« VorigeDoorgaan »
though it may shock some of our readers, that the stereotype models of pulpit eloquence, particularly of the French school, might be fairly put an end to. The world would be no loser; bombast would be exchanged for simplicity, and art for nature.
Let but the preacher be as deeply imbued with his subject, with nothing but his subject, as Demosthenes was; let him drop himself, as Paul did; let him seek only to be understood and felt; let him use that vehement reasoning, that "logic set on fire," which Demosthenes used, and with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, he would do wonders in converting sinners from the power of Satan unto God. Perhaps the student even after a repeated perusal will not be fully prepared to sympathize with the glowing feelings of Wyttenbach,* who found nothing of eloquence in Demosthenes the first three readings. "At the fourth, an unusual and super-human emotion pervaded my mind. I could now see the orator at one time all ardor; at another in anguish, at another borne away by an impulse which nothing could resist. As I proceed, the same ardor is kindled in my own mind, and I am carried away by the same impulse. I fancy that I am Demosthenes himself, standing before the assembly, delivering this oration and exhorting the Athenians to emulate the bravery and glory of their ancestors. I can no longer read the oration silently, but aloud."† Though the student may not be able to go all lengths with Wyttenbach, yet he will feel and admire the manner in which Demosthenes gains his purpose; now by concentrated argument, hurled like a thunderbolt; now by withering irony and sarcasm,
See Stuart's Dissertations on the Study of the Original Languages of the Bible, p. 58.
Why is not the De Coronâ of Demosthenes studied more in our Colleges? This one oration thoroughly mastered would do more for the mere acquisition of the Greek language, than a collection of scraps and beauties, from all the most eminent Greek orators. It is very important that a student should feel he has mastered some one author; besides, by hurrying from Lysias to Isocrates, and from Isocrates to Demosthenes, he loses all that might facilitate his progress in any one author from familiarity with his style. The use of Collectanea has a tendency to give miscellaneous, unsystematic and ill-digested knowledge. The student collects a few vague ideas, some moral precepts, some jokes, and some accounts of battles, instead of habits of patient thought or an acquaintance with the general style of any one author.
and thus attains the highest intellectual eminency the world has ever seen, that of
We would, were it practicable, that the classics could be studied to some limited extent in our theological seminaries as is the custom in Germany. But we fear it is out of the question. Short as is the term of our theological study, the youth of our land are disposed practically to make it shorter. Under the specious plea, that the harvest is great, and the Lord hath need of them, they take a short cut in theology, and run before they are sent. They find when too late that they have deceived themselves and robbed their minds of that knowledge and experience, by which they might have been thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work. If the student in private would keep up his classical studies, the same object would be gained.
And we would here remark, that the neglect of classical studies is to be attributed in some measure to the manner in which they are taught in the academy and college. The student, perhaps, never was interested in them; he never thought of them otherwise than a hard lesson to be conned over, recited, and as soon as possible forgotten. He knew that Xenophon was easy Greek, and Thucydides hard Greek; but he never felt the inspiration, the freshness, the force, the truth to nature of the classics. He never looked to the living soul which animates them. He never entered into their magic circle, was never initiated into these mysteries which are eminently qonεντα συνετόισιν, which only have a voice and significancy for
"They have no ear, nor soul to apprehend
One of the most common pleas for the neglect of the classics is the want of leisure amidst the arduous duties of the ministry. But we fear indolence is generally at the root of the matter, the want of a true scholar-like feeling and spirit. The time
* Milton's Paradise Regained, Book IV.
required is not great; the benefit in improving the style and tone of thinking, real and lasting. One hour a day redeemed from relaxation, from company, or in any other way consistently with duty, would accomplish large results. It would keep alive classical studies, would enable the student to advance a step, and would add something to his intellectual opulence. We would ask the student to be honest with himself, and inquire whether an hour, not assigned to other duties, could be spent more profitably. That it is possible to find time even in the most faithful and laborious ministerial life, we learn in the case of Robert Hall. "He thought himself defective," his biographer remarks, "in a tasteful and critical acquaintance with the Greek poets. He read the Iliad and Odyssey twice over; proceeding with nearly equal care, through nearly all the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides, and thence extended his classical reading in all directions. To the Latin and Greek poets, orators, and historians, he devoted a part of every day for three years. He studied them as a scholar, but he also studied them as a moralist and philosopher, so that while he appreciated their peculiarities and beauties with his wonted taste, and carefully improved his style of writing and his tone of thinking by the study of the best models, he suffered them not to depreciate his esteem for the moderns."*
Another excuse, not now so frequently advanced as formerly, but perhaps not the less secretly entertained, is found by the student in the danger to spirituality of mind from the study of the classics. That this is not necessarily the case might be shown from the examples of Calvin, Melancthon, and the fathers of the English church-men, who were the great lights of the age in which they lived, and whose works posterity will not willingly let die. Though they were men of various erudition, though they had rifled the treasures of the old and mighty world, grappled with whole libraries and ranged the whole circle of hurnan knowledge, yet they bowed as low at the foot of the cross, and their piety was as simple, humble and childlike, as though they had just known, and known no more, than that the Bible was from God.
But we need not enter the lists as apologists for profane
Gregory's Life, p. 54. Am. Edit.-Pareau well remarks, "Per universum horum studiorum cursum, ne tunc quidem eas literas omittat negligatque, quando gravissima officia doctoris christiani habebit.
learning. We are not set for its defence as was Bacon, who in his Advancement of Learning refutes in detail, the various objections against it. We are fallen on different times and different circumstances.
We fear that in most cases indolence will here be found to be at the bottom of such an excuse. Vitringa, whose spirituality was never questioned by those who knew him, thus spoke : "Tandem nemo cum ratione existimet diffusius hoc studii literarii genus inimicum esse pietati, mentemque distrahere ab arctiore commercio cum Deo in Christo per exercitationem vero fidei et meditationis. Sane qui hoc sibi persuadeant, segnitiei suae obtendant." In the same Preface to his Observations, a most erudite and valuable work, he laments that while the field of theology is so extensive, theological students confine themselves within such narrow bounds, stick at first principles, and do not go on unto perfection in knowledge: per integram vitam in ipsis haereant principiis.*
We are fully persuaded that learning may enlarge our views of truth without weakening our faith, that we may be learned ourselves without having a learned religion.
It is a sad proof of our depravity, that the complacency in the exercise of our powers is unfavorable to that feeling of humility and that sense of our deep wants which draws us to the Redeemer.
But yet such a union of deep piety and profound learning is not only practicable, but has actually been witnessed in the instances before alluded to. The spirit of the age as alien to such pursuits may be offered as an excuse by some. It is indeed a most restless, stirring age, as busy after the tì xαióτepov as ever were the Greeks of Demosthenes's or Paul's time, an age of innovation and demolition. But for this very reason should
* Buddaeus, one of the most learned men of his age, remarks: "It is of no use to conceal our diseases. When I look around, I am overwhelmed with grief, nay, am astonished, when I consider how few students come up to the expectations and wishes of the church. One reason is, that they spend so short a time at school, as scarcely to lay the foundation or learn the elements of theology, (quod commorantur brevi admodum tempore in academiis; quod quidem addiscendis necessariis, aut fundamentis rite ponendis visi sufficit.) So far from aspiring to high attainments, they scarcely catch a glimpse of the wide field, and ever after stick at first principles." Praef. ad Isagogen ad Theologiam Universam.
the student make a stand, and resist such a spirit. Who is to do it if he does not, whose very business and profession is to regulate others, to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth in an intellectual, as well as in a moral and religious respect? He would be treacherous to his cause were he to be carried with the multitude to do evil. Rather should he be a rallying point, rather should his voice be heard
"In worst extremes and on the perilous edge of battle."*
But we would have all this knowledge sanctified. If there was the only alternative of doing the one, and leaving the other undone, we would say with Leighton, "one devout thought is worth all human learning." Though we set great store by learning, yet we set far higher by devout piety; we would have all the light possible from whatever source, concentrated upon the sacred page, till it glows and burns, till a more excellent glory gilds it. Then shall we find our studies profitable and availing when all our ends are single-for truth-for Christ.
By David Fosdick, jr. Boston.
WITH no great effort at amplification this theme might be made to occupy a considerable series of historical volumes. Our readers may judge, therefore, how uncomfortable is the sense of compression which we experience in undertaking to consider it within the limits of a few pages.
In the first place, what are we to understand by the expression literary imposture? Would it be an erroneous use of language to denominate all bad writers impostors? Are we bound to employ milder terms than fraud, imposition, in speaking of productions which under false pretences rob men of their time and their money; which, not only serve no useful purpose, but effect vast injury, convey grossly distorted conceptions of the
Milton's Paradise Lost, Book I.