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stitution, and has formed one of the many instances where individual exertion and personal devotion supply the deficiency in public institutions. For it would be idle as well as unjust to assert, that any real absence of professional knowledge has ever been proved against the establishment. Every succeeding age has seen the faith maintained by the learning and the industry of the clergy. Every succeeding age has seen some accessions to theological knowledge, some refinements in sacred criticism, some bulwarks raised round our common faith by their diligence and zeal. At no period has the church forfeited its character of being the source of sound learning; at no period have its members had occasion to blush for the insufficiency and ignorance of the champions whom she sent forth into the field of controversy; at no period has the cause of falsehood or of error been overwhelmed by such preponderance of strength, as when the church
up her force, and came forth clad in the whole armour of God, to meet the unbeliever or the sceptic. To establish this fact, it would only be necessary to refer to those volumes which are now regarded as the standards of religious truth; and whether we look back on the long protracted contest with the papists, or to that struggle with infidelity, which, in the successive fields of atheism, deism, and Socinianism, has exercised the strength, and tried the hopes of the Christian world; we shall find, with all due respect for the very valuable labours of
many among the dissenters,—the more valuable, indeed, as coming from them, unsolicited save by a sense of common interests, and uncombined, save in the spirit of our common faith ;—we shall find that the bulk of the force, the main strength of the army has been furnished from the bosom of the church; and a long list of names filling the highest situations and dignities in it, will supply the
cord of the most powerful and efficient defenders of the truth.
But while this has been confessedly the case, we feel that it has resulted from a providential combination of circumstances, rather than from any specific provision for the purpose. Theology has never been cultivated as a science, with a view to such effects. No system was organized in our universities, for the purpose of raising up such combatants, or of supplying them with the arms which they needed. The confiscated wealth of the monasteries at the period of the Reformation, was not applied to the promotion of sound learning and religious education. The existing government of the country never saw the expediency of encouraging those studies, which proposed as their object the maintenance and defence of religious truth. Political animosities and jealousies thwarted every endeavour of the kind which bas been made; and from the time of Edward VI., it is hardly possible to specify a measure which was introduced with this view, or which was carried on to its accomplishment.
The men who did come forward on behalf of truth, were generally self-taught in all that regarded divinity. From their college studies no doubt they had derived the habit of close reasoning, accurate perception, and extensive information; they had gained, in the course of their academical education, the tone of scholars, and the application of scholars ; but their attainments in theology were generally made in other places and under less favourable circumstances.
The greater part of those works to which the Christian student now refers as the standard depositories of truth, were not produced in the quarters which we might bave expected; but in the busy scenes of the world, amidst the excitement of spirit produced by political or religious controversy. They were not composed to anticipate future errors, so much as for
the purpose of meeting those which had risen, and were spreading ; and the heresy which excited alarm, was generally the occasion of beginning the inquiry which led to its defeat. That inquiry, no doubt, was then commenced by minds which previous education had disciplined and prepared for controversy ; and truth was soon perceived, and powerfully maintained in religious questions, when pursued by those who had been accustomed to its investigation previously. · But under all these advances, the science was prosecuted by individuals, rather than by the community. .
Men came forward as they were wanted, and the call of every emergency was met by a sufficient supply ; but still the study was not pursued with the regularity which it deserved, nor did it meet with that species of encouragement which its importance required. It followed, indeed, from the desultory mode in which theology was studied, and the nature of the