Ill.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : Ch.

Proceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 online

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Online LibraryIll.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : ChProceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 → online text (page 10 of 13)
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now to keep in mind, while I speak of the kind of education we ought to
provide for candidates for the Christian ministry. Many will enter the min-
istry and serve Christ faithfully without this education. Many will avail
themselves in part of this offered education. Many who desire to obtain it
"\vill fall short of the full acquisition. But the question for us is — "What
kind of education ought we to provide for those whom God summons to pre-
pare for the great work of preaching Christ.^"

I. I say then, first, that we need to provide an education which includes,
as a primary element, merital discipline. Ministeis have some work to do
which none but men of well-trained minds can efficiently perform. They
are the public defenders of the truth; they are expositors of the Word of
God; they must meet error in a thousand forms, and constantly in new
forms. It is not enough for them to have learned from text-books the argu-
ments with which unbelievers of a former age assailed the doctrines of Chris-
tianity, and the answers to those arguments; they must have such power of
mind, acquired by rij^id discipline, as will enable them to meet new argu-
ments, to see and expose new errors, and to adapt themselves to all the forms
of assault to which the truth is exposed. They must be able to investigate
for themselves questions which were not so much as stated when they were
in the seminary, and to analyze doctrines which had not then been announced.


In resisting teachers of false doctrine, and in removing difficulties which
trouble disciples or honest inquirers, the minister needs clearness of percep-
tion, and logical power, and readiness and vigor of intellect — qualities which
indeed imply original capacity, but which are greatly increased by long and
laborious discipline. The Divine Master showed His estimate of such quali-
fications for the ministry when he laid His hand on the clear-headed, logical,
and well-trained Saul of Tarsus, and made him the chief champion of Chris-
tianity in its first encounter with the world. How could the apostle have
fulfilled his mission if he had lacked those powers of mind which rigorous
discipline develop ? How could he have set forth before the cavilling Jews,
with unanswerable argument, the claims of Jesus as the Messiah, and proved
to the wise men of Athens the divine origin of Christianity, so that they
could not resist his logic .'' And in our times a minister who can not detect
fallacies and distinguish between the specious and the real, and give a reason
for the faith he holds, must often be put to shame in the presence of new
forms of unbelief.

A preacher who has been exhibiting the way of salvation through Christ,
and trying with an earnest zeal to persuade men to walk in that way, when
he has left the pulpit, is met by a man whose conscience is somewhat aroused,
but who excuses himself from being a Christian by some objection he has
heard urged against the divine authority of the Bible Such objections are
always assuming new forms, and this assumes a form which the preacher has
never met before. If he can readily take it to pieces and show the error that
is mingled with the truth; if he can see, and cause his friend to see, that it
is an unsound argument, depending for its force on some falsehood tacitly
assumed to be true, or on some distortion of the truth, he can tear away the
refuge of lies and leave the man's conscience to feel the full force of the
earnest appeal. Oh ! how many a minister has longed for that power, while
his burning love for souls and hearty devotion to Christ have not been able
to compensate for its absence, but have only made him feel his need more
keenly. How many a minister has groaned bitterly in spirit for lack of that
power of analysis and argument which the rigid discipline of the schools
would have given him. In the ardor of his youth he thought it was only
necessary to tell men the story of Christ's love and persuade them to receive the
grace of God. Therefore he turned away from the course of study which
seemed so long, and hastened to assume his ordination vows. In his maturity,
when experience has proved his mistake and his increasing years make the
mistake irreparable, he does not cease to regret that he entered on this war-
fare so inadequately equipped for the contlict.

Ministers whose mental discipline is comparatively small are not useless-
It is a most cheering thought that they labor in the service of one who can em-
ploy the weakest means for accomplishing glorious results, and who has often
honored himself by causing the foolish things of the world to confound the
wise, and weak things to confound the mighty, and base and despised things,
and things that are not, to bring to nought things that are. But that fact
does not encourage weakness in the pulpit, any more than it encourages
foolishness in the pulpit. The most thoroughly disciplined mind is, with all
its original and acquired strength, always weak enough to illustrate the power
of God in using it for His glory. We need not be alraid of taking from our
Lord the honor of working through instruments which, without His efficiency,
would be utterly powerless. It is our part to employ in His service our noblest
faculties, most fully developed and matured and strengthened for the work


assigned us. And He will delight to employ such powers, even as He delights
in the consecration to himself of the best affections and the richest gifts.

Moreover, ministers of the Gospel greatly need that breadth of view, that
largeness of inental grasp, that power to rise above the influence of preju-
dice, which come naturally from generous mental discipline. The power to
see whatever of truth there is in any teachings, however mingled with error,
and whatever of error there is in any system of doctrines which seems to
rest on fundamental truth, is a most desirable power for a religious teacher.
The value of such a power is illustrated in nearly all the great leaders of the
Church from Paul to Dollinger. It is illustrated in the enlarged influence of
many a Christian pastor who has disarmed opposition by his readiness to
acknowledge truth wherever he has found it, and to admire Christian char-
acter exhibited by men who had not learned all the truth of Christ. Now a
generous Christian charity' may dwell in one who has enjoyed no large
opportunities for mental discipline. But as it is the tendency of such disci-
pline to enlarge the mental powers, to increase the range of vision, and to
lift above the influence of prejudice, — ministers of the Gospel, who are ambas-
sadors of the broad-minded Christ, may well seek, such discipline that they may
more faithfully represent their glorious Lord. The tendencies of human
nature are to narrowness. Even those men who claim to be the special cham-
pions of free thought, and whose liberalism consists chiefly in utter indifterence
to truth, are so narrow in their sympathies and fellowship that they seem to feel
supreme contempt for all who are not of their own narrow circle, and especially
they can not tolerate anything so definite and positive as the teachings of
Jesus. But if any man can afford to be broad in his views and all-reaching
in his charity, it is the man who knows that he holds the truth as it is in
Jesus; the truth which will ultimately triumph, as surely as the kingdom of
God prevails among men. Baptists are sometimes stigmatized as narrow-
minded, because they are said to stand on so narrow a platform as the mere
form of an external ordinance. But inasmuch as we know that our platform
is the broadest possible for Christians — simple allegiance to Christ, personal,
all-pervading allegiance to Him as our teacher and Lord — we can not
afford to be narrow-minded; we are under obligations to be broad-minded;
our ministers, the representatives of our faith before the world, ought to
learn to take broad views In preparing for the ministry they may well seek
that discipline of the mind which enlarges its grasp, makes its vision clearer
and wider, and extends its sympathies to all that is good and true.

II. I pass on to observe, secondly, that we need to provide for our min-
isters an education which includes thorough and ample learning. The
mental discipline which has been urged may be acquired without much learn-
ing. It is rather the preparation for learning, and the means by which
learning is to be acquired through all the years of a man's life. He is not a
well-educated man, who has simply learned whatever of science or literature
is taught in the college course, and thinks he needs to learn nothing more.
His time has largely been spent in acquiring skill to use the instruments
which he will need hereafter in the acquisition of learning, and in the
investigation of truth. But the minister, when he enters on his work, needs
something more than merely preparation for efficient study. He needs
learning in the very beginning of his public service. He announces himself
as an expounder of the truth of God. His a preacher is to interpret,
and exhibit, and illustrate, and apply the word of God. He needs to have
studied that word carefully, laboriously, prayerfully, with all the best helps
at his command, under the direction of men who make it their life-work to


shed light upon the sacred page. The Bible is the guidebook of immortal
souls in their journey through this world. Shall any inan assume to pub-
lish its instructions until he has used suitable means of assuring himself that
he reads them aright? Is there any amount of learning which a man may
not desire, if he is to set forth before his fellow-immortals the plan of God
for saving sinners.' That plan is indeed so simple that the unlearned may
understand it, if he desires. But the minister must preach to those who do
not desire to. He must prove to the unwilling hearer that the Bible is a reve-
lation from God. He must demonstrate the authoritative claims of Jesus
Christ as teacher and Lord. He must prove the falseness of all the systems
of belief which go under the name of Christianity but are destitute of its
essential characteristics. He must show what the teachings of the Bible are,
in reference to the character and condition of men, and the way of salvation
for sinners. Will not learning help to prepare him for these duties.' The
more thoroughly he has studied the languages in which the Scriptures were
written, the better prepared he will be to expound those Scriptures and hunt
out the error that has hidden itself in dark passages. The more diligently
he has explored the Scriptures, the more fully will he be prepared to state,
and exhibit, and defend the doctrines which they teach. The more study he
has expended on the evidences of Christianity, the more confident will he be
of the truth of the Bible, and the more successful in convincing other men
of its truth. The more he has compared doctrine with doctrine, and
examined each truth in its relation to every other, the more clear will be his
conception of the difterent truths, and the more s^'mmetrical and compact
the whole system of Christian truths will appear to him; and therefore he
will be able rightly to divide the word of God, and to exhibit Christian
truth as complete, harmonious, perfectly adapted to the wants of men.

Our conception of an efficient, thoroughly-prepared minister of the
Gospel includes, in addition to all natural and spiritual qualifications,
learning, generous and ever-increasing. And, for such a man, no learning
can be useless which will help him in his work. Not only the languages in
which the Bible was written, but all literature, ancient and modern, — not
only theology as a science, but all the sciences, unfolding the laws of God,
and showing the glory of God, — not only the history of the Church, but all
history, as illustrating the Providence of God ; — come within the range of
the Christian scholar's study, and by them all he may acquire new power to
defend the truth, and convince men, and serve the church, and glorify Christ.

He can not have all learning when he begins to be a minister, nor indeed
ever. But the more he has in the beginning, the stronger he will be for his
work, and the more likely to make further acquisitions. Every young man,
burning with desire to be a good minister of Jesus Christ, may well wish to
acquire learning, that he may fulfill more efficiently the ministry* committed
to him. And the more learning he has, the more may he delight to bring it
as an offering to be laid at the Master's feet.

in. A third essential element in the education which our ministers need,
is that culture by which learning and mental power are made most effective
in the pulpit. Of course culture comes in connection with mental discipline
and learning. These can not exist without some measure of it. But then
great strength of intellect is not always joined with those graces of stj'le and
that power in speech which give to a man favor with the people. The preacher
must first have something to say ; but he must also know how to say it, and
have power to say it. A very learned man is sometimes an inefficient man
in the pulpit, because he can not express his thoughts clearly, freely, and


forcibly. Many a great man has found himself less effective as a preacher
than his brother of far smaller endowments, because the one has facility of
expression, and a cultivated voice, and an attractive or impressive manner,
while the other delivers his great thoughts as if it were no concern of his,
whether his people feel their force, or understand them, or even hear them.
A great many preachers are criminally destitute of this element of power.
They seem to think it a sign of weakness to pay much regard to the dress of
thought, or to spend much time in acquiring an easy and forcible delivery;
as if anything could be unimportant which can secure the atten*^ion of men
to the claims of God and to their own permanent welfare and character. We
are all, even the most advanced among us, greatly affected by these things
in a speaker. It detracts from our interest in his thoughts if, through lack
of effort on his part, we are compelled to exert ourselves to hear the words
which he ought to utter distinctly. We inevitably suspect the validity of his
arguments, or the accuracy of his facts, if he offends the ear with vicious
pronunciations, or is careless and slovenly in his grammatical constructions.
We are provoked to laughter by uncouth gestures and awkward postures.
We do not like to be persuaded by one who vociferates when nothing
demands a vehement utterance, or who pours forth such volumes of sound
as quite drown all articulate words. A pleasing voice, completely under the
control of the speaker; an earnest manner which shows that the man is
himself thoroughly interested in what he says; an easy movement which
makes the hearers feel that the speaker is at home in his work; appropriate-
ness of inflection and gesture, as far removed from affectation as from
awkwardness; freedom from professional tone and offensive mannerism;
directness, and clearness, and vivacity of style; fulness, and force, and
beauty of illustration; power to awaken the sympathy of all who hear; —
these are acquisitions which no minister of the Gospel is at liberty to hold
in light esteem. They are an important part of his preparation for his work.
To neglect them is to be untrue to the Lord who has called him to preach
the Gospel; it is to be unfaithful to the immortal men to whom he is com-
missioned to speak in the Master's name.

This third element in the education our ministers need is more likely to
be neglected than either of the others, while it is more easy of acquisition.
It is only an outward thing, yet, in proportion to the time and labor required
for securing it, is more valuable to the minister than great vigor of intellect,
or large stores of learning.

What, then, is the duty of our churches in reference to the perpetuation,
increase, and education of the ministry?

We answer briefly :

I. To establish and maintain schools in which our young men may have
opportunity for the most thorough mental training; — not theological semi-
naries alone, not colleges alone, but these in connection with schools of
lower grade. We can not fulfill our duty in reference to the future ministry,
unless we have institutions of learning, of all grades, of the very best char-
acter. The foundation must be well laid. Faithful, enthusiastic, thorough
teachers must be employed in the lowest schools. And here we come again
upon the truth so fully recognized already, that one of our greatest wants is
a considerable number of preparatory schools in which the best instruction
may be given, and the foundation be laid for generous scholarship, and large
growth in mental power. Mental discipline must be acquired mainly in the
academy and the college. The theological school has no time for this work.
It receives young men who are supposed to be already well trained, in prepar-


ation for theological study. If they have not had the discipline of the col-
lege, or such discipline acquired elsewhere, the theological course must bring
far less advantage to them than it ought to bring. Our colleges must mainly
furnish the discipline of our candidates for the ministry. Let the churches
see to it that these institutions are well sustained, provided with able and
enthusiastic teachers, and filled with young men called of God to serve Him
in the ministry.

2. Our second duty is to make ample provision for the acquisition of
theological learning. For this the theological seminary is demanded. It
must be planned on a broad scale; must furnish a generous course of study ;
must have broad-minded, earnest, inspiring, godly scholars for its teachers,
enough of them to do the work most thoroughly; and, withal, the churches
must encourage their young men to repair to it for study. Saying nothing
about other institutions, we have occasion to thank God, as well as congratu-
late ourselves, that the foundations of such a school have been laid here, —
that men of ample endowments and generous enthusiasm, growing riper
every year, have been called into its service, and have already given proof of
their call from God to this work. Let the endowment be completed as soon
as possible. Let the vacant chairs be filled by other men of equal capacity,
and attainments, and aptness to teach. Let the library be filled with all
literature that can help in the study of the Bible, or in preparation for the
work of a minister. Let this school have our warmest sympathy and most
generous support; and year by year it will gather the young men from our
colleges, and nourishing them in all theelements of ministerial power through
the three favored years of their study here, it will send them forth in con-
secrated companies, to preach salvation by Jesus Christ, to guide the churches,
to strengthen the faith of believers, to win sinners to holiness, and to hasten
the coming of that blessed era when the whole earth shall rejoice in the
established reign of Christ.

3. A third duty is that our schools of learning, both colleges and semi-
naries, shall give special attention to the training of young men for their
work in the pulpit. Every college, and especially every theological school,
should make adequate provision for instruction in elocution, for training the
voice, and for cultivating all those powers of rhetoric and oratory by which
the truth as uttered by the preacher is made eff"ective and irresistible. What-
ever else fails, this should be provided.

4. A fourth duty, resting on us all, is to aid in supporting those whom
God calls to prepare for the ministry. Most of them, by a wise appointment,
are poor men, that they may better serve the poor as well as the rich. They
need encouragement, and sympathy, and money. Let our education socie-
ties be generously supported, and no young man ever be allowed to suffer
for the comforts of life while he is seeking preparation for the ministry, as
some have suffered who have gone before him, and as some perhaps are suf-
fering now. Every church, the small as well as the large, ought, once in
every year, to make a contribution as God has prospered it, for helping those
young brethren who have turned away from secular pursuits to spend their
lives in the ministry of the Gospel.

These are our duties, brethren. They are serious and weighty, but not
altogether unwelcome duties. Not reluctantly, not as a sacrifice, but with
glad earnestness, let us do all this work, thanking God that He permits us to
bear a part in so glorious an enterprise.


Prof. STEVENS said he had been trying to work up the Baptists
of Oiiio to meet the wants of the ministry.

Rev. F. A. DOUGLASS, of Ohio, spoke at some length upon the
necessity of sending out cultivated missionaries to India.

Rev. Dr. FYFE, of Woodstock, Canada, spoke of the educational
interest in Canada. If the Baptists had as many young men study-
ing for the ministry as Canada had, in proportion to their member-
ship, there would be 5,500 theological students in" the Baptist
colleges of the United States.

Rev. J. C. C. CLARKE, of Ohio, made some earnest and impres-
sive remarks upon the danger of ordaining men too suddenly fur the

The paper was referred to the Committee on the Increase of the
Ministry and Theological Education.

On motion of Rev. Dr. CUTTING, the following resolutions were

Resolved, That the thanks of this Convention are due and are tendered
to the First Baptist Church, in Chicago, for the use of their house of wor-
ship, and to the members of that church and congregation, and to other
Christian friends, for the hospitalities .of their homes.

Resolved, That the proceedings of this Convention be printed under tiie
supervision of the Secretary, with any necessary advice of the Western
Advisory Committee of the American Baptist Educational Commission.

Resolved, That the thanks of the Convention are due to Messrs. Cliurch
and Goodman, of Chicago, for assuming the responsibility of the publishing
of the proceedings, and the pastors and other friends of education are earn-
estly desired to promote their wide circulation by forwarding orders for
copies to Messrs. Church and Goodman, "Standard" office, Chicago.

The Chairman of the Committee on Academies reported further
an addition to their report recognizing the different circumstances
found in different States, with reference to the existing need of acad-
emies. The report was ado^Dted.

Pending its adoption, Rev. A. OWEN, of Michigan, spoke of it
as an important element in this question, that what are now new
States will in time be old States, and that what old States have
learned to do, new States will in time reach. He believed that
academies will become a necessity in States where at present they
seem not to be needed. He referred to the work done by academies
in some of the older States, as that of New London, in New Hamp-
shire, as illustrating what an important sphere they may be expected
one day to fill in the educational system of the West.

Rev. Dr. L. B. ALLEN, of Minnessota, felt deeply interested in
the religious aspect of the question. He was persuaded that a


proper consideration of this subject would carry the Convention in
favor of academies. He referred to incidents in his own experience,
going to show the important influence exerted in academical schools
in this direction. Service of this kind can not be expected of high
schools. He alluded to anotlier fact, that in Minnesota there is at
present no school, whatever, properly under the patronage of the
Baptists. Schools of the class now considered may supply such defi-
ciency in States where colleges are as yet impracticable.

The Convention adjourned with singing, to meet at 2 p.m.


The Convention was opened with prayer by Rev. ALFRED
OWEN, of Michigan.

The motion pending at the adjourntnent was one adopting the
report of the Committee on Academies.

Dr. WAYLAND moved that this report, and all other reports of
committees, be accepted and printed witliout discussion.

Dr. CUTTING hoped the motion would not prevail. There are
important matters in some of the reports which ought to be discussed.
An adoption without the discussion would defeat some of the objects
of this Convention.

After some further discussion. Dr. WAYLAND withdrew his

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Online LibraryIll.) Western Baptist Educational Convention. (1871 : ChProceedings of the Western Baptist Educational Convention, held in the First Baptist Church, Chicago, May 24 and 25, 1871 → online text (page 10 of 13)