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they répose. But there are extremely few (if indeed any) who not having laid a solid foundation at their theological school, supply it in after life. I ask you, if you have not sufficient taste for study, sufficient resolution and energy now that the time for labour, the age of activity, the period when you are called upon by God himself to exert yourselves, is present, how will you acquire this taste and inspire this energy hereafter? It requires but little knowledge of human nature to understand, that if these qualifications are deficient now, they will fail far more in future. In what other situation will it be possible to attain the knowledge you have thus neglected ? Occupied as you will be in the duties of the pulpit, in the care of souls, in all the affairs and interests of the ministry, how little time can you then devote to these labours. Ah! well! another may say, piety will supply the place of learning. The words of the apostle, who commanded his disciple to apply himself to reading, exhortation, and instruction, will supply us with an answer for such a subterfuge. Have we not already seen, that if you fail of solid learning, there is an infinite variety of cases, in which you will have to compromise the ministry, the Bible, yea, Christianity itself, and cause the destruction of immortal souls? We might illustrate this fact. Whatever be our piety, we cannot, without education, maintain the simple office of a preacher, and the pastor of a christian church; repetitions in the pulpit become incessant, the hearers are fatigued, and, at length, by degrees, dispersed. I have already cited to you an illustrious name in the history of the church, I will now present another before you. The man who, perhaps, of all others made the deepest impression upon large multitudes, one of the most absorbing preachers to which the churches of Christ have ever listened, a minister entirely devoted to his Master, and who conducted to the foot of the Cross, the myriads who crowded around him in the buildings, and open fields of his country, the renowned Whitfield, confessed with the deepest humility, that as he possessed comparatively but a superficial education, it would be impossible for him to exercise his ministry in one fixed spot, before a more or less cultivated audience. He soon perceived, that before he had remained long in one place his audience sensibly diminished, and he hasted therefore to go elsewhere, to collect, like John the baptizer, in some desert region new crowds anxious to hear the good news of repentance and remission of sins.
But, gentlemen, the object of your academical career is not only to impart positive knowledge, but to cast the whole man in a mould proper for a minister of religion. How much is necessary to be done by a young man, who for the first time comes forward to commence his preparatory studies ! He is, as it were, a block of marble, which requires thousands of blows with the chisel, before it arrive at that symmetrical form, which is to be animated by the fire of heaven. It is necessary that study be diligently employed, to develope, to mature, to discipline the intellect; to impart that indirect influence to the mind, which is fully as indispensable as the definite knowledge it may acquire. « Oratio, Tentatio, Meditatio.” This it is, according to Luther, which forms the true theolo
gian. · If you only desire the first of these qualifications, be sure that you will not attain your object. Under how many different forms does application lay before you the second ? What watching and labour are required by the third ? I do not wish to refer here merely to young persons of a dull or pertinacious disposition, but if we take into consideration those only who possess the highest mental endowments, still how many admonitions, how much earnest advice, how much experience do they require! Are they wavering and irresolute in their belief? they must be established in it. Are they hasty, impetuous, indiscreet, uninstructed in the knowledge of the world ? they must learn to practise self-knowledge, to penetrate into human nature, to be moderate, prudent, and sober. Are they apt to judge, or condemn others, to attempt questions beyond their reach, to forget what they owe to their superiors in age or attainment? they must learn to reverence their elders, to think moderately of themselves, to be slow to speak, and ever anxious to learn. And after this is accomplished, what wanderings have still to be corrected, what directions still to be given! It has ever been remarked, that those who are most disposed to embrace great errors are the most ignorant and superficial. We must arm ourselves, gentlemen, against these sad mistakes; there are still grand errors abroad, not only without, but lying within the range of christian doctrine; not only amongst those who deny the divinity of the Redeemer, and the atonement made by his blood, but amongst those who maintain these sacred truths, or at least appear to maintain them. There are still, as in the times of Montanus and Thomas Munzer, those who pretend to apostolic inspiration, and place themselves above the only true and infallible word of God. These are errors tempting and seducing to human pride, against which the young Levite must arm himself by knowledge and love. For the accomplishment, then, of these things, can you have too much time and too steady application? It is but too true, gentlemen, that theological studies have been in general up to the present time exceedingly contracted. But the church has now entered upon a new era. There is now need of universal change, which we desire to see primarily effected in this our seminary. We know that God has well disposed your hearts, and that there are also studious persons amongst you, for which we render unfeigned thanks to the Father of Light. But, dear brethren, if you well understand the requirements of the age in which God has called you to the ministry of the gospel, you will perceive that you have as yet accomplished nothing, and that there will still be need, on your part, of new, continued, and persevering efforts. In order to bring home more forcibly to our minds one branch of these requirements, we will quote another passage, which appeals to us from across the Atlantic. I have spoken to you of the old Geneva, in which we now live; but there is beside this another Geneva. Amongst scenes which, for many years, only a few solitary wanderers or settlers frequented, between the northern river and the majestic cataract of Niagara, on the borders too of a little lake in form not unlike our own, rises a town which bears the name of Geneva, and without doubt was ori
ginally founded by some children from our own beloved father land. The old Geneva has something to learn from the young city which has arisen in the desert. An age of indifference and infidelity has visited, and passed over us, and we have now to copy the example of those countries, which were not known even to be in existence at the time of our reformers. The Christians of America love us; they regard us for the sake of our fathers, and for the sake of that which God permitted them to be, and ordained them to accomplish. The Rev. M. P. Squier, speaking recently to the students assembled at Geneva, in the ancient territory of the Oneidas, the Senecas, and the Mohawks, and urging the importance of the studies that belong to the holy ministry, said, amongst other things, these words, which are inserted in some papers just arrived from America. (Here the Professor, taking the New York Observer, of the 5th September, 1836, read a most interesting citation, of which we regret that we can only insert the conclusion.) After showing that the cause of missions requires the most diligent theological research, Mr. Squier proceeds-" That the sphere of knowledge is daily extending itself more and more, is another reason why candidates for the ministry should not be content with mediocrity. Branches entirely new have been added to the science and literature of former ages. To these a constant reference is made, both by the friends and enemies of religion, and error will ever take delight in deriding the ignorance of those who defend the truth, whenever it finds a suitable occasion. Augustin, Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Zuinglius, Edwards, and Henry Martyn, would never have been able so efficiently to benefit the church, unless they had commanded extensive stores of solid learning, and had been raised by their researches far above the champions of error. And now, in this busy, curious, yet thoughtless age, with the pretensions of papacy on one side, and the boastings of infidelity on the other, with so much powerful opposition to truth on every hand, are the rising ministry to amuse themselves in indolence, to remain below the age in which they live, and the society in which they move? Will they not, in such a case, appear mere satellites in the firmament of knowledge, which only gather and faintly reflect some pale and borrowed rays from the meteors which traverse our horizon. In all other professions, the level of science and literature is steadily rising from year to year, and fresh candidates are perpetually called for. Is ours, then, alone to follow in the rear? Shall we be scen encouraging ignorance, and introducing it into the house of God; the place where we expect to see others assemble to be convinced, instructed, and edified ? The ministers of the gospel ought, by their light, to maintain such a position, as to exercise a mighty influence over the science, the literature, the sentiments, the temporal destinies both of the age in which they live, and that which will immediately succeed. To their care has God committed the cause of education, and may they never prove themselves unworthy of the trust, and suffer it, by their indolence, to fall into other hands. If they regret the time required for preparation, if a disgust for classical studies spread through their ranks, who will then preside in the palaces of learning ? Who then will educate the rising generation? Who will form and sanctify our literature? Who, in a word, will fan the spirit of the gospel in this age of extended research? Soon will you see infidelity installed in our schools and colleges, and usurping the empire of all works of science and education. Soon will you see the holy ministry contemned as hostile to light, as unfavourable to knowledge, and from all the posts of erudition and power we shall hear it proclaimed, as it has been in France, that ignorance is the mother of devotion.” Such, continued M. Merle, such are the sentiments of the Genevese Professor in Ontario. Gentlemen, that which he dreads for the new world has, alas I already taken place in the old. The religion of Jesus Christ, which is the mother of our population, of our civilization, of our modern literature, has been excluded from our halls of learning, and very generally from the education of the young and lower classes of the people. Learning is no longer inseparably yoked with Christianity; it no longer beholds as devotees at its shrine a Melanchthon, a Theodore Beza, a Newton, or a Pasa chal. A spirit hostile to the gospel prevails in almost all our schools and universities; and to whom is it owing? pre-eminently to us, the servants of Christ. It is because we have so long remained, and still remain behind-hand in our duties, that another spirit than that of the gospel now animates the schools of the people. And shall such a state of things continue ? Shall the divorce between religion and knowledge be perpetual ? a divorce which (as nothing can live without God) must terminate in the subversion of all our literature. Such an effect has already indeed, to a fearful extent, been produced, and there has been perpetuated on this account, in the midst of our people, a spirit of immorality and selfishness-a state of disorder and distress. God must be re-established in our seminaries before we possess a youth brave, peaceable, devoted to their duties, and truly capable of serving their country. Let the word of God, then, regain the position it has lost; let it reign anew in the sanctuaries of learning and the schools of the people; let those who distribute to this generation their stores of learning seek it first from Him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. For these great purposes it is absolutely necessary that Christians, and especially the ministers of the gospel, by their instruction, render Christianity honourable in the eyes even of the most learned. Thus, then, the necessities of the church and the age, the voice of antiquity and that of the present moment, the voice of the old world and the new, the voice of the St. Pauls and Calvins of our times, the voice of your country, your church, and your teachers, and especially the sacred and omnipotent voice of God-that God who has saved you, whose you are, and to whom you owe eternal obedience-commands you to give earnest attendance to reading, exhortation, and instruction.
ON LEARNING, AS A QUALIFICATION FOR THE EXERCISE
OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
(To the Editor.) Dear SIR-In common with many of your correspondents, I have recently read the letters sent forth by R. M. Beverley, Esq. on the present state of the visible church of Christ. Some of the statements contained in those letters have excited my astonishment, whilst others have strongly awakened my regret. It is not, however, the design of the following remarks to discuss the general merits of the book, or to express any opinion as to how far it may be deemed worthy of the talents and character of that gentleman. But there is one train of sentiments, from the letter and the spirit of which, I cannot but unequivocally dissent, and which I think, ought not to pass without some impartial examination. I allude to his views and strictures on the subject of learning, as a qualification for the exercise of the Christian ministry. They may be found in the ninth and three following letters; and the more I reflect upon them, the more powerfully am I struck with their lamentable want of accuracy. Having conversed myself with several persons both in and out of the ministry, distinguished for their acuteness, intelligence, and piety, it gives me pleasure to find that this opinion is decidedly cherished by others capable of judging and feeling upon the point in a becoming manner. Fully impressed with the recollection that many vague and contradictory ideas have been entertained and spread abroad relative to this subject, and aware that the subject itself is one of considerable delicacy, I shall strive, in the following observations, to express myself as clearly and as guardedly as possible. Truth and right are what I fervently long to see prevailing with regard to the matter under consideration, and I believe that, sooner or later, they will prevail, moulding by their influence and captivating by their charms, every thoughtful mind.
To prevent any misunderstanding in the outset, I beg to premise one or two things. And first, I could not for a moment yield to Mr. B. in depth of persuasion that no human instrumentality, apart from divine agency, could in the least degree promote the real and enduring welfare of fallen and depraved man. Supposing such agency to be withheld, no progress could be made, no triumphs achieved, in this all-interesting work. The most brilliant intellectual powers, the profoundest learning, the richest theological sermons, delivered with energy and pathos, would be alike impotent and fruitless. Whether we contemplate the conversion of the soul, or the development and the maturing of the life of godliness in the believer, we cannot but recognise the force of that determinate language of inspiration, “ Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” The preacher of our days, of whatever denomination, might have the gifts, the graces, and the attainments of Paul or Apollos, and like them he might preach with thrilling power and tenderness, but still it would be immutably true, that “ God giveth the increase.” I never expect to meet with the person