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much disposed, or had there been institutions of these classes ever so much to our liking.
But, thanks to a gracious Providence, a brighter day now dawns upon our Church. Erecting colleges and seminaries, under the special patronage of the annual conferences, has become the order of the day. These have had the effect to raise the standard of literature among our people generally; and whatever does this, will, of course, exert a vast influence upon the literary character of our ministry. There is the clearest evidence of the truth of these remarks in all those conferences where these institutions are located. And in our own conference we have the clearest evidence that in these institutions lies the principal part of our remedy.
But still there seems to be upon the present system a want of adaptedness in them to several important points in the case, which it appears to me are perfectly within their reach. The literature of the Bible at present constitutes no part of the regular course pursued in these institutions. In my reflections upon this momentous subject, I have been led anxiously to inquire whether an improvement could not be effected in this respect, which would not be in the least prejudicial to the interests of general science, and which would render very effective service to the cause of ministerial education. It may be objected to this suggestion, that the alteration proposed would turn our literary institutions into theological seminaries, and this would of course cross their chartered limits, and be a breach of public faith. To this I would answer, that it is not intended, in the proposition, to introduce into these institutions, a theological course; but simply to teach the literature of the Bible. Using the Scriptures as a class book, as any other class book is used, i. e. teaching their languages, antiquities, geology, geography, chronology, natural history, &c., in our literary institutions, would no more turn them into theological seminaries, than teaching the Greek and Roman classics in them constitutes them mythological seminaries,-or seminaries for the purpose of educating heathen priests. Must a student necessarily become an apostle of the religion taught in his class book? Who ever supposed that all the students, in our higher seminaries of learning, were preparing themselves for teachers of the corruptions and fooleries of heathenism, merely because the Greek and Roman classics constitute a prominent part of their course
? Surely this never entered the mind of any sensible person; and yet this would seem to be the natural and necessary consequence
flowing from the ground assumed by the objector.
Though the sacred writings certainly have higher and holier claims upon our attention, yet their mere literature is of the first importance to the general scholar, whatever be the profession which he may pursue. This is most evident from the fact, that they contain authentic records of the highest antiquity ; some parts of them being more ancient than any other book in existence: that they set forth a system of theology, principles of morals, and historical facts, concerning which, every man, and especially every scholar, is bound to make up an opinion. This obligation, if there were no other reason, would rest upon this fact, that the Scriptures contain and set forth the religion of the country in which we live. But how is any one to be qualified to make up a rational judgment upon the subject, without consulting the only sufficient source of information ? Merely as a magazine of interesting facts and useful knowledge, the Bible is by no means second to any other book in existence, in its claims upon the attention of the student and the scholar. It is, in fact, the only authentic record, in existence, of the creation of the world, the origin of nations, and the physical, civil, and moral revolutions of ancient times; and it reflects a world of light upon primitive usages and customs, which, but for this book, would have been, long since, shrouded in impenetrable darkness. How obvious, and how lamentable is the want of information, in these matters, in some of the wisest and most philosophical of the infidel writers. How often do they blunder, and absolutely beat the air, for want of a little Hebrew and Greek, and a slight acquaintance with the antiquities, laws, customs, &c., of the Jews, and the surrounding nations, alluded to in the Bible! Whether a man be a Christian, an infidel, or a skeptic, he is bound to make use of the best means in his power to acquaint himself with the Scriptures; and this he cannot do, as a scholar, without a thorough acquaintance with their literature. And if so, how has it come to pass that the fact is so entirely lost sight of in all our systems of general education ? Have we not, by common consent, conceded, in this, to popery and infidelity almost every thing they could wish ? For, surely, if the Bible possesses a fund of literature, to be found no where else, unless it be regarded as too mischievous in its tendency to be committed to our children, to be studied as they would study any other class book, how is it to be accounted for, that it has not a place in our literary institutions with the Greek and Roman classics ?
An eloquent Christian orator* expresses himself upon this subject in the following forcible language :-“We have said that the Bible is the only original, pure, and inexhaustible fountain of thought, the only storehouse of the elements of universal literature, the only safe, unerring standard of taste: the richest, noblest specimen of the aw. ful or the majestic, of the graceful or the beautiful. We have said that sacred literature sits enthroned amid the grandeur and serenity, the loveliness and purity, of her own heaven of heavens, far above the idolatrous temples of Grecian and Roman genius. We have said that the exclusion of the Scriptures from all our systems of education, even in a literary point of view, is an astonishing, a melancholy fact. We gaze on the long line of the institutions of literature, through the centuries that are past, and missing their first model, the Scriptures, we feel as the Roman when he beheld not the statue of Brutus or Cassius in the funeral procession of their families, ' Prefulget, qua non cernitur.' But, like the Roman, we mourn, as a calamity, the banishment of its noblest ornament from so noble an array of genius and learning. Let us pause, then, and inquire into the origin of this phenomenon.” The cause this gentleman traces to the times of the reformation, and gives a condensed view of the subject in the following paragraph :
“ The Old Testament was in Hebrew, a language, at the time of the reformation, scarcely known to Christians. The founder of the modern school of Hebrew learning was Reuchlin, a Catholic, but
* Mr. Grimke, of Charleston, S. C.
the progress was very slow, and only a few engaged in its study.* The Hebrew, indeed, was not then, and never has been regarded, (to the disgrace of Christianity be it spoken,) as a classic, in point of language and style. Another principal reason for the exclusion of the Bible is found in the fact, that the study of its languages and history, of its evidences and antiquities, of its exegesis and connection with profane history, of its doctrines and mysteries, had always been considered peculiar to a theological course, and in no respect an appropriate part of general education : as though the Bible was not, in the language of Chillingworth, the religion of Protestants; and as though to be ignorant on these subjects were not disgraceful to any intelligent man who professes to have received a liberal education. Yet no provision has been made for it in systems of general education : doubtless, in some measure, because these things have been considered as confined to a theological course, which has been always decidedly sectarian. But a liberal course of truly Christian studies, not indeed of sectarian divinity, ought to constitute the noblest feature in liberal education, commencing in the family, continued in the school, expounded in the academy, still farther perfected in the college, and accomplished in the university.”
That the improvements proposed would render our literary insti. tutions much more effective helps in the work of ministerial improvement, no one can doubt; and that, it would be the smallest detriment to the interest of general science, I think no one can ever prove. But if this object were to be effected to an extent consistent with the purely literary character of these institutions, (and surely I would ask nothing more,) would not something still be wanting, in our plans for ministerial education, to give them full effect, and to render them adequate to the exigencies of the times? As things now are, and, as it is to be feared they may but too long continue, our candidates for the ministry are left with very little to aid them in plodding their way through the preparatory studies which we appoint them; and these are comparatively limited, and in several branches quite inadequate. Regular instructions, in a portion of these studies, if not absolutely necessary, are certainly of vast im. portance to the facile, thorough, and speedy execution of it. But what should be the particular mode and circumstances under which such instructions should be provided for in our Church, I will leave at present for the wisdom of the Church to determine. I shall content myself with simply showing the emergency, hoping that the combined wisdom of the Church may be put forth to devise plans for meeting it. What I insist upon is
, that some scheme for furnishing adequate instructions to our candidates for the ministry, in several important branches of knowledge, not provided for in any of our
We may form some idea of the ignorance even of the clergy in those days, from what Hersback relates. He states that he heard a monk announce from the pulpit to his audience," They,” I suppose the heretics, “ have introduced a new language, called the Greek. This must be shunned. It occasions nothing but heresies.' Here and there these people have a book in that language, called the New Testament. This book is full of stones and adders. Another language is starting up; the Hebrew. Those that learn it are sure to become Jews."
institutions, or in any eristing regulations, is now important to the interests of our Zion.*
Perhaps it may not be amiss to turn aside, and answer an objection with which I may be met. It may be said, We have done well enough without such helps. God has signally owned and blessed the labors of the Methodist preachers, and there is consequently no call for an experiment of this kind; that our ministry has done more for the reformation of the world since our Church was organized, without a regular course of preparation for the work, than the ministry of any other Church has done with such a course, and therefore we do not need it. To all this I would reply,-
1. That we have done much without any such aids, I am free to acknowledge; and would indeed be the last to detract in the least from the vast amount of good which has resulted from the labors of those self-denying men who sustained such incredible toils, and braved so many dangers, in first planting the Gospel standard in the new settlements in our country. It is to their labours, under God, that I owe my spiritual birth, and under them I had all my early training. But the good which has been done does not prove to my satisfaction that the helps contemplated would not vastly increase our moral power: nor indeed does it at all convince me that, could they have been added to our present system, our ministry would not have done vastly more in the cause of moral reform, with them, than it has done without them. This part of the objection is indeed opposed to all improvement, of whatever name or nature. Had it been acted upon, it must have prevented the existence of our literary institutions, our missionary society, Sabbath school associations, our Magazine, and our Advocate and Journal! For it might have been objected to all these important auxiliaries to our Church, that we have been greatly owned and blessed without them, therefore we do not need them!" Surely no stress ought to be laid upon an objection in this case, which, had it been acted upon, would have prevented our participation in some of the greatest schemes of benevolence which adorn the present age ; and which, if we act upon them in future, will shut the door against all improvement, and keep our Church stationary, while all others are rushing forward with accelerated motion to keep pace with the improvements of the times.
I leave the particular mode for the wisdom of the Church to decide at the proper time; as ihere are various and conflicting opinions as to this among those who would perfectly agree in the main principle, and as I wish not to trust the fate of my argument to the solidity of my particular notions of the best manner of doing the work. Perhaps any, and every mode which promises success, and is practicable, should be resorted to at once, without waiting to get up some general system. There might be voluntary associations, as classes, organized in con. nection with our literary institutions, embracing all the licensed preachers and exhorters belonging to those institutions, with oihers at discretion, for the purpose of studying Biblical criticism, under the instructions of the principal or one of the professors. And those young brethren who cannot have access to this means, inight avail themselves of private instructions. And associations for the purpose of mutual improvement in science and Biblical literature might be organized in each annual conference, by which means the junior preachers might have the advice and instructions of iheir elder and more experienced brethren in some of their more difficult studies. These expedients, or any similar ones, would probably afford much relief to our young men, and materially facilitate their progress.
2. That God has greatly blessed our labors is true. But that a much greater blessing would have followed our labors, had we been able to call into our ranks annually a host of auxiliaries thoroughly imbued with science and Biblical learning, who can doubt? But that such auxiliaries are not loudly called for now, who will assert? Has God been wont less to bless the labors of those men who, in addition to deep piety, possessed also extensive learning, than of those who were not learned ? I trust we have not forgotten our Wesley, our Fletcher, our Clarke, our Benson, and a host of others, who, though they were among the first in the republic of letters, were by no means among the last in their success in winning souls to Christ.
3. If it be admitted that the success of the Methodist preachers has heen much greater than that of any other set of ministers, and if the disproportion were sevenfold greater than any one would pretend, yet it by no means follows, as a consequence, that the Methodist precchers have done more good than they would have done with some of the helps to ministerial improvement which some other ministers enjoy. And certainly it does not thence follow, that they will in future exert a wider and more salutary influence upon society, and more effectually aid in the great work of Christianizing the world, without them than with them. But to return :
The call for more effective and systematic exertions on the part of the Church, in the business of ministerial education, arises from the increasing demands which are made for thoroughly educated ministers in our Church. The demand greatly exceeds the means we now have in operation of bringing them forward. Who has not observed, with the deepest interest, the rapid growth of our country; the rising up, as by some mighty enchantment, of towns and cities in every direction, the march of improvement in the arts and the sciences, and the earnest calls which this state of things brings up to us annually, from every part of the work, for able ministers? I know that our literary institutions, courses of study, &c., are doing much, under God, to provide the men. But the work goes on too tardily. Where one is well prepared to take the field, we want a
And whereas many of us are now ten, or fifteen, and even twenty years, working our way, in connection with pastoral duties, through a course of Biblical studies, which should in most cases be considered preparatory, we ought to be able to accomplish it much more thoroughly in three or four years. We have all remarked the disadvantages which accrue to the Church from the course which some of our most talented ministers feel themselves compelled to pursue. During their two years' probation they have so much to study, and with so few helps, that they have little time for any thing else. After entering, they feel that they have but just commenced their course of reading and study, and that nothing should occasion a relaxation of their application to books, or retard them in their regular course. And so, at least in the opinion of many of the people, they prosecute their studies at the expense of regular pastoral duties. "And who knows how much the work has actually suffered from this source? But that such ministers do themselves suffer indescribably, every one knows who has made the experi