Comparisons!—Rapping the "big evangelist" is the penchant of some. Invidious comparisons between the strong, agile, self-managing little tugboat and the huge, unwieldly, helpless big liner, needing the powerful aid of several churning tugboats to enable it either to dock or to put out to sea, is the pastime of others—all of which is pretty poor taste and worse logic, to say nothing of its Christian aspects. In the world's work, both tugs and liners are needed. Neither can nor should take the place of the other. Tugs do not navigate the mighty oceans, nor do liners negotiate the rivers, harbors, and docks. Let us thank God for both. There has been just criticism of some city evangelists who did not thoroughly instruct their converts. But there has been just as grievous fault in conference failure properly to conserve the fruitage of large city efforts. And earnest effort is now being made to correct both these shortcomings. As a matter of fact, simple jealousy lies at the bottom of no inconsiderable percentage of these criticisms. Let us frown upon them when they appear.
Postures!—Ministerial postures on the platform that violate the recognized canons of pulpit etiquette and cultured decorum create an unfavorable impression upon the discerning. Diversity and irregularity are often noticeably conspicuous where a large group of workers participate, as at a council or camp meeting. In the public prayer—usually kneeling, facing the congregation—some kneel on both knees (surely the proper way), while others bend, or almost crouch, upon one knee. Some who kneel remain bolt upright, while others bow the head in humility before the God of heaven. While seated during the service, some keep both feet on the floor in more formal posture (though even then some spread wide the knees), while others cross the legs and occasionally someone will cock the knee high into the air. Still others slouch down in their chairs with feet crossed and extended, in keeping with the environs of the living room and its comfortable chair at home, but decidedly out of keeping with public worship in the house of God. Brethren, we need to reform upon this point. It may seem to some a trifling matter, but it is a part of our ministry, and affects our influence. We are under obligation, as ensamples to the flock, to be exemplary in all things.
Stale! —Some ministers wonder why their words produce such meager results,—failing to stir hearts, to mold lives, to bring revival, to effect reformation, to save souls. Yet, there. is but little mystery about it, if they bring forth nothing fresh and new when they speak, and their sermons are stale and musty, theoretical and lifeless. Their own souls are barren, and they cannot possibly, under such circumstances, impart to others what they themselves do not possess. The repetition of empty platitudes does not and cannot be expected particularly to move people. It is not only our privilege but our bounden duty as ministers to bring forth from the Book of God things new as well as old which will grip the soul. Such messages come not forth, however, save by intensive study, prayer, and tears.
Training!—We must never permit, in our advanced Bible teacher training, the fear of a possible, but by no means necessary or inevitable scholasticism, to invite the greater peril of stagnation, with its dire results that would be inescapable. Bible teaching in our colleges and academies should ever be the head and never the tail of our educational program and structure. Our Bible teachers should command the respect both of teacher group and student body. - They should not come behind one whit in either efficiency or efficacy. This entails adequate provision for supervised study in the Advanced Bible School, or Theological Seminary, which institution constitutes the greatest single advance made in years in our educational work. It deserves the confidence of the entire field, and merits its hearty moral and tangible support. We must never forget for a moment that the Bible and its message is the foundation of this movement.
Indebted!—Engaged in research back in the bookstacks of the great New York Public Library, with its two and a half million volumes, we were again deeply impressed, as on similar missions in other vast libraries of America and Europe, with our debt to those outstanding scholars of the centuries past who have made available to us the records of the treasuries of truth, as well as of the perversions of error. Great sets of ponderous volumes in Latin and Greek, and later in German, English, and French, represent prodigious labors to which we are indebted for the facts of record of the vicissitudes of truth in its passage through the centuries. Never should we utter a disparaging word concerning such work. Men simply do not labor today as they were willing to labor then. And we of this movement must be their worthy inheritors, presenting to the world today a literary witness which, because of sound, painstaking scholarship, will command the respect, if not the acceptance, of the trained minds, as well as of the rank and file of this last generation.
L. E. F.