Page images
PDF
EPUB

true of a minister as of any other professing Christian,—that “no man can serve two masters.” If you should ever be so unhappy and criminal, as to give yourself up to the spirit of worldly gain, it will eat out the vitals of your comfort, your zeal and your usefulness. It will exhibit you, like Samson to the Philistines, a poor, enervated, despoiled object. It is just as impossible for a man to be a great accumulator of property, and at the same time a faithful, devoted minister of Christ, as it is to establish a fellowship between light and darkness, Christ and Belial.

LETTER XIV.

Let all things be done decently and in order. -1 Cor. xiv. 40.

MISCELLANEOUS COUNSELS.

MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND : I cannot consent to close this manual, although, perhaps, already too much protracted, without calling your attention to a few counsels not included in any of the foregoing letters. In stating these, I shall not be studious of any regular order.

1. Be careful to form the habit of scrupulous punctuality to all your engagements. The importance of this habit is very great, as already mentioned, even while you are a student in the seminary. But if you should live to be clothed with the sacred office, and to form the numerous and diversified engagements which will be likely to mark every week, if not every day, of your subsequent course, you will see, if I mistake not, a degree of importance attached to this matter, not easily calculated. When you have appointed a day and an hour for the performance of any duty, or to meet other persons on business, you have made a contract, which cannot be innocently broken, unless the providence of God render the fulfilment of it impossible. Every time you are

guilty of such violation, you may greatly incommode, and even seriously injure, one or more individuals, and sometimes many individuals, by compelling them to waste precious time in waiting for you. What right have you to do this? Is it not as real a robbery as taking a purse? How men, professing to be conscientious, and to have any just estimate of the value of time, can allow themselves to act thus, I have always been at a loss to understand. There is a degree of complicated mischief about it, which, whatever others may do, clergymen ought certainly to abhor. Let me entreat you, whether you regard your duty or your reputation; your own time, or the time of others; - to be rigorously punctual to every appointment. Establish a character for punctuality, and you will find the great advantage of it, not only in obtaining the confidence of those with whom you may be called to transact business; but also in promoting a similar habit among those with whom you associate. Like other virtues, the one of which I speak propagates itself, and is, eminently, its own reward.

2. You will never accomplish much, either in study or in action, without a large share of what may be called decision of character. By this quality, I mean that bold, steady, persevering firmness of purpose, and ardour of pursuit, which stand opposed to timidity, indolence and irresolution :— that unwavering confidence in the rectitude and importance of his pursuit, which prompts a man to press forward in it, with a constancy which nothing can shake; with a courage, which nothing can intimidate; and with a resolution which nothing can divert. This decision of character

appeared, pre-eminently, in Luther, in Calvin, in Wesley, in Whitefield, in Howard, and in many other men, whose history and services will readily occur to your recollection. It led them to surmount opposition, to brave dangers, to undergo the most indefatigable labour, to fulfil their engagements with punctuality, whatever it might cost them to do so, and to pursue the object which conscience told them was right, without hesitation, and without turning to the right hand or the left, until it was attained.

There is nothing which a public man needs more than a large portion of this spirit, impelled and regulated by Christian principle. If he be feeble and wavering in his purposes; inconstant in his pursuits; easily discouraged, and diverted from them; and frequently persuaded to abandon undertakings ardently begun, and to enter on others, only to abandon them in like manner;- he may make many promises and much noise ; but he will do little. He will never be ready for his work; never punctual to his appointments; never either energetic or persevering in his exertions. If you are willing to be such a man, I altogether mistake your character. Yet thousands really bear this stamp, who are far from intending it. If you wish to do much for the church, and for your generation, be not obstinate, but be firm; be not blustering, but systematic, decisive and persevering. Be deliberate and wise in resolving; but determined, unyielding and indefatigable in execution. Do not let every idle individual, or every trivial difficulty, break in upon your plans, or fritter away your time. Remember that your time is short; your work great; the necessities of immortal souls unspeakably urgent; and the judgment-seat of Christ immediately in prospect. If you really act in the spirit of these considerations, you will accomplish more in a month, than a timid, pliant, irresolute, procrastinating man, however pious, in six months, or a year.

3. Maintain the constant and persevering habit of early rising. This habit is conducive, to an extent which few appear to be aware of, to the health and activity, both of the body and of the mind. It has been often observed, that those who are remarkable for health and long life, have been almost always early risers. A disposition to lie long in bed in the morning, is, at once, a symptom and a cause of feeble digestion, of nervous debility, and of general languor. Whereas early rising is commonly connected with sound sleep; with elasticity of body and mind; and with habits of activity, which are greatly conducive both to health and comfort. Nor is this practice less conducive to success in mental improvement. It not only tends to give a daily spring to the mind, but also to make a very important addition to your studying hours. He who is called to engage in much mental exertion, and is, at the same time, liable to many interruptions, ought to make a point of securing several hours of unbroken study, before he will be liable to the calls of the earliest visitant. Often as the following remark of Dr. Doddridge has been repeated, I cannot forbear once more to transcribe it. “I will here record,” says he, “the observation which I have found of great use to myself, to which, I may say, that the production of this work, and most of my other writings, is owing; viz., that the difference between rising at five and at seven of the clock in the morning,

« PreviousContinue »