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want of judgment, on this subject, truly wonderful. If at any time they are betrayed into an inordinate tediousness in their sermons, they seldom fail, at the same time, to make the portion of scripture read, the prayers, and the psalms, all in like proportion tedious. This is extremely ill-judged, and often interferes most essentially with the edification of many hearers. It appears to me proper to urge this advice with especial earnestness, in reference to those occasions on which the Lord's Supper is dispensed. At such peculiarly solemn and interesting seasons, when the services are unavoidably much longer than those of an ordinary sabbath, I have often been surprised to see clergymen take so little care to abridge those parts of the service which easily admit of being shortened. On such occasions, by making the sermon shorter than usual, and by lopping off a small portion from each of the other exercises, a very convenient length of the whole may be readily attained.
15. Never render yourself remarkable by continually making a display of a white handkerchief in the pulpit. I say, by making a display of it. To have such a handkerchief, if convenient, in the pulpit, and to use it on proper occasions, and in a proper way, are by no means objectionable. But to hold it up frequently and in a flourishing manner, as if to invite the notice of the congregation, is a practice unworthy of a man of sense. Indeed, with regard to every part of your dress, or other appendage of your person, never allow it, on any occasion, to have the appearance of engaging a single thought.
16. When you have occasion to reprove any disorderly person in the house of God, guard against in
dulging or betraying irascible feeling. It is peculiarly unseemly, and out of season, for a minister of the gospel, in the pulpit, and in the very act of exhorting men to obey the commands of God, to lose his temper, and give way to that which may even possibly be regarded as an effusion of anger. Do not make your reproofs from the pulpit very frequent, or else they will become cheap. When you think yourself called in duty to administer a reproof, do it seriously and solemnly, but mildly. Sometimes it is best to come to a full stop, and look at the individual offending, in perfect silence, until every eye shall be directed toward him. At other times, it may be proper to request the sexton to attend to those persons who are disturbing the congregation, and to direct them, if they cannot be persuaded to behave decently, to leave the assembly. Sometimes a pause, without naming or indicating any individual, and uttering a sentence or two on the importance of reverencing the name and worship of Jehovah, may answer every purpose. The cases,
will ever be found few in which it can be necessary to administer a direct and personal rebuke. But, whatever may be the form of admonition which the case requires, deliver it in a grave, mild, and gentle manner. Never attempt to taunt the offenders by sarcasm, or to turn the laugh on them by wit. This might do very well in a secular assembly; but is not proper for a minister of religion, and in the house of God.
17. Let your deportment in quitting the pulpit, and withdrawing from the church, be of the same general character with that which was recommended in approaching and entering it. Retire as soon as you can, gravely, silently, and alone. Discountenance the practice which I have known some ministers to indulge to a considerable extent; I mean that of stopping to converse with a number of individuals, at the close of the public service; with some, as a mere matter of social respect and ceremony; with others, perhaps, on the subject of the discourse just delivered ; and with a third class on the subject of religion generally. In general, give no encouragement to any of these classes of persons to stop for the purpose of conversing with you at this unseasonable time. Not the first class; because mere social conversation is extremely apt, even on the Sabbath, and in the house of God, to degenerate into worldly chat, before we are aware, and to banish from the mind the most solemn subjects of contemplation in which we may have been engaged. Not even, in ordinary cases, the second and third classes; because, although it may, on some special occasions, be your duty to gratify those who may wish to remain a few minutes, for the purpose of conversing with you, and it might appear morose to decline it; yet yielding to a practice of that kind, may be very injurious. At the close of the public service, you will generally find yourself fatigued, and often exhausted. This is a very unfit condition in which to enter on conversation in reference to the most important of all subjects. And frequently has a minister, before he was aware, materially injured himself, by pausing to engage in conversation, while fatigued with a preceding service.
Besides, on the score of example, ministers ought, by all means, to be in the habit of retiring from the house of God to their place of abode, in serious and solemn silence. What would be the consequence, if every hearer, at the close of the public service, were to linger about the church, receiving and paying civilities; making social inquiries; hearing or telling news; or even conversing on the subject of the minister's discourse? Is it not evident that a scene of noise and disorder must ensue, and that the practical influence of the exercises of the sanctuary would probably be very transient? And shall a minister, by his own example, sanction any thing which, if it were to become general, would produce incalculable mischief ? I have known many a congregation, especially in the country, the members of which were in the habit of spending a considerable time, both before the commencement and after the close of the public service, in social chat, and sometimes in that of a very light and unsuitable kind. And I must say, that, in general, when I have observed this, I have been strongly inclined to lay a large share of the blame at the door of their pastor. If a proper example had been, in all cases, set by him, such a practice could not have been long kept in countenance.
18. When you are seated in the pulpit with another minister, let your conversation with him be in a low and inaudible voice. I have known a minister, sitting in the pulpit with a clerical brother, to talk so loudly, that the sound of his voice might be heard almost over the whole church. I have known others, so far to forget themselves as not only to smile, but to laugh outright, at something which had been said in the course of this pulpit dialogue. Every thing of this kind makes an unpleasant impression, and ought to be avoided. Let all conversation in the pulpit be
conducted in a whisper, audible to none but those who are engaged in it; and let the most perfect gravity of countenance be constantly maintained. There is no doubt that cases may occur in which a smile in the pulpit may be very innocent. But how shall the members of a congregation know when, or how far, it is so in any particular instance? The motto of every Christian, and especially of every Christian minister, on all such occasions is, “Shun the very appearance of evil.”
19. I know not a more suitable place than this for taking notice of another habit frequently indulged by clergymen. I mean the habit of conversing aloud, and sometimes even jocularly, at funerals. If ministers of religion find no convenient opening, at funerals, for making appropriate remarks “on the frailty of life, and the importance of being prepared for death and eternity,” they at least owe it to decorum not to join in conversation calculated to banish such thoughts from their own minds, and those of others. I have often been surprised and pained to hear such conversations carried on in funeral assemblies, when several ministers of the gospel were present. If you cannot regulate the course of conversation more agreeably to your mind, it is far better to sit gravely silent. Let it be seen that there is at least one person present, who is engaged in serious meditation. Let me also advise you to observe the same rule when you are walking in procession at funerals, to the place of interment. I have seen ministers, in these circumstances, talking, and even laughing audibly, on indifferent subjects. Is not this a manifest indecorum? Surely it is not requiring too much to say, that when