Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the privilege of such a fellowship...

William Phillips Tilden never lost sight of the tremendous privilege it is to do church work. His love for and joy in the work is deeply inspiring. This from his first lecture to Meadville students continued:

"Let us think a moment of the atmosphere of thought in which a Christian minister must live if he would work successfully in his high calling. It must be the clearest, the purest, the very best. Nothing is too .good to be wrought into his thought. History, poetry, literature of the best quality, are an essential part of his mental and moral outfit. This brings him into contact with the noblest minds.

Of course, as a Christian minister, he must first of all form a spiritual acquaintance with the thought, life, spirit, of Jesus, not merely with his recorded words, which may not always do justice to that wonderful soul,— for none but a soul well up on the mount of vision could record what was spoken there,— but a spiritual acquaintance with his spirit, with the aim of his life, with his relation to God and man, with the real object of his mission, with his sense of God, not only above and around, but within him, of his divine sonship, as both type and assurance of the divine sonship of humanity. We need this interior vision of his interior being, of that which made him the beloved son of God he was, so as to feel the touch of his spirit, and understand something, at least, of what the love of God and man was to him. It is this companionship with the spirit of Jesus that is essential to the accomplishment of his work. One must feel his own sonship before he can help others to feel it. He must ascend the mount if he would lead others up. The true minister is not a guide- post with finger-point, or a blazed path telling where others have passed. He must himself pass up, axe in hand, marking the way with his own sturdy strokes. His own feet must tread every step of the way, so- that he can say not "Go!" but "Come!" as the brave general leads his soldiers to victory. To this end, he needs that fellowship of spirit with Jesus which will keep his soul alive with a sense of God with him, and the real greatness of his work.

And this fellowship with the noblest will lead to fellowship with all noble souls,—all true sons of God, all working for the uplifting of man. A ministry that should limit itself to the teachings of Jesus would hardly be Christian. It would lack the real Christ spirit of universality. To know Christ is to know all Christ-like souls. To follow Jesus is to follow his spirit, not necessarily his methods or his precise words, but his spirit. It is to recognize all men as children of God, and to open mind and heart, as he did, to all the fresh communications of divine love, through nature, through human experience, and the still, small voice. This brings one into fellowship with all the true workers for man. What a glorious company we thus gather round us! Do we fully appreciate the privilege of such a fellowship,— the privilege of pursuing our life-work in such companionship ?"


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