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HE following pages are more espe
cially addressed to the younger members of the Universities, in the
confident hope that the subjects of which they treat will soon be recognized in their full importance by every man who is looking forward to serve in the Christian ministry. The time has passed when the Church of England can afford to let judgment go by default ; and she has already suffered much by her supineness in this particular. Her progress checked, her usefulness marred, her ranks thinned, her churches in many cases emptied, her services brought into disfavour, her ministers disheartened, and her gospel message not listened to, and therefore but half proclaimed, is a catalogue of evils which admits but of one addition, namely, that they to whom the education of our future clergy is entrusted should refuse to adopt the necessary remedial measures.
Unfortunately, erroneous opinions on this subject have been blindly acquiesced in until they have gained a sort of prescriptive authority ; and even now, men of the most earnest and practical turn of mind are again and again found to endorse the absurd paradox, that, though the best years of life may advantageously be spent in storing the mind with the treasures of knowledge, yet a few weeks' study of the only means of applying this knowledge should be absolutely forbiddenlest, forsooth, it should result in “ foppery,” in “affectation," or in " theatrical display.” Without attempting to argue against an objection so shadowy, we can only say that, so far from having any foundation in truth or reason, it seems to be a gratuitous insult to the Clergy, an insult to their office, and an insult to common sense. An insult to the Clergy, because surely that charity which believeth all things may well believe that any personal feelings would, as a rule,
be entirely subordinated to the interests of the great work entrusted to them. An insult to their office, because when was it ever heard that men placed themselves in any responsible situation without long preparation for, at least, its more arduous duties. And lastly, an insult to common sense, because it is utterly incompatible with our experience in analogous cases. Does the soldier, borne along in the full tide of battle, think of the evolutions or the exact step of the parade-ground? Does the practised swimmer, battling with the waves to save a life, think of each once carefully studied movement ? Decidedly not! Why then should it be supposed that an earnest man, engaged in the crowning act of his week's ministry, and oppressed with the sense that in the mysterious ways of God's providence the unalterable destiny of some of his hearers may be imperilled upon his single appeal, why, I say, under such circumstances, should it be supposed that an earnest man would be thinking of rules, or of gratifying the littleness of mere personal vanity?
We may well hope that such objections will soon cease to prevent reading and speaking be