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Art. IV. THE YOUNG MEN OF THE CHURCH.

THE Gospel demands of every human being an unreserved consecration of body and soul, with all their energies and capabilities, throughout the entire period of his probation. In thus claiming for God all the services which a mortal man, aided by Divine grace, can render, it puts forth a claim upon any peculiar powers, endowments, or faculties with which he may be providentially endowed or intrusted. In asserting its rightful dominion over our entire earthly career, it proclaims the Divine right to reign with an undivided and unrivalled authority over each period of life. Every talent is confided to us under the tacit condition that it shall be used and improved in accordance with the will and design of the great Giver. Days, and months, and years, are added to our existence here below, because they supply us with more opportunities and advantages for working out our own salvation, and promoting the well-being of others; for building up the kingdom of Christ, and making manifest the glory of God. For the attainment of these high ends, much reliance is placed upon human exertion, and the physical and intellectual resources of every age and station are tasked to the uttermost. Even the morning of existence, and the childhood of religious life, are pressed into this great enterprise. “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.” The glow, and out-bursting, joyous gratitude of the new-born soul—the fervours of his first love”-the fresh lustre of his “beautiful garments," become potent agencies for good, and no more pleasant incense than his ever rises up to Heaven.

The mature piety and deep acquaintance with Divine things, which are the result of long experience and habitual communion with God, also have their special vocation under the Gospel economy. “I write unto you, fathers, because you know Him that is from the beginning." These “old disciples” constitute the link of connexion between the existing Christian church and the church of history, as well as between the church militant and the church triumphant. They are the channels through which the tide of spiritual life has flowed down upon us from the ages of the past. They are the depositaries of reverend traditions, and the conservators and models of orthodoxy in opinion and purity of life. Without being conscious of exercising so high a function, they have made the church what it is. Our Christianity, with all its excellencies as well as its im

perfections, has been derived from theirs. It has, no doubt, undergone some modifications. It has, in some respects, deteriorated in our hands. In others, it has grown better; but, as a whole, it is a natural and fair derivation from the waning Christian age, to which a new and vigorous religious generation are rapidly succeeding. We sometimes unconsciously look upon the company of venerable disciples who move in the van of our heavenward march, as having really, and to all important ends, accomplished their warfare and won the victory. Should all others forsake the Saviour, they, we feel quite sure, will never participate in the crime, for they have lived unto God till religion has, through grace, become a sort of second nature, in which all their habits, and sentiments, and aspirations, and joys have their source and support. To turn them away from God and the heavenly inheritance must require some great moral convulsion. It would be like the annulment of the law of gravitation like thrusting a rolling planet from its appointed orb. We do not subscribe to the inamissibility of grace, and the inevitable salvation of all souls once regenerated, -and yet we firmly believe that these fathers and mothers in Israel will never fall. They will abide in the old paths, whoever turns back. They remember the days of old. They “know Him that is from the beginning." So long, at least, as they live, there will be true witnesses. Their trumpet shall give a certain sound. They are living epistles of Christ, which shall continue to be read of all

So long as they constitute a part of the life of the church, the church cannot lose its vitality. While their presence and prayers among us will certainly conciliate the Divine favour, and perpetuate a holy seed, they reprove our backslidings, and warn us of dangers, and recall us to the old landmarks of truth, and experience, and duty.

Let us thank God for so bright a manifestation of his grace in the fathers, who still bless and guide us by their counsels, and in the yet large company of mature, established Christians who still bear the burden and heat of the day. We may yet rejoice in their light for a season, and there will be days of mourning when these luminaries, so long our guides and exemplars, shall one after another be exalted to shed their radiance upon brighter, holier regions. It will, however, readily occur to the thoughtful reader, that the high qualities, in virtue of which aged, mature Christians fulfil for the church offices so conservative and salutary, are partially or wholly incompatible with the performance of other functions connected no less intimately with the spread and efficacy of the Gospel. Conservatism, which spontaneously clings to the past, is less

men.

favourable to progress. Zeal for traditional or hereditary opinions or usages is often indiscriminate, and is prone to resist not rash innovations and pernicious novelties alone, but needful Improvements. It is no slight calamity that befalls religion and human society, when venerable truths and ancient institutions are guarded with a morbid jealousy, which rejects new discoveries and salutary changes. The church, under such unpropitious circumstances, is in danger of losing its power and vitality, and of wasting its energies in idle contests for dogmas and forms, which, however true or Scriptural, are no longer of any special significance or utility, now that their life and spirit have departed from them. And here we have occasion to adore the infinite wisdom of the great Head of the Church, in employing for its edification such a variety of gifts and agencies. In His wonderful economy, men of all ranks and capacities co-operate harmoniously for the production of a common result, each fulfilling his own special and appropriate function, and, at the same time, supplying some deficiency, or checking some exaggerated action of his fellow-labourer. The rich and the poor have assigned to them their proper sphere, and they contribute not alike, but equally, it may be, to the general weal. The faith, and prayers, and spotless example of an illiterate or obscure man may contribute as successfully to the great designs of Christianity as the counsels of the sage or the eloquence of the learned. Thus it is that the whole body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying itself in love.”

For the satisfaction of wants and liabilities which find no adequate provision in the fixed ideas and unyielding habits of veteran piety, the Gospel makes its appeal to the special endowments and adaptations of the young. "I have written to you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” In the economy of Divine Providence, youth is endowed with peculiar attributes, on which the success of all great moral and social interests and enterprises is made dependent.

I. This responsibility for the well-being of the race, which accrues to the young in virtue of their providential endowments, is devolved upon them by an inevitable destiny. They are the predestined successors of all who now wield moral influence, and all who occupy positions of authority and power. They are moving incessantly onward toward this great inheritance, and the flight of years makes haste to bring them into contact with burdens and responsibilities which they cannot elude or devolve upon others. Those who are now young must govern mankind. They must become the teachers of the race. They must become the world's lawgivers, and its dispensers of justice. They must manage its material interests -must plan and prosecute its improvements and ameliorations must conduct its wars and negotiations--must meet the unseen exigencies of the great future. God has provided no other teachers for that coming generation, which, in its turn, is destined to occupy this great field of action and probation, and to transmit to a still later posterity its character its virtues, and vices, and achievements. Were we able to divest this great law of human existence of its inefficiency as a hackneyed truism, and clothe it in the freshness and potency of a newly-discovered truth, we should need no other argument to impress upon the young the duty of diligence and faithfulness in their high vocation; for the young, though often rash and reckless of the future, are neither selfish nor malevolent. They would not thrust themselves upon the inheritance in reserye for them without qualifications to preserve and improve it. They would not bring back upon the world the ignorance of the dark ages, nor reproduce upon the face of civilized society the horrible scenes of the reign of terror. They would not tarnish the lustre of our national character by deeds of cowardice, treachery, or dishonour. They would not give to the country a race of incompetent or profligate statesmen. They would recoil from the thought of occupying the pulpits of this Christian land, the strongholds of its morality and stern virtues, without the requisite qualifications of intelligence and piety. They would not dwarf and taint the public mind with a feeble, polluted literature, nor degrade the schools and liberal professions to which this great republic looks for the men of the future—its orators, its teachers, the guides of its youth, and the leaders of its senates. And yet nothing is more certain than that these great interests, one and all, look to the present generation of young men as their sole hope and resource. Nothing is less a' matter of doubt than that these potent agencies, on which the wellbeing of a great nation depends, must speedily come under the direction of the young men who are now forming their character, moral and intellectual-many of them wholly unconcerned about that future in which they have so deep a stake, and for which they will be held to a responsibility so fearful.

We should place before the youth of this land only a very humble standard of duty and ambition in urging them to such attainments. as will merely enable them to maintain these institutions and social and moral enterprises in the present state of efficiency and useful

FOURTH SERIES, VOL. III.-6

ness. To do less than this would plainly be nothing less than treason against our country and common humanity. It cost our fathers infinite toil and sacrifices, and precious blood, to raise this country to its present position, and to form such a heritage of light, and liberty, and glory as they are ready to bequeath to their sons; and that young man must be dead to all high aspirations who does not burn with shame at the thought of transmitting it to posterity enfeebled, or dilapidated. One or two such recreant generations would plunge this free and glorious land into the darkness and wretchedness of its primitive barbarism, and make themselves the reproach of noble ancestors, and the scorn and byword of history. But the rising generation cannot even escape this foul dishonour of wasting its inheritance, and betraying the sacred interests intrusted to it for the benefit of posterity, without high attainments in knowledge and virtue. Our fathers were a brave, intellectual, noble race; and they who now sway the destinies of this country are educated, vigorous, laborious, enterprising men. The land is no doubt cursed with hordes of demagogues and pretenders, and its honours are too often bestowed upon the unworthy and incompetent. Still

, the great body of our legislators, public officers, and professional men, are not grossly deficient either in literary attainments or intellectual vigour. There is a Vulcanic energy at work in our enterprises of science, and fabrication, and internal improvement. A mighty intellectual machinery is concerned in bringing forth the products of our vast literature, periodical and permanent. Many thousand of fine minds, and well cultivated, are labouring incessantly and intensely in our pulpits and schools of learning, to promote the moral and mental illumination of the people of this great country. We must not undervalue the past, or complain unjustly of the deficiencies of the present time. Our country has been made what it is, and is kept up to its actual high moral and social position, by the strenuous exertion of immense capacities and honourable virtues. It will be no easy task for our young men to outstrip their predecessors. It will even be well for them if they shall be prepared to act the part which awaits them without provoking unfavourable comparisons--if they shall acquit themselves as well in the sight of their country, of history, and of God.

Something more than this, however, will justly be expected of them. It is the glory of the men of the present generation that they have improved upon all past ages, and greatly enriched and beautified the inheritance which their fathers bequeathed them. It will be the undying reproach of their successors if this full tide of

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