Imágenes de páginas

· PhilosoPHY AND ASTRONOMY. Various are the defi. nitions and boundaries of these sciences. It is sufficient for me to say, that Philosophy, in an abstracted sense, is the study of the laws of nature, as exhibited in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, and of those subtile elements of which they are composed. Astronomy more immediately leads us from earth to contemplate the celestial bodies; the sun, moon, planets and stars ; with all the variety of phenomena which relate to the skies. All these are subjects for the most sublime contemplation, as the astonishing production of the Almighty! And, in the study of them, a minister will be far more competent to explain the rich truths of the everlasting gospel. Indeed, whatever contemplations philosophy and astronomy may dictate; from the sun in the firmament, down to the massy rock, the trees of the wood, the rose of Sharon, or the grass of the field; the knowledge of their nature and properties will furnish him with the most charming ideas of the person and benefits of the Lord Jesus.

Chronology. This is usually called the doctrine or history of time. This, to a divinity student, is necessary to ascertain the various events and epochs of the world; and, particularly in relation to the coming of Christ, with the different periods in which prophecies have been, or shall yet, be fulfilled.

COMPOSITION. This is an important part of education. It is the art of classing and clothing our ideas in such order and language as to render them conspicuous to others, whether in writing or preaching. By this knowledge a young man will more habitually investigate his subject, possess it with stronger energy, and under the light of the

Holy Spirit upon his mind, will be enabled so to study, as to prove himself a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. This science, in its various branches, is of equal utility for the private duty of the study, as in the public ministration of the gospel. In fact, it is reducing every other acquisition of learning to the point of practice. Besides the labour of the mind and lips, there are many important occasions which demand the exertion of the minister's pen, whether for the communication, or the defence of the gospel; necessary rules for which, in early life, must produce incalculable advantages to the cause of religion.

ORATORY. Or, the public delivery of a discourse. Many a good sermon has been thrown away, in the estimation of hearers, by the preacher standing in the desk, apparently as cold and inactive as a statue of marble; and, on the other hand, the good effects of a discourse have been destroyed by unnatural gestures and a vociferating voice. These extremes we wish to be avoided; and, they will be avoided, when a young preacher receives necessary instructions, feels the warmth of his subject, is taught to follow nature, and to preach with the ability which God giveth. This will not fail to make him chaste, solemn, lively, and engaging. In this the young preacher is to be expected to make himself master of his subject; the nature and variety of the human passions which it may dictate, so as to express them from the feelings of his heart with corresponding tones of the voice, and actions of the body. Now, as Apollos, a servant of Christ, and mighty in the scriptures, was an eloquent man, we can have no hesitation to assist our young ministers to cultivate their pulpit talents.

The different branches of education which I have enumerated, are necessary to make a good English scholar; and must be valuable to every young person devoted to the ministry of the gospel. To these I must add, what we more generally call a course of classical education.

Latin. In this tongue there have been, and still are, many valuable volumes in divinity, produced in Holland, Geneva, Switzerland, and other European countries, and an ability to read them must be very useful. In the course of our modern publications, there are frequently introduced quotations and technical terms, in latin, which it is desirable a young minister should understand. Besides, a knowledge of the Latin, many words of which form the origin of our own language, will materially assist in producing a more correct English scholar.

HEBREW AND GREEK. In these languages, the Holy Scriptures were chiefly and originally written; the knowledge of which surely cannot fail to afford the highest interest in a critical examination of the sacred text.

The last and most important branch of all study is THEOLOGY. By this we do not so much mean a course of reading Bodies of Divinity, or of Expositions, however in themselves excellent: but, the knowledge of the pure fountain of the WORD OF GOD. By this we by no means wish to insinuate that our young men were previously unacquainted with the scriptures; but a minister being instructed to know the connexion of histories, doctrines, and prophecies of the word of God; with the methods of study, and the application of them to various characters, must certainly be of the greatest advantage, and

thus he will prove himself a scribe, well instructed, bringing forth out of his treasury things both new and old. We therefore wish our young men to become BIBLE MINISTÉRS. To these I must add, the knowledge of the history and the government of the church of Christ; the composition of sermons, and a variety of other information of the kind, which will enable him to proceed in the work of the gospel with more sacred facility and usefulness. For want of this early instruction how many promising gifts. have been stifled in the bud. And how many of our beloved ministers, even of advanced years, regret the want of such opportunities for instruction in early life?

We wish it scrupulously to be observed, that in all our attempts for the improvement of young ministers in useful knowledge, we look to the divine Spirit of Christ to sanctify their studies, and make them more able ministers of the New Testament, and increasingly useful to the church of God. One would be disposed to imagine that nore would call in question the utility of the course of education which I have recited. In my estimation, it is impossible it should be so, except by persons who either had no opportunity for learning; or, which is more generally the case, by those who had no inclination or capacity for improvement. As, however, some may possibly have mistaken prejudices against instructing pious young ministers, I think it my duty upon this occasion, to attempt to remove some of their more prominent objections.

OBJECTION First. We do not wish men made ministers. ANSWER. Neither do the societies with which I am connected. Every student we receive must produce a testimonial of his christian character and license to

preach from the church of which he is a member. In addition to this, on the candidate's appearance at our board, he is scrupulously examined on the subjects of his experience as a christian; his faith in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel; the grounds of his call to the ministry; and his reasons for desiring the benefits of education. All this previous to his admittance to the institution; and if approved, he receives the necessary letter of commendation. So far, therefore, from our being chargeable with making men ministers, we firmly believe, in the judgment of charity, that the Spirit of Christ has already made them ministers of the gospel. Of course, this objection cannot be applied to the Education Society.

[ocr errors]

OBJECTION Second. Learning makes young ministers proud ; and, they are less capable of preaching to those who are of a plain comprehension. AnswER. It is confessed that there is a class of men vainly pretending to a species of knowledge, which, as Paul expresses it, puffeth up. And there is an obvious difference in the natural mind of those who are really learned, some are more humble, while in others, pride appears interwoven in the very texture of the heart. But, it is the design of divine grace to refine the passions, and clothe its possessor with humility. While, therefore, we have an impression that our students are possessed of this grace, with all the advantages we can afford them, we seriously hope they will listen to the voice of Jesus : Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. We must ever remember that pride is the offspring of ignorance, and that sanctified knowledge will never fail to produce the amiable fruit of humility. Perhaps, however, the objector

« AnteriorContinuar »