The Ideal Ministry

SAID a clergyman who had recently been retired from the active ministry: "I never felt so competent to preach the gospel as I do now. In my apprehension of spiritual truth, my faith in its saving power, my knowledge of human needs, my experience in ministering to them, and my singleness of desire to do this work, I am better equipped than ever before; and yet, having reached that time of life when it is generally thought that a man's attracting power begins to wane, I find that the churches prefer a younger man, and I am laid aside with nothing to do but look forward to old age."

This pathetic case might be cited by some in confirmation of the much-discussed theory of Doctor Osler, that men have exhausted their effective resources at forty; but in fact it illustrates not the correctness of this theory, but the lamentable outcome of an erroneous sense of the true functions of the Christian ministry. It indicates that strenuousness and personal magnetism are taking an unwarranted part in settling the question of clerical fitness, and that the Greek saying, "The gods do not endow men with wisdom until their youth has been withdrawn," is fading from mortal memory.

All the world knows that the price of ripened experience is above rubies, and it would not be undervalued in ministers were it not for the emasculation of their office and influence which has resulted from centuries of educated indifference to one of the two great duties assigned them by the Master when he said to his disciples, "Preach the gospel, heal the sick." Failure to accept the full privileges and meet the full responsibilities of discipleship always conduces to failure of success. In this instance, it has not only reduced the usefulness of the ministry to a minimum, but it has led the people into the habit of allowing the question of culture and personal attractiveness, rather than that of spiritual efficiency, to determine their choice,—a habit which is degrading to the individual and demoralizing to the Church.

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Scientific Accuracy
June 24, 1905

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