« ZurückWeiter »
scenes where joy and woe appear not healthy and alive, but moving round as spectral shadows—where fiction strives in vain to satisfy the soul's craving for an experience of reality-where the imagination, deprived of all true sensibility, kindles only into phosphoric flameswhere hearts that seern made of stone on the exchange weep out a misty film of tears, like the rock walls of the tomb, as it were because of the coldness of the place. The tragic and the comic muse may have fewer devotees, but the number will be increased of those worshippers who bow at the shrine of immortal truth and duty. Many a device to assuage the fretting tick of the pendulum and enliven the weary progress of the hour-hand, will be no longer in demand,- for the hours will so hasten to those beginning to live in the world of spirits, that the phenomenon of time will almost entirely disappear. Many a pale face will feel again the glow of health, when the motions that vice and want and suffering excite, have again and again made it blush and kindle. Many a dim eye will brighten, as it beholds vice changed to virtue, inward want relieved by full supplies, and suffering raised to an eternal joy. Many a nerveless arm will grow strong if only by carrying phials of medicine to the sick, and books of wholesome instruction to the ignorant. Is this prophesying dark things? Commence the experiment. If you find it all a mere parable, leave the work in the midst.
From what has been said, the answer may be inferred to the question, who shall visit? All should visit who have time for kindness. All should visit who have the means of supply to any crying want of the soul. Some may visit more than others. As to the measure and limits of his particular obligation, let every one be ' fully persuaded in his own mind.' There should of course be a discretion as to places. Some may visit where others should not. To many a place might it be useful for the young man to go, where it would not be well for the young woman to go,-and the reverse.
And here I touch upon the last question which arises in the unfolding of this subject. How shall the Rich visit?-What is it to visit among the poor? Unless this
point be well understood, all that has been said of the importance of visiting, of the persons to engage in it, and the effect upon them of commencing the work, would be without any true meaning. Visiting then, in the first place, is not merely going from street to street and room to room and greeting the families seen, and making formal inquiries after their health and welfare. Nor is it, in the next place, mere kindliness of domeanor and good fellowship in the huts of poverty. It is not simply forming agreeable friendships with the outcast and despised. if this be all that is accomplished, the benefit is questionable indeed.
Visiting among the poor is meeting them with the idea bright and the feeling strong in the mind, of their nobler powers, their divine sonship, their immortal destiny. And it is speaking every word and performing every act towards them in consistency with, in expression of, this idea and feeling ;--so that from this idea and feeling they can never escape while in your presence. Not that there should be any thing of hardness and constraint in the style adopted. Not that there should be any set style setting you apart as a minister rather than as a man. Not that there need be any assumed gravity any seeming exaltation and eminence, in order to the best effect. I believe, on the contrary, that the most spiritual-minded, will be the most simple-minded, the most easy of access, the most natural in communication. A true feeling of human brotherhood would remove equally the awkward condescension of the prince and the solemn grandeur of the theologian, at the same time that it will give a true kindness that like a stooping angel goes down to the lowest depths of vice, and a real solemnity before which the vile sinner will quake fearfully. It will prevent the sad mistake of supposing a trifling, familiar way to be the way of noble simplicity. It will effectually prevent a man from visiting as if he had only a little piece of business to attend to, or as if he called in just to see how the folks do.'-While the person visited will be made strongly conscious in his own soul that the matter in hand is of infinite importance to himself, it will preserve the visitor from feeling or appearing to feel as if he were do
ing any wonderful thing, any thing more than was his 'duty to do.'
He who visits must of his own energy and purpose visit in this way. He will not reach it without solemn determination. It will not be given to him spontaneously, by influences from the characters he beholds and the scenes through which he passes. I have known a woman dying of consumption to have her mind so full of worldly affairs and troubles, that it was exceedingly difficult to stop for a moment the course of her remark, and fix her mind upon the eternal world opening before her at her very feet.
Visiting in the way described will of course be found not so simple a matter as walking out of and into one's own door, -but a real and exhausting labor. It will not be possible for any man to visit thus many hours in the day, and retain his health. But one visit in this manner is of more worth than a hundred made without preparation, without solemniy, without toil.* But visiting thus performed, though an exhuasting work, you will find also most interesting, exciting, joyful. That intense spirituality, to which our natures are wrought up by noble deeds, while it is the most laborious state we can be in, is also the most exquisitely blissful. In a lovely little book lately published, the author expresses the frame of mind produced at times by his sympathy with Nature thus freshly and beautifully - Almost I fear to think how glad I am! The true lover of souls, in his communion with the most degraded spirit, has raptures which Genius could set forth in like vigorous description. Morn's opening eye, the sunset's glow, seem far inferior in power
* It has been suggested that this idea of the true mode of visiting may trouble some, who have supposed they were doing good, and discourage others from entering on the work. I would therefore remark here that the hints given are indeed to be regarded as parts of the true Idea of visiting, rather than as a description of what is actually done. No one in the Ministry at large would offer them as a true account of his own work but only of his purpose and endeacor. But existing deficiency anywhere or everywhere is surely no reason for a low standard, but a most imperious reason for holding up a high and true one. Let us all, then, leave the things that are behind, and press forward to those that are before.'
of working on the heart, to many a changeful aspect of the very humblest mind; inferior to the beauty felt when the həavy mists are swept away from the eye of conscience, and holy purpose kindles every sweet affection into a glow which abides in its brightness, whether the orb of day rises or descends.
EXTRACT. DR. CHANNING.
The following passage occurs in the Charge delivered by Dr Channing at the ordination of C. F. Barnard, and F. T. Gray, as Ministers at large in Boston. It is inserted on account of the dignity of its origin, the earnest and true zeal it displays, and its general bearing on some of the topics that have been presented. The expression of such sentiments by one who has been a preacher to our most distinguished laity, and their cordial reception at the time prove the actual existence of much of that true sensibility which is so fervently demanded. The tone of self-condemnation is one of the best evidences of real progress.
A louder and louder cry is beginning to break forth through the civilized world for a social reform, which shall reach the most depressed ranks of the community. I see, and rejoice to see in your office, my friends, a sign of this new movement, an earnest of this grand and holy revolution. I see in it a recognition of the right of every human being to the means of spiritual development, of moral and intellectual life. This is the most sacred right of humanity. Blessed are our eyes which see the day of its recognition. Feel, then, that you are consecrated to the greatest work of your age; and feel that you will be sustained in it by the prayers and zeal of our churches and their pastors. If indeed your ministry for the poor should be suffered to decline and fail, it would be a melancholy proof that our ministry for the rich is of little avail. If in this age, when the improvement of society is the theme even of the unbeliever, if, with every help from the spirit of the times, we, the pastors of these churches, cannot awaken in them a sensibility to the intellectual and moral wants of multitudes around them, cannot carry to their consciences and hearts the duty of raising up their depressed fellow-creatures, of imparting Christian light, strength, and comfort to the ignorant and poor, then it is time that we should give up our pulpits to others, who will better understand and inculcate the spirit of Christ and his apostles. It is time that our lips should be closed, if we can do nothing towards breathing into men the peculiar benevolence of the gospel; a benevolence which feels for, and seeks to elevate and save. the human soul. It is time too, that, as a class of Christians, we should disappear, if we will not take our part in the great work of regenerating society. It is the order of nature that the dead should be buried; and the sooner a dead, lifeless, soulless sect is buried and forgotten, the better. But, iny friends, I cannot fear that you will be abandoned. Christian love, I trust, has called you to this work, and will cheer and strengthen you in your heavenly mission.'