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siderations and attentions which a colder mind, on an occasion more indifferent, would have employed in the composition of his epistle. If we perceive, therefore, unexpected and unnoticed transitions from one topic to another, frequent recurrences to those which were left, and a consequent mixture and discontinuance of thought ; what do we perceive but the effusions of a mind intent, not upon one, but upon several great subjects, occasionally possessed by each, and set loose from the restraints of method by the liberty natural to an affectionate and confidential correspondence? But I hasten from these observations on the general character of the two epistles, to the single subject which I have selected for my present discourse.
In what we have called the personal part of the epistle, Saint Paul gives to Timothy directions, as well for discharging the occasional offices of his ministry, as for the habitual regulation of his private conduct; and amongst these, as indeed it was of the first importance to do, for the fit employment of his time. The apostle expected, it appears, ere long to visit the church in which Timothy was placed. When he should do so, he might require, it was possible, from his disciples more active services in the mission in which they were both engaged. But in the mean time-in an interval, as it should seem, of comparative repose-he fails not to point out to the Ephesian bishop, beside the extraordinary or critical exertions to which he might be called by the demands of his station, the objects which ought to engage his regular and constant attention.
How then was the man and minister of God to divide his time? Between study, you hear, and teaching : “ Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." Exhortation and doctrine are both put down
as being, as indeed they are, different things: the first relates to practice, the second to belief. The first is to urge upon our hearers the duties of Christianity, the second to communicate the knowledge of those articles which compose its faith—but both are parts of public instruction; and what could be spared from these was to be bestowed upon “reading.” From this advice, therefore, and from this example, we collect the recommendations of a studious life, and to set forth some of the advantages and some of the satisfactions of such a life will be no unsuitable employment of the present occasion.
Now wherein, we may ask, consists the satisfaction of any life whatever ?
They who have observed human nature most closely will tell you, with one voice, that it consists in a suc- . cession of exercise and rest, in the exertion of our facul. ties in some pursuit which interests them, and in the repose of these faculties after such exertion.
The inert and passive pleasures, as they are called, of life, or those in which we are mere recipients, are of small account in the sum and constitution of human happiness. Man was made for action—the seat of action is the mind: when he ceases to employ its powers, he not only neglects, it is probable, the duties of his station, but loses the source and principle of his own enjoyment.
These being truths drawn from experience, we are authorized to teach what is their necessary result—that it is incumbent upon every man, who is studious of his own comfort, to seek out for himself a supply of constant occupation. The subject of this occupation, to answer its purpose, must be interesting, various, accessible ; suited to each
* opportunity, worthy of
his character. I hardly need say, to be allowable it must be innocent; or that it doubles every advantage belonging to it by being virtuous and useful. Now what employment of our time can we propose in which so many of these qualities concur, as in the pursuits of learning?
It must be a stupid or frivolous mind indeed, to which no science is interesting. Such also is the compass
of human research, that the understanding expatiates in unbounded variety. Study is as diversified as nature itself, because it hath nature for its object; nay, it adds to nature the operations of art, the knowledge of language, the testimony of ages. Secondly; it reckons also amongst its recommendations, that it is within the reach of almost every man's opportunity who possesses the inclination. It is at the mercy of external circumstances less than any other engagement to which we can addict ourselves; it depends not upon season, climate, or place. Thirdly; different studies have both a different general value, and also a different propriety, according to the profession of the person who cultivates them, but all science is ingenuous and liberal. No station was ever degraded by study: there never was, nor will be, the age or country of the world in which learning was not respected. Lastly; it must be owing to a depravity of taste seldom heard of, that study is ever vicious; and to a singular misfortune of choice, and defect of judgement, that it is not always useful*.
But when we speak of study, either as an exercise of
* To the dogma that truth alone is immutable, might it not be added that nothing but learning is permanent? The writings of Greece bave long survived every place which they commemorate. We have Homer in our hands-we seek in vain for Troy. The alphabet of Cadmus is preserved—his seven-gated city lies in the dust. In like manner of the labours of our countrymen ; the time may come when no monuments shall remain but of their learning. A discovery in science, the improvement of an art, a just sentiment, or even a beautiful line, may be recorded with respect, when it shall cease to be known where the metropolis of this island stood. It is enough to have mentioned this reflection, in order to show the place in dignity and perpetuity which ! - holds, amongst the effects of human industry or th» listinct
duty or a source of satisfaction, it ought to be known what we mean by the term. We have stated one, indeed the first requisite, of a life of satisfaction to be, the application of our faculties to some interesting pursuit. To bring study within this description, it must be such as is attended with an exertion of our understanding. I do not say that it is necessary the subject should be abstruse, or the application always intense ; but it must be such as to solicit a positive effort of the mind. I the rather mention this, because it is possible, and I am afraid not very uncommon, to make reading as idle an occupation as any of those in which the most trifling of mankind consume their time. There is reading without method or object; in which the mind is entirely passive, without endeavour to investigate, collect, or retainreading, in a word, without thought. From this reading, or ever so much of it, no knowledge can spring. It assumes not-it ought not to assume—the name of study. It affords not the satisfaction of which we speak; it is not what we mean : nay, its tendency is rather to dissipate than to fix attention, to dissolve than to call forth the intellectual functions, to destroy that patience of thought upon which all progression of science depends.
But every argument, by which study can be recommended to others, is doubled upon the clergy.
the clergy. Thus religion, by its very nature, calls for a great degree of
it. It is an historical religion, founded upon transactions which took place, and upon discourses which were held, in a distant age and country of the world ; in a language, and under a state of opinion and customs, very different from our own. It is evident that the knowledge of such a religion cannot be transmitted in its purity without scholars. It is not possible that every Christian should be a scholar; but it is necessary that a knowledge of the original records of the religion should reside somewhere : and from whom can this be expected, if it be not found with those who profess themselves to be public teachers of its doctrines ?
A volume is spread out before us, containing intelligence, which, if true, is of infinite and of universal value. To investigate the authority, and to interpret the sense of these important pages, is one of the most respectable offices which can be imposed upon learning or talents and that office is ours. The return, the appeal, must always be to original information, and to those who are furnished with the means of acquiring it. It is with Christianity as with other subjects of importance, multitudes may be benefited by the knowledge of a few.
And as the clergy are called upon by the duties, and by one at least of the confessed designs of their order, to give attendance to “reading,”—so are they invited to it by the leisure and tranquillity usually indulged to their situation, and by the habits of life which best, which alone, I might have said, befit their profession.
Retiredness is the very characteristic of our calling ; it is impossible to be a good clergyman and to be always upon the streets, or to be continually mixing with the diversions, the follies, or even the business and pursuits of the world.