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very high culture is too apt to disregard. Had we, like those denominations, between our learned clergy and the people, a class of middle men of sufficient cultivation for the demands of correct and forcible speech, we can not help thinking our power for practical, popular effect would be immensely increased. What proportion these two classes shall bear to each other we can not decide ; perhaps that which obtained in the little circle of the twelve will furnish us with a hint.
If it should be said that we open the door to false doctrine by adopting, in part, an unlearned ministry, it is sufficient to reply that all the great errors which have distracted the church have come from just the opposite quarter, namely, the schoolmen. Besides, is it certain that the best preparation for preaching the Gospel is a long and weary attention to subjects which, to say the best, are but remotely related to the Gospel ? Shall we decide, ex cathedra, that no one is fit to preach who is unable to read the Scriptures in the original tongues? Has not God a teaching which is infinitely better than this, and without which all the Hebrew and Greek in the world would not qualify a man to expound the word ? These are helps indeed, and when they are available should be carefully and gratefully employed, but are they indispensable? When a man has been taught of the Holy Ghost, and knows the truth in an inner experience, there is nothing greater or better. You may give him a rhetoric and an utterance by your classics, but God has given him the burden which he is to speak, and he can not well enunciate an error, or defend a lie.
And, moreover, shall we accept, without challenge, the idea that the schools are the only places where men are disciplined to severe and accurate thought. “The power to act nobly and efficiently may exist with little book knowledge; to know living men, to have sat under the stern and thorough teaching of experience, to have a sympathy open to the unnumbered influences of exhaustless and ever-healthful nature, may set a man above those who have studied all things at second hand, as seen through other eyes, and represented by feeble human speech."! A faculty to work well, a knowledge of men, and a power to measure them at a glance, these are attainments of not a few who know little of good letters. But they are men of disciplined mind notwithstanding, and fully competent, in practical life, to measure power with the best specimens of the schools.
1 Peter Bayne.
Nor are we to forget that the best training for any profession is the legitimate work of the profession itself. Theories have their place and value, but practical working is the final test of power. We are educating, we fear, too much for professional life, and not enough in it. Men grow to the fulness of their profession only by devoting their lives to its business. Set a man at work, and teach him how to work, if you will develop his strength and his skill. The great revival through which we are now passing, confirms what we say. The common membership has felt itself called to the field of labor, and it has grown marvellously in its toil. Lawyers, merchants, mechanics, toilers of every name, who have felt the constraining love of Christ, have gone forth preaching the word, and winning souls to God. Ministers have not had any undue importance, revivalists, as such, have scarcely been known, but the church has preached, and prayed, and labored, and God has set his seal of favor upon her work. Is it not time we comprehended that God's word, in the hands of the common membership, is no less his power unto salvation, than the same word in the hands of his clergy? Mark what we say.
We are not asserting that the church can dispense with a body of learned divines, a body as large as she now has, or has ever had, perhaps. We do not believe that she can.
The history of the past, and the demands of the present, indicate the importance of such a body. For a long time to come there will be need of a guild of men, thoroughly taught in science, and philosophy, and criticism, men who can thread all the windings of scepticism, and wrest the weapons of infidelity to its own destruction. But to expect the great body of the ministry, whether learned or unlearned, to do this original work, is to expect what they never have done. Investigation and argument have been furnished to their hand, and always will be. It seems, therefore, merely a question of proportions : How much learning does a man need in order to use to advantage the results of the few minds who have done the original work? Have we not multitudes of minds of good common education and common sense, that are entirely competent to see and to use such results as these minds of original force have carefully wrought out? This is precisely what the vast majority of the ministry is doing to-day, and it is what thousands out of the ministry could do as well.
But if the reason of the case did not seem to point to this middle class, the necessity of it would. Nothing is clearer than that the world can never be supplied with a ministry from the colleges and the seminaries, even with our means of supply augmented a thousand fold. We are hardly furnishing men fast enough to make good the natural waste of the ministry at home, to say nothing about the great unoccupied field abroad. And the home field has suddenly assumed new and mighty proportions. Four millions of blacks just from the house of their bondage, and seven millions of poor whites from a condition hardly less servile and degrading, are for the first time accessible to the pure word of life. Whence are to come the men who are to meet this urgent demand? What boldest dreamer has had any vision of supply from the seminaries? If we wait for that, generations must go down to their graves before they shall hear a lisp of the Gospel of Christ. But if we add to these the eight hundred or a thousand millions in other lands waiting to hear the glad tidings, the impossibility of doing the work through graduates of the schools, becomes simply self-evident and absolute. There must be, therefore, some
The God of salvation is not so limited in resources that he woust wait on the schools to furnish the reapers for this great harvest of the world. We can see but one way, and it seems to us God's finger is pointing to that unmistakably; we must use the common mind of the church for this purpose. And it is worth considering whether this mind is not merely the most available, but the best fitted for the work to be done. How generous a culture is needed to preach the Gospel to the blacks and whites of the South, to the tribes of Africa, or indeed to almost any portion of heathendom?
Here, even, how much of human learning must a man have mastered before he is competent to tell a sinner what he must do to be saved! Some men could do it with little, while others could not do it with much. Some men, who never saw a col
lege or a seminary, are vastly better qualified to preach the Gospel than others who have run the curriculum of both. Why not exanine every candidate on his own merits, and whether he be touched with the varnish of the schools, or not, so God has touched his heart and his lips with his fire, bid bim speak in the name of Christ? Must we wait till we have sharpened him with our dialectics, and covered him over with our learned armor, before we will permit him to meet the champions of sin and unbelief? Scepticism is not often vanquished with the keenest blade of argument, it is a disease of the heart, rather than of the head, and is cured by moral rather than logical remedies. If ever a sceptic yields he is likely to yield to the force of a holy life, and that simplest preaching of the word which witnesses with the other witness of God in his own bosom. Human learning is not adequate to this, it is God's word spoken by holy men, and accompanied by the Holy Ghost. If this be so, then is it not possible that other lips (though we would these were increased a hundred times) than those which have sipped Parnassian springs are fit to tell the story of the cross?
If we keep in mind the one idea, that God is to convert this world through his church, the practical question will be the development of her power. This power is two-fold, an intercessory power with God, and a witnessing power with men. That mere culture has any tendency either to beget or augment such a power, I can not believe. There is a culture which comes from the study of sacred subjects, which is all-sufficient for the demands of God's service. This culture is the great want of the church in this age of a teeming secular press. Nothing but the very marrow and fitness of the word can deliver from its showy, shallow, and incessant spawn. Give us men profound in the Scriptures, and very soon we will nurture a race who can eat meat, and not only drink milk. When a man asks what he must do to be saved, he wants simple truth, just what God says, without any ornaments of speech, or tricks of style. And who is there of our membership that can not be trained to clear conception and precise enunciation of the truth which saves ? If one of our churches were taken up bodily, and dropped down upon the banks of the Congo, or
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the Indus, would it not be a shame and a crime if the least of its members did not know enough to tell the dark-minded and the perishing the way to eternal life? The creed of a dying man is short, has just two articles, sin and salvation. He knows the one, and he craves the other. Now does not the person in whose experience both are realities, know enough to tell that experience to another, as poor, as ignorant, as himself? Systems he may not understand, but salvation he does. He knows that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and that faith in him is life eternal. Who shall bid him to lock this secret in his own bosom, when the perishing are asking for light and life!
No small share of the ministerial work is to train the church to her largest power with God and with man. "He gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for perfecting the saints to the work of the ministry, to the edifying of the body of Christ.” The work of the pastor is specially to fit the church to minister the word of life to the lost, not to preach his system, but to enunciate the truth, in which is salvation. The Gospel in its essence has wondrous simplicity. A Karen, or a Hottentot, can understand it. It is a light in itself, and becomes a darkness only through our philosophy. We are straitened in our philosophy, and not in the Bible. We are pent up and cribbed in our system, which haunts us like a nightmare, destroying the blessed freedom and expansion of the Gospel. Said a shrewd observer, “We in New England are made of theology.” Certain it is we spend our best years in the mastery of systems. Yet God has set truth in his word without order, and, I suppose, in the best possible relation and proportion. How few, however, are ready to preach it without setting around it the guards of the system, and fitting it to its place there !
Suppose there should not always be the appearance of selfconsistency in our preaching, it is no more than what appears in the Bible. And as it has pleased the Author of the Bible to leave it there, I am not sure that he requires human hands to fit and dovetail its parts into one another. A becoming modesty ought to be satisfied to stop where God does. There is more than one truth, and more than one side to truth. If the Bible