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DR. POND'S LECTURES ON PASTORAL DUTY REVIEWED.
The Young Pastor's Guide: or Lectures on Pastoral Duties. By ENOCH POND, D. D., Professor in the Theological Seminary, Bangor. Bangor: Published by E. F. Duren. William Hyde, Portland; Tappan & Dennett, Boston; Ezra Collier, New-York; A. H. Maltby, NewHaven. 1844. 12mo, pp. 377.
THIS book is in some respects a novelty. Treatises on Homiletics, indeed, are somewhat numerous: though even here, one does not find precisely what he wants. Dr. Porter's work is undoubtedly the best; yet, as he himself tells us, there are some important topics that he does not discuss. A thorough, complete work on Homiletics, adapted to the latitude and longitude of New England, and to the peculiar exigencies of this nineteenth century, is still a desideratum. The Pastoral department of the ministerial office has still less engaged the attention of writers. At least very few books on Pastoral Duty have fallen in our own way; and those few have confined themselves to specific portions of the subject, without aiming at any comprehensive discussion. Baxter's Reformed Pastor we regard as invaluable. Appeals to ministers, more solemn, more searching, never were made, than some which that book contains; and there are many very useful hints in regard to modes of labor. We should like to see the work reprinted in a neat and separate form, placed on every minister's table by the side of his Bible, and made his daily companion. If ministers communed more with Baxter they would be holier men. But Baxter is not all that a minister wants. He wants a book not only urging him to fidelity, not only discussing some of the prominent branches of his work, but examining it in all its details, and counselling him how to act in all the varied circumstances in which he is placed.
This want Dr. Pond has attempted to meet: and we think, on the whole, with much success. He omits few topics, if any, whose discussion is desirable in such a book. He begins with the subject of pastoral qualifications; then proceeds to reply to the various questions that arise in regard to settlement in the ministry; next takes up the various relations and duties after settlement, which are enumerated and discussed with great particularity: and finally, in the last three lectures of the twenty-seven, canvasses the subjects of Dismissions, Withdrawment from the Ministry, and Results of Pastoral Labor. Dr. Pond has in fact given us a full methodical treatise upon the important subject of Pastoral Duty, in all its parts. A "young Pastor," or candidate for the pastoral office, need but glance his eye over the table of contents to discover that the book deals largely in topics with which he is personally concerned.
The book is very creditably got up. The form, binding, type, and paper, are all good. We notice a very few typographical errors; but in general the printing is accurate. We are happy to say that the book is in this respect very favorably distinguished from the last edition of the Doctor's work on Baptism, than which, though printed in Boston, we do not recellect to have seen a book more crowded with typographical blunders.
The style is eminently simple and direct. We know of few men, who can present an idea, or a train of ideas, more clearly than Dr. Pond. Even in his more metaphysical discussions, as all can testify who have heard him in the pulpit or the lecture-room, there is an entire absence of that element of mysticism and darkness in which some men so delight to move. The Doctor, we presume, rather congratulates himself that he knows nothing of those "depths" ("as they speak"): we certainly think that his students are to be congratulated, and all with whom his students do or will come in contact. In a book like the present, simplicity and directness are of the first importance. Dealing throughout with practical matters, it ought to be a plain, didactic, practical book.
And such it is.
Yet not didactic in the sense of being dull: for the book has no inconsiderable animation and fire, and we think will be read with interest even by laymen. Something of this may be owing to the fact, that it consists of a series of lectures, prepared in the first instance for oral delivery, and actually delivered to a body of students.
We find no irrelevant matter—no tedious prolixity in the discussion of matters in point. There seems to be a somewhat studied avoidance of encroachment upon the department of Homiletics: though, in the lectures on Revivals, there are some remarks on what should be the general features of pulpit (along with other) effort, at such seasons, which constitute one of the most valuable portions of the book. As to conciseness, we think that in some of his discussions the Doctor has followed a rule which he lays down in regard to social meetings, namely, that they should close at a point of time when those present are still desiring to have them continued longer. If the rule is good in one case, we suppose it is in another yet we wish there had been a little more fullness on some topics. We here refer, however, chiefly to some of the minor ones and perhaps, after all, the Doctor has judged wisely in compressing the book within as narrow limits as he has. We confess, we have been surprised as well as pleased, to find him answering so many questions in so brief a space, and answering them at the same time so well.
From the views in general which Dr. Pond propounds, we presume few New England clergymen will dissent. A perfect unanimity on all points, where the points are so many, can hardly be expected. But we are very much deceived, if most of Dr. Pond's counsels will not commend themselves to his elder, no less than his younger brethren, as sound and safe. On most of the vexed questions, the arguments are given both pro and con; and, so far as we are able to judge, with a good degree of fairness. The Doctor has generally a pretty decided opinion himself, and declares it boldly. This we like and we like the other feature too. We thus learn not only his own conclusions in the particular case, but the
process by which he has arrived at them: and can examine this process at our leisure, step by step. A succinct statement of the grounds relied on to support the antagonist positions in any important question is of great value to the student. It furnishes him with the materials of thought: and with materials of a kind which the young man, in a case like the present especially, cannot always get at, without the help of another, whose observation and experience have been more diversified than his own. These statements in books are like those bits of paper two or three inches square, written in pencil and covered with short sentences, nnmbered 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., which are sometimes seen lying on the student's table; and which embodying, as they do, the condensed results of past investigations, and the germs of future ones, have a value which it i notorious that a chamber-maid, or even a wife, does not always comprehend.'
Many things in these Lectures we like exceedingly. There are some remarks about the delay of settlement after a young man's regular course of study is finished, which are as timely as they are judicious.
"Undoubtedly there are reasons which may justify a young man, when his course is finished, in declining a settlement for a season. Such are, want of health, extreme youth and inexperience, or a broken, imperfect education, requiring to be improved by longer study. Nor would I say, that there are not persons to whom neither of the foregoing reasons are applicable, who, if circumstances favor, may not properly prolong their course of study, or avail themselves of the advantages of foreign travel, and intercourse with the world. But this I think I may safely say, that persons who-having enjoyed the advantages of a full course of study, and still feeling unprepared for the pastoral office-resort to the expedients last named, for the purpose of removing difficulties, and increasing their sense of preparation, are very frequently disappointed. After having prolonged
Some of the German books are very valuable for these condensed statements. And the Germans are sometimes clear and able logicians. We cite Hengstenberg and Bretschneider as examples. We know of few clearer writers in any language than they. The analysis of Schleiermacher's system found in Bretschneider's Dogmatik is masterly.
their studies another year or two, and visited other seminaries, and perhaps foreign countries, they feel the same shrinking from the pastoral office which they did before, and the same want of preparation to meet its duties and responsibilities. It is possible, indeed, that their preparation for this high office is not at all increased by the delay. They may have become better fitted for other employments, but not at all better fitted for the holy, humble, self-denying duties of a parish minister." p. 27.
Those who are pursuing the course here condemned, and are verifying in their own character and habits the remarks here made, will perhaps read this passage with a sneer; but most men who have actually entered upon the pastoral office, and have ascertained by personal experience what the wants of a pastor are, will subscribe to Dr. Pond's views heartily.
It is true, few can attempt pulpit labor for a succession of years, without finding reason to lament that their mental stores, be they great as they may, are not more abundant; and could they have protracted their years of preparatory study, with the knowledge that they now have of what needs to be studied, they might very considerably have augmented their qualifications for usefulness. But what are the studies in which the resident licentiates at our Theological Seminaries, and others, who delay entering upon the pastoral work, engage? We question very much, whether, in general, they are those which tend to qualify a young man for a clear statement and a forcible illustration of truth. The points inquired into, are the nice points of metaphysical theology, the minutia of Biblical criticism, the curious matters of history or archæology, or other things of the same general description. We may mistake; but we apprehend that these are the directions which the efforts of an ardent student will rather naturally take, and do take as a matter of fact. And by and by, when he enters upon his work, what is the discovery which he makes? A discovery, one would think, which he might have foreseen, but which, in fact, takes him quite by surprise, and causes him not a little pain; namely, that he has yet to do many of the "first works" in biblical and theological study. He