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standing in all things. This selection is made, purposely tu convince you, not only of Paul's attention to Timothy, but how highly important it is that young ministers should scrupulously observe the same directions to govern them in the course of all their studies of every kind; that thus they may habitually approve themselves unto God, and their character and devotion keep even pace with their studies. Thus they will adorn the doctrines of God their Saviour in all things, prove honourable to the ministry, and a blessing to the churches of Christ !
From the considerations now offered you upon the text which I selected, you readily perceive, that a Minister of the Gospel is required to be a workman; and that as such, he is rightly to divide the word of truth, so as to render all its parts harmonious, beautiful, and instructive. That such a workman, should so perform his labours, as to have an abiding impression of the approbation of his God, so as, not to be ashamed. And, as a mean to accomplish this end, he is required to devote himself to the duty of study; for, as the natural, so the spiritual powers of the mind are equally capable of extensive improvement. From the whole of these observations, you may perceive what is the design of the THEOLOGICAL Society now assembled; which is, not to make young men ministers: but, to aid their study, and the improvement of the minds, gifts, and talents, of those who are already called to the work; and all these with the cheering hope, through the smiles of the Lord, of making their future services more acceptable and useful to the church and the world, I shall therefore conclude with two short addresses.
To the Trustees and Members of this Society,
BRETHREN.—Among the many Institutions established for benevolent and literary purposes, those societies which are of the character of your own, must be esteemed of the highest importance; for it is strongly connected with the honour of Christ, the purity of the Gospel, t he glory Zion, and the truest interests of mankind. If it be a fact, that the welfare of a community, materially depends upon the vir
tues of the rising generation; we are at no loss to make the application to the rising ministry, in favour of the churches of Jesus Christ. You have correct ground on which to perform your duties to the Students under your care; for if Paul considered it necessary to instruct Timothy and Titus; and enjoin them to study the word of truth, you, certainly, are highly commendable in using every method possible to cultivate the minds and talents of your students, in order to accomplish the same important design. It is your wish and prayer that they may prove men of sound mind, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that he that is of a contrary part may be ashamed. With these views, and excited by the love of Christ, may the Spirit of God succeed, and crown your endeavours with the most abundant success! You have already been the means of introducing many young men to the churches, who are now successful labourers in the Gospel of salvation; and, it is devoutly wished, that Christ, the great builder of his church, may enable you to send forth many more workmen, approved of God, that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, for the instruction of his people, the conversion of sin. ners, and the glory of his own grace !
To the Congregation,
RESPECTED Friends-From your own observations, the various ministers you have heard, and your knowledge of the Gospel, as well as from the discourse now delivered, you receive an impression of the great importance of the Christian ministry. You are also persuaded, that it is one of those valuable means which God hath appointed for your instruction, consolation, and establishment in the faith, while passing through this vale of tears. You cannot but most highly approve of the stated minister of your own choice, from whose lips you have so frequently received the word of life with satisfaction and joy ; and you are allowed likewise to indulge your opinion on other ministers whom you may have occasionally heard in the pulpit. It must not be concealed, that you have set with attention, candour, and an earnest desire to obtain knowledge and refreshment; but, it has often occurred that, in the sermon you heard, a conviction
was produced in your mind that the preacher himself did not understand the meaning of his text; it was incorrectly divided ; and, the application so injudicious, that it created your disappointment. You approved, and highly esteemed the character of the speaker ; you perceived that he had some strong natural talents; but, for the want of cultivation, and a judicious method of studying and rightly dividing the word of truth, he missed his own good intention, and you lost the season for instruction. We cannot therefore but confess, that if a man in his study cannot find his way out of a subject, he had better not enter INTO IT when in public. Of such disappointments you have often complained; and, to remedy this defect, is the pious intention of this Theological Society. You, therefore, my hearers, are the persons intended to receive the advantages resulting from their efforts; and we dare not but indulge the hope, you now feel so warmly interested in its prosperity, that on this occasion, you will not only present your fervent prayer to the Lord for his gracious benediction, but evince your sincerity by an ample contribution, to aid in its support and increase.
We readily confess, that many years ago, our forefathers, and their churches, were strongly opposed to any literary and theological aid being given to the young men who in those times were called to preach the Gospel. But that prejudice, of late years, has materially subsided ; and the present objectors are comparatively very few; and these few, were they to examine their reasons with candour, would cheerfully consign them to oblivion. They suppose that by teaching young men how to understand their own language correctly, and the languages in which the Scriptures were originally written, the nature, variety, and connexion of divine truth, rightly to divide it, and how to commend the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God; all these they consider as unnecessary, and calculated only to produce, what they called “men made ministers,” who cannot be approved of God, and of course prove useless in the church of God. If this were indeed the real case, I myself would instantly join the list of objectors; but being convinced to the contrary, and that the objection arises from a misunderstanding, it is proper, on such an occasion as the present, to justify myself and the Society in maintaining an opposite opinion. Admitting that any one in this assembly should re
tain such an objection, give me leave to state the true case for your serious consideration. I will suppose that you have an intelligent, amiable son. On him you have expended your time and property to afford him an ample education. With a view to his future benefit and usefulness in the world, at a proper age, you placed him with an artist to learn such an occupation as was congenial with his inclination and genius. On signing the articles of his indenture, you may have thus addressed him, “my son, diligently study to show thyself a workman; that at the expiration of your time you may have no need to be ashamed.” This procedure was perfectly correct, and does honour to a father's heart. Similar to this is the procedure of our society. Did you send your son to the artist to acquire either a mind, or a talent? No; you were convinced that he had them already; and if not, you were equally certain that the artist himself could not have conferred them. We do not receive young men to acquire ministerial grace, nor do we dare pretend to communicate such grace; on the contrary, we receive a testimony, from the young men themselves; and also from their respective churches, that they are already called, and have grace and talent from the Lord Jesus to preach his Gospel.--You send your son to a competent master, merely to direct and improve the genius he actually possessed, that by instruction, example, and diligence he might become a good workman: We also admit gracious young men to instruct them in the way of God more perfectly; direct their minds more correctly in the method and habit of study; and to asisst them rightly to divide the word of truth, so that they may become more able ministers of the New Testament. If you had been convinced that your son was deficient in mind, and void of talent to make a workman, you certainly would not have engaged him with the artist : so we, if conscious in the sight of God, that a young person applying for the benefit of this society, though we may esteem him a Christian, yet, having no visible talent to cultivate for the ministry, he is not received ; for we do not profess to bestow either grace or gifts for the holy and important work of preaching the everlasting Gospel. Thus stands the case; aud as it now appears, if you condemn our conduct as unnecessary and useless, you must at the same time criminate your own in application to your son. But, it is presumed you
will not only stand convicted upon your own ground; but more clearly perceive the utility and importance of this Som ciety, and now amply contribute towards its prosperity.
How can we better conclude this discourse than by realizing the great importance of prayer in our churches, that the Lord would pour out his Holy Spirit upon many of our young men, to call and qualify them, to preach the glad tidings of salvation! Such an ardour in our devotions, would certainly indicate the Lord's presence in the midst of us ; for it would be accompanied with a lively sense of the value of our own souls, the necessity of the conversion of sinners, the increase of Zion, and the displays of Jehovah's glory! You are frequently engaged in Missionary Societies, praying that God would send the Gospel of his grace, and bless it to the destitute, both at home and abroad. But, who shall go for us? How shall they hear without a preacher ? and how shall they preach, except they be sent ? Pray ye therefore that the Lord of the harvest may send forth more labourers whose labours shall be blessed with an abundance of his grace! It is true that old established churches, are too deficient in the duty of prayer for, and encouraging rising gifts for this delightful and important employment. Let such bear in remembrance, that this is no favourable symptom of their spirituality and zeal. While tender caution, on the one hand, is necessary to curb some who have an itch to preach, without possessing necessary knowledge, humility, and talent: others, diffident of themselves, yet desirous to consecrate body and soul to the work of the Lord, ought to receive both culture and encouragement from pas. tor and from people. The population of our country astonishingly increases; many churches there are without pastors to guide them; aged ministers are closing the labours of their day, and passing on to their rest in heaven; and, where are they who shall stand in their lot, and feed the flock of God? Let all these considerations combine to interest your devout. feelings, dictate your fervent prayer to the Lord, and stimulate your hand on this occasion, to contribute liberally to the aid and prosperity of this Theological Society; and may the Lord accept your offering and smile upon the bounty of your hand !AMEN.