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presents itself. With the many demands made
upon the teacher; with the necessity for taking
advantage of the opportunities which might increase
efl&ciency; with the calls for help that come perhaps
more frequently to the teacher than to any other
person; with the necessity in many cases of support-
ing parents, or families, or friends — for all these
the meager salary has been utterly inadequate,
and nothing remains with which to make the years
of old age even comfortable.

The picture is a dark one. Many a tragedy
lurks in the background. It is a picture the sight
of which ought to inspire every parent to undertake
a contest with the authorities for better salaries;
because better salaries mean better talent, better
preparation, a higher character of work, the taking
advantage of larger opportunities, and, in addition,
the privilege to which every man or woman who
has given up life for the sake of others is entitled —
the privilege of a quiet and comfortable old age.


Why does this injustice continue? Because
the eyes of parents, as well as of those in authority,
are blind. How can they be opened ? Let us ask
ourselves this question, and then not rest till we
find its answer.



In thirty of the more prominent Protestant theo-
logical schools of the North there were enrolled in
1894, 2,522 students. In 1903-4 the same schools
registered 2,133 — ^ decrease of 389, or over 15 per
cent. If the comparison were made with 1897 i^"
stead of 1894, and if from these figures for 1903-4
there were subtracted the names of students who are
known to be pastors, and who are attending only the
summer session or some other special session, the
real decrease would be nearer 450 than 389. The
following table contains the facts concerning the
attendance of the leading schools of four denomina-
tions in the North, east of the Mississippi, at the
beginning and end of the decade 1894-1904:

















— 22







Methodist —

Drew. . .'






+ 26
+ 30




+ 18


+ 19











Presbyterian —








+ 82



— 102


+ 18





Congregational —
















+ 10





— 18





The following table indicates the attendance at
the four theological schools whose student body
may be called interdenominational:



Loss or

Per cent

Harvard (undenominational) . .
Union (Presbyterian)





+ 2
— 21

+ 25

— 16

Yale (Congregational)

University of Chicago (Bap-
tist. Excluding Sununer

+ 16





A consideration of these figures shows that there
has been a decrease in these interdenominational
institutions during ten years, of eighteen, or 4 per
cent.; that in the Congregational seminaries the
decrease has been one hundred and seventy-one,


or 43 per cent.; that among the Presbyterians the
decrease has been ^^ per cent, (in McCormick
nearly 50 per cent., in Princeton more than 20 per
cent.); while, on the other hand, there has been an
increase in the Methodist seminaries of about 20
per cent. The schools which draw their constitu-
ency from several denominations show a decUne,
except in the case of Harvard, with its increase of
two, and the University of Chicago, with its increase
of twenty-five. The decrease seems to be in the
two denominations which are generally conceded
to represent more wealth and to be more influenced
by modern intellectual currents than any others,
the Presbyterian and the Congregational.

Two or three additional points may be noted aside
from these tables. Of the nearly twelve hundred
men graduating in 1904 from Yale, Harvard, Colum-
bia, and Princeton, less than thirty stated that they
were planning to enter the ministry. The eleven
Baptist colleges north of the Ohio and east of the
Mississippi graduated in 1904 only twenty-eight men
who intended to enter the ministry.

No one will question the general proposition that
the number of students preparing for the ministry
in the theological seminaries of the various denomina-
tions is decreasing; that, in fact, it has decreased
very considerably within the last decade. It may
not be an easy matter to explain this remarkable
decrease, but it is possible that some of the features
in the situation may be pointed out.


It is undoubtedly true that the other professions
are relatively more attractive in these modern times.
This is so not only because they offer better oppor-
tunities for acquiring wealth, but also because the
general influence of the minister, even when success-
ful, has diminished, while that of the successful
practitioner in law or medicine, not to speak of other
professions, has greatly increased. Whether the
field of influence of the average minister has di-
minished absolutely may be questioned, but there
can be no question as to the relative position which
he now occupies in a community. From the point
of view of the average young man nineteen to twenty-
one years old, who notes the frequent changes in
the pulpits of the parishes with which he may be
most familiar, and observes the general feehng too
often manifested toward the minister by those about
him, this sacred calHng, once the ideal of every sober-
minded youth, has lost the inspiration that formerly
was associated with it. The minister is no longer
the one person in the community who stands high
above the others, and, for that reason, if for no other,
commanded the esteem and respect of all. The
sacredness, and consequently the attractiveness, of
the position have largely been lost; while, on the
other hand, the attorney, the physician, and even
the engineer and the teacher, have come to occupy
positions which in each case possess attractions of a
pecuhar character. For if one is drawn toward the
political field, is not the law an open door ? If he


is touched with the spirit of modern science, in what
field may he more easily have opportunity for the
cultivation of this spirit than in medicine or perhaps
in engineering ? While, if in his heart there is a real
desire to help in the development of individual life
and character, is not the teacher's desk or the pro-
fessorial chair even more certain and more attractive
than the ministry ? In the upHfting of the other pro-
fessions that of the ministr}^ has fallen in the esti-
mation of the young man of the present generation.
In the old days, when the home religious influ-
ence was strong, the father and mother not infre-
quently set aside for the ministry the first-born son,
or, in any case, one of the boys. This was regarded
as a sacred duty, and was only a single expression,
although a significant one, of the powerful influence
of the rehgious spirit manifest in the home. It is
unfortunately true that in very few at best of the
homes of the present generation is the influence of
this rehgious spirit so strongly felt, while in all
probabiHty the great majority of our homes exhibit
almost a total lack of this same spirit. If it is true
that a decision in reference to one's future work is
reached in most cases before the boy leaves home,
and indeed before he reaches his eighteenth year, it
is apparent that the home influence will predominate
in this decision; but if, on the other hand, there is
in the home no definite expression of the religious
spirit, no serious consideration of duty in regard to
this particular work; if, in fact, the whole subject

/^ OF THE ■



of religion is passed over without serious considera-
tion, how can it be expected that the minds of young
men will be turned toward the calKng of the ministry ?
The gradual decay of religious expression, whatever
may be said of the reHgious feehng, and the absence
from the home of that definite and tangible insistence
upon the consideration of religious matters, will
explain in large measure why the boys of our gen-
eration do not look forward with longing heart toward
the work of the ministry.

There is, moreover, a large element of uncertainty
in the career of the minister today which did not
characterize it in the past days. While a much
larger percentage of those trained for the ministry
abandon it after one or more years of service for
work of another kind, and there is consequently,
from this point of view, a greater element of uncer-
tainty than in former times, I have in mind something
quite different. A much more disquieting factor
will be found in what may be called the theological
uncertainty of the times. All men concede without
question that the church in its theological beliefs
and in its practical methods is in a state of marked
transition. To be sure, the student of history
knows well enough that Christianty has been in a
state of transition from the first century, but the
popular mind, in view of trials for heresy, discussions
concerning higher criticism, debates on inspiration,
and the almost universal silence of the pulpit on the
question of the future life, realizes most keenly, and


to the great injury of the cause of religion, that
in a peculiar sense we today are living in a time
of transition. I could give from the circles of my
personal acquaintanceship the names of fifty or
more young men who within five years have given
up their desire and purpose to enter the ministry
because they were convinced that their work would
not be acceptable to the churches; for the churches,
in spite of their real knowledge of the present situa-
tion, demand, for the sake of public appearance, a
preaching which would have been acceptable fifty
years ago. It is entirely safe to say that this one
factor of uncertainty in the present period of transi-
tion has within a single year deterred more men
from entering the ministry than have actually entered
it. Nor can these young men be reproached. Their
educational training has taught them to think, and
they have experienced the intense satisfaction which
comes from thinking. Can they be blamed for
refusing to enter upon a profession in which the great
majority of those who have undertaken it are for-
bidden to think except within the narrowest limits ?
I can not consider at this point whether such limita-
tions are necessary, or whether they are desirable.
In this connection I can only say that many young
men of the present generation are turning aside from
the ministry because they fear that if in their intel-
lectual development they should come to hold certain
opinions, their services in the ministry would not
be desired, and they would find themselves without



Opportunity to do the work for which they had pre-
pared themselves.

I do not think that many men are turned aside
from the ministry because of the uncertainty of the
small salary which they will be able to earn. And
yet there are two phases of this question which in all
probability exert a wide-reaching influence. The
educated man of today regards the education of his
children as an absolute necessity, and his failure to
secure for them an education as a deadly sin against
God and against man. But how can a man look
forward to the possibility of educating even a small
family in the present day on the average salary of the
minister? Can even God demand the sacrifice
which such a one must make if he shall succeed in
securing the education of those for whose lives he is
responsible, not to speak of the greater sacrifice in-
volved in the failure to provide for this education ?
And, further, in these days one's influence in a com-
munity is measured to a considerable extent by the
facilities which he may have for a respectable life,
and, as we know, the life of a leader in society cannot
be respectable in the popular sense — it cannot at all
events be influential — if the proper facilities are not
provided. I should like to propose the statement
that the relative loss of influence of the minister is
due to the smallness of his salary more than to all
other influences combined. If the present salaries
could be doubled within ten years, the influence of
the average minister would be doubled. The world


is undoubtedly wrong in many of the estimates which
it places upon men, and even more wrong in the
principles which underlie those estimates; but
whether right or wrong, it has come to estimate the
individual man as well as the profession in terms of
a commercial character. It is outrageous that it
should be so, but it is so; and no one is more keenly
susceptible to the influence of such estimation than
the young boy of eighteen to twenty who looks about
him and undertakes to gather data concerning this
or that profession.

The ministry has been brought into disrepute by
the fact that in certain denominations men have
been admitted to its ranks without adequate prepa-
ration or education. The dignity of the office, as
well as its sacredness, has been greatly injured in
this way. And one may well question whether
greater harm will not eventually result from this
promiscuous admission of ignorant candidates, than
the good which these men have been able to accom-
plish through their one redeeming qualification — zeal.
The medical profession becomes more and more at-
tractive as the requirements for admission are ele-
vated. This is true likewise of the legal profession,
and, in fact, of any and every profession. It is a
strange contradiction that in proportion as the re-
quirements for entrance into other professions have
gradually been elevated, in that same proportion
seemingly the requirements for admission to the
clerical profession have been lowered. The statistics


given above, which show that in the Presbyterian
and Congregational denominations the number of
candidates has diminished, while in the Methodist
it has increased, may not seem consistent with this
statement, but when one closely studies them they
do not contradict. It is certainly true that the
existence in the Methodist church of the episco-
pate is a strong incentive to men to enter the
ministry. Denominations like the Presbyterian,
the Congregational, and the Baptist, which furnish no
opportunity to men of real ability for administration
and public service to distinguish themselves before
their fellows, lack one of the most important elements
which appeal to the ambition of a young man who is
planning for his life-work. It is a grave question
whether the dead level of the ministry in the three
denominations just named is as advantageous as the
extremes of strength and weakness which the Metho-
dist denomination exhibits in its ministry. However
true this may be, the proposition holds good that the
picture presented by the average minister of the pres-
ent day, with the evidence which it furnishes of nar-
rowness, lack of adequate support, absence of facili-
ties for modern life, with its almost compulsory
mediocrity and its increasingly diminished dignity
and influence, is not one which will fire the imagina-
tion of a young man, even though that young man
has in his heart the passion which, properly guided,
would lead him into this calling, rightly designated


It must be confessed that the drift of college life
is not one that encourages a young man to go for-
ward with his plans for ministerial work even when
he has reached a decision before entering college.
The average college life, like the average life of mod-
em times, is too indifferent to religion and to reli-
gious influence. Even in colleges professedly organ-
ized to train men for the ministry the curriculum
studiously avoids those subjects which would keep
alive in the heart of a young man the fire that has
already been kindled there, and substitutes other
subjects which inevitably draw him in a different
direction. Too frequently no effort is made to cul-
tivate in him the desire which has already had birth,
and every college professor knows that a majority of
those who enter college with the ministry in mind
leave college to take up law or medicine or to enter
business. In former days the colleges were made
up almost wholly of men who were preparing for the
ministry, and the atmosphere of the college was one
which strengthened with every year the desire already
manifested. But in modern days it is quite the op-
posite, partly because the scientific spirit has come
to prevail; partly because there is as yet no adequate
presentation of the religious position from a modern
point of view; partly because so large a proportion
of those who enter the ministry do so without a col-
lege training, or, in fact, no adequate training. For
these and other reasons the college atmosphere is in


some cases indifferent, in others even hostile, to the
development of the ministerial idea. It is evident
that this is wrong. What shall be done to change
the situation? Let college faculties address them-
selves to the discovery of the answer.



The topic is one which requires exposition and
definition, for otherwise we shall certainly lose
ourselves among the many possibiHties of its treat-
ment. I shall begin categorically, therefore, by
asking three specific questions :

To what extent is the church concerned with
our civic institutions ?

To what extent is the preacher concerned with
our civic institutions ?

To what extent is the seminary concerned with
the training of preachers in reference to this matter ?

The mutual influence of reHgion and government
is the great topic in all history of the past. The
connection between the development of theological
thought and the development of civic institutions
has always been close. This is seen in the large
amount of language now employed in the expression
of theological thought which has had its origin in
the field of civic institutions; and hkewise in many
cases in the actual historical relationship between
civic institutions and theological ideas. We may

I Read at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Dr.
Hovey's accession to the faculty of The Newton Theological
Institution, June 7, 1899.



separate religion and the state, but we cannot sepa-
rate theological and institutional thought, nor can
we separate religious and civil life. Our Protes-
tantism differs from European Protestantism partly
because our civic institutions differ from those of

Until very recent times, the church, as such, has
regarded itself as the state's custodian, although not
infrequently the state has assumed the custodianship
of the church. But whether the one or the other was
supreme mattered little, since between the civic and
the ecclesiastical there was practical identity. Under
these circumstances no separation of the two, in
thought or fact, was possible ; the same blood coursed
through their arteries; the same brain controlled all
activity. The organism was essentially one. Cor-
ruption in church carried with it corruption in state,
and corruption in state carried with it corruption in
church. There were times, indeed, both in the
history of the Old Testament church and of the
Christian church, when antagonism arose. The
state, for one reason or another, would antagonize
the practices and the creeds of the church. But
this was done only in order that some other system
of practice or of thought might be introduced. It
was not supposed for a moment that the state could
get along without the church. The church was,
in fact, for the most part supreme, and controlled
the state as if indeed it had been its keeper.

Civic positions, for instance, were occupied by


ecclesiastics. The form of government was largely
that of the hierarchy. The civic officer performed
at the same time ecclesiastical functions. This
was the situation for many centuries, and history,
whether ancient, mediaeval, or modern, has occupied
itself largely in describing the results which flowed
from such a connection between the church and
civic institutions.

In respect to this matter today we are living as in
respect to so many others — in the period of transition.
We are accustomed to congratulate ourselves that
the state and the church are separate; but very
narrow must be the horizon of the man who does
not see that only in a small portion of the world,
and indeed only in a small portion of Christendom,
is it true that the state and the church are yet sepa-
rated. We see in many quarters a tendency of
thought and action in this direction ; but, at the present
rate of progress, many centuries will pass before it
may be said with any truth that in Christian nations
church and state are distinct. It is, however, in
the modern situation that we are interested. And
as we look about today and ask as to the concern
of the church with civic institutions, in those coun-
tries in which separation has taken place, we find
it difficult to describe the state of things definitely.
The church, of course, in view of its separation,
holds itself aloof. This is the prevaiUng attitude,
and with this there naturally come those other
attitudes which ordinarily accompany aloofness;


namely, indifference, disregard, and hostility. The
church in separating itself assumed a hostile attitude,
which has not even yet sufiFered serious modifica-
tion. The church now declares that, as such, she
has nothing to do with the state, and she looks
askance upon any attempt to use her influence in
connection with affairs of state. This position,
although one which was inevitable, carried with it
also a certain separation of the church from society
itself; and here lies in part the solution of the serious
question involved in the fact that the church has,
to a considerable extent, lost its hold upon the people.
Just in so far as other associations of men, directly
or indirectly connected with the church, have come
forward and associated themselves with the church
for the purpose of improving society along lines
different from those ordinarily pursued in the
churches, in that proportion, I say, the church has
lost an opportunity to influence civic institutions
as they stand related to society, and, in losing this
opportunity of influence, has at the same time lost
the opportunity to become strong in the minds and
hearts of the people.

What, now, is the ideal toward which the church
should move? Shall it retrace its steps and again
join itself to the state? Never. The ideal lies
in the direction of the present development. Two
or three characteristics, however, must be culti-
vated. The church as such must become broader
in its sympathies. I do not have in mind now any


question of creed or doctrine. The church is today-
narrow in its operations in the reaction from its
old sphere, which included everything. It has
come to limit itself too greatly. The church may
not associate itself with the state, but it may asso-
ciate itself with society and permeate society with
the spirit of its founder — the spirit of Christ. The
church must give up its exclusiveness. The mass
of the laboring class feel kindly toward Jesus Christ,
but hate the church. We may say that they are
not justified in this; we must, however, deal with
the fact. The church has ahenated Hkewise the
wealthy class, and is rapidly alienating what may
be called the intellectual class. Jesus' work and
teaching were for all classes. The ideal of the

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Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 13 of 24)