Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

struction we may be understood to kiss, when we embrace what was so lately made by them. In the Jewish circumcision of the flesh, the eighth day was indeed observed; but then that was but a type and figure of somewhat to come after, which is now completed and finished by the coming of Christ. For because it was the eighth day (that is indeed the first after the Jewish sabbath) wherein our Lord was to rise from the dead and quicken us, and appoint for us a spiritual circumcision ; this same eighth day, or first after the Sabbath, thus signalized by our Lord's resurrection, was heretofore appointed as a type ; which ceases in course when its anti-type appears, and when the spiritual circumsision is given us to supply its room.

. Upon the whole therefore we think that no one is now, by any law, restrained from the grace of baptism ; and particularly that the carnal should not be suffered to hinder the spiritual circumcision ; but that every person should by all means be admitted to the grace of Christ; especially since St. Peter hath said in the Acts of the Apostles, that God hath shewed him he should not call any man common or unclean. If any thing could hinder an human creature from the attainment of grace,one would think it should rather be the guilt of those more heinous sins, which adult and grown persons are most apt and likely to commit. But now if remission of sins be granted to these most heinous offenders, who have long ago sinned against God; and if none of them be denied the grace of baptism; how much less reason is there for denying it to infants ; who being but newly born, can be guilty of no sin, except that by being derived from Adam, according to the flesh, their birth hath communicated to them the infection and punishment of his offence ; who therefore are the more easily admitted to the pardon of their sin, because it is not so properly their own as another's. Wherefore we came in council, dear brother, to this resolution ; that no one should be denied by us access to the grace of God, who is kind, and merciful, and indulgent to all of us. And as our rule hereupon is general, so we think the equity of it more particularly extends to new born infants ; which therefore we would have observed with an especial regard to them, who by their tears and deprecations, as soon as they are born, seem to implore our help in the most moving manner, and to have the best title of any to the mercies of God. We heartily wish your welfare, dearest brother, and so take leave of you.

Cyp. EPIs. 64. ****

ADVICE TO A STUDENT, CONCERNING THE QUALIFICATIONS AND DUTIES OF A CLERGYMAN.

PREPARATION FOR ORDERS. DEACONS. I COME now to the plan which I mean to recommend to you, as your actual preparation for holy orders. I propose it to you in two views : one, as an immediate qualification for a useful parish Priest, supposing all your literary prospects to terminate in that venerable character : the other, as the foundation of your subsequent studies, in case you should aspire to add to it that of an able and learned Divine. I shall be careful to contract it within such bounds

and measures, as to render it on either supposition, with fair ability and reasonable industry, a PRACTICABLE scheme. I begin with the preparation for Deacon's orders, -The foundation of all Christian knowledge being laid in the scriptures of the Old Testament, these are to be your first study. The history of the creation, the fall, and the patriarchal ages; the mosaic institutions; the principal transactions of the chosen people; and the prophecies; are all, either so intimately connected with the evangelical dispensation, or so continually alluded to by the sacred historians and preachers of it, that it is impossible, without a general acquaintance with the Old Testament, to obtain a competent understanding of the New. Yet, to read the whole volume of the ancient scriptures with accurate examination, is an undertaking beyond your present abilities and opportunity; and it will, I hope, make a considerable part of your future studies. In the mean time, therefore, I propose to you an introductory method, easy, pleasant, and satisfactory. Read the English Version, with the commentaries of Bishop Patrick and Mr. Lowth ; occasionally consulting the Septuagint, and, if you are already equal to it, the Hebrew. Throughout the historical parts have your eye upon Archbishop Usher's " Annals of the old and new Testament," and mark the synchronisms: and after the Captivity, take up Dean Prideaux's “ Connection of the Old and New Testament;" an able and useful work, composed by the learned author in a state of infirmity; a lively admonition to the younger student, to lay up a treasure of literature, and to be as use ful as he can in his office and situation, while he is blest with health and vigour of mind and body. About this time you will read Bishop Stillingfieet's " Origines Sacræ," which proves, with much good learning and sound argument, “the truth and divine authority of the scriptures, and the matters therein contained ;" and the posteri-ority in time, and defect in authenticity, of other ancient histories; a book, by the way, which inculcates the same lesson of early active ity, by an example something different; for it is said to have been published in the author's twenty-eighth year. Be not alarmed at the length of this work, or at the extent of the learned author's researches. When you begin the Prophets, read Bishop Sherlock's « Six Discourses on the Use and Intent of Prophecy in the several “Ages of the World." pelle

You cannot easily imagine beforehand the advantages which you will'derive from a steady application to this easy and entertaining course of study: First, in the solid and extensive information which it will afford you; and secondly, in the inclination, as well as ability, which it will give you, to pursue the train of enquiry which is to follow.

• When you have in this manner gone through the Old Testament, take up the New in the original Greek. Read the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles ; with the whole of Dr. Trapp's short Com mentary on the Gospels, and Dr. Hammond's and Dr. Whitby's commentaries on the Gospels and the Acts, in parts, as you shall find occasion. Then read the Epistles, in such manner only as to become, fif you are not already) master of the literal construction, and to have a good general idea of the subject and scope of each ; resery

ing the detail of the argument, and the examination of the more difficult passages, for a second reading at a future time, which I shall mention. Keep Archbishop Usher's -Annals in your view.. . When you begin to read the holy scriptures, provide a book, wherein you may enter an abstract of the comment upon any text impor tant or difficult, or likely to escape your memory, together with the date of principal events ; leaving a blank page opposite for your future insertions, whether of explanatory notes, or of such parallel expressions as may occur to you in other ancient writers. I do not mean that you should form a perpetual commentary, which would fatigue and retard you: your present object is to obtain a general knowledge of the whole bible ; to take a comprehensive, transient view, of the authentic records and predictions which God hath been pleased to afford us of his dispensations to mankind. You will afterwards with more ease and advantage re-consider particular parts of the sacred volume, as your knowledge shall enlarge, and your judgment ripen. This book of extracts, gradually filled up, will be useful to you all your life. - While you are reading the New Testament, or immediately afterward, I advise you to take in hand Bishop Pearson's “ Exposition of the Creed." This work states, with admirable clearness and fulness, the meaning of each article, the foundation of it in scripture, an answer to all heretical notions opposing or perverting it, a confirmation or illustration of it drawn from the writings of antiquity, and lastly its practical necessity and application. You will peruse this volume with equal profit and pleasure ; and in no long time. Read it over again, after a short interval, in whole or in part, accordingly as you shall find your digestion and memory more or less perfect. • To this book you will do well to subjoin Bishop Burnet's: 6 Ex. position of the Articles of the Church of England." You have therein a summary review of the evidences of the doctrines maintained by the universal Church; and a state of the principal differences unhappily subsisting, near the times of the reformation, between the Church of England and other Christian congregations.

I now recommend a second and more accurate perusal of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, with the same commentators consulted occasionally ; adding to them for general reference upon all the scriptures, as soon as it shall be convenient to you to procure it, « Poole's Synopsis."

During the whole time of your preparation, I advise you to have constantly in hand a volume of English sermons. This habit will afford you several advantages. A well written sermon is an agreeable recreation after more severe application. You will often read one at short intervals of leisure, which would not, perhaps, otherwise be so usefully employed. Ly this practice alone you might gain, in time, a general view of the whole body of divinity, and a clear comprehension of many principal passages in the holy scriptures; as there is scarcely a topic of doctrine or precept, or an important or difficult text, phrase, or term, which is not discussed by some one or more of our preachers; and frequently in a more perspicuous and finished manner, than is to be expected in any one system or general com

mentary. You will, moreover, improve your judgment in writing; and also acquire a copiousness of language, and particularly a command of terms and phrases suited to the subjects of your future comBositions. In the great variety of these valuable works, it is not easy to select a few, in preference, for your present perusal. ; I should, however, begin with the following. Archbishop Tillotson, for the number and importance of his subjects, and the plainness and clear. dess of his explications. At this early period of your theological studies, the novelty of the matter, and the pleasure of receiving infor. mation, may counteract any tendcrcy which you may feel to disrelish the simplicity of his manner. Dr. Barrow, for his well known fulness of matter, and his habit of exhausting his subjec!s; and also for his energy frequently, and sometimes for his eloquence, of expression. Bishop Bull, for the special importance of some of his subjects, and his plenary discussion of them. Archbishop Sharp, for his sound doctrine and solid sense, his forcible expression, and popular, yet not mean, style. Bishop Taylor, for his lively and fruitful imagination, and his rich vein of pious eloquence. Lastly, Mr. Norris, for the clearness of his conceptions, his thorough investigation of the point in hand, and his powerful application to the understanding. In reading his sermons, you have no concern with his philosophical notions : of which, however, it is but justice to observe, that, whether they are demonstrably true or not, they have this estimable quality in their favour; they are at least in perfect harmony with truths most universally acknowledged, and most important to mankind; and they form, both in probability and tendency, a decided contrast to the speculations of certain other profound reasoners, from the atoms of Democritus* down to the visions of his latest followers; who, while they demand a considerable sacrifice of your philosophy, go to the utter subversion of your faith, and consequently to the subtraction of that large fund of present happiness, which is derived from the contemplation of a gracious Providence, and the prospect of a future state.

And while you are profiting by the works of these learned and religious persons, you will feel an affectionate reverence for their memory : you will be thankful to God for the benefit of their labours : you may perhaps be incited to imitate them. It is indeed the honourable lot of but a few, to instruct and entertain posterity by their writings ; to transmit to after ages such fair and forcible representations of TRUTH, as may lead them, in the way of VIRTUE, to HAPPINESS. You may be one of those few. But every minister, and every Christian, may, in his proportion, be a blessing to those who shall live after him, by the oral instruction and good example which he shall have given to his parish, or to his family and neighbourhood.

Though dead, he may yet speakt;" the benefit, outliving the benefactor, may be transmitted to distant places and generations; and be diffused in a long and wide-extended series, known only to Him who has the whole chain of effects and causes, natural and moral, within bis view.

When you shall have pursued this plan of study with attention

* For these, when you shall have leisure, see Cudworth's Intellectual System, Book I. '

+ Heb. xi. 4.

and success, you may fairly offer yourself a candidate for the order of deacons. You may indeed, at first sight, be inclined to think that I have required of you more than is necessary, or, perhaps, practi. cable. On the point of necessity, you will probably come over to my opinion upon a very slight review. I would ask you, would you wish to become a minister and preacher of a religion, without ob. taining a tolerably clear conception of its EVIDENCES, DOCTRINES, and Laws ? without taking a general view of the RECORDS in which they are contained without conducting these enquiries with the deliberate attention of a man of sense ; "and with some degree of accuracy suitable to a man of education? Is it too great a consumption of time and thought, to read and digest a clear summary, proof, and illustration, of the ARTICLES of FAITH, which you are to state and explain to your congregation? Is it a superfluous acquirement to know the principal points of DISAGREEMENT in doctrine or discipline, which have divided the Church of Christ ; and particularly those which distinguish that branch of it, in which you are educated a member, and desire to be appointed a “watchman ?" Can you deem it unnecessary to be instructed in the nature of the Christian covenant, the benefits which it offers, the conditions which itimposes, the detail of those conditions in the several duties of a good life? and how is this knowledge to be obtained without application to the original sources, and to the learned labours of those who have drawn it thence, and prefiared it for your use? Or, lastly, would you be ambitious to be a writer or a speaker, in any science, or on any subject, without a moderate comprehension of its elemental parts and leading topics : without some previous attention also to the rules of COMPOSITION, and to the idiom and powers of the LANGUAGE, although vernacular, (which circumstance, while it renders the attainment more easy, makes the failure more disgraceful ;) without some acquaintance with a few of the best writers; and some preparatory practice? I add nothing con. cerning the high importance of this undertaking, and of the due exe"cution of it, to yourself, and to numbers, more than you can calculate

at present, or perhaps will ever know, • The weight of this representation I will not labour to impress, by any repetition or enlargement, on a mind like yours. You have too great reverence for the temple of God, to desire, were it permitted, without much studious premeditation to precipitate yourself into it, as the horse rusheth into the battle* ;' nor would your virtuous parents so far forget their veneration for things sacred, and their respect for themselves, as to will you to incur spontaneously the ju*dicial degradation of the relicks of the house of Eli; mercenarily presenting yourself before the altar, without ability competent to the services of it; and saying, “ Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priest's offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.”+

But while I urge the necessity of this preparation, I have no design or apprehension of discouraging you. I mean only to excite your industry by a true representation of things. I think this preparatory learning as attainable as it is necessary. I verily believe it may be acquired, with fair ability and industry, within the time which I have * Jerem, viii. 6.

: I Sam. ii. 36. See Patrick in loc.

« PoprzedniaDalej »