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formed into classes with other young men, of younger years indeed but of far more pliable faculties, and in possession of considerable early advantages, it is found that he cannot go on as fast as they can, and that they must check their pace to enable him to keep up with them. The difference is split-a mean is struck, by which, as has already been said, both parties are losers. He is never able thoroughly to digest any thing, they never have enough to digest; he is gorged to repletion, they are half starved; he acquires a little knowledge of many things in a loose and unsatisfactory manner, while they, finding that they can do what is required of them with comparative ease, are likely to lose their time, and to fall into habits of indolence and mental dissipation. So long as it is necessary to form students into classes at all (and we have no hope that this necessity will ever cease to exist), we are aware that it will not be possible always to prevent those disadvantages which great diversities in point of talent, and some diversities in point of previous attainment, must now and then occasion. But they never ought to exist to the extent in which they now do. Indeed, if they were never greater than inevitable necessity occasioned, they would cease to be of any consequence, for they would be more than counterbalanced by the advantages which companionship in the same pursuits, and the honest emulation it cherishes, must always have over solitary study.
But not only is the young man, in the circumstances we have supposed, totally incapable of successfully prosecuting his multifarious and novel studies, not only does he stand a chance of impeding the progress of those who might do so, but such a plan is calculated to produce, or at least to cherish some of the worst faults which can belong to a public speaker, and which otherwise might never have appeared. We all know well enough what a dangerous thing a mere smattering of any science is, and the evil is only multiplied when instead of a smattering of one we have a smattering of many. Extensive attainment in at least one branch of knowledge is necessary to guard us from that affectation of learning, that ostentatious pedantry, and those vices of diction and of style which are ridiculous every where, but in the pulpit worse than ridiculous. Extensive attainments, except in a very few peculiarly and hopelessly constructed minds, will always tend to form a beautiful simplicity, and the greater part of the offences against it are the result, not of having acquired too much knowledge, but of not having acquired enough.
The course, then, to which we would restrict students of this lower class, should extend through three or at most not more than four years, and should comprise a thorough knowledge of the principles of English grammar and of English composition, an attentive study of the best portions of our literature, history, the elements of mental and moral science, and sound English theology,
doctrinal, controversial, and practical: such works being selected in each department, as cæteris paribus, shall be best calculated to exercise and stimulate the student's faculties, to extend his knowledge of his native language and his command over it – points to him of such vital importance-toimprove his taste and to form his style. To this we would add a knowledge of the first four books of Euclid. This, though a very moderate portion of mathematics, would be enough to form an invaluable discipline, since even a very little attention to this science so eminently tends to sharpen the reasoning powers, to form the faculty of close attention and continuous thought, and (which is so essential to the public speaker) to facilitate the habit of retaining and giving expression to a connected train of argument.
We have already suggested two methods by which this project might be carried into effect; the first is that of inducing those who have the management of some of our smaller colleges (which have not yet set up an expensive apparatus of tutors, buildings, library, &c., with a view to a more enlarged education) to come to a magnanimous resolution to devote themselves to its accomplishment. As for the Congregationalists, it might surely be auspiciously attempted in connexion with the recent resolutions of the Congregational Union to attempt a comprehensive scheme of Home Missions, for the realization of which a large number of agents of the class now referred to, will be imperatively demanded, and would be pre-eminently useful. It can, perhaps, be hardly expected that any of our larger colleges, which have established a costly machinery with a view to a more thorough training, should dedicate themselves exclusively to this object. The second method, if the former should be thought impracticable, is that of endeavoring to combine the two objects in the same institutions, by admitting the class of students to which we now refer only to certain classes and for a more limited term of years. Our colleges would thus be enabled to extend the education of those who are likely to derive full benefit from such an arrangement, as well as to increase the appliances of study. This in our opinion would be very preferable to the plan of attempting to carry all the students through the same course, and retaining them for the same term of years; a plan attended with all the manifest disadvantages to both parties to which we have already adverted.
If it should be objected that the lack of previous advantages is a good reason for extending the term of study, but not for curtailing it, and for teaching more, but not for teaching, less, we reply that we are speaking of those who have arrived at an age which renders time of considerable importance, and who from their early disadvantages, and the want of flexibility of mind, can only derive a certain measure of benefit from any course of training to which they may be subjected, and with reference to whom, therefore, all training beyond a certain point is a waste of time and money; a waste of time to the parties themselves, who might be employing it to better purpose in active usefulness, and a waste of money to the public, whose benevolent contributions might be more profitably expended on other objects. In such cases as these the result does not pay for the cost. We often think it well worth while to spend twenty pounds on an object which we by no means think would pay for an outlay of a hundred. On the other hand, if a youth who has been, after a deliberate examination of all the circumstances, put into this class, exhibit such promising talents, and make such a rapid progress as to justify the belief that he would repay the cost of a more protracted education, it were easy to draft him into an institution of higher character, upon the supposition that different colleges devoted themselves to the two different objects, or into the higher classes of the same institution, upon the supposition that the two objects were carried on in combination under the same roof.
In order to give the greatest possible efficiency to this plan, and to make both classes of students as useful as possible, we would have a severe judgment exercised in the first instance on the probable success of every candidate who aspires to the exercise of the ministry amongst us; and that not merely in reference to his religious character (which we rejoice to say has always been the case), but to his mental qualifications. In addition to those indications of piety which have always been so justly demanded by our colleges, as an indispensable pre-requisite to entertaining the remotest application of this nature (and this in our opinion constitutes the peculiar glory of the Dissenting ministry), we would have at least one of two other qualifications absolutely insisted upon in every case ; either striking talents to make amends for the lack of early advantages, or great previous advantages to make amends for feeble talents. Without one or the other of these, no one whatever should be encouraged to aspire to an office so arduous and so responsible. This is alike demanded by duty to the public, to the church, and to the individual himself: to the public, whose money ought to be expended only where it is likely to realize the objects for which it is contributed; to the church, because its interests are not likely to be promoted by a feeble and inefficient ministry; and to the individual himself, because, if he is thrust into the ministry destitute alike of talents and of knowledge, he is taken out of a sphere of life in which he might have been humbly useful, and is thrown into one in which he cannot be of much use to others, and inevitably insures his own misery.
Respectability in a private station, oftentimes considerable property, and therefore valuable influence, may be acquired with very little knowledge and very slender talents ; respectability in the ministry never can. In many such cases, therefore, the sole talent has been taken away, and the church as well as the individual has been a loser. A minister of very feeble capacity, and oppressed by poverty, is but a poor exchange for a private Christian of the same slender capacity, possessed of the influence which business, and perhaps considerable wealth may command. A guinea acquired by honest trade, and freely spent in the cause of Christ, is in our opinion of at least as much worth to the church as a very bad sermon. It is our painful conviction that in times past our colleges have not been sufficiently cautious on this point, and hence that most distressing spectacle, not infrequently seen, of men of unimpeachable excellence of character struggling through life with overwhelming poverty, because they really have not the power to attract or retain a congregation that can adequately support them.
On those students who shall be deemed, from their comparative youth (and who have therefore plenty of time before them), from early advantages, and from other circumstances, likely to derive the fullest benefit from it, we would then bestow a thorough education, giving them never less than six years, two of them to be devoted exclusively to science and literature, one partly to these, and partly to the elementary studies of theology, and three years exclusively to theology. If they have already pursued science and literature up to the requisite point at colleges dedicated to secular learning, they might be admitted at once to the Theological course, which even in that case should, in our opinion, be never less than four years. We shall speak of the intellectual advantages likely to be secured by such a protracted course of study by and bye. We shall here only advert to one point which we are persuaded has been far too much overlooked. We consider that one great advantage of this prolonged course of study would be, that the student who enters upon it, even though he commenced it young, would never be permitted to assume the responsibilities of the pastoral office before he had arrived at something like manhood of intellect and maturity of judgment; before he had attained some experience of human nature, and some insight into his own character; before the impetuosity of youth was softened down, and the powers of reflection developed. It seems to be imagined by many, that the sole task of tutors is to infuse into the mind of the ministerial candidate sufficient knowledge and sufficient facility in communicating it, and the work is done; pre-supposing of course the possession of undoubted piety. Never was there a greater mistake. The office of pastor and of bishop implies some talent for government; consequently a sound judgment, a knowledge of human nature, some practical acquaintance with the diversities of temper and disposition; and above all, that self-control which nothing but ripeness of character, and a little experience of life can impart. In these respects, tutors and books may indeed do something, but time is a still better teacher than either. There is a great difference in point of development between the judgment of a man of twenty, and that of a man of five-andtwenty, putting out of sight altogether the advantages which spring from spending that interval in the active pursuit of knowledge and the strenuous cultivation of the intellect. The rashness and vehemence of early youth are in some measure repressed, a portion of the vanity which is inherent in us all rooted out, and the self-willedness and obstinacy which are almost equally common at a certain age, corrected as we advance to manhood. To us, we confess, there seems something absolutely preposterous in calling upon a youth of one or two-andtwenty to govern four or five hundred of his fellow-creatures, of every conceivable variety of age, temper, and circumstance; to govern them too in the most difficult of all possible ways—not by despotic authority, by the mere brute energy of an irresistible will, but by moral influence, by gentle suasion, by skilful management, by the combination of wisdom and kindness, of prudence and love ;—to govern them also in the most difficult of all matters, those which relate to their moral and spiritual well-being. And yet it is at this early age that some of our ministers undertake the heavy duties of the pastorate! Though in some few instances the experiment has turned out well, the result is to be attributed only to unusual solidity of character manifested at a very early age, and is altogether beyond the calculations of human prudence and sagacity.
On the other hand, we are inclined to believe that in a large proportion of the instances in which an early separation takes place between a youthful pastor and the flock who have chosen him as their spiritual guide, the consequences are mainly attributable to premature settlement. The young minister then removes to another place, and possessed of more self-knowledge, and taught much by experience, he probably succeeds; but that knowledge and that experience he ought never to have been left to buy so dear. Now if a youth of eighteen be subjected even to the lengthened course of training for which we plead, he is still only four-and-twenty years of
age when he undertakes the duties of governing a church; if he be twenty when he begins, he is still only six-and-twenty, and will any one in his senses contend that he ought to have entered upon so difficult a task a single hour earlier ? We have insisted the more strongly upon this point because we believe it to be one of vital importance. If a man had the genius of an angel, and the knowledge of an angel to back it, unless he could also lay claim to angelic purity and love, he should not with our good-will be permitted to enter upon the duties of a ruler of the church, or undertake the man