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itself, and leaves not the lowest degree of evidence in any proposition, either in philosophy or in common life.” For the empirical knowledge which Hume would vainly supply to the understanding to give it content and make it intelligible, we would substitute the idea of a First Cause as the primitive impulse of consciousness, as the only secure datum of knowledge and refuge of faith.

W. J. WRIGHT. Westminster College, Missouri.


It has been often and justly said that next to our scriptural creed and the spiritual energy diffused among us by the Holy Ghost, the chief glory and power of the Presbyterian Church are in its educated ministry.

This prestige we are losing. One general cause of this deterioration is an unwise eagerness to increase mere numbers, and thus to overtake our destitutions. As to this increase, our presbyteries look too much at the quantum and too little to the quale.

This weakness appears in two ways, of which one is too much facility in adopting unfit candidates; and the other is the frequent licensure and ordination of men without the education required by our laws, under a supposed provision for “extraordinary cases.'

I. The prevalence of this illegal practice cannot be better described than in a recent essay in this QUARTERLY by the Rev. Prof. T. C. Johnson, of Union Theological Seminary, in Virginia. His portraiture of the abuse is equally trenchant and just. asserts that the instances disapproved by him are becoming numerous, and are illegal and causeless. Their general aspect may be thus stated: That the brief provision for extraordinary cases in our constitution is perverted to cases which are not extraordinary in either native talent, mental culture, or Christian devotion, for remitting to them nearly all requirements of the law as to general education, knowledge of the classics and knowledge of the original languages of Scripture. The conception on which the presbyteries are acting is this : That our constitution means to provide for introducing into our ministry any men of zeal and fair Christian character without requiring of them the education and mental culture demanded of our other ministers by the law, because such candidates deem it difficult or impracticable for them to acquire such scholarship; and all this upon the supposition that diligence, zeal, practical good sense, and some gift of fluent speech are to supply lack of learning in this class of ministers, most distinctly not ex


traordinary. It is the purpose of this essay to give an absolute denial to this conception. We assert that it has no place whatever in the meaning and intent of our constitution, but is a sheer perversion of it.

A very brief and simple, but sufficient, proof of this position appears in this fact: that all “extraordinary” things must be rare in their several classes. Julius Cæsar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Stonewall Jackson were extraordinary commanders; but there were very few Cæsars, Napoleons, or Jacksons. King David, Homer, Shakespeare and Milton were extraordinary poets; there has been but one of each. Now, it is manifest, that upon the system our presbyteries are pursuing in these licensures, this class of ministers will be numerous, and therefore not extraordinary. The path into our ministry opened by this perversion of the law is easier than the legal path; and there is nothing to prevent its being more numerously trodden than the right, strict way. But since the provision found in our law is for “extraordinary cases,” it can be properly applied only to a few.

The usage of our church at and after the days of its great lawgivers condemns the present abuse. The men licensed and ordained by them under this clause were totally different from those in whose favor it is now extended. A fair instance may be found in that eminent pastor, Dr. James Wilson, who was a cotemporary of Dr. Archibald Alexander, in the early part of this century, in one of the city churches of Philadelphia. He had been an eminent and learned lawyer in that city. When a married man, and approaching middle life, he forsook his lucrative profession to preach the gospel. Here was an extraordinary case. already a man of liberal, classical education. He had also gained special mental culture in the study and mastery of another great science, the law, very analogous to the science of divinity as an organ of mental discipline. In the practice of this profession he had acquired practical wisdom, knowledge of men, and the talent of command. His trained intellect speedily added to his acquirements the special learning of the theologian, by a course of private study. Therefore, the Presbytery of Philadelphia properly made his an extraordinary case, because he already had either the

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identical acquirements of the educated pastor, or the full virtual equivalent thereof, not because they would have entrusted the ministry to any common man, devoid at once of those acquirements and of every fair equivalent for them.

But let us examine this provision, as it lies in our constitution. I shall proceed upon that principle of exposition which all jurists admit, that each article of a law must be interpreted in accordance with that purpose and scope which the law announces for itself. The only allusion to extraordinary cases is found in our Book of Church Order, Chapter VI., Section VI., Article VI. It is in these words: "No candidate, except in extraordinary cases, shall be licensed unless he shall have completed the usual course of academical studies, and shall also have studied divinity at least two years under some approved teacher of theology; and whenever any presbytery shall see reason to depart from this rule, it shall always make a record of the fact upon its minutes, with the reason therefor.” And this little exception is absolutely all which our constitution contains giving seeming authority to the present licentious usage! Here is an inverted pyramid with a vengeance, a large practice resting npon a very narrow apex. It lies upon the face of these whole fifth and sixth sections (for the trial and ordaining of ministers, and for the trial and licensure of probationers) that their design is to exact of all Presbyterian ministers thorough education both in classical and academic literature, and in the special dead languages and sciences of biblical theology. No particular article, therefore, should be so interpreted as to exempt any minister from these requirements. Particulars are designed to define the general scope of the law; they cannot, with honesty, be so interpreted as to contradict it. But let us look at Article IV. of Section VI.: “The presbytery shall try each candidate as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the original languages of the Holy Scriptures. It shall examine him on mental philosophy, logic and rhetoric; on ethics; on the natural and exact sciences; on theology, natural and revealed; and on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments, and church government." The law is imperative, and its application universal—to "each candidate.”

Now, let us add another principle of our constitution, the parity of the ministry. This is, perhaps, our most fundamental trait. We recognize three orders of scriptural church officers, ministers or preaching elders, ruling elders, and deacons; but between different ministers we jealously deny distinctions of orders. Must not this equality of powers and functions imply substantial equality of qualifications? Does it bear telling that such a constitution designs to provide for two different orders of qualifications; and, worse than this, to provide the greater privilege for the less qualified? Another fatal objection to such a construction is found in Section V., which provides for the trying and ordaining of ministers. According to our constitution, a licentiate is not a minister, nor even a presbyter, he is but a layman, on whom the presbytery has seen fit to bestow, in the exercise of its discretion, a temporary probation in the sacred art of preaching, which probation is not a franchise, but a mere privilege, vesting no right in the candidate, which the presbytery may not withdraw without judicial process at its own discretion. Such licensure is but a preparatory step of a humbler and inferior grade, leading towards ordination, which is the high and all-important process creating the presbyter and minister, and solemnly vesting in him the franchises and rights of the offices. Surely, if our constitution designs to make two classes of ministers, equal in right but created by two different processes, a higher and a lower, it must have introduced this provision into this supreme place in its laws, its rules for ordination. But in the whole section there is neither jot nor tittle of such provision. All reference to the extraordinary cases has dropped absolutely out! Presbyteries are not advised, but commanded, to examine all applicants for ordination upon the same list of qualifications. And this list is substantially the same with that required of fully qualified licentiates in Section VI. It is to be noted that the rules of ordination expressly require of all applicants a knowledge of the Latin, New Testament-Greek and Hebrew, which are the very branches of learning which our presbyteries now remit, under their abusive construction, to their “extraordinary cases."

We claim that this exposition of the law is conclusive against the present usage. What, then, is the amount of privilege which

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