Monday, April 21, 2014

For the Study Wall

Here's the key phrase from that remark of Augustine's that we quoted the other day:

[C]ontristor linguam meam cordi meo non potuisse sufficere

I am sad that my tongue is not equal to my heart.  We may have that written out by a calligrapher, framed and mounted near our desk.  Nothing so beautifully sums up what we take to be the ordinary dilemma of the conscientious preacher.

There are other phrases that we'd like to see mounted on our office wall.  One, surprisingly, comes from Oliver Cromwell:

I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

Mind you, we despite the source of that remark.  It is from Cromwell's 3 August 1650 letter to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, seeking to dissuade them from their adherence to Charles II.  We don't love Charles, but our hatred for Cromwell is nearly boundless.  Still, that is neither here nor there; preachers, and pastors generally, are well advised to always consider the possibility that they are mistaken.

Susan Howatch gets at the same idea, in one of her bodice-rippers, with a phrase less burdened by history.  Something along the lines of "every priest in the Church of england should have these words tattooed on his forehead ...," although that can't be right since one can't read what is on one's own head.  Sadly, we can't recall it correctly or find the source.  (Any readers able to help?)

We who sometimes feel that preaching is a lot of work are naturally admonished by George Herbert's famous remark:

The Countrey Parson preacheth constantly, the pulpit is his joy and his throne
And perhaps more of us ought to be admonished by his closing comment in the same chapter:

The Parson exceeds not an hour in preaching, because all ages have thought that a competency, and he that profits not in that time, will lesse afterwards, the same affection which made him not profit before, making him then weary, and so he grows from not relishing, to loathing.

Although a bit confusing to some people, we think some pastors and many congregations might benefit from the admonition of our hish school physics teacher:

More lab, less oratory.

"Lab," here, needs to be read (correctly) as shorthand for "labor."

Anyway, those are some of the non-Biblical phrases it strikes us that a parson might do well to keep posted in a visible spot.  Do you have any suggestions?

No comments: