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This offering is not made to them without deep solicitude, and an anxious prayer, that the Father of every good and perfect gift, would most abundantly qualify them to sustain the high, but delightful responsibilities, which they are so soon to assume. Their fathers are going to their rest: all the world is in commotion; or, if not roused, is waiting in awful suspense for what TO-MORROW may bring forth. The human mind is in search of something which it has not yet learned to define: IT IS THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
And to whom shall mankind look, if the ministers of the SON OF GOD have no message to deliver, nor any evangelical scheme to substantiate, by DIVINE AUTHORITY?
GET WISDOM; GET UNDERSTANDING.
LET NO MAN DESPISE THY YOUTH.
The public have already been informed, that during the last year I was called upon to deliver
Discourse before the Directors and Students of the Theological Seminary, at Princeton. It was necessary that the discourse should be appropriate to the occasion; and, as it is believed, addressed particularly to the Students. Such an occasion is always a solemn one, and its exercises may be followed by the most interesting and important consequences. Paul never spake in more awful tones than in the last charge which he delivered to the Elders of Ephesus; “Take heed, therefore," said he, “unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Nor does he ever appear more deeply affected, than when he forewarns those very Elders of the unhappy occurrences which would shortly take place among themselves. “For I know this,” he adds, "that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock; also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them: Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one of you, night and day, with tears." That man is thrown into similar circumstances with this magnanimous Apostle, who is called to address the rising ministry of his own age, on the nature and importance of those relations which they sustain to the church of God. Such is the situation of every Director of the Seminary, who appears to deliver the semi annual sermon at Princeton. Of all audiences that can ever be summoned to listen to his instructions, he has before him then, one of the most peculiar and interesting; and he should feel as though, for the time being, he was constituted their OVERSEER by the Holy Ghost. He who can trifle with, or lightly esteem, such responsibilities, or who can bring in any unhallowed motive to preside over their discharge, had better take care how he consents to assume them. They are high, holy, and eventful.
I believe that I did, in some good measure, understand and feel both the value and the delicacy of the exercises which the appointment prescribed; and did honestly endeavour to fulfil the duty to the best of my ability, and to express a proper and tender concern for those young men, whom, for the first, and perhaps for the last, time, I was addressing in the name of our common Master, and on behalf of a redeemed church and a dying world. It appears, however, that the discourse then delivered, had some offensive peculiarities about it; peculiarities which have procured for it the censure of some aged ministers, who have risen in their might, and with very strong feeling, to counteract its baneful influence. And if heretical it was, they had done right to express their disapprobation of its anti-scriptural principles in a firm, decisive, and dignified manner; but if its doctrines were all true, consistent with the word of God, and appropriate to the circumstances under which it was delivered, it becomes them to have a very good reason to render, for attempting to wound the feelings of an unoffending brother, who had courage enough conscientiously to do, what he thought, bis duty. Perhaps it may be both necessary
proper to explain the motives and views which animated the bosom of the Preacher; as men very often appear excessively fond of sisting each other's motives, and unwilling to concede that there is any thing right, where it may be suspected that there is any thing wrong If so, no disposition is cherished to withhold them from public inspection. They were all carefully and conscientiously formed; and created deeper anxiety in no bosom than in that which produced, and is not now ashamed to avow, them. They are the following:
1. I believed what was said to be TRUTH; that very proposition advanced was abundantly visible in the passage of scripture which had been chosen; and that each particular illustration, under each particular proposition, was just, respectful, affectionate, and easily understood. The contrary may have been insinuated; but it has not been proved.
2. I believed what was said to be truth appropriate to the occasion. The circumstances of the ministerial office were, in a fair and honourable manner, disclosed to those who were very soon to be inducted into that office. Creeds and Confessions of Faith, even supposing them to be what they are so confidently represented to be, yet as they are now used, have a desolating effect upon a young mind, from which it can be redeemed only by the simple study of the scriptures; and church courts, even admitting their divine warrant, yet by their abuse of power, are bold and domineering enough to frighten and discourage any youthful spirit that seeks the spiritual weal of mankind. It was therefore thought proper to proclaim on this subject “a plea for ministerial liberty.” The ideas, which the Presbyterian Church now cherishes concerning the Westminster Confession of Faith, are very different from those which were admitted, when that book was composed, even by its authors; and an intention to resist the encroachments of human authority, constituting its own laws a test of ministerial character, rather than the word of God, is not disowned.
3. I thought that, holding the opinions on the present state of religious society which the discourse unfolds, an obligation was thereby created to declare them to those who were most deeply interested in them, that they might judge for