Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Much more is doing for them by their neighbours in the presbytery of Jersey than they are doing for themselves.

A great majority of the ministers of that judicatory have embraced some of the northern errors. The most distinguished of these are the Rev. Dr. Griffin and the Rev. Dr. Richards. In proof of their Hopkinsianism we might quote their publications. Like their brethren in other sections of the church, the Hopkinsians of the presbytery of Jersey use their utmost efforts for the propagation of their peculiar tenets. However amiable, pious and respectable many of these gentlemen may be, the cause of truth demands, that history should speak out with plainness, and that the friends of orthodoxy should know who are for them and who against them. With all their industry, however, there is good reason to hope that they will not ultimately prevail in this state. Here there are antidotes--the theological seminaries of New Brunswick and Princeton, the former under the care of the Reformed Dutch Church, the latter, under that of the General Assembly. There is too, even in the presbytery of Jersey, a good degree of orthodoxy in the ruling elders; for not long since they united with the Rev. John M‘Dowell in sustaining a trial piece of Mr. Shepherd Kollock, who advocated the definite atone. ment, while the majority of the ministers refused to sustain it, for that very reason.

It appears on the minutes of the acts and proceedings of the general Synod of the reformed Dutch church, published in 1800, that the subject of establishing a theological seminary had, for some time previous to that date, been in agitation, and that the synod recommended it to their people to make contributions for that object. Long before that time, indeed, the ed ication of their youth for the ministry, had been under the direction of the general synod. In 1807 a plan for the formation of a theological institution, in connection with Queen's college, at New Brunswick, was laid before that body, by the particular synod of New York, and approved. As that college was peculiarly the property of the Dutch church, this plan met with general approbation,

and measures were taken to raise funds, which were to be entirely appropriated to the education of young men for the ministry. It was encouraged too, by the trustees of Queen's college, in which tuition had been for some time suspended. In order to raise a fund to endow a theological professorate, a collection was to be taken

up
in
every

Dutch church some time in the year 1808, and the number of the superintendants of the theological institution was fixed at nine. The college was immediately revived, but the theological department was not opened until the autumn of 1810, when the Rev. Dr. Livingston, mentioned in a former part of this sketch, commenced his course of instructions in divinity with five pupils. In the following year the number was augmented to nine.

To the general synod during their sessions of 1812, a plan of the theological school, was exhibited, in which it is required, that three years shall be the time occupied in the course of study, that the vacations shall not exceed three months in the year; that “every student upon admission to the theological school, shall produce a certificate of his membership in some regular protestant church, and testimonials of his academical attainments," -and that “stu. dents shall be taught natural, didactic, polemic, and practical theology; biblical criticism, chronology, and ecclesiastical history; the form and administration of church government, and pastoral duties, and be able to read the scriptures fuently in the original languages.” Four years is the term of study in the school of the associate reformed church in New York, but their sessions continue only during six or seven months in each year.

A considerable number of the young men in the Dutch church, who have devoted themselves to the ministry, have studied in the school under Dr. Mason, and a course in that seminary was for a time considered by the Dutch church as satisfactory. The whole force of the New Brunswick, and New-York seminaries, is employed in advancing the cause of truth. Queen's college itself has lately become subservient to the theological institution, so far that the

youth are to be considered as preparing for the ministry from their first entry into it. The eminent character of Dr. Livingston, for learning, theology and piety, are highly auspicious to the interests of orthodoxy not only in the state of New Jersey, but in the Dutch church generally, and the church at large. The number of students in this seminary on the 28th of May 1816, was fourteen; five of whom were of three years standing; five of two; and four of one. Di. dactic theology is at present their forte; and the church 'has reason to expect from this seminary sound and well instructed defenders of the faith. Yet it must be esteemed an inauspicious feature in the character of our country, that, while the schools of medicine, and the offices of gentlemen of the bar are crowded with pupils, a wealthy and powerful society, consisting of more than one hundred and sixty congregations, numbers in its theological school, under such professors as Dr. Livingston, and Dr. Schureman, no more than fourteen students, though the seminary has been eight years in operation. This divinity college would not supply more than five students per annum to the Dutch church, or one hundred and twenty-five, in twenty-five years; in which time, by natural increase, without making any proselytes, they will probably double their number, and require three hundred and twenty ministers, for very few of those who are now employed in the work of the ministry can be expected to be capable, at that time, of performing pastoral duty, should they be then living.

The theological seminary of the general assembly was founded in 1811, under the care of twenty-one ministers, and nine elders, as directors. The seminaries of the Dutch and associate reformed churches, stimulated the assembly to make an effort to found a similar institution. In 1805, it was recommended by that body, to the presbyteries, under its care, to attend especially to the education of young men for the ministry; and at that date they seemed to think the formation of a divinity school for the whole of their church ineligible. Except a department of Princeton college, and one at Canonsburgh, there were never before that time

any theological schools in this church; and the greater part of their sons of the prophets was educated privately by their ministers. Hence the want of unity and energy which characterized their ecclesiastical organization, was every year becoming more apparent. The recommendation to the presbyteries produced little effect.

To the sessions of the general assembly in the following year, a letter was presented from the faculty of Princeton college signed by the president, the Rev. Samuel S. Smith, D. D. exhibiting the advantages for theological improvement, presented at that seminary. The object of this letter was plainly to prepare the way for other propositions relative to the establishment of a general institution for the whole church, and its location at Princeton. The ministers of the general assembly now began to be sensible that the public interests of religion demanded that something should be done to the purpose, by a general exertion of their whole strength; and in 1809, a proposition was laid before the assembly for the formation of a theological seminary, which should concentre and combine the influence of the whole. The presbyteries were ordered to report to the next assembly their views of the subject; and a committee was appointed to draft a plan, to be presented at the same time.

In 1810, the business came fully before them, and the report of the committee contained a plan, which was amended and adopted. The superintendents were appointed, and or. dered to meet on the last Tuesday of June, of the same year, at Princeton; where they had resolved to locate their school. The course of study is a liberal one. It prescribes that, “every student, at the close of his course, must have made the following attainments, viz. He must be well skilled in the original languages of the holy scriptures. He must be able to explain the principal difficulties, which arise in the perusal of the scriptures, either from erroneous translations, apparent inconsistencies, real obscurities, or objections arising from history, reason, or argument. He must be versed in the Jewish antiquities, which serve to illustrate and explain the scriptures. He must have an acquaintance

with ancient geography, and with oriental customs, which throw light upon the sacred records.Thus he will have laid the foundation for becoming a sound biblical critic.

“ He must have read and digested the principal arguments and writings, relative to what has been called the deistical controversy. Thus he will qualified to become a defender of the Christian faith.

“He must be able to support the doctrines of the confes. sion of faith and catechisms, by a ready, pertinent, and abundant quotation of scripture texts for that purpose. He must have studied carefully, and correctly, natural, didactic, polemic, and casuistic theology. He must have a considerable acquaintance with general history and chronology, and a particular acquaintance with the history of the Christian church. Thus he will be preparing to become an able and sound divine and casuist.

“ He must have read a considerable number of the best practical writers on the subject of religion. He must have learned to compose with correctness and readiness, in his own language, and to deliver what he has composed to others in a natural, and acceptable manner. He must be well instructed with the several parts, and the proper structure of popular lectures and sermons. He must have composed at least two lectures, and four popular sermons, that shall have been approved by the professors. He must have carefully studied the duties of the pastoral care.—Thus he will be prepared to become a useful preacher and a faithful pastor.

“ He must have studied attentively the form of church government authorized by the scriptures, and the administration of it as it has taken place in the protestant churches.”

To carry this system into operation, the Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander, was chosen professor of theology. This gentleman had been principal of Hampden Sidoey college, and was then pastor of the church in Pine street, in which the Rev. Ezra Stiles Ely, is now his successor. Dr. Alexander is a genuine disciple of Calvin and Calvin's master; and indeed it is impossible that he should be otherwise and

« AnteriorContinuar »