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any other science, it may be reckoned a virtue aliqua nescire ; for what Quinctilian observes of historical, is certainly very applicable to an abundance of Theological writings.--Persequi quidem quod quisque umquam vel contemptisimorum hominum dixerit, aut nimiæ miferiæ, aut inanis jactantiæ eft ; et detinet atque obruit Ingenia, melius aliis vacatura.
If any thing can revive a sense of Religion in the higher classes of life; preserve what still remains of it amongst men of middling fortunes, and bring back to decency of manners and the fear of God, the lowest of the people; it must be the Zeal of the Clergy. But Zeal, in order to produce its proper effect, inust be founded in knowledge: it will otherwise (where, from some peculiar temperament of body or mind, it happens to exist at all) be unsteady in its operation; it will be counteracted by the prejudices of the world, the suggestions of self-interest, the inportunities of indo!ent habits ; or it will be tainted by Fanaticism, and instead of producing in every individual sober thoughts of his Christian duty, it will hurry into dangerous errors the ignorant and unthinking, and excite the abhorrence or derision of men of sense. I have therefore, in selecting the works which compose this publication, not so much attended to the discussion of particular doctrines, as to the general arguments which are best adapted to produce in the Clergy, and in others who will consider them, a well-grounded persuasion that Christianity is not a cunningly devised fable, but ihe power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. That Clergyman who is a Christian, not because he happens to have been born in a Christian country, but from rational conviction, will never think himself at liberty to make light of his calling; to suit his instructions to the vicious propensities of his audience; to scandalize his profession by a conformity with the ungodly fashions of the world ; to be ashamed of the Cross of Chrift, though he should see it attacked by the subtlety of Sophists, or ridiculed by the wanton audacity of profane men. A defi. ciency of Zeal indeed in religious concerns does not always proceed, either in the Clergy or Laity, from a want of Knowledge: sensual appetites, ungoverned passions, worldly customs, all combine together in making most men languid in the performance of even clear and acknowledged duties; yet it must be confessed, that a firm belief in the truth of Christianity resulting from a comprehensive view of the proofs' by which it is established, is the inost probable mean of producing in all men integrity of life ; and of animating, especially, the Ministers of the Gospel, to a zealous and discreet discharge of their pastoral functions.
Young men who are ordained from Country Schools are frequently, when settled in their Curacies, at a loss what course of ftudies to pursue: and many of them, as well as many of those who have had the benefit of an University-Education, are unhappily in no condition to expend much money in the purchase of Theological books, even if they knew how to make a proper selection. Both these difficulties are, I hope, in fome degree, obviated by this publication ; which contains nearly as much matter as three times the number of ordinary volumes of the same fize; and the matter itself has been taken from Authors of such established reputation, that he who will take the pains to read and digest what is here offered to him, will have acquired no inconsiderable knowledge in Divinity. But in Divinity, as in every other study, a man must think much for himself; those who have gone before in the same pursuit may point out the road to him, but that is the main good they can do him: if he loiters in his progress, waiting for the vigilance of others to push him on, he will never get to his journey's end. The Lectures of Professors and Tutors are doubtless of great use in every science; but their use does not consist so much in rendering the science intelligible, if we except the first Elements of the abstract Sciences, as in die recting the attention of the Students to the best books on every subject; and if to this they add a frequent examination into the progress which the Students have made, they will have done all ihat reasonably can be expected from them. The Republic of Letters is in very different circumstances in the present age from, what it was three centuries ago: the multiplicity of books which, in the course of that period, have been publised in every. Art and Science, has enlarged the boundaries of knowledge, and given every man an opportunity, if he be not wanting to himself, of be- , coming skilled in that branch of Literature which he shall think fit to cultivate. And to speak the truth, though there may be some dark points in Divinity which the labour of Learning may still illustrate, yet new books are not so much wanted in that Science, as inclination in the younger Clergy to explore the treasures of the old ones.
A young man destined to the Church, who thinks that he has completed his Education as soon as he has taken his first degree, in Arts, and quitted the walls of his College, is under a verị great mistake. His memory may have been itocked with a great abundance of Classical Knowledge; his mind may have been expanded by a general acquaintance with the several branches of Natural Philosophy ; his reasoning faculties may have been
strengthened by Matheinatical Researches; the limits of his understanding may have been in some degree ascertained by the study of Natural Religion ; in a word, he may have been admirably fitted to become a Divine: but if, after this preparation, he stops short, giving himself up to rural amusements, misspending his time in idle avocations, blunting his faculties by sensual indulgencies, indolently cr arrogantly acquiescing in the knowledge he has acquired, he will never be one.
I am far from wishing to divert the attention of the Undergraduates from that course of studies which is established in this place. There is no University, I believe, in Europe, where the degree of Bachelor of Arts is more honourably obtained than in the University of Cambridge: the sedulity with which the young men, in general
, pursue the plan of study which is prescribed to them, is highly commendable; and, if I recoinmend it to them to let Theology make a part of that plan, it is not from an opinion that Theological studies are more proper for their time of life than any of those in which they are engaged; but from an apprehension, that if they do not make some progress in Divinity, during the first years of their Academical Education, they will have no opportunity of doing it before they will be placed in situations which require a great proficiency in it
. The Statutes indeed of the University, and of many private Colleges, though they point out Theology as the ultimate End of all our studies, do not order us to study Divinity till we have studied almost every other braạch of Science: but it ought to be remembered that, at the time these Statutes were made, young men were admitted into the University about the age of fourteen; and consequently commencing Masters of Arts about the age of twenty-one, they had a considerable interval, even after taking their second degree in Arts, in which they might prepare themselves for entering into holy Orders,
It is not the reading many books which makes a man a Divine, but the reading a few of the best books often over, and with attention; those at least who are beginning their Theolocical studies should follow this rule. I have no scruple therefore in recommending it to the Students in the Universities, to read this Collection twice or thrice over before they take their first degree; the doing this will give little interruption to their other studies; and if it should give a great deal, their time will not be milemployed. Let them dedicate a small portion of every day, or the whole of every Sunday, to this occupation; and, in the course of three or four years, they will easily accomplish the task; and, when
it is accomplished, they may offer themselves to the Bishops to be ordained, with a becoming confidence that they are not wholly unprepared; and they may undertake the most important of all human Duties—the Cure of Souls-without being alarmed by a consciousness of their inability to discharge it as becoinech the servants of the most high God. When I thus express myself concerning the fruits which may be expected from the course of ftudy here pointed out, I am far from insinuating, that it will supersede the necessity of studying the Scriptures themselves, with the best asistance which can be obtained from Commentators: on the contrary, I am persuaded that one part of Scripture is best interpreted by another, and that no sort of reading can contribute so much to the producing of a steady faith, a rational piety, a true Christian charity of mind (the great ends of all our studies, and all our pursuits !) as the frequent reading of the Scriptures.
But the students who are designed for the Church, are not the only ones to whom I would recommend the practice of setting apart some portion of their time for religious inquiries ; I would press it with the greatest earnestness and sincerity on the young men of rank and fortune. I would especially intreat them to peruse with unprejudiced minds, the whole of this Collection; but particularly, and with the strictest attention, the First, Fourth, and Fifth Volumes of it: they will there find such convincing proofs of the Christian Religion, as will preserve them, I trust, from that contagion of infidelity which is the disgrace of the age. It is a very wonderful thing, that a being such as man, placed on a little globe of earth, in a little corner of the universe,cut off from all communication with the other systems which are dispersed through the immensity of space, imprisoned as it were on the spot where he happens to be born, almost utterly ignorant of the variety of spiritual existences, and circumscribed in his knowledge of material things, by their remoteness, magnitude, or minuteness, a stranger to the nature of the very pebbles on which he treads, unacquainted, or but very obscurely informed by his natural faculties of his condition after death; it is wonderful, that a being such as this should reluctantly receive, or fastidiously reject, the instruction of the Eternal God! or, if this is saying too much, that he should hastily, and negligently, and triumphantly conclude, that the Supreme Being never had condescended to instruct the race of man. It might properly have been expected, that arational being, so circumstanced, would have sedulously inquired into a subject of such vast importance; that he would not
have suffered himself to have been diverted from the investigation by the pursuits of wealth, or honour, or any temporal concern ; much less by notions taken up without attention, arguments admitted without examination, or prejudices imbibed in early youth, from the profane ridicule, or impious jestings of fenfual and immoral men. It is from the influence of such prejudices that I would guard that part of the rising generation which is committed to our care, by recommending to them a serious perufal of the Tracts which are here presented to them. Let them not refuse to follow this advice, because it is given to them by churchman; he can have no possible interest in giving it, except what may result to him from the consciousness of endeavouring to discharge his duty, and the hope of being serviceable to them in this world and the next. They need not question his veracity, when he speaks of religion as being serviceable to them in this world; for it is a trite objection, and grounded on a misapprehension of the design of Christianity, which would represent it as an intolerable yoke, so opposite to the propensities, as to be utterly destructive of the felicity of the human mind. It is, in truth, quite the reverse; there is not a single precept in the Gospel, without excepting either that which ordains the forgiveness of injuries, or that which commands every one to possess bis vessel in fan&tification and honour, which is not calculated to promote our happiness. Christianity regulates, but does not extinguish our affections ; and in the due regulation of our affections consists our happiness as reasonable beings. If there is one condition in this life more happy than another, it is, surely, that of him who founds all his hope of futurity on the promises of the Gospel ; who carefully endeavours to conform his actions to its precepts; looking upon the great God Almighty as his Protector here, his Rewarder hereafter, and his everlasting Preserver. This is a frame of mind so perfective of our nature, that if Christianity, from a belief of which it can only be derived, was as certainly false, as it is certainly true, one could not help wishing that it might be universally received in the world. Unbelievers attempt to make proselytes to infidelity, by pressing upon the minds of the unlearned in Scripture knowledge, the authorities of Bolingbrooke, Voltaire, Helvetius, Hume, and other Deistical writers. It is
young men should be furnished with a ready answer to arguments in favour of infidelity, which are taken from the high literary character of those who profess it; let them remember then, that Bacon, Boyle, Newton, Grotius, Locke, Euler, that Addison, Hartley, Haller, West, Jenyns--that Lords