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where the diftinction lies, and be able to apply each, in its proper ufe, to the great object of his enquiry. Inftead of wandering from one difficulty to another, in the midst of partial and indigefted information, as in a maze of error which is increased by an indifcriminate glare of light, he will move on with eafe and fafety, in the ferenity of a clear and comprehenfive mind. Prejudice, which, in narrow conceptions, is always fo inveterate and often fo invincible, will give place to candour: whilft all partial and minute objections will be loft in enlarged and extensive views. The theological ftudent will found the prin ciples of his fcience on their juft and philofophical bafis, diftinguishing them from those of every other; and, after pursuing that method of investigation which is naturally adapted to them, without deviating into any other, he will embrace, with a manly and reafon
able affent, the ftupendous truths of a fublime religion. Thofe which he can comprehend, he will enjoy with gratitude; and thofe, which are above his conception, he will adore in profounder admiration."
But, to derive this eafe and advantage to his ftudies from fuch a comparative estimate of theology with the other parts of learning, he is to be apprized, that some labour and attention are to be previoufly employed. To read with care, to think, with candour, to judge with impartiality, and to determine for himself, are the firft and leading qualifications of the theological ftudent. Many and various comparisons are to be formed between one fcience and another, in all their correfpondent parts; and that of Theology is to be compared with every other. To make these comparisons with accuracy and fuccefs, he will fee the neceffity of a competent acquaintance with the circle of the fciences being previously formed. He will difcover, that, to do justice to this exalted and extenfive field of knowledge, which is the object of his cultivation, it is not enough to read over, on the one hand, the bulky folios of school-divinity with a dronish and befotted industry, embracing whatever is advanced with an implicit affent; nor, on the other, to run through the gilded volumes of our modern fermonizers,
which are calculated to relieve him from the trouble of thinking, and the labour of attention, and to kill an idle hour in all the ease of an indolent straight-forward reading. The study of Theology is both learned and laborious, and requires, more than any other, an independant and active mind. And whoever fhall honour thefe volumes with a perufal, their author prefumes to request, that he will take nothing on the authority of the writer, or depend upon his judgment, but examine every thing and judge for himself; that he will do him the favour not to read them over in an indolent ftraight-forward way, with a view to be entertained, (in which he will be miferably disappointed); but that he will look back to different parts of the parallel, and compare them together; that he will examine with freedom, and correct with candour: and, as a fellow-labourer in the commonwealth of learning, their author will engage, on his part, to accept of all improvements with gratitude, and to adopt them with fimplicity.
With fentiments of deepest awe and reverence, I enter upon the province of facred B 4 truth,
truth, which, though protected, as it ought to be, from outrage and open violence, by the civil power, is always to maintain its authority over the minds of men, by its own inhe rent worth and native evidence. This exalted province is not the lefs perplexed in all its parts, nor rendered the lefs difficult in its arrangement and difcuffion, by the number and diverfity of champions, who, one after another, have taken this confecrated ground. The fociety of the learned, in this as well as in all other departments, may be divided. into two claffes: the one confifting of a few; the other of a many. The former are thofe bold and enterprifing geniufes, who advance before their fellows in the road of science, in the invention of truth, and in the formation of fyftem. The latter follow behind at a humble diftance, content with the inferior praise of admiring and elucidating their steps, without attempting to advance beyond them; patronizing their inventions, efpoufing their opinions, and adopting their errors. The former,
"Thofe which give themselves to follow and imitate "others, were in all things fo`obfervant fectators of their "mafters, whom they admired and believed in, as they "thought
former, who are naturally capable, becoming too foon wedded to their own fyftems and inventions, from which they are unwilling to depart, are rendered by their fuccefs, at length, unable to proceed in the advancement of knowledge and a peafant from the plough, with a strong and active mind undebauched by fyftem, is a fairer candidate in the field of literature, than thofe fages of the fecond class with all the parade of learning without any of the power.
Without affecting to dictate on the one hand, or implicitly to follow on the other, but foliciting to be examined and improved on all, as I have done in the departments of human learning, I must here also beg leave of fyftematical divines, without any difrefpect or contempt for their labours, to claim the privilege of a free adventurer in the search of truth, and to treat this great argument of Theology in my own way. Though truth may be moft eafily and frequently found
"thought it fafer to condemn their own underftandings, "than to examine them," is an obfervation of the great Raleigh on the learned men of his time.
Hift. of the World, Chap. iii. § 1.