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appropriate learning, it must be understood that it is the Bible, as diligently studied under all the assistances which moral discipline and general literature supply; that it is the Bible, as illustrated by philology, as analysed by meditation and study; as considered in all its several parts, and in its application to the wants and necessities of the heart; and, above all, as read with prayer and with reflection; and as interpreted in the very spirit which it inculcates. To think otherwise, would be to substitute the letter for the spirit, the form for the substance; and he knows little of the office he undertakes,—has little considered the greatness of the work, and the extent of its responsibility, who imagines that a hasty, and partial, and imperfect study of the Bible, may supersede the necessity of other acquirements, and qualify him at once for the perilous distinction of becoming a guide to others.
The Study of the Bible considered as the
substance of the knowledge requiredin the Ministry. The peculiar advantages belonging to this scheme.
In proceeding to consider the study of the Bible as the peculiar employment of the Christian minister, it is obvious that we deviate in some respect from the plans which have been generally proposed. The importance of the ministerial office, an importance which no representation can over state, has induced those authors who have written on the subject, to accumulate every accomplishment and every talent in the list of the qualifications essential to its discharge. The idea that they form of the Christian minister, resembles the portrait which is drawn by Cicero of the orator—a combination of powers and acquirements such as the world never saw in any human being. It was perhaps hardly possible for those who felt deeply the nature of the office, to state its requirements in more measured terms. They would have felt that every concession which was made to the nature of their readers, every approximation to the average standard of men, was a deduction from the honour due to God, and injurious to the interests of religion. They argued that a cause like this deserved, nay, required the exertion of every talent, the possession of every kind of knowledge, in order to be exhibited with justice; and they determined that the model which they drew, should at least bear witness to their zeal.
that the noblest motives sometimes fail of realizing their intention, and that earnestness defeats its own purpose. The standard of knowledge, which was fixed in this case, with a reference to the importance of the question, rather than to the means of those who were to undertake it, so much exceeded the general level, that it overwhelmed the minds which it professed to direct and to assist. Young men who were anxious for some information as to the course of reading to be pursued in the two years which would occur between their leaving the University and taking orders, and who would have applied with cheerfulness to the study of a few select authors, were daunted and dispirited when a whole library was set before them. The interval which remained at their disposal was obviously insufficient for any extensive course; and they found that the directions which they thus received were unprofitable, because they were incapable of being applied. They needed some other directions, which should select from the copious list before them, the few volumes which they might have time and ability to master; and if they did not succeed in obtaining these from private sources, they either sunk down in despondency at the prospect of exertions which exceeded their powers, or else caught some imperfect and inconsistent views, by promiscuously consulting the books that fell within their reach.
Though there are works therefore already before the public, which treat directly of this subject, and treat of it with a fulness and an accuracy which it is not hoped to approach at present: the peculiar circumstances of the case seem to require a smaller work, which in subordination to them, and preparatory to them, may trace a line of study, somewhat more definite, and more applicable to the case of the generality of candidates for the ministry. Those two va