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remarkable. It was the natural development of Irving's mind. Ardently embracing the idea of an approaching millennium, he could not, with the extreme literalness of his belief, fail to look for the gifts promised to the latter days. His theories of spiritual gifts were the natural results of his Millenarianism. He knew nothing of that elastic Millenarianism of these days which adopts literally as much of prophecy as convenient, and explains away the remainder in figures. The Book which taught him to look for a Second Advent of the Son of Man, taught him also to expect preparatory 'signs.' His faith, though ill-grounded, was at least consistent; and if blame be attachable to him, it is a blame of which ten thousand men, less reverent than he, are more worthy,-the blame of venturing beyond the ancient landmarks,—of launching out upon a forbidden deep,— of trying to soar with human wing into Divine mysteries. But we do not blame him. We honour the dust which lies in the sombre crypt of Glasgow Cathedral, and gladly weave a wreath to the memory of that gallant and faithful soul who saw 'through a glass darkly,' and who now seeth 'face to face.'
ART. VII.-Hid Treasures, and the Search for them: being the Substance of Lectures delivered to Bible-Classes. By JOHN HARTLEY.
THE work which stands alone at the head of this article, stands almost alone in our literature as the representative of a peculiar kind of ministerial instruction. Books are to be found in abundance which assume the existence of Bible-classes, and furnish hints and materials for assistance in conducting them; but this admirable little volume gives us a glimpse into the scene itself; it lets us follow the Minister into his class-room, where he exchanges the pulpit for the chair, and makes his Bible the text-book of a systematic teaching modified accordingly. These classes have not often revealed their secrets through the press. Their function has been that of a simple and unostentatious adjunct to the pulpit; and their operations have aimed at nothing higher than the satisfaction of a pastoral impulse to supplement the higher ministry by instructions of a freer, less formal, and more miscellaneous character. But their results, however quietly attained, have been very great. There are multitudes now living, and acting their part in mature life, to whom the term Bible-class suggests the most grateful remembrances; who are never weary of acknowledging the benefits conferred by it upon their youth, and of tracing its early influence through the whole of their following years. There are still greater multitudes of the young who are now being more or less moulded by these classes, and receiving from them no small proportion of the culture which is forming their character for life. And this institute of pastoral labour, without losing its essentially subordinate rank, is becoming rapidly more important. Bible-classes are multiplying; and, as they multiply, they assume new forms, take a wider range, embrace a larger variety of subjects, gather within their sphere greater numbers, and it may be hoped are effecting a proportionate increase of good.
The common element in these classes is their making the Bible the sole text-book. But, with that one element of unity, they are as diversified in other respects as the tastes and tend
encies of their conductors can make them. No direct ordinance gave them birth, no rule prescribes their limits, and they are amenable to no specific tribunal: consequently, they adapt themselves to circumstances with perfect freedom, and exhibit a variety of characteristics as interesting as it is expedient. Were a commission appointed to inquire into their working, and to obtain their statistics, the result would be rather startling to many. Beginning, where all ought to begin, with the little ones, we should find classes reported in which children are gathered weekly around the Minister, and taught to read and love the Bible with him; classes in which catechumens-youth in the critical borderland between childhood and maturity, sons of the law in the Hebrew sense-are assembled for religious teaching and guidance; and classes in which young men and women, separately or together, receive pastoral instruction out of the Scriptures. The report would present a more imposing account of classes in which lessons are given on a variety of miscellaneous scriptural subjects, comprising all the diversified literature of the Bible as such; others in which the teachers are met for the purpose of studying with them their Sunday lessons; others in which intelligent young men discuss under their Minister's guidance biblical topics, by paper or otherwise; and others in which theological instruction is more formally given to a yet more select number. It would then rise to those classes in which the Scriptures are closely and thoroughly expounded for the benefit of all those, whether young or otherwise, who can command time to attend, and who regard a weekly hour of such ministerial instruction as a welcome addition to the more public means of grace. The report would certainly include all these forms of the Bible-class; of its probable statistics we cannot speak so confidently. The numbers attending all of them would be found to be great, and in most of them increasing. But the impression produced by the whole would be, that very much more good might be effected by means of this institute. For ourselves, we are convinced that the ministerial Bible-class is a power the strength of which is not valued as it ought; and we shall occupy a few pages in trying to make our readers share this conviction. The subject is very suggestive, whether it respects the Minister as teaching out of the pulpit, or the kind of teaching which he gives, or the young people who
are mainly benefited. The remarks which we shall make on these several heads will be in strict keeping with the design of this journal, one function of which is to vindicate for the Bible its supreme place in literature; and they will humbly aim at the benefit of a large class of readers especially concerned.
The fundamental principle of the institution we advocate is this, that the Christian Minister's office is to give instruction in the Bible: not only in the pulpit, but out of the pulpit; not only as a preacher, but as a teacher; not only in the doctrines and morals of Scripture, but in every part of it. His duty is to make biblical instruction the law of his life; and the Bible-class gives him an opportunity of doing a part of his duty that cannot be done so well in any other way.
It is always important, and especially so in these days of distraction, that the young Minister should be reminded of the extent of his obligation to study and to unfold the Scriptures. The Bible bears to him a relation which no other book does; and he stands to the Bible in a relation in which no other man stands to it. His life and energies, of thought and action, are pledged to that one object. The Bible is the centre of all literature to him, in a sense beyond that in which it is the centre to all. It is his own peculiar and sacred province: to study it, to defend it, to make himself master of all its secrets, and to unfold them all, is the great business of his life. It is true that he has no special prerogative of possession, no special immunity from error, no clerical monopoly of its blessings. The Book is the common heritage; and every part of it is thrown open to every man. There is no order of men to whom, as an order of men, has been given a right of absolute control over the Scriptures, or a guarantee of their infallible interpretation. The great declaration of the Day of Pentecost revoked any such grant, if it had ever been made in the past; and expressly precluded any such distinction in the great Church of the future. Whoso hath an ear may hear, and whoso heareth may understand. But it is a perversion of this great truth to deny the special charge which is given to the Christian ministry concerning the sacred volume. They are its human guardians and expositors: they are set for its defence, and set apart for its study. All its treasures are put into their hands as householders, to be dispensed by their fidelity; they are expressly
Limitations of Pulpit Teaching.
encouraged to regard themselves as Christian scribes, to be versed beyond all others in the letter of the law; and they are promised that 'with what measure they mete' out the endless stores of instruction committed to their hands it shall be measured to them again.' The more they magnify' their office in this respect, and make it honourable' by their own diligence, the better for themselves and for the Church and for the world. It should be their ambition to make themselves, what they are supposed to be, supreme in this sphere. Whatever other pursuits they engage in, as the recreation of life, their study should be in the Book of their profession and calling. There they should be masters. If not in other matters, in this at least they should be the highest human authorities. But this supremacy cannot be maintained save by those who systematically and steadily make the study of the Scriptures the business of their lives. And in proportion as they acquire the power they will feel it incumbent to use it actively; they will more and more understand that they are not only passive referees, to whom difficult points may be brought for solution, but that they are appointed to open and dispense the treasures they are intrusted with to the utmost extent of their opportunity.
It is obvious that the pulpit cannot exhaust this ministerial responsibility. Undoubtedly it is in the pulpit that the Minister discharges the main part of his duty; there his fidelity must ultimately be tested and approved; and, if he there shows himself faithful to his great text-book, he will not be chargeable with unfaithfulness elsewhere. But the Christian Minister is in the pulpit only a few hours in the week; and, although those few hours represent the result of the studies of many hours, and are indeed the pith and soul of his life, yet two or three hours in the week cannot satisfy the claims of the Bible on him who is its professed expositor. For it must be borne in mind that the pulpit has its manifold restrictions, especially in the present day. The Bible in the pulpit is, after all, only the Bible within the Bible: the most excellent part of that which is all excellent, but still only a part. Preaching Gospel truths to the unconverted, and applying the evangelical promises to the penitent, and teaching the saved Church for its edification, absorb and bring into pulpit use a wide range of Scripture, but still leave a large and precious remainder. We are free to admit that the