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which we mean frequently to dwell-the importance of an able and well-educated clergy.
It is impossible to contemplate the history of this republic without feeling that the whole of its organization has been such as to give development to the proper powers and influence of the Christian ministry. From its settlement a series of events has been in progress demanding profound wisdom, indefatigable activity, rich and varied learning, and indomitable courage and integrity. Every one knows that the whole system of society in New England was framed under the auspices of the Christian religion, and, of course, under the direction, in no small degree, of those whose office it was to preach the gospel. Nor was it possible that ignorant or inactive ministers should have been adapted to that state of things, or that they could have met the crises which occurred in the foundation of a mighty empire. The constitution of a vast civil polity was to be framed. The formation of churches was an object of deep solicitude, and required profound wisdom. Laws adapted to a new and peculiar community were to be enacted. The earth was to be subdued and cultivated. Morality, chastity, industry, intelligence, and order, were to be promoted among the people. The eye of the lawgiver and the Christian could not but run along future ages, and anticipate the grandeur of a mighty Christian empire. For the enjoyment of freedom, they had sought the dreariness and solitude of a vast wilderness, and they were conscious of living to mould the destiny of countless millions.
Many would have thought that to preach to a handful of people on the shores of Plymouth, to instruct the little flock that came across the waters, and who were encountering all the perils of the wilderness and the privations of a life in a strange and inhospitable country, an ignorant ministry would have been sufficient. Thus many think now about our Western World. But our Puritan fathers had different conceptions of
the nature of this office. Profoundly learned when they came to these shores, they have been unequalled in this country or any other for patient study and toil, even after their arrival. Till within a few years, there were no men in this country, and scarcely in any other, who have been so profoundly skilled in the Oriental and ancient languages, or so laborious in writing books, as the men who came first to New England.
Here we are happy to record the high eulogium of a man than whom no one in our country is better qualified to speak, or whose opinions in the literary and political world have more the authority which, by common consent, has been conceded to him on the bench.
"They were so fortunate," says Chancellor Kent, "as to enjoy the presence and guidance of one man who had been early initiated in university learning, and proved to be one of those superior and decided characters, competent to give a permanent direction to human affairs. No sage of antiquity was superior to him in wisdom, moderation, and firmness; none equal to him in the grandeur of his moral character, and the elevation of his devotion. This learned audience will have perceived that I allude to the Rev. Thomas Hooker, whom his distinguished biographer has termed the light of the Western churches, and oracle of the Connecticut colony."* "The leading Puritans of New England, and the great body of Protestant clergy everywhere, no less than the fathers of the primitive church, were scholars of the first crder. Let us take as a sample from among ten thousand, the Rev. John Cotton, styled the father and glory of Boston. He was advanced in early life, by reason of his great learning as a scholar, to a fellowship in the English University of Cambridge. His skill in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages, as well as in textual divinity, was unrivalled. His industry was extraordinary. He wrote and spoke Latin with ease, and with Ciceronian eloquence. He was distinguished as a strict and crthodox preacher, pre-eminent among his contemporaries for the sanctity of his character, and the fervour of his devotion. He died, as he had lived, in the rapturous belief that
Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, 1831. p. 9.
he was in reality to join in the joys and worship of the saints in glory."*
Nor did they deem any of their acquisitions to be useless in the wilderness. One of the first of their measures was to found Harvard College. Never did a Puritain conceive that a minister of the gospel could be fitted, even for the Western wilds, without a long and profound training in the schools. Every idea which he had of the perpetuity of liberty was blended indissolubly with the thought that the ministry should be profoundly trained for their work.
Under auspices such as these our country rose. few subjects from which the mind less willingly departs, than from the contemplation of that peculiar and wonderful race of men. We feel that the ministers and people of that age had been formed for each other, and both had been formed to meet the toils and hardships connected with the subjugation and culture of the rocky soil to which God directed them. And though they were a sect which has been "everywhere spoken against," yet their memorial is the virtue, the order, the intelligence, and the piety of the Northern States, and no small part of the results of the effort to spread the knowledge of the gospel, and religious freedom, among all the empires of the earth.
It would almost seem as if the conceptions of our fathers on this subject, had been formed by a prophetic anticipation of what this republic is destined yet to be. One can hardly help reflecting on what might have been the state of things in this land, if they had possessed different views respecting the nature of the gospel ministry. Had they believed that an ignorant ministry would be adapted to the New World ;-had they been men of limited views, or weak judgment, or slender learning and piety, these qualities would have gone into all
* Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, 1831. pp. 25, 26.
the veins and sinews of our empire. Had the Catholic placed his foot on the rock of Plymouth, instead of the Puritan, New England would have been now what South America is. Ignorance and superstition would have spread over all the hills and vales, and the intellect, now so free, so enlightened, so manly, would have been prostrate beneath a base and grovelling superstition. We cannot but add, had they possessed the views which have prevailed among some Protestant denominations in our country, in regard to the Christian ministry, those views would have done more than all the subsequent efforts of the statesman could have undone, to form a wild and fanatic population, and to shed over all this nation the elements of ignorance and misrule.
It was the glory of New England, that her first preachers were fitted to any possible intellectual or moral growth of this republic. There has not been, and there will not be, a state of the public mind, in which the first preachers of New England would not have been competent to meet all that could be demanded of ministers of the gospel. First in industry, first in toil, first in piety, they stood at the head of this republic, not only as leading the way to this Western World, but as illustrating most impressively, what America must have, and must be, if her institutions are to be free; if her schools are to flourish; if her science and arts are to be under a mild and wholesome discipline; and if her broad fields and streams are to continue to invite from afar the stranger, the oppressed, and the fatherless, to the hospitalities of freedom, and the dwelling-place of virtue and peace. Our eyes delight to dwell on the wonderful sagacity of those men, in foreseeing what our country would demand in her religious teachers; and upon that stern and indomitable firmness which sustained them in the perils of the Western wilderness, that we might be blessed with the labours of a ministry which should blend all that is profound in learning, courteous in refined life, eloquent in
persuasion, bold in investigation, and mild and lovely in the religion of the Son of God. We give humble and hearty thanks to the great King of Zion, that we are permitted to look back to an early history like this. And we cannot but be struck here with the indications in our national infancy, that the God of nations contemplated in the formation of our republic some gigantic purpose respecting the future condition of all mankind. Under what different auspices has our country risen, from those of the Greek, the Roman, and even the German, the French, and the British people. Age after age, in all those nations, rolled away with no such commanding elements of formation as we have seen here. Their early history was amid fables and poetry, and day-dreams, and a wild and fanciful mythology; and even after the lapse of centuries, there has not existed among any other people, though enjoying all their laws, and learning, and religion, any power to mould advancing generations, to be compared with what attended the very first touch given to the principles and destiny of Americans. Here, a sun rose bright and full to shed its beams all along the path of those who were laying the foundation of a mighty empire; there, millions toiled age after age, in "disastrous twilight," and scarcely did centuries disclose on their lands what shot by one steady effulgence, from the beginning, across the bosom of the dark Western forest.
The extraordinary circumstances under which the American church has gone forward, have changed somewhat the views of the ministry, and given a new direction to the minds of our countrymen. Our country is fitted for enterprise. Every active power is called into requisition. Boundless Western prairies stretch out their uncultivated bosoms, to be traversed and tilled by civilized man. Vast streams roll their waters to the oceans, rising in the interior of yet unpenetrated forests, and laving by their rolling floods lands unequalled in fertility