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yet nearer and more constraining duties. But the minister sees around him those immersed in secular business or pleasure, and seemingly unconscious of their spiritual relations and destiny, the young, who need to be instructed and warned, the careless, who must be brought under the power of the world to come, the selfish, who are to be made benevolent, the afflicted, who claim consolation, the anxious and inquiring, who demand guidance; and these wants he must meet, and in meeting them may sometimes omit from his preaching, for months together, a cause which is never out of his mind for a day. Responsibility, like charity, begins at home. Its concern is, first, with the keeping of one's own heart; then with his domestic relations and duties; then it extends through his circle of kindred and neighborhood; then spreads through his own town or city; then rays itself out, according to his judgment and ability, through the State, the nation, the world. Now many diligent and devoted laborers in the Gospel vineyard are guided by this divinely published program in the proportion of time and effort, which they devote to the several departments of personal and social obligation; and they are accused of coldness and indifference to the great interests of humanity, simply and solely because they attempt to lead their flocks in the order of duty which Providence has marked out.
We have thus given, as we believe, a correct statement of the actual position of the clergy with reference to the reforms of the day. We close with a word of counsel to our lay brethren on the importance to them of a strictly independent pulpit. It is hardly possible, that a minister should not sometimes deem it his duty to preach on subjects, or to assume ground, in which he has not the entire sympathy even of the wisest and best among his congregation. He is placed apart from the business and the collisions of common life, and, without being wiser than others, can often see things from a better point of view, and reach a sound conclusion sooner, than they. Indeed, one of the chief advantages resulting from the separation of the clergy from secular cares and labors is, that they are placed as on a watch-tower, and may by virtue of their position keep in advance of their congregations in spiritual intelligence, and lift the voice of reproof or warning before others perceive VOL. XXXVIII. 4TH S. VOL. III. NO. III. 32
that it is needed. It is exceedingly hard for the minister of an affectionate people to utter anything that may give offence, or call up unpleasant feelings or associations. But let him in a single instance suppress his conscientious convictions for the fear or favor of man, the conscience, once tampered with, is never true afterwards, he becomes a mere time-server, and from a minister of Jesus Christ degrades himself into a paltry item of church-furniture. And this, not only to his own unspeakable shame and loss, but to the serious, perhaps irretrievable, injury of the people of his charge; for a congregation can in no way so surely wed themselves to a low and grovelling standard of duty and piety, as by shaping the oracle of the sanctuary into an irresponsible mouthpiece for the varying sentiments and feelings of the place and the day.
A. P. P.
ART. VI. AN INTERVIEW WITH TIME.
DURING the latter part of August I had been ailing with a severe cold and sore throat, which seemed so firmly fixed that no common remedies had any effect. I got no relief in the day, my night's rest was much disturbed, and I began to fear lest I might be attacked by some permanent complaint, of which this was the precursor. My appetite failed and my strength declined fast, so much so that on the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth of the month I found myself unable to rise without difficulty, and my mind became so sluggish, it required an effort to think. A dreamy wandering seemed to possess me, and I could fix my thoughts on no definite object. It seemed as if I was passing into the calm state which exhaustion produces, and which is the forerunner of final rest. On the thirtieth and thirty-first I revived, could leave my bed and walk the room, but the complaint had rendered me extremely feeble, and the loss of flesh was apparent in my whole frame. On the morning of the first of September my spirits seemed to brighten, why I cannot tell, and before I was entirely dressed I looked in the glass. I wished to see on that day whether my countenance had undergone much change, by
lapse of years, or rather, whether time had given prominent marks of his presence, by the wrinkles which usually accompany old age. As I looked, I felt cause for gratitude. that I showed few or no signs of infirmity, notwithstanding my present weak state of body, - that although time had evidently been near, he had treated me kindly; and I could not avoid saying to myself,
“Time! I thank you; you have led me on to this day, a day I hardly dared to hope to reach, and your hand has pressed upon me gently. It is true, you have imprinted some marks of your progress, and I cannot now perform the tasks I could once; but when I behold others, no older than myself, on whom you appear to have laid a heavy hand, while to me you have been kind, I cannot but be thankful that you have only given me gentle warnings that I had not escaped your notice. I have felt sickness and have passed through trials, and these make furrows deeper than those made by your hand; but as I look in this glass, I find no reason to complain of you; on the contrary, I am grateful that I have undergone not more outward change, and that my mind still retains its natural strength."
As I stood lost in thought, after uttering these words, all at once the glass became dim, as if a cloud was passing over it. Presently the dimness glided away, and left what appeared to be a thin veil, sufficiently transparent to permit me to see the upper part of a person behind. The figure was not old; indeed, it might have been called young, but for a sober cast of countenance, which gave to it a mark of maturity. Its look was sedate, as if the weight of care was upon it, but it was benign, and the smile was cheerful and sweet. I gazed on it with a mingled sensation of awe and pleasure, and was about to address the figure, when it turned full towards me, with a bright yet placid look, and in a gentle and measured tone of voice said,
"I am Time, and it is so unusual to hear mortals give me praise, I come to see who it is that feels so differently from those of his race. Rarely do they thank me for anything, and often do they accuse me of producing ills which it is not in my power to bestow, and what my office prevents me from ever inflicting. I am the friend of man, rest with him for his protection even when he would drive me away, and often prolong his life beyond the period when he can enjoy it."
I was so much amazed at the sight before me, and so affected by the sound of the voice, that some time elapsed before I could bring myself to speak. At last I said, “ Am I then so favored as to see the beginning of all things, and am I, a humble mortal, permitted to hold converse with the spirit of the past, the present and the future? How shall I bear this unmerited honor, and by what form of words. can I address one who holds in his hands my thread of life, which he may cut at pleasure and make me silent forever?"
The being answered with a gentle accent, "Fear nothing. So long as you can see and hold communion with me, so long may you feel sure of your existence, and I have no wish or power to abridge your days before the period arrives when your vital organs will no longer act. In the presence of Time you are not yet in eternity."
I replied, "Since then, gracious spirit, you allow me to speak freely, I begin by expressing my surprise at beholding your youthful appearance. I had always figured to myself, and my books have taught me, that you were old and of austere character; but I see before me one possessed of freshness and vigor, and so far from seeing austerity, I am charmed with the serene cheerfulness which pervades your face. Does Time then never grow old?"
"Your books have taught you wrong, or rather you have placed too much faith in your poets, who while they charm the ear, often mislead the sense. You mortals have the means of measuring the hours as they pass, and your memory serves you, if not to tell you the period of your birth, at least to note the moment soon after your existence began. But I never knew youth. The Great Being who created and gave me a name, produced me at first as vigorous as I am now, and the course I have passed, which seems long to you, has to me no perceptible space. I cannot be old, for I was never young. Neither are my manners or character as you imagine them to be. I have no earthly being to fear or to awe; my vocation is marked out and I cannot stray from it. I pursue one even tenor, and have no obstacles to impede me, no wants to disturb. I need not be austere, for everything yields me obedience. I wend my way with cheerfulness, for all nature gives me place."
I then said, "You have been pleased to explain why you
are not old; and by the manner you remove my erroneous impression of your character. I see you are mild, not severe. But as you give me permission to speak, may I ask, how a being like you, so full of benevolence, should allow yourself to be often accompanied by man's deadly foe, I mean, Disease. I cannot willingly believe you seek a union, but certain it is, that the nearer your presence is felt, the more are mortals liable to her attacks. It seems as if she took advantage of your approach, and knowing the effect of it, chose the moment to assail, when her victim is least liable to resist."
"You mistake," replied the figure. "Disease is not my companion. She follows, but we have no necessary connection. My duty enjoins on me to give you warning that the materials of which your body are composed are not made to last forever, and my warning is gradual and gentle. You do not always heed my admonition, and you draw disease upon yourself. I stay by you, and keep you in strength so long as your functions will bear the burden of years, but you are apt to forget you can bear only a certain duration of life, and that this depends on a power to which I myself am subject."
"I cannot," I replied, "avoid acknowledging the justness of this remark; yet it has occasionally appeared as if your approaches were not perfectly regular. At times I feel firm and vigorous, at others I am suddenly feeble; I have the buoyancy of youth, and soon some power presses on me and I seem to feel the weight of years. I have often thought that a sudden loss of strength was owing to your approach being more than usually rapid."
The spirit replied, "If you will examine yourself, you will find you have produced these changes by excesses, either mental or physical. Cares grow upon you in secret, and before you are aware, you have the marks of age. These are not made by me. There are, too, other causes which operate to produce change in your whole system. Climate, food, occupation, with other influences, tend to alter your outward person, and produce greater effect on your faculties than I have power to accomplish. I am more of a passive than an active agent. I mark out the limit of your stay on this globe, leaving you to render the interval pleasant or painful so long as you are an inhabitant