Page images

mical advantages, and being confirmed in indolence by their inability to build upon the poor foundation which they laid at college, have made a shameful failure of it ever since, and strive to hide their shame by charging their incompetency upon the institution whose bread they eat, but whose work they did not do. These men are known by another sign; their jealousy and dread of students. There are too many colleges, forsooth. Why? Because the time is come, when those who are driven from one station for incompetency, find it hard to obtain another. The churches will not have those who have been tried and found wanting, when there is a fresh supply of hopeful students. There are instances, we know, of worthy men who have found the same difficulty of re-settlement, and therefore we earnestly beg that our description may be applied to those only to whom it manifestly belongs; but these 'murmurers, complainers,' as Jude called those who had 'crept in unawares in his day, may be known by their fruits; and this is their description, they are clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees, whose fruit withereth, without fruit; . . . raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars. But as their occupation goes, their credit will go with it, and we trust that this evil will soon be numbered with the things that have been.

The foreign publications we have named above attest the interest which theological seminaries have excited, of late years, throughout Europe and America. The Roman apostasy, the Lutheran and Calvinistic, (or, to adopt their own designations, the Evangelical and Reformed communions), the Presbyterians and Congregationalists of America, are represented in the works enumerated. We must, in this article, content ourselves with those incidental notices of them which our object shall require. The work of Theiner is on the whole the most remarkable; being curious in respect both of the subject and the author. It is the supererogatory quarantine of a Romanist, who had fallen under the censure of the apostolic see, after his return and reconciliation, and who has detailed in a preface extending to several sheets, the successive steps of his conversion. We relinquish that preface now, with the intention to return to it in an early number. The editor's advertisement to the French translation, which informs us that it had previously appeared in Italian, contains, however, a summary of the original work, which will serve at once to inform our readers of the general contents and character of the book, and introduce the matter we shall then wish to lay before them. 'Without pretending to criticise the work here,' say they,–

We shall be permitted to say that it will interest and even instruct all who may peruse it. In fact, it abounds in curious details ; it relates in succession all the efforts, varying with the exigences of the times, which popes, the holiest bishops, councils, nay, the whole church, have unceasingly made to give a solid and various training to her ministers, at the same time that she was forming them to severity of manners, and a heroic devotion to the christian priesthood.

• In this narrative great glory redounds to the African church of the first ages, and to St. Augustine,—to St. Augustine, whose virtues and intelligence now live again in another pontiff * set over the same region.

* But the great Bishop of Hippo is no more; and soon the African episcopacy, persecuted and broken down by death and exile, sends to Europe several of her members, who seem to escape persecution only to endow us with the holy institutions f which had been first developed in their dioceses. God grant that they may now be restored in flourishing condition to the places where they had their birth!

The epoch of Charlemagne is also very memorable in the history of ecclesiastical institutions t; a prominent place is therefore given to it in Dr. Theiner's work. We follow with a lively interest Boniface, the great and prodigious Boniface, Boniface and the other apostles who evangelise Germany with him. They are at once masters, missionaries, and confessors of the truth. Disciples flock around them, hear their instructions, and accompany them in their labours. They are walking seminaries, seminaries quite apostolical, schools in which one learns and preaches at the same time, in which one gives himself to prayer, and dies for the faith of Jesus Christ.

* Ecclesiastical seminaries then decline for a season, it is the era in which universities are founded and enlarged; they absorb, so to speak, all education.

* But the Jesuits, St. Charles Borroniceo, the Cardinal of Berulla, St, Vincent de Paul, and the venerable M. Ollier, apply themselves, with the approbation and under the direction of the Roman pontiffs, to revive the ancient institutions for theological education everywhere. The Council of Trent confirms or determines all these holy and glorious efforts.

• Dr. Theiner's work appears then to be very complete. He brings down the history of the establishments for ecclesiastical education from the commencement of the church to our own days.

• We wish it, however, to be observed, that it seems to us, that in such a book St. Dominick and St. Francis—the institutions which these great men created, and which have exercised so great an influence over

* The newly consecrated prelate of Algeria. It will not escape the notice of the intelligent reader, that in this and the following sentences he is reading the words of a Frenchman, whose vanity is interested in connecting the glories of the Gallicano-Roman hierarchy with the successes of the French arms, and the extension of the French power on the coast of Africa.- Rev.

+ i.e., seminaries : this is what is meant, though we have thought right in our translation to adhere to the word in the original.- Rev.

the scientific and moral education of the clergy, deserved a more extended mention.

• We also regret that Dr. Theiner has excluded, if we may so say, the eastern church from his researches.




• As to the rest,-Dr. Theiner, following the custom of German authors, has enriched his work with numerous and very interesting notes, as well as with many confirmatory documents (pièces justificatives) which everybody will be glad to read.

* Among these documents there are bulls of sovereign pontiffs for the institution and improvement of different seminaries, particularly of the German college at Rome. These are accompanied by an immense and noble list of all the celebrated men who have come forth from this great and glorious school of the Jesuits.

• The contemporaneous resuscitation of the catholic university of Louvain should also have found a place there.

* For our own part, we have added the beautiful pastoral instruction of the Archbishop of Paris, published this very year for the reestablishment of the ecclesiastical conferences and the institution of a faculty of theology. This “instruction' has met with neither censure nor opposition; it has been well received by all ; it has been the object of universal commendation.'

We have lately been compelled by the most mysterious,-we may say disastrous,-events which have transpired in the South Seas, to see to it that papal Jesuitry does not supplant our Protestant missions throughout the whole Pacific; what have we now to say to these demonstrations of the new life infused into the ecclesiastical seminaries of Rome? Speaking as Congregationalists, whose boast is to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and confining our view to the efforts of the papacy abroad, and of the various parties in the national hierarchy at home, it would seem scarcely too much to say that the world was up in arms against the cause we have at heart. And it is certainly true, that if we would not be worsted, we must, under God, revise and strengthen our own institutions. Things, however, are not quite so bad as would be inferred from this restricted view; and the presbyterian churches in particular have given unequivocal tokens as well of their growing attachment to the cause of christian liberty, as of their zeal in the defence of the gospel. To the latter cause we owe the establishment of the seminary conducted by Professors Gaussen, Galland, and D’Aubigné at Geneva, under the auspices of the 'Evangelical Society' of that city; and to the former, that coming out of the free church' from the national establishment of Scotland, of which we are to reap the fruit in England, in the institution of a new presbyterian college in London, under the sanction of the Commission of Synod, appointed by

the presbyterian church in England, which holds the principles of the free church of Scotland. What will be the immediate result of the recent ecclesiastical convocation in Prussia, it is yet impossible to foresee; but that its ultimate issue will be favourable to the cause of truth and liberty we have no doubt whatever. Altogether the signs of the times are such as to shew that the Congregational Union could not have done a better thing at this juncture of affairs, than draw attention to our colleges; and with this conviction, we must, in fairness say, that wisdom and good feeling have never, to our knowledge, been better exemplified in any public arrangements, than in those for the projected conference. The conductors of this delicate business, have acted with the most transparent honour. They have assumed no authority, they have invaded no rights; and when the conference is held, but one sentiment, we are persuaded, will be expressed by the representatives of all our colleges on this subject.

We must now invite attention to the document submitted to the Norwich meeting; and those 'points,' as since published by the committee of the Union in the Congregational Magazine for December, 'on the practical working of the colleges,' which they think may advantageously be considered by the conference.

The first mentioned paper opens with a very lucid and interesting historical survey of our existing institutions. This is followed by a series of statements, suggestions, and inquiries, in ten sections, respecting,-1. The relation between the demand and supply of academical candidates for the ministry; II. The methods of approving and admitting candidates into our colleges; III. The propriety of the uniform course of training generally adopted in our colleges; IV. The propriety of restricting the time of residence in our colleges by fixed laws; V. The sufficiency of the instruction imparted to our students concerning our church principles;' VI. The local position of our colleges, and the proportion their students bear to the surrounding population, aud the churches of our faith and order; VII. The amount of interest taken by our students in the missionary work that is to be done at home; VIII. The vigilance and influence exercised to advance the personal religion, social usefulness, and public acceptance of the students; IX. The financial difficulties which affect our colleges, and proposals for their relief; X. The manner in which the student passes from the college to the full exercise of his public ministry, and the fellowship of his ministerial brethren.

If it has appeared unnecessary to recite the particulars of a document which was not only read before a public meeting of ministers and messengers of churches, but has since been for a month in the hands of the readers of the Congregational Magazine, we shall only say, that this paper is the basis of all that is now in progress for the advancement of our theological institutions. We differ from one or two particular opinions which are expressed in it, but do not hesitate to say, that, if properly followed up, it will be regarded, in succeeding times, as the spring of one of the most important and beneficial movements which our body ever made. We heartily concur, and believe that, before this, the great majority of the readers of the Congregational Magazine have concurred, in Mr. James's declaration at the Norwich meeting, that a more important or valuable document had never been submitted to the Union, and that the denomination was deeply indebted to the brother who had drawn

it up:

Of the ten particulars above specified, the second, third, fourth, fifth, ninth, and tenth have been selected for consideration at the proposed conference. The first, it will be obvious, was a subject for the churches generally to consider ; while the sixth and eighth belong rather to individual colleges, and the seventh to the students under education. Besides, however, the six questions selected from Mr. Blackburn's paper, and which are marked 6, 4, 7, 8, 11, and 5, in the programme of points' we have referred to, this programme comprises five additional ones. 1. Plans to secure adequate preparatory training for young brethren to whom it is needful, so that they may enter the colleges qualified for their studies and advantages; and so that the committees might uniformly require a specified advance in learning as an essential qualification for entrance.'. 2. 'Arrangements to reserve at least the latter two years of the collegiate course, in all instances, principally for theological and cognate studies; and in particular to prevent efforts for literary honours from being ever prolonged into those two years.' 3. 'Some effectual method for retaining the students in the colleges during the full term appointed.' 9. Whether, in some of the colleges, young men of approved character, not intended for the ministry, might not be received, with many advantages, to unite with the ministerial students in branches of study common to both. 10. "The desirableness of a central committee of correspondence among the various colleges in matters of concernment common to them all, such as plans of finance, openings for the settlement of students in the pastoral office, etc.; such central committee being formed of representatives appointed by the committee of the several colleges.'

When we commenced this article, it was our intention to have given our thoughts, in brief, upon some of the arrangements proposed in these documents. "On consideration, we have

« PreviousContinue »