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the duty of every pastor to preside over and regulate the whole external form of the devotions of the church, and to see that the choral portions of them harmonize with and elevate the spirit of the rest. We think it by no means proper that the minister should leave the choice of the hymns, as some do, to any other person, however pious or judicious; for, granting that the selection made be unexceptionable in itself, which is not always the case, propriety requires that the whole service should stand in such a close and consistent harmony of parts, that it may serve as the vehicle of one continued and ascending flow of devotion. But who can forecast or arrange this like the minister, before whose eye not only the circumstances of the congregation, but the previously selected scripture lessons, the topic of exposition or discourse, and the order of the devotions, will, if he have been mindful of his duty, all lie in a duly meditated and digested form of previous preparation ? And if the minister select the hymn, why should he not, if competent, select the tune, (for how often is the spirit and expression of a hymn and of a service destroyed, through the mal-adjustment of the tune by one who could not seize their spirit!) and, if not competent, why should he not become so? or why, at any rate, should not the student who is preparing for the sacred office have the means of becoming so put within his reach, and be expected, if he have voice and ear, to avail himself of them? We believe that, were a good organ considered as an indispensable requisite of our divinity halls, and singing-lessons for one or two hours in each week to be given with its aid to our divinity students by a competent master, we should find that many years would not have elapsed, before an entire revival and reformation had taken place in the choral devotions of our whole denomination.
As to the deficiency complained of in reference to preparation for the functions of public religious instruction, the first desire expressed is, that instruction should be given, and exercises required, not only in the synthetical,-or, as we in England often call it, the topical- -form of preaching, but in addresses suitable for baptismal and sacramental occasions, sermons in a familiar homiletic form, and simple practical expositions of sections of the divine word. On the importance of interchanging exposition with synthetical preaching, and on the distinction between that mode of exposition which is conducive to edification, and which he here intends, and the learned exposition of the professors, to which the students are accustomed, our Author makes some observations well deserving perusal. Indeed, the following observations, coming from a modern German pen, are interesting in a very high degree.
That this analytical manner of preaching, and simple, popular, and practical method of interpreting the holy scriptures, has secured an
incomparably greater knowledge of the Bible, and delight in its contents, in times when ministers have cultivated them, and will again do it, if, through their revival, the synthetical form of preaching, which has so served the cause of Bible-ignorance, and fostered such a want of interest in the Scriptures, were but restricted to occasions and subjects to which it is principally suitable, is as little questionable, as that the former are in reality much more difficult to attain than the latter is.
To attain them, indeed, something more is necessary than that learned exegesis which, however useful and even indispensable in its place, is, unhappily, the only exegesis which is taught at the universities. An essential requisite hereto is the teaching of a style of exposition, simple in its character, and having for its object the practical life of the hearer, and the edification and sanctification of his soul; and which, without any display of philosophical, philological, or theological learning, or the bringing forward of learned opinions, hypotheses, citations, and such like, illustrates the Bible-text principally by itself, and endeavours, in the spirit and on the model of a Spener or a Francke, to render the Bible-history and Bible-doctrine fruitful to the hearers' hearts. For, is it necessary that these hearers, as future preachers and teachers, should be qualified to state intelligibly, and render impressive and profitable to their congregations, the practical doctrines respecting sin and reconciliation, the flesh and the spirit, the law and grace, regeneration and sanctification, around which the practical exposition of the Scripture revolves as on its poles; as necessary is it that themselves should first have drunk deeply into their spirit, and experienced the truth of them in their own souls. Else do these things continue to them, however able they may be as expounders of the letter of Scripture, as utter foolishness as was the doctrine of regeneration at first to Nicodemus. For the natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit of God. Of course it is obvious, that he who is to be intrusted with the initiation of young theologians into this exercise, should himself be experimentally conversant with these things, if, with renunciation of all fleshly wisdom, he would unfold their depth and their importance to his scholars, engage their hearts as well as their understandings, and preserve the exercise from degenerating into an empty and insipid prattle, having "the form of godliness without the power thereof."
It is by no means necessary, however, that in these expositions the original tongues should be disregarded. Much rather, by means of it, will a more ardent interest in the study of them be awakened, as the example of Spener and Francke has already demonstrated. Why, then, should not their biblical exercises, (exercitationes biblicæ, or collegia biblica,) wherein the elder students were permitted to exercise themselves in practical exposition, be restored to life?'
Vol. II., pp. 210–213.
As to Catechising, to which our Author's second complaint refers, he acknowledges that the theory of the exercise is perhaps sufficiently illustrated, but contends for the necessity of practically engaging in it during the years of academical study, and under the superintendence of an experienced professor or minister. To
⚫ witness the catechetical exercises of such a teacher, is,' says he, good and necessary;-as may be done, for instance, at Bonn, where Professor Sack holds a public catechism every month, on 'some Lord's day afternoon, generally on a section of the Bible; -but, after all, the self-exercising of the theologian will always continue to be the main point, and he must seek to acquire facility and skill in it, by private catechising in his study, as "well as public catechising in the church.'
Owing, probably, to the introduction of Lord's-day evening services, and the general establishment of sabbath schools, both of them important, necessary, and valuable arrangements, we acknowledge, there is, perhaps, no particular in which the customs of our religious forefathers have received so sensible an injury as this, both pastoral and family catechisings having, very undeservedly, fallen into comparative-might we not say, general ? neglect. We venture most respectfully to offer to the notice, not only of students, but also of ministers and parents, the following extract from the Lectiones Paræneticæ of the admirable Aug. Hermann Francke, well known as the founder of the Orphan House at Halle, and one of the most distinguished theologians and zealous pastors of any age or country.
Students will afterwards discover, in the course of their official experience, that, even after they have been preaching from year to year, many of their hearers retain as little of what they have preached, nay, even of things which they have a hundred times repeated, as if they had never in their lifetime heard a syllable about them; and all this is the consequence of a dearth of catechising. For, it not being the custom to hold examinations on sermons, as is done with respect to school lessons, that takes place always in congregations, which occurs in schools when the regular examinations have been neglected. Many seem to have so little retentive power, that by the time a sentence is uttered they have already forgotten it; strange thoughts intermingle with what they hear, and the whole connection is destroyed. they obtain no insight into the method of salvation. The minister will find no effectual remedy or preventive against this but catechising*. Therefore it is of the greatest importance, not only in schools, but also in connection with preaching, that catechetical instruction should be communicated. Even in sermons, references should be continually made to the catechism. Let, however, students of theology have
* A remedy, we suppose, as regards both old and young; a preventive principally as regards the latter. There is no doubt that when adult catechising cannot be established, the catechising of the young, in the presence of the old, is very serviceable to the latter.
+ The allusion is here, to the afternoon preachings in the church, which, in the Lutheran churches of old, were on the Catechismo Luther, and, in the Reformed churches, on the Heidelberg Catechism and which, in the days of Spener and Francke, were greatly neglected.
passed several years at this university, [Halle,] and heard courses on every branch of divinity, if they have not learned to catechise, they will still remain disqualified for one of the most essential duties of the ministry,—a disqualification which will in no small degree hinder the success of all their labours. Men of understanding will prize their learning so far only as it is capable of being turned to good account, and solid usefulness is seen to flow from it.' Lect. Paræn. IV. 227, seqq., cited by Mr. Fliedner, Vol. II., pp. 218, 219.
Of Mr. Fliedner's observations on the necessity under which a Christian pastor lies, of being acquainted with the character of such religious books as are in most extensive circulation, and of knowing which are most deserving of perusal, the following appear to us particularly judicious and interesting. He has just stated, that when a general thirst after knowledge has been excited, the pastor is to blame if he do not avail himself of it, and direct it into a religious channel. He then adds:
'He can, however, do this only in proportion as he is acquainted with the most useful popular writings on religious subjects; an acquaintance much more difficult to acquire than men usually think. For no professor has imparted any advice to him on the subject; no theoretical or practical course of lectures has given him the necessary information. Here again applies what Francke long ago said: "That which we require in our profession every day of our life, is never taught us at the university." Upon hundreds of books, in every department of science, which the theologian neither reads nor sees in all his life, he receives ample information; [so much the better, he then can form an idea how far he may safely dispense with them ;] but as to those books by means of which he might every day be dispensing food to the hungry in his congregation, not the smallest information is given to him in any lecture whatever.
Here, then, it is evident that the superintendence of a university
Public exercises on the Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly were formerly very common in England; and the names of Shower, Lye, Vincent, and Doolittle have descended to posterity, as eminently useful in such. Many of our readers are probably acquainted with the interesting fact connected with one of Mr. Shower's catechetical exercises, in relation to the question in the Assembly's Catechism on Effectual Calling. Should any minister have felt at a loss in seeking for a work adapted to the public instruction of intelligent young persons, in the present day, we would suggest that, after the examination of all the catechisms, both British and foreign, which we have been able to collect, we can cordially recommend the larger one of the late Mr. Gibb, of Banff, entitled, " The First Principles of Religion," &c., of which our copy is the third improved edition, in 12mo., as entitled to a careful consideration. The late excellent Richard Watson's Conversations for the Young, have also, to our knowledge, been particularly useful in private classes.
pastor is necessary, who, "well instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven," can impart to his disciples, "out of his own treasure, things new and old,"-can acquaint them with the best books of devotion and piety, and with the most interesting religious publications, as well for the common people as for educated persons, and even the best tracts for distribution. Such an adviser would promote at the same time both the sharpening of their judgement and the elevation of their feelings, by putting such writings into their hands, that after careful perusal, they might impart to him their judgement upon them, how far and in what respect they are to be recommended, to what circle of readers, and for what step of cultivation they are adapted. Thus would they be preserved either from blind prepossession or blind prejudice, feelings which often work unconsciously in the youthful mind; be convinced how strict a scrutiny is necessary before books are sanctioned by a recommendation, and how unsafe it often is to trust the current opinions in their favour; and especially learn to profit by the suggestions made to every prudent understanding by the admitted fact, that, of all religious publications, those which are clothed in an historical form meet with the most general acceptance.'
Vol. II., pp. 243, 244.
Should any persons think these remarks less valuable in England than in Germany, inasmuch as we have tract-societies, whose committees sift very carefully all the matter which they publish; while we acknowledge the great merit of the Religious Tract Society in this practical respect, and own that from their list the Christian pastor may select works adapted to the edification of perhaps every class of character which comes within his influence; still, this does not meet the necessity under which he lies, of being acquainted with the true character of works published by others, whether private individuals or societies, nor does it even supersede the necessity of knowing for what classes their publications are adapted. Miscellaneous reading is, we have often been led to think, almost as prejudicial as the reading of error; not in itself, but because it is so much more common and disregarded, while it equally overlooks the end of reading, which is progressive edification. As to erroneous reading, however, we state nothing above our conviction, when we say, that every country minister ought to know, if possible, the character of the principal books of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge;-the "Whole Duty of Man," for instance, the "Pious Parishioner Instructed," and such books, on account of the mischievous influence they have over the agricultural population. Nor does, in our opinion, a due regard for the interests of the public sanction the republication even of standard books written in illustration and defence of important truths, (such, for instance, as many of the writings of Dr. Owen,) without some indications of the many erroneous applications of Scripture in which they abound. If any person is ignorant to what an extent this misapplication reaches in some