Occasional Papers, No. 13.
The American Negro Academy.
(FOUNDED BY ALEXANDER CRUMMELL)
The Demand and the Supply of Increased
Efficiency in the Negro Ministry.
BY JESSE E. MOORLAND.
Price 15 Cts.
WASHINGTON, D. C.
PUBLISHED BY THE ACADEMY,
Press of R. L. Pendleton
609 F St. N. W.
Washington, D. C.
The Demand and the Supply of Increased Efficiency in the Negro Ministry.
BY JESSE E. MOORLAND.
In the discussion of this subject I fully recognize the opportunity men have to serve God in any honorable vocation. The Christian lawyer or physician is called of God as truly as a minister. Such men are putting the emphasis on service and not on getting. The condition confronting us is alarming and this warrants the earnest plea in this paper for a greater number of efficient ministers.
This is probably the most important question confronting the colored people to-day. After all, a race or a nation is measured by its religion, and the greatest fact about a people is its religion. The efficiency of a nation depends in a large degree upon the character of its religious principles. When the good Queen Victoria was asked what made her realm so great, it was expected that she might point to her well-equipped navy or her efficient army, but she modestly held up a little book, called the Bible, and said: “By adhering to the principles contained in this Book, greatness has come to Great Britain.” China is what she is to-day because she adheres to certain principles taught by her religious teachers, and Africa is still in darkness because led by blind, superstitious, religious teachers.
In a larger sense than many people are willing to give credit the Negro minister has been responsible for the progress of our race and is also responsible for much that cannot be counted as progress, for no other single class of individuals has had, and still has, so large and far-reaching an influence as our ministers. You have only to go to a community where there is a well-trained, honorable, upright, and efficient minister to see the marked improvement among the people along every line. On the other hand, when you find a community where there is an immoral, ignorant minister, wielding a large influence, you will find a community that is full of despair.
It is pleasant to read the short story written by Paul Laurence Dunbar some years ago, entitled “The Ordeal at Mt. Hope.” This story possibly gives one of the most vivid pictures of real, genuine service rendered by a man of splendid parts in a needy section of the South, bearing out the practical demonstration of the power the minister has over a community.
It is one thing to lay down principles; it is another thing to show that these principles are correct and true by the practical work which is based upon these principles. It is no hard thing to see how true it is that of all men throughout the history of the world, none have had greater influence than the religious teachers of a people, and it is just as true to-day, and it is a waste of time to argue that a race or nation can be lifted any higher than the religious principles of that race or nation will allow it to go. History fails to record an instance of this sort, and it is very evident there never[Pg 4] will be an instance of the kind. Man is bound by his religion. He may not profess it, but he has a belief; even though he may declare that he believes nothing, the very fact of his declaration proves him to have a dogma. You had as well expect to find lions without courage as to find men without some form of religious conviction. It is a something in man that has to be reckoned with, and where it is most wisely directed and cultivated, there we find the highest culture and development along every line. Hence the great importance to a new race like ours in America that the most careful attention be given to this very important phase of our development.
This is no time for mere fault-finding. It is a time, however, for sober, considerate thought. It is a time when the best of the clergy and the best of the laity of every denomination need seriously to face a question which is not alone common to themselves but is a serious one confronting the entire Protestant Church. In some ways our churches are suffering, (and it seems will suffer more for sometime than others), for the reason that we have not had, and have not now, so large a number of trained men to draw upon as others who have had better advantages than ourselves. With an honest purpose, it is our business to courageously take this matter up and get at the facts, and then find a way to remedy the alarming condition. We are at a crisis, and the future of our race is involved,—yea, the future of our nation, for one-eighth of the population of any land has a tremendous influence upon the whole.
In the first place, the demand for increased efficiency is emphasized by increased intelligence of the people. Forty years ago we were just entering school as a race; to-day we have the second generation in our public schools, secondary schools, and colleges. These parents and children read the daily papers, read the magazines, buy some books, and are beginning to think, and as soon as an individual begins to think independently all sorts of problems rapidly crowd in on the mind and put it in an attitude of questioning many of the things which have always beforehand been taken for granted as correct and true. Along with this goes the fact that much of the literature of to-day, (including newspaper editorials and many magazine articles), has a tendency to undermine Christian faith rather than help it. Much of it comes from brains well saturated with Pagan philosophy rather than the principles laid down in the Holy Book. The swing away from Puritanism to what is called liberty has the effect of loosening many of the well-fixed principles of morality and right-living, and makes splendid soil for just such practices as we are constantly reminded of by the glaring headlines in our newspapers giving every detail of murders, and lax family relations and divorces, and every conceivable thing that human nature can devise for the uprooting of many of the essentials of real progress and decent living. This brings a spirit of unrest and doubt, and the question whether life pays, and whether it is worth while to make an effort, and whether the Church is of any effect. The minister is looked upon as a professional parasite drawing a salary and having a good time, and in the thought of many is cast aside as of but little consequence.
[Pg 5]To meet such conditions as mentioned above, there must be increased efficiency in the ministry, the demand to meet which is greater to-day than ever before. I am finding no fault with the efficient men we now have at work. Many are doing valiant service. They are heroes on the home field in the same sense that Carey, Judson, Livingstone, Pitkin, Lott Carey and others were heroes on the foreign field. Some of these men are laying their lives down in the great work to which they have been called. All honor to these men! But their numbers are too few. The disproportion is too great in our professional schools. For example, when a medical school can boast of four hundred young men preparing to care for the physical life of the people and the theological school in the same institution can report barely one hundred men preparing to care for the moral and spiritual life of the same people, it is time to stop and consider whither are we tending. Then at a closer glance we see something else which is worse still. With all due respect to the men in the theological school, it is an alarming fact that the men in the medical school, in most cases, have a higher average in scholarship and natural force than the men in the theological school. Why is this? It is because the training in our colleges, the teaching from the platform, and the training in most of our homes is such that our boys to-day are led to believe that the route to greatest success is along the material highway. It is a current saying now that the quickest way for a colored man of ability, at this time, to get out of the reach of immediate want, materially, is to study medicine. There may not be too many men entering medicine, but certainly not enough are entering the ministry. In some cases well-meaning men have been disgusted with certain types of ministers which they have met and have cast the whole profession aside, giving it no respectful consideration, and have felt that they could better themselves, socially as well as materially, by entering some profession other than the ministry. I am well acquainted with not a few men who entered college with the express purpose of preparing themselves to enter the ministry, who turned aside to some other calling for the reason mentioned. Sad to say, very few of the most capable men in our colleges to-day are looking forward to the ministry as a life work.
In order that we may cope with such conditions as those just mentioned, none can gainsay the great need of greater efficiency in the ministry, that we do not cut the tap-root of all our progress and become of none effect in the world. The wisest leaders of Japan to-day are deeply concerned about the propagation of Christian principles among the people. The recent past has changed a nation in a day, and while the people have taken on the ways of western civilization, the larger number of them have not accepted the principles which have made western civilization great, and these far-seeing prophets of the Sunrise kingdom well understand that their glory will be ephemeral unless they are able to plant their feet firmly upon the eternal Rock of Ages. As lightly as it may be regarded, there is a similar danger confronting the rising young race of colored men in this land. It is not reassuring that our[Pg 6] strongest men, who are able to make their way through northern universities, have in some cases come out of these institutions with a shattered faith and are not found in places of leadership either as ministers or laymen, in our churches and other religious institutions. A man cannot excuse himself by saying that he spends his time during the week in the schoolroom, in the law office, or in the sickroom. The great men of the world and the great races and nations of the world have done all these things but did not leave the other undone. To meet this condition a larger number of efficient men must be led into the ministry.
In order that the supply may be commensurate with the demand, it is necessary to ask the question where and how shall we begin to meet the demand for an increased efficiency in the ministry? First, with Christian parents. It is interesting to note that Paul, in his second letter to his beloved son, Timothy, 1st chapter, 5th verse, makes use of these words: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother, Lois, and thy mother, Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also,” and he thus shows his belief in spiritual heredity.
The foregoing passage teaches that we must not shut our eyes to the responsibility of Christian parents in this matter. Many of the great preachers of the world were consecrated to this service by godly mothers, in some cases before they were born, even as Hannah, Samuel’s mother, consecrated him to the Lord before his birth.
Forty years ago, it was a passion with many Christian parents to have at least one son enter the ministry, and yet I am sorry to say to-day I have many, many times made inquiry of ministers’ sons and have found very few of them who were willing to give even a respectful hearing to the claim of the ministry and few parents of such sons who seemed concerned about the matter.
The first remedy is to go back to first principles and let the people who claim to love the Lord and His Christ be willing to make an offering of the very flower of their families to this, the highest and noblest service ever given to man to perform.
Then our various churches must take a larger interest in leading the most promising young men into this great service. Some churches have done nobly at this and have stood by their spiritual sons by furnishing the means by which they might attend college and fit themselves for service, and have taken peculiar interest and pride in seeing them return to the mother church and in listening to them, and in bidding them God speed; but most of our churches, though able, have paid hardly any attention to this important phase of service at all, and many of our churches cannot mention a single successful minister who commands the respect of any large community because of his ability and power, which they have sent out. On the other hand, many times men are allowed to come into the ministry through our churches who are always calculated to do more injury than good,—men with no preparation and no chance of getting proper training.
God never calls a man to preach unless He also provides the way for him to make due preparation for that service. This is a[Pg 7] principle which cannot successfully be disputed. When God called Moses He led him out of the land of Egypt, and he spent years and years communing with God under the canopy of heaven; and Paul spent three years somewhere in preparation for his great work, and even the Father’s own Son for thirty years was in preparation to do three years’ work.
It is a harmful thing to have a church full of inefficient, licensed preachers with no hope of ever entering actively into the ministry, but in most cases are just a worry of the flesh to a progressive pastor. When a man comes before a board for a license he ought to be given to understand that this license will be granted only on condition that he prepare himself intellectually as well as spiritually for the great work of the ministry, and when prepared that he will enter into the field which is white and ready and waiting for the reaper.
Possibly the Church has no larger opportunity for advancing the Lord’s kingdom than in just this phase of service. Sometimes a narrow-minded minister is to blame. He fails to encourage the promising young man for fear some day he will come back as a rival too much for him. I wish it were possible to utter these words with sufficient emphasis to arouse many of our dormant, sleeping churches to a sense of their duty.
One organization in our colleges has the largest opportunity over any other to help furnish an increased supply from our college men, and that is the Student Department of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Already the leader of this Department, Mr. John R. Mott, has written a book, “The Future Leadership of the Church,” published by the International Committee, 124 East 28th Street, New York. In this volume Mr. Mott takes up this whole question of the supply of leaders in our churches. Though a layman himself, for some years, he has been lecturing in the leading colleges of our land and calling the strong men (as only a true leader can call men) to consider the calling of the ministry, facing squarely all of the difficulties connected therewith, problems of faith, problems of training, and the problem of support, which is entirely too meagre to-day; but with a strong purpose he has been making an effort to lead some of the best and ablest men into this, the highest of all callings. The same thing is being done in many of our colored colleges by our colored International Secretaries; some time during the year the claim of the ministry is presented to the students. We feel sure that in due time results will be seen. Capable ministers among us and college professors also need covet the opportunity, in a larger way than they have been doing, to appear before bodies of students, to mingle with them, to impress them with the importance of at least considering this calling, in order that we may get the supply which is so greatly needed.
Do you wonder at my urgency when I tell you that Bishops and presiding elders have many times sadly declared to me that few men of any class are applying for admission to the many annual conferences, and in many cases not a single candidate applies in a single year; and when they do, oftentimes they are weak men. In one case eighteen men applied for admission to an annual conference in[Pg 8] a certain State and not one of them was intellectually qualified to pursue the course of study prescribed for the first year, and to the credit of the conference they were not admitted. Certainly the Baptist brethren are not more blessed than their Methodist friends. The smaller denominations are confronted with a similar lack of men to pioneer the enterprises which are theirs to do. The Master’s words are as true to-day as ever they were: “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few.” The pastors of training and vision are themselves alarmed; the best of the laity are overwhelmed with the magnitude of their task when it is theirs to call a pastor. There was a time when the most choice men of the race entered the ministry. No other door was open, but to-day practically every door open to anybody else is open to the man of ability of the Negro race. This of course depletes the number from which the supply must come.
Even in the days of slavery the great leaders on the plantations were generally preachers, and they were in many cases feared and respected by both white and black. If this preacher chose to be, he was a dangerous man to the institution of slavery and ofttimes was sold. On the other hand, he was usually the source of great blessing to large communities, so much so that there were instances where some such men were given their freedom and commissioned to preach from plantation to plantation, not only to colored people, but oftentimes to white people. The story of the lives of these men reads like romance, and they were the men at the close of the Civil War, who were ready to welcome the school and did their best to lead the people into the ways of true progress. They had great power and influence,—not always sufficient intelligence for their arduous tasks, but they were giants in their day and deserve well-merited praise. To meet the demands of these modern times other giants must be raised up, who can hold the respect of the best trained portion of our people, and at the same time may maintain the confidence of the most humble of every community. We have some men like this. They stand like giant oaks in the forest, towering above the shrubs and undergrowth about them. They are lonely in their work. Here and there, about the great centers of population, there may be groups of them, but eighty per cent of our people are not in the great centers but are scattered throughout the length and breadth of the land in small hamlets and the country districts. These people are too often as sheep without a shepherd. No doubt not many of the shepherds there are doing the best they can. Give them credit for all they do, but the demand is such that a more efficient ministry must enter into every hamlet, and there lift and inspire the people; and possibly the greatest thing to be done in this lifting process is to provide a more efficient and practical training for the men we desire to lead into the ministry. Merely to have men enter this great work without a training, which fits them to cope with the problems of the day, is but a waste of effort. The Negro minister ought to be the best trained man among us in order that he may be able to assume his rightful place as a leader of the people. The training needed for the ministry of to-day must be comprehensive and practical. This will be the means of attracting[Pg 9] men of ability and will insure increased efficiency. The emphasis for the training of the ministry to-day needs to be placed upon teaching; not mere oratory, but teaching.
Jesus Christ was a great teacher. Nicodemus said: “We know thou art a teacher sent from God.” Very seldom is it said that Jesus preached, but it is commonly said that he taught the people. The minister who is to be His true representative on earth must also be a teacher, and it is of the greatest importance that his training be such as shall broaden his views of life and shall enable him to understand the relations of human society sufficiently well to warrant his instructing the people in the most helpful way. Unfortunately a great deal of the training of the past has been entirely too narrow. Usually the theological seminaries have been very slow in utilizing the most improved educational methods and have been very active in maintaining the old order of things. What we need to-day for our ministers is a training which will put them in possession of the knowledge of human society just as it is. It is of the greatest importance that a minister should be given a correct training according to the principles of Jesus Christ to treat these conditions. The people are waiting and hungering for this type of leader. There was never a time when the colored people were so willing to be taught from the pulpit as they are to-day.
No ground will be gained by mere denunciation, but what is needed is a splendid constructive method which will build the people up in every phase of life and sweeten human relations. All the people demand of such a teacher is that he should be as good as the doctrine he proclaims and should fully comprehend what he is about. There certainly is no place where larger opportunity is offered for service than in the high calling of the ministry. The average course of study in seminaries provided for both white and colored candidates for the ministry is not calculated to bring them in touch with the problems which are to confront them as it should. The following is a course of study covering three years, and a fair sample of courses provided by seminaries established for colored ministers:
First year: Biblical Introduction; Hebrew Language; Greek Interpretation; Sacred Rhetoric and Elocution; Vocal Music.
Second year: Church History; Hebrew Interpretation; Greek Interpretation; Sacred Rhetoric and Elocution; Vocal Music; Homiletics; Christian Theology.
Third year: Pastoral Duties; Theology and Ethics; Biblical Introduction; Homiletics and Church Polity; Christian Theology; Sacred Rhetoric and Elocution; Electives.
There is not much in this course that inspires men with the gravity of the problems of human society in the beginning of the twentieth century. Too many times in our seminaries men speculate about theories of salvation and various other things labelled doctrines, which are of little or no value to men whose business it is to bring the kingdom of Jesus on earth as it is in heaven. Why spend a term on the theory of salvation when Jesus said, “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” One man with faith in this and a comprehensive training will do more to save the world than a dozen[Pg 10] men can possibly do battling over the theories which have grown up with the church during the past ages. It is unfortunate that many of our ministers have had no systematic training at all, and it is surprising that so much has been accomplished with such poorly equipped men as many of them have been. They are not to be too severely censured. Again I repeat, no band of men in our race has been more self-sacrificing and more desirous on the whole for race uplift and development than these men, and there is no intention at this time to do anything more than to call attention to the great need of a better trained ministry to reenforce the present ranks in an effective way for good. It is encouraging to note a new departure in two leading theological seminaries. Yale Divinity School changed its course very much a year ago. It strengthened the old course, leading to the degree of Bachelor of Divinity, known as historical, also adding a philosophical and lastly a practical course, both of which lead to the B.D. degree. “The practical course will emphasize the relation of the minister to the problems of modern society, giving special attention to Christian sociology, ethics, and methods of Christian activity. As a preliminary discipline students who take this course will receive in the junior year special instruction in sociology and instruction in elementary law in one of the courses furnished by the University for law students.”
The Chicago Theological Seminary has made a similar change and says in a recent catalogue: “The subjects for instruction are those directly relating to the work of the ministry, and courses in the English Bible, the psychology of Christian living, religious pedagogy, evangelism, missions, Christian sociology and citizenship are included in both the prescribed and elective work. Hebrew and Greek have been made almost entirely elective, and much that is traditional in systematic theology, church history, and other departments has had to make room for new subjects. But the seminary authorities, believing that such changes are necessary, hold that the mere fact that a subject has a traditional place in the curriculum of the divinity school should not be a sufficient reason for retaining it. Each subject must continually prove anew its right to be taught and justify itself under modern conditions.” This does not mean less study or a less scholarly man as the finished product; but it does mean that the seminary is to take its place along with other professional schools in fitting men to meet present needs.
The action of the above schools is most encouraging, and no doubt before a great while many other seminaries will follow the same course. This will do for the minister what our medical schools are doing for the physician; it will bring him in daily contact with the conditions which he must meet out in the world. Who would think of running a medical school without a laboratory and a clinic? Young men might know all the books have to say about the property of drugs or the symptoms of diseases, but such men will be handicapped if they are to wait until they go out into actual life before seeing these drugs tried, or the peculiar manifestation of diseases as they make their inroads on the human system. A thorough knowledge of sociology makes it possible for young men who are in[Pg 11] our theological seminaries to get some practical knowledge of human relations and conditions of the present time and thereby be better able to apply the potent Gospel as a remedy.
What is needed is a greater breadth of view possessed by the leaders of our seminaries and in many cases more practical men, such as our great and successful preachers are, ought to be on the teaching staff rather than some men who could not succeed in any eminent way as pastors; example has its effect on theologies as well as medicos and the man with the green bag. Every provision should be made for ministers to be well-equipped teachers and leaders of the people. Such training will make our ministers able to place the emphasis on their work where it belongs. Such men will as carefully consider the financial strength of their people as a physician considers the physical strength of a patient; and no more should we see churches built which are out of all proportion to the financial ability of the people who worship in them. We should not see a great debt hanging over the heads of a poor people, the most of whom do not own their own homes but live in narrow streets and alleys under very unsanitary conditions. But we should see neat houses of worship arranged so as to meet the needs of a given parish in its largest way and within the reach of the people’s financial ability. Further, we should see radiating from this center influences which will inspire people to own their own homes, to take proper care of their children, and to realize what it means to walk with God as men of old here on earth.
This training will enable men to be brought near enough to see that it is a waste of time merely to preach narrow denominationalism, but good men of all denominations will unite in combatting evil and in making a given community a desirable place for the habitation of the children of men. Greater care will be taken of the poor and orphans and more energy will be spent in building up the moral life of the young men and women of the community. This will be done by these trained men who will come fully as well equipped to discern what these problems of society are as the physician who comes to heal our bodies and who must necessarily understand disease and remedy. Such a minister’s thought will not be centered on making a great name for himself at the expense of an ignorant people. It will not matter to him whether he has the name of having built the largest church or the finest church, or whether he has the biggest congregation in his church, but it will be centered upon the most important thing, and that is the establishing of the kingdom of Jesus Christ among men on earth. His efforts will be to lift the burdens from the poor and unfortunate and make their lives happy and sweet and pleasant. He will be a leader in devising ways and means to get our people out of the crowded alleys into the bright sunshine of life that they may be where their little children may have a chance for true development. He will gather around him a band of faithful, trained men and women, who will visit the jail, the sick, the poor, and the oppressed. And he will call to mind the requirements which Jesus Christ laid down for all men who wish to walk with Jesus here and to enter with Him in[Pg 12] eternal rest. “For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
The above words are from the Master’s own lips and make plain and clear the duty of the church, the duty of Christian society as well as that of the individual. It is a clear indication that Jesus meant for his followers to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the conditions of society as He did himself. He was thoroughly familiar with all the evils and the needs of humanity which surrounded Him. And His work was the healing of every ill. Too long have men talked about the Father in such a cold, metaphysical way as to forget their brethren who are next door to them. Too long have men thought merely of individualistic religion. Our religion must be more effectively social in its aim and practice. It must so act and react on society that the whole lump will be leavened. Christianity has done more for the world than any other religion or principle and yet it has never been given the chance it should be given to do its complete work among men. When you look about you and behold the suffering and misery, the sin and shame, can you but offer a prayer that the day will soon come when a large number of our strong men shall receive a training for the ministry which shall fit them to battle effectively with these great problems which confront us in this modern age? Unless it is done we go backward. Here is the Negro’s great opportunity, viz: To let Christianity have a chance through him. Will he lose it?
The great reformers of the church have always been men of the broadest training. Luther and Calvin were not only preachers as we think of preachers, but also were men of splendid legal training. Dr. F. J. Grimke, (who is highly esteemed and respected as a minister), not only is a high honor man of the Divinity School of Princeton University, but also is a graduate in law as well. Henry Ward Beecher, the greatest preacher America ever produced, had a law library that any young lawyer would be glad to have, and a medical library that would be a credit to any young physician. There was not a phase of knowledge with which he did not have some acquaintance. The broad training these men had gave them the mastery of difficult problems. When we shall have a large number of thoroughly trained men of unquestioned character whose hearts are warm with the love of God and whose eyes behold the true condition of their people, and whose hands shall be ready to work for the good of an inspiring race, then we shall see the kingdom of God come among men in a larger way than it is possible for us now even to imagine. While many have not had the privilege of[Pg 13] securing the training which fits us to understand in the most comprehensive way many of the problems which are round about us, it is still possible for every minister to qualify himself so that he may be a workman which needeth not to be ashamed. Unfortunately a great many of our ministers do not do what they might. For some cause they do not purchase books at all, or do not purchase them as wisely as they should. It is a poor plan to spend money for books which agents carry about from place to place. They are generally high-priced and little used after they are bought. Find out what you ought to buy by reading reviews and by consulting with men who certainly know. Every preacher should own, read, and ponder the following books and extend his reading as he may see fit: “The Social Crisis” by Rauschenbusch (published by Macmillan, New York); “The Social Message of the Modern Pulpit” by Brown (Scribner, New York); “The Religion of a Mature Mind” and “The Spiritual Life” by Coe (Revell, New York); “The Psychology of Religion” by Starbuck (Scribner, New York); “Elements of Sociology” by Giddings (Macmillan, New York); “United States Census Bulletin No. 8” (Washington, D. C.); “Proceedings of the Religious Education Association” (153 La Salle Street, Chicago); “Charities and Commons” (153 East 22nd Street, New York); “U. S. Census Bulletin on Religious Bodies.”
Again: Is it too much to urge those in charge of the training of our ministers to consider seriously the compelling need of so recasting the course of study that a higher grade of men shall be attracted to the ministry and that a thorough, comprehensive, yet practical, training shall be given which shall fit men to preach the Gospel of Christ with real meaning to men in the twentieth century? We ought to stop putting the good new wine in old skins. The hopeful sign is that there are picked men in seminary faculties, in the pulpit, and among laymen all over the country who are thinking about this most important question. May these thinkers soon crystallize their thoughts in a forceful movement which shall ever bless the people.
After many years of observation and of contact with almost every class of men and some different races, I come to the conclusion that there is nothing quite so interesting to the people as religion. People will go in crowds to hear a man like Gypsy Smith talk to them about their every day problems and will hear respectfully what Jesus Christ taught about these problems and their relations one with the other. In no place in life does a man of parts have so large opportunity to wield a helpful influence with his fellowmen as in the ministry. When we can show the great army of college men that they can be natural men, real men, with natural voice and methods, in the ministry, when they can be made to understand that it is the man under the garb and not the garb which designates the real minister to men, and that they have a chance and a right to go everywhere, finding out the conditions of society, touching it at its highest and at its lowest level, and that they will be supported in their work, morally and materially, there will be a larger supply than we have to-day, if not sufficient to meet the[Pg 14] demands of the times. I have not dealt in statistics. This I leave for a future study. I have been as one crying in the wilderness, sounding the alarm, calling attention to our most vital need, to a problem which is worrying our best men. I plead with Christian parents to lay their promising sons on the Master’s altar, and to the Church and college I cry awake! and behold ruin of home and country if you fail to lead many of the ablest and best of those under you into the Master’s service.
Can we do better than carry away with us the words of the chief Shepherd of the sheep, the Master and Teacher of men, when he said: “Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.”