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THE

BRITISH CRITIC,

FOR SEPTEMBER, 1816.

ART. I. Apostolical Preaching considered, in an Examina

tion of St. Paul's Epistles. 8vo. pp. 259. Hatchard.

1815. It will readily be acknowledged by all those who have a just apprehension of the Gospel, and of the means appointed for its preservation upon earth, that the duties of a Christian Preacher are of the most arduous and responsible kiud.

“ If,” says a great luminary of our Church *, “ the objections of infidels are to be confuted; if the scruples of believers themselves are to be satisfied ; if Moses and the Prophets are to be brought to bear witness to Jesus of Nazareth; if the calumnies of the blaspheming Jews are to be repelled, and their misinterpreta. tions of their own books confuted; if we are to be ready, that is, if we are to be qualified and prepared, ' to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us ;' a penetration in abstruse questions, a quickness in philosophical discussion, a critical knowledge of the ancient languages, a familiar acquaintance with the Jewish History, and with all parts of the sacred writings; a sound judgment, a faithful memory, and a prompt elocution, are talents, without which the work of an evangelist will be but ill performed.”

We shall, perbaps, be told, that if these lofty attainments are, indeed, requisite for every preacher of the Gospel, not a twentieth part of the clergymen of Great Britaiu are competent to the discharge of their duty: and that hy thus magnifying the difficulties of the clerical office, we virtually injure the cause of religion, and check the zeal of many pious and humble mi

Bishop Horsley's Ordination Sermon preached at Gloucester.

nisters, VOL. VII. SEPTEMBER, 1916.

nisters, who must be conscious that their talents and acquirements fill infinitely short of this ideal standard. The opinion which Michaelis * has expressed of the qualifications requisite for a Christian minister, is, per haps, open to such objections ; but Bishop Horsley's sentiments upon the sul.ject appears to us perfectly just and practical. He was addressing hinself to young men who were inmediately to be invested with the apostolical office; and whose duly it was to reflect most seriously on the vature, extent, and sanctity of their new commission. They were to be reminded how vast a field of inquiry the science of Theology presents, and bow indispensalsly requisite it is that men who are solemoly ordained to expound and vindicate the truths of Christianity, should know how to place their arguments on a just foundation. They were to be convinced also how presumptuous and absurd that enthusiast is, who, without authority or qualifications of any kind, proclains his own sufficiency as a teacher of religion; and how weak and inconsiderate are those deluded people who give credit to his pretensions. Admonitions of this nature may, with strict propriety, be ad. dressed to the wiwle body of clergy, and supply, perlaps, soine of the best materials for charges and ordination sermons. But it is surely one thing to describe the duties of the ministerial office, and quite another to disparage the labours of any diligent and conscientious man, who has not made that proficiency in knowledge, which befiis his avocation.

As a general principle, however, the necessity of learning, properly so called, can not be too strongly enforced upon the clergy. The real interests of religion can only be promoted by the united efforts of a body of men, who, as far as human infirmity will permit, are at once “replenished with soundness of doctrine and innocency of life.” At the same time it is evident that the clerical profission, no less than that of medicine

See the translation of his works by the present Lord Bishop of Llandaff, vol. 1. ch. 4. sect. 13. The observations of Michaelis are well worth the attention of every clergyman; but from his own proficiency in sacred criticism, he has been led to insist too strongly upon the absolute necessity of similar attainments in the whole body of clergy. The instructions of Bishop Horsley on clerical studies, and on the proper mode of teaching Christianity, are far more applicable to the present state of the Church. They are to be found not only in the incomparable serion we have just quoted, but in various parts of his Episcopal Charges, published in 1813; in his famous Charge to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of St. Albans, in 1783, and in other parts of his works.

To the gene

or law, is divided into various departments, which must be filled by men of different qualifications and habits. Lu those who are called to the discharge of episcopal functions, we may hope to tind whatever can adorn and dignity our nature. ral accomplishments of polite learning, should be added a profound acquaintance with Theology in all its branches: a perfect knowledge of the constitution of our Church ; a most affectionate attachment to its doctrine and discipline : together with a pure zeal for the general maintenance and propagation of religion, chastened always with judgment and discretion. The temper and circumstances of the present time more especially require, that men who are placed in these elevated stations should possess a strong, and undaunted mind; sagacious in discovering the various artifices by which the Church of England is now as. sailed, and wise enough to prefer the approbation of a good conscience to the voice of popular applause. In our academi. cal professors of divinity, we may reasonably expect to tind

qualifications no less eminent and substantial. The pulpits of the universities, cathedrals, inns of court, and populous towns, demand a perpetual supply of learned, powerful and accomplished preachers. The parish churches throughout the kingdom may, for the most part be respectably filled by men of lower attain ments; provided they be of sound faith and exemplary morals : that they endeavour to supply by diligence, what they want in learning; and make themselves acquainted with the general dis. positions and errors of their respective Aocks, and with the de. gree of religious knowledge which prevails among them. But even in such cases, some degree of learning, we must maintain, is requisite. Every man who is entrusted with the duty of an Apostle, however remote or limited the sphere of his ministry may be, ought to be master of the general evidences of religion, natural and revealed. He should be acquainted with the original language of the New Testament, and with the grand outlines of Ecclesiastical History; more particularly with those parts of it which relate to the Apostolical Church, and to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, froin the Reformation to the present time. He must be familiar with the scriptural proofs of every article of the Christian faith, and with the laws and principles of scripture interpretation. In some, or all of these subjects, every candidate for holy orders ought to be examined. In these points, we are well assured, every conscientious clergyman feels that he ought to possess competent information.

We have been led into these reflections by the avowed ob. ject of the work before us, which is, to fix the attention of our clergy on the mode of preaching adopted by the Apostles, and

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