Графични страници
PDF файл

good men can satisfy their conscience with a cource so defective, we know not; and we can trace the deception only to long established usage. To teach is an arduous task. To teach any thing is difficult. But above all, to comuni. cate religious knowledge successfully, is a most serious labour. The utmost diligence and assiduity, throughout a length of time, are absolutely necessary. What time we devote to learn Arithmetic, or Geography,or to acquire any other department of knowledge ! Religious knowledge alone appears to be considered attainable without industry or trouble. Far be it from us to say, that the greatest in. dustry and labour will obtain it savingly. The Holy Ghost alone can give such a blessing. But we do say, that without application and diligence we cannot expect to attain religious knowledge; for application and diligence are the ordinary means acknowledged and appointed by the Holy Ghost, for acquiring thc saving knowledge of truth.

3. Nor would we close without seeking to engage the co-operation of our eldership in this work of instruction. How has it come to pass that they take so little to do with the admission of communicants to the Table of the Lord-either in instructing them or judging of their qualifications? It is an evil day in the church, when it is left exclusively with the Minister to deal with candidates for church privileges. This is the business of the session, the elders, and their Minister united.' And it is a work requiring the utmost diligence and skill of them all. It is as much with the hope of engaging oor elders in the good work of instructing the young communicant, as of suggesting some useful directions to their Ministers, that we have undertaken to offer for consideration what may present itself to us on so important a subject. We think the best method in which we can proceed will be to give an outline of each subject, which may be filled up by the lecturer or examinator, rather than

a finished essay. What we propose is a mere skeleton of each subject, judging this to be preferable, both on account of its brevity, and that the examinator may be more at liberty to adduce his own illustrations. Perhaps, too, what we suggest as a course of instruction and examination for young communicants may not be unsuitable for the more advanced pupils in the Sunday Schools, or for the domestic instruc. tion of children by their parents.

The subjects which, at present, we design to illustrate, are the following :-). The Scriptures, their authority, &c.;


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

II. The Scripture Character of God; III. The Scripture
account of man; IV. The Scripture testimony to Christ;
V. Justification by faith; VI. The doctrines of the Scrip.
tures respecting the Holy Ghost; VII. Sanctification;
VIII. The Law of God, the Rule of Christian Duty ;
IX. The Christian Life; X. The Domestic Economy;
XI. The Christian Church ; XII. Scripture Ordinances ;
XIII. Death, Judgment, and Eternity.

[ocr errors]

A WORD CONCERNING THEOLOGICAL STUDIES. (Abridged from the “ Archives du Christianisme, au dix neuvieme siecle," for

January, 1831.*) We live in a time which is extremely interesting, on account of the rapidity with which all departments of useful knowledge, all great and prolific conceptions, all institutions which have for their aim, or for their result, the advancement of the kingdom of God and the good of mankind, are advancing towards perfection. A new era is undoubtedly commencing for our Protestant churches; and, by this consideration, those who have the happiness to be Protestant Ministers ought to be powerfully encouraged and incited, not only to use, vigorously and con. scientiously, the talents which their Master has entrusted to them, but also to acquire additional means of useful. ness. At no period, in the history of the church of Christ, have intellectual attainments been more necesssary, more indispensable to her Ministers, than in that in which we live. In our days all the branches of human knowledge have been immensely enlarged ; and it is not proper that they who have consecrated their lives to the noblest and the best of causes, should remain behind amidst this uni. versal movement: both themselves and their work have every thing to lose by inactivity. The Gospel chooses light, lives upon light, light is its essential element.-There is always a bond which unites all our intellectual acquirements; and it would be interesting to show, how often a knowledge of subjects, apparently the most remote from Christianity, has contributed powerfully to its advancement and its glory.

* This admirable work is now is now in its fourteenth year. It may be considered the organ of the Evangelical Protestants of France. Its title; translated into English, is, “ Records of Christianity in the nine. teenth century."

But it is not our intention to enter into this vast field. There is a peculiar study, a daily study, a study which leads infallibly and directly to the truth, and which, above all others, ought to attract our attention: it is the study of the Book of Life, of the eternal Word of God. This is the pure and incorruptible source, from which all Christians, and, in particular, the Ministers of that Word may, and ought to derive, every day, the light, the strength, the consolation, of which they stand in need, that they may labour with energy and success, in the great task which has been laid upon them. It is thither they will go to strengthen their conviction,--to reanimate their faith, to kindle anew their love, that they may be able thereby to make some spark of it pass into the souls of those they address, whether from the elevation of the pulpit, or in their ministrations from house to house. This is the holy altar, from which they will derive that sacred fire, wbich, even when they must exclaim with a deep feeling of their own unworthiness, “ Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips,” will touch and purify their mouth, so that when the Lord shall say, “ whom shall I send ? and who. will


for us ?" they shall be able to reply, “Here am I; send me.”

The Bible then,--the Bible is the first object of the studies of a Minister of Jesus Christ. But there are dif. fererkt ways in which that study may be followed up: and this is the object which we have peculiarly in view in the present article.

For private Christians, it is, perhaps, sufficient to read the Bible with simplicity of heart and with prayer, in the translation which they have reason to believe the most faithful; but, for a Minister of the Word, this is not enougb. He must not content himself with reading the Bible,-he must study it, enter deeply into it;egevvāts (John v. 39.) Accordingly, this being his object, he must not confine himself to translations, which are all necessarily imperfect. Very little has hitherto been done towards applying a remedy to this evil. Generally speaking, philological studies are not pursued in so solid and substantial a manner, as to put clergymen in a condition to make themselves familiar with the originals. This chasm in our literary education, produces a corresponding one in our theological studies, namely, that exegesis* is almost

* In a note on this passage, the writer laments the neglect of exegeti. cal learning in France, and mentious that its vigorous cultivation in



or altogether neglected: and who is there that does not know, that a sound and profound exegesis is the basis of all solid theology? This study alone can guide us in understanding accurately, in estimating, in weighing the expressions of the original text, a great number of which can be but imperfectly translated into our language.Farther, it is by means of this study alone, that we can learn to grasp the general scope of a book in the Bible, its consecutive chain of ideas, and, consequently, the foundation of the doctrine which it teaches.

There are words in the Bible, which are, in themselves, the expression of a whole doctrine of a whole chain of ideas and facts: how, then, can their import, and the extent of their signification, be appreciated without a knowledge of the original languages, directed to this precise object by a sound exegesis? The revelations of God form one uninterrupted chain, from the beginning of Ge. nesis to the last book of the inspired volume. This is the reason why the New Testament is so full of the Old. The authors of the former are incessantly quoting the lat. ter; they make it the model and basis of their writings, and borrow their style from the Septuagint version, though in their quotations, they often deviate from its words.They might have written in Greek, without using so many Hebraisms,-without writing in the very genius of that primitive language, and adopting those immensely extensive expressions, which unveil a whole series of doctrines or facts, and which have their source in the Old Testament. But had they done so, they would have deprived them. selves of a rich treasure they would have, in some mea. sure, interrupted the chain of the divine revelations. Who, for example, can form an adequate conception of all that the Apostles meant to express by Badiasia róu bebu, (kingdom of God), without referring to the station which this idea occupies in the Old Testament? Who can understand aright the meaning of the word dylos (holy),without knowing the different significations which the synonymous Hebrew word, wimp, has in the Old Testament? The same may Le said of the word dpagria (sin), and its synonymes; the words πιστίς (faith), μετάνοια (repentance), δικαιοσύνη (justice), and a crowd of others, each of which contains within it. self a whole system. Germany, has been the means of sapping the foundation of Rationalism. How much more cause is there to regret the neglect of this important study in our own country, where its very name is known but to a few!

It is very evident, that he who neglects exegetical investigations, and the study of the sacred Books in their originals, shuts himself out from a vast storehouse of divine instruction, which God had placed within his reach, and for which he will call him to account. Ah! when we reflect that God hath so loved us as to convoy into our very hands his holy oracles, the revelation of what He is, and what we ought to be, the manifestation of his will and of his love towards us, who is there that would knowingly expose himself to the guilt of neglecting a single one of those divine thoughts and words, not one jot or one title of which shall ever pass away without its accomplishment. A Minister of the divine Word ought to make it a matter of conscience never to preach upon a text of Scripture, without having read it in the original-without having examined and weighed scrupulously all its expressions.

We are only pointing out a few of the great advantages which are derived from pursuing the higher departments of biblical study; but the greatest advantages are found in these studies themselves, on account of the blessings which are inseparable from them. Were theological studies nourished by the life-giving Word of the Lord, that langour with which they are generally pursued would soon disappear. We should no longer see students passing three or four of the most precious years of their life, without reading, critically, any more of the original of their Bible, than what is barely necessary for passing their examinations*, and then leaving it forever to dust and cobwebs. More life and more energy in the Ministry would be the result of these labours. Each preacher hav. ing laid a deep and firm foundation for his own convictions in that Word, which, in God's name, he proclaims to immortal souls, would proclaim it "in demonstration of the spirit and of power,') ---in a manner which would

* From this it appears, that, though the French acknowledge their deficiency in this species of learning, as was mentioned in a former note, they are yet far a-hcad 'of us in this department. We know but one Presbytery, in the Synod of Ulster, that has commenced a series of examinations, purposing to embrace the whole Scriptures in the original languages, together with the Septuagint—a work most unhappily neglected in the curriculum of a Ministerial education. We should be happy to leara, before our next publication, that any other Presbytery has adopted a similar course.

« ПредишнаНапред »