young ministers in particular, be therefore warned, that in the choice of a wife, when pure affection, that affection which prefers the person chosen to all other persons in the universe, is wanting, marriage in the sight of God is no better than legal prostitution ; and happiness camot rationally be expected to follow. All that the parties can at best experience is a pitiful mediocrity of happiness. God is the God of order; and it is impossible that without the purest affection, those relative dispositions can be exercised, and those relative duties can be practised, which are so affectionately, and powerfully enforced in many parts of the sacred writings.--See Prov. v. 18, 19. Eph. v, 22-33,
yourselves know how you ought to follow us : for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you ;) neither did we eat any man's bread for nought ; but wrought with labour and travel night and day that we might not be chargeable to any of you ; not because we have not power, [or authority] but to make ourselves an ensample to you that
ye should follow us.* With these sentiments respecting the employments of christian ministers, Mr. Robinson was in a similar manner distinguished for his sentiments respecting the nature of their office, their titles and their dress. All the members of a christian church he considered as perfectly equal in religious rights; and was firmly of opinion, that whenever they chose to delegate any portion of their joint authority to a pastor, or other church officers, such officers were to be considered, not as governors, or masters, acquiring dominion, in matters of doctrine or discipline, but as servants of the church, possessed of their office in trust, for the good of the whole, to be regulated, limited, or resumed at pleasure.
Any person who understands christianity may teach it," is the title of one of his Village Discourses, in which, as well as in many other parts of his works he argues, that five persons assembling in a parlour, a cottage, or
* See-The Apostle Paul's disinterested, noble, and affectionate parting address to the elders of the church at Ephesus, recorded in Acts xx. See also 1. Thess. ii. 8–11. 2. Thess. iii, 7-10.