Education And Supply Of Ministers In Different Ages And Countries -- By: William A. Stearns

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 008:30 (Apr 1851)
Article: Education And Supply Of Ministers In Different Ages And Countries
Author: William A. Stearns

Education And Supply Of Ministers In Different Ages And Countries

Rev. William A. Stearns

At a time when some of the first minds in America and England are engaged with the question how shall the increasing demand for educated, energetic and godly ministers be supplied — a knowledge of the experience of other ages and other countries on the subject can hardly be otherwise than valuable.

The necessity of a learned as well as pious ministry need not be demonstrated to the readers of this Journal. If there is anything which the student of ecclesiastical history may consider as settled by the experience of Christendom — it is that an unspiritual or ignorant clergy would be among the greatest moral disasters which could befal mankind.

To secure an enlightened ministry, to qualify and bring into action a competent supply of true men, who shall fill the stations of clerical influence at home, or go forth as missionaries abroad -— is an end less readily accomplished than the superficial might imagine. But there are peculiarities in our own country, to which allusion will be made by and by, which enhance the difficulty now suggested, and threaten to make it insuperable. The wise and devout both among laymen and clergymen who have given sufficient attention to the subject, deem it an inquiry of anxious importance, how the ministry which America demands for herself and mankind, in the peculiar circumstances of our country, can be brought into the field?

It is in reference to this question that we invite our readers to a brief review of the practice of the church in securing a competent supply of qualified spiritual guides. What inducements have other times and countries presented their Christian youth to enter the ministerial profession — and what facilities have they afforded for acquiring the requisite preparatory education? what are some of the circumstances which enhance the difficulty of rearing up a right and abundant ministry in the United States — and by what means can the end so desirable be best accomplished? These are among the questions, on which it would give us pleasure to cast even a few rays of light.

The First Centuries

The first teachers of religion were selected by the Saviour himself — and during the whole of his ministry, while employed often as his assistants, they were kept always under his immediate instruction and supervision. Soon after the ascension, one of the greatest minds the world has produced, was associated by a supernatural calling with the twelve. The apostles and their immediate successors were endowed with the gift of tongues and other miraculous powers. In the infancy of the church, before time had been given for app...

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