« הקודםהמשך »
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District
of New York.
PRESS OF JOHN WILSON AND SON.
ART. 1.- EDUCATION AND LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY.
An Essay read at the Annual Meeting of the Western Unitarian Con
ference, in October, 1866. By CHARLES H. BRIGHAM. I have been requested in this essay to speak of the relation of Education to Liberal Christianity, and to its progress, with special reference to the training of ministers in the liberal body. It would seem that in these last years this topic has been sufficiently discussed, and that more words upon it would only weary the hearers. The leading articles and the standing advertisements in our religious journals have made the subject of clerical education unpleasantly prominent; until many have come to wish that we had no ministry at all, and could trust, like the Quakers, the instant motion of the Spirit. We tire of listening to this unending tale of blame and lack and need in the matter of pulpit supply, and we dread, in all our gatherings, the coming up of that vexed question, the "wants of our Divinity School.”
But, tiresome as this discussion is, it cannot be adjourned or silenced. It is vital to the welfare - not to say to the existence of our churches. It involves the future of our body, what kind of a body it is to be, or whether it is to continue at all. Are we to hold the position that we formerly held, or to resign it finally, and change places with the sects
VOL. LXXXIV. - NEW SERIES, VOL. V. NO. I.
which have had no care for learning ? Already the wise among us see signs of such a change, and lament that we submit so meekly to that sad doom. They tell how the glory of learning is departing from our ranks; how few of the younger preachers take interest in theological studies, or are competent to speak on questions of religious science. They hold wistfully to that frail life of the Cambridge Professor of Hebrew, lest, when its thin thread breaks, the place must remain vacant for want of a man to fill it, or we must be mortified in seeking the man beyond our sect. They look in vain in our periodicals for the solid essays and arguments on Biblical and ecclesiastical questions which once gave these periodicals renown: there is vigorous writing, but of the secular more than the theological kind. They are vexed to see that Methodist and Baptist Quarterlies must guide the liberal inquirers to the results of theological study. They mourn, that, while educated men are so slow to come into our ministry, uneducated men seem to have no such reluctance, confident in their ability to instruct and edify. They observe, in the lists of the younger clergy, that less than half, hardly a third, have had the advantage of a regular college training; and that most of those who pretend to interpret, have but slight knowledge of the tongues that must be dealt with. And they hear with amazement, that, for those who so lack in previous training, it is even proposed to shorten the course of study, so that a few months of desultory and hasty reading shall fit men to fill the pulpits of the learned fathers. These are signs of ill-omen to many of the elders, which find voice in frequent conversation, if they are suppressed from public utterance. At the very time when there seems to be an awakened zeal, when conferences are formed, and meetings are multiplied, and gifts of money come liberally in, we seem to see the ranks of our ministry invaded by a new class, who push aside the worthy men, and assume to speak as oracles, and boast that the new day has come, when study may be dispensed with. The churches, too, are becoming almost desperate in the quality of the material that they have to choose from, and often take their pastors, not because they