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Professor [George W.] Eaton's Inaugural Address
Madison University, New York
From The Baptist, 1835

      We have received a copy of this able and eloquent publication. It is elegantly printed as well as beautifully written. We have only been able to peruse part of it, from which we make the following extract - N Y B R

      "We ask, then, what shall be done that we may fairly meet and successfully oppose the enemies of truth? Can we reasonably hope for success when the enemies of the living God are led on by unskillful leaders, ignorant of the nature of the weapons, of the strength and wiles of the adversary? Can ignorance cope with learning and skill? Can mental imbecility stand before the strength imparted by discipline and experience? Can rude and undisciplined minds successfully grapple with minds of educated power, long trained to the business of thinking and reasoning?

      True, it has pleased God sometimes to give large success in his cause to individuals of comparatively feeble powers. But it is a vain hope that God will bless ignorance and mental indolence. As well might we look for abundant corps [crops] from fields unploughed and lying waste. The Church in this day would be quickly driven from the [blurred] if her ministers were generally ignorant and inferior men. The general intelligence and high intellectual character of the age and nation, the learning and ability of errorists and infidels, imperiously demand that those who stand up in God's name, to plead the cause of truth, should "in understanding be men," no way inferior in energy and discipline and intellectual furniture to their adversaries. They should be fully able to convince the gain-sayers. And this is no easy task. They are not to be reached by mere assertion, however true and oft repeated.

      Dogmatism and denunciation fall powerless upon minds accustomed to think and reason. They will not even listen to mere tyros in knowledge and striplings in intellect. When one of this order presents himself before them to plead the cause of God, their acute discrimination quickly takes the dimensions of his calibre; and, expecting neither instruction nor entertainment, they close their ears to his message. Many of these individuals have formed systems of their own, splendid as they are false, and fortified by bulwarks of sophistry which they deem impregnable. They would fain make us converts to their system, instead of adopting ours.

      Now, he who would do these men any good, who would even gain from them a candid hearing, must come forth in the power of a cultivated intellect, as well as in the more awful power of faith. He must show himself master of his subject - must bring forward and marshal his mighty reason - establish his positions by irrefragable proof - and, by resistless demonstration, rive their systems into fragments, and sweep clean away their "refuge of lies." These men must be met and overthrown by sound and fair reasoning. And this is the appropriate office of the Christian Ministry. They must be qualified to discharge it with fidelity. In a day when "many are running to and fro, and knowledge increasing, the number of such men are greatly multiplying - men of powerful and cultivated, though skeptical minds, who bow to no authority but the supremacy of mind. By reason of their superior intelligence they have a commanding influence in a community rapidly advancing in science and general information. An illiterate or incompetent ministry could stand no chance with such men in a contest for moral influence over the minds of a thinking people."

      The editor does not say whether this professor is Joseph H. Eaton or George W. Eaton.

[From R. B. C. Howell, editor, The Baptist, June 1835, pp. 84-85, CD edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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