Judge then, young Gentlemen, into what depths of degradation the race of young ministers to which you are to belong must sink, if you not only remain deaf to the voice of conscience, to the admonitions of history, and to the strivings of GOD’S Spirit, but also to the voice of your age and of your country, which is calling you to high and noble things in your ministry. To go forth from this most highly-honored seat of sacred learning in our Church, with low attainment and without studious habits””to enter upon your ministry in this energetic and driving age, without zeal and perseverance””and to place yourselves upon the great missionary field which our Church presents from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, without being animated by the missionary spirit””how certain the fall, how deep the dishonor, how terrible the curse, to which you must inevitably be reduced!
The fathers, the clergy, the friends of the Church, look with increased anxiety and greater hope to each successive class graduating from our theological seminaries. They have a right to expect better scholarship, as the ability of teachers, the number of books, and the aids to study are daily increasing. And surely, as the wants of the Church are better known, and the extent of the missionary field, both at home and abroad, is better understood, they have a right to anticipate a great increase of missionary zeal. A young clergyman, some twenty years ago, might have made many a reasonable excuse for his lack of that holy, self-sacrificing zeal, a want of which would now be utterly inexcusable. What! shall young men just commissioned to the holy office, be deaf to the calls of their country, of the Church, and of her Divine Head, to make full proof of their ministry, and sink down into criminal listlessness, or addict themselves to unworthy worldly pursuits? What! when the cry of souls ready to perish is borne on every wind, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, shall they take counsel of their love of ease, their taste for human literature, or of their worldly-minded friends, and refuse to go to any part of the missionary field to which GOD shall call them?
Remember, young Gentlemen, that the great Head of the Church has placed you under influences more favorable for the formation of a high ministerial character, than with others has been the case perhaps for ages. You may, if you will, unite in yourselves more learning, more pious active zeal, more of a spirit of humility and prayer, than any of your predecessors, it may be, since the Apostles’ own times. What you may become, the Church, the world, the Saviour of man-kind, [14/15] all expect that you will become. And yet this kind goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting. You cannot even succeed well in your studies without prayer. Much less can you grow in humility, and in a spirit of benevolence and self-sacrifice without much and fervent prayer.
Read it all from the Bishop of Kentucky, Benjamin Bosworth Smith.