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appeal,-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 So. 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; 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 desponding spirit, 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,
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, 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 incline 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