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cannot effect much beyond laying a general foundation for their future theological studies, and attending to that sacred culture of the heart which is necessary to give them a right tendency. But much may be done by a clergyman in future life to supply the acknowledged defect which exists in clerical education ; and to keep this great object stedfastly in view, is of the very highest importance ; for it is impossible to press upon the clergy too strongly the duty of endeavouring to become well versed in the appropriate studies of their profession. It is not intended to be asserted, that it is absolutely necessary for the general purposes of the sacred function, that every clergyman should be deeply read in critical literature, even on biblical subjects. Many have not leisure, and some have not capacity, for great literary attainments; but the most busy clergyman must have some disposeable or available moments; and these, if regularly and diligently employed in sacred pursuits, would in the course of a few years render any ordinary scholar a respectable proficient in divinity and its cognate studies. And not only will a clergyman be amply repaid for his labours, by the usefulness of the knowledge thus acquired for the discharge of his professional duties; but he will in time find a pleasure in the
employment itself, far superior to any arising from those uncongenial pursuits in which some clergymen see fit to indulge.
It is the unhappiness of many divines, that their necessary and their voluntary studies have little or no connexion. They read divinity and compose sermons professionally, but they turn to other pursuits for intellectual recreation. This habit tends to render, what might otherwise be a constant pleasure, a constant toil; and it will inevitably prevent the clerical student making suitable attainments in his proper calling; for life is far too short for any individual to acquire all that is to be learned on every subject, and both duty and professional respectability demand that a clergyman should be at least competently literate in all that concerns his own immediate function. To this every other mental pursuit must be sacrificed.
The author feels inclined both to sum up, and to corroborate, the foregoing remarks with a passage of some length from the writings of one of whom many a distinguished churchman has exclaimed,
Quoniam talis sit, utinam noster esset.
“I would not, my young friends,” remarks Dr. Doddridge,“ be so severe and cruel as to desire you should be confined from that high and
elegant entertainment which a person of genius and taste will find in the masterly writings of the ancient orators, historians, and poets; or in those polite and elegant pieces which our own and other modern languages may afford; from which the wise man and the Christian will learn many things of solid use, as well as matters of most delightful amusement. Neither would I pretend to forbid some mathematical and philosophical researches, into which you are initiated in your academical course, and with which you will do well to retain and improve your acquaintance in the progress of life, both to strengthen your rational faculties by that strenuous exercise, and to improve your knowledge of the works of God, which will appear great, wonderful, and delightful, in proportion to the degree of sagacity and diligence with which they may be searched out. But it is one thing to taste of these poignant luscious fruits, and another to feed and live upon them; one thing to make the most noble and substantial parts of them our entertainment and refreshment, and quite another to make their circumstantial curiosities the chief business of our study, and the favourite subjects of our most attentive inquiry. That true greatness and elevation of mind which the Gospel is so admirably calculated to produce, would teach us a
much sublimer science : And if for the sake of these little things, we neglect to pray for those whom God hath committed to our care, to inquire into their religious state, to pursue them with suitable applications and addresses, the time will come when we shall assuredly own that we dearly purchased the most refined pleasures they could possibly give us ;. not to say how much greater and nobler pleasures we even now resign, while our duty is neglected. Oh, my brethren, let us consider how fast we are, as it were, posting through this dying life which God has assigned us, in which we are to manage concerns of infinite moment; how fast we are passing on to the immediate presence of our Lord, to give up our account to him! You must judge for yourselves; but permit me to say, that for my own part, I would not for ten thousand worlds be that man, who, when God shall ask him at last how he has employed most of his time, while he continued a minister of his church, and had the care of souls, should be obliged to reply,
Lord, I have restored many corrupted passages in the ancient classics, and illustrated many which were before obscure; I have cleared up many intricacies in chronology or geography; I have solved many perplexed cases in algebra ; I have refined on astronomical calculations, and left behind me many sheets on
these curious and difficult subjects, where the
figures and characters are ranged with the greatest exactness and truth; and these are the employments in which my life has been worn out, while preparations for the pulpit, or ministrations in it, did not demand mine immediate attendance.' O, sirs, as for the waters which are drawn from these springs, how sweetly soever they may taste to a curious mind that thirsts for them, or to an ambitious mind which thirsts for the applause they sometimes procure, I fear there is often reason to pour them out before the Lord,' with rivers of penitential tears, as the blood of souls which have been forgotten, while these trifles have been remembered and pursued *.”
ii. By the soundness of their doctrines. But important as is professional knowledge in the clergy, it must never be forgotten that sound doctrine is more important still. A clergyman who is but moderately skilled in the studies of his profession may, by the blessing of God," save himself and those that hear him," provided his doctrines be pure, and he give diligence to the discharge of his duties; but where the code of doctrine upon which all his ministrations are built is essentially wrong,
* Dr. Doddridge's Sermon on Neglecting the Souls of Men.