« AnteriorContinuar »
that his genius, all strong and subtle as it is, cannot surmount, the wise mariner, less wise than religious, prostrates himself and adores. When, on the other hand, with bold hand he lifts a part of the vail of nature a cry of admiration escapes him, and his style, without effort, partakes of the most elevated poetry. Then the philosopher disappears and gives place to the poet, when the one often aids the other, and lends to it its wings; then science, laying aside its dryness and its prose, becomes poetry.
After having written his “ Explanations and Sailing Directions” and his “Physical Geography of the Sea," Maury has a right to exclaim as Galien: “I have just chanted a hymn to the Creator.” To which magnificent hymn, notwithstanding our incompetence, we have endeavored to add in these pages our prosaic and humble strophe.
M. Julien has shown himself to be the worthy interpreter of the director of the Meteorological Observatory of Washington. It belongs to an officer of the French navy to explain to us, with his gifted mind, the conceptions of a seaman that the Old World envies to the New. M. Julien has acquitted himself of this delicate task, and one often arduous, in worthy emulation of such a model, by bringing to science the tribute of his own observations; and his book is as full of interest as it is suitable to elevate the soul.
France was slow in joining America, England, and Germany, in the study of Meteorology. The recent works of MM. Jamin, Babinet, Hailly, etc., the work of M. Julien, as well as the new works on the practice of this science by Maury, the director of the Observatory, prove victoriously that we have at last aroused from our indifference, and that in the domain of meteorology, as well as that of all the other sciences, France has at heart, if not to seize, at least to dispute the palm.
FOURTH SERIES, Vol. XIII.-25
ART. III.-A PLEA FOR THE PREACHER'S WIFE.
The Itinerant's Wife; her Qualifications, Duties, Trials, and Rewards. By Rev. H. M. EATON. New York: Methodist Book Concern.
THE Methodist Episcopal Church has many excellent devices for promoting the acceptability and usefulness of its ministers. From their entrance upon their work they are placed under a wholesome mental and theological training, and so long as they are standard-bearers in Emanuel's host, are subject to habitual and strict, though affectionate, supervision. The presiding elder visits each preacher periodically, surveys his work, and, giving him the benefit of a larger experience, encourages or counsels him. Yearly the minister meets his brethren, holds profitable converse with them, and listens to discourses specially applicable to his office and its responsibilities. The periodical and general literature of the Church richly supplies him with instruction. These aids are valuable and timely. He who would be a successful minister of the New Testament needs all these helps to faithfulness and usefulness, added to his own selfculture, prayer, and watchfulness.
But another than the preacher largely needs the aid and sympathies of the Church. The PREACHER'S WIFE holds a relation to the Church second only to that of her husband; not an official relation, it is true, in the same sense as his; nor may she be subjected to the same training and supervision. But the necessity that is laid upon her, for her frisband's and the Gospel's sake, to walk circumspectly and in the fear of the Lord continually, constitutes a strong claim upon the affections and prayers of the people of God. If she errs in lip at life, if she is lacking in wisdom or meekness, in courage or pridence, upon her husband will the community too often visit her shortcomings. Her position is as delicate as it is responsible, pd it is difficult to conceive of circumstances in which a pious winan can be placed where judicious counsels and tender symp by are so much needed. If the preacher's wife does not net the high requirements of her position, the measure of le preacher's comfort and usefulness will be small indeed.
Has the Church—its ecclesiastical tribunals, its lay officiary and membership, its general and periodical literature—done its duty to the wives of its ministers? We think not, and are quite sure that in every department of the Church more might have been done for these true “heroines of Methodism” than has been either accomplished or attempted. We are not aware that any publication, except the small volume whose title we have quoted, has especially addressed itself to this subject. The topic seems to be legitimately within the scope of the Methodist Quarterly Review, and we propose to discuss it with manly freedom. To do otherwise were to write to little purpose.
It is a trite remark that the choice of a wife is to any one an important matter. The man of ordinary prudence will bring to it all the best powers of his judgment and the gravest deliberation. The Christian man will add to these earnest prayer to God for counsel and providential guidance. But to the preacher of righteousness, the importance of a wise choice is beyond all estimate, and if he has just views of his high vocation, he will keenly feel his responsibility in the matter. He will fear to go where others less considerately rush. He will not think alone of himself, for he is no longer his own, having solemnly given hiniself to God and his Church. He must have regard to the honor of his Divine Master and to the interests of the Church over which the Holy Ghost has made him an overseer, and must have an eye to his ministerial usefulness as well as to his personal comfort. Even the promptings of affection must be secondary to the responsibilities of his high vocation. He has solemnly vowed unto God that his first business in life shall be the salvation of souls and the care of the Churches, wherefore God has counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry. He cannot be absolved from that obligation. It must be his standard of duty in all the affairs of life. And with this vow upon him it is not enough that she whom he takes into life-companionship shall be no hinderance to him in his ministerial work. She must be his helper. The minister would do an injustice to the woman he married, as well as to the Church and himself, who, for any personal or worldly consideration, should blind himself to her lack of those special qualifications necessary for the position in which he is about to place her. And here a grave question arises. Has the duty of young ministers in this matter been dwelt upon with sufficient frequency, earnestness, and authority by those whose age or office entitles or requires them to counsel their younger brethren in all things pertaining to ministerial usefulness? For lack of such oversight have not some young preachers gone woefully and fatally astray? Or if the ecclesiastical system of the Church neither in theory nor in practice admits of authority in the premises, should not the bishops and presiding elders give line upon line and precept upon precept in the form of affectionate and earnest counsel ? This is especially needed, as in very many cases young preachers are stationed alone, and have no father in the ministry constantly at hand with whom they may take counsel. Mr. Eaton's treatise enumerates the “ qualifications” of an itinerant's wife. We think, however, that he does not lay sufficient stress upon its being the duty of an itinerant Methodist preacher to ascertain that such qualifications exist before he permits his affections to gain the mastery of his judgment, or awakens hers, or entangles himself with an engagement. It is true that our author says something on this important point by implication. But his counsel is addressed specially to the itinerant's wife,” and may be too late, for the qualifications he so forcibly insists upon come not with wifehood. They must exist before marriage, or their life and influence will be feeble indeed. Nor can the minister excuse himself before God and his people for the lack of these qualities in his wife, or blame her for their absence and his consequent loss of usefulness and happiness, if he did not before his engagement conscientiously seek to inform himself in the matter. It is rarely, indeed, that the itinerant's wife is to blame for stepping into a position she cannot worthily fill; the itinerant deserves censure for not taking counsel of a sanctified judgment before he gave the rein to his affections, and led her into a reciprocity of attachment.
In speaking more particularly of the qualifications of the preacher's wife, we shall pass over some of those she may be presumed to possess in common with all Christian wives, and note rather those which we deem essential to her happiness. Common sense and intelligent piety are to be supposed as among her possessions. As a rule, a thorough and practical knowledge of domestic management is indispensable. The preacher's income necessitates skill and habits of economy in household management. Even where the minister's income from any source is liberal, it is still eminently desirable that his wife should be competent to relieve him entirely from the burden of all strictly domestic affairs, so that he may give himself wholly to the work of the ministry. In ordinary cases it will only be by the wife's carefulness in housekeeping that the preacher's mind can be kept free from temporal anxieties, for it is too true—and the fact is not honorable to the Church—that in many cases the actual payments to the pastor make only an income totally inadequate to the wants, to say nothing of the comforts, of his family. Habits of economical domestic management, industry, and high-toned principle, are essential qualities in the wife of an itinerant Methodist minister. The Rev. Jabez Bunting, so long honored and pre-eminently useful in the English Wesleyan ministry, whose judicious choice of a wife was to him an incalculable blessing, while deliberately and prayerfully weighing the arguments for and against an offer of his hand to Miss Maclardie, enumerated the following among the former : “She has been brought up under the care of one who has accustomed her to domestic habits, and fitted her by practice for performing the duties of a wife in domestic concerns. Since her mother's death she has had the management of her father's house, which must have further qualified her for the station in question.” In the engrossing ministerial duties Dr. Bunting was early called to perform, this qualification in his most estimable wife proved of incalculable value.
But let it not for a moment be supposed that the preacher's wife is to rise no higher than her household concerns, for no man more than the minister of the Gospel needs intelligent companionship at home. Weary, indeed, will his work be if his wife's ears are not open to his converse about the great mission to which he is appointed ; if she cannot share the hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows, of his holy embassy ; if she cannot appreciate his labors in his study, and his commendable desire to be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. She should, in fact, have such education and tastes that she can fully sympathize with his intellectual pursuits ; such as, if