Elisha, the Apostles, and Ministerial Training

For seven years Elisha was the friend of Elijah, and so he was under the best of preparatory influences for his work. In like manner, it is highly requisite that those who, in our day, are to be the spiritual teachers of others should themselves be specially instructed. I know, indeed, that many have sneered at our colleges and theological seminaries, and have styled the men that issued from them man-made ministers, while they have pointed us to the first preachers of the Gospel who were unlearned and ignorant men. But they who reason thus forget that the first apostles had the privilege, for three years and a half, of receiving instructions. This was certainly a very special and peculiar training; and so far from its being an argument for no training at all, is one of the strongest that can be cited in favor of the best system of educating the ministers of the Gospel.

It has been alleged, again, that the secular studies of our colleges have a tendency to deaden the piety of those who prosecute them, so that they who have entered our seminaries all aglow with zeal have often left them cold and dead, and utterly unfit either to interest or edify their hearers. But this need not be the case if these studies be properly pursued and rightly superintended; and if the training of the ministry is important at any time, it is specially so now, when questions of criticism, science, and philosophy are discussed by the propagandists of infidelity, with the view of unsettling men’s faith in the Word of God. There will always be splendid exceptions to every rule, and in every age you will find some of the noblest ministers who have never been in a college in their lives; but their cases are no rule for others, and they themselves, from their own experience, will be the most earnest in enforcing special preparation upon others; so that our young men who present themselves for the ministry need not murmur if they find that, as in Elisha’s case, they have to reach the goal of their desire through a seven-years’ service at the side of some Elijah.

William Taylor, Elijah the Prophet, 1875, p.142-143