Изображения страниц

church be burdened with the unnecessary charge, nor mocked with the expectation, that better education will make any better ministry.

This is not the place to dwell upon the fallacy of such opinions, nor to show that piety, though essential to the ministry, must nevertheless be accompanied with an enlightened and enlarged understanding to fit them for their great design in converting the world. Nothing can more effectually cut every sinew of her strength, and leave the church weak and defenceless to every assailant, than the hasty admission of her sons to the sacred ministrations at the altar. They must be able to teach, and apt to teach, or they can only be "the blind leaders of the blind." And there is no patent process by which you can work this aptitude into mind, without its own exertion. There is no charm about any institution, or any boasted method of quicker and better preparation, that is about to make men "wise to win souls," without taxing their own energies, and obliging them to think deep and study long and intensely. There have been many such experiments, but they all fail, just as common sense would have predicted, because they go against nature. It is time the church had learned enough from her own sad experience, to be never deluded again by such miserable pretensions. Until the young man is well prepared for the sacred office it is no help to the church to induct him into it. By no means is it so much the number, notwithstanding all her waste places, as the qualifications of her ministers, about which the church ought to be deeply solicitous. Much is gained, in the case of every hasty young man, who is kept for a year out of the pulpit and at his proper studies. He is thus prepared to do something henceforth to the purpose, and the church is saved from the withering influence of a whole year's crude ministrations and rash measures. A full course should be insisted on, and no exceptions should ever be tolerated which would weaken the general rule. Intended kindness to the individual is treachery to the cause of religion.

6. The number of theological seminaries may safely be left to the results of fair competition.

The present tendencies doubtless are to an inordinate multiplication of them. The claims of the world and the efforts of the church to meet them would of themselves augment the number, and then there comes in all the additional incentives from local interests, sectarian zeal, and party prejudices. Dread

[merged small][ocr errors]

responsibilities rest upon those who engage in the establishment of new institutions. Much time and labor, money and talent must be expended upon every such object, and if it was not needed the whole has been perverted, and the prime movers stand responsible to heaven for it.

But to God alone must this responsibility be left. It is not for man to arraign and try their motives and estimate their guilt. The church has only to determine her own wants in this particular, and this it will do. Those institutions which are needed will be sustained, and all which are found useless will of course fall. No local interests or factitious excitements can long avail to keep in existence that which is not needed. A discerning public will eventually determine which ought to live and which ought to die. And while the individual responsibility is to God, the decision of life or death to the institution is in the intelligence of the church to determine which and what are fulfilling the great designs of God. The end in view is an efficient ministry for the world-not for a sect—not for a local object-not as the fruits of a transient excitement-but for a world, and until a world is brought back to God's allegiance. The seminary must therefore lay its foundations broad and deep, and its plans wide and extensive, looking not at the interests of a year or an age, but onwards till the millennium. Results permanent as truth, broad as Adam's dying race are to be gained, and that institution, which looks with a steady eye and holy aim to these enduring interests, will find its sure support in the permanency of the principles which it has consulted. The timid and the time-serving may come and go, applaud and revile, but the enlightened and the wise will give to it their confidence, their patronage and their prayers. Tremendous as the responsibility is, upon those who engage in the new enterprise, if their honest aim is the good of the world and the glory of God, and their measures are wise to win the end, the issue has nothing for them to fear. Their work will stand and prosper, while a thousand splendid projects and gilded bubbles burst around them. The event may be safely left to the decision of the Lord and his people.

7. They must be the subjects of the unceasing prayers of the church.

God, and not man, will have the glory of the world's subjection to Jesus Christ. It is to be effected "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord." Nothing can be VOL. XI. No. 29.


more certain, than that God will blast all the undevout projects and expectations of his professing children. Especially upon theological seminaries must there be a constant descent of the dew of heaven. The board of supervision-of instruction — the youth who are instructed—all must feel the moving influence of the Holy Spirit, or no good will result to Zion. And this influence is given "to those who ask him." And while those connected with the seminary should" pray without ceasing," it is the special duty of the church to remember these "schools of the prophets" daily. They are not to be expected to prosper, unless your prayers abound. They are your instruments for the world's conversion-your instruments to teach and to train up a pious and efficient ministry for the world, not to do your work of prayer and supplication. God's blessing will not then be added without your prayers. Better forget almost any other instrumentality in your visits to the throne of grace, than your sources of theological instruction. Here are some of your most precious jewels; the hope of the world; the whole dependence under God for filling up your foreign and domestic fields of labor. A desertion here, a withdrawment of divine influence from these points, sends the surest, deadliest blight over all the prospects of Zion. Who can doubt that the numbers, and piety, and success of the ministry, must be proportioned to the prayers which God hears for this end? If you would have the world converted to God, brethren, you must pray much and fervently for the ministry, by whose labors and self-denial the work is chiefly to be accomplished. You must pray much and fervently also for those institutions, whose great design is to furnish this efficient ministry for the world's redemption.

I close, by giving the assurance that this theological seminary shall be faithfully devoted to the great design, which we have been considering-a faithful ministry for the world. The course of instruction will be liberal, full and thorough. The system of theology as here explained and defended will be the Calvinistic, in the general form in which it appears in the works of Edwards, Bellamy, Dwight, etc. New England theology will be the standard of our orthodoxy-the system of faith which we cordially believe has the Bible for its basis. But we do not feel at liberty to call any man, master, in the sense of authority over our faith. We shall examine the opinions of the men we most favor, with as much freedom as those who

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

differ the widest from us. We shall state, illustrate and defend our opinions in our own way, and make our own devout examination of truth the measure of our instructions.

And while this will be the course of instruction, we will allow the same freedom to the youth under our care. We will urge them to make their own enlightened and honest convictions the guide of their faith and practice. While we avow the principles of our faith and the grounds of our orthodoxy, we abjure all sectarianism and will leave others to the free and honest expression of their own sentiments. We pledge our health and strength our time and talents-our influence and example to the undivided object for which this seminary is founded — the training up an efficient ministry for the world. We expect the confidence and support of the pious-we pray for the approbation and blessing of heaven.



Translated from the Latin of H. T. Tschirner. By Horatio B. Hackett, Professor of Languages, Brown University.

THAT the Greek and Roman writers, who were contemporary with the apostles, have left nothing on record either in regard to the birth and actions of our Lord, or the early origin of the christian church, can excite the surprise of no one. For the Greeks and Romans were not accustomed to visit Jerusalem in the manner, that they were in the habit of resorting, the former to Rome, and the latter, to Athens. Very few, except soldiers, magistrates and merchants travelled to Palestine, which was situated on the remotest borders of the empire, and destitute of all those objects, which would be likely to attract either the votaries of science, or men of pleasure. As to the information concerning Jesus Christ, which it is probable, that Pontius Pilate, by whose authority the Saviour was put to death, transmitted to Tiberius, the number of those, who received it, was but small, and even they did not regard it as in any way

The Greeks

remarkable, or worthy of very particular notice.*
and Romans despised the Jews as a superstitious and illiterate
people, and for this reason they neither read their sacred books,
with whose very language in fact they were unacquainted, nor
felt any great curiosity in regard to what took place among them.
It is not strange, therefore, that the Greek and Roman writers,
who were contemporary with the apostles, were either ignorant
of the christian sect or silent concerning them.

But how is it to be explained, that even those authors, who wrote in the reign of Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian and the Antonines, so very seldom refer to the Christians, although spread, as they then were, throughout all parts of the Roman world? Were the christian churches, during a whole century (for Domitian obtained the sovereignty in the year 81 and Marcus Aurelius died in the year 180) so buried in a corner, that they were altogether unknown? Might we not have expected, that the eyes of mankind would have been turned towards those, who were sometimes the objects of punishment by the magistrates and who still oftener suffered from the violence of the multitude, who were enraged against them for despising their gods? Were those, who make no mention of the Christians, ignorant of them? or what reasons in short had they for their silence? It is not without cause surely, that such inquiries are made; and since they have recently been brought forward anew, and have been pronounced worthy of a more critical investigation, than they have yet received, by a man, to whose opinions we are accustomed to listen with respect, we deem it proper to give the subject a brief discussion, especially as it is not altogether foreign to a department of study, in which we are par ticularly interested.†

* The writings, which are known at the present day under the name of Acts of Pilate, are certainly not genuine: nor can any one easily believe, that Pilate wrote to the emperor those things, which Tertullian pretends were written by him. But that Pilate made a report to Tiberius in reference to the case of Jesus Christ, is very credible since it belonged to the procurators to do this on occasions of the like nature. Cfr. Henkii De Pontii Pilati Actis in causa Jesu Christi ad Imp. Tiberium missis Probabilia, in ejusd. Opusc. Acad. p. 199 sqq.

This man is the learned Eichstaedt, who in his essay on the question, whether Lucian intended by his writings to advance the christian cause, says, that he cherishes the hope that this subject may yet be more fully investigated. Jena, 1822. p. 29.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »