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ment. And that it is no small source of mortification to be frequently called in question by the people for neglecting to visit them, and to feel that many things of more or less interest to the Church must be left undone, or a regular course of reading and study be abandoned, or but partially attended to, many have proved by sad experience. Many, influenced by these difficulties, have abandoned their regular course of studies early in their ministry, and have labored for many years, and perhaps will continue to do so through life, with but scanty literary qualifications. All these facts are perfectly obvious to every one who has been but a cursory observer of the Methodist ministry for these few years past. But what can we do, when so pressed by a sort of rivalry between the present and the remote claims of the Church? To be obliged to sacrifice the present and pressing interests of our Zion, to those which are remote, as we do by spending an undue amount of our time in study, and preparing for more efficient service in future, considering the importance which the present exigencies of the Church often assume, and the shortness and uncertainty of human life, is indeed a most fearful dilemma. But here we are: we have commenced in the work of the ministry with few qualifications. We have few helps : and now the tremendous alternative is before us, either to remain but poorly furnished for the work, and of course do comparatively but little good, or devote much of our time to the toilsome and ardaous struggle of acquiring the requisite qualifications alone and unaided !

But where shall we find the remedy? This is the grand question. Should it be said, Increase the action of the present system by extending the course of udy, and adding to the rigor of the examinations; this the slightest observation will convice us is impracticable. Our course of study is already complained of as being, under the circumstances, quite too extensive, and our examinations too rigorous; and the complaint is not without reason. For we require much reading and study in a short time, and without affording the least assistance. And should we require more in the same time, and add no facilities, the effect would necessarily be, that many will shrink from the task we appoint them, and will either abandon the object in despair, or go where they can be afforded means to qualify themselves for the work. And a few, a precious few only, who may have been favored with extraordinary opportunities in early life, or have extraordinary powers of mind, and vigor of constitution, will find their way into our itinerancy. This is a result much to be deprecated. But all past experience, and the philosophy of the human mind, prove that, without a miracle, it will be inevitable. Let us not then bind new burdens upon our young brethren, without giving them some additional strength or advantages to enable them to bear them.

But perhaps some may propose to continue those candidates who may be deficient in literary qualifications, upon trial three or four years. This would indeed have the effect to keep out of the conference some who are unqualified, who would otherwise enter. But it must be seen that it would not materially expedite the work of preparation. It would add no new facilities to bring forward the candidate sooner and better qualified for the work, and consequently would not meet the case. Any expedient whatever which gives the

student no help is inadequate, and not to be relied on in this case. How we may furnish the candidate for the ministry the most effective aid in his preparatory studies, is the grand question. And this inquiry comes within the range of the duties and responsibilities of the Church. The age of miracles is now passed; and the Church is as much thrown upon her own resources in providing means for the education of her ministers, as she is in providing means to carry on her missionary operations, or any other of her benevolent enterprises. Is it then anti-Christian or anti-Methodistic to say that she must address herself to this work just as she does in any of these departments of labor? That is, she must provide the means,—the means of ministerial education. Now how could a community or a nation ever raise up an adequate number of educated men for instructers in the public schools, for the learned professions, and to fill the offices of the government, without supplying the means of general education ? No more can the Church supply her altars with the requisite number of thoroughly-educated ministers, without supplying the means of ministerial education? The cases are precisely parallel. For the studies which are now important to all those who have the means previous to their entering upon pastoral duties, can be pursued to as much greater advantage, under regular instructions, as any of the branches of a classical education. This will be obvious upon but a glance at some of these studies. A liberal course would embrace Biblical criticism, technically called hermeneutics; embracing exegesis of the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and the Greek Testament, with the principles of interpretation; Biblical archaiology, geography, and chronology; the evidences, doctrines, morals, and institutions of Christianity; and, finally, ecclesiastical history, Church government, and practical theology. And who would pretend that there is any less need of the assistance of competent instructers in order to the successful prosecution of these studies than in the study of the classics or the mathematics ?

It will not avail any thing to object that many of our preachers have encompassed all these branches without the aid of regular instructions. For it may be answered, that many have mastered the Greek and Roman classics, a full course of mathematics, and run almost the whole circle of the sciences, without the advantages of a college course, or of regular instructions in any form. But does this prove that provisions for regular instructions in the sciences are unimportant or unnecessary ? This no one will pretend.. In both cases some few master spirits, unaided, may, by dint of application, and the force of extraordinary intellect, conquer the difficulties of an extensive course. But let any one who has made serious attempts at this, in either case, say whether the assistance of competent instructers would not have been an acceptable relief to his aching head, and as a cordial to his fainting spirit. But as to the great mass, without such aid, as well Biblical as merely literary students, they will remain at the foot of the hill of knowledge, and the world will be deprived of the services which, if they were enabled to ascend it, they would be prepared to render. Some have not the intellectual strength, others have not the perseverance, others have not the relish for hard study ;-and a precious few, who have all these, have the iron constitution absolutely necessary for such a Vol. VII.- January, 1836.


work. And of these how great a part of their precious lives is spent in feeling their way through the dark, and in grappling with the rug. gedness of the way, empty handed and without a guide? And much of this time, let it not be forgotten, bad they been favored with the proper aid, might have been employed in active service for the benefit of society: but now this time is lost-absolutely and irrecoverably lost! And as we see these observations so often verified in those ministers whose public labors are likely to be of the greatest benefit to the world: whose services are most pressingly demanded in every direction, and whose days of public labor are at the most but too few for the interests of the Church; is it not high time that we were casting about for some grand remedy? Or, at least, that we were seeking some relief from an evil so threatening?

An argument of no little force, in favor of some provision for efficient aid in the study of the higher branches of theological literature, is derived from the advanced and constantly advancing state of Biblical learning in the country. An increasing attention is now paid to the original Scriptures; and the real importance of a know. ledge of the languages in which our sacred books were written, to a minister of the Gospel, appears now to be universally felt and acknowledged. The originals are now studied and referred to as the last and highest authority, by theologians and preachers of all classes, orthodox and heterodox. So much is this the case, that it is thought disreputable for a minister, under ordinary circumstances, not to have some knowledge of them; and one is constantly liable to meet some antagonist who makes pretensions, either true or false, to a knowledge of the original languages of the Bible.

The famous German scholar, Dr. Jahn, observes: “Jerome, in his letter to Sophronius, says, 'A Jew, when disputing with you, and wishing to elude the arguments which you adduce, will affirm, as often as you quote any passage of the Old Testament, It is not so in the Hebrew." Such an opponent may every theologian now have ; and if he is unacquainted with the original languages of the Bible, he must either have some Jerome at hand, whom he may consult, or he will be thrown into great perplexity, as he professes to teach what he has not himself learned. A dexterous opponent in theology, (and opponents there are in our age, both numerous and respectable for talents,) may not only answer like the Jew, for the sake of eluding your arguments from Scripture, but in serious earnest may reply, much oftener than is commonly supposed, that “the original does not convey the sentiment which you assign to the translation."

Professor Stuart gives his views upon this subject as follows: “1. No translation is or ever was made by inspired men; none, therefore, is secure, in all respects, from the effects of human frailty and error. The original Scriptures then are, and always must be, the only ultimate and highest source of appeal to establish any sentiment pertaining to doctrine or practice. Such has been the grand maxim of the most learned Protestants in all their disputes with the Roman Church.

“ 2. All revealed religion, or Biblical theology, depends solely on what is contained in the Scriptures. The Bible is the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice. What this says is orthodoxy; and what this does not say, or plainly imply, is not necessary to our faith and practice. The ultimate appeal, of course, in every point of theology, is the declarations of Scripture. It matters not, to the unprejudiced inquirer, what writers or preachers have inculcated as theology, if it be not supported by the word of God.

"3. Who is in the best situation to make and judge of the appeal in question; which, for the reason above stated, must always be made to the original Scriptures ? The man who does not understand them, or the man who does? And is it desirable that a teacher of religion should be able, in case of dispute, or to satisfy his own mind, to make the highest appeal which can be made, to the book on whose decisions he depends for support ?"

Professor Robinson, with his usual perspicuity and force, says:“The day, we trust, has passed away, in which the body of our clergy will remain contented to receive their knowledge of our sacred books through the medium of mere translations, or on the authority of commentators. The spirit of the reformation is again at work; the rights of private judgment are beginning to be felt on this subject as they long have been on all others; and if these be exercised with proper dispositions, the results cannot but be most auspicious. To those who have reflected upon the subject, it cannot but be evident that an intimate acquaintance with those oracles of our religion can be acquired only by an attentive study of the originals. The great outlines of Divine truth are indeed so prominent and obvious, that no version, however inadequate, can entirely conceal them from view; so that even in the worst translation there may yet be found all that is essential to salvation. In this secondary form of translation, too, the great body of Christians in every country must necessarily be content to receive the Scriptures. But they who are to be the teachers of religion; who are expected to become familiar with the word of life, that they may illustrate its power, and enforce its application upon their fellow men, ought never to rest satisfied with the imperfect knowledge which can be acquired through the medium of versions.”

To the testimony of these eminent scholars and theologians we add that of the venerated Wesley; which, though it was entered when sacred philology was comparatively in its infancy, is scarcely less conclusive :-“But can he do this in the most effectual manner," [i. e.“ be mighty in the Scriptures; able to instruct and to stop the mouths of gainsayers,"] “ without a knowledge of the original tongues? Without this, will he not be frequently at a stand, even as to texts which regard practice only? But he will he under still greater difficulties with respect to controverted scriptures. He will be ill able to rescue these out of the hands of any man of learning that would pervert them; for whenever an appeal is made to the original, his mouth is stopped at once."

To these views it is often objected, that we have the results of the labors of the most learned critics in our own language: and, as we cannot bope to exceed them in our knowledge of the original languages, but at best can obtain but a smattering, it is a useless expense of time and labor to attempt to learn them. To this it may be answered, that we must not suppose that all has been done by critics that can be done to any good purpose, by way of illustrating the language of the sacred writings. That much has been done by learned and judicious commentators to remove difficulties and clear away obscurities from the Scriptures, will not be questioned; but the diligent student of the Bible and of sacred criticism, cannot but be convinced that much more remains to be done. And a share of this, by reading the originals, any one may do for himself, much more to his own satisfaction than another can do it for him. Indeed it is impossible that all the beauty, force, and shades of meaning, contained in the originals, should ever be fully developed by translators and commentators. If it could be done, as St. John says of a history of all the actions of Christ, “ the world itself would not contain the books which would be written” upon the subject. But by a bare ability to read the originals with tolerable facility, the Biblical student is able to explain many passages, upon which he would find nothing satisfactory in the critics and commentators if he should search the whole of them. And it deserves farther to be remarked, that it is impossible for a person fully to enter into the labors of competent critics, without being able to see how they arrive at their conclusions: and this it is often impossible to do, without being able to follow them in their investigations of the original text. And how often do we meet with Greek and Hebrew words and sentences, and criticisms upon them, in the plainest commentaries upon the Bible, which the merely English scholar is either not able to understand at all, or which he sees so little force in, that he passes over them with little attention and no interest. Not to urge that modern theologians and critics throw so much of the ancient languages into their pages, without an attempt at translation, that it is little less than in vain for a person to attempt to read some of the most valuable of their works without some knowledge of those languages.

Another objection, which perhaps deserves a passing notice, is, that those who learn the dead languages commonly forget them again and so lose their labor. To this it is sufficient to answer, that languages may be retained in the memory as well as any other kind of knowledge, provided they be constantly reduced to use, and this is the only way to retain the knowledge of any branch of science. Constant reading will enable the student of the originals not only to retain what knowledge he has of them, but to make daily improvement in that knowledge. And it is truly mysterious that a minister of the Gospel, of sound judgment and good taste, who has been at the great pains of learning these languages, should throw them by and forget them. His object in learning them should be that he might more profitably read, and better understand God's word. He should therefore make it a part of his daily duties, and he would find it a pleasing and profitable exercise to read the Bible by course in the original languages. This course would not fail to familiarize these languages to his mind, and to imbue his soul with the spirit and sentiments of the lively oracles of God.

And these views most unquestionably present a powerful plea for adequate provisions for instructions in the languages in which the Scriptures were written, I grant that these languages may be ad. vantageously studied, under some circumstances, without regular instructions; and that the study of them is earnestly to be recom.

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