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hearts." This was the secret of Paul's boldness. He lived in God and rested upon his arm, and nothing could daunt
Nor do we mean by the independence of the ministry that every minister should be perfectly independent of each other, and that all ecclesiastical councils should be rejected and contemned. We plead not for anarchy and lawlessness in the ministry, nor that any or all should set themselves up as popes or lords over God's heritage. While we claim the rights of conscience, the right of private judgment, and yield the right to no man under heaven, yet we believe that every other one has the same right, and they have a right to express their opinion individually or collectively, and when expressed I am bound to give it that consideration and weight which it deserves. None but a heretic will disregard the admonitions and advice of brethren. Men may deny their dependence on each other as much as they please, yet it is true we are all more or less dependent upon one another; we have been and ever shall be in our present state.
And he who boasts of his entire independence of man, only proves his utter ignorance of himself. He can scarcely move without recognizing this dependence. The very garment he wears was manufactured by another, and the very bread he eats was the product of another's labor. He is not less dependent upon others for the knowledge he possesses, or for the opinions he entertains.
I use the word independence in this article in direct opposition to what is meant by servility. Perhaps I might have selected a better word. We mean by it that boldness and fearlessness which shrinks not from uttering truth however offensive and unpalatable it may be, or from rebuking sin however popular or common. I mean very much that trait required of Jeremiah upon his entering upon the duties of his office, “speak unto them all that I command thee, and be not dismayed at their faces.” Or very much what is meant by boldness when it is said of Paul that he spake with boldness. The same decided, bold and independent course is now demanded as in former days. The hearts of men are as much opposed to truth. Error is as deceitful. It must be confronted with Christian fortitude and manliness. It must be met in the spirit of meekness and rebuked. Unless a man is prepared to give his reputation to the Lord and go forth and reprove sin every where among the high and low with boldness and decision, he is not qualified to be a minis
ter of the gospel. He lacks faith in God. He is afraid his Sovereign will not protect his ministers in the faithful discharge of their duty. He must consult expediency and take
of his own interests. In this respect the ministry of the Lord Jesus is full of interest to every minister of the gospel. It is a perfect model. His language is plain and unequivocal. His manner bold and energetic. He spake with authority. The most offensive truth is uttered without any effort to render it palatable. He appealed to the conscience and not to the heart. Every one must submit to the truth or suffer the awful consequences of rejecting it. There is no other alternative, and here it is left on the conscience. The responsibility of deciding the solemn question is laid upon every hearer. 'If ministers generally would thus deal with their hearers, we have no reason to think there would be so much listlessness. Men would not sleep over the word.
We proceed to mention some things, which impair the independence of the ministry.
1. The fear of offending.
Many truths of God's word are offensive to a portion of our hearers and if they are faithfully presented offence will be taken. Some will leave the sanctuary never more to return. Above all they cannot endure to hear such truths preached in a bold and fearless manner, as though they were realities. Some will take offenee if the doctrine of total depravity is presented. They cannot believe but that there is some good in them. They cannot think they are the enemies of God. The doctrine of regeneration is equally offensive to a great many. They want to believe they may be saved without. Some will take umbrage if sabbath breaking is condemned, especially if that form is condemned which they are in the practice of committing. Temperance has been a subject too which has given great offence. Many a minister has been dismissed for daring to present his views upon this subject. Some leading man who loved his cups and who loved the profits of this vile traffic, took offence, and the minister must be dismissed or the church lose the ten, twenty or fifty dollars a year which he had been wont to pay on the implied condition that thc pulpit should let his habits or traffic or both alone. How many churches have sold themselves in this way to do evil.
The abolition of slavery has been the occasion of great offence in this nation. Ministers understand this too very
generally, and they are as dumb as a stone on the subject. Christians and Christian ministers may be thrown into prison and die there without their uttering a word. You may attend our anniversaries and hear our popular ministers harangue large audiences upon the success of our missions. They can embrace the globe, and tell us what is doing for the Chinese, the Indian, the Hottentot, &c. But you will not hear one word about the poor slave in our own country. A bare allusion to the slave would destroy all the joy of these annual festivals. Have you never observed the studied silence on these occasions in respect to the condition of the slave? I have thought sometimes they would be willing to go round the world rather than stumble upon this class of our fellowmen. Here you see the fear of offence.
And would it was confined to these occasions alone. But you need not suppose ministers would be more bold and fearless at home. While the whole country has been in labor on this subject, and has been agitated and tossed upon the waters of strife the great mass of ministers have been silent. And why? If they spoke some would be offended. Some one has a son at the South, or a fourteenth cousin who owns slaves-or some one in the congregation makes shoes or clothes or hats for the Southern market—or some manufacture whips or hand screws, or iron collars for the neck of the poor slave, and if the pastor utters a word it will injure his business, and then he cannot pay his pew
rent. It is said in this light, "preach the gospel!-let slavery alone; just as though one could preach faithfully the gospel and not urge its second great precept, " Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Slavery contravenes the whole spirit and letter of the gospel. It requires hatred where the law requires lovc. Now how can a minister be silent in a slaveholding nation and be guiltless.
In almost every community the very doctrine will be most offensive which needs most to be preached. If now the fear of offence is suffered to operate upon and control the embassador of Christ, he must withhold altogether, or preach the offensive truth in such a feeble manner as to make no impression. The allusion must be so distant as not to be seen, or if seen, there must be 30 many qualifications and apologies, or it must be so covered up with flowers of rhetoric as completely to Deutralize its effect. "The unsavory viand must be so spiced as to be palatable if not delectable. Some withhold offensive truth, while others conceal the point and use the sword in the scabbard. It is truly astonishing how adroitly some will preach the truth without its producing any corresponding effect. The lifeless, feeble and sycophantic manner of some ministers completely destroys the legitimate influence of the truth they preach. Every body despises a coward whether in the field of carnage or in the pulpit. A timid man can effect nothing. The man who consults the taste or prejudices of his people can accomplish nothing among them. He is robbed of all his power though he may have the strength of a Sampson.
Oftentimes the independence of the ministry is the most offensive circumstance in preaching. Some would have their ministers appear servile and show their sense of dependence upon them every time they preach. They cannot bear anything like an independent manner in a minister. If he is bold and positive in his manner they think he wants humility.
II. A DESIRE TO PLEASE often impairs the independence of the ministry.
Ministers are men, and like others they desire the approbation of their fellows. I doubt not but such a desire may exist without sin. The approbation of others however should be sought only so far as we are conscious of doing right. If preaching the word boldly displeases there is no other way for a faithful minister but to give offence. Said Paul, “ If I please men I am not the servant of God.” I am sure no church would desire a pastor who was not a servant of God. Why then should they seek men who will please the people? Popularity is a word that sounds very pleasantly to many ears. But how can this be acquired unless the people are pleased? Then again what good can a minister do unless he pleases? Before you can benefit any one you must get his good opinion. The effort is now, not to get his conscience and convict him but to please his heart. Every thing must bend to this. The right class of subjects must be selected. Popular discussions must be started where learning and ingenuity may be exhibited. Every thing offensive must be kept back. The minister must search the whole nomenclature of God's word before he uses the word hell. Upon every subject there are offensive terms, and it is often best to use them if you would do any good. They must be used to awaken interest. Now one may talk at the present time all day about oppression and no one is interested; but let the offensive term slavery, be used, and people immediately start up. The charm of stupidity is broken and they 'will hear what you have to say. On the subject of future punishment, hell is the offensive term. Any one will hear you discourse all day about perdition and destruction, without much interest; now change the word, put in the offensive term and you stir up all the gall of the natural heart. He who labors to please, will avoid the use of all these terms. In his view to use them would be giving needless offence, and would blight all prospect of doing any good. He says, men can be persuaded but not driven. Hence he labors to use a great many honeyed words. His voice must be music. “* And, lo, thou art unto them as a lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument." Thus you will find a numerous class of ministers using soft and gentle tones in their addresses. It is said, “what a pretty speaker.” “ what a fine orator.” How unlike the ancient prophets. They uttered the words of God boldly and without reserve. The consequence was they were hated and reviled—some were imprisoned and murdered. Others there were who professed to be prophets, they could utter the same things more mildly, there was no need of so much severity. They cried, "peace, peace.” They could prophesy just as wicked men desired. They became very numerous. Ahab had a thousand hanging about him and dependent upon him for bread. They stood ready to encourage him in every wicked undertaking till they flattered him to his own destruction. Micaiah was an exception, and he was hated by him because he always prophesied evil concerning him. Who cannot see an exact portraiture of this in the world at the present day. There is evidently a strong desire to please and fall in with the general current of things Some will utter just so much of the truth as they think will please, while others regardless of truth will preach just what will please the wicked. Neither have any independence. They are complete slaves to the prejudices and caprices of those who feed them. You would almost think at times they were hired to flatter and caress. A monarch never had more servile minions about him. How degraded the ministry becomes in such hands! Jf there were not others to sustain the dignity and sacredness of the office, it would soon become extinct.