Saturday, April 9, 2011

a holy enthusiasm...

Some time ago I began excerpting William Phillip Tilden's "Work of the Ministry." Brother Tilden is a true guiding spirit of Boston Unitarian and this work on ministry is a gem. Given as a series of lectures to Divinity Students at Meadville Theological School in 1889, the book is a passionate call that should resonate with all church workers. This from the lecture "Object of Preaching"

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, the composition and delivery of sermons come under your regular study of Homiletics, and of this I have nothing to say. But I wish this morning to speak of the object of preaching.

The obvious drift of thought among us is very plainly towards a deeper religiousness, a larger and profounder conception of the divine life. It is seen not only among ministers, but laymen as well. It is not limited to either wing of thought among us, right or left. Both wings are lifted by an impulse to rise. Whether the emphasis be laid on ethics or worship, on church extension or church life at home, on organized charities or the charities that lie too close to us to be organized, on philanthropies that reach out or spiritualities that reach in, on external doing or internal being, there is a manifest desire for reality, for life, to pass through the letter into the spirit, to rise out of routine, whether of worship or of work, into consecrated service for God and man.

I have been greatly cheered by the tokens of this spirit among our young ministers. Soon they will be our middle-aged ministers, our leaders in thought and work. The fathers are going. Young men are coming. And when we see them touched with a holy enthusiasm for their work,— an enthusiasm for making the future better than the past or present,— we may well thank God all along the line, front and rear, and take courage in the bright promise it gives of a "new heaven and a new earth," not separated as of old, but united,— a new heaven on earth, and a new earth made heavenly by a heavenly spirit."


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