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dent in divinity, than to be left in a state of uncertainty, what he is at last to believe or disbelieve. Where no particular system of faith is inculcated, where a variety of objects is represented without discrimination, the minds of the hearers must become so unsettled, they must become so bewildered in regard to the choice of their creed, as to be in danger of choosing none at all. The attempt to generalize Christianity, in order to embrace a variety of creeds, will ultimately lead to the exclusion of all creeds; it will have a similar effect with Spinosa's doctrine of Pantheism; it will produce the very opposite to that, which the name itself imports. And, as Pantheism, though nominally the reverse, is in reality but another term for Atheism, so Christianity, when generalized, is no Christianity at all. The very essentials of Christianity must be omitted, before we can obtain a form so general, as not to militate against any of the numerous systems, which in various ages have been denominated Christian. Some particular system therefore must be adopted, as the object and end of our theological study. What particular system must be the object and end of our theological study, cannot be a question in this place it cannot be a question with men who are studying with the very view of filling conspicuous stations in the Church of England. That system then, which was established at the Reformation, and is contained in our liturgy, our articles, and our homilies, is the system, to which all our labours must be ultimately directed.
If it be objected, that the student will thus be pre
judiced in favour of a particular system before he has had an opportunity of comparing it with others, one answer to the objection has been already given, namely, that, however specious the plan of teaching Christianity on a broad basis, it is incapable of being reduced to practice; that, if various systems be taught, they must be taught, not in union, but in succession; and consequently, that at least in point of time some one system must have the precedence. Further, as a comparison of the doctrines of the Church of England with the doctrines of other churches, will form a part of these very lectures; as a review will be taken of other systems, when our own has been examined, and no advice will be given to shrink from inquiry, I hope I shall not be accused of attempting to fetter the judgment of my hearers in a matter of such importance as religious faith.
After all, should the selection of a particular system as the object of our primary consideration be attended with the unavoidable consequence, that a predilection be formed in regard to that system, which may render us less disposed to listen to the claims of any other, than perhaps strict impartiality might require, it may be asked, whether such consequence is really a matter of regret? Is it a thing to be lamented, that members of the Church of England are educated with prepossessions in favour of the national church? Or is it want of candour in a Professor, who, after an examination of other systems, can discover none, which he thinks so good as his own, to shew more regard to this system than to any other?
Can it be blameable at a season, when every exertion is making by the very means of education, by education conducted both openly and privately, to alienate the rising generation from the established church, can it be blameable, or rather is it not our bounden duty, at such a season, to call forth all our energies, in making education on our part subservient to the established church?
That theological learning is necessary to make a good divine of the Church of England, is a position, which a learned audience will certainly be disposed to admit, And this position will appear still more evident, when we consider, what it is, which constitutes the chief difference between the learned and the unlearned in Theology. It is not the ability to read the New Testament in Greek, which makes a man a learned divine, though it is one of the ingredients, without which he cannot become so. The main difference consists in this, that while the unlearned in divinity obtain only a knowledge of what the truths of Christianity are, the learned in divinity know also the grounds, on which they rest. And that this knowledge ought to be obtained by every man who assumes the sacred office of a Christian teacher, nothing but the blindest enthusiasm can deny. If St. Peter, in addressing himself to the numerous converts of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia, required that they should be always ready to give a reason of the hope that was in them, how much more necessa→ ry must he have thought this ability in those, who were set apart to be teachers of the Gospel? But
ask any one of those illiterate teachers, with which this country unfortunately abounds, ask him why he is a Christian and not a Mahometan; ask him why he believes that Christianity is a real revelation, and Mahometanism only a pretended one? He would answer, either with a vacant stare, or with a reproach at the impiety of the question, as if it had been proposed with any other view than to try his knowledge. Not so the learned divine: he would enter into those historical and critical arguments, of which the unlettered enthusiast has no conception, but by which alone the authenticity of the Gospel history can be established, by which alone the miracles recorded in it can be confirmed, by which alone the claims of Christianity to a divine origin can be proved legitimate.
There is no ground then for that distinction between science and religion, that the one is an object of reason, the other an object of faith. Religion is an object of both; it is this very circumstance, which distinguishes the unlearned from the learned in divinity; while the former has faith only, the latter has the same faith accompanied with reason. The former believes the miracles and doctrines of Christianity, as being recorded in the New Testament; the latter also believes the miracles and doctrines recorded in the New Testament, and he believes them, because by the help of his reason he knows, what the other does not, that the record is true.
But is not religion, it may be said, a matter of general import? Does it not concern all men, the unlearned, as well as the learned? Can it be true then,
that such a literary apparatus is necessary for the purpose of religion? And would not at least nine-tenths of mankind be, in that case, excluded from its benefits? Certainly not from its practical benefits, which alone are wanted, as they alone are attainable, by the generality of mankind. Men, whose education and habits have not prepared them for profound inquiry, whose attention is wholly directed to the procuring of the necessaries of life, depend, and must depend, for the truth of the doctrines which are taught them, on the authority of their teachers and preachers, of whom it is taken for granted, that they have investigated, and really know the truth. But is this any reason why men, who are set apart for the ministry, should likewise be satisfied with taking things upon trust? Does it follow, because a task is neglected by those, who have neither leisure nor ability to undertake it, that it must likewise be neglected by those, who possess them both? Ought we not rather to conclude, that in proportion to the inability of the hearers to investigate for themselves, in proportion therefore to the confidence which they must place in their instructor, their instructor should endeavour to convince himself of the truth of his doctrines? And how is this conviction, this real knowledge of the truth to be attained without learning?
But investigation, it is said, frequently leads to doubts, where there were none before. So much the better. If a thing is false, it ought not to be received. If a thing is true, it can never lose in the end, by inquiry. On the contrary, the conviction of that man,