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sists as the Society for Promoting Theological Education, being now at liberty to use its discretion, in applying, in any quarter whatever, the means which may be entrusted to it for that purpose. The College government then proceeded to commit to the Theological Faculty, consisting of the President and three Professors, the same trust in the immediate management of the institution, which had hitherto been exercised by the Directors of the Society.
But, while this Society is now under no obligation to give to its funds one direction rather than another, except that, in the words of its Constitution, they must be appropriated' for advancing the interests of pure Christianity, and promoting a liberal study of the Scriptures,' and so as that every encouragement shall be given to the serious, impartial, and unbiassed investigation of Christian truth,' and that no assent to the peculiarities of any denomination of Christians shall ever be required,' — while, I say, it is no longer restricted, in the terms of its Constitution, as to the destination which its funds must take, it is my duty to add, that whatever means are at its disposal, until altered circumstances shall alter its apparent duty, will, in fact, be applied to the support of indigent and meritorious students of the Divinity School in Harvard University. Of the Divinity School, I say, in Harvard University, because I have reason to know that it is to that institution that the views of the government of the Society are, for the present, exclusively directed; and to the support of indigent and meritorious students of that school, because provision for this specific object is now its great want.
Thanks to munificent benefactors, we have already a suitable building for them to lodge, and worship together, and be taught in. No further accommodation is needed, or likely to be immediately needed, of this kind. All departments of instruction belonging to a complete course of theological study, in its various branches, are likewise provided for, and the establishment of any new office is not at present desired, though the foundations for those which exist need to be enlarged, to place them on a sufficiently permanent footing. Lastly, the Faculty have recently been so fortunate as to effect an arrangenient for relieving students from the heavy expense hitherto attendant upon the purchase of books, by furnishing to each, hereafter, at a small annual charge, the use, through his course, of a copy of every book necessary in pursuing the studies of
his class, with the exception, only, of the Old and New Testaments in the original tongues, which every student is required to possess. Having, then, the place for them to be instructed in, the teachers for them to be instructed by, and the books for them to be instructed from, all that we further want is, that they may have the means of living where this apparatus is prepared, in order that they may receive instruction, and this, in its bare simplicity, is the case which we have to bring be
Those who would know whether our application is a reasonable one, may wish to be satisfied upon the points proposed in the four following questions,
Why should ministers be educated at all ?
If at a public institution, why at Harvard University, rather than at any other ? and,
If at Harvard University, why at the public expense ?
1. Why should ministers be educated men, as this Society would have them ?
Because, without careful education, they will be incompetent to administer their office to the best satisfaction and edification of the churches. He who would communicate truth, must, of course, himself have become possessed of it; and he who would produce an effect on other minds, must be instructed in the proper arts of influencing them. The ministry are set for the defence of the Gospel, and it must be defended against learned opponents with learning, against ingenious opponents with logical power. It belongs to them to interpret it; and it is only abundant study, which can make them competent to the nicer investigations into its sense. It is their office to enforce its doctrines, laws, and sanctions; and this needs to be done by methods, for which, if right feeling and good sense may supply the materials, it is only application and practice that can mature the skill
. Certainly ; let those, who understand the Gospel, preach the Gospel. But it is one thing to understand it sufficiently for our own government as a rule of life, and another to be prepared to maintain its heavenly authority against all objections, to show its consistency against all misapprehensions, and to exhibit those most impressive and discriminating views of it, which have the freest and most powerful access to men's minds. I appeal to you, my friends, and I well know how you will answer the
- whether you do not expect something more from a minister than to be able to use scripture language familiarly in some vague, or some unexamined, received sense, or to manifest an acquaintance, greater or less, with the common places of some controversy of the day. Entertaining no more worthy ambition, -trusting, and so liable to be self-deceived, - what is there to ensure you even that he will not be found to have handled the word of God deceitfully? And, granting that such expositions and illustrations as he attempts should chance to be mainly right, you do not think that it becomes a shepherd of souls to be willing to be right by chance, without certainty, and without the power of showing to others that he is
Ministers among us have to do with many who will not be sent away without an answer, and who will not take an assertion, or a rebuke, or a sophism, in the place of one ; - not only occasionally with unbelievers, who fully understand the force, and point, and bearing of objections which they urge, but often with believers, whose minds are painfully laboring under some doubt or superstition, from which they are entitled to the relief, that one mighty in the Scriptures might immediately afford; — with persons ignorant, but discerning, susceptible of the best impressions from instruction and argument, but yet knowing what thought, and meaning, and argument are, and on their guard against taking the shadow for the substance. They have concerns with the young mind; and they will have frequent occasions to perceive, that, scanty as its furniture yet may be, it is not merely a white table to be carelessly and incoherently written on; but that it has instincts of a most philosophical discrimination, which will shrink and reluct with a nicer sense than that of the rules of logic from every fallacy for which logic has, or has not, found a name. They have to preach to, and converse with, judicious, experienced, often well-read men, who expect that religious truth is to be set before them on grounds of evidence equally clear and cogent, with what they have been used to look for, and to find, for other truths; and that a consistency is to be shown between it and other parts of their knowledge, that so it may take its place in their minds among things of ascertained and tangible reality, and shed a light upon, and receive lights from, every thing else they know. I will not dwell upon the thought, though if I should, it would not be altogether in a despond
it, for I rejoice, as in one of the brightest signs of the
times, that eminent laymen have taken up these studies, the thought, that ministers may even need to be somewhat more on the alert, if they would not be outstripped by the better diligence of others, in their own proper course of intellectual exercise. Let it come to be once generally seen or believed, that they know less of their chosen business than others know, and even the task of suitably maintaining our religious institutions, hard enough in some places already, would begin to look like a desperate enterprise. But it is sufficient to say, that, for their own separate uses, and at all times, to meet the necessities of the individual souls for which they undertake to provide spiritual food, the churches demand a learned ministry. And more; there are those, not ministers, but wiser men, it may be, who think they perceive, that the disappearance of such a ministry would be a shivering blow upon the firmest foundation-stone of the community's quiet and prosperity.
I have confined myself in these remarks to a Christian minister's need of education for his office, in order to a fit discharge of its every-day duties, without adverting, because it was too large a subject to be incidentally introduced, to the obligation of the American clergy to use their advantages (in some important respects altogether unparalleled) for enlarging the limits of theological science. Remembering who those are whom I address, I will not further dwell on the topic which I have been treating, except to suggest, that, in the present state of things among us, it is peculiarly desirable, that the requisite mental furniture should be as largely provided as possible within the period of preparatory discipline. There has probably been no previous time when more stress has been laid than now upon the active duties of a minister, to the prejudice of his opportunities for study; when, to a greater degree than now, he was compelled to feel, that the brief intervals of time, which he passed among his books, were so much withdrawn from occupations, esteemed to have a stronger claim upon him. And as long as the prosecution of any regular system of study continues to be thus obstructed, the evil ought to be obviated, as far as may be, by accumulating the richest stock attainable of professional learning, during the preparatory
2. But, secondly, if ministers are to be educated, why.
should this be at a public institution ? Why not, as was formerly the practice, under the care of a private clergyman?
I suppose, my hearers, that no one can consider the subject, and not allow that the practice referred to, was merely the use of a very imperfect expedient, as long as no better was to be had. The question is not at all, whether among the parish clergy are to be found the most eminent men in the profession, nor even, whether in their ranks appear the individuals the most apt to teach others. But it is, whether there is any one, who is qualified to give alone the best instruction in every department; who can command the time, from his parochial cares, to do it; who, in addition to the resources of his own mind, can offer the various other advantages for needed study and practical exercise ; and who collects around him a sufficient number of students to exert the proper action on one another. Here are brought to view the obvious advantages of a public institution. In all departments of instruction, its pupils have the aid of teachers, who, while they will generally have enjoyed the benefit of previous practical experience of the ministry, are selected on account of their supposed peculiar interest, each in his own department, and separated from other cares, to the end that all their powers and endeavours may be devoted to giving, and qualifying themselves to give, the best assistance in that walk. Again; it is quite plain that it is only in a public establishment that that collection of means can be made, by which this education is to be most advantageously conducted. In the wide range, which the study of divinity now takes, and which it is greatly undesirable should be narrowed, it is necessary to have access, regularly to a considerable number, and occasionally to a very large number, of books. Further; unless all observation has deceived us, the power of sympathy and the benefit of coöperation among persons engaged in the same pursuit are extremely great; and the interest of a number of students prosecuting their inquiries apart will be very cold, and their progress very slow, and their conclusions for the most part, general and loose, compared with those of the same number collected together, acting on each others' minds and hearts, interchanging their different views, and thus clearing, correcting, and enlarging them, and mutually excited by the power of good example, and of that degree of emulation,