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exhausted by this frequency of hearing ; except, perhaps, in those seasons of extraordinary interest when the mind is roused to unusual activity. Ordinarily the audience barely recovers from the fatigue incident to a first service, when, without time for reflection, recapitulation, or self-application, it is summoned to hear again something new and interesting, or something not new, and possibly not interesting.
Again, if we take into consideration, in connection with the capability of the audience's hearing with an unsated mind, free from fatigue, its power to receive and properly digest more than a single discourse on a given day, we shall come to the same conclusion as above.
Whatever this capacity may be, when tested in the most favorable circumstances, we presume not to say. But from observation in the field, we believe that less preaching would be more impressive, because less confusing to the mind. We find, after the Sabbath is gone, but a very imperfect recollection of the truths preached on the Lord's Day. The truth has not made such an impression that it can be recalled. The hearers, for the most part, never expect, while they are hearing, that they will have need of that truth or that it should be to them like a seed sown in the heart.
It cannot escape the knowledge of the most prejudiced and partial that the larger part of discourses heard are soon forgotten, almost immediately forgotten.
In the Episcopal Liturgy, the Collect for the second Sunday in Advent is “that the hearer may in such wise hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest,” &c. This matter of inward digestion is no less important than the hearing of the Word. Yet who does not know that it is and must be sadly interfered with by the multiplied calls from one service to another, leaving no time for reflection. Discourses do not take hold upon the mind with power to control and influence it, as we believe they should. The attention in hearing is not that kind of attention which receives and assimilates for use this mental nutriment. We would therefore administer less of it, in the hope of nourishing the more. We would have fewer discourses, for the sake of increasing their power of impression.
We would have one rather than two on the Lord's Day, in the hope of securing both a larger and more appreciative audience in the sanctuary, and thereby more perfectly accomplish the work of instruction and training.
Again, as respects the pastor. One sermon a week will be found quite sufficient to task to the utmost all his mental and physical energies.
In making this affirmation, it is remembered that men have done more than this—that many are doing more, far more than this, in single weeks or even months of the year. But the important question here is not how much has been done or can be done, but how much can be done to the best advantage and with the highest utility. Not many pastors believe
. they can master profitably and well during the days of a single week more than one topic of discourse. On the contrary, the many think that to develop one, illustrate it, and make it impressive, is all the mind can do, and do well. That to attempt more is ordinarily to fail in the effort; or to fail ultimately and fundamentally by seriously impairing the mind or its casket.
One supposed to have facility, by reason of gifts of utterance and long experience in labor, says: “Two strong sermons can scarcely be expected any week, from any minister, however gifted or industrious. No audience can digest two strong sermons. One will overlay or dispossess the other."*
It is a well known fact, however, that the mind, in severe labors, gets relief from a mere change of pursuits, so that while, for instance, it might not be able to invent, or arrange, and develop, more than one topic in the usual essay style, it might be able profitably to study for exposition some portions of the Bible, either in the way of an Espository Lecture, or for Sabbath-School or Bible-Class instruction, or for the quickening and edifying of an assembly gatliered for social worship.
It was in view of these truths, in part, as well as for the reasons above suggested, we remarked that if the same people
* Editorial in Independent, Dec. 18th, 1862.
are called together more than once, it should be for exercises not of a same, but of quite a different character.
Such is the force of custom with respect to having two exercises for general worship on the Sabbath, that a change which should wholly dispense with one, if it were desirable, could not be safely introduced at once. One denomination could not well act alone in the matter. If that were possible, special reasons, existing in case of pastors in the larger towns and cities, might render it undesirable on the whole to dispense with an evening service altogether,
Among these reasons we will mention that which is thought to be most weighty. It is--not that the true children of God would not prefer the closing hours of the Sabbath for social domestic worship, for family instruction—not that they would not prefer in many instances to devote those hours to private meditation, reading, prayer, or to works of charity abroad, in visiting the sick, the poor, in gathering the outcasts—but that the multitude, who choose the earlier portions of the sacred day for self-indulgent rest, may not then be wholly without some attractive sanctuary service to allure them from idleness and the more ensnaring vices which throng the wicked in their unoccupied lours. As the Sabbath, as a whole, is extended as a barrier across man's path to arrest the thoughts and turn them back to God, so, in the cases mentioned, it seems desirable to strengthen and make more effective this sacred barrier, by providing profitable employment for hours which, if left unoccupied, might be invaded by sinful amusements, or that unnumbered host of vices and of crimes which ignobly follow in the train of idleness. If, for this, among other reasons, a second service, for both teaching and devotion, is held, then, for the reasons above specified, for the best interests of pastor, and people, and of community, it should be made as distinct and different as possible. It should be so different that the mind of the pastor, both during the studies of the week and the time of service, shall feel the stimulus derived from diversified labor ; so different that it shall be distinct and separate as an object of interest to the people.
If the arguments here advanced are valid, then that reasoning which concludes that one formal and elaborate discourse is quite enough, for one and the same congregation, will also show that any one protracted service of any given kind is enough for one and the same people, and enough for their pastor.
But we would enforce this sentiment more particularly in view of the truth that new and different interests now demand our attention and our time. There is a call for public labors of a somewhat different character, and in a different direction, from what has been characteristic of the past.
I. There is a special providential demand for more decisive and systematic effort in connection with the work of Sabbath School instruction.
At the present time, those pastors who are engaged permanently as teachers or superintendents, are doing extra or superadded work, which must, in all ordinary cases, impair their efficiency in the other and ordinary labors of the minister, or overtask their mental and physical powers.
The demand we speak of is not that of ordinary class instruction or of superintendence. These, in all ordinary instances, properly and of right, devolve on the church itself, and it is an invasion of their rights and privileges for the minister to enter upon their work. This he should strenuously seek to avoid. If there is no person suitable to undertake it, it is better that one should be put in the process of training, and this field of labor be surrendered to those to whom it of right belongs. The pastor should be capable of serving the school, and the community through it, in a more direct and general way, in such methods as the following:
(1). By occasional addresses to the school, its teachers, its patrons, and friends, upon the nature of the work to be done, its importance and desirableness, and the best modes of achieving it.
(2). By sermons prepared expressly for the young, to be preached at stated periods, at such a time or in such a place as that all who may wish to do so, can attend and hear them.
(3). By special and protracted effort among the members of the school for the early conversion of children, giving them the opportunity and compelling to choose for or against the Saviour, at the earliest possible period.
(4). By engaging with the school, its patrons and friends, in general devotional exercises, endeavoring, so far as possible, to cultivate their emotional nature, and to call into exercise their religious sensibilities and affections towards that God who, ont of the mouths of babes and sucklings, has perfected praise.
A very important argument for this work, is that the congregations thus gathered ordinarily comprise as large a number as can be brought to any usual church service, and that these thus gathered are as easily susceptible of religious impressions as any class in the community. Besides this, the instrumentality thus employed reaches out among our foreign population as no usual agency does or can do. It is worthy of our consideration that the Spirit of God, for more than a quarter of a century, has been pointing the churches in this direction, and multiplying the instruments for a wider, deeper, and more glorious work. We have men qualified by actual training for it; books, papers, organized efforts, and systematic approved modes. The signs of a distinct providence demand some new advances and adaptations, proportionate to the experience gained, the population to be wrought upon, and the instruments prepared. It should be a matter of serious inquiry in each community, whether some general exercise for the special benefit of the young, and all society through them, might not properly take the place occasionally and statedly of the usual second service.
II. There is also a special demand at the present time for new efforts, in the public assemblies of the Sabbath, in the work of Bible Exposition.
We do not mean in the way of written exegesis, or written expository sermons; but of extemporaneous, lively illustration of the meaning of the Scriptures in a way to make more clear or impressive this holy word of God.
That which is properly known as expository preaching has well nigh ceased among us. Indeed, it never was greatly in