A Fourth Year Of Study In The Courses Of Theological Seminaries1 -- By: Joseph Cook

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 027:106 (Apr 1870)
Article: A Fourth Year Of Study In The Courses Of Theological Seminaries1
Author: Joseph Cook

A Fourth Year Of Study In The Courses Of Theological Seminaries1

Joseph Cook

A fourth year of study has already been added to the instructions of the Princeton Theological Seminary. The distribution of the new space, as now for two years announced in the catalogue of the institution, is made by dividing the time almost equally between the exegetical, the doctrinal, and the historical departments. It would be unbecoming in me to endeavor to suggest in detail the methods of arranging a fourth year of study in a theological course, for minuteness on this point would be both officiousness and presumption. It is not at all necessary to my aim that I should do so. For the sake of distinctness, however, I will say that the fourth year I would ask and defend should have these characteristics :

It should be for some, not all, theological students;

Preaching by students should be allowed in the fourth year, but not in the first three years to students who enter the fourth;

The larger portion of it should be devoted to perfecting the work on the most important topics of the doctrinal department;

It should include space for a larger attention to the applications of exegetical learning, metaphysics, history, and physical science to the current forms of infidelity;

It should give enlarged instruction in respect to all the methods of practical religious effort;

It should be made thorough by including severe examinations.

I think it not too much to say that the church is weak because it is fed on guesses. The scepticism of the land fattens on the crudeness of the pulpit. I remember that I speak to-night within sight of the grave of Moses Stuart. It were well if I could emulate, even if it were but feebly and far off, his candor; for nothing which concerns a great theme, however remotely, is well treated by evasion.

There are topics inherently so important that no mistake concerning them can be so small as not to be colossal. And yet, on such topics, the fact of a revelation, the Deity of him from whom all the years of time are numbered, the mysteries of election, fate, and free-will, we, to whom a college course gives hardly a trace of theological instruction, and who now know that our knowledge of theology derived from other sources previous to our studies here was superficial and fragmentary to a sometimes ludicrous extreme, are asked to form opinions in a course of three years investigation, one year of which is devoted to exegetical, and one to historical and rhetorical branches; the third year...

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