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proved themselves to be the friends of the souls of their people by the manner in which they have seconded the intentions of the legisture, and anxiously songht to conciliate what was hostile, and bury what was offensive ? But we stop;—these and many
such questions might be asked, and however highly we think of our church and our clergy, we fear that too many of them would find a conscientious difficulty in giving a satisfactory reply; yet, let us not deceive ourselves; it is by such conduct that our church can alone keep and preserve its high and holy station, and vindicate its character in the eyes of the world. The excitement of Ireland, though now partaking of a political, is but introductory to a religious ferment, and if we do not appear able and willing to take advantage of the crisis, other bodies will supply our deficiencies, and the church will have to contend with the same hostility, but with diminished reputation and diminished resources.
The titles of the books at the head of our page, have suggested these passing remarks to our minds in connection with the state of Ireland. If in the nineteenth century England requires directions for the Christian student, exhortation to the pastoral care and duties, a guide for its clergy, and an admonition of its internal dangers, assuredly Ireland still more; and we rejoice that such subjects have found authors to treat them in a spirit of Christian experience and Christian zeal. We rejoice more peculiarly to find that even in the work wbich speaks of danger to the church, there is nothing worldly or secular-that its author contemplates the subject merely in its spiritual aspects, and regards the strength of the establishment not to be in its revenues or its magnificence, its temporal influence or its temporal connections, but in the spirituality of its functionaries, and the embodied efficacy of its ministrations, and in their deficiency, in a secular or careless clergy, are its real weakness and downfall. Such are, we confess, our sentiments. We deem the Established Church, with all its faults, an instrument eminently calculated to do good, spiritual good, and that the Lord has employed it for that purpose; and seeing that much of its efficacy is derived from its virtual connexion with the state, we feel that while it preserves its power of doing the Lord's work, it need fear no separation. Late events have proved how unstable is any confidence in the profession or consistency of statesmen ; but as those who regard the church as a means of spiritual good, never looked with confidence to any human arm, so they are the less dismayed by any apparent reverse. While the church continues to do the Lord's work, it is supported by Him in whose “ hand are the hearts of men.
We shall proceed to give an account of the books upon our list, which we have arrayed not exactly in the order of their appearance, but of their subjects, and shall then make such remarks in connection with the important matter they contain as may be suggested by their contents.
To the really Christian student, Mr. Biekersteth's little work will be an invaluable prosent. Its character, as distinguished from all other works of the kid, such as Horne's Introductiou, and its applicability to every class of those who search the sacred oracles,
yet with an especial reference to the ministerial candidate, will appear from a slight sketch of its contents. It is divided into twenty chapters, succeeded by copious bibliographical and miscellaneous indexes. In the preface, the author introduces the feeling with which he sends it forth-a feeling conspicuous in every page
"That he is a scholar, and not a master; a scholar in that school, where there is but one master, even Christ, and where all his disciples are brethren.”—p. xi. And in his first chapter he declares his object in the following language
"The wish of the author is so to assist him that he may, if a private Christian, be enabled always to give an answer to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him, with meekness and fear; and, if purposing to fulfil the more arduous office of a Christian minister, he may be directed to those studies which may better fit him for being a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.-pp. 1, 2.
We think that he has done a great deal towards the attainment of so important a work,-that there are few students who will not receive most valuable suggestions, and find hints and plans proposed in a spirit of most unaffected piety, that must be most useful to them. Mr. Bickersteth employs three chapters in proving the usefulness of theological studies to the Christian-the influence of practical holiness to their studies, and the divine teaching promised by God. Mr. Bickersteth argues, and with justice, that reading and information, while they are essential to the divine are important and useful to all. It may, indeed, be said of learning as has been observed of reason-no one will be against it until it is against them; and while to the most illiterate, the sacred Scriptures present enough for "doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" an accurate knowledge of it, either for satisfaction or interpretation, can only be had by deep and serious and continued study, while we may thank God, that every species of learning can be transmuted into theology-can be offered at the foot of the Redeemer's Cross.*
In the third chapter, Mr. Bickersteth points out the importance of divine teaching-how ignorant of spiritual things learning and talent may remain, and that in spite of all wisdom and all knowledge, he who knows not his own sinfulness, is not led by the spirit to rest in Christ, the Lord our righteousness, and does not seek to overcome our spiritual enemy, and to grow in grace and know
* "Unhappy is that man who knows all these things and knows not thee; but blessed is he who knows thee, though he knows not these things. But he who knows both thee and them is not happier on their account, but on account of thee alone is happy, if knowing thee he glorify thee as God, and be thankful, and be not vain in his imaginations. For as he is in a better situation, who possesses a tree, and is thankful to thee for the use of it, though he knows neither its height, nor breadth, than he who measures it, and counts all its branches, and neither possesses it, nor knows nor has learned his Creator, so the believer, whose property all the riches of the world are, and who having nothing, yet possesseth all things, by cleaving to thee whom all things serve, is indisputably better than the most knowing natural philosopher upon earth, who lives in the neglect of thee.”—p. 21.
ledge, under the sacred influence of prayer, to him in its saving efficacy, in its ministerial power, the Bible is a sealed book.We could wish that this chapter was deeply studied by all our divinity students.
The two succeeding chapters contain most judicious observations on the importance of making the sacred Scriptures the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, of theological studies;-they should be read critically-they should be read devotionally-they should be read continually. The theological student should read them in their original, not to the exclusion of a " prayerful, humble, devotional, meditation upon them in our own language;" and, as Buchanan has remarked of the Old Testament, so we may of bothhe who knows them cannot be a bad divine. In the fifth chapter, particularly, there are many excellent observations evidently drawn from the Scriptures themselves, fervent, pious, and moderate, on Scripture theology-on its peculiar character of unsystematic teaching-on its simplicy, its holiness, its tenderness, and its practical tendency. We extract one admonition, as peculiarly adapted to this age of systematic accuracy.
"An accurate and just view of leading truths we should have; but let us beware of letting any system cramp us in the free use of scriptural modes of expression; and whether as parents, teachers, or ministers, we should in a decided manner like the Bible, our best and safest model, exhort to duty, threaten the sinner, invite the most polluted and guilty to come to Christ immediately, as they are, with all their load of sin, and give them the free promises of divine aid for their deliverance. We may be quite sure that the Bible is written on the right system, and that if our system does not admit of scriptural modes of address it is wrong."-p. 98.
The sixth is on the study of practical, the seventh on that of controversial works, and the eighth and ninth on the dangers of study, with practical rules to guard against them. The observations on controversy are replete with the sound affectionate and experimental wisdom that a mind disciplined by time and Scriptural feelings may be expected to produce; and, whether Calvinists or Arminians, we can assure our readers they will derive advantage from its perusal. To the practical rules for study, there are some questions for selfexaminaation subjoined, which we give our readers in the note.*
• "Questions for Self-Examination, chiefly extracted from an old Writer, "What is my great design in giving myself to study, and what is my daily view and purpose in pursuing it?
"Have I entirely given up myself to our Lord Jesus Christ, to serve him unre, servedly and supremely ?
"Do I every day seek direction and blessing from God in all my studies? "In labouring after knowledge in human sciences, do I always make the service of Christ my supreme design?
"Do I pursue my studies daily as one that must give account of my time and of all my advantages?
How many bours have 1 this day spent in study, or for the pursuit of knowledge, allowing for the great maxim, that to pray well is to study well?
"Do I pursue practical divinity as well as the knowledge of doctrines and controversies?
To Mr. Bickersteth's rule
"Avoid mere desultory reading, and have a regular plan of study. Keep a list of such books as you mean to read, and excepting in books of reference, go through one, before you begin another,"
we would add, from our own experience of its importance, do not begin a book lightly, but finish every book you begin. There is nothing more injurious to the mind, either in an intellectual or theological way, than the habit of passing from book to book and from subject to subject. We extract some other useful hints.
"To gain the habit of early rising, is of importance in order to profitable study. Habit will make any reasonable plan easy; and the hours of morning are generally less liable to be disturbed, and therefore more quiet. Early hours, tou, are more favourable to health. Early rising will make a vast difference in favour of your acquiring knowledge, and communicating the results of your acquirements to others. "Have a book for every spare hour. Lose not the odd moments, but let there be a book, ready to fill them up.
"Reflect on what you read. Meditation and reflection are the better half of study. It is the more difficult, but the more profitable. We like the luxury of letting new thoughts enter our minds, without the trouble of weighing their truth and value. Like the Athenians, we are desiring new things rather than truth. But the way to make thoughts our own, and to attain solid knowledge, and new and original ideas, is to resolve what we read much in our own minds; to compare it with similar things; and thus both ascertain its real value, and profitably apply it to use. Study and reading, as Locke has observed, are distinct things. A man of great reading is not therefore a man of great knowledge. Luther thus expresses his views of the best way to make a Christian divine-'Three things make a Divine; meditation, prayer, and temptation: and three things must be done by the minister of the word,-search the Bible, pray seriously, and always remain a learner."
"There is a danger of letting lighter studies divert our minds from severer studies. The mind should be disciplined and inured to that reading which makes a strong demand on its patient attention. One of the greatest dangers of a large library, is its tendency to induce a neglect of the Holy Scriptures, in their unaccompanied and daily study. Besides the mass of mankind have not much time for study; a few books, well selected and well digested, make the wise man. Men who read most, are not therefore the wisest. Men who read the best books, and make them their
"Am I solicitous that my soul may grow in grace by every increasing degree of Christian knowledge ?
"Do 1 choose my company by their seriousness, as well as by their ingenuity and learning?
"Do I take constant care to avoid all company which may be dangerous to my morals or to my studies?
"Have I been in any company where I have received good myself, or done good to others?
"Have I indulged myself in any thing so as to put my mind ont of frame for evening worship?
"Have I suffered any thing to carry away my heart from God, so as to make me neglect devotion, or perform it in a slight or careless manner?
Do I watch against all evil appetites and passions, and endeavour to subdue them early, that I may learn by my own experience, and teach others by my own example?
"Am I ever seeking the spiritual good of all around me ?""
own by meditation and experience, are truly wise, Is there not too much indiscriminate reading, and too little meditation and experience ?
“John Smith, in bis Select Sermons, says, ' To seek our divinity merely in books and writings, is to seek the living among the dead. We do but in vain seek God many times in these where his truth too often is not so much enshrined as entombed.' Mr. Newton, in bis Letters, speaking of a plan for a compendious library, recommends four comprehensive volumes, the Bible, the book of Creation, the book of Providence, and the book of the Heart. ,
“Lastly, ever remember that God is the father of lights and the fountain of wisdom. When we lose sight of Him, it is not surprising that we wander into darkness and error. We should begin our reading, listing up our hearts to Him for His blessing, and praying that He will both keep us from all error and guide into all truth. Bene precasse est bene studuisse. To have prayed well, is to bave studied well.”—pp. 182, 183, 184, 185, 189, 191, 193.
In chapter ten, these directions are applied in a short but interesting address to a student entering the university; and, while the author gladly acknowledges a progressive change for the better in those seats of learning, he yet deems it most important to press upon such the cultivation of personal religion, and, above all, the scrupulous appropriation of the Sabbath to its peculiar duties--the directing even secular studies to Christian motives and Christian ends; an anxious cantion in the selection of friends, and a modest but manly avowal of determinative religion.
“. Show your colours,' was the brief advice of an experienced friend to one just approaching tbe scene of conflict. None are so harassed in the University as the vacillating and unresolved in religion ; pone endure so many taunts; none are so frequently assailed, nor so much in danger of falling by temptation."-p. 202.
Agreeing perfectly with Mr. Bickersteth in these most important suggestions, and rejoicing with him that not only Oxford and Cambridge, but Dublin, have exhibited a material change for the better regarding religion ; we have to lament as to the latter, that its discipline is so organized that the heads of the university bave little or no spiritual communion with the students. Excellent and useful instruction is communicated at the Catechetical and Divinity Lectures and Examinations, but the practical influence of such on the heart, the reading of the Scriptures with prayer, the direction of the student's time, the examination of the student's heart-of these things the tutor seldom has cognizance; and yet, compared with them, even in a secular point of view, can any other knowlege or communication be valued ?
A young man, interested on the subject of religion, arrives in Dublin; his tutor directs him to public lectures, which perform their part, but leave his mind as dry with regard to spiritual things as if there never had been a fountain opened in Zion, and the youth either adopts the arid character of every thing about him, or associates himself with some other students in prayer-meetings, where there is neither experience to guide nor authority to restrain. We have occasionally ventured to call on the heads of the University, with more zeal, perhaps, than knowledge for improvements suited to the times; this, we conceive,