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have reason to believe, that this want of due attendance would be remedied by some such exertion, on the part of the minister, as that I am now suggesting. As I did not think myself at liberty to recommend an experiment to others which I had not tried myself, I have for some short time past attempted these expositions in my own parish church, and I will tell you the result. The afternoon congregation, which consisted of a few aged persons in the neighbourhood of the church, seldom amounted to more than twelve or fifteen; since the time I commenced this practice, the congregation have advanced from under twenty to above two hundred. This is a fact worthy your observation ; because I have not a doubt but every clergyman, who makes a like attempt, will meet with the same success, and many, I am persuaded, with much more. The increase of the congregation was greater than I looked for, and some abatements are to be made ; some effect must be attributed to novelty, which, of course, will not hold long; perhaps, also, there exists some small diminution of the inorning congregation ; but, with both these deductions, it still shows, as far as a single instance can show it, the complete efficacy of the expedient for the purpose of collecting a congregation. I am ready to admit, that much of the same benefit would arise from many other modes of instruction ; from lectures upon the catechism, upon the creed, the Lord's prayer, the commandments, the thirtynine articles; and if any clergyman prefers any of these matters to that which I am suggesting, or judges himself better prepared for one than the other, he certainly ought to exercise his discretion in adopting what he thinks best. All that I mean to advance, is, that something should be done. This opportunity could not be less usefully employed than in setting one good thing in competition with another good thing ; or, where both are excellent, in contending which is best. Nevertheless, I may be allowed to remark, that expositions of scripture possess manisest advantage over other schemes of teaching; that they supply a more extensive variety of subject; as one short chapter, or half of a long one, will always be sufficient for one occasion. A lecturer may hold on for a considerable length of time before he be brought back to begin his course anew, or to repeat what has been heard before.
Having thus stated what I apprehend to be the use of this expedient, it remains that I add something to show its practicability; for whatever was the advantage or merit of the plan, if it was only practicable by men of extraordinary attainments, I should not have proposed it in this place; such men want no
directions from me; but unless I am much deceived in my notions of this measure, it will be found as easy in the execution as it is laudable in the design. Any one commentary upon the New Testament will supply materials for the work, and is indeed all the apparatus necessary for undertaking it. I say any one; because those subtle and recondite criticisms, in which different commentators hold different opinions, cannot be brought within the compass of this design. Grotius, Whitby, Hammond, Clark, and, above all, Doddridge, will any of them be found to contain what is sufficient for the present purpose. I mention this last author in preference to the rest, because his paraphrase, beside that it for the most part exhibits a sound and judicious interpretation of the text, is both more copious and expressive, in clearer and better chosen terms, than any other I have met with ; qualities which render it peculiarly adapted to the province of public expounding. His notes likewise discover great learning, and in many instances much sagacity and acuteness. But in recommending this author, it is necessary to warn you against a part of his work, extremely unlike and unworthy of the rest; and that is, what he calls his improvements of the several sections, into which he divides the text. These improvements betray such a straining to raise reflections out of passages of scripture, for which there is often no just place or real foundation, and are delivered in a style so impassioned, not to say fantastical, at least so inconsistent with the sober and temperate judgment which pervades the paraphrase itself, that no account can be given of the incongruity, but that this excellent person found it necessary to accommodate his language to the prevailing tone of the dissenting congregations of those times. All that I mean to guard against is, that I may not be thought, in praising the work itself, to recommend to your imitation this part of it.
I have said that any one commentary will furnish what is necessary for expounding scripture to a mixed congregation ; nevertheless, I must take the liberty of adding, to the younger clergy especially, a recommendation, which, whether applied to this purpose or not, will be found a useful direction in the conduct of their studies; and that is, to provide themselves with an interleaved Greek Testament, into the blank pages of which they may not only transcribe the substance of such como mentary as they regularly go through, but in which they may, from time to time, insert such occasional remarks on any text as they happen to collect in the course of their reading. This in time will grow into a commentary, in some measure, of a man's own; it will possess more variety and selection, as well as be more familiar and commodious to the compiler himself, than any published commentary can be.
For the purpose of public expounding, a different preparation will be necessary for different persons, and for the same person in the progress of the undertaking ; one may choose at first to write down the greatest part of what he delivers; another may find it sufficient to have before him the substance of the observations he means to offer, which will gradually contract itself into heads, or notes, or commonplaces, upon which he will dilate and enlarge at his discretion. In the mode also of conducting the work great room is left for difference of choice; one may choose to expound the second lesson; another, the gospel of the day; another, portions of scripture selected by himself; and to another, it may appear best to begin with a gospel and go regularly forward ; which last method I have practised, as the most simple and connected. But in this last method I should propose, after having finished one gospel, to proceed to such portions of the rest as contained something different from what was found in the first, which portions are pointed out in every harmony. The congregation would find themselves greatly assisted if they could be prevailed upon to bring their bibles along with them to church, that they might have their eye upon the text whilst the minister was delivering his exposition. I hardly need observe, that in country parishes this scheme is only practicable during the summer season, when the length of the day and the state of the roads easily admit of the parishioners' coming twice a day to church.
I have made this recommendation the subject of my present address, because I know not any by which I could detain you, so well worthy your consideration and regard. The best and highest purpose of these meetings would be answered, if, by a communication of sentiment and observation, we could be made to profit by one another's experience and by one another's judgment; that, by cheerfully imparting to our brethren whatever any of us may have found conducive to the object of our common profession and our common endeavour, we may provoke one another to love and to good works, and carry on the great business of public instruction with united zeal, information, and ability.
ON THE STUDIES SUITABLE TO THE CLERGY.
few plaspecially iperly emplona
ADDRESSING an audience of clergymen and scholars, I cannot be improperly employed in pointing out to their attention, especially to that of the younger and less experienced, a few plain rules for the conduct and assistance of their prosessional studies. And these rules I may in some sort call mechanical; because as to the more important qualities, which are the foundation of success in literary pursuits, taste, judgment, and erudition, they are very imperfectly, if at all, the subjects of rules, and certainly cannot be taught by any which it is in my power to deliver.
It may seem the tritest of all trite topics to recommend study to clergymen; but I am persuaded that very few who have not fallen into studious habits are sufficiently sensible how conducive they are to satisfaction. And to no person can they, in this view, be of so much importance as to us; I mean to such of us as have no other employment than our profession. The chief fault of a clergyman's life is the want of constant engagement. There is no way of supplying this vacancy so good as study, because there is hardly any other method of spending time which does not oblige or tempt us to spend also money. They, and they alone, who have experienced the difference, can tell how rapidly, how smoothly, and low cheerfully the time passes which is passed in study, and how tedious and wearisome leisure oftentimes becomes without it. I must be understood, however, to speak of something which deserves the name of study, for mere reading, without thought, method, or distinction, does not come up to this character. In truth, it may be rendered so much an amusement as to be entitled to no other name, rank, or merit; and what is worse, when followed merely as an amusement, it ceases to be even that. Light entertaining reading ought to be the relaxation, not the employment of a vigorous mind; not the substance of our itellectual food, but the seasoning or the desert.
Supposing, therefore, a clergyman to be conscious of a great deal of unoccupied time, and desirous of applying it to the improvement of his knowledge and his usefulness, and that
more particularly in discharging the duties of his office, I would strongly recommend to him the revival of two old fashioned but excellent helps to learning, an interleaved bible and a commonplace book.
In the last age, when study was more in fashion than it is, and when the studies of clergymen were more appropriated to their calling than they are, no man of character in the profession was without a bible, or at least a Greek testament interleaved with blank pages. It was usual to divide the page into two columns, in one of which he inserted from time to time such comments and remarks upon each text as struck him in the course of his various readings, and as struck him by their value and probability ; for it was not intended by the person who provided himself with this apparatus to transcribe into his manuscript any continued comment, merely for the purpose of reading in his own handwriting what he might read in the original, but to enable him to find at once, and in its proper place, what lies dispersed in different authors. The other column was set apart for observations, or perhaps conjectures, which had at any time occurred to himself whilst reading the scriptures or hearing them read. When a number of years had replenished this collection, it became a treasure; for it became both a grateful and edifying employment to peruse a chapter, the lesson for instance of the day, with the remarks and information before him which former thoughts or researches had suggested.
That excellent prelate, with the close of whose studious life it was my lot to be intimately acquainted, for many years took great delight in these recollections. Old age never appeared more venerable than when so employed.
Another useful contrivance was a commonplace book. This may be serviceable in every branch of science, and in every species of study ; but it is for me only at present to render it as applicable to the studies of a clergyman, and especially to what every clergyman must wish to be provided with, a due choice and variety of subjects for his public discourses, and an assortment of topics suitable to each. Mr Locke long ago observed, that the most valuable of our thoughts are those which drop as it were into the mind by accident; and no one exercised in these matters will be backward to allow, that they are almost always preferable to what is forced up from the mind by pumping, or as Milton has more strongly expressed it,
wrung like drops of blood from the nose,' that is, in plainer terms, to such as we are compelled to furnish at the time.