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may reply, “ did not Paul bid the Colossians beware lest any man should spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and after the rudiments of the world? Why, then, inculcate young ministers to pursue such forbidden subjects of education?” Granted. Paul did so caution the Colossians; and at the same time stated, that this defection or spoliation, would only occur when such studies were pursued, not after Christ. Col. ii. 8. While, therefore, our students study after Christ, there is no expectation of their being spoiled. Science, hallowed at the foot of the cross, will expand the ideas, ennoble the soul, and render the minister more fertile in explaining the sublime truths of the everlasting gospel.
That a learned minister cannot descend to plain capaeities for their instruction, arises from a mistaken idea of the intention and utility of learning, and a gross denial of positive truth. It is a fact, that a man of sound education, can not only descend to the lowest capacities, but will preach with less ambiguity, convey more instruction in a shorter compass, and be more impressive upon his hearers. This will always be found the result of that learning which is sanctified by the spirit of truth, and mellows the understanding. An instance of this we have in the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Though he was a man of extensive education, in his general discourses and in his letters he used great plaioness of speech, and simplified his subjects so as to suit the capacities of those whom he called babes in knowledge. But, at the same time, when opportunities offered, he could display those powers of eloquence, which have been the admiration of ages. Can it be deemed a crime in any learned minister to follow so bright an example? This objection, therefore,
needs only to be reviewed with a very small degree of attention to afford a very powerful conviction that it is altogether the result of false ideas, and will readily be abandoned.
OBJECTION THIRD. The most illiterate preachers have been the most useful ; and therefore the less learning the better. ANSWER. That God, in various periods of time, has raised up men who were deficient in human learning, and made them the honoured instruments in the conversion of sinners, is so far from being denied, that it claims our devout gratitude to the Lord of the harvest, and demands our esteem for such fellow-labourers in the great field of the gospel. Even some of Christ's immediate disciples were men of plain education. But then, it is equally true, that many men of God, endowed with learning, have been, and still are, equally successful, under the power of Christ, in bringing sinners to the knowledge of salvation. Both these instances are obvious in the past as well as present history of the christian church. The objection, therefore, must arise from an uninformed mind, and probably bounded by his own immediate connexions. How far the objector may be disposed to accompany me, I think it my duty to follow him a few steps further.
The Lord Christ, as the great head of the church, bestows grace and gifts upon his ministers to fill those departments in which he designs their usefulness and his glory. On his ascension, he gave some apostles, and some, prophets ; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the edifying of the body of Christ. So, in reference to the structure of the human body,
which is explained by Paul, the eye hath no need to say, either to the hand or to the foot, I have no need of thee. In this diversity of gifts and stations, assigned to the ministers of the gospel, there is no small comparison to be drawn between them and the servants of Solomon engaged in building his Temple. A company was employed in the forest of Lebanon to cut down trees, and form the necessary dimensions. Others dug stones from the quarry, and the masons hewed and polished them for the building, A separate class of workmen raised the edifice, while others made and adjusted the exquisitely beautiful ornaments. Yet all these men, with their diversity of talents and employments, were interested in building the same magnificent temple; each served the same king, and received their wages out of the same treasury. It is equally so under the reign of the greater Solomon, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who employs men of various talents and offices in building the gospel Temple; each receiving the fruit of his own labour from the treasury of his grace. Pleasing reflection this to every faithful servant of Jesus! While some are employed for the purpose of conversion, like the cutting down of trees, or the digging of stones from the quarry; others collect the materials, and form them an holy temple in the Lord; and, others again, are raised by more critical and extensive knowledge, to adorn the whole with the rich variety of gospel truths, rendered more attractive by the alluring charms of persuasive eloquence.
It may now be asked the objector, whether the least learning the better, would have completed the temple of Solomon ? Or, whether different degrees of knowledge were not necessary to the respective workmen? To sup
pose the contrary, must be a high reflection upon the wise dom of Solomon. But the reflection is much stronger on the wisdom and sovereignty of Christ, who, in his providence, affords means of instruction to the ministers of his grace for the edification of his church. If, however, the objector prefer for himself a minister without learning, he is certainly entitled to his choice; but his objection can have no weight with persons of a contrary description.
OBJECTION FOURTH. God does not need learned ministers to aid in his work; he can do without them. An. SWER. If God stands in no need of human wisdom to aid in his work, I am certain he stands not in need of human ignorance. From the face of this stated objection, the answer to the last might be deemed sufficient, yet, as this will admit of some further investigation, we shall pay to it the necessary attention.
The merit of this objection must be determined by ascertaining whether Christ has ever employed learned ministers in his work? That Luke, the evangelist, and Paul, the apostle, were men of learning, cannot be denied; and yet God by their pens has performed that work which is for the benefit of his church in all ages. The holy scriptures were originally written in Hebrew and in Greek; what would you do with the bible in those languages ? Do you understand Hebrew ? No. Can you read Greek? No. What use then would the word of God be to you if it had not been translated into your own language? You would have been as ignorant of the way of salvation as an heathen. And whom did the Lord raise up to accomplish this translation? Were they men of ordinary capacities?
Certainly they were of sound mind, and thoroughly trained in schools of science. It was foretold that false teachers should arise and deceive many. This has been verified in every age ; and, by these baneful means, great have been the aboundings of error and superstition. Still, the Lord left not himself without witnesses. When papal darkness covered a great part of Europe, God raised up Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius, and many others ; men of grace, endowed with classical knowledge, and who, by the power of Christ, shattered the walls of error, established the church, and opened the door for the wider spread of the ever-blessed gospel. From that to the present period, the truth of Christ has not existed without its virulent opposers; but God has not failed to reserve to himself able and faithful servants, who, by their preaching and writing, have put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Europe and America can boast of such gospel champions; many of whom are yet preserved in life, as the defenders of the truth of Christ. It must not be forgotten that, impressed with an affecting sense of the state of the benighted heathen, many pious persons, in our country, are making strong efforts to send gospel ministers to several parts of India, competent to translate the scriptures into the languages of the east. To whom must we look for persons adequate to the task? Not surely to those of our brethren who have had no means of education; they can be of use only in their own departments; we must look to the Lord alone to bless our means of instruction, to prepare men for so important a designation. As, therefore, it has been demonstrated from facts, that the Lord has employed men of learning for the accomplishment of his work, in different ages, and that a succession of such is still necessary, the objection will readily be withdrawn by all those