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were the only subject ye were to be instructed in from this chair ; and though we were to treat it in the most compendious manner possible. Is this branch then to be omitted ? By no means.
But all that with propriety can be effected by us is, to convey some notion of the nature and origin and essential parts of this species of history, to trace as briefly as possible the latent springs of the principal changes, with which the eccle. siastical history in particular presents us; and as on the last mentioned article, to offer suitable advices to the student, first as to the order in which he ought to proceed in the acquisition of this necessary branch of knowledge; secondly as to the books and assistances which he ought to use.
As to the only remaining branch of the same general head, biblical criticism, it will require to be managed in a different manner. It is for this reason I here mention it last, notwithstanding that I gave it the first place in the enumeration of the parts into which the theory of theology may properly be divided. When I speak of biblical criticism as a very considerable branch of the study incumbent on every divine, I would not be understood to mean an acquaintance with many of the commentators, who have criticised upon the sacred text, but principally the acquisition of some general canons in scriptural criticism, especially the criticism of the New Testament, by which we may often be enabled both to judge without the aid of commentaries, and when we shall think it proper to use that aid, to decide between contradictory comments. Now though all the first principles of criticism on the style and idiom of scripture are perhaps to be found scattered in an almost endless variety of volumes, writ.
ten on the subject of the christian religion, they are not to be collected from these without the utmost labour and difficulty. The most of our commentaries, it must be owned, are too bulky for the generality even of theological students. And we are sorry to add (but it is a certain fact) that in several of these commentaries, what is of little or no significancy so immoderately preponderates what is really valuable, that we may almost say of them, as Bassanio in the play says of Gratiano's conversation, “ They speak an infinite deal of nothing. Their reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff, you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them they are not worth the search.” To lay down therefore proper canons of sacred criticism, to arrange them according to their comparative merit, so that we may readily apprehend the way in which they are to be applied, must be a very useful labour to all in general, but of particular consequence to the young student. It is the more so, because could we once arrive at being adepts in the critical science, the help of the commentator would be much more rarely needed; we should serve as commentators to ourselves.
Allow me to add, that this study is the more necessary in a protestant divine, for two reasons. The first is, because the Bible is acknowledged by such to be the foundation, from which alone all that is necessary both to be believed and to be practised by the christian may be learnt. Whatever therefore is subservi. ent to the elucidating of the sacred pages, must be of the utmost consequence to him. The case is very different with the Romanist, who assigns to tradition, to the fathers, to councils, and to popes, an authority
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 infal. libility 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 requir
ed 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 institute 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