Page images

three or six months with some set. if ever, to be dispensed with.” And tled pastor; but it no more follows again, he says, * the safety and ex. that he supposes his assumed degen- cellence of the seminaries of the eracy of the ministry is to be traced Presbyterian church, is found, thus entirely to the defects of those insti. far, in this combined influence. tutions, than entirely to non-compli- Like the original apostolic college, ance with this proposed arrange- so wisely established by the Savior, ment. The suggestion of one or age with youth, pastoral experience, two causes of the supposed state of with scholastic learning, &c.," a given profession, is not to be ta- “have, under God, made our semken as the assertion that they are inaries what they are.” the sole causes, unless all others are Now all this language seems to explicitly denied. And not only us definire and clear; and it is the does Dr. Spring not deny other key to the whole chapter. It is not causes, but he admits in behalf of the language of one asserting that his entire presbytery as well as him. the degeneracy of the ministry is self, that ihey have licensed not a owing to theological seminaries, and few young men from seminaries to that their degenerating influence preach the gospel, whom, but for comes from the practice of making their having spent three years at men professors who have had no these institutions, and but for the pastoral experience: for it not only recommendation of their professors, admits exceptions to the proposed they would have refused io license; rule, but it commends the semina-a statement, which either shows ries of the Presbyterian church as the high confidence that he and his thus far” conducted ; and “thus co-presbyters have in the seminaries far" they have had some professors and their professors, or else admits who have, and others who have not the mortifying and disgraceful fact, been pastors. And then, again, as that a presbytery so respectable as if to avoid all possible misapprehenthe one alluded to, bas been afraid sion, it speaks of a combined in to act up to its convictions, in refus. fluence," "age with youth”-not ing the licenses in question. No both surely in the same personone, probably, would understand Dr. and“ pastoral experience, with schoS. as intending to confess the gross lastic learning"- the parallelism reunfaithfulness and dereliction of du- quiring the sense, that the “pastoral ty implied in this last alternative; experience” may be the attribute of and if not, then there is the adrnis. one professor, and the “scholastic sion of an estimate of theological learning" of another. The whole seminaries, so high, as to render ut argument seems to us that of a man terly absurd the idea that the degen- contemplating two entirely different eracy of the ministry is entirely ow- systems, the “pastoral" and "schoing to these institutions.

lastic;" two entirely different kinds It is true Dr. Spring says, “Let of seminaries, the professors in one the teachers of those who are being of which, shall, as the general rule, educated for the ministry, be men of be men of pastoral experience, and no inconsiderable experience in the in the other, mere literary men, pastoral office;" and that he presses strangers to the pastoral office, and this thought with all the earnestness of course to the varied and valuable of one who has pondered a point till experience arising from it. And of both his judgment and feelings are the two systems, he decidedly predeeply enlisted in its favor. But he fers the former--of the two kinds of urges this, not as the universal and seminaries, that in which the pasexclusive, but only as the general toral professorships and influence rule, which he thinks “ought rarely, shall predominale. It is not a course

[ocr errors]


of specialorindirect pleading against of the ministry, but to a professorany existing professors, honored and ship.” If he is not, it is high time beloved by all who know them, and for the churches and ministry to see who will ever be remembered with to it, that a tendency so full of danthe warmest interest and affection ger is checked and destroyed. But by all who have enjoyed their in. if he is, as we can not but think he structions; but a decided and strong is, then if the chapter before us advocacy of the position, that, other were modified as to some of its exthings being equal, the professor pressions, we believe it would be ships in our theological seminaries received with almost universal apshould, as the general rule, be filled probation. with those who have had some expe. The remaining chapters of the rience in the pastoral work. And work, addressed not so much to in this ground, we believe Dr. Spring “ministers," as to "those that hear will be universally sustained, even them,” are full of important consid. by those professors who have not erations to the churches, and their been pastors; for it is hardly con. individual members.

pe. ceivable that they, or any one could cuniary support of ministers," the regard the experience of a pastor, a " consideration due to the ministry," disadvantage to a professor of any and “prayer for ministers," are department whatever. Every one topics inwoven with every interest of must feel, that only a pastor is qual. the church and of religion. Would ified to profess and teach pastoral that over the entrance of every sanetheology; that the experience of a tuary, and above every pulpit, could pastor has the most important bear. be inscribed in letters of gold: ings on sermonizing, and didactic Let the thought sink deep into the theology; and that even in the more heart of every church, THAT THEIR "scholastic” departments of church MINISTER WILL BE VERY MUCH SUCH history and the sacred classics, the practical and experimental aspects MAKE HIM;"-and again : “ Nothof a doctrine, may have much to ing gives a people so much interest do with interpretation, and acquaint- in their minister, and interest of the ance with the church now, with the best kind, as to pray for him. They construction to be put on her past love him more, and respect him more, phases, and her modes of thought and attend more cheerfully and prof. and action in the future. Other itably on his ministrations, the more qualifications may be such as to sus. They commend him to God in their tain, and more than sustain the

prayers ;" and again : “ Let the choice of an individual professor, ministers of the gospel hare ar who has never been a pastor; but, HABITUAL remembrance at the fam. other things being equal, the fact ily allar." that a man has successfully dis- The last chapter, on the "responcharged the duties of the pastoral sibility of hearing the gospel," is office is sufficient to turn the scale. one that should be read and ponder. We hope Dr. Spring may be mista. ed by every one who attends, or ken-entirely mistaken in saying: might attend the sanctuary, or im. “the fact may no longer be dissem- prove the Sabbath. It is full of bled, that the tendency, if not the weighty and affecting considerations design of our theological seminaries -pressing home to the conscience themselves, is, to fill the most impor. the fearful truth, that the gospel tant chairs with purely literary men; must be a savor of life, or a saror men who neither have, nor expect of death to all that hear it; connectto have any relation to the pastoral ing the pulpit with the richer salva. office, men ordained not to the work tion, or the deeper damnation of


every soul! Oh, that all could read, fathers in the ministry would imiand be made by the Holy Spirit to tate his laudable example in this refeel it! Every Sabbath and sermon spect. From their varied and rich would then be improved, and the experience they might leave many gospel be the wisdom and power of a lesson to do good, long after they God to salvation, to many, who from have gone to their reward. And now misimproving it, will but sink even if they tell us, that as a profesto death under an aggravated doom! sion we are degenerating, we will The pulpilevery pulpit, will be hear it with the meekness of humilremembered with joy or with re- ity, though with the incredulity of morse and anguish, in the world of unbelief, and still endeavor so to light or the abodes of despair ! profit by their counsels of wisdom,

We cordially welcome every ef- that all beholders, as they see us, fort made by Dr. Spring, through shall say, “ The spirit of Elijah the press, to serve his generation. DOTH rest upon Elisha !" We should rejoice if more of our


True religion consists in the love cern of so much importance ? In and service of the true God. By this instance, however, God has not the angels who have not sinned, the shut up his people to his simple true God may be approached die word; but in the entire history of rectly, without the intervention of a the world, for almost six thousand Mediator. But it is not so with men. years, has been illustrating before Our entire race have revolted from their eyes the sole sufficiency of God, and become the objects of his Christ and his Gospel, as a ground just displeasure ; and we can have of happiness for man. All history, audience and acceptance with him, indeed, whether ecclesiastical or and come into a situation to receive civil, sacred or profane, is but a his blessing, only on the ground of continued practical illustration of the Gospel

this great truth. To us, therefore, the true religion To make the illustration the more is the religion of the Gospel. And perfect, so as to cut men off from as this is the only religion for man, every other dependence, and lead so it is the only source of virtue and them to trust in Christ alone, God happiness. Without the religion of has been pleased to try-or rather the Gospel, founded in the blood of to permit—a great variety of exChrist and applied by the influence periments,—and such experiments of the Holy Spirit, man, in no situ. as, to sinful men, might seem the ation, under no circumstances, nei- most hopeful,--just to show them ther in this world nor in any other, the worthlessness of such experi. can rise to his proper dignity and ments, and convince them that, if glory, and be truly and permanently they would be happy, they must happy.

come to Christ and receive the As much as this God has told us, Gospel. often, in his word; and we should One of the first of these experihave reason to believe him, even if men's was that of a long probation. we had no other evidence. For It might have been said, if the exdoes not God know? And would periment had not been tried and he knowingly deceive us, in a con- failed, that nothing more was neVOL. VI.


cessary, in order to the improve. fluences and example; and that if ment and happiness of men, than they were only separated, the virtuthat they should live a long time in ous from the vicious, the precious the world. Only give them a suffi. from the vile, a portion of them, at cient probation, a long space for re- least, would escape contamination, pentance, time enough in which to and be able to preserve themselves grow wise and good, and the great pure. And so God was pleased to object of life will certainly be se- put this opinion to the test. He did cured. They must, at length, be early separate his wayward and reweary of sin, and weaned from it, bellious creatures. He confounded and become universally holy and their language, and scattered them happy. But this pretence, however abroad on the face of the earth. plausible it may have appeared once, Some settled in India, some in can not be offered now. The ex. Egypt, some in Canaan, some in the periment has been tried, and has wild regions of the north, and some signally failed. In the first ages of in the Grecian isles; and from these the world, God favored mankind primeval nurseries of men, the race with a long probation. He protract- rapidly diffused itself, till it is found ed their lives to the period of almost in every corner of the earth. There a thousand years. He gave them is not a sea or ocean which restless time enough, in all reason, in which man has not traversed. There is to become happy here, and prepare not a continent or island, mountain for happiness hereafter. And what or plain, which he has not visited, was the consequence of this long and where his habitations are not probation? Did men become uni- seen. Surely, if scattering manversally wise and good ? Was the kind was likely to reform them, they earth filled with holiness and happi- ought long ago to have been thor. ness? Or has not the pen of in oughly reformed. They ought ere spiration, which has recorded little this to have become universally wise else respecting those early times, and good. What then have they faithfully recorded this ; that “the become? What has been the rewickedness of man was then great sult of this general diffusion ? Where in the earth, and that every imagi- is the colony or tribe that has so el. nation of the thoughts of his heart evated itself, as to disprove its de was only evil, and that continually ?" scent from a fallen father, or as to “ The earth,” we are told, “ was contradict the asseveration of heavcorrupt before God;" it " was filled en, that we are all“ by nature chiwith violence ;” and nothing remain- dren of wrath ?" The experiment ed but that, in awful judgment, it has been a long one, and the issue must be destroyed. The floods of of it is plain and unanswerable. the Almighty must be rolled over it, Wherever on the face of the earth to purge it of its heaven-daring im- man is found, he is found corrupt. piety, and wash out the traces of its Wherever he exists, be is naturally pollution.

the same sordid, selfish being. To Another experiment of those ear- whatever quarter of the earth the ly times was that of separating men eye of the Omniscient may be dione from another, and scattering rected, he must say of men now, as them abroad on the face of the earth. he did in ancient times, “ They are Perhaps it was thought by some of all gone aside ; they are together be. the early descendants of Noah, (as come filthy ; there is none ihat doeth it has been by some of his later de. good, no noi one.” They all alike scendants,) that there was no inhe. need the Gospel; need it now as much rent corruption in men; that their as ever; and must be elevated, sancwickedness was the result of bad in- tified, and saved by it, or not at all.

[ocr errors]

A third experiment which God such impious inventions, and the has permitted to be tried, is that of folly of trusting to them as a ground other and idolatrous religions. But of peace. for this experiment, it might have Still another experiment which been said, that to shut men up to a has been tried, in the fruitless search single religion,--a single method of after happiness, is that of learning, worshiping God and securing his philosophy, and the arts. It might favor, would be exclusive and illib- have been said, but for this experieral. The religious principle in ment, that it is only necessary to man must be allowed to develope our highest welfare to improve the itself more freely. The invisible understanding and the taste. Let God is too spiritual, too intangible, the mind be cultivated and enlightto be made the object of universal ened. Let its thoughts be elevated worship. The creatures of sense, and enlarged. Let it be enriched we need something palpable to the with oriental wisdom, and liberalisenses. The great lights of heav- zed and refined by literary pursuits. en,--the sun, the moon, and stars - Let the secrets of nature be invesimages of curious workmanship, the tigated, and the arts be carried to symbols, the representatives of an the highest perfection. By such indwelling divinity~let these be the means, surely, the heart will be softobjects of worship, at least to un- ened, the character improved, and cultivated minds, and they will un- a foundation of virtue and happidoubtedly be more devout, more re- ness will be laid. Thus reasoned Jigious, and proportionally more the votaries of mere learning thouhappy.

sands of years ago; and thus they Thus reasoned the original advo- reason now.

And far be it from us cates of idol worship; and thus to say that there is nothing plausible might we have reasoned, had not in such reasonings. To inform and the experiment been fairly tried. improve the understanding, to reBut it has been tried. It has been fine and cultivate the taste, to ad. tried on a large scale, and for a vance in all useful knowledge, is long time. Men have worshiped certainly a dignified and praiseworthe sun, moon, and stars. They thy employment. But does it, of have worshiped idols which their itself, and of necessity, improve own hands have made. They have the character? Does it raise the worshiped birds, beasts, and creep. thoughts and the heart to God? ing things. But instead of becom. Does it subdue the power and se. ing more religious and happy, they cure the pardon of sin, and thus have been uniformly and dreadfully open a fountain of holy, spiritual, degraded by such worship. They and enduring enjoyment? The exhave been depraved and corrupted periment has been often tried, under its influence. They have tried in different ages, and under sunk down from one degree of de- various circumstances; and we hesbasement to another, till they have itate not to say that it has always Jost, in great measure, the attributes failed. Some of the most learn. of humanity, and become almosted men in the ancient world were like the brules themselves. We some of the basest men. And the · may not pretend to fathom all the times when the lamp of learning designs of heaven, in permitting the shone brightest in Greece and Rome, long and terrible reign of idolatry were times of the greatest corrupin the earth. But this, undoubted. tion and wickedness. In the days ly, was among these designs ; to of Æschines and Demosthenes, the convince men, by actual experiment, Grecian states had become so coras to the nature and tendency of all rupt, that they were no longer

« PreviousContinue »