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While the public is so interested in the provision in question, while the church so wants and craves it, — while a hundred candidates for the ministry, or as many less as any one may suppose, would only satisfy the present demand, - only ten are to be dismissed from this school this year, and the number, if my recollection be not erroneous, has not commonly, perhaps scarcely ever, been so great. Why is this? I do not say that I shall assign the only reason, in recurring to the remark which I just now made on the necessity of further pecuniary aid. One other, and even a more considerable reason, but one, however, which we cannot obviate, — is, that the influence exerted on students' minds at most other colleges where young men obtain their preparation to enter on theological studies, is such as to disincline them to come hither to conduct those studies. A few pupils have of late been furnished us from the colleges of Rhode Island and of Maine ; but while, as hitherto, the sole or principal supply has been from the graduates of Harvard College, and while a fifth, or certainly a quarter part of each class graduated there, would be a large proportion to be found devoting themselves to the ministry, and while some of those who do, - owing to the free spirit of the place, which exempts them from the necessity of any doctrinal bias, - are found with such opinions as lead them to seek their further education elsewhere, we cannot be at a loss for one reason why the number of our students has been as yet so small.
But another reason is more to our present purpose. The public, which wants this supply, has something to do towards providing it. Not every thing ; - that I am very far from saying. Towards great part of the needful provision, my friends, it is quite evident that you can take no step. The providence of God must furnish talent; and for the disposition to devote it to this work, and for that spirit of piety and zeal which this work demands, the churches must consent to be indebted to the divine grace, to the instructions of devout parents, to the efforts of the ministry already existing, and to the self-discipline of religious young men. If a competent ministry is to be perpetuated, young men, from generation to generation, must present themselves for the service of the churches with the most essential part of their preparation already made. It is only the finishing part, the
intellectual and practical part of that preparation, which others can have an agency in giving; and, when the rest must of necessity be provided for them, will they lose the benefit of it, when it has been provided, by neglecting to do what is further needful to make it available to their use?
I trust, my friends, that, whatever interest I may take in this subject, I have not lost the power of discriminating upon it. I should greatly hesitate to urge before you the claims of what are called Education Societies ; — societies which, finding a young man at the plough or in the work-shop disposed to change his calling for that of a minister, take him up, and carry bim at little or no present expense to himself, through all the steps of his preparation for that office. With whatever caution administered, I should tremble to think of the possible effect of such societies to provide a mercenary ministry. To a young man in the humbler walks of industry, becoming a minister appears to be bettering his condition, and when this can be done chiefly at others' cost, the temptation cannot but be strong, and the minds of such be subjected to a powerful bias to suppose themselves directed to this employment by a religious motive, when, if they examined more closely, they might find it only a worldly calculation. I would have our charity reserved from such an equivocal, not to say, hurtful, use, for the assistance of those who have completed their course of literary education. With such an education, a person seems out of reach of the temptation to engage in the ministry for the sake of advancing himself. It would be bold to affirm that, in this country, where such prizes are held out to talent and information, any well educated young person betakes himself to the ministry for the sake of a living. There is no other employment, that engages eminent men, in which the compensation, since the argument compels us to speak of such things, – is in so small proportion to the labor. If a young man, with his literary education finished, be merely mercenary, rely upon
it he will not become a minister. He can do better. He will devote himself to one of the lucrative professions. Or, if he have not courage for the hazards of these, be has a sure resource in the business of instruction, where his knowledge, used with less pains, will command a higher price, and his situation, under the present circumstances of
the greater part of our churches, - those, I mean, in our country towns, will be generally more secure.
If, then, a young man, with his literary education completed, is beyond being bribed into the ministry by the mere facilities of education for it, it is safe to render him assistance in obtaining that education. I conceive that it is also greatly for the interest of the churches. In all ages, the church has drawn some of its brightest ornaments from the poorer, at least not the richer, portion of society; and though, among ourselves, there have been, from the earliest times to the present, an uncommon number of instances of a different sort, it is still from that source that the supply is likely, in no inconsiderable part, to be furnished. A young man, so circumstanced, commonly leaves college embarrassed by a debt, which it is his first object to discharge. To effect this, he engages in the business of instruction; and, this accomplished, it is reasonable to expect that he will continue in that business, or adventure in some other, unless they are truly upright views which impel him to the Christian ministry. He has moreover shown a competency to it in one respect, in the resolution with which he has struggled through the embarrassments of his previous course; and is known to be so far worthy of aid. If aid be afforded him, the church has soon the accession of a minister, at least conscientiously disposed to the work. If it be not, he either abandons the object in discouragement, or at least, while he is obtaining the means of prosecuting it, some of the most active years of his life are lost to the great object to which he desires it should be devoted ; and does not either side of this alternative deserve the care of Christians to prevent it?
[The remainder of the discourse was chiefly taken up with statements relating to the condition and wants of the school, during the academic year which is now closed. It may be proper here merely to mention, that the necessary annual expenses of a student are estimated at two hundred dollars, including personal charges of every kind, as well as sixty-six dollars paid in term-bills for instruction, rent and care of room and furniture, and use of text-books. Fourteen students were aided last year from the funds, receiving an average allowance of eighty-three dollars each.
Of the sum thus appropriated, six hundred and thirty dollars were fur
nished from the Hopkins foundation. The other chief resources have been hitherto the bounty of individuals associated for the purpose in different religious societies of Boston, Salem, and Charlestown, and the contributions taken at the annual meeting of the Society for Promoting Theological Education. The number of applications for aid was last year unusually small; and, from particular circumstances, the collection was imperfectly made. It is greatly desirable, that the number of members of the Society for promoting Theological Education should be enlarged, and especially that the attention of liberal benefactors should be turned to the establishment of permament scholarships, yielding an income of one hundred and fifty dollars each.]
DELIVERED IN THE
CHURCH IN BRATTLE SQUARE, BOSTON,
AUGUST 9, 1832,
APPOINTED FOR FASTING AND PRAYER
ON ACCOUNT OF THE
APPROACH OF CHOLERA.
BY JOHN G. PALFREY, A. M.
PROFESSOR OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.
GRAY AND BOWEN... WASHINGTON STREET.