« PreviousContinue »
ences in general, especially those of an able guide to direct the immediately connected with the course of his researches, and to office of a public teacher of re- regulate his studies. ligion, as grammar, logic, rheto- It is also to be remembered, ric, metaphysics, and ethics, that the knowledge derived from must be added a radical and the preceding sources, however critical acquaintance with the useful and necessary, is no more languages, in which the holy than auxiliary. Theology, that scriptures were originally writ- is, the knowledge of God and of ten, as indispensably requisite his will, must be derived from to ascertain the true intent of the Book of God. The Bible divine inspiration in many im- therefore is the object to which portant passages ; also some ac- the student in divine things must quaintance with the history of direct his first, his last, his conthe formation, preservation, and stant attention. This divine transmission of the sacred vol- book must he study, on this must ume; with the character and use he meditate day and night, comof ancient versions and manu- paring spiritual things with spirscripts, the canons of biblical itual ; until by diligent, persecriticism, ecclesiastical history, vering, and prayerful examinathe various religious sects in an- tion, he shall be able to ascertain cient time, the character and the meaning, scope, and reasonwritings of the fathers, the ing of the sacred writers, and in grounds, progress, and doctrines this way to make scripture the of the reformation, and the great interpreter of scripture. But points of controversy, which in doing this, not only much have divided the Christian world; time and patience will be necesto say nothing of the various sary to the young theologian, constitutions and forms of dis- but such is the style of scripture, cipline and worship, which have such are the allusions to ancient existed, and do still exist in the rites and customs, and such the Christian church,
mysterious nature of many subHere it will be recollected, jects and doctrines of revelation, that this necessary information that he will often need the help is not to be found collected and of a well informed and judicious arranged in one huge volume; instructor. but lies scattered in a multitude With respect to the opportuof books in various languages, nities of preparation for the desk, and difficult to be procured, the at present enjoyed, it is well expense of which alone places known, that, after the expenses them at an inaccessible distance of a public education, the pecufrom the young student in the- niary circumstances of most canology. But, were they collected didates will permit but a short in one place, still, without the time for this purpose; and this means of residence there, and short period, when not passed even with
those means, they alone, as it often is, with little would be in great part useless or no advice, is commonly spent to him, without the assistance with some clergyman, whom
proximity, economy, or accident care of able, learned, and pious may dictate. Happy is it, when professors, in which candidates the clergyman, thus selected, for the ministry may spend a possesses the talents, leisure, and competent number of years unany considerable part of the der wise direction and salutary books necessary for the direc- guidance ; in which also the intion and instruction of his pupil. digent may receive needed pecuBut is it not a serious fact, that niary assistance ? Such seminathe preparatory education of ma- ries are said to have been estabny clergymen was itself so nar- lished in the early ages of Chrisrow, that their libraries are so tianity ; such now exist in Eusmall, and their avocations SO rope ; and one such has been numerous, that it is impractica- recently established by the “ Asble for them to afford much as- sociate Reformed Presbyterian sistance to those who may place Church” in our own country. themselves under their direc- Can any reason be assigned, tion? The natural consequence which will satisfy us, that such is, that the instructor feeling his an institution is not equally necpupil a burden, and the pupil re- essary, and would not be equalmaining a stranger to the exten- ly useful to Congregational sive walks of sacred literature, and Christians and churches? But desirous perhaps of proving his the importance of a theological talents, a few sermons are written, seminary will be still more apthe pupil commences preacher; parent, if we contemplate some and, if he possess popular tal- of the advantages, which may be ents, soon obtains a settlement. reasonably expected to result Thus are his preparatory studies from such an institution. These terminated, and, in many in- naturally divide themselves into stances, all opportunity of calm, three classes ; those which reuninterrupted research into the spect the ministers of the gosdeep things of God. The only pel, the people of their charge, season for acquiring a copious and the interests of religion in fund of appropriate knowledge is general. lost forever; and parochial du- I. Of the advantages to be ties, domestic cares, and social derived to ministers themselves obligations scarcely permit him from a well endowed theological opportunity from week to week seminary, the following may be to prepare two hasty composi- given, as a sketch. Students in tions for the Sabbath, instead of divinity may there enjoy a pubthe “ beaten soil of the sanc- lic library, which, in addition to tuary.”
treasures of common science, Is it not then apparent, that will be furnished with a rich vasome farther provision is ne- riety of books in the several cessary, and ought to be made branches of sacred literature ; for the education of Nazarites many of which, though of prifor the service of the gos- mary importance, such as are pel temple ? And what better seldom, if ever, found in the liprovision can be made, than a braries of clergymen.
Their well regulated theological sem- course of study also being diinary, under the immediate rected by judicious professors,. the different branches and sub- trines and duties of our holy rejects in theology will be prose- ligion, together with the objeccuted in proper time and order, tions, usually made to them by and authors read in a regular unbelievers, and the refutation of and systematic manner. Hence such objections, will be exhibit. the many evils of promiscuous ed in a perspicuous and orderly reading will be corrected, and manner. From such lectures particularly that of reading many they will learn, not only the books, from which nothing valu- system of Christian doctrines, able can be learnt, but that they but how to defend it; and, what are not worth reading. Num- is of peculiar importance, they bers being engaged in the same will also learn in what way to pursuit, due scope will be given study and apply the sacred writ. to the principle of emulation, so ings with most advantage. No natural to ingenuous minds, and small benefit also will be derived so operative in early life. From to students in divinity from the this powerful stimulus may be recommendation and character expected closer and more perse- of books incidentally and for: vering application, deeper re- mally given in these lectures. search, and of course greater and By prosecuting their studies unmore rapid progress. Their at- der such advantages a proper tention will also be stimulated, length of time, a large stock of their conceptions quickened, and appropriate knowledge will be their minds invigorated by the acquired, methodically arranged, frequent occasions, given by their and conveniently disposed for situation, to conversation and ar- Intermixing, as they adgument. “As iron sharpeneth vance in their studies, suitable iron,” so do such literary inter- exercises in composition, and
views the powers of the mind. submitting the same to the pro· Much time and labour of re- fessors' friendly inspection, their
search will likewise be saved, sentiments, taste, and style will and many former, but dormant be improved. In due time also, ideas, revived by this intellectual by exhibiting specimens of their commerce and friendly inter- own composition in public, opchange of thought ; advantages portunity will be given for imnot to be enjoyed in solitude. portant improvements in delivAnother striking advantage, en- ery. It is material to add, that joyed by residents at such an in- by such a course of education, stitution, is, that in the lectures not only a habit of research and of the professors will be present- close thinking will be acquired, ed to their view a concise system but a more thorough and familiar of natural and Christian theolo- acquaintance with the holy scripgy; in which the principal ar- tures will be formed. This guments from reason and scrip- again will furnish a more ready ture in proof of the existence of command of pertinent texts on God, his providence, the im- every subject in theology, and mortality of the soul, the future greatly assist and enrich the perstate, the necessity of a divine formance of extemporaneous du. revelation, the truth of Chris. ties. From such a course of tianity, and also the great doc- study, at all times pursued in
humble dependence on the Holy with controverted points, he will Spirit to lead them into all the be prepared to solve the doubts truth; and with daily, fervent and difficulties of humble, inprayer to the Father of lights for quiring Christians, as well as to his guidance and blessing, it is refute the objections and conreasonable to hope that young found the impudence of proud ministers, when entering the and carping infidels. Thus acsacred office, will have acquired complished for his station, his tala more thorough understanding ents will command universal reof revealed truths, a deeper sense spect ; and his respectability will of divine things, and of their in turn give weight to his inneed of divine direction ; more structions, counsels, and examhumility and devotion, more re- ple. This will especially be the liance on God and less upon case, if to his other acquirethemselves, a livelier sense of ments he have added the virtue redeeming love, and greater zeal of prudence; and there is reason for the glory of God, for the to hope that two or three years doctrines of the cross, the salva- additional acquaintance with himtion of souls, and the interests of self and those around him, while the Redeemer's kingdom. prosecuting his preparatory stu
II. From a minister of this dies, will have also improved description, one so well furnish
him in this necessary grace. A ed for every good work, may we series of years, passed in study, not reasonably expect a reflection, and devotion, is cerable defence of the truth and tainly favourable to the governdoctrines of Christianity, more ment of the passions, and to the forcible reasoning, and more per- growth of that virtue, for w:nt of suasive eloquence; compositions which so much injury has been more regular, instructive, and done to the cause of religion animating; sermons more luc and the peace of the church. minous, rich, and profitable ; From a minister, who has thus and prayers more sentimental, devoted several years to prepare connected, devout, and elevating? himself for his profession, and is Having his own mind deeply thus deeply impressed by a sense penetrated by a lively conviction of divine things, it may be exof the worth of immortal souls, pected that, if properly supportand by an experimental sense of ed, he will give himself wholly to the truth and importance of the them, and that his profiting will great doctrines of the gospel, he appear to all. Personal cares will naturally preach them with and worldly interest will have litconstancy, zeal, and persever- tle influence on a minister of ance, as the wisdom of God, such views and habits, to prevent and the power of God to salva- him from feeding his people with tion; with these, not with the knowledge and understanding; reasonings of proud philosophy, the more he has done, the more will be feed the flock of God, he will wish to do for their edifi" which he hath purchased with cation, comfort, and salvation ; his own blood.” “Having made being willing to spend his time, the scriptures familiar to his strength, and life itself, for the mind, and being well acquainted happiness of those for whom
Christ died. With a divine Christianity. By books of many blessing on the learned, faithful, kinds, and in various other ways, and pious labours of such a min- their leadly poison is extensiveister, it may be hoped, that con- ly, though in some respects severts will be multiplied among cretly diffused throughout our his people, that believers will be country. In proportion as these edified and strengthened, that enemies of God and man increase they will increase in knowledge in number, learning, and activiand walk in love, and that the ty, will be the necessity of an God of peace will delight to able and learned clergy, to exdwell among them, and to build pose their wiles, refute their them up through faith and com- sophistry, and counteract the fort to final salvation. Nor will misapplication of their science, the good effects of his preaching literature, and talents. Pious be confined to the present age, Christians may well tremble for but be transmitted from genera- the ark of God, unless supported tion to generation. The labours by a learned and vigilant priesto of such a minister will in books hood. That Christianity is still often survive the man, and in this publicly professed and supportway will he live through distant ed in Europe is in great part ages and countries, diffusing owing, under God, to the exerlight, and life, and joy.
tions and persevering industry III. It is easy to foresee that, of eminent, learned divines in with the blessing of God, such an England and Germany, by whose institution will in a few years diligence the field of biblical furnish a respectable number of knowledge has been greatly exministers, who, having enjoyed tended within the last fifty years, advantages superior to what now and science in general made to exist, will be better qualified to do homage to revelation by macombat infidelity and error in eve- ny rich offerings at the altar of ry form. This goodly number, sacred truth. By their ingenuibeing annually increased, will ty has the infidel been made 10 soon constitute a solid and for-blush at his own sophistry and midable phalanx, well armed for falsehood ; and by them bas the the defence of divine truth, so atheist been robbed of the laurels, constantly opposed even from which he expected from the re the first age of Christianity. gions of natural history and the “ For many walk," said the apos- garden of Asiatic literature. tle in his day, “ of whom I told Such men are an inestimable you before, and now tell you blessing to the age and country, even weeping, that they are the in which they live ; and their enemies of the cross of Christ.” writings of great use to other So also in modern times there is countries and ages, as far as fastrong reason for believing and miliarly known. Still, howeren lamenting, that there are many for reasons too numerous to be of this character, who, by philos- mentioned, it will be readily adophy and cunning craftiness, mitted, as a maxim, that living wherewith they lie in wait to de- foes must be opposed by a living ceive, are secretly and assiduous- force. When the attack is made ly undermining the fabric of on our own soil, we must not de