During one of his great speeches on conciliation with America, in the House of Commons, in 1774, Edmund Burke, the famous orator, made reference to one of the honorable members of Parliament who held a responsible office in the government as a man who sought "to raise himself, not by the low, pimping politics of a court, but to win his way to power, through the laborious gradations of public service." Following his acknowledgment of this man's ability as a trained lawyer, he referred to his experiences after completing his studies of the law as follows:
"Passing from that study he did not go very largely into the world; but plunged into business ; I mean into the business of office; and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there. Much knowledge is to be had undoubtedly in that line; and there is no knowledge which is not valuable. But it may be truly said, that men too much conversant in office are rarely minds of remarkable enlargement. Their habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions ; and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well as long as things go on in their common order; but when the highroads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more extensive comprehension of things, is requisite, than ever office gave, or than office can ever give."
How true this is Human nature is such a peculiar complication that to understand it one has to have a much wider vision than is possible to a man who spends most of his life within the four walls of an office. We must be brought into frequent contact with our fellow men; we should sympathetically and patiently listen to their different viewpoints, and in order that we may assist them to grapple with their individual problems, we should deal with them kindly and help them to fight manfully the battle of life. By holding oneself in readiness to help our fellow men and to understand their peculiar problems, we can add immensely to our own usefulness and much to our stock of knowledge. Mere book knowledge will not enable us to understand men. If we desire to understand men we must associate closely with them, and in our association with men we should not permit ourselves to associate only with those of our own class, or only with those who we may think will agree with all we say or do.
If we really desire to enlarge our vision we should associate with all classes of men and endeavor to look at their varied viewpoints, remembering that we may learn something valuable from all men, old and young, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. Jesus took a personal interest in all types of men. In Desire of Ages we are told:
"Had it not been for the sweet, sympathetic spirit that shone out in every look and word, He would not have attracted the large congregations that He did. The afflicted ones who came to Him, felt that He linked His interest with theirs as a faithful and tender friend, and they desired to know more of the truths He taught. Heaven was brought near. They longed to abide in His presence, that the comfort of His love might be with them continually."—Page 254.
"Jesus met the people on their own ground, as one who was acquainted with their perplexities."—/bid., p. 253.
In his missionary work among the Gentiles, Paul "made all things to all men." His attitude toward all types of men is expressed in his own testimony to the Corinthians. He says :
"Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law ; to them that are without law, as without law, . . that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." 1 Cor. 9 :20-22.
It is little wonder that a man with such diversification of talents exerted such a mighty influence upon the Greco-Roman world—an influence so indelible as to reach through the intervening centuries till the present time. This is the broad pattern for missionary and evangelistic work in these last days.