By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer
THE WORLDLY MINISTER
By William Pearce
A preacher is an herald of the cross. A minister is one of the ability that God giveth that God in all things may be glorified.
A worldly minister is a contradiction in terms, an incongruity in the spiritual realm, a misfit in the moral, a blot upon the church's escutcheon, a prophecy of his own ill destiny. The Scriptures everywhere point out his terrible estate, and warn against his mighty sinfulness.
Balaam uttered one of the sublimest prophecies of scripture, yet was he a monumental corrupter, and greed for the gold that perisheth was more potent than the sublime substance of the holy revelation he was commissioned to give out.
God's sovereign will had fixed Korah's place among the picked priesthood, but an overwhelming ambition distressed his days and nights until he was fairly ambition driven, and his outcry against Moses, the chosen of God, met speedy retribution at the hand of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His own will.
Jonah is commanded to prophesy against Nineveh, but in his worldly view the pain he will incur will more than equal the protection of the Omnipotent, and for a while he must bear the hitherto unheard-of brunt of his stupid and stupendous disaffection. His biography can he again and again duplicated on great main lines among the lives of moderns who have heard the call to Nineveh but have nevertheless gone voyaging to Tarshish, or have turned Demas directors of a "silver mine." In Israel's decline many sought the sacred office for a piece of bread. A parallel is found in our day, though happily not on a large scale, in the men whose ill success in other callings, or native indolence, has, through the supineness of the doorkeepers, let them into the ministry for bread.
In all ages have appeared the self-called, the daubers with untempered mortar, the incense-burners to their own imaginary greatness, the facile imbibers of heresy, the "muck-rakers" whose continual employment is minding a fallen world's number one, the advocates of the anti-Christian order.
In New Testament times the mind naturally selects Judas as the acme and embodiment of all that is self-seeking, worldly and reprehensible. It is fair to infer, on the principle of the unity of carnality, that the reasonings of Judas that finally prompted the most significant betrayal of all time, pursued the same course as the reasonings of every worldly-minded minister in later times.
In some communions practically all the ministers are worldly. Any religious system based upon a sought justification by works, any religion that denies the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ curses its ministers with worldliness by the very existence of its tenets.