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couragements-what sacrifices it will require-what anxieties he must feel- what privations he must endure? Let the faithful monitor never cease to sound in his ear the most serious and awakening representations of the evil and danger of entering upon a life of professed devotion to the service of God with a trifling and unprepared mind. Let him manifest the utmost fear lest his should delight himself with vain expectations of honour or ease, or be carried away with false appearances as to the privileges of the station he may fill, or be viewing as a trifle the weight of a ministerial charge. Let him be told that he will take a very incorrect and improper view of his course of preparation if he thinks all he is to acquire at an academy is a knowledge of a few branches of learning to fit him for the mechanical or merely intellectual part of his future work. Let it be inculcated with all solemnity, and earnest endeavour to make him feel the force of it, that he must now be undergoing a preparation of heart for the work ; that during an academical course the retirement it affords from the bustle of the world should be carefully improved for the purposes of self-improvement, in a still higher sense than even the acquisition of useful learning. All the leisure he can command from the other parts of his diversified education should be conscientiously employed in furnishing his mind with those principles, motives and desires which are essential to the character of
a faithful servant of God in
situation. And as these are not to be acquired by mere dint of study and natural effort, but are the special gifts of God, he ought to be much in prayer for these right dispositions ; and he must meditate and pray over the subject continually, reckoning that whatever may be his other acquirements, if he be deficient in this preparation of the heart he must go forth to his work unqualified for it in the most essential respects, and not likely to acquit himself with honour or comfort when engaged in it. God may in infinite mercy forgive the sin of his past negligence in seeking the “ best gifts,” and shower down upon him his Spirit in an extraordinary manner; but it is utterly unwarrantable to presume upon any such special interposition of mercy: and the hope of it must not be suffered to encourage the neglect of those most important exercises of mind for which a residence at an academical institution affords such favourable opportunities. In a word, if the student does not leave the seat of learning more humble, more devoted, more given to prayer, more serious, more consistent in his whole deportment, and more impressed in his general views of his holy calling than when he entered it, he has lost one great end of his abode there. And if tutors have neglected to direct and assist him in growing in grace as well as in knowledge, they have failed in the performance of an important branch of their duty.
It may not be irrelevant to notice in connection
with this one thing which is as importaut as it is obvious : namely, that when young men cease to be students, in the sense of residing at a seminary of learning, they are not to cease to be students in the sense of pursuing the study of every truly useful branch of knowledge as they have ability and opportunity. They must study to retain what they have learned, and be continually adding to their stores; and more especially they must consider themselves to be always learners in what relates to their ministerial work--the knowledge of the Scriptures-of their own hearts, and of the duties they owe to those over whom the Holy Ghost may make them
It was a most important, and to all ministers a most instructive, reason assigned by the apostles for the appointment of deacons in the church at Jerusalem--that we may give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. With this corresponds the charge of Paul to Timothy, “ Give thyself wholly to these things;" and again, “ Give thyself to reading, to meditation, to prayer; continue in them, for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee."
It would be easy to say much on such a subject, but I close with one remark more as to the value and importance of a faithful and judicious friend to a young man of the description referred to in this letter. There are some points to be decided as to fitness for the work which the individual himself is best acquainted with ; such as the purity of his motives, the sincerity of his professions, the reality of his desire for the work, and his unreserved devotion to it. But most other things must be left with his friends to decide. He cannot be supposed capable of forming a correct estimate of his intellectual rank, nor of the view others take of his general character : self-conceit or true humility equally disqualify for judging correctly on all such matters.
It follows, therefore, that the duty of advising, encouraging, dissuading, reproving, should be performed by the minister, tutor, or other friend, with the most conscientious diligence and faithfulness. Nothing is more mischievous than the false delicacy or tenderness which withholds needful warning or reproof; and, on the part of the young pupil or friend, nothing is more likely to retard his progress In the acquisition of that which is of the first moment for his true advantage, than a disposition to despise or take offence at the faithful admonitions of an experienced christian. In short, these things ought to be matter of conscience both with the teachers and the taught. If the reprover is counted an enemy because he tells the truth, or if he be restrained from the performance of his duty from the fear of meeting with such a return-if the reproved is secretly convinced of the truth of the severe but friendly words of one who seeks his good, yet practically disregards them, in all these
cases there must be self-condemnation. The authority of conscience may be slighted for a season, and principles of action in opposition to it may bear sway; but in every
such case there must be the inward consciousness of having committed wrong. The accusation is lodged, and no power on earth is able to withdraw or to cancel it. The man, on the contrary, who has the testimony of a good conscience, has within him a spring of happiness which the hand of misfortune cannot touchsafe from the power of every enemy, and proof against all the vicissitudes of time. This happiness is an earnest of the heavenly blessedness, as the good conscience itself is the pledge of acquittal in the day of final judgment: it is a token of the approbation of God, and that contains in it the essence of all felicity.
I am yours, &c.