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The Music of the Sanctuary.
103 the singers take their places in various parts of the chapel just as ordinary worshippers.
3. Choirs are frequently a hindrance to congregational singing. This is manifestly so when the choir is a bad one. Mistakes that occur in the singing-gallery give occasion to some persons to indulge in ridicule and even in mirth at what is going on, and as far as they are concerned, worship is out of the question. Those who have more refined tastes in the congregation abstain from joining in the exercise, and so there is an end to united praise. It is not to be wondered at, for the character and composition of many choirs suggest the painful thought that singers are often seleeted with no higher qualification than a willingness to fill up vacant seats and a temerity to face a few hundred people. I myself have been in many chapels, where the only drawback to a hearty and devotional praise has been the existence of an incompetent choir.
Nor is the choir less a hindrance to congregational singing when it is a good one. The temptation to all lovers of music in the congregation is to leave off singing themselves, and listen to the choir; and when the choir is a very select one, its leader takes good care to choose music which is beyond the power of the people to take part in. The consequence of this is, that many places of worship become concert-rooms and nothing more, as e.g., cathedrals, protestant and catholic, to which visitors go daily only to hearken to the music. I know this is not common among nonconformists; still, I could point out to you chapels where good singing by an artistic choir is the chief attraction, and in those places it is usual to see half the people in the congregation in a sitting posture during the singing, listening as though they were at an entertainment. In America this is much more the case. The Sunday services of a Methodist church in Philadelphia were recently advertised in a Saturday paper, with the following as the closing item :-“One of the best quartette choirs in Philadelphia, under the direction of that magnificent tenor, F. Ř. Thomas, M.D., with Professor Harry Barnhurst as basso, and kindred talent as soprano and alto. Lovers of artistic music may enjoy a rich musical treat at every public service.”
Then again, the arrogance of these fine singers themselves is destructive of all congregational praise, and they intend it to be so. Their dogma is :-"The minister does the preaching, and we do the singing.” One such choir act ally passed a formal resolution, " that they wouldn't be bored with the singing of the congregation.” Praise is essentially a people's act. They are preached to, and prayed for, but they can manage the singing themselves, and sing they will, whoever complains or rebukes. A stranger who loved to sing, once turned into a church where the singing was done by a choir, but observing his usual custom, he joined heartily in the hymn that was being sung; Whereupon, the sexton advanced to him with a caution—“Stop, sir, stop! we do all the singing here ourselves ”—but the caution was disregarded by the stranger, who went on to the end much to the chagrin of the select choir. This arrogance has more than once received a wellmerited rebuff, and if always followed by resignations, it would be an immense gain to congregational singing. A choir in New Bedford, U. S., took their seats as usual one Sunday, having previously resolved not to sing a note that day. The minister (Dr. West) announced as the first hymn, “ Come we that love the Lord.” After reading it through, he looked up very emphatically at the choir, and said, “You will begin at the second verse :-
'Let those refuse to sing
Who never knew our God.'” It is needless to add that they all sang that hymn, but the singing pew was empty at the evening service. Far better is it to have a whole congregation praising God, however inferior it may seem from a musical stand-point, than all the troubles and vexations which choirs create. And when the people will have it so, a choir is of very little service to them. Mr. Curwen speaks of a Yorkshire church he visited, where the mighty tide of the people's song " shouting for joy,” rose so high as to carry both organ and choir away with it, “like straws on the top of a wave." And, after some years of observation, I am bound to say, in concluding this paper, that the finest congregational singing it has ever been my pleasure to hear has been in those places where there was neither organ nor choir; and the union of a thousand hearts and voices in singing the doxology at the close of one of our great May meetings in London, has provided me with a better foretaste of the music of heaven than the most elaborate service of song in St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey.
No. II.-Getting Ready. SUPPOSING it settled that our candidate “will make a preacher;" that the necessary qualifications for this office are, in larger or smaller measure found in him, the next point is that of getting ready for the use and development of these powers so as some day or other to be able to employ them with the widest and most blessed effects. He knows what he has to do. His object is clearly defined. He is to save men by the preaching of the gospel of Christ : not merely to tell them what that gospel is, and state its message with ringing clearness and pleasing eloquence, but to persuade them to accept the Saviour from whom it comes, and to yield their souls to His authority. He is not merely a witness to certain facts, or he might bear his testimony and retire unconcerned as to the results. He is much more than an expositor ; or he might write a book, distribute it, and leave the pulpit vacant. He is an ambassador, a prophet, filled with the breath of God, charged to labour so as to save men; and to save them completely, leading them to generosity, love, holiness, self-conquest, and all the noble qualities of the fully-formed and high-statured man in Christ Jesus. So that“warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, he may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
Further, he knows something of the tools with which he is to work. They are many and various.
First in his thought, probably, stands his piety; his godly character, that invisible, etherial influence that moulds men's thoughts, moves them as with the power of inspiration, and registers itself in purer and sweeter life. Next in the rank of importance, stands the truth, the word of God, the means by which the hearts of men are to be reached, and swayed: and closely akin to this is the discipline of the emotive and thinking nature, the power to acquire knowledge, to produce sermons, and to build up arguments. And passing by many others, last and least, if at all, will come the drill of the body. All these are instruments needing to be thoroughly understood, finely tempered, well sharpened, and made every way fit for service.
Getting ready” for the work of the ministry, therefore, can never be a short or a rapid process. The training is wide in its range, long in its duration, thorough in its requirements, and though not without much that is pleasant and joy-giving, yet often fraught with real pain. The true preacher is indeed, always getting ready. Whether he is on a “Local Preacher's Plan," or admitted amongst the alumni of a theological college, or has passed fifteen or twenty years at his work, he is still carrying on his ministerial education, and has some work in hand which does not contemplate the mere supply of his daily or weekly needs, but is meant to make a better preacher of him ten or twenty years hence. Every Sunday he is training himself. His eye glances back eagerly in search of his defects, and his will is fixed for their eradication. He is grateful for the criticism that will give him the chance of improvement. He seeks, with sedulous and unwearied zeal, the solution of all the problems that centre in the salvation and renewal of men. He no more imagines that a brief apprenticeship at college, and a slender stock of carefully elaborated sermons, endorsed by an examining committee, can make a preacher of him, than that a knowledge of the goose-step is all that is essential to the army that is to defeat the well-disciplined legions of Germany. Preaching is the work of his life; and every day's occupation is a discipline and a preparation for the labour of the day that is to follow.
A metropolitan preacher of high and deserved fame, and of more than thirty years' experience of the difficulties and successes of ministerial work said, not long since, in answer to an indirect compliment on his preaching ability, “I really don't think I know how to preach yet. I am trying all I can to succeed in getting a perfect mastery of the divine art, and I hope I shall succeed after a while; but at present I'm a long way off my ideal.” In that statement of the gray-haired veteran, voice is given to the inmost soul of every true preacher of the gospel of Christ. In his convictions, in his self depreciation and in his hopes, if not in his success, he represents every minister whose lofty aims and enlarging conceptions of the superhuman greatness and grandeur of his task fill every day with works of self-discipline, touch with transforming magic the entire field of life, and arouse to unequalled industry every power of his redeemed and renewed nature.
The preacher's business is not so easy that it is soon learnt. Indeed we may ask, is it ever perfectly acquired by the most successful amongst us? Does not Čanon
Papers on Preaching.
105 Liddon confess that he has something still to learn? Will Beecher say that he is beyond improvement? Are there not always possibilities of power, and high ranges of usefulness unattained ? Might not men of the widest culture discover new methods of striking sweet music from the many-stringed harps of the human soul? Are there not potent magnets in the deep mines of truth that would draw the worst men to God if only we could break the earth's crust and dig them up! The best preacher is not born yet. There are men to come, we believe, who will surpass the Liddons and Beechers, Maclarens and Spurgeons of to-day, as far as they surpass their predecessors.
Any way it is certain that preaching is the hardest work mortal-man ever undertakes. It makes larger demands on his whole nature, body, soul, and spirit; on his time, patience, faith, energy, endurance, hopefulness, and self-denial, than any other vocation under heaven. Lawyers mostly have to wait long for their prizes, but they may obtain large gains with a defective discipline and a sorry character. The guild of literature is exclusive, but over its doors it is not written, “ Only the pure in heart can enter here.” The lottery of statesmanship has many blanks; but a man may rise to the presidency of Her Majesty's cabinet without attaining surpassing virtues. Physicians need much teaching and long experience, but they may win fame and fees with inconceivably less preparation and labour than a minister of the gospel can secure pure, abiding, and divine success. I know that a few men with less than forty-eight ounces of brain, with only a fragmentary training, most imperfectly endowed, mentally and morally, and scarcely capable of more than lustily ringing the changes on a very limited stock of ideas, have leaped into conspicuous positions, acquired sudden éclat, and ample stipends; but those first and real rewards, the salvation of men from sin, and their upbuilding after the pattern of Christ, never attend the labours of the half-disciplined, half-devoted, hireling preachers of the gospel. Every man receives his reward according to his labour.” Let him build with wood easily cut down, and, alas ! easily burnt too, with swiftly mown grass, cheap and almost useless stubble, and other unfit material, and the day of fire will consume it all to ashes: and though he has built upon the right foundation, his work will be gone, and it will be due entirely to God's infinite mercy that the lazy, ignorant, and impure builder himself is not gone too. The man who desires to find his life work when he finds himself saved must take care not only to preach Christ, but to preach Him with thoroughly disciplined and perfected powers; building with the most costly and endurable materials he is able to get, “gold, and silver, and precious stones.'
Jesus Christ, the model preacher, waited till he began to be about thirty years of age before he went into the cities and villages preaching the word. He was always under training.
“He had no study. He was no deep meditationist. No recluse working out his problems and living in his frames, but a wonderfully out-door character." Still, in the quiet of His Nazareth home, amongst the lovely scenes of Galilee, with the people of the Market Place at Cana of Galilee and Capernaum; along with the fishermen on the shores of the Lake of Tiberias seeking to help and bless men, He was training himself to find the ways of approach to the human heart, and preparing for the hour when, as a preacher, he would speak with the authority of profound conviction and power, and not with the indifference and ineffectiveness of the Scribes. Moses was trained amid the solitudes of the desert of Horeb for the post of champion of the people of God. Saul of Tarsus spent three years in Arabia before he stood forth as the invincible chieftain of that faith which he once destroyed. Augustine, a man of immense reading, and specially qualified as a rhetorician, keenly realizes, on his conversion, his deficiences, and seeks in direct self-discipline to fit himself for his work as a preacher and servant of the Word. Luther was made a polished shaft in the hands of the Lord by the education at Erfurth and the imprisonment in the Wartburg. The God of wisdom has ever delighted to use and honour the most wholly consecrated and perfectly trained powers of his children for the accomplishment of the purposes of His grace. Those who give Him their best receive from Him the most.
Our work is great. Sublimer vocation there is not. Let us seek the most thorough, wise, continuous and complete equipment for it. Every power at its best; power of body, soul and spirit, should be our motto. It is cowardly to shirk discipline. It is weak to be in a hurry. It is wicked to be without faith and hope. God is our tutor: let us yield to His discipline. The strong Jehovah is patient. Let us be strong in Him. He works in us and upon us and through us : let us not bate a jot of hope, but ever be in training for better service in His kingdom.
You profess to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus: are you really one? If so, do you make progress in His school? What do you know about Him, His word, His church, His people, and the wide interests of His kingdom, what do you know more than others ? Are you able to guide the blind and to teach the ignorant?
You profess to be a subject of Jesus: are you really one ? Is the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost set up in your soul ? loyal? Do you submit to all the laws of the King? If you are a traitor, what can be expected of the wicked? And yet in many things do you not disobey ? Will you compare your conduct with the law of Christ's kingdom as revealed in His word ?
You profess to be a soldier of Jesus: are you really one? Do you fight against the world, and sin, and Satan? Do you take the helmet of hope, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, and march against the ignorance, the drunkenness, and the awful profligacy of our times? and have you ever destroyed any of these foes ? Does any one know that you are a soldier? Have you ever attempted to slay one single enemy? What is your answer ?
You profess to belong to the flock of Jesus : do you really belong to it? Do you follow the good Shepherd? But He never leads His sheep into public houses, or ball-rooms, or dancing-rooms, or theatres. Such places Jesus never visits, except with his frown; never visits them as places of amusement. The idea! the good Shepherd at the theatre, the ball, the dancing, the public house! But such was never the case, and never will be-never for mere amusement. Then, why should the sheep go? Surely it cannot be right for them to go where the Shepherd would not go. No, no, the good Shepherd leads His sheep into the green pastures of His word, His ordinances, and His grace. And He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
You profess to be a friend of Jesus: are you really one? What is a friend? The Scriptures say that a real friend sticketh closer than a brother. Then, if you are Christ's real friend, you will stick closer to Him than you would to your own brother; you will do this on the ground of your friendship to Him. The friendship between David and Jonathan is illustrative of this. How true they were to each other. But do you thus act? What proof can you give that you are one of Christ's friends? Do you ever tell either young or old anything about Him? Have you preached Him to anyone to-day? Do you ever visit any of His poor, and relieve them? Do you ever pray, or read, or study, or give, or work, or converse, with a view to glorifying Christ? By your spirit, or character, or works, can anyone tell that you are a friend of Jesus? Now, answer faithfully.
You profess to love Jesus : do you really love Him? What is the proof? Do you keep His commandments ? He says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.” Such is the teaching of the Saviour. “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” If the love be there, the obedience is certain; for there is nothing so practical as love. In very deed it has a voice of thunder, feet of electricity, hands of omnipotence, and a soul of intense and quenchless fire. Many waters cannot extinguish love. If, then, you love the Saviour, it will be the highest joy of your life to run in the way of His commandments, making mention of His righteousness, even of His only. But is it so ?
What a glorious character you profess to sustain! Surely you must be very wise, and holy, and useful, and happy. Verily you are, or should be, a world's blessing, a pastor's joy, and a church's glory. But, is it so ? Are you really what you profess to be? or, is your profession a lie, your religious life a sham, and your influence a curse ? and by your worldliness, indifference, and inconsistency, are you breaking the heart of your pastor, retarding the progress of the church, causing the enemies of Christ to blaspheme, and filling the abodes of the lost with the wails of those who are falling over your wickedness to rise no more? Oh, if you are a real follower of Jesus, then, by your faith, your prayers, your purity, your liberality, your devoutness, and your zeal—by your peacefulness, your meekness, and your goodness, shew it. As you journey along the highway of eighteen hundred and seventy-three, let it be seen by the entire moral universe that you have gone out to Christ without the camp, bearing His reproach. The world, the church, and your own profession say, shew it. The sufferings of Christ, the death on the cross, and the great salvation say, shew it. Time, death, the judgment, and the great destiny say, shew it! SHEW IT!!
“GONE OVER TO THE MAJORITY."
We have the mournful duty to record the decease of three devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and faithful and distinguished servants of His church. The HON. AND REV. BAPTIST NOEL had served his generation with singular fidelity, self-sacrifice, conscientiousness, and quiet but intense ardour. His profound piety, his fervent spirituality, so sweet, and so all penetrating, have made his memory precious to thousands of hearts. The manliness and dignity, the determined heroism, the faithfulness to convictions which led him to give up the post of Queen's preacher, minister of the State Church, and cast in his lot with the Baptists, have made him the pattern of loyalty to the Lord Jesus, and of separation for the sake of the truth, whilst praying and labouring that “grace may be with all them that love the Lord Jesus in sincerity.” He being dead yet speaketh. O that myriads might hear his voice and be persuaded by it.
MR. NOEL's work was finished; but we had expected years of useful labour from the wide culturo, ripened experience, and well-balanced character of DR. HAYCROFT. He is taken away in the midst of his years; and as we in our contracted vision judge, just when his influence was maturing towards perfectness, and his service becoming most effective. Leicester will miss his clear and ringing tones, his decisive speech and action, his catholic spirit, his eloquent address, and his ready service. We cast the wreath of affection on his tomb with hearts saddened by our loss, but made victorious through the hopes born of the glorious gospel he preached.
As “with a great and very sore lamentation" Jacob was buried at Abel-Mizraim, so in Wisbech and far beyond there is great sorrow at the death of our much-beloved friend MR. ROBERT WHERRY. One Sunday at chapel, and the next, lo ! " he was not; for God took him.” Having held the office of Mayor three times, acted as an Alderman and Justice of the Peace for years, and filled various other civic positions, he had made himself so useful, not only by his abundant activity but by the gentleness, dignity, firmness, and skill, with which he used his talents for leadership, that his vacant place will not soon be filled. To the church at Ely Place he was endeared by many ties, and will live in the affections of his fellow-members till they shall join him “ where they go no more out for ever.” His deep interest in the new church, so soon to be opened, as we saw it on the day of laying the foundation-stone, we never can forget. Our denomination loses one of its best friends, and our societies one of their best supporters. Many fervent prayers will be offered for the bereaved widow and relatives, and for the bereaved church, that the strong consolations ” of the “God of all comfort” may abound towards them.
Dear readers, our teachers and fellow-workers are hasting over to the great majority.” Soon we must follow. Are we ready? Let us have our loins girt about and our lights burning, and be like those that wait for their Lord.
IRISH UNIVERSITY EDUCATION.
THE Liberal Government is to be congratulated on the skilful manner in which it has escaped the rocks and shoals to which it was exposed in legislating for the furtherance of University Education in Ireland. Having to avoid the Scylla of religious inequality at home, and the Charybdis of Ultramontane influence on the other side of St. George's Channel, it would not have been surprising if a measure very different in character had been introduced to Parliament than that now before the country. It is, on the face of it, as indeed it ought to be in principle, and in application, a purely secular system. No violence is openly done to the principles of justice. As Nonconformists and advocates of Free Religion, and equal religious rights all round, our chief duties are to watch carefully the progress of the Bill through the House so that the alterations in committee may not introduce any now and false principle; and strenuously to advocate the exclusion, by express provision, of the clergy from the list of those eligible to be appointed on the University Council by Parliament. These ought to be laymen. This is absolutely necessary for the fair and safe working of the scheme. The interests of denominationalists will be sufficiently cared for—if, indeed, they must be cared for at all—by the provision that each college with fifty students in attendance may elect and appoint an Extraordinary Member of Council. But if the University is not to be swayed by priestism, and sink into a Roman Catholic organ, the Ordinary Council must either be wholly lay, or so to a very large degree, say certainly to the extent of seven-eighths.
Objection has been taken by some of the daily papers to the enactment that no disqualification shall attach to any candidate in any examination by reason of his adopting in modern history, moral or mental philosophy, law or medicine, or any other branch of