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opponents, in the words of Gamaliel, "let it alone: for if this counsel, or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found, even to fight against God."
ON CLERICAL LABORS.
IN a former number of your work, I addressed your readers upon the unreasonableness of their complaints respecting their preachers. I then spoke particularly of their complaints respecting pulpit performances. With your permission I would now say a few words to them on the subject of their complaints respecting their pastor's manner of discharging parochial duty.
1. With respect to the discharge of parochial duty, you complain that your minister does not visit enough; that he confines his visits to a few families-neglecting most of his parish and visiting frequently at particular places; that when he does visit, he does not interest himself in your concerns and enter into your feelings, but seems to visit only as a duty, as a part of his profession which he must perform, and seems to be glad when it is through; that he does not interest himself in the children of his flock, and make himself acquainted with them, so that the young people seem to be growing up strangers to their minister-that he does not seem interested in schools, &c, that he does not visit the sick as a friend, but only when they are prayed for in public, as their minister, &c, &c.
Now, before we proceed to notice these complaints,
let us understand each other. I am not about to attempt to vindicate the clergy as being entirely free from blame on all these points. I am only about to offer some considerations which may serve to palliate their apparent neglect.
Now let us examine the first complaint,-that he does not visit enough. You must recollect that you are but one of a numerous flock, each of which has the same right with yourselves, to expect frequent visits from your minister. Suppose for instance that the society to which you belong, is composed of two hundred families-that your minister should undertake to visit as a clergyman each family of his flock, twice each year;-you would not be contented with a mere call, would not be contented if he did not spend with you one half day in each visit, or at least so large a proportion of it, that it would not be possible for him to visit another family on the same afternoon. Here then are four hundred half days out of the year spent in visiting, and yet you are not visited but once in six months by your minister. In addition to this, your minister must visit occasionally at your social parties, must visit the schools, must be connected with public societies for the promotion of benevolent purposes; and must take all possible pains in the composition of sermons; and I suppose you are willing to allow him some time to attend to his own family. Now we will suppose that your pastor devotes the first half of each day to the preparation for pulpit performancesthe second half to visiting and receiving visits, and the evening, or at least the first part of it, to his own family. Here you would have only three hundred and sixtyfive half days for visiting his people-which would not
be one half day in six months in a society of two hundred families. Now when you reflect upon this, do you not see that your complaints are unreasonable; that he could not visit as much as you would wish? And even here, may not you yourselves be in fault? Do you visit your pastor as much as you ought? Do you endeavor to keep up that familiarity and intimacy of intercourse with your minister, which you wish him to maintain with you?
2. With regard to the second complaint, that your minister confines his visits to a few families, it must be remarked that ministers are but men similar to yourselves. Do not you confine your visits to a few families? and why is it? Is it not because with these few families you are on terms of more intimate friendship than with others, so that a visit to them serves to relax your minds, and relieve from cares. And are you not willing to allow your pastor as a man, the same liberties which you yourselves take? Because he is a minister of religion, is he not to be allowed the privilege of relaxing his mind when worn down with hard study, and of obtaining relief from the anxiety and care of watching for the souls of men, from the free and unreserved intercourse of near and dear friends? Will you say that all his visits should be of this kind? You would not think highly of your pastor's faithfulness, were he to take no other object into consideration in his visits. No; your own good sense will tell you that the parochial visits of your pastor, where he will be called upon to give consolation to mourners; to hear tales of heart rending anguish, that he may soothe and console the distressed; to listen to the conscientious scruples, and anxious doubts of the wavering, that he may remove them; to listen to the argu
ments of opposers, that he may answer them; to witness the cold indifference of some, or the openly vicious courses of others whom he will feel himself in duty called upon gently to admonish, or openly reprove; you will not say that such visits are, or can be, calculated to soothe and calm the pastor's own mind. It is not the case that they do. Again, your pastor must be a strange man, if he could be perfectly free and unreserved in all that relates to his own trials and difficulties, with all. No; your pastor, like other men, must have his intimate friends, whose society may relieve him when oppressed with the burden of his duties; and if you will but look at the subject again, I think you will perceive that in many instances complaints on this head are unreasonable.
3. On the third complaint, that your pastor does not interest himself in your affairs, I would remark that you should consider the peculiar studies in which your minister is engaged, and the effect they will be likely to have upon his mind; and if you do so, I think you will perceive that there is some palliation for his conduct. Your minister is engaged in the highest and holiest contemplations. In his study, when reflecting upon the goodness of God, the perfections of the divine law, the spotless purity of the life of our Saviour, or the noble ends for which man was created; he is worked up to a degree of enthusiasm; his mind is filled with thoughts of heaven and heavenly things; and he goes. forth filled with these elevating and purifying thoughts, fully intent on raising the minds and feelings of his fellow christians to the same elevation with his own. What wonder then that he cannot readily lower himself down
from this high and heavenly frame of mind, to engage with interest in all the petty and trifling concerns of this world; cannot listen with attention to the narrations of your worldly prosperities and adversities, of your friendships and enmities--of your attachments and antipathies. What wonder that he should visit only as your minister, and should speak to you only of religion and heavenly things? What wonder, that when thus elevated above all temporal distinctions among Christians, he should listen with indifference to your details of religious warfare in words of disputes about doubtful questions? Are you not yourselves greatly at fault on this point? Is it not your duty to endeavor to raise yourself to his state of mind; to endeavor to be able to converse with your pastor on your duties; on what you shall do to be saved; and of the joys and consolations of the gospel? Is it not your own fault that his visits and conversations appear to you only as a part of his profession? Would you have your minister neglect to inquire after your moral health; and converse upon the concerns of your soul, that he may amuse you by his small talk or his story telling? Will you not upon reflection realize that here too you have complained unreasonably? Your minister, you say, does not interest himself in your children and in schools. I would ask, do you interest your children in their minister; do you teach them to love God and their duty, to love goodness and virtue, and their minister as a teacher of virtue? Do you interest yourself in schools? Are you not willing rather to throw the whole burden of this duty, together with all the blame that may occur from any miscalculation and mismanagement, upon your minister? If you will examine yourselves on this point, I