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which is consistent with generous feelings. Lastly; the friendships which under these circumstances will naturally be formed, are auspicious of the greatest good to the church, affording foundation for future effective coöperation in worthy common objects, and extending a mutual interest and good understanding, and a sense of mutual dependence and obligation, through the distant communities of worshippers of the same Lord.
3. If there be allowed to be reason in these remarks, then, thirdly, as a place of resort for our youth destined to the sacred office, why should the Divinity School of Harvard University be preferred to other institutions having the same object?
I will not urge, in reply, any sentiment, in which numbers of my hearers might however be found to sympathize, of veneration for a spot, to which are attached so many glowing associations in the minds of this community; whence from generation to generation a noble spirit of intelligence and honor has gone abroad among them, and defenders and benefactors been bountifully supplied; and to which still their affections, if ever for a season they seem estranged, soon turn back, as if instinctively, with a reanimated warmth. I will proceed at once to the great consideration, - a proud if a painful one, — that, unlike every other institution of the kind, with which we are acquainted, — no restriction is placed, at that of which we speak, on the freest scriptural inquiry, on the part either of pupil or teacher. It suffers no violence to be done to the Protestant principles of the sufficiency of God's word, and the right of private judgment; principles, which if we did not know how complex is the mental constitution of man, we should say were not more at the root of intelligent belief than at that of vital piety. It neither calls on the young themselves, nor sets to them the bad example of requiring their guides, to submit their faith to human dictation ; to profess their subjection to formularies of man's device; - least of all, to engage to follow the light which the book of divine truth may disclose, no further than to a prescribed point. Here appears a decisive consideration, though all others should in-. cline the other way, why this institution should be preferred as an object of favor and patronage, by those who deem highly of the rights of the mind, and think that above all
things, it ought to be left free to adopt and profess the convictions which Scripture and divine grace may convey to it. If it be true, that here there is no restraint of human creeds, and that at every other institution of the kind in our land, there is such restraint in some form, this, I say, is a commanding reason for the choice of it, among similar objects of patronage, by those who set a high value on the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free.
And, in one view, I cannot but think that this consideration will be seen, by reflecting men, to address itself with special urgency to their sense of personal, and their regard for the public interests. The principles, which fortify one in asserting and using his own liberty of conscience, are of course the same, which will lead him to respect and uphold that liberty in others; and therefore they, who are jealous of encroachment on their freedom of thought, may well be concerned to have the churches provided with a ministry sensible to the mischiefs and the unjustifiable character of any attempt at such encroachment. True; such men may say, that they are secured against spiritual usurpation by the laws. But how far secured? They are protected only from that, from which the partially reformed state of public sentiment in these times would alone protect them. They can neither be imprisoned, fined, banished, nor burned, for thinking for themselves, as in other times they might have been. But the peace of such men is assailable in another way, where the laws find a much greater difficulty in protecting it, and where public sentiment has by no means reached that correctness and delicacy which are to be desired. I ask how a man is to be secured in the possession of his good name, and of those various social advantages which depend upon the respectful estimation in which one is held, and at the same time in the free exercise of his right of private judgment in questions relating to the salvation of his soul. You answer, By the prevalence of an enlightened spirit of toleration in the community. I assent to this, and inquire again by what means that spirit is to be produced and maintained. The reply must be, that it is to be produced and maintained, in great part, at least, by the instructions and examples of a truly liberal clergy. The influence of independent and enlightened men, in other walks of life, upon religious sentiment, is certainly not inconsiderable. But that of the clergy upon the religious
community is still more distinctive and direct. The better part of them are now, as they have been in other periods of the church, the efficient champions of toleration. On the other hand, when they have the inclination, there is not wanting among them power to frame a plausible argument for intolerance, nor resolution to set an example by acting up to their reasonings; and their influence will be the greatest upon precisely those minds which are already the most disposed to bigotry, - upon the narrow and uninformed. In this favored place, my hearers, you will say that you experience little of this evil. But why not? Look at the condition of other places, more populous, more prosperous, possibly not less intelligent, and with not less, perhaps, of the form of godliness; and you may see reason to allow that your comparative exemption can be considered as resulting from nothing more than the labors and example of a truly Christian clergy through a long course of years. But the evil might be set before you in the most palpable shape, if you should be led into many villages even of this Commonwealth, so far advanced before most others in right religious sentiment. You might be shown even there that denunciations for difference of religious opinion, such as when you read, afford amusement, if they afford you that, are a most serious affliction to most worthy men; not only wounding them, but crossing their honorable path; touching them in their business, nay, following them to their firesides. A sort of mark is set upon them, until, in the progress of inquiry, they become numerous enough to introduce a different specimen of the Christian ministry among them; and from that time the spirit of bitterness is rebuked, and waxes fainter and fainter. Who is content with the enjoyment of those rights which alone the law assures to him? Who sets light by those which are only accorded by an enlightened moral sense in the public mind? If you rejoice in your own exemption from the scourge of the tongue, and its attendant evils, you will reasonably desire to have it perpetuated as it was first obtained. If you sympathize with those who endure such evils, you will naturally desire that something may be done for their relief; and both these objects are to be effected, in unison with all other religious objects, by the labors of a clergy, -1 do not say, entertaining one or another belief on controverted questions, of this I am not at all now speaking, - but a clergy imbued with
the free, and enlightened, and charitable spirit of the religion of Jesus Christ; and such a clergy, thank God, whatever opinions they may go forth with, there is nothing in the institutions of Harvard University to prevent from being formed there; nor, as long as the people of this Commonwealth understand their duty and interest as well as hitherto they have uniformly understood them, is it to be feared that there ever will be.
You perceive, then, my friends, distinctly, on what ground I venture to rest the claim of preference for this institution over others with a similar design. I do not say that pupils will go
forth from us into the Gospel vineyard with a better furniture of learning than from other schools; - though as to other advantages collected for their use, they are evidently great, and to the ample eulogy, which, were my relations different, I could not refrain from pronouncing on the worth of the labors of my colleagues, I know that the public voice would cordially respond. I do not say that our pupils will go forth more devoted to their work than others, or with more of their Master's spirit; though I trust in God it will be our neverceasing endeavour to make them, not subjects of a scholastic discipline merely, but competent, engaged, diligent, useful ministers of Jesus Christ; to excite them to a disinterested and self-denying, — if I may say it, to an apostolic fidelity and zeal, in the conduct of their great work. I am persuaded that numbers of excellently disposed young persons go forth into the ministry from other places of instruction, nor do I call in question this character as belonging to any whom they furnish. But, I repeat it, it is unhappily the apparent tendency of the standing regulations themselves of other such establishments, to reconcile the mind to wearing and imposing fetters, which it intimately concerns the public and the church that men should not desire or consent to put on; while the rules of the institution, now recommended, go alike in their letter and their spirit to make it a point of conscience with those whom it forms, to recognise and assert others’ Christian liberty, while they prize and use their own.
4. The last inquiry proposed was; If candidates for the ministry are to be prepared at the Divinity School of Harvard University, why is this to be with public aid ? To this I answer; because the public wants their services, and because, without such aid, it cannot have them.
The public wants their services. These churches, - your churches, my friends; - are accustomed to look to that source for a supply, whenever, in providence, their places of pastoral instruction are made vacant. You who feel what the worth of a competent and devoted ministry is, you can realize with what solicitude you would be turning your eyes thither, should the light in which you and yours are now rejoicing be displaced or quenched; and, as to all of you, or of those who shall succeed you, this privation must repeatedly come, you perceive what a strong individual concern each may reasonably feel to see this institution even now in a prosperous state, and such numbers resorting to it as may afford a promise that the standard of ministerial character will be henceforward continually rising, and the wants of all the churches be anticipated, if it may be, by a liberal supply. But anticipated it is altogether impossible that they should be, for a very long time to come. To the extent of the suggestion which I am about to make, I am aware that there are some who think it cannot be sustained. But this has only led me to examine the grounds of it more attentively, and the result has been a more complete conviction of its justness. I am persuaded, then, that if we could forthwith send out a hundred candidates for the ministry from the Cambridge school, of average pretensions, every one of them might be placed in some desirable situation of usefulness before a year should expire. This, I repeat it, is my own deliberate conclusion, from such facts as have come within my knowledge, relating to the demand for services of the kind which they render. Some churches send for candidates till they are weary of sending, and in discouragement are either dissolved, or invite some one whose doctrines and manner of ministration would repel them, had they any other re
Other organized churches are prevented from making the application, by being told that it would be in vain. Others, all ready and anxious to organize themselves, stop short of this step for the same reason; and in a still greater number of neighbourhoods, through the length and breadth of our continent, well known to be ripe for it, and to be able to maintain, and ardently longing to possess, a religious institution such as they are sure would profit their souls and their children's, and make this earth a place of far more happiness as well as improvement to them and others, the movement is never made, for the same reason of the deficiency of this supply