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It is to be feared that many a modern church presents a melancholy contrast to this description of the original one. The assembling of ourselves together is not looked upon so much in the light of a high privilege as it was then. It is too often, we fear, rather a painful sense of duty than the conciousness of delightful privilege that brings us to the house of God. If our hearts were rightly in our work, no sound would be more gladsome to our ears than the invitation to united worship: "I was glad when they said, Come, let go up into the house of the Lord; our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem." And when within the sacred walls of his house, and engaged in the solemn service, our hearts ought to be so deeply penetrated with the majesty, the greatness, the glory of the object of our worship as to expel from our minds all idea of idle or captious criticism. The officiating minister should be the object of our earnest supplications, that God might endow him richly with spiritual gifts; that he might fill him with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; that the word might be in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that God might give him the tongue of the learned, and enable him to speak a word in season to him that is weary.

In the services of the sanctuary personal benefit must not be forgotten. Contact with the world is apt, in part, to cool religious ardour, to deaden the impression of eternal things, and to draw the affections away from that object which is supremely venerable and lovely. Every good man engaged in business pursuits knows this full well. The heart of this great world beats in feverish excitement, and in the push and struggle of life the solemn affairs of eternity are in danger of being forgotten. In the services of the sanctuary our spiritual feelings ought to be excited and drawn out; and the soul baptized afresh with holy influence must lay itself on the altar that sanctifieth the gift. But while it is right and proper for us, in the assembling of ourselves together, to seek increased spirituality of mind and renewed consecration to God, it ought ever to be remembered that one grand object is the salvation of man's soul, the bringing of wanderers back to God. This must ever be kept in view, and our devotions be so conducted as most likely to achieve this object. It is not to be denied that the manner in which a church conducts its service, and the spirit displayed by its members must greatly influence careless hearers. If the unconverted observe cold, sleepy, careless, or triffing devotion in those who have taken upon themselves the vows of Christ, they are not likely to be favourably impressed with the service. We are so constituted that to make other men feel, it is absolutely necessary that we feel ourselves. Proper views of the religion of Christ will inspire the true spirit of devotion, and a right estimate

of the value of immortal souls will induce us earnestly to seek their salvation.

MINISTERS. Here earnestness is almost everything, taken för granted, that a minister has already the spirit of Christ," for if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." We are well aware that no man can properly perform the functions of the Christian ministry, except he possess, more or less, the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is made, by the New Testament, an indispensable requisite in a call to the work.

But we can conceive of a man having been truly converted to God in the first instance, and in the main living according to the gospel, but who does not in the public exercise of his ministry throw his whole soul into his work, nor exhibit a spirit of intense earnestness in his endeavours to bring men to God.

The measure of his earnestness may be influenced by his mental constitution, his peculiar temperament of both body and mind; and all allowances ought to be made for differences of this sort; but we incline further to believe that much will depend on his own spirituality of mind.

One could hardly conceive, for instance, of the apostle Paul speaking in so frigid a manner, and so mumbling and sleepy a tone, that not a soul was moved upon in the audience excepting to drowsiness. In the reading of his productions we get an idea of vigour, earnestness, and zeal, that creates an impression quite the contrary. We do not, however, mean. by an earnest promulgation of the truth a large amount of noise. This may be mere mannerism, altogether distinct from that deep stirring of the heart, arising from a profound sense of the importance of the work, the vast interests. at stake, the worth of the human soul, the solemn responsibilities of the ministerial office, and an habitual nearness to God in a holy and consecrated life. These feelings will lead to an earnest and forcible delivery of the word according to the measure of a man's physical strength.. And of all the men in the house of God, the preacher should be the most earnest. He takes upon him to discourse upon themes the most momentous and exciting ever addressed to men, and if his own heart be in harmony with his subject, he cannot but be in earnest.

Further, to achieve success, he must be in earnest. Audiences always approve of a man being in earnest when he addresses them on subjects worth the hearing; and the bulk of the people will leave the man who delivers himself in frigid language and unvarying tones, as if afraid of hurting "ears polite," and run after the men who are the very impersonation of intense earnestness. If no evidence of this be given, by men who are supposed, from the nature of their calling, to be more deeply impressed with the solemn verities of their religion than ordinary men, how are

their careless and unconverted hearers likely to be impressed with the necessity of immediately turning to God? And this is the principal object they have, or ought to have in view. Other purposes, indeed, are served by the ministry, but they are collateral or subsidiary, such as the instruction of the ignorant, the

enlightenment of the dark, the conviction of the ungodly, the building up of believers in the most holy faith; but the principle thing is to bring men to an instantaneous decision to yield themselves unto God. This requires pungent and earnest appeals to the heart. The apostle says "Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," that is, we have such a view of the majesty of the law, the severity of its righteous inflictions, the unspotted holiness of its author, and the fearfulness of his aroused indignation when he comes to judge the world, that we urge and persuade men to be saved.

Perhaps the principal source of earnestness in the pulpit is holiness of heart; other elements may enter into its production, but they will spring essentially from this. As long as the soul is under the influence of low, earthly, debasing appetites, it can never rise into those clear and cloudless regions of thought where the doctrines of revelation are seen in all their grandeur and importance. The heart of the natural man is darkened by its own corruptions: the things of God it cannot know, because they are spiritually discerned. He is environed in the mists and clouds of spiritual ignorance, and must rise into a higher region to see the light revealed in Christ. It is the high honour as well as the highest bliss of the christian minister to have his vision made clear by the light of heaven, and his heart made pure by the blood of sprinkling. This will do more for him in the main business of the ministry than anything else; and as he advances in years he will find that nearness to God, heart-holiness is of far more importance to him, both as to spiritual comfort and safety, than the mere technicalities of theology, however excellent and useful in themselves.

When the spirits of blessedness-the seraphs, "Burning ones," would raise their loftiest notes of praise to God and glorify the ever-living One in the highest strains, their song is, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory," thus intimating that the highest excellence we can conceive of is to be made like God in this respect. It is particularly insisted on in ministerial character,-" Be ye holy, that bear the vessels of the Lord."

The signs of the times certainly require that ministers, of all men, should be earnest in the Lord's work, or in seeking the requisite qualifications for it. The work of conversion goes on but slowly. Few churches or communities have recently shewed such

evidences of decided advancement as we could like to have seen. Meanwhile years are passing on with us, life is waning, opportunities for doing good are minishing with us every day. But the population is rapidly increasing, and a larger amount of converting power is indispensable to the true prosperity of Methodism, seeing that it is not in the natural order of increasing population that Methodism is extended, but by multiplied conversions to God. A truly earnest ministry and church are the want of the times. If we expect the kingdom of God to come with power, earnest efforts must be put forth to hasten it. It is to be admitted that all saving power comes from God, and that our wisest plans and most strenuous efforts are utterly unavailing unless he condescends to own them with his blessing. But our efforts should be put forth as if the desired result depended entirely upon them; though we must rely implicitly on God as if human efforts were utterly unavailing. The theory may seem contradictory, and yet the one view is quite in harmony with the other, according to the Bible. God knows what we need, both as individuals and churches; but yet he says, "I will be enquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."

Every minister and church have duties they owe to God and to one another, and if these duties are not faithfully performed success is not to be expected. How can any man advance in the divine life without earnest prayer? and how can any church possess converting power whose members never meet together in earnest supplications for the gift of the Holy Ghost? These supplications must be importunate; "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence," &c. We are commanded to "strive to enter in at the strait gate," to"war a good warfare," to "press into the kingdom of God," to "run the race set before us,"-terms implying a resolute mind and earnest endeavour. If christians do their part, God will do his. "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

T. S.



Matthew iv. 1-11.

HE first thing that strikes us in this three-fold temptation is,

on the banks of Jordan. Three things occurred there declarative of his glory. The first was John's hesitation to baptise him. Although he had baptised great numbers, and was quite familiar with the rite, when Jesus presented himself as a candidate he made a solemn pause, as if he felt his hands unworthy to perform the ceremony upon a person of such distinction, of whose divine nature he had already a strong presentiment. It was only by the kind entreaty of his superior that he could be prevailed on to do his duty. Thus, when the rising sun appears the morning star pales its lustre and gives place. The second honour done to Jesus was, that the heaven was opened, and the spirit lighted on him in the form of a dove. The third honour was, a clear, audible voice, declaring him to be the Son of God. These were tokens of no common order. But honour is weighty. It is something to Hard after

bear, and he who bears it has need to be strong. these marks of distinction follows a scene of humiliation and trial. Between his glorious baptism and his severe temptation, there was no pause. He passed directly from this to that. It seems cruel to be hurried from such glory to such trial. As Bishop Hall says it, he walked "out of the water into the fire-out of the water of baptism into the fire of temptation." Then was Jésus "led up" directly after. Mark says, "immediately." It is not good for us to tarry long in ecstatic or elevated states of mind. After seasons of deep religious enjoyment we must still expect temptation. It is fair that it should come then, for it is presumed that such manifestations harness and gird up the mind for conflict. The next thing to be noticed is the agency by which he was conducted to the arena of trial. He was "led up of the Spirit." Several of our English Bibles spell the word "spirit" with a small letter at the beginning, which is not well, as it leaves us in doubt what spirit it was that led him up. It is better begun with a capital. He was moved by a spirit distinct from his personal self. Neither do we think there is the slightest ground for concluding that it was some evil spirit that lured him away. It was the same Spirit which so shortly before perched on him in dovelike form. Luke says (iv. 1), " And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the

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