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of the smallness of its resources, does the more good by the exemplary application of them. Happily, the latter class of instances increase in number; assiduous churches cease to be novelties; and there are, comparatively few congregations who are not doing more than they formerly attempted.
Is the eldership alone to sit still ? to cast anchor in the general tide of movement and progress ? I answer for you; No. Your own proceedings corroborate the disclaimer; and I trust, and am persuaded, that you
will not abandon the Sessional Reform you have originated, till it reach an important and triumphant consummation. The Secession church has been blessed already, and looking to your spirit, your attitude, your liberal devisings, your enlarging labours, and above all, to the source which feeds these streams, I exult in the conviction that it is to be more blessed than ever in the inspection of its rulers.
Many topics press upon me, but this letter is already too extended, and I must reserve farther remarks to a future communication. Believe me, dear brethren, yours with christian affection,
DAVID KING. Glasgow, 30th January 1846.
THE VOICE OF THE ROD.--No. IV.
“ Redeem the time, because the days are evil.”—EPHES. v. 16. TIME is one of the most valuable of our possessions. It is invaluable. Yet, how much is it undervalued ?_except, indeed, when some worldly interest is at stake. In that case,-if delay is to be connected with loss, or expedition productive of gain, all is bustle ; nothing is allowed to be a hindrance; no person is permitted to stand in the way ; time is precious, and it will be purchased at any price. If by money, a rival can be outstripped by a day, or even by an hour, it is neither withheld nor grudged. In this respect, as in others, “ the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light;" and it would be well if there was the same disposition in men to study and improve " the times and seasons ” for “ working the work of God," that is displayed in the conducting of their secular business. And, oh! if that work was seen in its real importance; if adequate conceptions were formed of the consequences that depend on it--of the loss, the total and irretrievable loss or the gain, the inconceivable and eternal gain, which success or failure involves every other pursuit would appear to. be mere trifling in the comparison ; life would be felt all too short to overtake the momentous task; and not a moment would be allowed to pass without contributing, in due proportion, to its accomplishment.
This is what would be in the case supposed; but, alas ! how different is the case as it really stands ? Not to speak of what is prostituted to the commission of sin, how much time is frittered away in vacuity and indolence ? and wasted in vain thoughts, - idle words," and unneces. sary sleep? Why, when the world does not claim it, there is nothing of which men in general have so much to spare as time, and of which they make less account; nothing with which they will part so cheerfully, or so easily, without an equivalent. Yea, time is actually a burden to many, and an enemy to not a few-a burden of which they would be quit by any means--an enemy which they would cut off by any stratagem. There is an obvious incongruity in the subjoined picture, drawn by one of our own poets,” but he is not to blame for the incongruity-the picture is true to the life,
“ We censure Nature for a span too short ;
That span too short, we tax as tedious too;
And whirl us (happy riddance !) from ourselves." This is but too true, when all goes well with us; when the “ days are” not ( evil;" when the present is free from care, and the future is bright with hope. But in other circumstances, when “ the evil days come,” how differently do the very same parties feel and açt? How short, for instance, would the time appear; how fleetly would the moments seem to pass if they were on the verge of the eternal world, and heard at the door, the feet of him who was to carry them forth to judgment? Oh! what would they give now for a week, or even for a day, of the time which formerly hung so heavily on their hands? What importance would they attach to the shortest of these periods ? and how easily would they find employment for it? “What is time worth?" is a question to which this pithy and appropriate answer has been returned,—“ Ask a death-bed.” Ay, it can tell; and it can tell, too, of the compunction and remorse with which the retrospect of time wasted fills the mind—of the joy, the ecstacy, with which the prospect of its being lengthened out is hailed—and of the resolutions formed, and the vows made, should such a prolongation of it be granted, to spend it in a very different manner; and to turn it to a very different account. Now, here we see the natural tendency, the salutary influence, the beneficial effects of the rod. These are lessons of its teaching, the results contemplated in its appointment. These results may not uniformly accompany the application of the rod; nor, even when they do, are they always found to be permanent. Alas! in but too many cases the vows are never paid on recovery; the resolutions are soon broken ; and the patient relapses into his former heedlessness and indifference. That is his fault, not the defect of the rod. It taught the lessons, but he did not learn them. He did not reduce them to practice, but it enforced them by practical arguments which might, and should, have proved irresistible. Yes, in such cases, its voice, whether heard or not, whether obeyed or disobeyed, is clearly and emphatically--to the man “ dead in trespasses and sins," “ awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give thee light,
-to those who, though "quickened together with Christ,” have been overtaken, like even the “ wise virgins” in the parable, with spiritual drowsiness," why sleep ye, arise and pray,"--and to all it addresses this admonition, " whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest."
Have we ever been in the solemn and critical situation described ? Let us often look back on it, and realize, so far as we can, our state of mind when life was trembling in the balance, and the soul lovering between time and eternity. Let us think with ourselves—" this sickness” might have been “unto death ;" what if it had ? Where had we been now? In heaven? Then let us spend our remaining time on earth as becomes the destined occupants of an abode so happy and so holy, and as shall promote progressively our “ meetness” for entering on it when our “ time is full come. In hell? Then let us improve the “ space" granted us “ for repentance.” What would the “ rich man,” who “ lifted up his eyes” there, have given for such an opportunity? And if we slight it, how much hotter must be the “flames,” how much more intolerable the “ thirst,” of that “ place of torment ?" “ I have lost a day!" was the self-reproving exclamation of one, but we have lost a life-time; and, now that a new lease of life has been granted us, let us lose no more days, but strain every nerve rather to 56 redeem” some of those already lost, by the carefulness with which we husband, and the activity with which we employ those that remain.
Relative affliction might be instanced as well as personal. In a somewhat different form it inculcates the same important lesson; and should exert on the tenor of the conduct the same salutary influence. Only the tone of the rod is altered—its voice is still the same.
It is a trying thing to die; and it is an affecting thing to witness the death of another, especially if that other be a near relative or a dear friend. The feelings awakened by the spectacle are no theme for description ; nor is it with them particularly that we have at present to do, except in so far as they tend to soften the heart to receive salutary impressions, and solemnize the mind, so as to bring it more completely and lastingly under the influence of these impressions. The spectacle is an instructive as well as an affecting one; and this is the light in which we would have you now to contemplate it—as a monitor of what you yourselves are, and a memento of what you must become-as a witness that health is precarious, life uncertain, and death inevitable—and a herald summoning you to preparation for “ putting off this” your " tabernacle, as the Lord now shows" you, scarcely less significantly than he did to Peter of old, that you “must shortly” do. In the last stage of disease, engaged in the last conflict with the “ last enemy," oh! how touchingly does the moribund patient, with the last, long-drawn breath, on the wings of which “ the spirit returns unto God who gave it,” say to the on-lookers, and to all survivors,- -“ Be ye also ready :"2" this, I say, brethren, THE TIME IS SHORT”-a brief statement, that speaks, by implication, more than volumes of direct assertion and laboured description could, both of the importance and necessity of “ REDEEMING" it.
THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION IN THE SECESSION CHURCH.
We adverted, in a former article, to certain improvements which might be introduced with much advantage in the examination by presbyteries of applicants for admission to the Theological Hall, and in their superintendence of students of theology. It is manifest, that in working out such plans as were then suggested, not only would hearty and zealous labour be required at the hands of presbyteries, but prudence and tenderness also, in combination with the sterner virtues of honesty and fidelity. A sound and wise discretion would, of course, be exercised; and particularly in cases (which might be expected to occur from time to time) in which students of decided piety and very hopeful talents, who ought on no account to be discouraged, might be found deficient in some of the prescribed branches. Difficulty might also be felt in introducing such arrangements, in some instances, in all their minuteness of detail; but with all these drawbacks on the practicableness of the measure in view, we hold it to be beyond question that results of very great consequence would be sure to attend its general adoption throughout the body. It would have the direct effect of elevating amongst us the standard of scholarship and general qualification for the ministry; and, while the literary and theological training of our students would be rendered more complete, we do not doubt that, by the accompanying blessing of God, the tone of piety amongst them would also be elevated.
To secure, however, the efficiency of any such measure, it is absolutely necessary that a SYNODICAL COMMITTEE ON THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION be appointed to co-operate with our respected professors, and with all the presbyteries of the church, in promoting the interests of our young brethren, who are by-and-by to occupy the places of the existing ministry. It should be the special business of that committee to see that the Synod's regulations respecting the examination and superintendence of students are faithfully observed by all presbyteries,--to correspond with presbyteries regarding any case in which additional counsel in this matter may be desirable,--to receive the annual reports of presbyteries respecting the superintendence of their students,—to visit, by deputations appointed for that purpose, our Theological Institution, thus strengthening the hands of our professors in the fulfilment of their honourable but arduous duties,—and annually to present to the Synod a view of their proceedings, which might go down to the church along with her other yearly documents, and help to give due prominence, in the view of the church, to the interests of the Divinity Hall
. Such an annual document might be of invaluable service in pressing on the attention of the body at large any question which might arise affecting the prosperity of the seminary ; in prompting many a pious and hopeful youth to dedicate himself to the ministry of the gospel; and in commending our measures for rearing a succession of faithful preachers of the cross to the affections, the prayers, and the willing support of our people. It should also be the business of this committee to take the library of the Secession churchi under their management; and, by placing it on a proper footing, to render it a real benefit to the students, and, through them, a source of advantage to the whole body. They might be the means, too, of providing valuable facilities for the exercise, by the students generally, of their gifts in the way of public speaking, and of conducting public prayer, so as to combine with the study of divinity, in the latter years of their course, a judicious, preparatory, practical training for the pulpit. We are persuaded that the labours of such a Board would have the effect of awakening a deeper interest among the ministry themselves in the studies of those who are to succeed them, and that the consequence would be a larger measure of that affectionate and affable intercourse between pastors and the students who are under their ministry, which, rightly conducted, would do more than any thing else that could be devised for stimulating the energies, forming the character, and elevating the piety of our young brethren. On this subject, we quote, with much pleasure, the sentiments of Mr James of Birmingham, himself a model of the fatherly tenderness and fidelity for which he pleads in the minister towards the student who is under his charge :- How could he more pleasantly or more usefully spend an hour or two occasionally, than by devoting it to such an occupation ? He need not fear an unwillingness on the part of the young brethren to accept his invitation. The esteem in which he is held by themselves, and in which they know him to be held by the public, will cause them to feel that he is conferring on them a favour which they ought not to be backward to accept. In the free and familiar, yet dignified intercourse of those social and precious hours, whạt rich communications of wisdom and experience might be made to his youthful visitors,-communications on every variety of subject, related either to personal godliness, mental improvement, habits of study, modes of preaching, pastoral avocations, the controversies of the day, and, indeed, every thing which has a bearing upon their future character and labours as ministers of the word, and which might be of service to them to the last hour of their ministry upon earth. Of course it should be his object to make the intercourse profitable as well as pleasant; and, though cheerfulness need not be excluded, yet his conversation should not be made up
of mere humour, amusing anecdote, and the relation of facetious adventure. His time, and theirs also, is too precious to be thus wasted. Both parties should consider that they are together for high and sacred purposes,-le to impart, and they to receive, the words of wisdom and the counsels of experience.” “ It was said of Earl St Vincent, under whom Nelson was a pupil in the art of nával war, that he formed a greater hero than himself, and then admired him without envy. So ought it to be with the senior pastors of our churches. Useful and happy is that minister who, when the student's eye is looking round for an object to gratify the pantings of his youthful ambition, shall so fix it on the glory of the cross, that he shall never after be able nor willing to escape the fascinations of that stupendous object. The men who have done most for their denomination, not only as scholars and as authors, but those who have served it well as preachers and as pastors, and who, in attracting attention to themselves, have fixed it upon their whole body, ought to endeavour to multiply themselves to the widest possible extent by breathing their own spirit into the souls of our students, and stamping their own character upon these young minds while they are in a soft and tender state to receive the impression; and they should never forget that he who, in the midst of such a circle, is so employed, is not only speaking to the individuals before him, but to the thousands whom they will at some future time address, and by this means learn to address more effectually; and is, in fact, perpetuating through many generations his own individual usefulness. To doubt whether our young brethren would value such attention from their