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proportionably enlarged. There is an unprecedented call upon clergymen among us, for visiting. In proportion as a superstitious reverence for this class of the community, has been happily done away; in proportion as they have put off the severity of their manners, and have come down from the high places of their authority, and have mingled freely with men; in proportion as men have become interested in their characters and labours, their society has been desired and valued. I need not enlarge upon this part of the subject, for what I have stated is perfectly notorious. It is so notorious, that you can scarcely go into a parish, and inquire for its peace and prosperity, without hearing complaints from one or another, of the negligence of the minister, in this very respect.
It is to be observed, furthermore, that all this increase of labour, finds fewer hands to discharge it. In the earlier times of our history, many of the churches had two ministers, and the office of visiting the sick was often committed to the deacons and elders. This, now, except in cases of age or ill health, all devolves upon one man.
In these circumstances, I do not deem it unimportant to ask, what is to be done? Here is a double amount of labour, and, in many cases, half the number of persons to perform it. Here are asking, importunate congregations, craving able, refined, earnest discourses, and incessant visiting; and on the other hand, a failing ministry, sick at heart, dying by premature decay, or travelling in foreign lands for health, or struggling on with miserable lassitude, and after all. with many interruptions and seasons of absence from the people for the recovery of strength and spirits to pursue their labours. It was not so, in former days; and a comparison in this respect would strongly corroborate the statement I have made with regard to the increase of clerical labours. No class of men in former times enjoyed more health or lived to a greater age than ministers. Now, how rare is it to meet with an aged clergyman in our pulpits! The fathers, where are they? Where are the counsels of age to guide the inexperience of our youth, and to give weight to the messages of heavenly wisdom?
If it shall be thought by any, that I have stated in too dark colours, the health of the clergy; I have to reply, in the first place, with regard to the fact, that on our New England seaboard,—and this is the region to which all my remarks more particularly apply,—that on our New England sea-board, it is notorious that the health of a large proportion of clergymen has failed, or is failing them;—that a multitude of them, to which the invalids of no other profession or occupation bear any proportion, are obliged, regularly, every year, to seek in absence or retirement from their duties, relief and restoration. 1 have to reply in the second place, that the diseases of studious and sedentary persons, are not of a nature to be generally known and understood. They are mostly chronic; they are diseases, of which, as they are not understood, none are willing to complain; they are not commonly revealed to the public eye, till they have proceeded to a fatal extent. And what lassitude and depression, what weariness and sinking of heart, attend the incipient stages of a consumption, the slow wastings of dyspepsia, the gradual wearing out of the constitution, none but they who suffer in these ways, can know.
But I hear it suggested again; 'why not relax, and go out among your people, and make up for what you cannot study, by what will probably be quite as agreeable to them,—by giving them more of your society?' This observation mistakes two things. It mistakes the nature of parochial visiting; of parochial visiting, I mean, specifically considered as such. Intercourse of this kind must, or should have in view, something more important than the light and fleeting matters of the day. And to engage in useful, and especially religious conversation, with a great variety of minds and tempers, in all possible situations, is often found to require the most awakened and exhausting exercise of the intellect and heart. A day spent in this way is emphatically a day of exhaustion and fatigue. Again, the idea of finding relaxation in this employment, mistakes the nature and effect of intellectual toil. It is not easy to carry a mind, depressed and worn out with this kind of exertion, into society. I am aware that to many, this may be talking in an unknown tongue. They have no idea, that sitting still all day can be any thing but idleness. They have no idea of any fatigue, but that of the limbs and senses. In fact, with all their complaints of toil; with all their envy, perhaps, of those who sit in their studies, while they labour in the heat of the day; with all the slight they throw upon the toils of professional and studious men, they never know what weariness means! that weariness of the soul, which unnerves and palsies
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the whole system, and stretches, as it were, its very sinews upon a rack! They cannot comprehend it, that the studious often retire to their nightly rest, under a more absolute and prostrating fatigue, than any which ever carries the labouring man to his repose; and a fatigue too, unlike his, which has a compensation in its sound and refreshing slumbers; a fatigue that chases sleep from the eyes, and is incapable of calm and healthful repose.
But I need not press this topic further. I have been willing to do it thus far, even at the hazard of being thought to make an appeal in behalf of the clergy to public commiseration, for the sake of asking that reasonable estimate of our labours, and consideration for our deficiencies, which I believe that our congregations are not unwilling, on a real understanding of the case, to give. The case of the clergy, at this day, and in a pretty large section of this country, is certainly a novel one. I believe there never was a period or spot, in the world, where so large demands were made on clerical labour, or where so many have sunk under it.
If now it be asked again, what is to be done ?—for I have not introduced this subject as one of mere speculation; I have an answer to make for both parties.
I say, let the people be more moderate in their demands on the strength and ability of the ministers they have; or let them provide more labourers, according to ancient custom, in many of our churches; or let them provide annual assistance and relief for their regular pastors. Let the community, also, be considerate for this sacred profession, lest by unreasonable demands, they make it a burden, which young men, who have sufficient talent or property to provide for themselves in any other way, shall hesitate to take upon themselves; lest parents shall shrink from giving up their sons to this too probable sacrifice of health and comfort.
I think I may on the other hand, answer for myself and my brethren, that we are ready to do as much as in us is. No faithful minister, if he is properly supported, will have a particle of strength, which he is not willing to devote 'on the altar and sacrifice' of his people's welfare. But if the demand for labour, for study, for preaching, for parochial visiting, goes beyond our ability,—then we must be allowed to judge for ourselves, and to answer it to our conscience and to God. We have obligations to ourselves and to our families, which will not permit the thoughtless sacrifice of health and life. That man, surely, does worse than mistake his duty, who utterly incapacitates himself for the performance of it. And yet that rash imprudence, that self-destruction, which would be thought inexcusable in every other pursuit and profession, is considered interesting and meritorious in him, whose business it is to urge the lessons of wisdom and duty Clkkicus.
REASON AND FAITH.
John Norms, one of the old English divines, who was somewhat distinguished in his day as a metaphysician and theologian, and had the courage to attack Locke's Essay, wrote 'An Account of Reason and Faith in relation to the Mysteries of Christianity.' It was intended as an answer to Toland's ' Christianity not Mysterious,'—and is a very ordinary book, full of the parade of technical reasoning and vague general statements. In the application of the argument, there is a sufficiency of that angry and supercilious invective against Unitarians, which was common at that time, and which certainly has not wholly gone out of fashion yet, though its spirit has been in some places a good deal tamed and civilized. But our principal object in adverting to the work now is to observe, that towards the end of the book the author gathers confidence enough, not only to find no objection to what he calls the mysteries of faith, in that surrender of reason, which they require, but to seize upon this very circumstance as a weapon for their defence; for he maintains it to be a manifest truth, that such strange things could not have been of human origin, since man would never have invented doctrines, which lay such heavy burdens on his reason; and consequently they must have come from a higher source. It has generally been thought sufficient to tell reason, that she must lie down in silent adoration before the mysteries of faith; but Norris improves upon this, and assures us, that if a proposition staggers and confounds reason, on that very account it is the more likely to be of divine authority. He calls in to his aid the author of 'Entretiens sur la Metaphysique et sur la Religion,' from whom he quotes with much praise the following remarks. 'The more obscure are our mysteries, strange paradox! the more credible they now appear to me. Yes, I find even in the obscurity of our mysteries, received as they are by so many different nations, an invincible proof of their truth. How, for instance, shall we accord the Unity with the Trinity, the society of three different persons with the perfect simplicity of the divine nature? This without doubt is incomprehensible; but not incredible. It is indeed above us;—but let us consider a little, and we shall believe it, at least if we will be of the same religion with the apostles. For supposing they had not known this ineffible mystery, or that they had not taught it to their successors, I maintain that it is not possible that a sentiment so extraordinary should find in the minds of men such a universal belief, as is given to it in the whole church, and among so many different nations. The more this adorable mystery appears monstrous, (suffer the expression of the enemies of our faith,) the more it shocks human reason, the more the imagination mutinies against it, the more obscure, incomprehensible, and impenetrable it is, the less credible is it that it should naturally insinuate itself into the minds and hearts of all Christians of so many and so distant countries.' The writer, from whom this extract is made, then proceeds, in the unwary simplicity of his zeal, to say,—' If Jesus Christ did not watch over his church, the number of Unitarians would quickly exceed that of the orthodox Christians; for there is nothing in the sentiments of these heretics, that does not enter naturally into the mind.'
It is perhaps scarcely worth the while, at this day, to point out the imperfections of the wonderful argument, on which these writers place such fond reliance, and which they seem to consider as so singularly ingenious. Yet a remark or two may not be out of place. Passing by the trifling mistake in the assumption of an universal belief in the orthodox doctrine of the trinity,—we would merely ask them if they would apply the same mode of reasoning to all the errours and absurdities, which sprung up and spread widely after the apostolic age; for it might unquestionably be so applied, with as much propriety and effect. The doctrine of transubstantiation, for instance, in some shape, was for ages almost universally re