« AnteriorContinuar »
would submit to such a life of degradation ? what man of intellect and education could submit to be schooled by shoemakers and mechanics, to live poor, and at the mercy of tyrants, and drop down dead like the jaded and over-laden beast from excess of fatigue and exertion? Let me again quote the same author :—
“ It is these excessive, multitudinous, and often long protracted religious occasions, together with the spirit that is in them, which have been for some years breaking up and breaking down the clergy of this land. It has been breaking them up. It is commonly observed, that a new era has lately come over the Christian congregations of our country in regard to the permanence of the pastoral relation. Time was in the memory of those now living when the settlement of a minister was considered of course a settlement for life. But now, as everybody knows, this state of things is entirely broken up; and it is, perhaps, ltrue that, on an average, the clergy of
this country do not remain more than five years in the same place.* And it is impossible they should, in the present state of things. They could not stand it. So numerous are their engagements; so full of anxiety is their condition in a fevered state of the public mind acting upon them from all directions; so consuming are their labours in the study and in public, pressed and urged upon them by the demands of the time; and, withal, so fickle has the popular mind beeome under a system that it is for ever demanding some new and still more exciting measure—some new society—some new monthly or weekly meeting, which perhaps soon grows into a religious holiday—some special effort running through many days, sometimes lasting for weeks, calling for public labours of ministers, of the most exciting kind throughout each day from
* “ I was sorry to find that, in this part of the State, the ministers are so frequently changing the scene of their pastoral labours. The fault may sometimes be in themselves ; but, from conversations I have heard on the sub
ject, I am inclined to believe that the people are fond of change.”—-Rev. Mr. Reid
the earliest hour of the morning to a late hour of night ;—for reasons and facts of this kind, so abundant, and now so obvious to the public that they need only to be referred to to be seen and appreciated, it is impossible that ministers should remain long in the same place. Their mental and physical energies become exhausted, and they are compelled to change; first, because it is not in the power of man to satisfy the appetite for novelties which is continually and from all quarters making its insatiate demands upon them ; and next, that, if possible, they may purchase a breathing time and a transient relief from the overwhelming pressure of their cares and labours.
“But, alas! there is no relief: they are not only broken up, but they find themselves fast breaking down. Wherever they go, there is the same demand for the same scene to be acted over. There is—there can be—no stability in the pastoral relation, in such a state of the public
mind; and, what is still more melancholy and affecting, the pastors themselves cannot endure it—they cannot live. They are not only constantly fluctuating—literally afloat on the wide surface of the community—but their health is undermined—their spirits are sinking—and they are fast treading upon each others°'lieels to the grave, their only land of rest.
“ Never, since the days of the apostles, was a country blessed with so enlightened, pious, 0rthodox, faithful, willing clergy, as the United States of America at this moment; and never did a ministry, so worthy of trust, have so little independence to act according to their conscience and best discretion. They are literally the victims of a spiritual tyranny that has started up» and burst upon the world in a new form—a8 least, with an extent of sway that has never been known. It is an influence which comes up from the lowest conditions of life, which is vested in the most ignorant minds, and, therefore, the more unbending and uncontrollable. It is an
influence which has been fostered and blown into a wide-spread flame by a class of itinerating ministers, who have suddenly started up and overrun the land, decrying and denouncing all that have not yielded at once to their sway; by direct and open efl'orts shaking and destroying public confidence in the settled and more permanent ministry, leaving old paths and striking out new ones, demolihing old systems and substituting others, and disturbing and deranging the whole order of society as it had existed before. And it is to this new state of things, so harassing, so destructive to health and life, that the regular ministry of this country (the best qualified, most pious, most faithful, and in all respects the most worthy Christian ministry that the church has ever enjoyed in any age) are made the victims. They cannot resist it, they are overwhelmned by it.”