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Life Of Theological Students

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Title Page1. Spiritual and Intellectua Fitness2. Importance of a Sense of "Vocation"3. The Significance of Diligence in Study4. Study as Worship5. Examine Yourself6. Familiarity breeds contempt?7. Importance of Religious Community8. Private religious exercises9. The Greatness of Your Calling10. Seriousness of your Calling11. Beware of being a Castaway12. Angels Preparing to Sound the Trumpets1 The Religious Life of Theological Students By B. B. Warfield2 An address delivered by B. B. Warfield at Princeton Theological Seminary, October 4, 1911. (Abridged) I am asked to speak to you on the religious life of the student of theology. It is the most important subject which can engage our thought. 1. Spiritual and Intellectual Fitness This is not to depreciate the importance of the intellectual preparation of the student for the ministry. The importance of the intellectual preparation of the student for the ministry is the reason of the existence of our Theological Colleges. Say what you will, do what you will, the ministry is a “learned profession”. The man without learning, no matter with what other gifts he may be endowed, is unfit for its duties. The minister must be “apt to teach.” Not apt merely to exhort, to beseech, to appeal, to entreat; not even merely, to testify, to bear witness; but to teach. And teaching implies knowledge: he who teaches must know. But aptness to teach alone does not make a minister; nor is it his primary qualification. It is only one of a long list of requirements which Paul lays down as necessary to meet in him who aspires to this high office. And all the rest concern, not his intellectual, but his spiritual fitness. A minister must be learned, on pain of being utterly incompetent for his work. But before and above being learned, a minister must be godly. Nothing could be more fatal, however, than to set these two things over against one another. Recruiting officers do not dispute whether it is better for soldiers to have a right leg or a left leg: soldiers should have both legs. Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. But why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from your books in order to turn to God?3 What an absurd antithesis! There can be no “either— or” here (either a student or a man of God). You must be both. Religion does not take a man away from his work; it sends him to his work with an added quality of devotion. 2. Importance of a Sense of “Vocation” But the doctrine is the same, and it is the doctrine, the fundamental doctrine, of Protestant morality. It is the great doctrine of “vocation,” the doctrine, to wit, that the best service we can offer to God is just to do our duty—our plain, homely duty, whatever that may chance to be. The Middle Ages did not think so. They cut a cleft between the religious and the secular life, and counselled him who wished to be religious to turn his back on what they called “the world”— not the wickedness that is in the world, but the work-a-day world, the occupations which form the daily task of men and women. Protestantism put an end to all that. Then Luther came, and, with still more consistency, Calvin, proclaiming the great idea of “vocation.” “Vocation”—it is the call of God, addressed to every man, whoever he may be, to lay upon him a particular work, no matter what. And the calls, and therefore also the called, stand on a complete equality with one another. The burgomaster is God’s burgomaster; the physician is God’s physician; the merchant is God’s merchant; the labourer is God’s labourer. Every vocation, liberal, as we call it, or manual, the humblest and the vilest in appearance as truly as the noblest and the most glorious, is of divine right. Talk of the divine right of kings! Here is the divine right of every workman, no one of whom needs to be4 ashamed, if only he is an honest and good workman. “Only laziness is ignoble, and while Romanism multiplies its mendicant orders, the Reformation banishes the idle from its towns.” 3. The Significance of Diligence in Study Now, as students of theology, your vocation is to study theology; and to study it diligently, in accordance with the apostolic injunction: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord.” It is precisely for this that you are students of theology; this is your “next duty.” Dr. Charles Hodge tells of Philip Lindsay, the most popular professor in the Princeton College of his day, that “he told our class that we would find that one of the best preparations for death was a thorough knowledge of the Greek grammar.” “This,” comments Dr. Hodge in his quaint fashion, “was his way of telling us that we ought to do our duty.” Certainly, every man who aspires to be a religious man must begin by doing his duty, his obvious duty, his daily task, the particular work which lies before him to do at this particular time and place. If this work happens to be studying, then his religious life depends on nothing more fundamentally than on just studying. You may think of your studies what you please. You may consider them as servile labour and the meanest work. But you must faithfully give yourselves to them, if you wish to be religious men. No religious character can be built up on the foundation of neglected duty. 4. Study as Worship There is certainly something wrong with the religious life of a theological student who does not study. But it does not quite follow that therefore everything is right with his religious life if he does study.5 It is possible to study—even to study theology—in an entirely secular spirit. In all its branches alike, theology has as its unique end to make God known. The student of theology is brought by his daily task into the presence of God, and is kept there. Can a religious man stand in the presence of God, and not worship? Surely that is possible only for an irreligious man, or at least for an unreligious man. 5. Examine yourself Here I place in your hands at once a touchstone by which you may discern your religious state, and an


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