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THE various treatises on the position and duties of the ministry, which within the last few years have gone abroad, have contributed much to form the advanced character of the modern American pulpit. There is yet one view of the sacred office, which, though not difficult of apprehension, we have no where seen the subject of particular remark. It is the mental and moral influence of its duties returning on the minister himself. This therefore we propose for present consideration. The intellectual and moral perfection of man is the highest end of his being. Minor pursuits are alone possessed of value and dignity as they subserve this final attainment. There is no tyranny of circumstances, or depraved character, like that which checks the upward tendencies of the soul. Likeness to God is our chief end and happiness. Nothing is a permanent injury which does not hinder mental or moral growth; and no gift is a real good but as it advances our spiritual well being. In choosing a profession for life, therefore, it becomes a question of high interest and importance, how far the particular duties to which it conducts us, favor in a greater or less degree that intellectual and moral culture, which are the power and beauty, the glory and greatness, of the human mind. These observations show what constitutes the highest development of mind. Culture of the soul exists in every degree. Intellectual maturity and perfection imply, not extravagant expansion of one power, but the united growth and harmonious exercise of all. By a complete development of mind, we mean then, not extraordinary cultivation of a single faculty, or the excess of any emotion, but the full-orbed soul,

of constant, growing light and influence, in which are ripening together all the faculties, and unfolding all the virtues of man. The answer to our inquiry will now depend on the estimate formed of the active and contemplative duties of the ministry, as every character is chiefly determined by the nature of its studies and its associations. Before pronouncing how far any profession cherishes the nobler attributes and manifestations of mind, we consider the nature of the subjects it offers to our thought; the exercise it affords to the reasoning and imaginative faculties; the field which it opens for the action of gentle and heroic moral qualities, and the stimulus it supplies to exertion. Under the force of such conditions all human greatness is born. The first point of argument then for the superiority of the ministry to other professions as most favorable to enlargement of the mind, is found in the grandeur of those subjects with which religion, attentively studied, brings the soul in contact. Truth is the life of mind. It is that on which it feeds and grows. There is no plainer law of the mental constitution than that we become gradually assimilated to the objects of constant thought. That the soul may become great, it must have great objects of contemplation. A man can hardly be a of low mind, if that mind is continually open on vast objects, and filled with enduring interest. For illustration, take the science of astronomy. Here is a great system of truth, exalting the soul, as it lifts the eye, to heaven. The first reason is the immensity of the objects filling the astronomer’s vision. The mere contemplation of the heavens is ennobling. It awakens the soul to a new world of thought, and fills it with the grandeur of the universe. So in the world of active life. The same truth recurs in the history of all great men and revolutions. Truths which overwhelm the soul with a sense of infinity, which take hold of everlasting interests, have an omnipotent energy abiding in them. Like God in his absolute reign, they admit no fellowship, no equality. In their presence man loses the thought of common cares. Trifling interests are forgotten while the mind gives itself up to awe in contemplation of infinite and solemn truths. A single great thought, continually revolved, understood, and felt, is often enough to change entirely the character of a mind, and the course of a life. One clear insight into the true end of life, one glance into the mystery of our nature and destiny, one deep conviction of the immutable rights of man, has revolutionized men and kingdoms. Besides, there is a connection between great thoughts, by which one introduces another. The eye is hardly fixed on a single star before the sky is filled with the rushing glories of a universe of worlds. Such is the law in all human investigations and pursuits. The idea of a profession is exclusive. It is the conception of a class of men, and a class of ideas. To each belong certain engrossing topics, ideas of its own, upon which the mind is oftener and more intently occupied than on all others. So that, unless its peculiar trains of thought are themselves of liberalizing tendency, there is danger that confinement to a profession will contract rather than enlarge the mind. In the character of those original and ever recurring ideas as trivial or grand, resides the primary element of feebleness or strength. What then are the ever-present ideas of the minister—the controlling themes of reflection and discourse 2

First and chief is the idea of God—the Eternal and the Almighty. Let us contemplate it in itself, and in its influence. The idea of God is the highest conception of the human mind. We behold in it all that is grand in a power which extends around and above us without limits; all that is sacred and venerable in wisdom and goodness, which no finite intellect can fathom, with whatever is alluring in kindness and touching in mercy. It is this idea, infinitely more grand than the most astonishing attainments of philosophy or conceptions of poetry, which, in the steady contemplation of sanctified intelligence, contributes more than all else to the endless advancement of minds in heaven. But such mental illumination and advancement come only from dwelling on the object by devout meditation on the creation where lines of celestial glory are revealed, or in the intense solemnity of prayer. The promised land lies beyond Pisgah, and he who would see it must climb to the point of vision. Go forth, then, and learn God in his works. Explore the wonders of the earth and heavens, till the mind comes back, overwhelmed with the greatness of that Being whom we worship, bowed in reverence, and trembling with awe at thought of infinite wisdom and almighty power. Such objects no man can steadily contemplate without having his mind lifted up to something of that greatness which he adores. The idea of God is indeed an universal one. It is peculiarly a truth for the human race, giving authority to law, and furnishing to man a source of boundless consolation. Still it is a truth like all others, to be appropriated by the free action of the mind. And who so likely to receive its benefit as he who is ever revolving it in the recesses of his thoughts * The priest of the Lord dwells in the pavilion of the Almighty. He ministers at the altar, and lights its sacred fires. He treads the inner courts of the temple, and hears daily the solemn voices of the sanctuary. It is but natural that on him, more than on ordinary men should fall the spell of its heavenly power. Whatever of grandeur belongs to God, attaches itself to the administration of His government. The course of Providence, moving aloft, “as on eagles' wings,” through the storms of the world, marks divinity to men. How superior to ordinary views of human life is the faith which beholds all events obedient to the control of a Providence, wise and just, and directed to the accomplishment of a benevolent end. It is easy to see how such wide prospects affect elevation of character. Religion, operating through its higher truths, is inseparable from the advancement of the human intellect. The greatest character can develope only under an impression of the eternal realities of the universe. Man attains no resemblance to God while living in a world of shadows. This land of dreams, which flits before us, but decoys and wastes the mind. Only looking through it and above it, inhabiting a world of higher conceptions, and conversant with the nobler truths and interests of religion, the mind towers up to the stature of an intelligent and immortal being. And this suggests another point, the impression of the Christian idea of God on the temper of mind. A calm, philosophic temperament is often as needful to success as grandeur of thought and force of intellect. Religion aids this. It makes the timid brave, and the weak strong. Belief in God, more than all things else, lifts us above the depression of calamity, and gives that settled and tranquil mind, which is best suited to intellectual effort and success. There is another distinction of these truths, answering more completely to the law of our mental progress. The presentation of one

class of views, without any variety, belittles, or at best but feebly impresses the mind. It is the glory of Christianity that its ideas are not so bounded as to imprison the intellect, like the narrow creeds of paganism. It opens the mind on a vast field of truth, and at the same time, its principal ideas—God, Christ and heaven, are capable of indefinite enlargement, at once the result and impulse of renewing mental power. So with Christian views of human life. Man, as the child of eternity, the heir of endless life, or endless woe, is invested with a dignity and importance unknown before. Life becomes solemn and earnest. The prophet of the Lord walks among men, but his thoughts are on eternal things. While the crowd around him are consumed with momentary cares, he is dwelling on the destinies of the soul ages to come, when the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and earth and time be gone. He sits upon the mount of contemplation, amid the undimmed brightness of eternal day, and glory covers him. In the hours of lonely meditation, thought wanders afar above to the celestial world, “there in the land of faith adores,” or broods with untired wing over the blackness of darkness, and the ever burning lake. Oh! what scenes here rush upon the mental eye. Such a mind can not degrade itself to the level of ordinary men. Standing on the heights of revelation, and looking away at God and eternity, with overpowering thoughts and emotions crowding on him, he will not stoop to the low things of earth. His intellect, his aims, his character, naturally take the vaster proportions of the unseen world. Next, we observe the exercise given by religion, and the studies of a minister, to the reasoning faculties. A prominent difference between really great and common men in the same department of investigation or active duties, is that the enlarged, comprehending minds have pursued their studies in the form of science. Not content with beholding the separate grandeur of particular truths, they have endeavored to connect those truths with each other ; to show their relations, their mutual harmony and support. They have labored by long and patient induction of particular phenomena to arrive at general laws. And thus by slow and wasting toil has been reared the pyramid of scientific truth, itself the enduring monument to their fame. Even astronomy failed to free itself from ministering to superstition and terror, till its laws were understood. Then began its mightiest influence on the human intellect. Long had the philosopher turned his telescopes nightly to the heavens. But yet the highest order of mind was not seen. It was not enough to number the stars, and mark the time of their periodic revolutions. Only when Newton rose by long processes of investigation to trace a system among stars and suns; to demonstrate in every movement of the heavenly bodies obedience to an universal law, and thus lay the foundation of one of the noblest of sciences, did the world pronounce the astronomer great. After induction comes deduction, the application of general laws to explain particular phenomena. These are both high efforts of the mind. In asserting that the ministry is well adapted to exercise our facul-ties of analysis, investigation, and of classifying truth, we claim for religion the character of a science. By a science is commonly meant a system of general laws ascertained respecting any material or spiritual existences. In this sense evidently religion is not only a science, but the noblest of all sciences. For while astronomy, and chemistry and geology treat simply of the coarse elements

and properties of matter, religion reveals a system of laws which govern the spiritual world; which regulate the relations of mind with mind; of man with his brother here, and with God above. The outward universe, studied and adored by infidel philosophers, is valuable only as the abode of intelligent existence, and the theatre of moral action. To overlook these great agents and interests in the study of material science is the gross, though constant blunder of atheistical philosophy. Where is the spirit of Plato gone, that God and his government are not now thought of, in that classification of the sciences, which is intended to embrace man's widest knowledge of the universe of things 2 Every gem in the sky is told, the bowels of the earth are explored, to render the circle of truth complete. Yet it is forgotten that there is in the bosom of man a brighter gem, and in his relations to God are bound up more momentous interests. But this is ignorance as well as impiety. The universe is but the veil of the

Almighty, to soften, while it reflects

the glory which no man can see. Science is the record of his invisible movements, discovered only in their effects. The laws of nature are his immutable will ; and he studies them to no profit who is not led to Him. To make men realize the presence and agency of the unseen God is the office of science as well as of religion. Every thing is related to the Deity, and it is in tracing the Supreme Intelligence in all his works, in following them up to that power, and wisdom, and goodness in which they had their origin, lies the great labor and progress of created minds. Instead then of allowing the denial that religion has the certainty and universality of a science, we affirm that its claims to that character are such as should make unbaptized philosophy retire in shame. Divine truth is above all other truth, as God is enthroned over all other beings. And when the proud monument of science and art is reared to heaven, let religion descend from the skies, to sit on the summit of human knowledge, its glorious and celestial crown. Is it asked, where in religion is the opportunity for scientific investigation ? We answer, not to ascertain the facts of religion, nor to establish laws of human duty, for these are the revelation of God. But to show the harmony of those laws with the wants and powers of the human soul; to draw out distinctly the evidences of their divine origin; and more than all, to follow that induction of all laws and all science, which leads to one Supreme, Eternal Mind. To the minister then as his peculiar study the whole moral universe is outspread. It is his province to examine and unfold whatever concerns the authority of God, or the eternal safety of man. The science of theology in its fullest extent, natural and revealed; the vast field of moral philosophy and divine government; the free and accountable nature of man; the premonitions within of wrathful elements that lurk and mutter beneath the eternal darkness; the great problems of human life, human nature, and human destiny, are before him. To religion, as the highest truth, all truth is tributary. This is the vantage ground of the minister. Material and mental science are completely subservient to his use, both for purposes of illustration and argument. Thus an acquaintance with astronomy has doubtless suggested many of the splendid conceptions of Chalmers. The same rule obtains in all departments of knowledge. Whatever illustrates the power, and wisdom, and goodness of God, contributes directly to the grand object of the preacher, to bow the human mind before an invisible object of worship. Whatever commends the law of God to the

reason and conscience, powerfully aids in enforcing obligation. Pursuing these general subjects, counteracts the tendency to exclusiveness of idea which belongs to professional study, adding the philosopher to the Christian, by uniting piety with the widest liberality and enlargement of mind. With this widening of mental reach, comes the secret sympathy of devotional taste with a love of nature, and the soft coloring of character, arising from this influence. The same moral causes which give strength, also impart beauty to the mind. Viewed in its highest relations, religion produces all the effect of the sublimest poetry. Faith gives more than poetic insight into the beauty and significance of all living things. To a mind filled with religious thought, creation is full of spiritual lessons. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth is full of his praise. To him comes home that truth, which is not merely an image, that the universe is a temple, inhabited by no outward forms, but by the real presence of the object of worship. Night, with her solemn train, moving round the earth from age to age, is its vaulted roof; the winds and waves its hymns; the opening day its morning orisons, and “the light of setting suns” its evening sacrifice. Under the former impulses, the mind bursts up into a new and higher region of thought. These shed around that sudden elevation of intellect a soft and mellow light. But to the point of eliciting truth. Even to ascertain and harmonize the doctrines of religion with the Bible in our hands, requires no small share of intellectual acuteness and judgment. For this as careful an examination and comparison of passages is needed as the induction of material phenomena in the journal of a philosopher. In both cases facts diverse and seemingly contradictory have to be harmonized, and

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