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ought to have corrected the evil, and taught them the necessary distinction between the knowledge of nature, and of nature's God. Those understand but little of the world and of human nature, who talk thus. In the collision of interests, and the labours of a profession we have seldom leisure, even if we had inclination, to take a sober review of what we have been taught before, and settle how far our general method of reasoning is applicable to the doctrines and evidences of Christianity. That error and ignorance therefore in which the student quits the hands of his master in religion, in the same will he probably continue to the end of his days. Nor would it be so easy for him as we imagine, even if he were desirous, to make the requisite change. Call them prejudices or call them principles; but certainly the business of education consists in an attempt to imbue the mind with a variety of opinions which the teacher deems to be true; and thus to pre-occupy the ground of the heart before what he deems false can have had an opportunity of being sown. That by which the heart is thus pre-occupied is never afterwards parted with without a struggle and a sigh. At least I have felt it so myself; and I would appeal to the experience also of others who have entered the sacred ministry, after having been trained up in an implicit reliance upon a set of rules and principles as capable of solving every difficulty
upon every subject, whether they have not found it most arduous to mould their minds as it were anew, and bring them into subjection to the word of God? Let those then to whom a dispensation of instruction is committed, look well to their charge, and see that they train up a people so grounded and settled in religious principles, that they may neither be willing to admit, nor unfitted for resisting the perverted reasonings of infidelity. There is a pride in being persecuted even for error, if we have ever fancied it to be truth ; and a misplaced, but very natural, pity will operate upon the feelings of many, so as to induce them to lean towards those who suffer for their opinions, be their opinions right or wrong. It is not then so much to the sword of justice, as to the pen of the ready writer, and the head of the wellinstructed reasoner, that we must trust for defeating the enemies of the Church. It
may enough to pour down the vengeance of the law upon those blasphemers whose impieties I described in a former Discourse; but it will be of little avail, unless we shut up the avenues to their success, by fortifying the minds of the rising generation so that, “ if they take up the serpent, or drink the deadly thing, it may not hurt thema” It is foolish to urge that education is not intended to make all men theologians, but to prepare them
be right for professions, and to instruct them how to rise to eminence and usefulness in their callings. Surely it is intended also to keep them Christians. That is a profession to which all belong; and to teach them to “hold fast their profession without wavering,” and to rise to that eminence in it to which so few attain, is neither to contravene nor to overlook the object of education. What it is necessary for all to know, and must be fatal to all to lose, it can never be unworthy or inexpedient to teach to all. Be it our care, therefore, in these venerable seats of science, to preserve the character of which we boast in our prayers, and to be, or to become, “a seminary not only of sound learning, but of religious education.” It would be a shame to continue the prayer without fulfilling it.
a Mark xvi. 18.
SUCCESS TO BE EXPECTED IN EXPLAINING
1 Cor. XIII. 14.
“Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to
face : now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
PRESUMING the errors which I noticed in some former Discourses to be avoided, and the rules which I laid down in my last Discourse to be observed; presuming also that the general laws of interpretation, when alike applicable to a sacred and a profane work, are both known and attended to, and that, when not alike applicable, they are properly modified by the theological enquirer, it becomes a curious and an interesting problem I to determine; first, what degree of success he may reasonably expect in his endeavours to elucidate the difficulties of Scripture ; and, secondly, whether this probable degree of success be sufficient for all the necessary purposes of a Christian's faith and practice. These are the two
points which are to be investigated in the present Lecture.
I. Now it seems natural to imagine that success will, in theology, as in every other kind of study, be generally proportioned to the diligence and impartiality with which we make use of our opportunities and means. If, therefore, I have been right in the principles laid down for the explanation of “thing's hard to be understood,” and if those principles were to be employed with vigour, with fidelity, and with judgement in every case, I cannot but suppose also that there would be few of the dark passages and incidents of the Bible which might not in a great measure be illustrated and vindicated by their use. Nor can it be considered as an objection of any real weight against the probability of this extensive and general success, that so many of the “ hard things” of Holy Writ have, notwithstanding the repeated and laborious efforts of its advocates, remained hitherto undefended or unexplained. No doubt, learning and ability of every kind have, in almost every period of the Church, been brought to bear upon the interpretation of the Scriptures ; and yet, notwithstanding these strenuous and successive attempts, there are perhaps many points which still remain imperfectly accounted for and understood. I admit, for the sake of argument,