EDUCATlON FOR THE MlNlSTRY:
ITS IDEA AND ITS REQUISITES.*
We are assembled this afternoon to dedicate this edifice to God and to the cause of ministerial education. The enlightened liberality of a friend who honors us with his presence on this occasion, and whose name the building will bear through coming years, puts the completed structure in our possession, to be used henceforth, so long as the timber and the stones shall hold together, for the one purpose of providing a proper training for those who are to be the preachers of the gospel of Christ. It is matter of profound satisfaction to know that this gift, so munificent and free, has been made in prayer, as an offering not to men but to Jesus our Lord. May the Spirit of Jesus abundantly rest upon the giver, and make his gift to us asource of the best gifts to him! And may the Spirit of Jesus also rest upon us, that we may be made worthy of the gift, and be properly qualified to use it for the honor of Christ and for the advancement of sacred learning!
We rejoice to-day, because we see in this dedication a sign of progress. The members of this Board of Trustees, who have so many times during the last thirty years assumed so serious financial responsibilities, rejoice that God has raised up able friends for the Seminary. And if those early projectors and helpers of this enterprise who were called to their reward before their eyes could see the fulfillment of their hopes — if those early friends who founded the institution in tears and prayers, can look down upon this scene, I am sure that they rejoice with us — the sowers with the reapers. God has heard and answered prayer on behalf of his cause; he has established the work of our hands; to him alone be praise!
The Germans have a beautiful word derived from the traveler's custom of getting his bearings before he starts anew upon his journey. They say that he "orients himself "— turns to the east with its sun and light, that he may know how to direct his path. It seems well for us who have the interest of the Rochester Theological Seminary at heart, to orient ourselves. The dedication of this building cannot be accompanied by anything more fitly than by a careful inquiry into the purpose which the building is to subserve. I propose to you, therefore, as the subject of this address: The True Idea of Theological Education, and the Requisites to its Realization. In other words, what ought to be our aim in such a Seminary as this, and what are the means needful to secure it?
The training of the ministry,— it is a short phrase, but to unfold its mean
* An Address delivered at the Dedication of Koekefeller Hall, Rochester Theological Seminary, May 19,1880.
ing will require thought and care. It implies conviction on our part that there is a set of men specially called by Christ, the ascended Savior and Head of the church, to be the proclaimers of his salvation and the spiritual teachers of his people. It implies conviction that the work of preaching Christ and the wide range of his truth as it is made known in the Scriptures demands an intellectual and religious preparation beyond that of any mere human calling. It implies that the duty of training their preachers is just as imperative upon the churches as the duty of training their converts — the work of the Holy Spirit not superseding the work of the church in the one case any more than in the other. It implies that the provision for this training, since it has to do with the infinite and eternal interests of men's souls and of God's kingdom, should be the most ample and complete that our wisdom can devise and that is warranted by the means Providence has placed at our disposal.
The only effective provision for such training is that of the Theological Seminary. Happily we do not need at this time and in this presence to reiterate the old arguments in favor of special Seminaries of theological instruction. Experience is teaching us anew every day that this mighty rushing age can be taken captive for Christ only by men abreast of its highest culture and possessed of an intellectual energy equal to its own. Our greatest success in establishing efficient churches has been precisely in those quarters of the land where we have longest had an advanced training for our ministers. We have learned that college education alone will not fit a young man for the ministry, any more than it will fit him for medicine or the law,— special study of his own profession is requisite in each of these separate callings, if we would secure the highest quality of service in those whom we employ. And we have given over expecting training for our young ministers, that meets the demands of the age, at the hands of settled pastors. They have not the time to give to special instruction of young men,— even when they have the minute acquaintance with the several branches of theological knowledge which is needed in a competent teacher. It is a settled principle among us that this instruction can be secured for the vast majority of our young preachers ouly by the maintenance of institutions in which each department of sacred learning is represented by a teacher who makes it his lifelong work and specialty.
What these departments should be is by no means an arbitrary matter. Both their number and their subjects are determined by the necessities of the case. For the theology in which we desire the rising ministry to be instructed is primarily a Biblical Theology, a theology rooted and grounded in Scripture, a theology which unfolds and applies the word of God as the material and the directory of preaching. First of all, then, the student must learn to read his Bible, for himself, as he can only do, by knowing tho original languages in which that Bible was written, and by applying to it the principles of sound grammatical and exegetical interpretation. This study of the Bible naturally divides itself into work upon the Old Testament, and work upon the New. The Hebrew of the former, and the Greek of the latter, must receive equal attention, as the vehicles of God's communications to meu. Thus we see the necessity of the two departments of Hebrew and Greek. But to a well-furnished expounder of God's work is needed something more than personal command of the instruments of investigation ; he must know how the Spirit of God has led the church of earlier days to interpret the Scriptures, and what the results of such interpretation have been upon the church's life. Thus we come to recognize the indispensableness of a third department, that namely of Historical Theology, with its two branches, the History of Doctrine, which gives account of the progressive apprehension by the church of the truth of Scripture and the shaping of that truth into doctrinal statements; and Church History, which describes the resulting and accompanying changes in the life of the church itself.
We must go still further. The thoughtful mind must systematize the results of Scripture study, must gather into a well proportioned and organic whole the scattered facts which the Biblo gives him. In the light of past errors and with the help of past interpretations, he must build these materials into a consistent scheme which he can defend against the reasonings of the sceptic and harmonize with the facts of nature and consciousness. Hence arises the need of a fourth department — Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is nothing more nor less than the study of Scripture truths in their connections, the recognition of their divine unity as the revelation of one God and Redeemer, the justification of them as consistent with every other portion of our knowledge. But lastly, there must be a fifth department of Practical Theology, in which this system of truth is considered as a means of renewing and sanctifying men. We do not study theology as mere abstract science, but solely with a view to its publication and enforcement. Not a single one of the departments I have previously mentioned, that docs not daily make plain to the student its connections with preaching and life. But in a Seminary for the education of preachers, there needs to be a department that devotes itself exclusively to the side of practice. To this department belong Homilctics and Pastoral Theology, since these are but scientific presentations of the right methods of unfolding Christian truth and of bringing it to bear upon men, in public and in private. You can see at once that these five departments of Hebrew, Greek, History, Doctrine, Preaching, are all essential to the complete training of the minister; and that the range of thought and of literature in each is so great, that the mastery of any single one, so as properly to teach it, is enough to furnish the sole occupation of the most laborious and able instructor.
It may be said that the students of the Seminary are but beginners; that the training they need is training in the elements; that those who give this elementary teaching do not need to be so far advanced beyond their pupils. A little consideration, however, will suffice to show how mistaken is this reasoning. The best of elementary teaching can be given only by one who is a master of his subject; the highest art is required to simplify that which is recondite and profound. None but a thoroughly furnished and experienced teacher can meet the intellectual demands of classes of college graduates, some of whom at least have inquisitive and penetrating minds. Nor would it be safe to entrust to instructors of minor ability the answering of the perplexing and critical questions with which the youthful student is beset at the first stage of his theological inquiries. Not everything can be done in three years of study, but it is of infinite importance that what is done should be done aright. To form proper methods of Scripture interpretation, to lay the foundation stones of Christian doctrine so that the superstructure shall be safe, to adopt right ideals of preaching and of pastoral work,—these things are all-important; and the securing of these results demands the most thorough scholarship on the part of the teacher, combined with a strong personality and a power of imparting what he knows to others.
Here we have five departments of instruction, the maintenance of which is essential to a liberal course of theological training. I have not spoken of other departments which might be added, and which some day will be added, for I confine myself to the immediate and the practical. Ever since this Seminary began, instruction in all these branches has been given. The only change has been in applying more and more fully the principle of division of labor. The Hebrew and the Greek, which in the early days of the institution were taught by a single professor, now have each the separate services of a competent man, and in like manner Homiletics and Theology now constitute two departments, whereas they once constituted but one. The older graduates of the Seminary, as they return to their Alma Mater, can mark the increased range and thoroughness of work that have resulted from this change. The question with us now, is with regard to the proper support of these departments, and the accumulation of an endowment sufficient to put the work in each of them beyond the contingencies of failing interest and of financial reverses. Many times even in these later years we have asked ourselves whether it was our duty to cut down the salaries of professors to correspond with a revenue diminished by hard times and by decrease in the current rates of interest. But this has always seemed a false step to take. We want the best service that can be procured. We cannot obtain the men who will do the work required, for a sum less than average salaries of our city pastors. Nor can we expect to keep men, who are continually offered more for their services in other positions. We should act with the same wisdom as that which great railroad corporations show, when they attract and keep their best employees by a fixed and sufficient compensation. Endowment funds should furnish to the teachers a support equal to that which they could command in other spheres of ministerial work. The grinding economy which is compelled to abridge the education of the family and to relinquish every luxury, is not the best condition for successful teaching. Perpetual anxiety about matters of finance, in the Seminary or in the household, is not consistent with a complete devotion to the work of acquiring and imparting knowledge. The health and mental vigor of the ordinary pastor require reinforcement by occasional recreation and rest. It is not different with the average professor. But recreation and rest involve expense. It is a mistaken economy to render these impossible, through the insufficiency of his compensation. I am not now speaking of what is, nor of what must be, but simply of what should be, in a fully equipped educational institution. Much valuable work has been done by small and struggling seminaries of learning; but, as culture and wealth increase, it is found by other bodies of Christians, and it will be found by us, that the best security for faithful work on the part of the instructor is a pecuniary support sufficient to relieve him from distracting cares, and to permit his exclusive Attention to the task he has been set to do.
What I have said with regard to the thoroughness of teaching requisite in such an institution as this, implies that back of the actual instruction there should be solidity of learning. The Seminary must be a store-house, as well as an apparatus for distribution; a reservoir, as well as a net-work of canals. It is an institution of learning in the broadest sense. It is not only to give out instruction in the present, but it is to preserve the knowledge of the past, and to add to its stock. For this purpose, it needs to be provided with the instruments of investigation. It needs a library, in which are gathered the treasures of past thought with regard to the word of God and the history of the church. Whatever investigations may be conducted into the meaning of Scripture or the bearing upon it of ethnological or linguistic science, should find the needful books at hand to render them successful. Students of varying tastes should find, each for himself, the volumes adapted to stimulate their thought and to prompt original inquiries. Missionary biographies should draw out the missionary spirit . Devotional reading should be furnished in the prayers and experiences of holy men in all the ages past. And to make this array of literature accessible, there should be a librarian who can be at the service of the student through all the working hours of the day. Add to the Library, a Museum of Geography and Archaeology, that will furnish, in object-lessons, all proper aids to the understanding of the Holy Land, its customs aud its configuration. Add to these a Lectureship, which shall each year bring the student in contact with distinguished preachers and scientists, in brief courses of lectures upon the subjects to which they have given special attention. Only with a liberal supply of these various helps, literary, topographical and personal, can the teacher do his best work of instruction, or be himself most thoroughly master of the department to which he has devoted himself.
These teachers and helps being provided, the Seminary is ready for its work of instruction. The method of that instruction is of more importance than the helps or the men. We point with satisfaction to the past history of Rochester, and to the men who have gone out from this Seminary, as a full justification of what we deem the peculiarities of the institution. The aim has been, from its beginning, to teach the student to think for himself. We would not permit him to be the mere passive recipient of other men's learning; we would not have him the lifeless repeater of a second-hand orthodoxy. The true aim of theological instruction should be to cultivate the habit of theological thought, to enable the pupil to grasp with his own mind, in his own way, the fundamental truths of Scripture, and to acquire the power of analyzing, arranging and presenting the results of his own thinking, for the quickening and instruction of others. Instead of cramming down the student's throat a ready-made scheme of doctrine, he is to make every point a battle-ground, and win his way to assured faith, through conquest of fairly recognized difficulties. Discussion, instead of being a mere by-play, is an indispensable requisite to right theological training — discussion that sharpens the wits, separates the wheat of substantial truth from the chaff of mere phrases, questions mere forms of human devising that it may build its faith on the simple deliverances of God's word. A theological "Seminary," where open question and answer is a forbidden thing in the lecture-room, is almost a contradiction in terms. All our traditions favor, nay demand, unlimited liberty of inquiry. Not to repeat by rote certain stereotyped expressions do we send out our graduates, but to speak out each his own convictions of truth, arrived at by personal study of Scripture, and made vivid by his personal experience.
To accomplish this result requires a happy combination of circumstances. Physical, social and religious influences all need to be brought to bear upon the growing mind and heart of the student. Among the physical influences, in addition to properly warmed and ventilated rooms for study and for class-exercises, such as we have secured in this building, may be counted that of a well-appointed Gymnasinm. A sound body is the condition of a healthy mind. The best of intellectual work can be done only when the physical system is in a state of vigor, and this can be maintained only by daily exercise. If our climate were more propitious, we might trust to outof-door walks to provide this. But so large a portion of our Seminary year is wet and forbidding, that opportunity for in-door exercise such as gymnastic apparatus would afford, is eminently desirable. There is moreover an element of recreation in this form of physical training, when pursued by young men in companies, which adds very greatly to its effectiveness. The Gymnasinm should have attached to it rooms for bathing, that cleanliness and exercise may go together. The palaestra of the Greeks united these two, and the period of the highest physical development was also the period of the noblest ancient art and civilization.
Among these physical conditions, I should be inclined to lay special emphasis upon the training of the vocal organs, if it were not that this discipline of the voice is also a discipline of expression, and so involves a higher intellectual element. A generous friend of the Seminary has enabled us to make an excellent beginning in elocutionary instruction. There can be no doubt that this should constitute a part of Seminary teaching from the commencement to the end of the course: for a clear articulation, a pure tone, a manly address, are absolute essentials to success in pulpit oratory. But I pass to consider a final but most important question respecting the physical and material side of seminary life, namely, the question of support. How shall the majority of students find the means to prosecute their work? I say the majority, for the fact stares us in the face, that but a very small minority of theological students are blessed, by inheritance, with this world's goods. Since the days of the apostles, God has called the poor rather than the rich to be his ministers. The most of Seminary students come from small churches in the country towns — churches that have hard struggle to maintain their own existence, and are quite unable to support these fosterchildren of theirs through the long ten years of preparatory, collegiate and theological education. There are but two resources. These young men must support themselves, or they must receive aid. They cannot support themselves, without greatly prolonging their course of study and depriving the churches of some of their best years of service. With the increasing demands of our Seminary curriculum, requiring as it does for its successful prosecution the whole time and all the strength of the ablest men, it becomes a serious and even dangerous strain upon the constitution of the student, to add to this regular work of the course the work of providing for his own support. Many and many a valuable man has been broken for life by attempting to carry through his studies independently of foreign aid. The whole system of beneficiary help proceeds upon the principle that it is a saving to the churches to economize the time and the strength of its young ministers. They have given up all hope of worldly gain in order to devote their lives to the service of the churches, — it is only reasonable that the churches should enable them to make their preparation for this service as brief and as thorough as possible.
The chief difficulty connected with the subject is that of determining the form and the extent to which this aid shall be given. There has been a feeling, on the part of some, that the reception of such aid by the student tended to destroy his manliness and independence. I conceive that this impression ignores the real relation between the parties. Whatever funds are contributed for this purpose are given to Christ's cause, and with a view to the benefit of the churches. They are distributed to students for the ministry, not as a personal gratuity, but as a means of fitting them more quickly for their work of serving Christ. What is given for Christ's sake, they may take for Christ's sake. It is money belonging to their Lord, and bestowed by him. There is no more discredit or humiliation in taking what pecuniary aid he gives, than in taking the spiritual aid he gives from day to day. It is duty to take it, rather than to narrow and abridge the work of preparation, by devoting any considerable part of the time for study, to work for personal maintenance. No young man feels his manliness or his honor compromised by receiving from his father the means of education. There is no more dishonor in receiving the means of education from the churches.
I am aware that there are occasional instances of unworthy men who misuse their opportunities and seek aid from interested motives. I am persuaded that the number of such is very small. The fact that any such exist should render us careful in selecting the objects of our beneficiary appropriations, but should not lead us to doubt the principle upon which we act. The great majority of theological students, although not free from faults of character, are yet true men, desirous of living for God's glory, and for men's salvation. I believe that there is quite as much danger of harming them by ungenerous treatment, as by over-liberality. The utmost appropriation made to any one student by the Ministerial Union for the last few years has been $130 per year. The expenses of a Seminary course must be $200 per year, even with the extremest economy. The idea that on this #130 a student can live in luxury, is a very mistaken one. My own conviction is that it is all too meagre, and that $1">0, instead of $130, should henceforth be the limit of aid. If out of this small sum, supplemented by his vacation-work, the student can save a little for the purchase of books, so much the better. Let the gathering of the foundation for a library be the reward of economy and industry. Money could hardly be put to better use than in purchasing a few of the best books to serve as tools in his opening ministry.
I am convinced moreover that this appropriation of $150 per year should be made as an out and out gift, and not in the way of a loan. To lay upon a young man at his entrance into his work the burden of a heavy debt, is to handicap him in the race. In the case of a sensitive spirit, it is to cow and discourage him from the very outset. In a small parish, with many necessary expenses at the first, and with salary only sufficient for the barest maintenance, the payment of such a debt for one's education involves the struggle and anxiety of years. Such a debt renders it impossible for many a young man to enter honorably upon the service of a small and feeble church, and stifles his impulses to missionary self-sacrifice. His first duty seems to be to clear off his incumbrances. So the churches suffer, as well as he. Rather than incur a debt, which he foresees will thus hamper him and forbid a whole hearted service in the ministry, many a noble man refuses to accept aid at all; attempts to maintain himself during his Seminary course by preaching or by secular work; by consequence lowers his standard both of preaching and of study; or if he succeeds in accomplishing both, as only one man in ten can do, injures himself in health, and so imposes a mortgage of another sort upon his whole future. In view of these considerations, it is my earnest desire that the Board of this Seminary may see the way clear to a total abolition of the loan-system so far as it applies to beneficiary aid. I would even cancel all notes heretofore given in return for such aid, and take such notes in future only in cases where the student prefers the loan, rather than the gift. Our loan-system was devised only as a temporary expedient to bridge over the time of annually recurring deficits, and to bring back into the treasury for future use the money that was once paid out. But may we not believe that, as Providence has raised up in the past those who could appreciate our needs, so in the future there will be found those who will be glad to provide a Scholarship Fund, the income of which shall meet this regular and fundamental need of support on the part of our students, at least so far as it is not provided for by the annual contributions of the churches?
It may be expected, in this connection, that I will give at least some notion of the safeguards which I would throw around this giving of beneficiary aid, so that it shall not be bestowed upon unworthy persons. I admit that not every young man who proposes to enter a Theological Seminary is a fit object of these gifts of the churches. But there are two tests which take no long time to apply, and which are well-nigh decisive. The first is that of intellectual activity, as shown by the student's mastery of the regular lessons of the course; and the second is that of moral activity, or the prosecution of some regular Christian work during his Seminary studies. It is remarkable how the lack of moral earnestness reacts upon the scholastic earnestness of the student, and how a whole-hearted piety shows itself in faithfulness to the daily duties of the study and the class-room. For this reason I would have the curriculum a rigorous one — so rigorous that nothing but industry and self-denying devotion to study can enable the pupil successfully to accomplish its requirements. I would set the standard so high that neither an indolent nor an incompetent man should be able to complete the course, and this intellectual test I would apply without fear or favor. We want not so much uumbers, as quality, in the ministry — men disciplined, alert, energetic; and the Theological Seminary is the very place where these qualities shall be encouraged and trained. It is not so easy to see into the heart and discern the motive, but you can look into the examination-papers and discern whether hard work has been done, and in the vast majority of cases that hard work will be the evidence of an honest mind and a determination to do service to God. I would not only make the reception of beneficiary aid dependent absolutely upon the attainment of a high scholastic standard — this we have already done — but I would go a step further, and, within certain limits, graduate the amount of such aid to the thoroughness of the student's work.
I have alluded to the social conditions requisite to the full success of Seminary work. For the development of the student's mind and heart, for the cultivation of his powers of thought and feeling, the relation between professor and pupil needs to be a peculiar one. For the safe management of such an institution, there must of course be such a thing as government: and that government is not intrusted to the hands of the students, but to the Faculty and to the Board. There must never be the slightest doubt that there are rules and regulations to be submitted to, by every student, and that such submission is an indispensable condition of continued membership in the institution. But, to use Napoleon's phrase, the hand of iron may be incased in a glove of velvet. There may be little show of authority, — little show of authority is necessary where the student recognizes himself as responsible for the maintenance of order, and is in the true sense a law unto himself. While, however, I urge steadfastly the recognition of the powers that be, in Seminary as well as in civil government, ^ desire to bring out very distinctly the complementary truth that the relation between professor and pupil here is not simply that which is common in the High School or the College, but is a higher, closer, more familiar relation. The students of the Seminary are grown men ; they are commonly mature in mind; some of them have had experience in life; they have often been teachers themselves; they are all Christian men, or are so regarded; they have professedly devoted themselves without reserve to the sendee of Christ. To such as these the Professor must hold the relation not simply of the instructor to his pupils, or of the gentleman to those whom he meets in the common intercourse of life. There must mingle with it something of the paternal and the pastoral element. Mutual affection will admit a discreet familiarity. The teacher will believe all things of the pupil; take for granted his good purpose; be open and accessible and serviceable; aim to carry with him the moral sentiment of his classes; rule not by compulsion but by love.
I would make this Seminary an institution where every day's exercises should be a series of examples in Pastoral Theology; where the student should learn how to rule his church, by the methods by which his teachers rule him. I do not mean that the analogy is complete. There is a government here that goes beyond the consent of the governed ; there may be now and then an ill-conditioned mind that is not impressed by the consideration with which he is treated, and that mistakes Christian courtesy for weakness. Such a man must be gratified by an exhibition of force; but it need not be the thunderbolt,— there are quiet forces equally effective; it may be intimated to him that the evidence of his call to the ministry is not judged to be sufficient to warrant the continuance of his studies. At all costs it must be understood that there are "powers that be," and that these powers are '' ordained of God." But still I insist that this disciplinary aspect of Seminary government should seldom be visible. Into all the relations of Faculty •and students the social element should enter. There should be an intimacy of acquaintance, a readiness on the one hand to ask, and on the other hand to give, counsel and help, that is unknown in lower and secular schools. There are other types of influence — the purely and severely intellectual, the mandatory and arrogant — but they do not belong to ail institution for the training of pastors, where the inner impulse to all duty is the spirit of Christ. I would make this institution a training-school in Christian love, for it is this alone that can make the work of the ministry successful.
Such a spirit as this can be maintained only by constant efforts and expedients, on the part of professors and students alike. The Professor's house and study should be not unknown to the student. There is a social culture and tact which is of the greatest value to the pastor, and for lack of which many able men fail to retain their influence over their churches. The student who comes from obscure surroundings has often had but the smallest opportunity to acquire this proper knowledge of the world. Anything that will make it easier for professors to invite students to their homes, and to introduce them to their families, will be of inestimable benefit. For the average student, away from his own home, and associating constantly with men like himself, there are temptations to a disregard of the conventional proprieties, which will be greatly lessened by insight into pleasant household life from time to time through his course of study. The monotony of an unvarying routine will be informed with a new life and spirit by reason of the change. There is much that the Christian men and women of our city churches may do, in this way, for our coming ministry. But the chief responsibility, so far as it is a responsibility at all, must rest upon the members of the Faculty. Their power and opportunity are limited,— but these might be greatly increased, if the provision of Professor's houses could bring them close together, and thus enable them easily to combine their efforts. The glimpses of home-life and of pleasant society thus rendered possible, would repay a large expenditure, by furnishing a needed preparation for the sudden entrance into social relations with his church, which so often forms the ordeal of the young minister.
This leads me to say that the proper place for the Theological Seminary is the large city, for there these influences of association are most varied and strong. Mr. Herbert Spencer, among his many half-truths and perversions of the truth, has suggested one thought which none will be disposed to deny, namely, that other things being equal, the rapidity and degree of intellectual progress is proportioned to the variety of environment. It is indeed the old truth in new dress — Experience is the best teacher. The young man who is thrust into a variety of positions, and is compelled to adapt himself to them as they come, will have a command of his resources and an education of his powers, such as canuot belong to the mere novice. For this reason the Theological Seminary ought to be where the currents of life are strong, and where much can be seen of things and of men. The country village will do for the Academy, but the College belongs to the town, and the Theological Seminary to the city. Let the boy be secluded, while his habits and principles are still forming; but, when he has got his growth, let him see something of the world in which he is to live and struggle. The knowledge he thus acquires will prepare him for the conflicts that are before him in the future. Particularly is it desirable that the young man who is to be a leader of Christ's people should, by personal acquaintance with well-organized and thoroughly aggressive churches, and by personal observation of excellent examples of preaching, be stimulated to emulate their virtues in the instruction and pastoral care of his own flock. I count this knowledge of Christian life in a large city as one of the social influences which most tend to broaden the mind and heart of the young preacher.
This room, with its church-like appointments, witnesses that there is a. yet deeper need in Seminary life than the social one which I have mentioned. It is well to provide the means of intercourse with society — but it is beyond all account more essential to provide means of intercourse with God. In the secluded life of the Seminary there will always be temptations to an abstract intellectualism. They need to be counteracted continually by devotion and by religious work. Mrs. Stowe once remarked that the theological students that she had seen were the most irreverent of men. It was, I think, the misjudgment of an acute observer, inferring more than was just, from the freedom of students' disputations with each other. Yet here is a danger, against which we need continually to guard. Familiarity with even sacred things, unqualified by the spirit of prayer and of Christian effort for others, tends ever to contempt. And therefore I would regard prayer as a regular part of Seminary work. As the apostles gave themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word, so the theological student should give himself to prayer and to the study of the word. Indeed, Luther's old maxim is true: "Bene orasse est bene Huduiase,"—true praying is true studying. Coleridge could call prayer the intensest exercise of the human understanding, and it is certain that, without it, there can be no valuable exercise of the human understanding upon any theme with which the preacher or pastor has to deal.
I count the meeting for prayer in which professors and students gather on a common level at noon of every day, and the regular service with which the exercises of every afternoon are closed, as an essential part of our Seminary training. Here the student may learn that his teachers are something more than teachers,—that they have hearts throbbing with the same emotion of love to Christ which he himself feels within hirn. And here the professor may see an aspect of his pupil's life which he had not suspected before, and may more wisely and more sympathetically adapt his instruction to individual needs. But above all, the drawing near to the Father of all, and to Jesus Christ the head of the church, through the Holy Spirit, in order that we may offer to him our worship and supplicate forgiveness and favor for ourselves and for mankind, is an essential to Seminary life. I make no doubt that from this room, with its prayers and its words of Christian experience and exhortation, will be dated the most lasting and valuable of the influences of this institution. Here may the presence of God evermore abide! Here may Christ manifest himself as Savior and Lord! Here may the Holy Spirit, sanctify and energize the souls of those who are to preach to men of sin and of salvation!
Thus I have sketched the essentials and the appurtenances of a properly organized Theological Seminary. The ideal is surely not too high,— all that I have indicated, so far as material aids are concerned, has been already provided in Seminaries of other denominations. To put our own Seminary in possession of the means to realize the plan I have laid before you would require indeed a large sum of money. But God has been so good to us in the past, and we so confidently trust that this is his own cause, that we cannot doubt that we shall see everything that has been sketched to-day, provided for by his good Providence. Such an institution as this is one of the most permanent things on earth. Directly connected as it is with the hopes and progress of the kingdom of God, remembered as it is daily in the prayers of God's elect, he that gives to it, gives to God, and puts his hand to a work that is sure to trinmph. The friend who has given to us this beautiful and commodious building will have not only the comfort of knowing that he has linked himself and his name inseparably with the ever progressing cause of ministerial education, but for generations to come what he has done will be a stimulus and incitement to others to lay down like precious gifts at the feet of Jesus our Lord. With all the other generous benefactions which have fallen to us for Library and for endowments, even while so many wants are yet unsupplied, it rouses within me something of a prophetic spirit. I rejoice in it most of all because it is a foregleam of the dawn, a sign of the coming of that final day when "the rebuke of God's people"— the poverty and weakness and contempt under which his cause has suffered — shall be taken away, and the riches of the world shall be poured into the treasury of the Redeemer. May God hasten the day! And as a means of furthering this end, we now proceed in solemn prayer to dedicate this structure to the glory of God and to the special work of training his ministers. With the offering, let us dedicate ourselves. May he generously deign to accept us and our gift, and to use both for the furtherance and triumph of his everlasting kingdom. "For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen!"