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minister of Christ, to patronize and honour. If you do this; if you encourage your own wife—if you shall be so happy as to have a pious one-to take the lead in every laudable enterprise among her own sex; and if your own deportment be, in all respects, such as becomes the Christian minister and gentleman, I will answer for your acquiring and maintaining as much of the influence of which I speak, as you ought to have, and for your finding it one of the most valuable auxiliaries in the exercise of your ministry.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. - - PHILIP.
DRESS - STYLE OF LIVING - PECUNIARY CONCERNS.
MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND : - It may seem, at first view, scarcely necessary, or even proper, in addressing a candidate for the ministry in the Presbyterian church, to dwell on the subjects which appear at the head of this letter. It is well known that the temporal circumstances of our ministers are very rarely affluent, and seldom even comfortably easy. Much labour, small salaries, and habitual self-denial, are, in general, the lot of those who, in our church, aspire to the precious privilege of serving Christ in the “ministry of reconciliation.” Why then, it asked, should it be deemed proper to discuss a set of subjects which can be considered as claiming the particular attention of those only whose resources enable them to command some of the luxuries of life?
This objection is by no means solid. A few of our ministers, especially those who reside in great cities, and other populous places, have the means of living somewhat splendidly, and are often placed under very strong temptations to do so. Some, who are differently situated, have a natural and almost irresistible
propensity to show and parade, which they strain every nerve to indulge; and there are even those in the sacred profession, who, though extremely poor, are so criminally unwise and prodigal, as to plunge themselves into debt for the gratification of this propensity. Surely a few words applicable to each of these classes may be neither unseasonable nor useless.
Perhaps the most serious difficulties in relation to this point are those which beset the city clergyman; especially if his pastoral charge include a number of fashionable and wealthy females, and if the provision which they make for his temporal support be, at the same time, pretty liberal. If to these circumstances be added that of his family being strongly predisposed to expensive dress and gay company, the consequences can scarcely fail of being very unhappy. Not a few ministers, by yielding to temptations of this kind, have grieved the hearts of the pious; weakened their own hands; and laid up in store for themselves the bitterest, but unavailing, repentance. As you know not the situation in which you may be placed ; and as it is desirable that every young minister should be armed beforehand against the temptations which may assail him, I trust you will be willing to listen to a few suggestions, derived from some observation and experience, and offered under the most solemn impression that they are worthy of your serious regard. Rely upon it, that, however unfavourably some of them may now impress your mind, you will hereafter find in them more both of truth and importance, than it is possible for any one to perceive, who has seen so little, comparatively, as you have, of human life.
1. To begin with your own dress. Wherever your lot may be cast, whether in the country or in a city, let
your dress be always plain, but at the same time, whole, neat, and clean. Never make it an object of primary or engrossing attention; but at the same time never neglect it. Even if your residence be ever so retired, never appear in public without setting : good example to your flock in this, as well as in every other respect. Recollect that one of the advantages of the Lord's day, and of public worship, is that they afford, at once, an opportunity and an inducement to lay aside the dust and dirt of the week, in a physical as well as moral sense, and to appear clad in habiliments which indicate attention, industry, and neat
And as the minister of the gospel is a public character, and must necessarily, in a great measure, live in public, it is desirable that he should appear every day, when he is in company at all, very much as he ought to appear on the Sabbath. Let your dress, then, be always simple, unostentatious and economical; but let it not be slovenly. Even if it be coarse, and you cannot afford to have it otherwise ; still let it be free from all disgusting defilement. Imagine not that any degree of piety or talents will atone for total negligence of this matter. Be assured that any man, who is filthy, or even slovenly in his person, however striking may be his accomplishments in other respects, will find his character and influence depressed in proportion to the degree in which this evil prevails. Such a fault never did, and never will exist, in any case, with entire impunity.
It is the duty of a minister to spend a part of almost every day, if not in public, at least in social
intercourse : and he knows not at what hour he may be called upon to converse with the most polished and ceremonious of his parishioners or neighbours. Now, in conversing with such individuals, it is surely desirable that there be nothing in his person calculated to repel them, or to diminish his influence over them; nothing adapted to give them an idea of filthiness or vulgarity ; but, as far as possible, of the
I am decidedly of the opinion, therefore, that some clergymen, who can very well afford to do otherwise, have been entirely too negligent of this matter, in appearing in public. I was once acquainted with a minister of our church, who was not only in very comfortable circumstances, but rather entitled to be called rich, who was so culpably negligent of his dress, and, on a particular occasion, appeared in habiliments so unworthy of his character, that a pious lady was on the point of procuring a suit of clothes for him, when she learned, to her surprise, that he was not poor, and that he would certainly be offended by an offer of such charity. He was an uncommonly pious, active minister; but he had, as to the point of slovenliness in dress, a constitutional infirmity; which, you can readily perceive, might have drawn both himself and others into a very embarrassing situation.
I trust you will endeavour to guard against any kind of excess on this subject. On the one hand, to see a minister of the gospel finical, or addicted to the love of splendour or finery in dress; to see, in a word, any thing about his person which discovers a special attention to fashion or ornament in clothing, or a peculiar desire to make a good appearance in this respect, is certainly unworthy of his character. But,