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qualifications, and to watch with peculiar jealousy every thing which tends to sink it.
Many circumstances must combine to constitute ministerial excellence: neither talents, education, nor piety, separately considered, are sufficient. It must be a combination of all these, accompanied with knowledge of human nature, to form a character suited to the delicate and responsible duties of the ministry. If the example of Scott and Fuller were to be followed, or the advice of Edwards regarded, no remarks on this subject, would, at this time, be required. But we perceive, if we inistake not, in some parts of the country., a growing disposition to undervalue many of those qualifications which have long been regarded by the wisest and best men of our country, and of the world, as essential to the usefulness and respectability of the ministry. At the same time, there is an expressed desire, arising, we doubt not, from benevolent feelings, to supply the lamentable deficiency in the number of ministers, by adopting a more expeditious method of introducing young men to its labors, than that of a thorough and systematic course of study : and from the success, which has at times attended the ministrations of uneducated men, the desire is felt and manifested, too, by many, to rush hastily into the labors of the ministry, without maturely considering, whether they have the qualifications and peculiar traits of character, which have secured success to those, whose example they would presume to imitate. This course demands the most serious consideration, before it shall be adopted ; for once adopted, its evils, if such shall be found to arise, will not be easily removed. It would be easy for us, to increase the number of our ministers, as rapidly, as some other denominations; but what should we gain by it? We should lose the sublime elevation, which we now hold, and one half of our usefulness would be destroyed. And we are not free from the apprehension, that we may be in danger of exchanging places with those who have so long decried the necessity and value of a learned and experienced ministry, while we have been seeking to secure it, as the most permanent and endeared legacy to the church and the world.
This desire to increase the number of our ministers, by the admission of unqualified men to its labors, will unquestionably defeat the very object in view. Was it our sole object to fill any profession in life, to do so, we would make that profession as respectable and influential as possible. The number of ministers holds an intimate relation to the character and spirit of the ministry. Let ministers be intelligent and active, their influence permanent and valuable, and their services will be VOL. VI.-NO. V.
demanded, and their character respected. Talent and education is influence; and influence rightly directed is usefulness. But let our clergy be uneducated, or imperfectly prepared for the complicated and arduous duties of their office, and they will soon become itinerant, if not wholly out of employment: thus they will rather discourage others from entering the ministry, and degrade the sacred office itself, than supply the existing deficiency themselves.
The question may arise, have not some uneducated ministers been useful? Certainly, and no doubt they would have been inuch more so, if they had been better educated in Biblical and theological knowledge. That ignorance contributes, in any sense, either to devotion or usefulness, cannot be admitted ; and yet this seems to be the strong impression of many, who will borrow authority from the Scripture declaration, " Ilath not God chosen the weak things of this world, to confound the things that are mighty ?" overlooking alike the perversion of this passage and the general instructions of the Bible on this subject.
The question will occur, are not scme uneducated men more useful, than many who are thoroughly educated ? We answen yes; and nothing is lost or gained by the admission--still, we, would maintain, that education never of itself makes
any man less useful, nor does the absence of it render any man more so.
The minds of some, we are aware, specially at the present day, will still inquire, are there not some men, whom education would have injured ? Are they not as they now are, better fitted for their place in the field, than if they had been thoroughly educated ? As an unqualified negative would not satisfy such, we shall place the burden of proof on the arm of the inquirer : Show us, if you can, that their usefulness would not have been greatly increased by additional acquisitions in literature and science, as well as in Biblical and theological learning. This cannot be done. The contrary, very few will question. And we would ask, too, do not many gross errors, as well as some melancholy consequences, at times, result from their want of a more liberal education ? We would start the inquiry, with abundant assurance, that facts warrant its suggestion.
There is a strong persuasion in the minds of many, of the value of a certain class of uneducated preachers, from the wide range of influence which they have at times secured, and from the apparent blessing which has attended their la bors; but it should be remembered, that we are incompetent judges of the amount of a man's usefulness. The immediate
and visible effects of his labors are by no means a safe crite: rion. He may be reaping in triumph and joy a redundant harvest, where others, before him have ploughed and sowed in tears, and despairing of success, have died. We would ask, is the glory his? His is the least of the labor, and if honor belongs to the instrument in the hand of the great Agent, his is the least of the honor. And while we may be estimating the present and apparent usefulness of men, we may not be capable of perceiving subsequent and remote evils, which a more expanded view, more experience and more acquaintance with intellectual and moral causes, might have enabled them to have foreseen and prevented. As to usefulness, or want of usefulness, it is possible, that the record of heaven will disclose a result vastly different from the opinions and testimony of men. We cheerfully allow, that there are a few men, highly gifted of God, of powerful minds, bold and lofty in conception, rich in resources of illustration, capable of originating thought in a moment, where others might study days, and fall far below the same region of intellection still. To such men we give all due honor. But here let us be cautious. There are few such men ; and if we would not sully their lustre, and ruin their reputation, let us leave them where God has placed them, as exceptions to the common class of men, and who are to travel in a solitary, though a splendid orbit. That every man can make such a minister is not to be admitted, and they, who with unfurnished minds, attempt it, must fall and fail, disgracing themselves and detracting from the merits of those, they strive to imitate, as well as wound the cause they unadvisedly attempt to advance. We say there are few such men, and their peculiarities are not for our imitation. Whitfield, was one of those splendid luminaries, that visits our hemisphere, but once in a thousand years. When young men, without his mind and knowledge of God and mankind, attempt to be Whitfields, they must fail, and fail, too, with vast injury to the church.
If such men as we have mentioned are essential to the cause of religion, we would not detract from their usefulness; but we would increase it and encourage them with all our heart in the appropriate sphere of their duty; and if it be their appropriate sphere, to pass as itinerant preachers through the churches, they should be of all men most wise and discreet; for they are generally sought for in seasons and places of unusual excitement, when impressions are easily and deeply drawn; and if they err, even in trifles, they leave serious and permanent injury. Their errors, are more easily caught and imitated, than their excellencies. An ordinary mind may seize the fir: t, while an intellect of superior mould may be required for the latter.
We cannot close this article, without alluding to the opinion of others on this subject. President Edwards, saw the advantages of a well qualified ministry, in the numerous and valuable revivals of religion which followed their pious labors ; and he has paid an aflectionate tribute to the co-operation of other pious and judicious agents in these memorable seasons of divine grace. He saw, too, the evils resulting from an uneducated and inexperienced ministry, and while he spoke of such with peculiar tenderness and delicacy, he deeply deplored the result of their indiscretion, and has left us the most salutary admonitions and the wisest counsel which can be found out of the record of inspiration. And it would seem that he was guided by unerring wisdom, to record the evils attending an inexperienced and indiscreet ministry, and injudicious management and measures in revivals of religion, as lessons of salutary caution to every future age of the church. It was in view of these things, that he said, "A minister is set to be a light to men's souls, by teaching or doctrine: and if he be a shining light in this respect, the light of his doctrine must be bright and full ; it must be pure without mixture of darkness, and therefore he must be sound in the faith, not one that is of a reprobate mind; in doctrine he must show uncorruptness, otherwise his light will be darkness." "He must be one who is able to teach, not one that is rau, ignorant and unlearned, and but little versed in the things that he is to teach to others : Not a novice, or one that is unskillful in the word of righteousness; he must be one, that is well studied in divinity, well acquainted with the written word of God, mighty in the Scriptures and able to instruct and convince gainsayers.” The same author adds, “ In order to his being a shining light, his doctrine must be full ; he must not only be able to teach, but apt to teach, and faithful and careful to declare the whole counsel of God, and not to keep back anything, that may be profitable to his hearers; and in order to this Ministers should be diligent in their studies."
In his work, on the Revival in New-England, very much is said on ministerial qualifications, in an incidental way, and no one who is familiar with that work, can doubt, that it was written, in part at least, with reference to certain evils, which, at that time, arose in the churches, in connexion with the labors of men who were destitute of what were then regarded Ministerial qualifications. President Edwards, in this inestimable treatise, speaks of such with peculiar tenderness, and advises others not to be uncharitable or prejudiced against the revival on account of their youth and imprudences. And while he declares, that God may and sometimes does bless their imperfections to the salvation of men, he regards this as by no means, sanctioning their conduct. Taking the writings of President Edwards and his example in the most laborious part of his ministry, we say, without hesitation, that no man valued more highly and recommended more earnestly high intellectual attainments in ministers of the Gospel. The opinions and example of the early ministers of this country were in accordance with his; and to this day, we are reaping the benefits, not only of their piety, but of the numerous and combined excellencies of their Ministerial character. There is not one department of our government; not one section of our church, but what feels the influence of their minds; and while their memory and the results of their labors live, we trust, that no judicious minister of the Gospel can undervalue thorough and systematic education in this important department of intellectual and moral influence ; nor consent to relinquish one qualification of this most important office. We cannot but believe that the great body of the New England Clergy now prize ministerial qualifications as highly as did their revered predecessors.
The views of the Presbyterian Church are in accordance with those already expressed. We find in their Confession of Faith, in the chapter, entitled, “ On Licensing Candidates to preach the Gospel," that “it is recommended, that the candidate be required to produce a diploma of Bachelor of Arts, from some College or University, or at least authentic testimonials of having gone through a regular course of learning.” “Because it is highly reproachful to religion, and dangerous to the church, to entrust the holy ministry, to weak and ignorant men; the Presbytery shall try each candidate as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the original languages in which the Holy Scriptures were written. They shall also examine him on the Arts and Sciences; on Theology, Natural and Revealed ; on Ecclesiastical History, the Sacraments, and Church Government. He shall be required to read a Latin Exegesis-a Critical Exercise-a Lecture and a Popular Sermon; and it
h is recommended that no candidate, except in extraordinary cases, be licensed, unless after having completed the usual course of Academical studies, he shall have studied Divinity at least two years." This period being considered too short,