dies, leaving his son, aged twenty or less, to carry on a large business, to pay his mother and sisters out of the concern, and to educate his younger brothers. Stanch to the backbone, the lad throws himself ardently into life, carries at twenty years the burdens of forty, pushes onward upon excitement and in ignorance of the mischief doing, labors for a few years or more according to his stores, and falls to pieces ere middle life is reached, and when his powers should be at their best. We label their cases "dyspepsia," "nervous debility," "mental disease," and the like. I refrain from giving scores of them.
But most disastrous, perhaps, of all means of dissipating the stores of the unformed brain are the preaching-tasks of the theological colleges, and especially of the nonconformist colleges. These colleges are filled with young men—ambitious, of generous impulses, and fervent temper—and their teachers, as seems curiously true of schoolmasters as a class, are utterly unconscious of the existence of the science of physiology. These hapless lads are not only spurred on to intense and prolonged study during the week, but are called upon to preach. I do not mean that they are merely taught to use the voice and gesture, which are the instruments of oratory, but they are actually set up to address congregations of people. I will say nothing of those hearers who find edification in the raw dogmatism of an undergraduate, or spiritual increase in the forced and jejune exhortations of striplings to whom spiritual experience is yet unknown; but I will say of theprentice preachers themselves that the system is immeasurably cruel. A luckless youth is forced to heat the yet empty chambers of his brain, and to forge false thunder therein at an age when he needs rather to sit at the feet of wisdom. Space forbids me to give instances from my books, but the facts are open to others as to myself. Men whose steps are faltering upon the very threshold of the ministry come to me lamenting that the hope and the fervor, the peace and the joy of their initiation have fled, and in their place are listlessness, weariness, confusion of mind—nay, even satiety and disgust. Their teachers urge them to drown their reaction in more work, and in unhealthy self-examinations. Pallid, dyspeptic, peevish, sleepless, disheartened, many of them creep into orders to come in later years to the physicians, almost cursing themselves because their labors are unfruitful, because they cannot sit down to think nor stand up to pray. The explanation is too clear. The brain has been forced, and has borne insipid fruit out of due season. It may never recover its tone, or recover it only after a long season of rest. It is sad to think how many young ministers have come to me alone with such a history—men otherwise of promise, but whose best efforts have been but as the crackling of thorns under the pot.
We do not realize how long a time the exhausted brain takes to recover itself! A young physician may boldly tell the overtaxed merchant or student to take three months' rest; but probably three months must be added to that, and even six months again to the sum, before