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one might support himself pecuniarily during his short terms in the country, by teaching the district school while receiving his pastoral education, though many a pastor would be ready to receive a well behaved student as a member of his household gratuitously, in consideration of his society, and the nameless assistances which he might render him, especially if students were to be licensed to preach, at the discretion of the pastors under whose charge they might for the time be, instead of withholding their license, as is now the case, until just as they are expected to become full blown pastors.
If we consider for a moment our present system of theological education, in comparison with that prevalent in the medical profession, it may serve to place our preceding remarks in their proper light.
It is not, as every one knows, all that is requisite to the proper practice of the healing art, that one shall have attended one or more courses of lectures upon the theory and practice of medicine, though it may have been under the most accomplished instructors. It is expected that he will have prepared himself to profit to the utmost from such lectures by a previous course of study, in the society of some practising physician, and then it is equally expected that he will learn the application of the instructions of the lecture-room by subsequently accompanying of such a physician in his daily round of practice. No amount of study or information gathered from books and lectures, is deemed an adequate equipment for a practitioner of medicine, and the young M. D. will wait long for the expected fees, who has not that best passport to the confidence of the sick, the observation of the practical application of remedial agents by one already established in the profession. And pray, is there less need of an acquaintance, on the part of the newly licensed preacher of the Gospel, with the practical applications of the remedies of the system of grace than there is, in the other case, with those of the materia medica ? Will no amount of attendance upon courses of lectures give one confidence with the public, so that they will entrust to him the care of their bodies, and ought a two or three years sitting in the class-room of a theological seminary, to be thought sufficient to fit one for the cure of souls? It is enough to ask such questions, and it is only because mankind think so much more of their bodies than they do of their souls, that they are willing, as they so often are, to sit under the ministrations of those so crude and raw,
are many regularly installed ministers of the gospel.
It deserves consideration also, we think, whether a better result of education would not be attained by our seminaries, if,
instead of the present courses of written lectures upon systematic theology, for instance, there were substituted, to a greater or less extent, a different scheme, under which the Bible, in the hands alike of instructor and instructed, and in the original tongues, should be the point of departure for every inquiry, and the constant source of appeal and proof. In other words, let the theology taught be more the theology of the Bible, and less that of schools and sects. There is a disposition in the best men to overvalue their own favorite philosophical systems and explanations of truth, and a disposition equally strong almost on the part of others, and especially the young, to accept any well adjusted scheme of doctrine, as being an adequate summary and exposition of biblical truth. In this there is a tendency adverse to that familiarity with the Bible which is the right arm of a pastor's strength. It tends to make the Scriptures a book of reference too often for proof-texts to support a preconceived and adopted philosophy, or a mere dictionary of quotations with which to garnish a rhetorical essay in the pulpit. It would obviate these dangers, to a great extent certainly, if the grand truths and facts of religion were studied topically and directly from the word of God; if, for instance, the atonement were announced as the theme of study, at a given time, and all were to come on the appointed day, Bible in hand, and report what they had gathered upon this subject from the whole wide field of Scripture ; the teacher, meanwhile, correcting misinterpretations, adding further illustrations, and applying the resources of his philosophy and learning to adjust the different parts of the great central truth, and to give it definiteness in the conceptions of his class and a harmony with the general system of doctrine. It seems to us that, under such a scheme of instruction, the Scriptures would have an interest and their doctrines a freshness and life which they are not apt to have under the present arrangement of things, and that our young theologians would be less the disciples of any human master, and mightier in the Scriptures, than they now are. Their knowledge would be more consciously their own, and it would be in their own heads and hearts, rather than in note books and bodies of divinity on the shelves of the library.
With such, or other modifications of our schemes of theological education, and a loftier ideal of the ministerial work in the minds of the people at large, there should be added the disposition on the part of local churches to discern promising talent in the young, and to secure it for the ministry. They should give the pious young man of superior powers of mind to understand that there is no calling so important, and none in itself so noble, as that of vindicating the ways of God to man and expounding that stupendous scheme of redemption which "angels desire to look into.”. Such a young man should not be left to the uncounteracted solicitations of worldly gain or aggrandizement in determining his grand occupation in life. The church should come forth with her appeals and secure him to herself. She should give him to understand that she has a work for him to do above that of teaching the catechism or re. hearsing systems of doctrine drawn out by men as fallible as himself. She should tell him that she expects him to look into his own heart and into the untrammeled word of God, and as the Holy Spirit interprets to him the one by the other, and as he beholds himself reflected in those around him, so to speak, as God's ambassador, responsible for what he says and what he thinks, to no council or judicatory of the church, but to God alone. She should tell him that he is to speak because commissioned of God, not because licensed of men, and that he is to speak what God, in his personal communings with him, gives him to know and to say.
When the church is ready thus to look out able men for her pulpits and to train them properly for their work, when she rightly estimates that work herself and is no longer satisfied with the "decent debility" which one has charged as being the aim of preaching on the other side of the Atlantic, when the preachers of the gospel are given to understand that they are to preach—and for themselves are determined that they will preach--the gospel, as God interprets it to their individual consciousness, and not any mere human compilations of doctrine, however good ; when they shall no longer be obliged, on penalty of the ban of the church and the brand of heresy, to ask whether their convictions of truth square with Oxford or Cambridge, with Edwards or with Calvin, before they give utterance to them; when, in short, the church and the preacher alike feel that he is anointed of God and not by the fathers or his contemporaries, to proclaim a living gospel, a gospel of facts and not of philosophies, a gospel of life and not of rituals, a gospel that lays its hand upon all the conduct and its command upon all the pursuits of man, and overarches them with the constant presence of God and the great realities of eternity, then we shall look for both a more abundant and a better ministry than we now have, and shall expect the church to arise and shine because her light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon her. .
ART. VIII.-LIFE AND WORKS OF JOHN ROBINSON.
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers.
With a Memoir and Annotations. By Robert Ashton, Secretary of the Congregational Board, London. (Three volumes.) Boston : Doctrinal Tract and Book Society.
This edition of the collected works of “ that famous and worthy man, Mr. John Robinson,” the restorer of the primi. tive church-government, was prepared and published in Eng. land under the patronage of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, the Rev. Dr. Campbell of Whitefield's Tabernacle, London, having generously and courageously assumed the pecuniary responsibility. We, on this side of the Atlantic, are indebted to the Doctrinal Tract and Book Society for its appearance here. The Society very properly aided in the undertaking; and accordingly a portion of the edition bears upon the title-page the name of ihe Society as publisher. We cannot but express our regret that, as yet, the Society's arrangements for the sale of books seems not wholly adequate to the importance of the work which it has undertaken. Such books as these three volumes and the volumes which contain the colJected works of Bellamy, Hopkins, and the younger Edwards, are of course not designed, like the devotional and practical volumes published by the American Tract Society, for general circulation by the agency of colporters and auxiliary societies. And yet some arrangement is surely practicable by which these books, of so much intrinsic value, and yet so little likely to be sought for by the booksellers, or to circulate in the ordinary channels of trade, may be brought more generally within the reach and under the notice of the public.
Considering the character of the man, his place and relations in church history, and the multitude of churches in two hemispheres that trace their ecclesiastical descent from him, it is somewhat remarkable that the works of Robinson have never before been published in a collected edition; and considering how he lived and died, in exile, poverty and deep affliction, and how his works were originally published in a country foreign to the language in which they were written, and chiefly for a few readers persecuted and impoverished like himself, it is no less remarkable that, at the end of two centuries and a quarter after his death, all his works, with the exception of one unimportant tract, are still extant and appear unmutilated in the present collection. The traces of his personal history have been investigated, with great carefulness, by reverent and loving inquirers on both sides of the Atlantic; and all that is known concerning him, or is likely ever to be known in this world, ig well summed up by Mr. Ashton in the introductory Memoir. It is a touching story; and familiar as it is in the outline to all our readers, we are sure that they will thank us for laying before them in a connected form the scanty results of the latest and most exact investigations. In so doing we shall follow in part, but not exclusively, the guidance of Mr. Ashton.
The pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers died in 1625, at the age of fifty years. This gives us 1575 as the year of his birth. His parentage, the events and circumstances of his childhood, and even the place of his nativity, are wholly unknown. The first that we know of him is his appearance at Cambridge, in his eighteenth year, a candidate for matriculation in the University. Two of the same name were matriculated that year, (1592,) one of Immanuel College, the other of Corpus Christi. Of these the latter was probably the Robinson of Congregationalism. If so, Lincolnshire was the county from which he came. In 1598, he became a Fellow of his college, a distinction which testifies sufficiently to his place among his compeers and his proficiency in the scholastic learning of the day. Corpus Christi was the college in which William Perkins, the great Puritan preacher and teacher of that age, was public catechist and lecturer on Divinity. The mind of Robinson it may be presumed was aided and guided in its progress by that profound, exact, and powerful champion of evangelical truth. Joseph Hall, afterwards Bishop of Norwich, one of the most eminent prelates in the history of the church of England, was contemporary with him at the University, and appears to have had some acquaintance with him.
At what time Robinson left the University, and where or in what capacity or relation he began his work as a minister of the Gospel, are questions on which we have no definite information. He resigned his fellowship in Corpus Christi College in 1604. The fellows of that college are required, by the statutes, to “take orders” within three years after their election. Had he never been ordained, at least to the deaconship, in the church of England, he must have vacated his fellowship in 1601. He seems to have had some benefice near Yarmouth, in Norfolk. From the first, so far as any indications of his course can be found, he was a Puritan. More explicitly, he was of the reforming party in the national church of England—a party VOL. XI.