Thus, taken all in all, to be educated as a minister should be to be educated in the Higher Life of the race.
Finally, above all else is the spiritual study and interpretation of the Word of God. A minister may be fearless of the investigations of scientific criticism. Every truth is important to him, but not all truths are vital. When a man such as Caspar Rene Gregory speaks, something of the holy mystery and inspiration of biblical research, as well as a scientific result, is presented, and one gains a new conception of what it really means to study and to understand the Word of God.
Under all is the life of ceaseless and prevailing prayer. By the life of prayer, many mean merely a way of learning to make public petitions, an objective appeal to God. The true life of prayer is as simple, as unteachable, and as vital as the life of a child with its mother—the little lips daily learning new ways of approach to its mother’s heart, and new words to make its wants and interests and sorrows known.
Prayer is the true World-Power. Just as there are vast stretches in the world where the foot of man has never trod, so there are unmeasured regions whereon prayer has never been. The more we pray, the more illimitable appears this spiritual realm. And all about us in the universe are also great hidden forces: nothing will lay hold of them but prayer.
Each prayer enlarges the soul. The measure of our praying is the measure of our growth. No man has reached his full possibilities of achievement who has not completed the circuit of his possible prayers. Power is proportionate to prayer.
And last of all, there is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What it is, who may say? But that it is real, who can doubt? To read the lives of Wesley, Whitefield, Finney, Moody, is to feel a strange, deep thrill. They are men who spake, and men listened; who called, and men came to God. Others, alas, so often call, and there is no response. They cannot make headway through the indifference, the sloth, the materialism, and the inherent vulgarity of the world.
The life itself is arduous. After all is said, it is not quite the same task to examine and classify either protoplasm or the most highly organized forms of nature, that it is to analyze and understand the mysterious workings of the heart, the intricacies of conscience and conduct, the possibilities of spiritual development or of moral downfall, and the many questionings, agonies, and ecstasies of the soul of man. And they are to be studied and understood with the definite and positive aim of the absolute reconstruction of the world-bound spirit—a change of its motives, purposes, affections, ideals. More than this, there must be at the heart of the more thoughtful minister a philosophic basis for the reconstruction of society itself.