INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER AND HABITS OF THE CLERGYMAN.
In the preceding chapter, we were led to speak of intellectuality and studiousness, in their relations to the religious character of the clergyman; taking the position that, provided he is faithful in other respects, learning and contemplation are, in themselves, favorable to spirituality and piety. In this chapter, we are to consider, first, the type of intellectual character which the clergyman ought to form, and, secondly, the means of forming it.
In respect to the style of mental culture, at which the clergyman should aim, we sum up the whole in the remark, that it should be choice. It should be the product of a very select course of reading, and study, and hence of a finer grade than the common intellectuality. In this country, and in this reading age, almost every man is somewhat literary. He is more or less acquainted with books, and may be said to have an intellectual, as well as a moral character. Two centuries ago, this was less the case. There was then, in society at large, very little of that enlightenment which is the effect of miscellaneous and general reading. Culture was concentrated in a smaller number; and hence, in the seventeenth century there was a higher intellectual character, in the learned professions, relatively to that of the mass of society, than there is at the present day. The masses have made more advance, than the literary circles have. The professional classes, and the public, are now nearer a common level, than they were two centuries ago; because, while the public has enlarged its acquaintance with literature, there has. not been a corresponding progress, on the part of the professions. The learning and intellectual power of the theologians of the present day, is not as much superior to that of Richard Hooker, or John Howe, as the popular knowledge of the nineteenth century, is superior to that of the sixteenth and seventeenth. Neither is the mental culture of the upper class, in the literary world, as choice now as formerly, because it partakes more of the ir.discriminateness of the common enlightenment. The great multiplication of branches of knowledge, and- of books, has made the professional man more of a miscellaneous reader, than he once was. The consequence is, that the intellectual character of the professions, while it has gained something in variety and versatility, has lost inquality.
In view of this fact, as well as on account of the intrinsic desirableness of the thing itself, the clergyman ought to aim at choiceness, in bis education. He should strive after ripe scholarship, and such mental traits as profundity, comprehensiveness, clearness, and force. These are too often neglected,
for a more superficial culture, and a class of qualities like versatility, vivacity, and brilliancy. These latter are much more easily obtained, than the former. They do not task the persevering power of the mind, and, consequently, do not draw out its best capacity. The natural indolence of human nature, is inclined to that species of intellectuality which is most readily acquired, and which makes the greatest momentary impression upon others. The clergyman, the lawyer, and the author, are too content with a grade of knowledge that is possessed by society at large. They are too willing to read the same books, and no more; to look from the same point of view, and no higher one; in short, to reflect the general culture of the masses. But, a professional man has no right to pursue this course. Society does not set him upon an elevation above itself, and maintain him there by its institutions and arrangements, merely to have him look through their eyes, and from their own lower position. Society does not, for example, place a man upon the high position of a public religious teacher, expecting that he will merely retail the current popular knowledge. Society looks up to the clergyman as its religious instructor, and requires that he be in advance of its own information
It does not, indeed, insist that he know all things, and be ahead in all respects. The lawyer, as he listens to his clergyman, does not look for a more extensive and accurate knowledge of law. than he himself possesses. The man of business,—the farmer, the manufacturer, and the merchant,—does not expect from his minister, a shrewder and wider information in the department of active life, than he has himself. But each and all expect, that in regard to religion, and all those portions of human knowledge which are most closely connected with theology, the clergyman will be in advance of themselves. They demand that, in its own sphere, clerical culture be superior to that of society at large.
The clergyman should not, therefore, be content with the average intellectuality. He ought not to loudly profess a choicer culture, than that of the community, but he ought actually to possess it. As the clerical position, and calling, demands a superior and eminent religious character, so it demands a superior and eminent intellectual character. If the clergyman may not supinely content himself with an ordinary piety, neither may he content himself with an ordinary culture.
These remarks upon the kind and type of intellectual character, at which the clergyman must aim, prepare the way for considering the chief means, and methods of forming it. And these may all be reduced to one, namely, the daily, nightly, and ever lasting study of standard authors. "Few," remarks John Foster, "have been sufficiently sensible of the importance of that economy in reading, which selects, almost exclusively, the very first order of books. Why should a man, except for some special reason, read a very inferior book, at the very time that he might be reading one of the highest order?
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A man of ability, for the chief of his reading, should select such works as he feels beyond his own power to have produced. What can other books do for him, but waste his time and augment his vanity?"
Choice and high culture is the fruit of communion with the very finest, and loftiest intellects of the race. Familiarity with ordinary productions, cannot raise the mind above the common level. Like breeds like, and mediocre literature, that neither descends deep, nor soars high, will leave the student mediocre, and common-place, in his thoughts. The preacher must love the profound thinkers, and meditate upon them. But, these are not the multitude. They are the few. They are those who make epochs, in the provinces in which they labor. As we cast our eye along the history of a department, be it poetry, or philosophy, or theology, a few names represent, and contain, the whole pith and substance of it. Though there are many others who are respectable, and many more who are mere sciolists and pretenders, still, an acquaintance or unacquaintance with them all would not materially affect the sum of his knowledge, who should be thoroughly familiar with these leading and standard writers.
The clergyman, therefore, must dare to pass by all second-rate authors, and devote his days and nights to the first-rate. No matter how popular or brilliant a cotemporary may be, no matter how active may be the popular mind in a particular direction, it is his true course, to devote his best powers to mastering those authors who have been tried by time, and are confessedly the first intellects of the race. If a great thinker actually arises in our own age, we are not to neglect him because he is a cotemporary. Greatness should be recognized whenever it arises. But it must be remembered that a single age does well, if it produces a single historic mind,—a mind that makes an epoch, in the history of the department to which it devotes itself. And, moreover, it must be remembered, that we are more liable to be prejudiced in favor of a cotemporary, than of a predecessor, and hence, that cotemporary judgments are generally modified, and sometimes reversed, by posterity. The past is secure. A student who bends his energies to the comprehension of an author who is acknowledged to be standard, by the consent of ages and generations of scholars, takes the safe course to attain a choice culture.
It is not possible to go over the whole field of literature, in a single chapter, and we shall, therefore, confine ovn.^lve^ to those three departments. which exert the most direct and important influence upon the intellectual character of the clergyman, These are poetry, philosophy, and theology. In each of these, we shall mark out a course of reading and study, which we think adapted to • result in a ripe cultivation. And assuming that the Bible, from its difference in kind from all other literature, an'd its peculiar and paramount claims upon the study of the clergyman, will be the object of supreme attention, the Book of books, we shall confine our remarks to uninspired literature.
In poetry, the clergyman should study all his days, the great creative minds, namely, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakspeare, and Milton. A brief sketch of their characteristics, and specification of the elements of culture furnished by each, to go into the combination we are seeking, will be in place here. Homer is to be studied, as the head and representative of Greek poetry. The human mind reached the highest grade of culture that is possible to paganism, in the Greek race; and the inmost spirit and energy of the Greek intellect, is concentrated in the blind bard of Chios. Long-continued familiarity with the Iliad and Odyssey, imparts force, fire, and splendor, to the mental character. It also imparts freshness, freedom, and enthusiasm. Bouchardon said that while reading Homer, his whole frame appeared to himself to be enlarged, and all surrounding nature to be diminished to atoms. The function of Homer is to dilate, and kindle the intellect.
Virgil is to be studied as the embodiment of dignity, and grace. Though hardly severe and massive enough, to be a full representative of the Roman mind, yet, upon the whole, he contains more of its various characteristics, than any other single Roman poet. He adequately represents imperial Rome, if he does not monarchical and republican. The dignity of the Roman character is certainly exhibited in the Virgilian poetry. The influence of familiarity with the ^Eneid, is highly refining. Men of elegant traits, like Canning and Robert Hall, relish and quote Virgil. Every thing in him is full of grace, and propriety. Even in the Georgics, though the theme is not favorable to the exhibition of such qualities, they yet appear in their height. As Addison says, the farmer in the Georgics, tosses his dung about with an air of dignity.
Dante is the great poet of the Middle Ages. Though a Papist by birth and position, he is yet a Protestant in temper and spirit. Dante and Michael Angelo, so far as the fundamental traits of their minds are concerned, were both of them blood-relations of Martin Luther. Intensity is the prominent characteristic of the Divine Comedy. Familiarity with Dante imparts a luminous distinctness, to the operations and products of the mind. The poetry of Dante is more speculative than that of any other poet.1 He was well acquainted with Aristotle's philosophy, and exhibits the subtlety and analysis of the Schoolmen themselves. Indeed, the general literary characteristics of the Middle Ages, are all concentrated in the great Italian poet.
Shakspeare and Milton stand upon a common level. The English Parnassus, to use the figure of Coleridge, has twin peaks that crown its summit. Both alike deserve a life-long study,—Shakspeare, for the breadth and subtlety of his thinking; Milton, for his loftiness and grandeur.
The English poets in this list, the clergyman may read in their own tongue. If he would be perfect, he must study the others, in the tongues in which they were born, and wrote. With the Latin of Virgil, he should be ashamed to be unfamiliar; while it is to be remembered that dignity and grace, being formal qualities, are more difficult to be transfused into another language. Dante has been faithfully translated by Gary, and by frequent perusal the student may, even through this medium, thoroughly imbue his culture with the spirit of the Divine Comedy. Homer, so far as possibJo, ought to be read in the original Greek; but if. a translation is to be employed, it should be thai of Chapman, one of the early English translators. It is exceedingly rugged, yet very faithful to the ori ginal. But what is of most importance, Chapman lias caught the Homeric spirit far more than any other translator, be he English, French, German, or Italian. That fiery energy, that rushing life, and that dilation and inspiration which are so characteristic of the Greek, re-appear in the Englishman. Familiarity with this version, even without any other knowledge of Homer, will bring the student into a more living sympathy with him, than the perusal of Pope's version can, even if helped out with a mere dictionary-knowledge of the original. The spirit of the performance is intensely Homeric. It is, as Lamb says, not so much a translation, as an original production; such an one as Homer himself would have composed, had he been compelled to use the less flexible and harmonious English, instead of the pliant and mellifluous Greek. But, while we are speaking of translation, it must be remembered that a continuous study of an author, even in versions, naturally results in more or less study of him in the original. Struck with the force, or perhaps the obscurity of the translation, the reader takes down the original to compare or explain, and, in this way, keeps his mind considerably familiar with the original, — certainly, more familiar than he would, if the writer were entirely neglected.1
"It is also more theological, of the doctrines of sin and utone
than that of any other, unless we ment, for example, have not been
except Milton,—if indeed he is to made, than Dante lays down in
be excepted. Better statements the seventh canto of the Paradise,
1The prohibition of transla- guage, is wise and necessary, tious to the young student, while But their subsequent use, after acquiring the rudiments of a Ian- the foundations of classical knowledge have been laid, and the even from a translation, is proved
The authors thus mentioned and sketched, are the first and greatest in the province of poetry, in their respective ages and literatures. The clergyman who is thoroughly familiar with these, though he should be ignorant of all others, will be marked by a choice poetical cultivation; while, if he neglects these, though he should be acquainted with all other poets, this part of his education would betray radical defects.
The . department of philosophy next demands our attention. This exerts a very powerful influence upon the intellectual character, and may be said to determine its whole s'tyle and tone. If we know the philosophical authors with whom a student is familiar, we know the fundamental and distinguishing characteristics of his education; for philosophy furnishes him with his methods of reasoning, and investigating, forms his habits of thought, and, to a great extent, determines the direction of his thinking, by presenting the objects of thought. Thus, it may be said to contain the principles, means, and end, of mental development; and, therefore of merely human and intellectual branches of discipline, it is the first and most important. The same injunction to read standard authors, applies with full force here also. A few names make up the list of first-class minds, in this department. The clergyman should become familiar with the two masters of Grecian philosophy, Plato and Aristotle. Their systems are sometimes represented as radically different from each other; but the difference is only formal, such as naturally arises, when, of two minds, one is synthetic, and the other is analytic, in its nature and tendency. The diligent student of these Grecians will discover in them, a material agreement in respect to first principles, together with a formal difference in the mode of investigation and representation, that is for his benefit. Their systems should be studied in connection, as two halves of one coherent whole. He who has mastered them, has mastered all that is true and valuable, in the philosophy of the Ancient world. As these authors are voluminous, and in a difficult language, the clergyman needs all the aids possible. Of Plato, there is a good Latin version by the Italian, Ficinus, two German versions, one by Schleiermacher and one by Schwarz, and an excellent French translation by Cousin. Of the English translations, that which is now publishing by Bohn, of London, includes the entire works of Plato, and is of unequal merit in its parts. On the whole, the cheap Tauchniz edition of the Greek, a good Greek lexicon, and Bohn's translations, make up an apparatus for the study of Plato, that is within the reach of every clergyman. When he wishes to read rapidly, let him peruse the English version, correcting the mistakes, and elucidating the obscurity of the translators, by the Greek. When he desires to read for the sake of the language and style of the original, let him carefully study this. In this way, the clergyman, notwithstanding the multiplicity of his labors, may become well acquainted with the philosophy of the Academy.
scholar is compelled, by the de- by the fact, that the English Bible
mands of a laborious profession, is the only source, whence the
to make wide excursions over the majority of the Anglo-American
whole immense field of Ancient world derive their acquaintance
literature, is a different matter, with the Hebrew and Greek
That a real and vivid knowledge Scriptures. of an author may be acquired
In reading Aristotle, the same method may be followed. The same publisher is printing, from time to time, translations of this author, and the German publisher Tauchniz furnishes an equally cheap edition of the Greek. More discrimination is needed in selecting from Aristotle, than from Plato. Aristotle wrote extensively upon natural philosophy, and his speculations in this department are not of so much worth to the modem student, surrounded as he is with the achievements of modern science. The Metaphysics and Ethics, the Rhetoric, and, though last not least, the Politics and Economies, are the treatises of Aristotle of most value to the clergyman. The Greek of this author is worthy of special attention, by reason of its affinity with that of the New Testament, and it is much less difficult than the poetic prose of Plato.
The clergyman should peruse the philosophical writings of Cicero. The Roman reproduces in a genial and elegant manner, the moral philosophy of Plato. He ought to be read in the original, altogether, and may easily be. The most valuable of his philosophical treatises are the tract on the Immortality of the soul, the De Natwra Deorum, and the J)e Fmibus, which discusses the nature of good and evil.
There is no writer of the Middle Ages, in philosophy, who stands in a similar relation to his time, with Plato • and Aristotle and Cicero, to theirs. Philosophy, during this period, passed over into theology, and hence we shall speak of the Mediaeval thinkers under that head. Moreover, as the Aristotelian philosophy was the dominant system of the Middle Ages, the study of Aristotle himself, will make the student acquainted with the Mediaeval methods of thinking and investigation.
Des Cartes is justly regarded as the father of Modern philosophy, because he gave it its predominant direction towards psychology. His first principle, Cogito ergo sum, converts philosophy into an analysis of consciousness. His discourse on the "Method of rightly conducting the Reason," and his "Meditations," are of most value to the theological student. Though not chronologically in place, yet from his intellectual relations, we here mention the name of Leibniz. The philosophical speculations of this writer are highly theological, and therefore are attractive to the clergyman. Written in the most pellucid style, such treatises as the Theodicee and Nouveaux Essais (the most masterly criticism that has yet been made upon the philosophy of Locke), well reward the scholar for their perusal. The clergyman ought to become well acquainted with the method, and system, of that sagacious, comprehensive, and substantial thinker, Lord Bacon. He, also, like Aristotle, is regarded by some, as the antagonist of Plato; but a perusal of his works, particularly the Novum Organum, in the light thrown upon them by those Essays of Coleridge in the Friend,1 in which he compares Bacon and Plato, will convince any one that their philosophical methods are essentially the same, only applied to different departments of inquiry,—Plato, being the philosopher of the intellect and spirit, Bacon, the philosopher of nature and matter; the one, cultivating intellectual and moral philosophy, the other, investigating natural philosophy and physical science.
The next system, in the historic movement of philosophy, is that of Locke. This merits the study of the clergyman, mainly for negative .purposes. Thus far, the systems which we have mentioned are substantially the same, and in one straight, though sometimes wide, path of progress. But this system is out of the line of a true philosophic advance. It has, however, exerted so great an influence in the philosophic world, that it de serves to be thoroughly studied, as the most self consistent, and at the same time moderate, of all the systems of materialism. A critical mastery of it, results in a more immoveable position upon the true philosophic ground. In this reference, the study of Locke is of great negative worth, while, at the same time, it is often of value, in repressing that false spiritualism into which the human mind is apt to run, in passing from one extreme to another.
1 Colebidgk: Works, Vol. II. p. 437, sq.
The last name that we mention, in this series of philosophers, is that of Kant. He who goes to the study of this author, after that of Locke, will find himself again in the broad, travelled highway of philosophy; and will come into contact with the most logical mind since Aristotle. The fundamental principles of theism, and ethics, are laid down with scientific precision, in the three Critiques of this latest of the great metaphysical thinkers. Kant is most satisfactorily read in the original German; yet, such a study of previous philosophers, as we have recommended, resulting, as it does, in what may be called a philosophic instinct, and sagacity, in detecting the drift of a system, will enable the student to gather his general meaning, even out of the very inadequate translations that have been made of him. Something, moreover, may be learned from the English and French writers who have either adopted, or opposed his opinions. Of them all, Coleridge and Hamilton were by far the best acquainted with Kant, and their writings are the best introduction to the German philosopher, that is accessible to the merely English reader.
In concluding under this head of philosophy, we make a remark similar to that at the close of the paragraph upon poetry. Familiarity with these eight authors, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Des Cartes, Leibniz, Bacon, Locke, and Kant, will impart a choiceness to the clergyman's metaphysical discipline, that cannot be obtained without them; and, that cannot be obtained by a perusal of the hundreds and thousands of second-rate works in this province. These are virtually the whole. The entire department of philosophy, is potentially in these eight authors. They are the fountains whence all others draw.
It now remains to mark out a course of study, in the department of theology. And the first name in the series, both chronologically and intrinsically, with which the clergyman ought to become familiar, is that of Augustine. The position of this writer, in systematic theology, is very central; so that a clear understanding of him, is a clue to very much that comes after him. Though not every thing in his writings is fully developed, or accurately developed, yet, the principal seeds and germs of the modern Protestant theology are found in them, and he, more than any other one of the Fathers, and far more than any one of the Schoolmen, constitutes the organic link of connection, between Scriptural Christianity in the Ancient Church, and Scriptural Christianity in the Modern. And besides the scientific interest which the most distinguished of the Christian Fathers awakens, hia personal character itself wins upon the admiration of the student, all the days of his life. His entire works are no longer difficult of access, through the
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cheap reprint in Migne's series of the Fathers and Schoolmen. Individual writings of his have also been republished, which may be obtained as readily as the Latin and Greek classics. Of his entire works, may be mentioned the important tenth volume in the Benedictine arrangement, which contains his views upon the great themes of sin and grace, in opposition to Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. To these must be added the De Oivitate Dei, and the Oon/essiones,—the one doctrinal, and the other biographical. The City of God is one of Augustine's largest works, and conveys a more adequate impression of him as a systematizer, than any other single treatise of his. It is somewhat unequal in structure. This, however, arose, in part, from the disposition to be exhaustive in the investigation, not only of the principal topics in theology, but of all collateral topics. Augustine, for example, discusses the question, " How ought the bodies of saints to be buried?" with as much serious earnestness, and as strong a desire to answer it correctly, as he does the question, " What was the condition of the first man before his fall?" This same inclination to take up every point and exhaust it, is seen in the Schoolmen as well as the Fathers, and accounts for the wood, hay, and stubble, mixed with the gold, silver, and precious stones found in their
The clergyman should, next, be familiar with the Scholastic theology, so far as is possible for him. Very little is now known of the theologians of the Middle Ages, even by professed scholars and authors. The great minds among them, however, deserve to be read, at least in a few of their best tracts and treatises. On the whole, Anselm deserves most attention, because he unites the speculative and practical tendencies, in greatest harmony. Thomas Aquinas has left the most important systematic treatise of the Middle Ages, and should be associated with Anselm. Lastly, the spiritual and saintly Bernard, the most contemplative of the Schoolmen, opens many veins of rich and edifying thought. The following works of these authors may be the most easily obtained, and deserve to be pondered in the order in which they are mentioned. Anselm's Cur Deus Homo? is a treatise, in which the philosophic necessity, and rationality, of the doctrine of atonement is exhibited for the first time, and which has been studied by the ablest thinkers upon this subject, ever since. His Proslogion and Monologiwn are two closely reasoned tracts, of which, the first contains the most metaphysical a priori argument yet made for the Divine Existence, and the last, an excellent statement of the relation of Reason to Revelation. The three tractates, De, libero ctrbitrio, Dq casu diabolij and De mrginali conceptu, hold the elne to the deep mystery of the finite will, and the origin of moral evil, if that clue has ever been vouchsafed to the human intellect. The Summa Tkeologica of Thomas Aquinas, is the systematic theology of the Middle Ages. The Sententice, De consideratione, and De modo lene vivendi, of Bernard, will introduce the student to trains of reflection, in which there is a rare union of depth with edification.
The next era, in the history of theology, is that of the Reformation, including also the succeeding period of conflict between Calvinists and Armiaians. Calvin and Turretin are the two leading theological minds of this period, and the clergyman cannot study the Institutes of the former, and the Institutio of the latter, too patiently or too long. In the former, he will find the completion of the systematic structure whose foundations were laid by Augustine, while in the latter, the more minute and thorough elaboration of particular doctrines appears. For, controversy compels thorough statements; and that discussion between the Calvinists and Arminians, was one of the most analytic and subtle that has ever occurred.
The English divines of the seventeenth century, next deserve the study of the clergyman. If he were to be shut up, as he ought not to be, to a single period in the history of theology, and to communion with a single class or school, it would be safe to leave him alone with the theologians of England, both Prelatical and Non-conforming. They were men of the widest reading, the most thorough learning, and the most profound piety. There are many noble names among them, but, in accordance with a parsimonious method, and having special reference to dogmatic theology, we shall mentioii only Owen, Howe, and Baxter. Though the theoretic and the practical elements wonderfully interpenetrate each other, in the writings of all three, yet each has his distinguishing excellence. Owen is the most comprehensively systematic, Howe the most contemplative and profound*, and Baxter the most intense and popularly effective.
The last writer, in the series, is the elder Edwards,—a theologian equal to any that have been mentioned, whether we consider the depth and subtlety of his understanding, the comprehension and cogency of his logic, or the profundity and purity of his religious experience, and who deserves the patient study of the American clergyman, in particular, because, more than any other American theologian, he forms an historical connection with the theologies of the past, and stands confessedly at the head of our scientific theology.
We have, now, passed in review the departments of poetry, philosophy, and theology, and we think that any one would concede, that a course of study such as we have marked out, would result in a high type of intellectual character. By pursuing it, the mind of the clergyman would be put into communication with all the best culture, and science, of the human race. Such a choice intellectual discipline would give him influence with the most highly educated men in society, and the respect of the people at large. The people naturally venerate learning. They expect it in their religious teacher, • and they are impressed by it. It inspires their confidence. Baxter, in speaking upon this point, in his Reformed Pastor, goes so far as to recommend the preacher, to introduce, occasionally, into his sermons a scholastic word, or a learned term, which the people do not understand, in order to show that he is familiar with sciences and branches of knowledge, with which they themselves are unacquainted Baxter recommends this in all seriousness and so leranity, as he does every thing else. The rule is not worth observing, but the spirit of it is.
Such an intellectual discipline, moreover, leaves room for growth and expansion, and impels to it. The standard minds, as we have remarked, are in one and the same general line of thinking, and hence, all the acquisition that is made by the student, is homogeneous. He is not compelled to un»earn any thing. He is studying one common system of truth, and employs one common method of apprehending and stating it; so that whatever may be the particular part of the great whole, which he is studying for the time being, the results of his study will fall in with all other results, and go to constitute a harmonic and symmetrical education. The plan of clerical study, upon this scheme, is likfl the plan of a perfect campaign. All the movements are adjusted to each other, and are coherent; so that at whatever point the individual soldier labors, and however distant from head-quarters, he is contributing directly to the one predetermined and foieseen issue. Hence, although we have mentioned the standard authors chronologically, as the most convenient and natural order, it is not necessary that the clergyman should invariably study them in this order. Let him be retrogressive, or progressive, as he pleases; let him begin anywhere in the series, and with any single writer, and he will be in line, and may form connections with the front and the rear. He may, also, indefinitely expand his system of study,—widening and deepening the foundations, rearing up and beautifying the superstructure, -—and yet never essentially varying the form, and proportions, of the temple of truth and of science.
But how, it may be asked, is the clergyman, with all his public and private occupations, to find time, for such an extensive and thorough course of study? "We shall devote the short remainder of the chapter, to the answer to this question. Before proceeding, however, to give specific rules, let us observe that this is a course of study for life. It is not to be run through in a year, or ten years, and then to give place to another. It is not to be outgrown, and left behind. One of the most eloquent and enthusiastic of literary men remarks, that the scholar should " lay great bases for eternity,"—that
is, he should adopt a plan and method of study, which possesses compass enough, and coherence enough, to »e ever permanent, for purposes of discipline and I scholarship. The clergyman should intellectually, as well as morally, lay great bases for eternity. He ought not, therefore, to be overwhelmed in the very outset, by the greatness of the proposed edifice, but should relieve his mind, by remembering that he has his whole life before him.
In order to the successful prosecution of such a course of study, and the attainment of a high intellectual discipline, the clergyman must rigorously observe hours of study. His mornings must be seasons of severe application. By proper arrangements, the time from eight to one may be a period of uninterrupted devotion to literary toil. Of these five hours, two may be devoted to books, and three to sermonizing; or, in the outset, one hour to books, and four to sermonizing. Supposing that no more than six hours are devoted to pure study, in a week, even this, in the course of twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years, would carry the clergyman over a verj wide field of investigation, and carry him thoroughly. But, as he advances in this course, he will find his mind strengthening, his faculties becoming more manageable, and his resources more ample; so that after ten, perhaps five years have elapsed, the two hours are suflicient for sermonizing, and the three may be devoted to study. As the clergyman grows into a learned and systematic thinker he becomes able to preach with much less immediate preparation. These five hours, every day, are sufficient for literary purposes, provided they are strictly hours of intellectual toil. Let there be, in the study, no idleness, no revery, and no reading outside of the prescribed circle. Let the mind begin to work as soon as the door is shut, and let it not cease until the clock strikes the appointed hour; then stop study, and stop composition, and devote the remainder of the day to parochial labors, the amenities of life, and the relaxation of lighter literature.
Again, in order to the prosecution of such a course of study as has been described, it is evident that the clergyman must read no more of second-rate literature, of either the past or the present, than is consistent with these severer studies. He must dare to be ignorant of much of it, in order that he may know the Dii majorum gentium. He must purchase very little of it, and none of it at all, until he has obtained the standard works. His library, like his culture, should be choice, a gem of a library, and then he will not be tempted by inferior productions to waste his time. And, especially must he be upon his guard against the great mass of periodical literature that is coming into existence, and dying as fast as it is born. Periodical literature, as a species, is the direct contrary of standard literature, and its influence upon education is directly antagonistic to that of true study. The nature of this class
of mental products, is analogous to that of one of the lowest grades of animal existence. The periodical is like a polypus. The polyp propagates itself by sprouting and swelling, like a vegetable. Cut a polyp into two halves, and these two halves complete themselves, and become two polypi. Cut each of these two into two, they become four perfect polypi; and so the process goes on, ad infinitum. And this is the process in periodical literature. A very slender idea, or thought, is bisected, and these parts are exhibited, each as a complete whole, and the entire truth. These, again, are subdivided by another journalist, and re-exhibited, and thus the polypprocess goes on, until a single idea, not very solid at the beginning, is made to propagate itself through page after page. One man writes a book, the whole of which does not contain a thousandth part of the truth that is to be found in some standard work. Another writes a review of this book,—unless, perchance, to employ the comparison of Matthias Claudius, the hen reviews her own egg. Another writes a review of this review, and so the work goes bravely on, from month to month, and year to year.
The true course, for the clergyman, as well as for the student generally, is to devote no more attention to the current and periodical literature of his age, than is just sufficient to keep him acquainted with its tendencies, and currents of thought and action, devoting himself, in the meanwhile, to those standard pro ducts which are for all time, and from which alone, he can derive true intellectual aliment and strength.