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when it appeared that they had respectively pursued a course of study in mental philosophy, ethics, civil and ecclesiastical history, the interpretation of scripture, evidences of scripture, systematic theology, Hebrew antiquities, and philology.
When we add to this sketch of the plan of study, that Dr. Henderson presides over the college at Highbury, and that Dr. Pye Smith, author of that invaluable work, “The Scripture Testimony to the Divinity of Christ,” is the theological and biblical tutor at Homerton ; and that both of these gentlemen, in addition to more than usual acquirements in ancient and oriental literature, are thoroughly acquainted with the works of the great German biblical critics and divines ; we can have no hesitation in saying, that advantages are offered to those under their direction, superior to any which are to be found at present in either of the great Universities.
The necessity of a regular Education for the Ministry considered, and the limits which
may be assigned to it.
It is possible that the remarks which have been made above, may have awakened some considerations as to the nature of that education which is to be deemed necessary for the clergy in general; and the suggestions which have been hitherto offered, have merely proposed a mode in which present deficiences may be removed, without stating the point it is desirable to attain. It is also possible, that the importance attached to a regular system of education may seem to be unfounded;
and that cases may be mentioned-cases of which it would be unjust and idle to deny the reality-where all the work of the ministry has been effected, with a peculiar measure of success, without any such preparation. No one, for instance, would deny that many souls have been converted, that extensive good and permanent good has been produced by the labours of men, who had little advantage from education ; but who have exemplified the truth of Bishop Burnet's remark, that a great deal of piety with little learning, will do more than a great deal of learning with very little piety.
In reply to this last objection, it is obvious to state, that no argument is ever justly drawn from cases which must be pronounced exceptions to the general rule; to which we must add, that it is natural to expect, in this particular case, that such exceptions should be of more frequent occurrence than in any other. The sovereignty of God, the sufficiency of his grace, the wonders of his goodness and his power, are unquestionably exbibited, from time to time, in the spiritual world, in effects for which we can discern no adequate or proportionate causes. The presumption of man is humbled by observing the changes which the grace of God produces through means which were despised; hope is encouraged in the faithful and patient by the same ; and these occasional deviations from the ordinary mode of proceeding supply proofs, which the humble and awakened mind knows how to appreciate, both of the power and benevolence of God. But as men do not learn the course of nature from the study of those phenomena which suspend or interrupt it; no more is the will of the Deity to be inferred from the occasional and isolated acts of mercy which occur in his providence. That will is more clearly revealed, more certainly deduced from the general course of his dispensations, than from those which are detached; and just as it forms no exception to the general necessity of labour,
that God has sometimes fed his people with bread from heaven; so it forms no exception to the general necessity of learning in the ministry, that God has sometimes made use of ignorant but zealous men, for the purpose of reviving a spirit of religion.
But if there are some few cases of eminent usefulness, which are only to be explained and accounted for in this manner; it is also necessary to admit, that the want of education alleged is often rather imaginary than real; that it consists in the absence of qualifications which have no direct bearing on the subject; and that it is compatible with an abundant possession of those means which are most decidedly influential. A man, for instance, may be considered illiterate, if tried by the standard of human attainments, who still may be, like Apollos, mighty in the Scriptures. He may be destitute of outward graces, and still may be able to speak to the souls of his hearers with a power