Images de page

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 præ. ceptionum, de historia universa biblica, evangelicis dogmatibus fidei, præceptis moralibus, sive ethica christiana, et de iis quæcunque demum in homini theologo sunt scitu maxime necessaria, ser-mone non Latino, sed vernaculo proferat, plenius -atque distinctius a catechumeno percipiendum.





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 ales laid down by acts of assembly, which with us constitue 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 pas. sage 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 al


so prescribed, 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 test. The questionary trial may indeed be applied to all the preceding 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


view of discovering the candidate's knowledge in Hebrew and Greek; and one of the discourses above mentioned must be composed in Latin. Besides, he must be prepared for defending his thesis, that is, the doctrine 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 thesis; 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 continues 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 English Lecture or exposition of a portion of scripture, and the popular sermon are chiefly intended for trying the candidate's abilities in instructing and persuading, and consequently of his fitness for the pulpit. But this belongs to the practical part of our subject, which comes now to be considered.

The duties of a christian pastor may all be comprised under these two heads, instructing and governing. The first of these, from the different ways in which the people may be instructed, admits a subdivision into two, example and teaching. With regard to the first, the duties, in private life, of every christian are materially the same with those of the minister. Love to God and man constitutes the sum of duty in both. For this reason one at first would imagine, that this part of the subject, teaching by example, could admit nothing particular, on account of the precepts as well as of the doctrines of religion being comprehended under the third branch of the former head, the christian system. But as the consideration of the design of the ministerial office affords an additional and strong obligation to the observance of every christian duty, it also in several instances renders a certain delicacy and circumspection necessary in the minister of religion, which as in others it is not expected, so the want of it in others is scarcely attended to or blamed. Every office too, and that of the ministry among the rest, hath, in respect of moral conduct, its advantages and its temptations. To improve the former, and to guard against the latter, are matters of considerable importance in

« PrécédentContinuer »