The Young Priest's Keepsake eBook

Michael D. Phelan
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 119 pages of information about The Young Priest's Keepsake.

Hence, we should toil, toil, toil, and call no labour excessive that we put forth in burnishing into polished efficiency every weapon God has given us for the service of his pulpit.



Theologian and Preacher—­The Difference

It is amazing to think how often the offices of theologian and preacher are spoken of as if they were identical.  Now, the functions of theologian and preacher stand widely apart.  To the reflective mind this sounds like repeating a truism; yet what a world of confused thought and ignorant criticism would be cleared from the subject if this fact were kept well in sight.

When you say that a young priest is becoming a good preacher you are met by “impossible! he never got a prize in theology.”

This is supposed to give your poor judgment its final coup; argument after that is useless:  causa finita est.

Now, I do not think our appreciation of an eminent surgeon is lessened by our being told that he is a poor chemist; yet the difference between these respective professions is scarcely more radical than that which separates the office of preacher from that of theologian.

To the ordinary public the theological treatise is a sealed book.  It is the preacher’s duty to break that seal; to take out the dry truths stored there; to render them palatable and inviting, and bring them within the grasp of the plainest intelligence.

[Side note:  Solicitor and barrister]

Few occupations more aptly illustrate this difference than those of solicitor and barrister.

The attorney works up the materials for the case:  he groups statutes, discovers principles, tabulates references, supplies dates.  While he does not plead himself, a man so armed is invaluable at the elbow of an able advocate; without the barrister, however, especially where the prejudices, interests, and the imagination of a jury have to be worked upon, his load of learned lumber would be of small value.  The theologian makes out the brief:  the preacher pleads it.

To render this distinction clearer let us take one more illustration.  No animal can exist on air and clay and sunlight alone.  Though these contain the elements on which it is fed; yet, though surrounded by them in most ample abundance, he must perish if a third power is not brought into play.  The vegetable world comes intervening between the raw chemicals and the hungry man.  Out of earth and air and light it builds the ripened sheaf, the succulent apple and the savoury potato.  So, though bookshelves groan under calf-bound tomes hoarding the hived treasures of the masters of theology, the common minds of the multitude would starve did not the preacher interpose as interpreter of the theologian’s message, drawing forth from his storehouse truths and principles out of which he manufactures the daily bread on which

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The Young Priest's Keepsake from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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