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DELIVERED IN TRE
PRINCETON, N. J. NOV. 7, 1828.
BY CHARLES HODGE.
The following Lecture, was delivered by the writer, in the discharge of his regular duty in the Seminary. It is seldom that any thing prepared for one purpose, is adapted to another materially different. There is much, therefore, in the style and manner of this address, which may seem little suited to a publication of this kind. The reason of its appearance in the Repertory, is simply this. The students to whom it was addressed, under the impression that the statements which it contained might be useful, if more widely circulated, requested that a copy should be given to them for publication. 'The writer' not feeling at liberty to comply with this request, thought that if any good would result from its publication, it might be effected, in a less assuming form, by its insertion in a periodical work.
ADDRESSED TO THE STUDENTS
OF THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.
MY DEAR BRETHREN,
In entering anew upon my duties in this institution, I feel constrained to acknowledge the goodness of God, by which I have been so kindly preserved, and restored to the field of labor to which he has called me. As it was a desire to become more useful to you, that led me to leave, for so protracted a period, my friends and country, my heart has been constantly turned towards this institution ; and it frequently occurred to me, that should I live to return to my native land, I would endeavour to impress upon your minds, the practi. cal truths which the circumstances of foreign states and countries, had deeply impressed upon my own.
It is true, the vividness of these impressions has faded away, but the convictions in which they resulted, remain. Although the truths referred to, are obvious, and their importance admitted; and although I may fail to bring before your minds, the various circumstances which impress them upon the mind of an American Christian in Europe, it may still be useful to state some of these points, and some of the grounds on which the opinions entertained respecting them, are founded.
I. One of the most obvious lessons which an American Christian is taught, by a residence in Europe, is, the great importance of civil and religious liberty.
We are apt, I know, to indulge in unthinking declamation on this subject, and to cherish exaggerated notions of our peculiar advantages in these respects. Nor can it be questioned, that much of our dislike of the peculiar forms of foreign governments, arises from no very pure feeling. The impressions, however, commonly entertained regarding the amount of personal liberty, enjoyed under these governments, are doubtless erroneous. In many cases, the most distinguished stations in every department are accessible to all classes, and there is no doubt, that in some of the more despotic even of these governments, the laws are made with as pure a regard to the best interests of the cominunity, and are administered with as much impartial justice as they ever have been, or are likely to be in our own. It is clear too, that when the authority is vested in the hands of one individual, good may be much more promptly effected than when it is Lodged in the mass of the people. Is it not a subject of constant complaint among us, that measures designed and adapted to the mental and moral improvement of the people, cannot be carried into effect, because the least enlightened portion of the community is opposed to them? It is, however, very far from my design, and would be very unsuitable to the present occasion, to enter upon any discussion of the comparative advantages of different forms of government. I merely wish to state, what I think would be the impression made upon any candid individual on this subject. He would doubtless see, and be ready to admit, that many of his early opinions were unfounded ; that there are advantages attending the European systems which he had not previously properly appreciated, and yet, he would be deeply convinced of their general evil tendency, and of the inestimable blessing which we enjoy in our own. The great advantage which constitutes in the eye of the Christian the value of our system, is its elevating effect upon the mass of the population. Where the people have nothing to occupy and excite their minds beyond the mere routine of their daily labor ; where they are never called upon to think and act in reference to important and general objects; where