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departments must be lowered to meet their capacities and attainments, and thus not only do they themselves receive an inferior preparation for their work in life, but they also hinder and lower that of the others. This is plainly both unjust and unwise ; yet it is believed to be the most common of all hinderances to the efficiency of most of our theological institutions. It has been a still more crying evil in other professional schools, and has come to be so severely felt in them that a movement has already been inaugurated for its removal. From the nature of theology, however, the disturbance thus arising is greater here than elsewhere.
What is the remedy ? In the first place, of course, proper preparation should be insisted upon in all cases where it is practicable. A year or two of delay in entering upon the ministry is of very little consequence in comparison with a man's being properly furnished for his work in all the subsequent years of that ministry. Life, indeed, may be cut short at any time, but plans for that life can only wisely be laid in view of its average duration. But there are not infrequent cases in which, from advanced age or from other causes, the requirement of such preparation would be equivalent to the refusal of a theological education altogether, while yet the men in question seem well adapted to useful work in many parts of the Lord's vineyard. They must, then, be educated as well as circumstances allow, and yet they cannot be advantageously classed entirely with those who are better prepared at the start. The evident solution of the difficulty is in a special course, or courses, adapted to their wants. These need not be wholly different from the regular course, for there are several of the departments which may be studied by any intelligent man without especial preparation - not, perhaps, as advantageously, but, at least, without hindering the progress of his fellow-students. In other departments, however, there should be distinct and separate instruction. It is idle to say that they may as well attend the same lectures and other exercises with the rest of the students, and get from them such good as they can. A con VOL. XXXIV. No. 133.
scientious instructor cannot fail to seek to make himself understood, and to have his teaching benefit all his hearers; and if some of these require more elementary instruction, he must consume the time and patience of the more advanced in giving it; and if some could make more rapid progress they must be held back for the sake of their companions. The experience of all teachers bears uniform testimony to the hinderance to the whole class of even a few more imperfectly prepared for the study in which they are engaged. They are a clog which, in justice to the others, ought not to be tolerated. Most instructors would far rather undertake the additional labor involved in special courses for them than be obliged to carry them along with the others. In part, excellent provision might be made for their instruction by the establishment of fellowships, which will be spoken of presently. If neither of these arrangements suffice, then either additional teachers should be provided, or else such students should be sent to other institutions where they can be properly cared for. If there could be any doubt on this point, it would only be necessary to look at our common schools, and compare the advantages of the country " district school ” with those of the graded schools in our larger towns and cities.
The second class will always constitute the great majority of our students — those who come in their preparation within the somewhat vague limits of the normal standard, but who yet, from their tastes or their capacities, or both, can never be expected to become eminent scholars. This may not be the most interesting class, but our theological courses must necessarily be arranged mainly to meet their wants, and those who rise above, as well as those who fall below them, be provided for by special adaptations. They are to constitute the great mass of the active parochial clergy, and the tone of Christian teaching throughout the land must depend largely upon the impress made upon their minds. It is, therefore, all important to give them a sufficient knowledge of all departments of theology to enable them to pursuc their future work advantageously and respectably, to guard them from errors, and to furnish them with a proper theological balance. They should also be furnished with such insight into the vast fields of knowledge stretching out beyond their own attainments as may suffice to impress them with modesty, and possibly may awaken in some of them a zeal for a higher culture ; but their strength ought not to be wasted in the vain effort to carry them beyond their powers or, sometimes, their wishes. For them it is particularly necessary that the theological course should be well proportioned in its several parts and, perhaps, even from time to time somewhat modified, as the powers of some eminent teacher may give an undue prominence to the studies over which he has control. As the instruction designed for this class constitutes the ordinary curriculum of our theological schools, nothing need be said of it beyond these general remarks, except to suggest one or two points in which we may aim to improve the ordinary methods of instruction.
Our methods, chiefly by lecture and by recitation, have been handed down from generation to generation and followed by us without much reflection as a matter of course. Meantime there has grown up around and among us a new set of studies, those of natural science, which are proved to have a very great charm for the human mind, and which are chiefly pursued by a very different method. Can we not in theology learn something from science, and impart to our studies also something of the freshness and charm which so fascinates the minds and awakens the eagerness of the students of natural science? With them, too, the lecture and the recitation are largely used, as is necessary in all instruction; but the tone and character of these is determined by another prominent feature in their system — the actual investigation of truth by the student himself under the guidance of his instructor. What would the study of chemistry be without the laboratory; or of botany without work in the field; or of zoölogy without dissection and comparative anatomy? Scientific institutions are ever increasing the
facilities for, and the requirment of, this sort of study. Physical laboratories have been only added to their appliances within the last few years, and still more recent is the furnishing of their course in mining with a full set of actual mining machinery, which their students are required to work practically as a part of their training. Even our colleges are coming more and more to work their scientific departments by courses of actual investigation in the various scientific laboratories. Of course, all this is done under the eye and the guidance of the instructor, and would be very useless labor for the tyro if it were otherwise. But it has for him all the charm of discovering the truth himself. It is a recognized principle that what is thus acquired becomes impressed upon the mind with a firmness of conviction that can be attained in no other way. Moreover, he thus learns to study for himself, and, if he have sufficient intelligence and skill, can afterwards go on to further knowledge by the same processes when, in the progress of life, he must necessarily lose the direction of his teachers. Can we not introduce very much more of the same system into our teaching of theology with corresponding advantage ?
Superficial objections may easily be made to such a proposition. It may be said that the prime object of a theological institution is to teach its students, not merely to give them an opportunity to teach themselves. Strange pictures may be exhibited of the wild vagaries into which students would be likely to run if thus set upon working out their theology for themselves. But it is no more suggested that this should be done without careful guidance and instruction than that the student of chemistry should be turned loose in the laboratory to mix acids and alkalies, or heat fulminates, at his own sweet will. In fact, the method proposed would require an increase of labor on the part of the instructor in the intelligent guidance of the student, and the adaptation of the task to his capacity. But why should not the student be taught the criticism of the text by the actual handling, first in easy, then in more difficult cases, of the apparatus by
which the true reading is to be determined ? Why in exegesis, after some training in its principles, should he not be required to work out expositions himself, and by showing him wherein and why he has gone astray in his earlier attempts, be led on practically to a sound system of interpretation? Why should he not be trained to prepare monographs on particular points or characters of ecclesiastical history, and to investigate for himself the causes or the consequences of certain particular events, his teacher all the while directing him where to find and how to use his material ? Even in doctrinal theology much may be accomplished with the happiest results by teaching the student how to find out for himself from scripture, and from the history of the church, the due proportion of doctrine, and the proper limitations and qualifications of the statement of doctrine itself. In pastoral theology, the practical work spoken of at the beginning of this Article is already the foundation for the kind of teaching intended, only that it needs to be connected scientifically and systematically with the instructions of the lecture room. This plan is largely and most happily used in the Seminar, system in the German universities. Original work is required of all the members of the Seminar executed under the supervision of the professors; and, not infrequently, work has been done in this way of permanent value to the theological as well as to the general literary world.
The method suggested has been only imperfectly and inadequately described. Teachers who have made use of it at all are ever looking about for the means of giving it a wider application. It is capable of being so used as to give a new zest to the study of theology, and to fit men by means of that study in the seminary to become independent thinkers and sound reasoners in their later life. It has been naturally spoken of in connection with the largest class of students, but it applies to all, and is of especial importance in regard to that smaller class of which we come now to speak in the last place.
This third and last class is composed of those who are to become the futuro scholars in theology and the leaders of