"Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein."
I'm afraid today that Bro. Taylor would lamenting the lack of, instead of the length. Especially during this time of year. It seems that something else has now become man's religion on Sunday in the fall. Most of you probably know what I'm referring to.
One man, during a very lengthy sermon, walked out of church. An usher stopped him and said, "Well, where are you going?""To get a haircut," the man said.The usher asked, "Why didn't you do that before church?"To the which the man replied, "I did!"
Yes, I expect that Bro. Taylor could not conceive of rushing home to watch a ball game or take care of some kind of chore. The overall picture I get was not that he was against long sermons per se, but against long sermons that said nothing and wasted the time of the hearers. It was not uncommon in these frontier Kentucky days for three or four men at one service to all preach sermons that were longer than the average 21st century sermon.It is told on one occasion as some preacher rambled on that Taylor stood up, pulled out his pocket watch, opened it and remarked "One hour gone forever, and nothing said."
From Wilson Thompson's biography:It was Elder Taylor’s appointment that evening, at the house of a Brother Ashbrook, near Licking River. Elder Taylor, being like a father among them, and being old, and having the reputation of being a very great preacher, the people gathered there to hear him...During the evening’s conversation I occupied a silent and retired position. Finally, nightfall began to close in; the house became crowded to overflowing; the doorway and even the yard were thronged. I took a seat near the door. For the convenience of those outside, the table for the preacher was set near me. Brother Ashbrook remarked to Brother Taylor that the house and yard were full of waiting people, and that it was time to begin worship. He arose from his seat near the fireplace, and with a searching glance surveyed the assembly for a minute, and then asked: “Is young Brother Thompson in the room?” I drooped my head very low, and was seized with a violent shaking from head to foot. I heard several voices near me saying: “He is here.” I heard footsteps approaching me, and directly the hand of Elder Taylor was laid upon my shoulder. I raised my head. He said, “Go and preach.” I replied, “I have no appointment here, and I cannot fill yours.” He said, “Children, obey your parents in all things.” I replied, “I do not think that command applies to this case.” He continued by saying, “I am an old man, and you are a young one. I want a seat, and good manners alone would require you to give me yours.” I began to try to give him room, by shifting to one side, but the seat was too closely filled. He said, “You cannot make room that way, and an old man must stand unless you will give him your seat.” I resolved to rise and go out the door. As I arose from my seat he slipped into it, and said, “Go and preach.” I found the door so completely closed up with people that I could not get out. I was near the candle, and every eye was fixed upon me. What to do I could not tell. Elder Taylor had his head down, and he seemed to pay no attention to me.I concluded to open meeting by singing and prayer, and then give place. I took up a Rippon’s hymn-book, and opened to the hymn, “Ye little flock whom Jesus feeds,” etc. I was trembling so much I could scarcely hold the book or candle still enough to see; nor could I scarcely speak so as to be understood. The hymn, however, being somewhat familiar to me, I made out to get through it. While singing this hymn, the text, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” came with such force and light on my mind that, by the time prayer was concluded, I felt impressed to say something on that text. I read it and began, still trembling. I had said but a few words when Elder John Scott, with his stern looks, left his seat, walked directly facing me to the chair that I had stood behind, and sat down on it. The thought struck me that they were trying to fright me as much as possible, and I came very near desisting once, but another thought followed it: “If God has graciously given them great spiritual gifts for the edification of the church, both they and the church should be very thankful and very humble for them; and if He has given me any spiritual gift at all for profit to the church, although the least of all, I should not be ashamed of it, nor afraid to use it on any proper occasion when called on.” These thoughts rushed upon my mind, while I was trying to introduce my subject. My fear left me, my trembling ceased, and my embarrassment passed away, and I enjoyed unusual liberty…I will say that this course of Elder Taylor in putting me forward that night was a severe trial to me, a trial I thought too severe, but still I do believe that it did more to destroy that man-fearing or at least preacher-fearing embarrassment that had so sorely afflicted me, than anything I had before met with. I never felt much of it afterward.
I gather that back in these times, those who felt led into the ministry would look to and seek out advice and counsel from elder ministers. For lack of better terminology, a sort of understudy would take place. I believe someone even made mention of this here on the website sometime back.The standard formula now seems to be if someone goes into the ministry, they will go off to seminary, with the end result of then getting a church or becoming a missionary. I would think back in Taylor's day, the word ministry took on a slightly different meaning than it does today. I'm afraid today that a more apt word would be occupation in some cases.
In his book History of Ten Baptist Churches, Taylor mentions several men who were his mentors or fathers in the ministry (not sure what term he used). Some that come to mind are William Marshall, James Ireland and Joseph Redding.Yes, I think you are correct in noting the "standard formula" nowadays is if someone goes into the ministry, he will shortly go off to seminary to "train" for the ministry. Though this is the standard formula, there are several groups and individuals that do not follow the formula.
The seminary where I studied was taught mostly by practicing pastors. This gave us, as students, a direct connection with the church from a pastoral perspective.We also had student pastorates and the school was designed to handle this situation. We actually learned to be pastors along with our theology and other academics.Modern schools seem to lack this connection and know many men leave seminary ill equipped for ministry.This could account for some of the discussions which take place on the Baptist Board which seem rather shallow and devoid of practical experience in the application of theology in real life.Cheers,Jim
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