صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

that the students are not to have instruction provided for them suited to the stages of their progress. And either of these two results, both of which are manifestly inconsistent with efficient theological teaching, is the inevitable alternative to the refusal or delay to appoint two Professors of Theology in any place wherein the Church may establish a Divinity Hall. The arrangements made by the Commission in August, in regard to College appointments, were accommodated to this scheme of instruction, which has indeed been partially acted upon, i.e. to the extent of providing regularly separate instruction for first-year students, for the last four sessions. It has not yet been practicable to carry it out fully, because both the want of the requisite accommodation, and the necessary consequences of the lamentable breaches which God in his providence has made among the Professors, made it impossible that two classes should be taught daily. But the Committee cannot entertain a doubt, that the Assembly will see that this scheme is indispensable to any thing like efficient theological teaching, and will act upon this conviction in any arrangements which it may now be necessary for her to make.

The Committee have some modifications to suggest upon the recommendations of the original Report, in so far as they bear upon the first mentioned of the two great objects to which a course of theological education should be directed, viz. initiating students in the critical study of the sacred Scriptures in the original language, and conducting them over a considerable portion of the inspired volume. The provision recommended in the report with this view, consisted of a Professor of Hebrew, teaching two classes, to be attended by the students of the first and second years, and of a Professor of Exegetical Theology, whose class should be attended by all the students during some one session of their theological curriculum. Your Committee are of opinion that this is scarcely adequate to the importance and magnitude of the object, and does not give to the critical study of the Scriptures in the original languages the place or the prominence to which it is entitled in a course of theological education; and the substance of what they would recommend upon this point is, that, instead of a Professor of Hebrew and a Professor of

Exegetical Theology, there should be two Professors of Exegetical Theology, one of whom should give instruction in the literature and interpretation of the Old Testament, and the other in the literature and interpretation of the New.

It is well known that the actual study of the sacred Scripture in the original language occupied a much more prominent place in the provision for the training of candidates for the ministry during the best days of our Church's history than it has done for the last century. And it will scarcely be disputed, that the change which has taken place in this respect has involved a neglect of most important objects, and a forfeiture of most important advantages. What was always right and necessary, what was carefully attended to in the best days of our Church, but has been grievously neglected for several generations, viz., that ministers of the gospel should possess an enlarged critical acquaintance with the sacred Scriptures in the original languages, has become in the present day more necessary and important, if possible, than ever. One of the most remarkable features of the theological literature of the present age is the extent to which a profound knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages, combined with a thorough familiarity with all the apparatus and appliances of criticism, have been brought to bear upon a careful study of the letter of Scripture, for the purpose of perverting its meaning and overturning or undermining its authority. And this renders it peculiarly important that ministers should be critically acquainted with the Word of God in the original, and able to follow out the appeal made to its statements by the deniers of its authenticity and inspiration, and the opponents of the fundamental doctrines which it teaches. A theological curriculum must be regarded as at all times, and more especially in the present day, radically defective, unless it contain full and adequate provision for initiating students by practice and example, as well as by precept, in the right mode of critically studying the Scriptures, unless it conduct them over a considerable portion of the inspired volume in the original, and unless it leave them with such a capacity and such a taste for the critical study of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures as shall make it probable, or rather certain, that they shall continue to study them, and to

grow in the knowledge of them, all their days. And if these are objects that ought to be aimed at and effected, it seems indispensable that students should possess a competent acquaintance with the Hebrew and Greek languages before they begin their theological studies, and that during the whole of their progress they should be exercised in the study of the original Scriptures. This cannot be secured without the services of two Professors of Exegetical Theology; and the most natural and obvious division of this department of labour is, that the one should give instruction in the literature and interpretation of the Old Testament, and the other in the literature and interpretation of the New. If a competent acquaintance with Hebrew as well as with Greek were required before students were allowed to enter the Divinity Hall, and if this were provided for by the appointment of a Hebrew tutor, he who had hitherto been called the Professor of Hebrew would be able to introduce the students, from the time of their entering the Hall, to the critical study of the Old Testament; though for a time some modification of this arrangement might be necessary till the provision for an earlier acquisition of the knowledge of Hebrew had taken effect. The attendance of students upon the Professors of Exegetical Theology should be chiefly during the first two years of the curriculum; and during these two years both Professors should have two classes, one for first and the other for second year's students; though, for the present, it may be better that first year's students should attend a class for the critical study of the Greek, while they are studying Hebrew, and preparing for entering in the second year on the critical study of the Old Testament. It is very desirable, however, for some of the important objects formerly specified, that the study of Exegetical Theology should be prosecuted more or less fully during the whole of the curriculum. This could be accomplished without difficulty by the two Exegetical Professors, so long as the one had a class only for first year's students, and the other only for second year's students. And if it should be practicable and seem expedient that both of them should have classes for both these years, this might still be accomplished without overburdening either Professors or Students, by arranging that students of the third and fourth

years should study this subject together, or should take the Hebrew or the Greek Scriptures on alternate days.

There has always been in our Theological Faculties a chair of Church History, and it seems desirable that this arrangement should be continued, though, perhaps, under a different designation. For some time past, it has been conducted, not so much as a chair of Church History, but rather of Historical and Polemical Theology, the prælections consisting of a survey of the most important theological controversies that have divided the Church, while provision was made by examination upon a text-book that the students attending the class should acquire a knowledge of general Church History. The report recommended that this class should be attended by the students during the last two years of their curriculum, the Professor of course having separate classes for third and fourth year's students. The Committee are now rather disposed to recommend that this class should be attended during the second and third years of the curriculum, partly because it would harmonize fully as well with the other studies of these years, and partly because it is rather desirable to lighten, if possible, the prescribed work of the last session, in order that the students before quitting the Hall, may have some time at their disposal for repairing omissions or supplying deficiencies in their previous studies.

There is one other topic to which the Committee would advert, in connection with the theological curriculum, and that is the chair of Natural Science. The recommendation upon this point in the report was, that the Church should exact as part of the curriculum, one year of attendance upon this class, but without specifying what year, or whether it should be previous to their entrance into the Hall, or during the course of their theological studies. Of the returns received from Presbyteries, three disapprove of this class altogether, three more of its being made imperative, and two more disapprove of its being imperative except as a class of natural theology; while a larger number than all these put together, viz. ten, by approving of the whole curriculum, give their sanction to one year's attendance upon this class being exacted as a part of the curriculum ̧ The Committee would recommend to the Assembly, not only that a year's attendance upon this class should be made impe

rative, as was proposed in the former Report, but that the particular year should be specified. And they are disposed, upon the whole, to recommend that the students should be required to attend it during the first year of their theological studies. The grounds of this recommendation are chiefly these, that there is no class similar to this, or serving the same purposes, at any of the existing Universities; that the Assembly at the institution of this chair, enjoined that the arrangements connected with it, "should be such as to make it as useful as possible to theological students;" and that its instructions are intimately connected with the study of natural theology, and with some branches of the evidences of Revelation.

In connection with this class, several Presbyteries recommend that while attendance upon it for one session should be required, no additional fee should in consequence be exacted from students, and this leads the Committee to advert to the subject of fees in general. The fee at present paid for attendance upon each of the theological classes is £2, 5s., and the Committee are of opinion from all they know of the circumstances of many of the students, that the fees should not be increased, but rather diminished. They would recommend as an arrangement upon this point, decidedly preferable in many respects to that which at present obtains, that instead of the students paying a separate fee to each Professor whom they may choose to attend in any particular session, this being at present, to some extent, optional, the Church should first prescribe what particular classes the students must attend in each Session of their theological course, and then exact a general fee for the Session, which would go at once to the College funds, instead of being paid to each professor. This, besides many other advantages, would afford an opportunity of lowering the amount of fees, if the Assembly should think this a desirable object.

According to the scheme now proposed, the following will be the amount of College attendance by theological students during each year of their curriculum :—

1st Year.-1. Systematic Theology; 2. Class of Exegetical Theology, for the Greek Testament; 3. Natural Science, and Hebrew under tutors.

2d Year.-1. Systematic Theology; 2. Class of Exegetical

« السابقةمتابعة »