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must afterwards be reared up by diligent application in private. The largest fund of knowledge which we can collect in the
preliminary parts of our education for the ministry must soon be exhausted unless it be replenished by reading, by reflection, and other means of information. God forbid that I should be understood to represent literary attainments as the most important qualification, or even of equal importance with real grace in the ambassador of Jesus Christ; yet I inay venture to assert that every spe-. cies* of learning when sanctified by the Ho
* Those who deny the utility of learning to the christian ministry, not only oppose the opinion of the most eminent divines, but the pactice of the church in the days of her greatest purity and glory. It is satisfactorily proved by Bishop STILLINGFLEET that in the times of Samuel, schools were established in Ramah, and other parts of Judea in which youth of apparent piety and prominent talents were taught the learning of the age, and that * God ordinarily called out of these schools those whom he employed in the prophetic office :” he adds “ therein their only employment was to cultivate their natural faculties, to improve in knowledge, and true piety : the greatest part of the exercises of those who were educated in the schools of the prophets were instructions in the law and the solemn praises of God.”-Sacre Or. igines, vol. 1.-181-2 Ox. ed.
Irenius, who flourished in the second century, mentions that a school of sacred literature was founded at Smyrna under the dio Tection of Polycarp, a Father in the primitive church : Eusebius, as quoted by Lardner, relates that such an institution was early established in Alexandria over which Pantænus presided, who was succeeded by St. Clement, and that after him followed Origin ; that the latter particularly instructed the youth“ in logic, physics, geometry, astronomy, and ethies : he encouraged them likewise to read all sorts of ancient authors, poets and philosophers ; but above all he inculcated a diligent attention to the mind of God revealed in the prophets; he himselt likewise ex. plained to themn difficult passages.”-Lard. cred. vol. 3.-26-7. Ion. ed. Pablic schools, for the same purpose, appeared soon after the reformation, in almost every protestant country: and perhaps there is no more favorable presage for the rising respectability of the ministry, and the future prosperity of the churches in our own country, than the erection of similar semi. Maries by different denominations of christians.
ly Ghost, will materially aid him in supporting the dignity, and discharging the duties of his office. No man can become too learned for the ministry of reconciliation. Every new acquisition of knowledge will enlarge the sphere of usefulness. There is nothing in the vast range of human science which may not be converted to the service of the sanctuary, either for the illustration and establishment of the truth, or the exposure and refutation of error. By an extensive acquaintance with learning common and divine the herald of the gospel becomes "a workman that need not be ashamed;" he is rendered capable of“ giving a reason of the hope that is in him; of evincing the reasonableness of that gospel which is the charter of all his hopes : and is thus qualified for confounding if he cannot actually convince the enemies of the cross. It is obvious therefore that even in the age of inspiration literary acquirements were honored by Jehovah the Spirit for the greater edification of the church. « Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and he was em ployed as the first and principal penman of The Old Testament scriptures ; and Paul, who “had been educated at the feet Gamaliel,” preached much more and wrote much more than any of the other evangelists or apostles. But a knowledge of sacred literature ; a profound, universal acquaintance with the holy scriptures is of prime importance, and should be sought with preeminent
ardor by all who “ serve at the altar.” While other books are permitted to attend as ministers of state, the bible should be elevated to the throne in our studies; while they are regarded as satellites revolving and shining in their respective orbits, the bible should be considered as the sun which enlightens and cherishes the whole system.“ Search the scriptures," is the command of the Lord God to all his professed followers, but it is directed with peculiar emphasis to those who serve him in the gospel of his Son. They are entrusted with immortal souls of their own, and ought therefore to search the scriptures as a means divinely appointed for their own sanctification and comfort; they are employed by“ the chief Shepherd” for promoting the salvation of others, and ought “ to search them's as a means of qualifying them for the interesting work. Our great reformers considered the sacred oracles in the original languages as constituting the chief subject of study to those who were separated to the labors of the gospel. It was the maxim of Luther, that the man “ most acquainted with his bible was the most accomplished divine." Beza in his eighteenth year repeated the Psalms of David and the epistles of Paul in Hebrew and Greek ; and Witsius, at an advanced period of his life, could rehearse almost any verse of the Old and New Testament in the original languages.
Need I apologize for repeating the remark,
that application to study, and particularly to the study of the sacred oracles, constitutes an essential part of ministerial labor ? It is required that “ the lips of the priest should keep knowledge,” and that the people “should” seek “ the law at his mouth, but can we communicate to others knowledge which was never possessed by ourselves ? Is he capable of “dividing aright the word of truth,” who has not patiently and painfully investigated that truth? Can any man as “ a steward of the mysteries of godliness” make a proper or profitable distribution of these for the use of the family who has not endeavored to explore these mysteries, viewing them both in their separate importance and intimate connexion? Can it be expected that he will bring from “ this treasure things new and old” whose understanding has not been liberally stored with this treasure by reading and meditation ? The minister of religion “ is set for the defence of the gospel,” but can he execute that awful trust who has never learned to wield those weapons by which “the defence” must be made, and every adversary driven from the field ; who has not profoundly investigated the gospel ; who is not master in some measure of those evidences, external and internal, on which its authenticity rests; who has never traced the predictions and promises of the Old Testament to their literal and luminous accomplishment in the New ; who has not contemplated the ceremonies and sacrifices of the former dispensation as immediately pointing to, and exclusively centering in “ Jesus of Nazareth,” the great antitype, the real “ Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world ?” Ezra, although a scribe divinely inspired, yet“ prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord" before he ventured “to teach statutes and judgments in Israel:” Solomon, the wisest of men, “ gave good heed, and sought to find out acceptable words,” and felt experimentally “ his much study” to prove a “ weariness to the flesh;" And Daniel, “a man greatly beloved," and favored with eminent manifestations of the Most High, understood by books, by a careful research into the writings of preceeding prophets, the divine purposes relative “ to the desolations of Jerusalem."
2. We ought to “ labor" by faithfully and zealously “ preaching the gospel” in public. What should be our motive for prosecuting with unremitting industry our studies in the closet? Not merely to gratify an ardent thrist for knowledge, or to improve the understanding by the discovery of truths formerly unknown ; not to acquire the reputation of polished scholars, or eminent divines. Nobler motives ought 10 actuate, and will actuate all who are called of Jehovah to the ministry of reconciliation. That same zeal for their Master's glory which rouses them to diligence in making preparation in private, will rouse them to equal diligence in