Doubt and Demonstration

In giving his reasons for retiring from the ministry, after what would be called a successful pastorate of many years, a clergyman has recently declared that while his desire to serve the people steadily grew stronger, his confidence in the conventional methods used to help them, as steadily waned. He says,—

"In the beginning of my ministry the method was plain, the desire only moderately strong; now the desire is so strong as to be overwhelming, but the method is less clear, and I confess that, at times, I have no theory as to what it is at all. There has been an ever-increasing obscurity of conception regarding the task before me. It is perpetually shaping itself differently to different men. Once the evangelistic method claimed attention; then great missionary enterprises; then came the study of sociology, and then the doing of institutional church work. To what does all this lead? It is at this point that my doubt takes its deepest plunge."

Such a confession makes it clear that this brother's retirement was wise and altogether creditable to him, for he who is in a state of uncertainty as to the practical value of his Christian endeavor can but lose heart, and especially if sincerity is a marked element in his character. The fulfilment of conventional requirements will constantly place such an one in what seems to him a false position, and the end must inevitably be self-contempt and rebellion.

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Letters to our Leader
May 7, 1904

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