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institution has attained to an honorable standing among the first class of theological seminaries in the country. From the commencement of instruction, in 1817, up to 1836, about three hundred and fifty individuals enjoyed its advantages; one hundred and fifty completed the course of studies, and about two hundred more pursued the course in part. Fifteen of those who graduated have embarked as missionaries to Asia, and one to Africa. Twelve have entered the valley of the Mississippi as home missionaries. The number of students, at the present time, is one hundred and twenty. It has seven professors and three tutors.
Were we to admit, that our brethren in New York have not accomplished every thing in the education of their ministry which it is desirable should be accomplished, we should only admit what is true of the denomination in every section of the Union. Our ministry, taken as a whole, has been singularly deficient in education, and perhaps never more so, if we take into the estimate our numbers, and the demand made on the ministry, than at the present time. Has education increased ? So have our numbers, and so has the demand made on the ministry increased. We compute the education of those who have enjoyed the advantages of Hamilton institution, at four years, and believe it to be a liberal estimate; for, during a long period, its entire course embraced only three years; and notwithstanding the present course, which has been but recently established, embraces eight years, four-sevenths of all, it will be recollected, who have enjoyed the benefits of the institution, have failed to complete its entire course of studies. The present number of Baptist churches in the State of New York, is six hundred and eleven; the number of ordained ministers is four hundred and fifty-six. Now, admitting that the institution, for the twenty-two years since its commencement, has educated one half of a supply, which it has not; and admitting that education in this State is at par with the other States, which have furnished a partial supply for this, the amount of education in each minister is reduced to two years; but we will place it higher; we will put it at three years. We will admit, also, that the advantages of all the Baptist ministers, now on the stage of action in the United States, to have been equal to three years of judicious and thor
VOL. IV.—NO. XIV.
ough mental training, in addition to the rudiments of an English education. This estimate, we are sensible, wants the accuracy of demonstration; it is, in many respects, conjectural; but we believe that any person, well informed on the subject, will acknowledge it to be liberal, beyond what a strict regard to facts would justify. But, upon this supposition even, is it not obvious that, as a denomination, we are sadly deficient in this particular? Can it be supposed that our ministry, with this measure of intellectual endowment, can hold in its grasp one-fifth of the population of these United States? We pray that better destinies may await our beloved country, than such a supposition would allow.
The founders of our churches in western New York, we admit, were uneducated men. Their elementary education did not extend, generally, beyond the rudiments of a common English education; and yet their ministry, it may be, was as well adapted to the condition of the people, as it could be. They were transplanted to this new soil in the meridian of life; were men endowed with uncommon natural abilities; had studied much the word of God, and the nature of man; had a deep personal experience in the mysteries of religion; and, in addition to all this, they had a physical education, such as men of literary habits seldom have. They could endure fatigue, hunger, wet and cold; could swim a river, plough through brooks, and mud, and sloughs; if night overtook them in the woods," and if forbidden to recline, in consequence of the water that covered the surface of the earth, or from fear of wild beasts, they could continue in a moving and watching posture, and in acts of devotion, until the sun again illumined their path; if the roads were impassable to the horse, they could make a journey of thirty miles on foot, to fulfil their appointments. Incidents like these appear, from the journals of these good men, to be of almost every day occurrence. Such a ministry the wants of the people demanded; and with such a ministry they were more than satisfied. But these men saw, by an almost prophetic vision, that this face of things would soon be changed ; that this wilderness, at no distant day, would become “a fruitful field;" that a country, having a soil so fertile, and possessing so many natural advantages, would soon teem with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, collected into
cities and towns and villages, possessing science, and far advanced in all the arts and refinements of civilized life. It was from these visions of the future, that those wise and good men were moved to lay the foundations of their theological institution.
We had intended, in this connection, to express our sentiments at length, on the subject of ministerial education; but we have already so far exceeded our limits, that what we had to offer, upon that topic, must be deferred until another occasion. We will only express, in a few words, our honest conviction, that the education of our ministry demands the special attention of the Baptist denomination. Our interests, at home and abroad, alike require this. Our foreign missions can only be sustained by a competent supply of skilful and well-trained missionaries. Nor, again, can the requisite pecuniary resources be procured, unless the churches at home are in prosperity. It has come, already, to be our misfortune, that more is expected of us, than we are capable of performing. Our growth is quite beyond our years; our strength being by no means so great as is indicated by our numerical representation. The Baptists have spread themselves, with almost inconceivable rapidity, over the whole surface of our far-reaching territory. We have taken possession, but whether we shall be able to maintain our right, remains to be seen. Do the cities and towns, those great centres of influence, admit our claim ?
An Essay on the Rationale of Circumstantial Evidence.
Illustrated by numerous cases. By WILLIAM WILLS. London. 1838.
It will not be denied, that the grand and sole object of all human investigation, in whatever direction, and in whatever mode, ought to be the discovery of truth. The
phrase, ought to be, is here employed in opposition to the simple term, is, because there are very many instances in which even a candid mind comes to the investigation of a subject under the influence, though unconsciously, of other impulses than the pure and simple aim of the discovery of truth; while the remark is trite, that, with many, the aim of all discussion is the attainment of victory, rather than of truth.
Let it, however, be granted, that all men, in their investigations and discussions, seek, as their grand aim, the discovery of truth : still, let the mental eye be cast over the wide field of human discussion, in ancient times or in modern, on topics connected with morals, with religion, with social and civil institutions, or even with physical science, and how little of uniformity will be found! And when it is seen, how little of uniformity is exhibited, it is seen, at the same time, how little of real truth can have been attained; for truth must necessarily be one, and unchangeable, and eternal. Those essential doctrines of religion cannot be true at one time, which are false at another; those general principles of morals cannot be true at one time, or in one region, which are false at another time, or in a different region; that theory of social and civil institutions which is based upon the only correct foundation,-man's moral and intellectual nature,—cannot be correct at one time and false at another: neither can those doctrines of physical science which are true at one time, or in one place, be false, as to the same objects, at another time, or in a different place. How little, then, of truth, has ever yet been attained by mankind : how little have the elements of truth entered into the modes of belief, rules of action, institutions, or imagined knowledge of the human race, considered in its condition from its first creation to the present day!
And yet is truth the noblest object of man's pursuit: yet is the attainment of truth the only pure source of happiness, either to individuals or the race: yet is the attainment of truth the one great object after which the noblest, the wisest, and the best have ever panted; towards which the whole efforts of their minds have been directed. It might give origin to a powerful and sublime argument for the necessity of a future state, that truth, though thus striven for, is so difficult in its attainment,
while it is so necessary to the development and proper direction of all the human faculties.
It will not be disputed, that the attainment of a knowledge of pure and necessary truth, in relation to all, or even a large portion of the matters which fall within human cognizance, is impossible to be attained by man. Perfect truth resides in, and can be known to, the omniscient Deity only; since, from him alone all truth, all existence proceeds, and in him alone it exists. But man's condition on this earth would be no better,-it may be truly said that it would be worse,—than that of the brutes that perish, were he endowed with no powers which enable him to pursue truth, and to attain, in those matters which most nearly concern him, some approach to the similitude of truth. It will be briefly shown, before the conclusion of this article, that man does possess this power, and that it does yield, even now, and ever has yielded, some fruit. The immediately present object is, to show how difficult and imperfect is the attainment of this knowledge, the discovery of truth, in the highest sense of the term; to examine what may be one cause of the imperfection of attempts at the discovery of truth, in its highest branches; and to inquire whether any criterion, or standard, approaching to exactness, may be established, by which the truth may be tried.
It is well known, that the opinion was commonly taught among the philosophers of old, in more or less decided language, that the truth cannot be attained. It may be useful to advert to a few of the doctrines of the ancient schools upon this subject.
“Socrates was the first,” to use the language of Cicero, * “who diverted philosophy from things unknown, mysterious and hidden, to which all his predecessors had devoted their attention, and applied it to more useful and better purposes,—to the improvement and the benefit of all mankind.” Socrates taught that "there is but one good thing, Knowledge, and one evil thing, Ignorance."'+ And yet did this great and first of moralists declare, that “the only thing which he knew was, that he knew nothing.”I It was not the meaning of Socrates, that he
* Acad. Quæst., Lib. I, 4.
Diog. Laert., Lib. II, p. 41. See also Brucker's “ Historia Critica Philosophiæ ;" Lipsiæ, 1767. Vol. I, pp. 564_566.