Images de page
PDF
ePub

that can quicken the attraction, and as it were smooth the passage from the one to the other. Wherever this is not done; attention requires too much effort to be long supported. Public speakers, even when their language and style are perfectly familiar and perspicuous to their hearers, find considerable difficulty to command an attentive hearing for half an hour, especially to matters of speculation; they have little need then, if I may be allowed the metaphor, to lay an additional tax on attention, a commodity of so great consequence to them, and at the same time so scarce. Were it indeed the custom, that in all the previous parts of education which our students pass through before they enter this hall, the lessons were given in Latin, it would be reasonable that the practice should be continued here. As the hearers would by habit be perfectly prepared, it would be even laudable to contribute, by continuing this usage, to familiarize them to a language, with which every man of science ought to be thoroughly acquainted. But as the case is different, I should think it unpardonable to sacrifice the profit of the students to the parade of learning; or to waste more time in composing, to no other end, I may say, but to render the composition less useful. The words of Doctor Burton, both in relation to the manner of conducting the theological study, and to the language proper to be employed, are so much to my purpose, that I shall conclude this lecture with them. The passage is in Latin, but there is a great difference between attending for three minutes and attending for thirty.

Desideratur specialis aliqua institutio, quæ prophe. tarum filios ad officium pastorale obeundum aliquanto instructiores faciat. Disciplina scilicet primitus in. stituta, pro temporum superiorum ratione, figuræ et coloris ut plurimum scholastici, ad subtilis cujusdam artificii ostentationem potiu squam ad usus communes comparata, exolevit. Hinc fit ut discipuli nostri ad operosa systematum disciplina usque adeo abhorreant, ut extra ordinem sine duce vagari et errare malint, quam ex præscripto sapere, et theologiæ synopsin aliquam prælibare ; adeoque sine institutione debita, sine disciplina, sine exercitatione prævia, uno quasi impetu facto, ad officia momenti longe gravissimi administranda accinguntur. Præceptorem idoneum quærimus, catecheticum et popularem, qui quicquid est præceptionum, de historia universa biblica, evangelicis dogmatibus fidei, proceptis mæralibus, sive ethica christiana, et de iis quæcunque demum in ge. nere homini theologo sunt scitu maxime necessaria, sermone non Latino, sed vernaculo proferat, plenius atque distinctius a catechumeno percipiendum.

3

LECTURE II.

Of the Practical part of the Theological Profession, or the Duties of the

Pastoral Office.

In the former lecture, on the nature and extent of the theological profession, I observed, that when considered in respect of the end it was intended to answer, it might properly be divided into two parts, the theoretic and the practical. The one supplies us with what is called the science of theology, the other instructs us how, by a proper discharge of the duties of the holy ministry, to employ the acquisitions we have made in that science, for the benefit of the christian people. The first

part I have already briefly considered, subdividing it into three branches, biblical criticism, sacred history, and systematic or polemic divinity. I should now proceed to the consideration of the second part, the practical, which regards the pastoral office in particular.

But before I enter on this, permit me only further to observe, in relation to what was the subject of the preceding discourse, that though the different branches of the province of theology have not perhaps been formally distinguished and enumerated as above, yet a sense of the necessity of all of them seems to have influenced our church-rulers in this northern part of the island in the excellent regulations they have established for the trial of candidates for the office of preacher, as well as for that of the ministry. That presbyteries (to whom the charge of licensing preachers and ordaining pastors is in our church committed) may be satisfied of the talents and proficiency of every one who offers himself to trial for this sacred service, they must follow the rules laid down by acts of assembly, which with us constitute what may be called the ecclesiastical statute-law. First, for evincing the progress he has made in biblical criticism, he must explain and analyse a passage in the Hebrew psalter, chosen by the presbytery and prescribed to him at a former meeting ; he must explain a passage in the Greek New Testament ad aperturam libri. He must also compose and read a critical discourse called an Exercise on a verse or two of the latter, given him as a text at a former meeting. The passage of scripture selected for this purpose is commonly one in which there is some difficulty, and about the meaning of which commentators and interpreters have been divided. For their satisfaction in regard to his proficiency in sacred history, the second branch of theological study above mentioned, he must, in a Latin Lecture called a chronological discourse, give a compendious narrative of the most memorable events of an ecclesiastical nature, which have happened during any century, the presbytery shall have named; or if a discourse be not required, he must undergo an examination in English on the period of history assigned by the

presbytery. A specimen of his progress in the first part of the third general branch mentioned may be had, both from the English homily on a subject also pre.

test.

scribed, and from the doctrinal addition, he must give to the critical exercise. And of his advancement in polemic divinity, which is the other part of that branch, the Latin exegesis on a controverted question named to him by the presbytery is manifestly intended as a

The questionary trial may indeed be applied to all the preceding uses.

I may also here observe by the way, how attentive our ecclesiastical legislature has been to stimulate the young divines to the study of the learned languages. There are pieces of trial assigned, as has been observed, with the express view of discovering the candidate's knowledge in Hebrew and Greek; and one of the discourses above men. tioned must be composed in Latin. Besides, he must be prepared for defending his thesis, that is, the doc. trine maintained in the exegesis, extempore, in that language, according to the scholastic rules of disputations formerly much in vogue, if any person present shall think proper to enter the lists with him. It must be owned, that since the ancient method of disputation by syllogisms in mood and figure, once universally practised in the schools, is become obsolete, it rarely or never happens now, that one chuses to assume the task of impugning the doctrine of the the. sis ; so entirely is the syllogistic method of disputing in Latin, once thought essential to all the branches of academical education, now abandoned, in all our schools and colleges. But though at present, there is no dispute viva voce, on the subject, the exegesis conținues to be composed on the old plan, and all the arguments are cast, in one or other of the moulds with which Aristotle's Analytics have furnished us.

The other tasks appointed to be prescribed, namely, the

« PrécédentContinuer »