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at least co-ordinate with that of the scriptures. The second reason is, the right of private judgment which is as strenuously maintained by all consistent protestants, as it is denied by papists. This makes it the duty even of private christians to devote part of their time to the study of the divine oracles, but much more does it render it the duty of those, who are appointed to be the instructers of the christian people. I intend therefore to enter more particularly into this branch of the subject; and the rather, as by means of this properly understood and improved, the young student may be enabled to enter into the spirit and sentiments of the inspired writers, and may not be led to receive, by a kind of implicit faith, the whole system of christian institutes from the dogmas and decisions of some favourite chief or leader. This method, though but too commonly practised, is unworthy the name of a protestant divine, who by his profession, not only asserts the rights of private judgment, but denies all claim to infallibility in any man or body of men.
So much for the manner wherein, consistently with the time to which we are limited and the multiplicity of things to be attended to, the three branches of the first head, to wit, polemic theology, sacred history and biblical criticism, may most profitably by treated here. I purpose next to consider in what manner we ought to treat the three articles of the second head, relating to the pastoral care, which are, pulpit eloquence, propriety of conduct in private life, propriety likewise in what regards our judicial capacity, which will finish the outline of the whole scheme or course of study intended.
First as to pulpit eloquence, it is evident that in this particular, a considerable portion of the talents required in the preacher, are such as are necessary to him in common with every other orator. The study of oratory therefore, in the largest acceptation of the word, to every one who purposes to appear in the character of a public speaker, is, though not so much attended to as it deserves, of considerable consequence. This we are warranted to affirm, whatever he intends to make the scene of his public appearances, whether it be the senate, the bar, or the pulpit. Now what the preacher ought to have in common with other and very different professions, it cannot be expected, that in a divinity school we should treat particularly. We do not therefore propose from this place to give an insti. tute of rhetoric, though it will not be improper to give some directions, in relation to the reading both of the ancient and of the modern authors, whence the knowledge of the subject may be had. By a proper application to these, the student will be enabled not only to attain a justness of taste in this noble art, but also to familiarize himself to the several tropes and figures of elocution, and to acquire a readiness in applying the various rules of composition.
But as there are several things, which the christian orator has in common with the other orators above mentioned, there are several things also, highly worthy of his attention, which in the species of eloquence appropriated to the pulpit, are peculiar. Indeed all the kinds mentioned differ in many respects from one another ; but the last differs much more from both the former, than either of these differs from the other. Those differences which give such a variety of modifications to eloquence, are originally founded in the character to be sustained by the speaker, or in that of the hearers, or in the subject of discourse, or in the particular occasion of speaking, or in the effect intended to be produced. They may result from one, more, or all of these. Now what the preacher has peculiar in any of the above mentioned respects, and the influence that such peculiarity ought to have, will, with the justest reason, require a more particular discussion here. It is requisite on a double account; first, it touches directly that species of oratory with which alone we are concerned, the oratory of the pulpit ; secondly, this is a species of which we can learn less from books, than we can learn of any other species. Yet even on this point, as ye may well judge from the glimpse ye have already gotten of the plan we mean to follow, we shall be under a necessity of being much more superficial, than would best suit, either with our inclination or with your profit.
The second thing relating to the pastoral care which was mentioned as a branch of our intended plan, is to consider what is necessary in respect of conduct for maintaining that propriety of character, which by the common sense of mankind is understood to suit the office of a minister of religion, and which in all human probability will serve best to insure the success of his ministrations. It was observed already, that the office of the ministry, like every other, has its peculiar advantages and its peculiar temptations. With regard to both, I shall consider, first, what those virtues are, of which the very business of a christian pastor requires in particular the cultivation and exertion; secondly, what those vices are, which in a more especial manner tend to obstruct his success; thirdly, what those evils are, to which his very occupation itself may be said in
some respect to expose him. On these things I shall be the more particular, both as they are of the utmost consequence, and as they have been hitherto much overlooked. These will give occasion to canvass some of the most delicate questions that can be moved in regard to the ministerial deportment. The questions I mean, are such as concern christian zeal, matters of offence, the love of popularity and some others, on which it is often very difficult both to discern the just boundaries, and so to confine ourselves within them, as not to transgress either by excess or by defect. We may justly say that no where does the rule of the poet hold more invariably than here,
Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines
The third and last branch of this general head is what properly regards the public character or judicial capacity of the minister. The manner in which we propose to treat this topic, may in a great measure be discovered from what has been already said of the different articles comprehended under it.
These are three, discipline, ordination and civil rights. It will be proper to consider each of these separately; though it will not be necessary on such articles to discourse very copiously. If the principles by which in all these particulars our procedure ought to be directed, are laid down and explained, a great deal must be left to experience, and to that acquaintance with rules and forms, in which time and practice alone can perfect us.
I have now laid before you in this and the two preceding discourses the ground work of my intended plan of teaching. I have shown what are the principal
branches in the study of theology, both of the theoretic part and of the practical. I have also explained to you the method in which I propose to treat the several branches enumerated; being, if not absolutely the best that might be devised, the best that in my judgment can be adopted in our circumstances, and that which upon the whole, considering the disadvantages to which we are subjected, will conduce most to the improvement of my hearers. At the same time, I must declare, that I do not so entirely confine myself to the method here suggested, as not to admit any alteration, which on maturer reflection, I shall judge to be an improvement.
What I have to offer, in regard to the conduct which you my hearers ought to pursue, and the character as students which ye ought to maintain, that ye may profitably prosecute this important study, I reserve for the subject of my next prelection.