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some respect to expose him. On these things I shall be the more particular, both as they are of the utmost consequence, and as they have been hitherto much overlooked. These will give occasion to canvass some of the most delicate questions that can be moved in regard to the ministerial deportment. The questions I mean, are such as concern christian zeal, matters of offence, the love of popularity and some others, on which it is often very difficult both to discern the just boundaries, and so to confine ourselves within them, as not to transgress either by excess or by defect. We may justly say that no where does the rule of the poet hold more invariably than here,
Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines
The third and last branch of this general head is what properly regards the public character or judicial capacity of the minister. The manner in which we propose to treat this topic, may in a great measure be discovered from what has been already said of the different articles comprehended under it. These are three, discipline, ordination and civil rights. It will be proper to consider each of these separately; though it will not be necessary on such articles to discourse very copiously. If the principles by which in all these particulars our procedure ought to be directed, are laid down and explained, a great deal must be left to experience, and to that acquaintance with rules and forms, in which time and practice alone can perfect us.
I have now laid before you in this and the two preceding discourses the ground work of my intended plan of teaching. I have shown what are the principal
branches in the study of theology, both of the theoretic part and of the practical. I have also explained to you the method in which I propose to treat the several branches enumerated; being, if not absolutely the best that might be devised, the best that in my judgment can be adopted in our circumstances, and that which upon the whole, considering the disadvantages to which we are subjected, will conduce most to the improvement of my hearers. At the same time, I must declare, that I do not so entirely confine myself to the method here suggested, as not to admit any alteration, which on maturer reflection, I shall judge to be an improvement.
What I have to offer, in regard to the conduct which you my hearers ought to pursue, and the character as students which ye ought to maintain, that ye may profitably prosecute this important study, I reserve for the subject of my next prelection.
of the Conduct which Students of Divinity ought to pursue:
Having in the three former lectures pointed out the principal branches both of the theory of theology, and of the ministerial charge ; and having explained to you the method in which I propose to treat both parts of that course, I now proceed, as I signified on the last occasion I had of speaking from this chair, to offer my sentiments in regard to the conduct, which you my hearers ought to pursue, and to the character as students which ye ought to maintain that ye may profitably prosecute this important study.
The scheme, of which I have given you an outline, I would fain, if possible, adjust in such a manner, as that it may be completed in four sessions at the most. My reason for limiting it to this number of sessions, is obviously that the greater part of the students may have occasion, if they will, to hear the whole. No doubt by extending it to six times as many, I might make the course more perfect; but of what consequence would that be, if it were thereby rendered less useful? And less useful it must be, if but a small portion of it can be received by the same set of hearers. Admit that, on the other hand, a few who live in this city and neighbourhood should honour us with their attendance for a longer period ; if the instructions to be given are of real consequence, it will hardly be thought presumptuous to affirm, that, considering the slipperiness of most people's memories, and the length of an interval of four years, those few will not altogether misspend their time in hearing them repeated. When the method of teaching is almost entirely by a course of lectures, unaccompanied with any lessons to be got by heart, there are very few learners, on whose minds a single hearing will make an impression sufficiently strong and durable. I would have you to remember, gentlemen, that it is little, extremely little, that I, or any professor of divinity, can contribute to your instruction, if you yourselves do not strenuously co-operate to promote this end. The most that we have to do, is to serve as monitors to you, to suggest those things which may be helpful for bringing and keeping you in the right track of study, and thus for preventing you, as much as possible, from bestowing your time and pains improperly. Your advancement will, under God, be chiefly imputable to your own diligence and application. Students of divinity are commonly, against the time they enter the theological school, arrived at those years of maturity, when cool reflection begins to operate, when a sense of duty, a regard to character, and an attention to interest rightly understood, prove the most powerful motives. And if there be any here, with whom these motives have no weight, it is a misfortune we cannot remedy. We can only say to such, and we do it most sincerely, that their attendance in this place will be to little purpose, that it were much better for themselves, and probably for the public, that they would employ themselves somewhere
else. Ye cannot here be considered as school-boys. We claim no coercive power over you of any kind. Our only hold of you is by persuasion. And for attaining this hold, our only dependence is on your own discernment and discretion. We proceed on the supposition, that ye are not only willing, but even anxious, to learn something every day, by which ye may advance in fitness for the great end in view.
Will it be pleaded on the other side, that there is no knowledge to be learnt in a divinity school which may not be learnt out of it? Passing what may justly be urged in opposition to this plea, on the advantages resulting from both example and practice in the different exercises, which hardly any reading can supply ; and admitting it in the fullest extent, in which any reasonable person will desire, it ought to be remarked, that the same objection lies against all schools and colleges whatever. There are few difficulties, in the way of science, which eminent natural abilities accompanied solely with assiduous application will not surmount. But what then? Such extraordinary talents fall not to the lot of one of a thousand. It is not with geniuses, but with understandings of the middling rate, that we are chiefly concerned. Besides, even where there are uncommon talents, which by their own native force are capable of conquering difficulties insuperable to ordinary and unassisted minds, yet even of such uncommon geniuses we may truly say, that, with proper assistance, the same difficulties would have been surmounted by them more easily and in shorter time. Ye may travel through a country, where ye never were before, though there be no person in your company that knows any better than yourselves, the regions ye