« السابقةمتابعة »
of a college life, to enter at once on the new and untried routine of parochial business and of religious instruction.
If this is felt as a difficulty in the discharge of the more regular duties which attach to an English curacy, how much more appalling is the scene which presents itself to the young Missionary or Catechist. He often has not enjoyed even the same previous advantages of learned study; and can never have the same fixed precedents to appeal to, in his first uncertain career. Anxious and eager to fulfil his trust, yet conscious of unskilfulness, and afraid of committing himself through inexperience, he is always exposed to the risk of being disheartened in the very threshold of his professional life, or else, of acquiring a rash confidence in his undisciplined exertions.
Whether all this admits of being obviated by any system of ministerial training which may be adopted in our colleges at Calcutta
and Barbados, is a matter which deserves the serious consideration of the benevolent and enlightened Society under whose guardianship these institutions are. My present undertaking only applies to one part of the difficulty-the want of practice in composing Sermons, expounding Scripture, conversing on religious topics with the uneducated; in short, dividing" or dispensing "the word of God." The acquirement of this qualification is quite distinct from the acquirement of religious knowledge; and a great deal of this latter may be possessed, and the possessor be still at a loss how to make a ready and effectual use of it. Among the fully educated clergy accordingly there are many who have recourse to published Sermons; but still more it may be expected of those who have not graduated at our Universities. It is often the only resource they have, and in employing it, they are not unfrequently led to suppose, (agreeably to the maxim so injudiciously in
culcated by Addison",) that it is a proof of modesty to preach sermons which have received the approbation of good judges, rather than their own crude essays. An indolent habit steals insensibly on the preacher. Occupied perhaps with much distracting business, he feels less and less disposed to apply himself to the task of habitually preaching and lecturing from his own stores; and his addresses consequently, in and out of the pulpit, never attain that forcible character, which can only be given by the genuine expression of one's own feelings and convictions.
My first object in preparing the following work, has been to provide a manual for catechists, and young clergymen generally, who may be experiencing the difficulty I have noticed. It is designed to assist them in their first course of preaching and lecturing, by furnishing the substance of a series of sermons or lectures, in a form requiring just
Spectator, No. 106.
so much alteration and addition of original matter, as to lead to independent composition. I have been desirous of putting into their hands a book, from which they may provide themselves, not with the Sermons of another, but with materials which may be readily worked up into Sermons of their own; and— what is of more permanent consequence-may lead them on to the early practice of depending on themselves.
With this main object in view, others have occurred to me, as capable of being combined.
Laymen as well as clergymen are sometimes required to perform a simple act of kindness or duty-that of reading the Bible to the sick, the aged, or the ignorant. On these occasions, some explanatory remarks or brief application seem necessary as the reader proceeds; and without an attempt to add this, he feels that his task has been imperfectly performed. Short sermons, or detached notes,
by no means form a substitute. What is needed is a perpetual exposition intermixed with the reading and going on with it.
But it is not to the chambers of the sick or the cottages of the poor that this need is confined. Masters and heads of families are bound by their situation to combine religious instruction with daily family worship. A passage read from the Bible is an essential part of the religious exercises of a family ; and no occasion can be more suitable than this, for introducing any remarks which may serve to explain the meaning of the passage, connect it with other parts of Scripture, or apply it to the practical business of life.
A Family Bible might seem at first sight to be sufficient for all this; and, without making an invidious distinction in favour of any one, it may be fairly admitted, that more than one of those in circulation contain a rich store of commentary, and may be consulted throughout with edification. But what is