Charles Edward Jefferson.

Quiet hints to growing preachers in my study online

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Pastor of the Broadway Tabernacle Church
in New York

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Copyright, 1901,
By Thomas Y. Crowell & Company.

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I. Wherefore All This i

II. A Mirror for Ministers .... 9

III. The Man of Macedonia 17

IV. Which Door ? 25

V. Starts Good and Bad 33

VI. The Foremost of the Demons . . 41

VII. Cowardice 49

VIII. Impatience 57

IX. Clerical Hamlets 66

X. Despondency 75

XI. The Value of a Target .... 84

XII. Building the Tower 92

XIII. Selfishness 100

XIV. Dishonesty 109

XV. Autocracy 118

XVI. Vanity 126

XVII, Discontent 134


viii Contents.


XVIII. Pettiness 142


XX. Meanness 158

XXI. Mannerisms 166

XXII. "Thy Speech Bewrayeth Thee". 174

XXIII. Books and Reading 183

XXIV. Near to Men Near to God . . . 191
XXV. Eagles, Race-horses and Plodders 199

XXVI. Unconscious Decay 207



Wherefore All This,

Please let me shut the door. We are
here alone, Brethren, and we want no
eavesdroppers. Human ears are sensitive ;
and if we do not speak in quiet tones, I
fear the laity may come flying as doves
to our windows. It is characteristic of
human nature to be interested in what is
intended for somebody else. A short time
ago I invited into my study a company of
laymen that we might have a confidential
chat concerning certain matters relating
especially to the people in the pews, but
before the evening was far advanced my
invited guests were crowded completely

2 Quiet Hints to Growing PreacJiers.

into a corner by the throng of ministers
who came rushing in. I had spoken only
briefly when a minister began suggesting
things which laymen ought to hear, and
when at last my talk was finished the most
robust "Amen" which reached my ears
came from the approving throat of a
clergyman. I fear therefore that should
our present meeting be noised abroad it
would be necessary to adjourn from the
study to the church auditorium and possi-
bly to the. public square : for nothing so
stirs the curiosity of laymen as the things
which ministers discuss in secret.

I have long wished, Brethren, to talk
over with you certain things which are so
delicate in their nature one hesitates to
mention them, but which are of so great
importance to us clergymen and to the
church universal, that silence concerning
them cannot be commended. What I
shall say is not said as criticism but rather
as suggestion and admonition. Some of

Wherefore All This. 3

you have written to me, others of you
have come to see me from time to time
concerning perplexities in your work, and
there are other things no doubt on your
mind which you have not yet had oppor-
tunity to mention. In order that we
might have a good confidential talk to-
gether about these things of moment to
us all, I have opened wide my study door
and asked you to come in. You are all, I
see, younger men than I am, and therefore
I can speak with greater plainness and
fuller freedom. But however frank and
bold my utterance, Brethren, not one
syllable shall be spoken to hurt, but every
syllable to help. I am not a sour-eyed
censor of ministerial morality, nor do I
wish to swell the chorus of that hoarse-
voiced company just now shouting the
ministers' dispraise. I have no sympathy
with the men who persist in the affirma-
tion that most ministers preach what they
do not believe, nor do I accept the dictum

4 Quiet Hints to Groiuing Pfe ackers,

laid down with gravity by sneering judges
that if preachers could only preach a little
all the churches would be filled. The
stormy lamentations of those who would
make the Seminaries hopelessly antiquated
institutions and most recent graduates
anointed numskulls, are in my judgment
sound and fury signifying nothing. But
a man with open eyes cannot fail to see
that in the ecclesiastical world, as in every
other, there are stumblings and failings
and fallings, and if his heart be sym-
pathetic he cannot but wish to help his
brethren avoid the pitfalls into which
some have fallen and safeguard them from
forms of conduct which weaken and offend.
Ministers as a body are I think the best
men living on the earth. I could fill a
dozen evenings with praises of the pulpit
saints whom I have known. In purity of
motive ministers as a class surpass the
lawyers, in breadth of sympathy the physi-
cians, in fidelity to principle the editors, in

Wherefore All This. 5

self-sacrifice the merchants, in moral cour-
age the soldiers, in loftiness of ideals the
teachers, in purity of life the highest
classes in our best society. This is not
said boastfully but gratefully as a fact not
to be disputed. But ministers to be as
good as other classes of men must be
better than they. No other set of men
make such assumptions or bind themselves
to such high ideals. A lawyer when ad-
mitted to the bar does not promise to obey
the ten commandments. A physician on
receiving his diploma does not agree to
practice the Sermon on the Mount. Being
an editor involves no assumption of fidelity
to gospel principles, and merchants do not
enter business announcing to the world
their purpose to give their life a ransom
for others. If therefore both in spirit and
conduct ministers as a body were not
superior to every other class of men they
would be a disgrace to their profession and
a scandal to the world. While all men, no

6 Qtdet Hints to Growing Preachers.

matter what their calHng, are under the
eternal law of God, and therefore morally
bound to keep the ten commandments and
to live in the spirit of the Sermon on the
Mount, yet as clergymen are the only men
who voluntarily confess these obligations
and give their life to the work of making
them real to other men, it follows that
more may rightfully be expected of them
than from any other tribe of workers in
our modern Israel.

Much is rightfully expected and much
also is received. To be sure there is a
scapegrace here and there, and of not
a few clerical workmen there is abundant
reason to be ashamed, but in a world like
this, universal piety and wisdom among the
professed servants of religion is as im-
possible to-day as it was when Jesus chose
his dozen men one of whom was Judas.
Taking the clerical body as a whole it is
made up of honest, capable, faithful men.

But a man may be all this and still fail.

Wherefore All This. 7

There are infirmities of temper and infeli-
cities of conduct which, while hardly fall-
ing into the category of sins, are none the
less so disastrous in their effects on spirit-
ual life as to be worthy of a place among
those evils from which one should pray to
be delivered. Ministers with rare excep-
tions are neither rogues nor hypocrites, but
being human they are capable of all sorts
of distorted action, and the very nature of
their work exposes them to a multitude
of dangers from which other men are on
the whole exempt. Many a man in the
ministry fails, not because he is bad, but
because he has a genius for blunder-
ing. Men with ability sufficient to carry
them to distinction fail to rise because
of foibles and oddities which they seem
unable to shake off. " O if he would
only quit that ! " How frequently that
doleful exclamation has fallen from the
lips of the despairing saints. Even slight
defects in clergymen are momentous be-

8 Quiet Hints to Groiving Preachers.

cause they live always in a light as search-
ing and intense as that which beats upon
a throne. What other man in the com-
munity makes such constant self -disclo-
sures as the minister ? His eyes, hps,
teeth, facial expression, voice, mind, heart,
moods, all these are subjected to public
scrutiny. Whatever is crooked or un-
christian in him is certain to come out.
The Scripture says the saints shall judge
the world. It is their special province
and dehght to judge those who minister to
them in spiritual things. Since this is so,
there is reason. Brethren, why we, of all
men, should walk circumspectly, redeeming
the time.

A Mirror for Ministers.


A Mirror for Ministers,

Probably no other man in the town is
subjected to such a constant stream of
criticism as the minister, and possibly no
other man profits so little by criticism as
he. This is not because of the rhinoceros
quality of the ministerial skin, but because
the criticism does not reach him. Those
who make the fiercest onslaughts on him
get in their best work when he is not in
sight. Even the glib-tongued experts
become silent on his approach. Other
men are censured to their face. The
tough meat sold by the butcher brings
an immediate and audible response. The
merchant who sells unsatisfactory goods
must take the condemnation which is sure

lo Oiiiet Hints to GrowiuQ- Preachers.


to come. If the editor offends in word or
deed, the next mail brings him condemn-
ing letters. The mechanic who scamps
his work is promptly overhauled. The
servant who shirks his duties is repri-
manded or dismissed. But who is bold
enough to face a clergyman, and tell him
of his sins t

"There's such divinity doth hedge a king,
That treason can but peep to what it would."

And there is such divinity doth hedge
a preacher that dissatisfaction dares but
whisper what it feels. Outside the hedge
disapprobation makes wry faces and de-
traction does its deadly work while within
the hedge the minister lives on in ignor-
ance of his critics' strictures, untouched
by what the parish thinks and says.
Disgruntled men sputter at the Sunday
dinner-table in the presence of their chil-
dren, and women in divers places drop
acidulated observations, but, alas, the
man who ought to be helped by this dis-

A Mirror for Ministers. 1 1

criminating wisdom is left to flounder in
the morass into which he has fallen, and
dies at last in his sins.

If, perchance, someone ventures to
call the minister's attention to any one
of his shortcomings, it is seldom done in
such a way as to bring the needed help.
A caustic cavil or poisoned fling is tucked
into an envelope and sent to him un-
signed, and the good man who has been
told to pay no attention to anonymous
letters, tosses it promptly into the waste-
basket unread. An anonymous letter
has little healing in its wings.

But there are occasional mortals bold
enough to meet the preacher face to face.
There are in almost every congregation
two or three keen-eyed individuals who
are determined at all hazards to be
"faithful." But these persons are gen-
erally as disagreeable as they are faithful,
and in their work of pulling motes their
awkwardness is so exasperating as to

1 2 Quiet Hints to Growing Preachers.

lead the unhappy minister to consider
them not ministering angels but new
incarnations of that spirit of evil against
which the Christian warrior must learn
to stand. The ordinary self-appointed
critic of ministerial character and con-
duct undoubtedly has a place in God's
plan of creation, but what it is has not yet
been definitely ascertained.

But if the anonymous bloodhounds and
the professional fault-finders are useless
in the work of redemption, how is a
minister to be saved .? Shall some sweet,
sane saint call the Pastor aside and tell
him gently of his sins .'' Possibly yes,
but it is a hazardous undertaking, as many
a saint has long ago discovered. A
minister, like other mortals, is human and
whenever pricked he bleeds. Even the
best men when censured writhe and tingle
and sometimes smart for many days.
The smarting may generate even in a
pious heart a feeling of resentment or at

A Mirror for Ministers. 13

least of suspiciousness, so that forever
afterward the relations between the Pastor
and his critic are not what they were.
Any minister who has ever talked plainly
to a parishioner concerning his short-
comings knows that always afterward
that talk has loomed up between them
like a Chinese wall, giving each of them
a sense of separation which could not be
obliterated. The relations between a
Pastor and his people are so delicate that
like the finest porcelain they cannot be
broken and ever be the same again.
They may be mended but there is always
a consciousness of the existence of the
crack. Laymen who have ventured to
give their Pastor from time to time quiet
hints know how delicate and critical such
business is. As a rule they do not pur-
sue it far, finding relief henceforth in an
interior protest against that which they do
not like, and endeavoring to remember
the apostoUc injunction, ''we then that are

14 Quiet Hints to Growing Preachers.

strong ought to bear the infirmities of
the weak, and not to please ourselves."

If the improprieties and delinquencies
are too numerous and flagrant to render
protracted endurance a virtue the church
committee sometimes acts as a tribunal
before which the offending Pastor is sum-
moned, but this usually marks the begin-
ning of the end. It brands the minister
in the eyes of the congregation as a cul-
prit, and when once a minister's reputation
for good sense or fine taste is tarnished he
has already entered upon that downward
road which leads to the dissolution of the
pastoral relation. It is for this reason
that church committees are loath to cen-
sure their minister unless driven to it by
repeated indiscretions and blunderings
which cry aloud for redress.

What then is a church to do 1 Breth-
ren, it is a serious question. Many of us
clergymen do not realize how serious it is.
A congregation is at the mercy of a man,

A Mirror for Miiiisters. 15

who although a minister, may have poor
judgment, bad taste, a coarse nature, a
bkmted conscience, and a fatal gift for
saying and doing the wrong thing. He
may have pulpit manners which are abomi-
nable and mannerisms which are constant
subtractions from his power. He may
have constitutional ailments and tempera-
mental deformities which might be reduced
or cured by a course of patient treatment,
but of whose existence he himself is appar-
ently unconscious. He may be guilty of
conduct which though not positively sinful
is unbecoming in a man of God. Because
of spiritual obtuseness he may persist in
courses of action which are so flagrantly
unchristian as to cause the unbeheving to
blaspheme. He may become the slave of
any one of a thousand hateful habits, and
so difficult is it to rescue him from these
tyrants, one sometimes wishes that all the
ministers of Christendom could be gath-
ered at stated intervals into spiritual hos-

1 6 Quiet Hints to Growing PreacJiers.

pitals especially provided for the purpose in
order that every man might be critically dis-
sected by men not afraid to lay their finger
upon every blemish and excrescence, and
able to burn afresh upon every heart the
loftiest ideals of ministerial character and
service. " A Mirror for Magistrates " is
the suggestive title of a book long famous
in English literature : why should there
not be *'A Mirror for Ministers" ?

The Man of Macedonia, ly


The Man of Macedonia.

A STUDENT on emerging from the Semi-
nary sometimes experiences a chilling sur-
prise. The world does not seem glad that
another laborer is now ready to enter the
vineyard. It bustles unconcernedly along
its hurried way without the slightest mani-
festation of interest in the youth who
longs to do it service. It cares apparently
nothing for his Hebrew or his Greek or
even for his stores of information concern-
ing the latest speculations of the greatest
German scholars. And even for his earnest
spirit which yearns to render Christ-Uke
ministry it shows an indifference at once
inexplicable and crushing. What makes
this indifference well nigh intolerable is

1 8 Quiet Hints to Growing Preachers.

that it is the indifference of the Christian
world. The Pagan world cannot be ex-
pected to take an interest in a herald of
the Nazarene, but surely the Christian
world will reach forth a loving hand and
lift him into a place of usefulness and
power. Not so. The churches are en-
grossed each in its own affairs, and have
no time to create a sphere in which this
Christian orator can exercise his gifts.
Most of the churches are already supplied
with leaders, and those whose pulpit is
without an occupant are either feeble and
fainting enterprises struggling for exist-
ence in forlorn and obscure places, or they
are churches of historic dignity to whose
leadership a man fresh from school cannot
aspire. What shall the young man do .'*
He cannot dig and to beg he is ashamed.
There does not seem to be anything to do
but to begin and live the gospel. To do
this is always well, and a man ought to be-
gin to do it before he is intrusted with a

The Man of Macedonia. 19

church. The division of labor has been
carried far and will no doubt be carried
farther, but it will never be so extended
as to enable one set of Christians to preach
the gospel while the other set is left to
practice it. If a man expects to move
men by his preaching he must first do a
deal of living, and the sooner he begins to
live the better. Where can a man find
larger opportunity for the exercise of that
faith and hope and love, of that patience,
persistency and courage of which he in-
tends through all the years to speak than
just in that dark and troubled period which
for many men immediately follows the
completion of the Seminary course .? If a
man is to hold up Abraham as an example
worthy of imitation why should he shrink
from going out not knowing whither he
goes } And if he proposes to spend his
life in teaching men to believe that the
just must walk by faith, why should he
not do a little of that sort of walking him-

20 Quiet Hints to Growing PrcacJiers.

self ? If he believes in the principle an-
nounced by Jesus that every one who asks
receives why does he not proceed to put
that principle to the test.

A man who intends to preach the
Gospel ought to learn early that God is
no respecter of persons, and that a student
of theology is not allowed to enter the
Kingdom by a road specially constructed
for his own tender feet. Anything like
favoritism or coddling is abhorrent to the
spirit of the Christian religion. Christ
thrusts a cross into a man's face and holds
it there. Accursed is every policy which
attempts to hide it or take it away. Men
who prepare for the ministry ought to
have no advantages given them which are
denied to their fellows. They should work
for their education as hard as do the men
who prepare for journalism or medicine
or law. Every indulgence and plum in-
tended to make the way into the ministry
more attractive than that which leads into

The Man of Macedonia. 21

the other professions ought to be feared
and discarded. If this reduces recruits
for the ministry so much the better for
the churches. What can organized Chris-
tianity accomplish unless its leaders are
stalwart and tough t Men are not going
to endure hardness as good soldiers of
Christ when once installed as pastors of
churches unless they have been trained
to do this from their youth. No one
who is not willing to work like a slave
through as many years as may be neces-
sary to fit him for his work is worthy
to stand before the world as an ordained
expounder of the message of the Son of

After a man has secured his schooling
then let him make himself a place in
which to work. If all the doors are shut
let him open one. If he cannot do this
he is not needed. No man can open
men's hearts for the Gospel who is too
weak to open a door for himself into the

22 Quiet Hmts to Growing Preachers.

ministry. It is not a diploma which
proves a man's right to be a preacher,
but a spiritual temper and a moral stamina
like unto those of the Apostles. Occa-
sionally one catches a whimpering tone
in the talk of young men looking for a
church. In their judgment they are badly
used. The churches do not appreciate
the sacrifices these men have made. If
some church does not speedily repent and
give a call then these ill-used prophets
will shake off the dust of their feet
against themi and will not preach at all !
All such whining proceeds from a heart
which is not right. The young physician
in making a place for himself in a world
already overcrowded expects a long-drawn
struggle, and he is seldom disappointed.
In many cases years of poverty and pri-
vation lie between him and the shinins:
goal on which his hungry eyes are set.
The average lawyer fights a long and
tremendous battle — so do the journalist

The Man of Macedonia. 23

and professor, the architect and artist, the
merchant and musician. Every man is
left to make for himself his own place
in the world, and why should a minister
be favored above his brethren ?

While in the Seminary he heard the
world calling for him, and in his dreams a
noble church stood up, glorious and implor-
ing, and would not let him rest. But now
when he is ready the church has melted
into air, and in his disappointment he is
ready to believe that all things are as vain
and empty as the baseless fabric of a
dream. Let him remember that his vision
was similar to that of the Apostle Paul.
The man of Macedonia who would not let
Paul sleep for his constant cry, " Come
over and help us," was nowhere to be seen
when Paul reached the shores of Europe.
Paul could not find him at Neapolis nor
even at Philippi. Outside the Philippian
gate a few women listened to the first
Christian sermon preached in Europe, but

24 Quiet Hints to Growing PreacJiers.

the " man of Macedonia " was conspicu-
ous for his absence. Europe was preoccu-
pied with her business and pleasures, and
it was only by the boldest and most perse-
vering exertions that the apostle succeeded
in opening a door in any European city.
Europe needed the Gospel — she did not
want it. The world to-day needs young
men equipped to preach the Gospel, but it
does not want them. Like Saul of Tarsus
they must fight their way into public recog-
nition assisted by some good Barnabas or
Silas who is always present to lend a help-
ing hand, and instead of railing at a world
which is slow to crown them they must
build for themselves the thrones from which
they are to judge the tribes of Israel.

Which Door? 25


Which Door?

It is well for a man not to be too heav-
ily weighted with theories at the beginning
of his career. Otherwise he may become
so entangled as to be crippled for life.
Man proposes but God disposes, and the
manner of his disposition is often marvel-
ous in our eyes. Precious time may be
squandered in a fruitless endeavor to bring
the Almighty into conformity to human
expectations. It is natural for a minister
to have his preferences, but he should not
insist on these when it becomes evident
that Heaven prefers something else. He
should not draw a circle round a limited
area of land and say, ''Up to the circumfer-
ence of that circle shall my activity be felt

26 Quiet Hints to Growing PreacJiers.

but no further." A man who says that
needs to reread his New Testament. The
men who crowd mto favored localities
already overstocked with ministers and
stand all the years idle, bitterly complaining
because no church has hired them, eking
out a precarious livelihood by snapping up
occasional opportunities to preach in pul-
pits temporarily vacant, are not men to
be trusted with the guidance and training
of Christians. Ministers of the Gospel
should be made of more heroic stuff. Old
men out of whom the years have taken
the lunge and the fire may be forgiven

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Online LibraryCharles Edward JeffersonQuiet hints to growing preachers in my study → online text (page 1 of 8)