PREFACETHERE IS A COMMON supposition that men in the ministry are exempt from the manifold temptations of Christian living and bear a charmed life. But retiring from much of the common round of life does not give immunity from the snares of sin as the onlooker imagines. Those who are engaged in the ministry of CHRIST's Gospel know full well that instead of finding safety, we are the target for the insidious attack of evil. We are men among men and CHRIST's representatives in the world, and therefore open to every gust of temptation. In reality we are more susceptible to the common temptations of life than others because our specialized life is under intense scrutiny all the time. It is right and fitting that we should understand the nature of these temptations in order to face them with the whole armour of GOD.
"With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,"
suggests the fitting spirit of those who speak or write concerning these vital and intimate things of the inner life. The Church waits not for the impatience of the parson, but for the penitence of the preacher. It is Amos with his burning, penetrating speech rather than the priests of Bethel we need to hear. It is Hosea, suffering and broken, who calls us to return unto the Lord, rather than the wisdom of this world we need to heed.
Perhaps someone at the end of a long life and ministry would be the fitting person to speak about these matters, but one who must face them in the exacting demands of life at the flood may be permitted to think aloud as he has wrestled within his own heart.
If any warrant is necessary to add another book to the large number in circulation concerning the ministerial order, it is that little, if anything, has been written with reference to this particular aspect of the Christian minister's life. Much there is about Homiletics, Methods of Preaching, the Problem of the Work, and Pastoral Theology, but there is a strange omission about the wrestlings and trial of the intricacies of the heart. The minister, whether he be preacher or teacher, missionary or leader, is the key to the strategy of the divine enterprise, and the Church rises and moves forward according to the ideals, standards, and victories of those who are set apart for this office.
That this message may stimulate and challenge, even stab afresh the conscience, is the prayer of him who now sends it forth. May it revive those who are losing heart. May it remind us of the dignity, the glory, the wonder, and the magnificence of our GOD - given vocation! The book is for all Christians, and those who read it may help their minister by a new understanding of our common temptations.
I am grateful to Professor F. D. Coggan, formerly Dean of Wycliffe Episcopal College, Toronto, now Principal, The London College of Divinity; President C. W. Koller, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago; Professor A. W. Blackwood, Princeton Presbyterian Theological Seminary, New Jersey; and Dr. Samuel M. Zwemer, editor of The Moslem World, New York, for reading the manuscript, and for their generous commendations of this study to their brethren in the ministry. The substance of Chapters VI and XIV appeared in The Union Seminary Review, Richmond, Va.