« ZurückWeiter »
out exception, to practise on it, if the thought remain a fine statue set up in the intellect to delight a dainty but indolent eye, and be not wakened into life by an inspiring sentiment from the heart. To change the figure, it is a sad thing, when the soul is satisfied with the beauty of a corpse!
What I have now to say, then, is this,-that the Ministry at large has already done much, is continually doing more, and will at length do a vast deal to kindle the hearts of the Rich with this inspiring sentiment, prompting to the pursuit of an object which they have already been led to see is the great object of life and of society. It thus prevents the idea from standing alone, cold and vanishing.
It does this, first, by actually revealing these equal and uniform traits of human nature under every form and grade of social life, in every circumstance of external office and condition. It does it by its practical minute operation, its real adaptations to existing wants, its daily descent into living hearts. It does it continually, as these operations are seen and sympathised with by others.
It produces this effect, in the next place, by the actual results it works out in the spiritual natures of the Poor. If there be no such results, the sentiment of which we speak will, in the minds of most, lie dead. If these natures remain pressed under cruel burdens, and utterly without development, how can men in general feel compassionate sympathy with the powers which give no sign of life?-though this be the state which most strongly commands pity and help. In such circumstances, it is only the few, peculiarly gifted with spiritual discernment, whose eye can pierce to the inmost soul, and weep in. love, while overpowered with sublimity, at the sight of those divine germs, yet chilled and crushed, that might already have expanded into an immortal beauty. But the great mass of men must see the powers in development before they can understand their intrinsic majesty and worth. The seed unburst from its dull covering is nothing more to them than grains of common dust. They must see something of the beauty of culture before they can understand the equality of nature.
That such is the fact seems to me the most charitable supposition that can be made. For, if the majesty and worth of these natures were understood, their neglect and abandonment would prove a strange cruelty and hardness of heart. Indeed a full knowledge of them is not consistent with indifference to their welfare. For a full knowledge is more than the idea simply. It is also an acquaintance of the heart. And the sympathies are to be educated as much as any of our other powers.
Now my point is, that the Ministry at large educates these sympathies by presenting the actual results its operations work out in the spirits of the Poor,-and thus, by its sucess, as well as its endeavor, does inspire this living sentiment of the heart prompting to the affectionate pursuit of an object whose greatness is seen.
If these things be so, it might be supposed the Ministry at large must be a bond of union of vital power to unite all classes. So I believe it is now, and will more and more become. And yet the fear has been somtimes expressed, that the Ministry at large, instead of making Society one sympathetic body, will tend to break it apart. My own conviction bears so strongly and steadily the opposite way, that I cannot think such an opinion is entertained extensively, or that it will ultimately keep its place in any mind. Yet it is said, in gentler language, ihat there is danger that the Poor, by having their peculiar means of instruction, their separate exercises and places of Worship, and their own Ministry, will get to be a caste. And but the other day a highly esteemed clergyman quoted to me that beautiful verse from Proverbs,
The Rich and the Poor meet together;-the Lord is the Maker of them all, and expressed his enjoyment of it with something like a kind intimation of his fear that the separation brought about through this peculiar Ministry is not in harmony with its spirit. The sentiment of the wise man went through my mind as though a strain of saddening music had accompanied the words. For what a noble spectacle does it present? Alas,-that it should be an ideal one,-contradicted by the whole reality of the Church! And who has a plan to give which shall present this spectacle? I will listen to it with eager ears. What noble effort, what devotion of life, what generous abandonment of worldly advantages, what lofty and wide-spread self-sacrifice, 'shall bring the welcome day! When the means shall have acted, and the result appears, I will pray for no Ministry at large to mar such celestial beauty. - I will desire that no terms be made with a Ministry at large, or any other Ministry, which shall propose a special service that may interrupt the full grandeur of this high service of the universal soul. And if the actual Ministry at large were breaking in upon any such service now, I would gladly have these words of the ancient Sage quoted as the most terrible rebnke upon its presumption. But when we are told, as we are in Mr Thom's sermon on the subject, * that 100,000 out of the 200,000 inhabitants of the city of Liverpool are without regular Christian ministrations, and when we know what the state of things has been in Boston and New York, and is in our other cities, what can prevent the utterance of a burning persuasion that something special must be done for society and the soul, or they are both lost!
The truth is, and to this point I would call attention, that in our community's present state, the Ministry at large, so far from violating the sentiment referred to, is the sign of a struggle to soften and lessen the contradiction to that sentiment already existing. Its very tendency is to make the Rich and Poor meet together.
And, as to the idea of a caste, the same remarks apo ply. Pray, is there now so wonderful a unity of spirit and action and form, that the slightest movement will send some inappreciable quantity of discord into the perfect harmony?
But, coming to sober statement, I will say, that the Ministry at large does not propose or tend to create a caste. Its endeavor and hope, on Mar contrary, is to destroy all caste. For the truth is;ly se tendencies of our social habits, and what we call our civilization, have been to create what, unchecked, would finally become & most dreadful caste indeed, threatening ruin to all that is beautiful and good,-a caste formed on the dead level of
heard, and ask questions in their innocence awakened to intelligence, that go farther into the soul than could any other missive of Providence, whether of weal or woe, and are mightier to food with penitence and shame a mother's or a father's heart, than any preaching of wrath or mercy from the tongue of angel or of man,—that portion of our poor, which perhaps is considerable, who, though out of the direct beamings of religion, are yet by some of the unintended agencies of society, the chances of man, but the dated missives of God, not unfrequently brought within the region of ity light and warmth. In consideration of these reductions, let us strike off one half from that amount of heathen families, which is the result of a całeulation conducted simply on the principle of church accommodation, and we have, after every reduction that can be claimed, and far more than ought to be conceded, still remaining ten thousand families, the minimum of heathenism that is embosomed in the midst of us. Truly the harvest is plenteous; and the laborers few. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.'
wide-spread ignorance, poverty and suffering, misguided by prejudice, inflamed by passion, and driven by despair to acts of fury. To raise the Poor from such a level, though they should come to have a distinctive moral and intellectual character of their own, would surely produce more of real equality, and more of the generous feeling of equality, than if they were left to the sway of those vile energies that ever grow up rankly where the soul has died. And if any thing peculiar in their character should result from their subjection to special Christian influences, it would be of course only that most harmless, may I not say most healthful, of peculiarities,-a peculiarity in the mode and manifestation of their spiritual life. And even this will not be likely to happen in great measure, on account of the constant service among us and free min. gling with us of Teachers, who attend at other places of worship, and the frequent welcome aid given us by the regular clergy in our evening Chapel-worship. And, by and by, when our little Temples shall overflow, the stream can pass, as in a measure it has already done, into other churches, and new families can be listed into our company from the sadly deep and dead reservoir below.
But, leaving general reasonings altogether, I may say, facts prove that the action of this Ministry has, in the very respect in question, been most precious. The actual sympathies of the Rich for the Poor, and the Poor for the Rich, have been excited by it, and continually more and more. Many of the Rich have been seen setting a higher value on what is spiritual and eternal than on earthly goods and hopes. And many of the Poor have been made to see the folly of envying worldly treasures, and the wisdom of laying up treasures in heaven. These dispositions on the part of the Rich and the Poor will mutually increase each other. The importance of this distinction of wealth is not kept up mainly by the comforts it brings. It is sustained still more by the pride of great possessions. And this pride feeds on the envy of the destitute. Thus there are two ways in which the affections can be removed from earthly and fixed on heavenly riches: By renouncing on the one hand that pride which excites envy,-and, on the other hand, giv