Gentility!!—The true Christian minister will be a gentleman under any and every condition. He will refuse to become insulted or affronted. He will never resort to abuse nor violence, but will turn the other cheek to the smiter and love his enemy notwithstanding. The gospel worker cannot afford to fail here. He can cherish no "feelings," can harbor no "resentments," and will manifest none of the spirit of the world about him when under attack and provocation. Such is God's ideal for us, however difficult it may seem.
Scholars!—Let us not simply condemn the great unbelieving world of skeptical scholars. They are the inevitable product of a background of wrong education and reading, as well as of disgust with the perversions of Christianity with which they are acquainted. Thus they have the prejudiced, sophisticated mind, which is difficult but not impossible to meet. Their acceptance of evolution and the implications of modern philosophy and psychology, complicates the problem. But we must not despair. This message must reach the scholars, and some will accept it. If it could not meet the sophisms of the day, it would not be what it claims. We owe these men an opportunity of hearing. But the honest among them will be convinced, not by meeting philosophy with philosophy, science with science, and argument with argument, but by the simple witness of spiritual truth as it is in Jesus. Paul learned this of old. Let us profit by his experience.
Facts!—Truth, in its march through the years, has often been wounded in the house of its friends,—sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes through failure to understand and to follow the principles of right relationship to truth. Great harm has sometimes come through the misguided concealing of certain facts, or through failing to ascertain all the accessible facts in a given issue. Such a course, when discovered, fosters doubt among the thoughtful. It creates a lack of confidence among the informed. It inevitably and ultimately breeds discontent, for some one—friend or foe—will ultimately discover and bring to light the hidden things. Truth is not for a select few, but for all. Intelligent men want all the facts. They have no relish for positions that are sustained either by silence or distortion, or sidestepped by obscuring the issue. Thank God for a message that needs no subterfuges, that courts the light, and that will stand the test of all fair and honest scrutiny. Let there be no divergence from these clear principles in our ranks.
Stagnation!—When laboring forces must be reduced because of budget limitations, there are always certain men who cannot be released. They are indispensable, for they are key men. They are producers, and constitute a profitable investment to any conference. They are growing men, and cannot be spared. It is the man who is standing still or retrograding whose name comes up for discussion and decision. He has become stereotyped in his work; he has ceased to search after increased knowledge and to compare methods for enlarged efficiency. This is just a kindly hint as to the value of the new Reading Course.
Compromise!—Tolerance becomes a compromise and good will a repudiation of basic verities in the efforts of modern religious leaders toward comity. For this reason, among others, we cannot join in the present attempt to wipe out denominational lines, and to foster spiritual kinship in a fellowship of faiths. From their viewpoint of a reconstructed world on a post-millennial basis, these efforts for the merging of nominal Protestant bodies are logical and timely. The separating barriers between them are chiefly the artificial creations of their man-made creeds, and their perpetuance is of no value. But truth is ever "intolerant" when there is a clear issue with discerned error. Compromise here means its destruction. That is why this movement is necessary, and that is why we cannot merge.
Honor!—Fret not because your labor is less conspicuous and your handiwork less observable, neither be careless in your appointed task. We are "builders together with God" of a structure "fitly framed." It is the honor and glory of God and the strength and unity of the whole that we are to seek. It is the great Architect Builder we are to glorify, His name to exalt. The unseen foundations are as important as the superstructure. The hidden timbers must be as fitly framed by the carpenter as are those that are exposed and admired. The electrician's concealed wires must be placed with as great fidelity as the fixtures we praise and continually use. But their whole serviceability depends upon the unseen. The plumber's pipes must be as accurately fitted within the walls and floors as the fixtures of the bath and kitchen. It matters not where nor at what we labor, so long as it is part of the authorized "plans and specifications" of the great Master Builder. The honor we covet lies in being workmen that need not to be ashamed. Pride of workmanship and fidelity in labor, whether seen by man or not, should constitute our motive.
L. E. F.