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ture, he escapes this evil; or at the least, (for, alas! the limits of his understanding, and the defects of his method, will always render him in some degree liable to it,) he approaches as near to truth as is possible: he constantly infuses a greater proportion of it into his doctrine, and weakens by incessant attacks the strongholds of error which may remain. By this means, he is enabled to separate the truths of revelation from the worthless framework with which they are too commonly surrounded; its doctrines are restored to their relative degrees of importance in his mind; the true spirit of Scripture stands forth; and the theologian is enabled to steer clear of those contrary extremes, into which it is the tendency of human systems to draw him.
When we reflect upon the fertility and Divine purity of the source, in which the Christian teacher is required to seek his principles, is it not apparent that he has reason to glory in his privileges ? and might we not deem it superfluous to exhort him to avail himself of them? To be made acquainted with the sublimest truths, by those inspired men whose successor he calls himself,—to be in a manner their associate, while they inquire and search diligently, what the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify," and fathom those depths “which the angels desire to look into,”—to be admitted into the Divine mind of the Saviour of the world, and to listen to Him while grace and truth are lavishly diffused around from his lips, among the astonished and delighted auditory,Oh, if in all this there is nothing to call forth the zeal of the minister, what should such a man do among the guardians of God's law? “Many prophets and kings,” said Christ to his Apostlesand we would say the same to him likewise
Many prophets and kings have desired to see the things which ye see, and have not seen them.” Had it been granted—I say not, to the patriarchs of the ancient law, but, to the most enlightened of the Pagans—to a Socrates or a Plato-to drink at those heavenly fountains which are ever flowing for you, can you doubt with what humble and thankful emotion, they would have devoted themselves to the perusal
of the simple and profound discourses of our Lord, the holy and sublime doctrines of the Apostles, and all those. lessons of a Divine philosophy, to inquiries after which they dedicated their lives?
Consider, again, the object of the science of Theology, and ask yourselves with what view you come here to pursue this study: from this reflection will arise fresh motives to the duty which I am urging. You propose to be enabled hereafter to explain and enforce the Christian faith for the benefit of your brethren, and at the same time to defend it against its enemies. Now, nothing but a thorough and persevering study of the Sacred Writings, can duly prepare you for this twofold task. .
For what purpose hath Christ appointed "some, Apostles; and some, prophets; and some, pastors and teachers ?”. To teach, to defend, and to propagate among mankind, those truths which are fitted to regenerate them,those sublime truths, far, above the reach of all hụman thought, which have been made known to you through the death of the Son of
God, and which remain deposited in the books of the Old and New Testament. To you it will be given in charge to continue this work, and to proclaim the glad tidings to your
fellowcreatures. . Can you think, however, that the truths which God himself has thus designed for this.great end, are not the best adapted for it? Who then are you, that you should attempt to alter them?: In these books, be assured, you will find. matter both weighty in itself, and abundantly applicable to the wants and miseries of suffering man. In them alone, you will meet: with instruction fitted for every variety of character, age, and condition, as well as for all periods and all places; and hence, it is only by imbibing their substance and their spirit, that you will learn to be useful, that you
will succeed in persuading and converting mankind,-in a word, that you will do the work of Christ.
Should you, on the contrary, neglect this study—should
after having passed through it in a hurried and superficial way, satisfied with preserving only a confused recollection of
it, give yourselves wholly up to pursuits unconnected with it-you would soon be in danger of substituting your own notions for that saving grace which is the gift of the Divine mercy, and the price of the blood of Christ. Instead of those vital and effectual truths, of those touching and constraining motives, adapted to every capacity, which convert the mind of man, cleanse him from guilt, exalt his views, and, in the language of Scripture, create him anew after the image of God, you would probably come, at last, to teach and to know only a cold and lifeless philosophy, incapable of promoting repentance and salvation; or else you would convert Christianity into an abstract system, not altogether useless indeed for cultivated intellects, but possessing neither light nor life for those “ little ones,” to whom our Saviour thanked the Father that He had revealed himself. Lamentable error! which strips Christianity of its most admirable qualities, its universality and simplicity; and transforms the servant of Christ into a learned and vain disputer, unable to say with the Apostle of the Gentiles : “My