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man that attacks me with slander has no hope of personal good ; and if he robs me of my character, he
" Robs me of that, which not enriches him,
But makes me poor indeed." He gratifies the malice of his heart, adds one more to the family of wretchedness and woe, and enjoys a secret pleasure-yea, even triumphs, as he reflects on the infamous achievement.
How base, how contemptible is the character of slanderers ! However various their motives, or diversified the means which they take to accomplish their object, they are all the enemies of man. “ Some may perpetrate this iniquity with designs directly malicious; some, from a busy, meddling disposition, always unsatisfied unless when interfering with the concerns of others; and some, from a wish to be thought extensively acquainted with private history. But they are all characterized in Scripture by the significant names of evil-speakers, busy-bodies, and tale-bearers, and are considered there, and everywhere else, as the disturbers and pests of society.”
What mischief may not be occasioned by the tongue of slander ! What character is proof against its poison! How are individuals, families, and neighbours, affected by its malignity! Better dwell amid the infections of a hospital, than move in an atmosphere contaminated by the breath of slander. Better meet an enemy on the field of battle, or fall into the hands of the ruthless savage, than be overtaken by this “pestilence which walketh in darkness."
What does the slanderer think of himself ? Does he hope to be respected by men or approved of God? Let him ask his conscience, and if that is not already " seared as with a hot iron," it will tell him that the smiles, the flattery, and the politeness which he puts on when in the presence of those he slanders, are thinner than gauze. His real character is discerned by men, and his whole heart is naked to the eye of Omniscience. Does he think that his, is a small crime, and that he shall go unpunished ? If there is a God in heaven-if he has said, “Speak not evil one of another," " thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,” most assuredly the slanderer will not go unpunished-verily he will have his reward. If there is a God in heaven, if he has said, that “ for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” may I, and may you, dear reader, be saved from the sentence which awaits that man whose tongue is the tongue of slander.
With some it seems to be a maxim that uncontradicted slander is truth. If they abuse a good and great man, who is honestly engaged in his proper business, and he does not seize his pen to engage in a newspaper war—it is because he is guilty. Is it not clear as demonstration? These assailants of integrity and virtue seem to forget that a good man has something else to do, besides wiping off the mud which the envious and malicious may throw over him. If by a long and useful life he has earned a reputation, he can live upon his capital without coming down from his appropriate work, to answer every scandal which the malicious can invent, and the garrulous propagate. One good man, of our acquaintance, upon being asked why he did not answer certain false charges, which were circulated against him, replied, “ that he did not keep a clerk," and his own time was occupied with other matters. Dr. Bellamy used to tell his students “ never to chase a lie. A man that is always chasing lies will not lack lies to chase." Let every man act conscientiously. If he makes mistakes, let him rectify them. If his faults are fairly pointed out, let him confess them, and amend. But it is indicative of great weakness, for a public man to fall into a fever at every idle and foolish story circulated to his prejudice.
THE PUBLIC OPINION OF THEOLOGICAL STUDENTS.
[It is probable that our readers are not aware that the students of our Dissenting Colleges, in the neighbourhood of London, form an associated body for literary and devotional objects. They issue a periodical for their own use, and we (no matter how) have seen the three numbers thus printed. They tell us on their wrappers, that the said “ COLLEGE REPOSITORY” is “ printed for private circulation," but in their first number (p. 48) they speak of it as “ published," and, in their second, (p. 96,) describe it as a “ publication;" we have, therefore, felt ourselves at liberty to transfer the following article to our pages, as worthy of its writer ; though it will be seen that in one of his statements we cannot agree. The subject is one of great practical importance, in reference to which we really think the students are somewhat unkindly treated.--Editor.]
It is an old adage, “ that to know a to form their characters. Nor do they disease is half the cure." So, likewise, possess that esteem which is their due, a knowledge of the causes of any preju. who are to be the religious instructors of dice, is the most important step towards the public, and the guardians of the its removal.
public morals. In their capacity as It is a matter of notoriety, that in the preachers, the rank they hold in the present day there is a feeling entertained opinion of the so-called religious world, against students for the ministry, by is perhaps below mediocrity; and, bethose constituting what is called the fore the fame of a young man is abroad, Christian world, which is creditable the mere fact of his being a student is neither to Christianity nor to its profes amply sufficient to excite suspicion, if sors ; and which, to the student himself, not to condemn him altogether. That must be mortifying, and, to a certain the preacher is “ only a student” is extent, degrading; tending not only to enough to drive away multitudes of mar his present happiness, but likewise candid hearers, and to reduce an overto injure his future usefulness.
flowing congregation to a scanty few. In their capacity as members of so- And doubtless there are many of the ciety, students generally are not held in most justly popular and influential much respect; at least they do not oc- preachers, who, when they were “only cupy that station in the common opi. students,” could scarcely meet with a nion, to which the nature of their patient hearing from those who unforpursuits and their prospects certainly tunately had, with other expectations, entitle them. They are not regarded as composed their congregation, and who those who are to constitute one of the were forced by decency alone to remain most influential portions of the commu to the end. These remarks are founded nity ; who are, in a great measure, to entirely upon the observation of one who give a tone to the sentiments of those had an opportunity of ascertaining the with whom they will be associated, and state of public opinion concerning stu
dents long before he became one himself, and who at present only anticipates sharing the common obloquy in the course of his pursuits.
Now, such being the case, it must be worthy of inquiry, what are the causes of the unhappy feelings entertained against students, and how are they to be removed ? Is the fault entirely in the public? Is it their narrow-mindedness and uncharitableness—their vanity and superciliousness-their pride and want of discernment, which excite the prejudice? Or is the fault in the student ? Is he ignorant of the common usages of society? Is he generally destitute of correct notions of politeness, and a stranger to gentlemanly feeling? Is he self-conceited and arrogant ? Is he coarse in his behaviour, and forward in his pretensions? In the pulpit, is he open to the charge of vanity and foppery? Does he delight in making great display, and in aiming at things far above his reach? Does he manifest ignorance, combined with ambition, and a greater desire to attract attention to himself than to his subject? In short, is the public or the student to be blamed and corrected ? Is the prejudice to be removed by improving the taste of the former, or the conduct of the latter ?
I think it will not require very great acuteness to discover that both parties are considerably in fault; that the public entertain many very unreasonable preju. dices, and that the conduct of the student too frequently tends rather to cherish these prejudices than to allay them. My intention is calmly and can didly to investigate the important subject, and without wishing to stand forth as an accuser of the brethren, to point out the errors on both sides.
First, then, with respect to the public. We perceive in them a certain spirit of pride and supposed superiority. They imagine, that owing to their constant attendance upon the preaching of perhaps eminent men, they possess great knowledge upon religious subjects ; and that, since they have lived longer in the world, they have greater real experience than those who are their juniors; and, therefore, they conclude that students can afford them no solid instruction. They fancy that students are only learn. ing to preach, and that their acquaintance with theology must be very superficial. And, more than all, they feel
their dignity to be rather injured when a young man tries his powers upon them, and learns his art by practising in their presence. They would prefer that all these preliminaries should be tried before the low and ignoble, and that the incipient divine should confine his exer. tions to the poor and ignorant; and af. terwards, when he has had sufficient practice, and gained experience, and is become a finished orator, they may permit him to exhibit in their more august presence. This, I think, is not an unfair statement of the case. But surely these notions are founded upon very low and incorrect views of the nature of the Christian ministry—views which are as derogatory to the ministerial office as they are discreditable to those who entertain them. Surely we are not to regard the ministry as some mechanical trade, and preaching as an art to be displayed before a congregation ; and students, as apprentices, who are learning to put a sermon together, and then to show it off to the best advantage before their hearers, in order to attract their admiration and applause. If this were the case, then the poor student might justly be held in light esteem, and his first unsuccessful effort might innocently excite the merriment of the spectators; whilst the more sober would naturally stand at a distance, until he had acquired greater dexterity-until some real advantage might be expected from his experience. But such ideas concerning the ministry are not less opposed to the representations of Scripture, and degrading to Christianity, than they are unworthy of Christians, and injurious to the cause of Christ.
The object of preaching is to com. municatę scriptural knowledge, and to induce men to regulate their lives by scriptural precepts. Has, then, the student obtained no knowledge of the meaning of the Scriptures-has he examined no doctrines—has he formed no new ideas—has he followed precisely the old track, without thinking for himself ? or must he pass the sacred ordeal of ordination, before he can place the truths of Scripture in an attractive light-before he can exhort, or warn, or instruct, or comfort ? Let the judgment of any candid and intelligent individual answer these questions ; and let foolish prejudices and suggestions of vanity be buried in the contempt they so righteously deserve. It is notorious that the style of a preacher, if ever formed at all, is almost universally formed while a stu. dent. His sermons manifest greater care and exactness; his sentences are more chaste and finished; his arrangement is more lucid and logical, and his composition generally is more correct at that period, than at any subsequent period of his life.
In confirmation of this remark, I may state, that to my own knowledge, ministers, who occupy a high station among their brethren, and whose judgment may safely be relied upon, have affirmed that they ever found more taste and accuracy, more sound thought and weighty arguments, displayed in the sermons of students, than in those of any settled minister of equal natural abilities; and that they always derived more solid in. struction from the former than from the latter. Whilst others have told me, that they ever regarded the sermons which they wrote when students as by far their best; and on that account, that they had preached them long after, upon particular occasions, and not without affording considerable satisfaction. The fact is, students are able to bestow much greater time, in the preparation of their discourses, than settled ministers; and their laudable desire to satisfy them. selves, and not to disappoint their friends, gives them an additional stimulus to exertion, which the others do not possess.
Now, if these be facts, the dislike to the preaching of students arises rather from the want of discernment in the Christian public, than from their superior knowledge; and argues rather a vitiated taste than sound judgment. The truth is, there exists a morbid longing for excitement; and hearers generally, but particularly in London, much prefer to have their passions excited than their minds enlightened. They like the preacher to lead them from elation to depression, from joy to sorrow; now to produce strong emotions of remorse, and then again of gratitude, and so on; so that no mental effort may be requi. site on their part. They are too often more anxious to derive pleasure than profit, to be enlivened than to be instructed. They choose the exhilarating beverage, rather than the nauseous medicine; though the former may be injurious, while the latter is necessary to the recovery and establishment of health.
It is readily confessed that students are not very likely to gratify these ignoble and pernicious desires. It is impossible for them to possess the necessary pre-requisites, since there must be an established reputation, a boldness and energy of manner and expression, connected with personal dignity and attributed authority, on the part of the orator ; besides a very considerable acquaintance with, especially, corrupt human nature, and with the particular constitution of his own audience. Thus students are necessarily prevented from pampering the public taste; and even if they were to make the attempt, their earnestness would be attributed to affectation; and if their heart were praised, it would be at the expense of their head.
But a definite reason is sometimes assigned why students are disliked as preachers, especially by those who lay claim to true piety. It is affirmed, that owing to their youth their sermons cannot be of an experimental character, and therefore cannot be calculated to console, encourage, and edify Christians, and so on. It is most certainly the case that the great majority of students have not had a very great portion of what is called Christian experience, that is, as far as length of time is concerned. They probably are not altogether able, or, if able, would not feel disposed, to constitute their sermons of the mere details of what they have felt, or of what they may suppose their hearers haye felt in past days; they will not make a display before a mixed congregation of their spiritual joys and sorrows, their temptations and supports, &c. There is a natural disposition in young people to avoid these exposures, and to withdraw themselves, with respect to their religious experience, from the vulgar gaze. But after all, is this species of preaching desirable or profitable? Does it not tend rather to cherish spiritual pride than to cultivate penitence and humility? Is not the comfort which some individuals derive from these pulpit biographers rather delusive than real, whispering “ Peace, peace," when there ought to be no peace; affecting the feelings, while the character remains untouched ? Most certainly, all preaching ought to be based upon experience, and the minister ought to adapt his arguments and exhortations to the known wants of his hearers; but
this is very different to giving details of feelings and experimental descriptions. In one case the hearer feels the force of the argument or exhortation, because its correctness is confirmed by his own consciousness; but in the other, though he may perhaps be gratified by the sympathetic acuteness of the preacher, he derives no practical benefit. In the one case he has precepts just adapted to his circumstances ; but in the other he has only scraps from the preacher's diary: in the one case he is informed of his duty, and urged to its performance; but in the other, though his sympathies may be aroused, his real dispositions remain the same : in the one case he is informed of the cure for his disease; but in the other only the nature of his disease is described.
Now the student, if he has any acquaintance with human nature, and if he has spent a few years of his Christian life, will know pretty accurately what are the principal variations of the spiritual temperament; he will understand what are the prevailing causes of depression or elation, of religious zeal or apathy; and he will also know what means ought to be employed to remove or produce those effects, what warnings or exhortations ought to be adminis. tered. According to the testimony of the most acute and observant Christians, the religious experience of one individual is not so different to that of another: nor is there so great a diver. sity between youth and more advanced age in this respect, as to incapacitate the
young man from affording the most solid instruction, and at the same time manifesting the most soothing sympathy. There may be peculiar circumstances in certain congregations, to which it would be impossible for the student to adapt his remarks, and to which indeed it would be impertinent for him to refer; but doubtless, if he cultivate habits of attention as to his own states of mind, and if he observe the various processes in the minds of those with whom he may associate, he will be nearly as capable of addressing to his hearers instructions or consolations, based upon sound experience and observations, as those who have lived much longer in the world ; and who perhaps could furnish more copious catalogues of their joys and sorrows, and could dilate for a much longer time upon the different stages of their religious journeyings.
Thus I have endeavoured to state one or two of the principal causes why the preaching of students is held in such low esteem by the religious public, and also to show their futility. But still I have no doubt that the prejudices are strong, and deeply rooted ; and that, although there are very many honourable exceptions, the great majority in dissenting congregations, and particularly in those of the metropolis, will ever feel a great disappointment upon seeing a student in the pulpit; and will hear his sermons with listless indifference, if not with ill-disguised contempt.
(To be concluded in our next.)
RULES FOR BEHAVIOUR. The following rules are taken from most prominent features took their the appendix to the second volume of shape from these rules thus early selected Washington's writings by Mr. Sparks. and adopted as his guide :The whole number, drawn up by Wash.. . Every action in company ought to ington, was one hundred and ten, and be with some sign of respect to those were compiled, we are told, when he was present. only thirteen years old. They form a 2. In the presence of others, sing not minute code of regulations for building to yourself with a humming noise, nor up the habits of morals, manners, and drum with your fingers or feet. good conduct in a very young person. 3. Sleep not when others speak, sit A few specimens will be enough to show not when others stand, speak not when their general complexion ; and who ever you should hold your peace, walk not has studied the character of Washing. when others stop. ton, will be persuaded, that some of its 4. Turn not your back to others, es