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slavery, of the right to the Bible, of exclusiveness, of war and peace, of the social organization, of the adaptation of the Christian religion to man, are the points which this age, as such, is looking at; and a man may be an entire master of all the theology that can be made to converge around the questions that have come up at Oxford, and yet never awake to the inquiry whether he is in the eleventh or nineteenth century, and while he is re-arguing points which have been determined ages ago, society shall move on in strides which he will never dream of overtaking, towards the point which it is destined yet to reach, and all they of Oxford, and all who moot similar questions to those agitated there, shall be left far behind.
(c.) But further. A preacher should not only be able to appreciate his age, and to come up to it in adapting bis iostructions to the great questions which are started in the times in which he lives, but he should be in advance of bis age. He should be able intelligently to take positions to which society in its progress has not yet come up, but which it will most certainly reach in its onward progress. He should be able to throw hiinself into the future, and, taking his stand on great principles which are to live in all times, and which are yet to be regarded as settled principles, he should be prepared to defend them, and to do what in hiin lies to bring the world to embrace them. There are not a few such in the Bible-in the comparatively unexplored views of divine truth, which are to be wrought out, and wbich are to make the world what it is yet to be. Whether those positions have been held in the past or not; whether his own age adopts and practices on thein or not, he who preaches the theology of the Bible should desend them, and should be able to show what important changes the fair application of the principles of the New Testament would make in the world. The men who have done much for the race have gone in advance of their age; they have maintained positions, often in the midst of much persecution, which society had not yet reached, but to which it was destined yet to come, and have shown their greatness, and their sagacity, and their acquaintance with the oracles of truth, by being able to take such advanced positions, and by holding and defending them in the face of the sneers and the frowns of the world. Such men were Luther and Knox; such men were the Puritans and the Pilgrims ; such a man in relation to the rights of conscience, to war and slavery, was William Penn. Thus, now, we are to take our stations on the watch-towers, and defend not only what has been defended, and maintain not only what has been inwrought into the texture of society, but we are to search out and maintain those great principles which will prevail in the world's millennium, and to which, though slowly, yet most certainly, the world is advancing. The theology to be preached is not only that which has been settled as true in past times by experience; not only that which is fitted to the great questions of these times, but that which will be fitted to the state of the world when society shall have made its highest progress, and shall have reached the point on which the eyes of prophets and apostles were fixed.
I had designed to have made some remarks on another point, by showing that the theology which is to be preached, should be in accordance with the disclosures of science; and that the minister of religion should be able to show that the system which he defends is not antagonist with what is revealed by the blowpipe, the crucible, and the telescope ; that nothing is gained in the end by making war on such men as Galileo, and that much is lost by leaving it problematical in the view of the world whether the friends of the Christian revelation can hold their system consistently with the revelations of science. But it would be unreasonable for me to attempt to illustrate that point.
If there were space, also, my subject would lead mé, in the conclusion, to dwell on the aspects of preaching, of a most noble kind, as it might be, and as it should be; as a department of literature, and as a department of oratory. On one of those topics only will I make a suggestion.
From some cause there has been a sad divorce between the pulpit, as such, and large departments of literature. When
from the poetry that charms and pleases—from the reviews of Macaulay, and Jeffrey, and Sydney Smith-and from the Guardian, the Rambler, and the Spectator, and still more from the light and attractive literature of this age, men turn to sermons, they feel as if they were going from sunshine to gloom, from a clear to a murky atmosphere, from the saloons of pleasure and enchantment, the halls of the Alhambra, to the catacombs of Egypt. There are no public discourses which men in this age are so ready to hear, none which they are so indisposed to read, as sermons. The
very name, considered as referring to reading matter, is synonymous with all that is dry and dull. While of all the people on the earth we are most given to hearing sermons, there is almost any thing which we will not sooner read. There is a deep demand in our nation and in our times for this kind of public instruction; but this demand, so far as its literature is concerned, is not met. The most unsaleable of all books are sermons, and no wise man now publishes a sermon with a view to its being sold; if sermons are published, it is done with a remote hope that they will be accepted kindly, if given away; and happy does the author deem himself if his friends will receive them as a gift, even with scarcely an implied pledge that they will read them. The man who adventures a volume of sermons does it at the peril of bis bookseller; and of all the manuscript productions now in the world, those, the smallest proportion of which would bear to be published with a view to a sale, are probably the piles of manuscript sermons which are found in the studies of ministers of the gospel. It may be said, it is true, that they have answered their end, and that a valuable end; it is true, that from the necessary sameness of the subjects in such discourses, it could not be expected that the public would demand or bear their publication. It is true, that even when a sermon has been written with much care, and then, after being preached, is laid aside for ever, and no one may wish to look at it, a man should not feel that his labour has been ill-bestowed; or that his careful study in composing it, and his attention even to
the neatness of his chirography, or his manuscript, has been in vain, any more than the farmer feels when he has turned a handsome furrow, and his field, as a mere specimen of ploughing, is beautiful, that it has been in vain ; for it is one of the characteristics of a good farmer to lay his furrows thus; and, though all that beauty shall soon disappear, the great object has been gained, in the waving golden harvest that follows. So the preacher may feel, that though his manuscripts may go no farther than his own pulpit, and then be forgotten or burned, still his care is not in vain. The ample result is not to be seen in the elegantly bound volume, but in the happy fruits of piety that shall spring up on the field that he cultivates ; a golden harvest more rich than any over which the zephyr waves.
But, while this is true, it is still true that the age and the circumstances demand that there should be a higher literature than there is in sermons. As literary compositions, they should be of the highest possible order; they should be such as will not merely not offend, but as will attract those of delicate and refined taste ; they should be such as will not make the theology that is preached repellant to cultivated minds, but such as will commend it; they sbould be such as will be in every way worthy the minds that have received the highest education which, our country can furnish, and such as shall become those who, by by their stations, must contribute more than any other class of men to form the public manners and taste. As none of the truths which God designs to teach in his works are rendered powerless and neutral by the exquisite beauty spread over the face of creation, the simple and pure charms in which they are conveyed to us in the stream, the flower, the vale, the landscape, so none of the truths of revelation will be rendered less powerful and efficient, by being conveyed in a dress that shall correspond with the methods in which God addresses us in his beautiful works. The world, as God has made it, is full of beauty. He speaks to men amidst the exquisite charms of the works of nature, and surrounds himself with every hue of light and love when he approaches us in his works. The expanding flower, the rainbow, the variegated lights that lie at evening on the clouds of the western sky, or the gay lights that play in the north, the dewdrops of the morning, the fountain, the lake, the ocean, the waterfall, the flower-covered prairie, and the way, ing forest; these are the things through which God speaks to men in his works. So, with all that is attractive, and beautiful, and simple, and pure, and chaste in thought and language, should it be our aim that He should speak to men, when He conveys the noble truths of redemption to the world by our instrumentality; and so should the pulpit be seen to be the appropriate place for conveying the richest and noblest truths that have dawned on this part of the universe-the system of theology which He has commissioned us to preach.
By Rev. CHARLES WHITE, D. D., President of Wabash College, Indiana.
By political rectifude is meant the rectitude of a people in their political relations in their character as a society, or as a government, the organ and representative of a society. Political rectitude is a state and national interest of great magnitude. Strict probity and honour in state and national policy, plant a broad, grand basis for every noble institution, and furnish the elements of life and power to all industry, enterprise, and useful advancement.
In discussing this subject, the modes and forms in which political rectitude is violated, first demand a consideration.
There is one great and general wrong committed in filling the offices of the country with incompetent and unworthy men. This is done by the people in their sovereign character, and also by the government.