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instead of being the result of it. A preaching student, a learner set to teach, is a solecism : nothing but the familiarity of the practice could reconcile persons to the gross impropriety. The practice is as cruel to the young men as it is degrading to the sacred office, and destructive of those feelings of respect in congregations towards the minister, which it is so infinitely important to cherish. We are well aware of the specious pleas which may be urged for the toleration of the practice within certain limits, although the practice has spurned all sober and decent limitation; but it is our deliberate opinion, that it has been productive of more serious mischief to the cause of religion in various ways, than can be compensated by any occasional good resulting from these precocious exertions, so injurious to the individual and, in general, so little satisfactory to their hearers. We look upon it, indeed, as a fraudulent thing, to take a young man from his studies, and compel him to employ three days out of six in writing bad sermons and travelling to some obscure place to practice praying and preaching, when he must feel to be wholly unfit for such sacred employment. The shifts,—the deception to which there is a temptation to have recourse in order to maintain a respectable appearance, the levity with which such performances are spoken of,—the occasional mortification, or expense, the hinderance and fatigue attendant upon such excursions, and the havoc made in simplicity of feeling, -altogether render this pernicious practice of making students play the minister, a source of mischief that it would be difficult to calculate.
Preaching, the all and every thing in the modern system, is just that one thing which academies cannot teach; and it is for this very reason, that the poor student is sent out to learn the art as he may, by practising his gifts. But would it not be better that our colleges should be reserved for scholars, and that the business of acquisition should be understood to be, while there, their sole object? Why should an individual who is fit to occupy a pulpit, be sent to an academy? He is either competent to instruct others, or he is not. If he is, let bim teach if not, let him keep to his lessons, and “ tarry till bis beard be grown.” What would be thought and said, if the universities of Mother Church sent out raw sizars to preach in the churches of the Establishment?
But another serious defect in the constitution or management of these institutions is this: they require no security, on the one hand, that the student should have the means of maintaining himself in respectability till he obtains an appointment, and on the other hand, they furnish him with no means of earning his bread, except by preaching. Á theological academy, as they are at present conducted, is a public charity, The number of students is extremely small, who are educated in them at their own expense or at that of their friends. la some cases, the charity has been abused, the gratuitous education having been claimed in formâ pauperis by individuals whose friends were well able to support them during their studies. There can be no doubt that the extreme cheapness of this education, though, in some cases, a great advantage, has tended to open the door into the ministry somewhat too widely, and to make such institutions less valued and less respectable. It is generally allowed, that men are disposed to set more value on what they pay for, than on what is gratuitously bestowed; and we have reason to think, that the sense of obligation and feeling of gratitude on the part both of the students and their friends, would be greatly enhanced, were the education not so perfectly gratuitous. Besides, why should the Dissenting ministry be uniformly entered through the door of pauperism? Why should exclusive encouragement be given to those whose circumstances necessitate them to accept of this charity as a stepping-stone to a maintenance ? How is it that the sons of opulent Dissenters are never found availing themselves, as in former times, of the literary and theological advantages which such institutions hold out? Has not the effect of this system been to pauperize the ministry, and to render it less respectable in the eyes even of those who contribute to its support?
This, however, is not the whole of the evil. As the proz vision made by these institutions, is too cheap in one point of view, so, in another, it is insufficient, because, in the failure of personal resources, they furnish the academic with no opportunity of maintaining himself in the anxious interval between the termination of his studies, and his obtaining an invitation to become a pastor. He must preach or starve. The institution takes him up as a pauper, and having fed and maintained him entirely for a certain number of years, turns him out on the religious world. One consequence is, that the student is laid under strong temptation to enter into premature engagements of a pastoral nature, before his noviciate is expired, to secure a future habitation. Now we really think, that à Society which thus adopts young men, in order to train them for the Christian Ministry, and which holds out a gratuitous education as a bonus to encourage then to come forward from even the lowest ranks, ought not to stop short in its munifi. cence thus improvidently ; that, where the circumstances of the individual require it, he should not be compelled to have recourse to preaching in order to purchase books and clothes
while in the house, or to support himself out of it. There ought to be provided funds of some description, which might both serve as a premium upon scholarship, and as a resource to those who revolt at mingling mercenary considerations with the sacred engagements of the pulpit. Nothing can have a worse tendency upon the ingenuous mind of a young man, than teaching him to rely upon preaching fees. It is a disgrace to any institution of this kind, that its students should receive a fee for their preaching. If they are to be sent out, the Institution ought to be at the charge of their expenses ; and at least during the period of their education, they ought not to be suffered to accept of a degrading and paltry remuneration for their occasional services. But then it is equally necessary, that they should not be compelled by indigence to have recourse to this expedient. Either those who recommend the student ought to be chargeable with his unavoidable ex. penses, or the Society which adopts him, ought to see to it, that he is properly provided for. Many a young man has been suffered, while a student, to contract debts, which have not only harassed and disturbed his mind in a most prejudicial manner at the time, but have laid the foundation of an indifference on the subject of incurring debt in after life, very fatal to his respectability and usefulness.
In the Church of England, a person cannot obtain ordination without a title, derived from either a parochial cure or a college fellowship; and the reason of this rule we have understood to be, that the Bishop is bound to see that the person ordained has the means of a livelihood, or else to provide for him. Ordination, among Protestant Dissenters, is limited, upon a different principle, to persons sustaining a specific charge: none are simply ordained to preach, and it forms, therefore, no line of distinction between the ministerial profession and the laity. The liberty of prophesying, to use Jeremy Taylor's phrase, ought, as we conceive, to be thus unrestricted; it ought not to be a mere official function tied up to the pastoral office. But still, there is an official distinction among Dissenters, pretty generally recognised, between the reverend and non-reverend classes, the ministry and the laity. This distinction commences, not in virtue of ordination, (for the title is given to very many unordained persons,) but, in point of fact, when the student is received into the academy, and assumes the black coat as the badge of his relinquishing secular concerns. Few, after taking that step, ever voluntarily relinquish the ministry, and return to trade or handicraft. This being the case, the Committees of such institutions may be regarded as executing the episcopal function in commission; it is they who open the door into the VOL. XXVII. N.S.
ministry, and who are responsible for all the consequences. Nay, it is almost as requisite for a young man to receive this academic ordinatiou, if he would succeed, as it is, in the Church, to be episcopally ordained; the chances of future provision being very greatly regulated by this mode of initiation. The very important part which devolves upon these Committees, has been greatly overlooked. Uniting in themselves the functions of a board of directors and a commission of “ triers," they have in their hands the most valuable patronage which Dissenting institutions admit of, as well as the power of regulating to a very great extent, the character of the rising ministry. They are trustees of the most important description of public charity; and their trust is a most delicate one. They form, in fact, an episcopal senate ; and the destinies of Protestant Dissent, as a cause, rest greatly with them. That these extensive powers have been uprightly and disinterestedly exercised, we firmly believe; but we also think, that they have been exercised inconsiderately and improvidently too. The individuals composing such committees have been, in some measure, unconscious of the power they exercised, and of the responsibility connected with it. In admitting a young man into the academy as a probationer, they have not felt that they were conferring on him a sort of deacon's orders,-admitting him into the porch, so as to enable bim to find his own way in at the door ; and that this initial step was the decisive one by which he became fully committed to the ministry as a livelihood as well as an avocation. But ought the piety and good character of the applicant, and the state of the fund, to be the only considerations with such committees ? Ought not the young man's circumstances to be inquired into, and the prudence of the step on his part to be ascertained? And if, upon inquiry, it be thought that the patronage of the Institution would be wisely bestowed upon the candidate, ought not a more generous provision to be made for his comfort, such as shall secure him against the necessity of dishonourable shifts, of premature engagements, or of be. coming a burden to indigent friends ? Let us not be asked, whence are such funds to come. Far better were it to educate one half the number at the present cost, than to overstock the Dissenting ministry with indigent and friendless mediocrity.
It is high time that this subject were taken into consideration. It is notorious that, both in the Church of England and in the Dissenting community, there is a glut, it we may be allowed the expression, of ministers and candidates for the ministry. At the very time that colleges are being enlarged and multiplied, many ministers of irreproachable character, and some of highly respectable talents, are unable, we are told, to obtain pastoral engagements*; and the directors of academies are in difficulty as to providing stations for their students on the completion of their studies. The funds for the support of the Dissenting ministry have been to a great extent diverted into other channels, through the defection of the Dissenting aristocrasy from the principles and discipline of their forefathers, and the increase of evangelical preaching within the Establishment. Let all these circumstances be put together, and then let it be determined, whether some means ought not to be devised, to diminish the quantity, and raise the quality, of the redundant supply. We have endeavoured to point out where the reform must begin; and we would earnestly press upon the influential members of such institutions, the expediency of placing them upon a more liberal basis, worthy of their improved architecture. We are quite sure that we should have the presidents and tutors of such academies on our side, in urging the necessity of a total reformation of the practice as regards the allowing students to preach and to take fees for it. Far better would it be, that every student qualified to preach, should have a liberal stipend allowed him, so long as he is in the house, or at the disposal of the directors of the Institution; and it might then be an object of honourable emulation, to become entitled to this little fellowship. An extension of the period of study would be another means of checking the supply, which would be attended with no small benefit ; and generally, there requires to be a return to the original intention and primary object of such institutions, as being designed, not as schools of oratory, but as theological seminaries. Did they occupy the rank in public estimation which we could wish to see them hold, they would soon attract other inmates than those who are educated at the public expense, and new sources of income. Nor do we see why the theological advantages which they afford, might not be extended to candidates for the ministry in other communities. It is certain that, for want of such institutions, the evangelical clergy are, for the most part, very defective in theological knowledge. They are in general better classics, better mathematicians, simpler preachers, but often sorry Biblical critics and very superficial theologues. Churchmen and Dissenters, in this, as in other respects, have much to learn from each other; and we hope that the time may come, when they may pursue mathematics together, either at Cambridge or in London, without any compromise of principle,