« 前へ次へ »
But, to go back from the schools to the scholars ; let us examine a little the circumstances of the youth, and, if possible, come at the ground of the defect; and a fair appeal is made to the age for the truth of the case.
A poor widow is left destitute, and a true object of pity; her husband was a member of such or such a congregation, was perhaps a benefactor while he lived, a good man, well-beloved, and deserved it ; the woman is the same, she is now desolate, has a house full of children, and no provision made for them ; wherefore, not knowing how to provide for them otherwise, she is willing to dedicate one or two of them to the service of God. By the way, it is too unhappy a truth, though a severe sarcasm on the persons, that God, or his cause, should have little of their help, if they could live without it, and the reason is given before; but being in this condition, the widow aforesaid makes friends to her minister to get her son into the Fund, --so the bank, or charity money, for education of ministers, as before, is publicly called. The congregation, in respect to the memory of the father, and in compassion to the widow, join in the proposal, and agree to take the children off her hands : and all these are very good principles in their kind. But as this relates to a minister of God's word, I conceive the case alters; and many things join to make this practice very destructive to the Dissenters.
First,-here is not a word of inquiry made into the genius, the capacity, or the inclination of the child, or children. The case is, not what they are fit for, but they must not be starved; the poor woman must be relieved, perhaps the boy is a native blockhead : if any such thing be,- perhaps he is of a fiery temper, all volatile, and not at all fit for the work; perhaps he has a defect in his speech, stammers and hesitates, and cannot express hiniself; perhaps purblind, squint-eyed, near-sighted, or the like-yet he must be a minister, the reason is in the mother, not in the boy. From hence, the work of God, the sacred harvest, is laboured and dressed by the lame and the halt; and He that would not, in times past, admit any priest to serve at His altar that had any blemish or natural defect, is now served with stammerers, squinteyed, deaf, and almost dumb preachers. What natural defects do we see in the pulpit, besides those of memory, of application, of morals, and of learning ? This I take to be the most preposterous of all, and is an error can never be answered but by being reformed; it is no
Pormerly the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland were accustomed to receive their professional education in the Irish colleges at Louvain, Paris, and Rome, where they acquired a polish and a knowledge of mankind, which are not generally possessed by the alumni of Maynooth. Several dissenting ministers of the present age have studied at Bonne, Halle, &c.; and it is well worth considering whether some exhibitions might not be advantageously provided to assist gifted and erudite young ministers to prosecute their studies in such foreign seats of learning for a season.
doubt the proper duty of parents, and in this case of the ministers also to whom this charge is committed, to study the capacities, the temper, the inclination, and the common gifts of their children, in their designing them for employment in the world; and a child that has an imperfection in his speech should no more be put to be a minister or a lawyer, than they should put a cripple to be a dancing-master.
Nor is this injurious only to the ministry, and to the interest of the Dissenters in general, but it is injurious to the children themselves in particular. Will such be able to do the work they are bred to? Will they ever come to any thing? Will they get their bread? It were much better they were made porters, grooms, or any lawful mechanic; that way they might get their livings, but the other is to breed them up as if on purpose to be despised beggars, and starve. One blamed a young man of my acquaintance, that had been bred a minister, for leaving off his book when a good estate befell him, and for turning gentleman, when he was set apart to the sacred employment of a minister. His answer was witty, yet gravecoarse to himself, yet ingenuous : “When my father was poor, he made me a minister; as it was, he was wrong, and spoiled a good porter, for I was never fit for it. When my father grew rich, he told me, if I could make a minister, I should be never the worse to make a gentleman: I have learning enough for a long wig, though I had not for a band : now I can talk and be heard ; but if I had preached I had been good for nothing."
The neglect of examining into the children thus put out, is the cause why, as before, some purblind, some stammering, some hesitating in speech, some hare-lips, some without palates, and others without brains, are sent to the schools to make ministers. Never wonder if the very discouragements that arise from such natural defects make these come out again unfinished. It is too ungrateful a subject to enter far into the consequences of these things; but it must have something said to it. The natural infirmities above are visible, and I believe no man will excuse the error: it is mentioned seriously here, to recommend it to the Dissenters for a remedy,—they know the truth of it too well; the evil is avoided by the least inspection imaginable.
But come we next to that defect we call, want of brains ; this is harder to be discovered, and the more, because we are not willing to discover it; affection in the parents, and charity in the ministers,one cannot, and the other care not, to see the child is a fool; but it seems less excusable in the masters—they may see it, they can see it, and they ought to see it.
If the boy be a clod, a mere stupid, a block without a head, or if he be a flutter, a mere feather,—the one too hard, the other too soft-one too thick, and the other too thin for a stock of learning-one so contracted in the head there is no room to hold it, the other so thin there is no power to retain it,-to what purpose should schoolmasters go to
invert nature, and force the current ? Give a blockhead learning, you make him a worse kind of blockhead than he was before. Give a fool learning, you make him a rake, a fop, and at last quite a lunatic. Letters, like fine clothes, let them be never so well made, so gay, or so rich, they will never make the man genteel, if he has no shapes : nature and art joined, make an exquisite and accomplished piece, take it in what you will; nay, nature may go far without art, but art without nature is a rider without a horse, a bullet without a gun, an arrow without a bow, a male without a female, perfectly useless, impotent, and uncapable to produce any thing.
Yet this is not all : but suppose the boy now accepted by the Fund put to the school, and abate all the defects above; allow him to be tolerably capable, diligent, sober, moral, and the like. Well, he comes to the academy; there he reads his logics, ethics, pneumatics, &c.; on he goes, looks a little into philosophy, and at last to his divinity; perhaps he takes a proportion of all these, and by this time he begins to write man, look abroad in the world, gets a black coat and a band, and behaves well : as soon as he appears any thing like, the directors of this charity begin to think of removing him, that he has learning enough to be seen abroad, and they prompt him to preach ; he has declaimed a little in the schools, he has his A B C of theologics, with some study he can prepare a formal theme, set a text on the top of it, and when it is written down, can read it in a pulpit; and this he calls preaching ! Then he is a minister, he has no more business at the schools. And thus, as he was hastily put in, so he is hastily thrust out, to make room for some other, of equal capacity and circumstances.
Well, now we find him abroad, poor gentleman! his circumstances are hard; his mother, instead of being able to keep him, is perhaps by this time grown old, and expects he should keep her, or at least some of his younger sisters : he is so far from having money to buy books, that he wants money to buy bread; he has no time to stay at home to study, for he must go abroad to get a dinner.
The first thing the unhappy creature has to do is, to make his acquaintance among the ministers ; in order to this, he goes every Tuesday to Salters' Hall, from thence he waits upon them to Hamlin's Coffee-House,* where he sits at the feet of Gamaliel, and, unless some better chance offers, he dines upon a dish of coffee, while others go to dinner where invitation directs.
* When Charles II. issued his Declaration for Indulgence in 1672, the Nonconformists resolved to establish a weekly lecture to promote union amongst themselves, and to support the doctrines of the Reformation. Four Presbyterian and two Independent ministers were associated to preach in turn at the meeting-house, Pinners Hall, Broad street: Drs. Bates, Owen, Manton, and Messrs. Baxter, Collins, and Jenkyn, were the first lecturers. This continued for more than twenty years, when the Antinomian
Having thus brought him abroad, his work is to ply in his habit, as the labourer or the porter, with the knot and the ticket, at the corner of the streets. Here, if any minister is sick, or wants to go into the country, or upon any occasion cannot preach, he may be supplied at the shortest warning, for the young men have their tools always about them, viz. a pocket Bible, and a set of sermons ready written, which they preach (read) over in course, and then begin again, and so a few of the first weeks' study serves them for several years; the truth of which is so plain and self-evident, that it needs no farther inquiry,—but it calls for lamentation and immediate redress, if we expect the interest of the Dissenters should be supported.
The application with which these poor despicable things follow this part of the work, is an undeniable testimony of their necessitous circumstances. The place is a proof of the fact; there they are to be seen daily plying for a pulpit, that they may get ten shillings to live upon ; and so much are they to be pitied, so much do many of them deserve a better fate, that this discourse is made really in compassion to them, and, if possible, to recommend it to a remedy, not really to expose them. Then, as to the advantage made this way, many do not meet with a favourable hit once a month, and, after the most diligent attendance, are obliged to live on the last happy relief till they come to the utmost extremity.
It is needless to touch here at the performance of these gentlemen ; some of them perform to admiration, considering the circumstances; and it is left to the judgment of all those that know what is requisite to finish and complete a man of learning, how long time ought, in reason, to be allowed to set a man out to preach in this age, and more especially to determine, if it can be possible they should be good for much as they are equipped.
And are these the measures the Dissenters take to supply their ministry? Is this method likely to produce a succession fit to follow, and to finish the word begun by the race that went before them? Was
controversy, occasioned by the republication of Dr. Crisps' works, disturbed the harmony both of the lecturers and their friends, so that four brethren, Dr. Bates, and Messrs. Howe, Alsop, and Williams, removed to Salters' Hall. The lecture was most numerously attended from week to week both by ministers and other people, many of whom travelled several miles to be present. In those quiet times, it was almost the only opportunity of ministers meeting each other in public, and doubtless was in many respects convenient and useful.
Coffee-houses were the usual resort of literary men at this period, and the ministers of London were accustomed to meet at such houses as convenience might dictate..
From the minutes of the Congregational Board it appears that North's coffee-house, King-street; Blackwell's coffee-house, Sue's coffee-house, Amsterdam coffee-house, Cole's coffee-house, and Baker's coffee-house, were successive places of meeting. Happily that body is not now dependent on the hired accommodation of a publichouse. Where Hamblin's coffee-house was we do not know.
Dr. Owen, Dr. Manton, Mr. Charnock, Mr. Clarkson, &c. brought up with such a froth of letters as this? Did they get their theologics and metaphysics in a year or two's reading? Were they furnished with a body of divinity, suitable to the work they did, and the proofs they have left behind them, in being three years at an academy ?
After the long expectation, and miserable porter-like waiting above, it is now and then the fate of one of these gentlemen to get some charge, to get into some subsistence.
The first step is, generally, to join three or four together, and set up some evening lecture, and, once a month, to beg their bread of the hearers as an alms :* were it a subscription, the exception would be much less, for the work is laudable and proper—why should they be ashamed of it? But to get the help of others to flourish on their capacity and undertaking, and, perhaps, without much merit, to persuade the people to contribute—how scandalous ! how mean! and how does it eclipse the Dissenters, nay, even the preaching of the Gospel.
But be that as it will ; let their study, their conduct, their performance, be looked into how has it dwindled in a few years ? How has the preaching sunk among the Dissenters into all manner of coldness, meanness, dull fashionable reading, &c., instead of preaching? But this shall be considered farther by and by.
[To be Continued.]
THE HYMN, “DIES IRÆ, DIES ILLA.” * How charmingly Dupont sings ! Hush! that is Grisi's voice !" These were the whispered expressions of some of the Parisian ladies while the requiem of Mozart was performed at the recent funeral of Napoleon. It plainly appears from the journals, that the multitudes who thronged to witness that ceremony were far from being in a state of mind in accordance with the spectacle. There was no solemnity, no thought of the crimes, the overthrow, and the account rendered to the Judge of all the earth, by the man whose mortal remains had been exhumed from one tomb to be deposited in another. It might have been expected that the scene would have awed the heart of every spectator, as an impressive instance of the vanity of worldly ambition, of the transient nature of human glory, and of the common fate awaiting the mightiest with the meanest of the sons of Adam. But the ceremony was as ineffective in producing right feeling, as it was gorgeous to the eye, and expensive to the purse of the nation. There was splendour, with music, for the senses; and the Parisians seem to have enjoyed both to their hearts' content, without troubling themselves about graver matters. The requiem of Mozart, one of the most celebrated productions of that composer, was written
* We know of no facts that will sustain or illustrate this part of De Foe's statements.