Abbildungen der Seite

marked) is still more apparent with respect to those who are sent here to qualify themselves for the pastoral office; whose peculiar province and business it will be to instruct the people committed to their care “in the "words of eternal life," and who must therefore never expose themselves to the hazard. of that insulting question, "Thou that "teachest another, teachest thou not first thyself?"

It must be acknowledged, indeed, and it is acknowledged with pleasure, that in many private colleges, the great outlines of the Christian dispensation are, by the excellent tutors with which this place abounds, explained and illustrated in a very able manner to their respective pupils. But if there be any weight in what has been here suggested, it will be well worthy of our consideration, whether something more than this is not now become necessary; whether it will not be highly suitable to the dignity, the sanctity of this truly respectable and learned body, to lend the whole weight of their authority to so good a cause; to assist private instructions by public incitement; to give some signal academical encouragement to this branch of O 2 knowledge,


knowledge, something that should makethe cultivation of it not only highly reputable, but indispensably necessary. And, fortunately for us, the way is easy and open to the execution of any such design. That noble spirit of emulation, which so eminently distinguishes the youth of this place, and pushes them on to the most wonderful attainments in the abstrusest sciences, affords us an opportunity, which no other seminary in the world can furnish, of raising whatever fruit we please from so generous a stock. We have only to make revealed religion an essential part of university learning, and assign to it a proper share of the usual honorary rewards, and it will soon be pursued with the same ardour of mind and vigour of application, as all the other parts of literature. The current of study amongst us, which was generally thought to run too strongly towards mathematical subjects, has of late years, by means of the excellent institutions in favour of classical learning, been, in some degree, diverted into another and more useful course. By the method here proposed, (or any other of the same tendency which should be judged more eligible) there would be

be one more, and that a still nobler channel opened to it; and some few of those many hours, and those fine talents, which are still,. I fear, too lavishly wasted here on abstract speculations, in the most precious and improvable part of life, would be then more profitably employed in learning the rudiments of evangelical truth; and thereby enabling one part of our youth to preserve their religious principles uncorrupted by the artifices of infidelity, in their future commerce with the world; and the other part to become powerful defenders and successful dispensers of the word of God*.


Since first publication of this Sermon, some advance has been made towards the accomplishment of the author's wishes. Mr. Norris, a gentleman of fortune in Norfolk (into whose hands some extracts from this discourse happened to fall) left by his will, a few years ago, a rent-charge of a hundred guineas a year, for the establishment and maintenance of a Professor in the University of Cambridge, for the sole purpose of reading lectures to the students there, on the Christian Revelation. To this he added twelve pounds a year for a medal and some books, as a premium for the best prose English essay on the same subject. It would be a real consolation to the friends of religion, and especially to those whose province it is to examine candidates for orders, if these well-meant institutious, in conjunction with any other subsidiary one which the wisdom of the University might think fit to adopt, should in due time effectually answer the great purposes enlarged upon and recommended in the preceding pages.

This University had, in the conclusion of the last century, the honour of giving birth to a stupendous system of philosophy, erected by its great disciple NEWTON, on the immovable basis of experiment and demonstration; which, by degrees, supplanted. and overthrew a visionary though ingenious representation of nature, drawn by fancy, and supported by conjecture. Animated with this success, let it now endeavour to push its conquests still farther into the regions of ignorance and error, to banish from the kingdom the extravagant conceits of modern scepticism, no less destitute of all foundation in truth, utility, and sound reasoning, than the philosophical romance of Descartes; and to establish for ever in the minds of the British youth, a religion founded not on "the enticing words of man's wisdom," but on "demonstration of the Spirit and of the power of God."

This will be to promote, in the most effectual manner, the benevolent purposes of those great and pious benefactors we are now going to commemorate; whose first


[ocr errors]


1 Cor. ii. 4 5.

object in these magnificent foundations was, undoubtedly, the advancement of religion; who, with a true greatness of soul, carried their views forwards into eternity, and plainly meant that in these elegant retreats, we should not only lay the foundations of immortal fame on earth, but qualify ourselves for obtaining, through the merits of our Redeemer, a real and truly glorious immortality in heaven.

« ZurückWeiter »