The minister who ventures to teach the truth when he has only a smattering knowledge of the word of God, grieves the Holy Spirit. But he who begins with a little knowledge, and tells what he knows, at the same time seeking for more knowledge, will become qualified to do a larger work. The more light he gathers to his own soul, the more of heavenly illumination will he be able to impart to others.
There is no need for weakness in the ministry. The message of truth that we bear is all-powerful. But many ministers do not put their minds to the task of studying the deep things of God. If these would have power in their service, obtaining an experience that will enable them to help others, they must overcome their indolent habits of thought. Let ministers put the
whole heart into the task of searching the Scriptures, and a new power will come to them. A divine element unites with human effort when the soul reaches out after God; and the yearning heart may say, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."[1 PS. 62:5.]
Ministers who would labour effectively for the salvation of souls must be Bible students and men of prayer. It is a sin to be neglectful of the study of the Word while attempting to teach it to others. Those who feel the worth of souls realise that too much is at stake for them to dare to be careless in regard to their advancement in divine knowledge, and they flee to the stronghold of truth, whence they may obtain wisdom, knowledge, and strength to work the works of God. They will not rest without an unction from on high.
As the worker makes a constant companion of the word of God, he gains an increased ability to labour. Continually advancing in knowledge, he becomes constantly better able to represent Christ. He is strengthened in faith, and can present to unbelievers a proof of the fullness of the grace and love that is in Christ. His mind is a treasure-house, from which the can draw to supply the needs of others. By the work of the Holy Spirit the truth is graven on his mind, and those to whom he communicates truth, and for whom he must one day give account, are greatly blessed. He who in this way obtains a preparation for the ministry, is entitled to the reward promised to those who turn many to righteousness.
The perusal of works upon our faith, the reading of arguments from the pens of others, is an excellent and important aid, but this will not give the mind the greatest
strength. The Bible is the best book in the world for giving intellectual culture. Its study taxes the mind, strengthens the memory, and sharpens the intellect more than the study of all the subjects that human philosophy embraces. The great themes which it presents, the dignified simplicity with which these themes are handled, the light which is shed upon the great problems of life, bring strength and vigour to the understanding.
In the great conflict before us, he who would keep true to Christ must penetrate deeper than the opinions and doctrines of men. My message to ministers, young and old, is this: Guard jealously your hours for prayer, Bible study, and self-examination. Set aside a portion of each day for a study of the Scriptures and communion with God. Thus you will obtain spiritual strength, and will grow in favour with God. He alone can give you noble aspirations; He alone can fashion the character after the divine similitude. Draw near to Him in earnest prayer, and He will fill your hearts with high and holy purposes, and with deep, earnest longings for purity and clearness of thought.
A true knowledge of the Bible can be gained only through the aid of that Spirit by whom the Word was given. And in order to gain this knowledge, we must live by it. All that God's word commands, we are to obey. All that it promises, we may claim. The life which it enjoins is the life that, through its power, we are to live. Only as the Bible is thus held, can it be studied effectively.-- "Education," page 189 .