Saturday, August 15, 2009

a drop in that stream...

In this, our final excerpt from William Phillips Tilden's first lecture to seminary students, his great modesty and passionate love for God and for church work shines through.

"What richer privilege could be given by a loving Father to his waiting children than the privilege of working with such redeeming agencies for the uplifting of the world ? As individuals, we may do little. But to be only a drop in that stream of moral and spiritual power by which the great wheel of redeeming agencies is turned is enough to awaken unfeigned gratitude to God. For, though that drop be lost to human sight soon as its force is spent, though it be dashed off in spray and absorbed by the sun, it has aided in the noblest work God ever gives to man or angel.
I congratulate you, students of theology and religion, on the choice you have made of your life-work. I have tried to tell you my conviction that there is none nobler on earth, none more richly rewarding, none whose compensations are so sure and satisfying. I can truly say, as an old man, with only ordinary success in the ministry,—perhaps not that, judged by the common measure of success,— that, could I live my life over again, and have the free choice of my life-work, it would unhesitatingly be the ministry. It would be the Christian ministry. It would be the Liberal Christian ministry...Keep the nature of that work fresh before you; and, if in any hour clouds should gather and unforeseen difficulties make you despondent, look up, and, remembering with what a glorious band of ministering spirits on the earth and in the heavens you are working, sing with them: —

" I live to hold communion
With all that is divine ;
To feel there is a union
Between God's will and mine,
For the cause that lacks assistance,
For the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance,
For whate'er is good and true,
For all human hearts that bind me,
For the task by God assigned me,
And the good that I can do ;
To labor for that season
By gifted minds foretold,
When men shall live by reason,
And not alone for gold,—
When, man to man united
And every wrong thing righted,
The whole world shall be lighted
As Eden was of old."


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