Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

PASTORAL THEOLOGY.

INTRODUCTION.

§ 1. Definition of the Subject. What is a Minister of the Gospel? Ideal of a Minister.

We have elsewhere defined Practical Theology. It is art which supposes science, or science resolving itself into art. It is the art of applying usefully, in the ministry, the knowledge acquired in the three other departments of theology, which are purely scientific. It appears, then, that we may very conveniently call Pastoral Theology that collection of rules or directions to which we have given the name of Practical Theology. But, although the idea of the pastor (Seelsorger*) and of the pastorate controls and comprehends all the parts of Practical Theology, yet it may be abstracted and considered by itself as a moral element pervading each part of Practical Theology, but which, also, distinct from the catechetical and homiletical departments,† forms one of its own, an object of special study. Pastoral Theology, then, would

* One of the designations of a pastor in Germany; literally, he who has the care of the soul.

+ We might add liturgical; but the small space we can give to this part induces us to include it in our course of Pastoral Theology, or Prudence. As to ecclesiastical law, the study of which may comprehend that of the different ecclesiastical legislations or constitutions, and which is in this sense a science, it becomes an art, and, consequently, a part of Practical Theology, in so far as it practically directs the pastor in the observance and execution of the ecclesiastical laws of his own denomination. What little we shall say of it will be found in its proper place in this course.

treat of all the duties, all the kinds of activity to which the pastor is called, except public preaching and catechising.

The expressions duties of the pastor and pastoral prudence are incomplete. They present the thing too much under the point of view of an art or a practice. But this point of view should not be exclusive. The speculative side should have its place. Action is the last end of speculation ; but, whatever may be the nature of the action, it is not sufficiently provided for, if attention be confined to it in the practical point of view. It should be studied abstractly. We should study the theory of the evangelical ministry, not only to know what we have to do, but also as an objective fact, which simply, as such, demands our acquaintance. Abstract speculation is of high utility. He who regards the things of his profession only in the midst of action, will act neither with freedom, nor with intelligence, nor with depth. Hence, among other reasons, this course is called the Theory of the Evangelical Ministry.

Perhaps our distribution is not exactly right. Catechetics, homiletics, etc., are not, perhaps, different in substance from Pastoral Theology. Still, on account of the extent of these divisions, of the detail which they require, and of the disproportioned space they would necessarily occupy if they should be treated in all their breadth in a course of Pastoral Theology, we separate them, intending to pursue the study of them when we shall be more at leisure. We are far from supposing that the chief one of these categories represents a whole, or even a reality: the reality exists only in the assemblage of the three functions, Worship, Preaching, and Catechising. By the very idea of a minister, these all belong to him. He would not otherwise be a minister. Not that these functions may not be distinguished and even separated-but they never should be after an exclusive manner; that is to say, in such a manner that he who exercises one is not to exercise the others; for they mutually suppose and contain one another.

PRIMITIVE DIVISION OF THE MINISTRY.

23

Nevertheless, the idea of this unity has its date; it is a Christian idea. All religions have not conceived nor realized it.

In the Old Testament the office of priest and of prophet formed two distinct offices. It accords with the Old Testament to distinguish, as it does with the New to blend these two. The two systems are characterized by these two facts. Perfect unity between the form and the idea did not yet exist, and could not enter except with the law of spirituality and of liberty. On one side and the other, as on two distinct planes, were represented the letter which kills, and the spirit which gives life. The economy which was to unite them in one whole, was also to unite in one and the same man the priest and the prophet.

On this point the primitive Church presents us a phenomenon analogous to the whole genius of its economy, which did not rudely repudiate all the traditions of the theocracy. It divides the ministry into many different ministries. It does not appear that all ministers did the same things, nor that all did all things. It would seem, from Ephesians, iv., 11, and 1 Corinthians, xii., 28, 30, that this division of labor* had been formally instituted by the supreme Head of the Church; but whether this was so, or whether we ought to regard it only as a providential dispensation-whether the distribution of extraordinary gifts (xapíopara) explains the thing to us, there is no evidence that this distinction, of which besides it is very difficult to form a just idea, ought to be maintained as an immutable institution. At any rate, to renew

* It does not appear that this division of labor was of an exclusive character. We see (Acts, vi., 10) that Stephen, the deacon (verse 3), was a preacher or a prophet. The rite and the word are separated by St. Paul (1 Cor., i., 17): “Christ sent me not to baptize." Besides, this is not a question of rite. Either it is altogether apart from religion, which can not be admitted, or it does not exclusively belong to one of these classes of officers. This, however, is not saying that all may celebrate it.

it, it is necessary to renew the xapíopara, the spiritual gifts."

It is very manifest that they regarded as ministers of the Church men whose qualifications did not fit them for ministers, according to the sense which we now attach to the word. There were deacons, appointed to serve tables; there were presbyters (whence comes the word, not the idea, of priest), who did not teach; but it is clear, from 1 Tim., v., 17,* that those among them who taught were of the first rank, were reputed the first, since the word is the grand instrument, and the essential character of the evangelical dispensation; and it is, in fact, to this class of presbyters that the title of minister or pastor has, in the end, been exclusively attributed; and this class has absorbed in itself all the other classes, so as to constitute in itself alone the ministry of the Christian Church.

The evangelical ministry is essentially a ministry of the word; all the other ministries are in the service of that one ; they are so many ways of speaking the Word of God. Christianity is a word, a thought of God, which is destined to become a thought of man. Now thought and speech are inseparable; thought is an interior speech, and in the ancient languages the same word signifies the two things (λoyoç). That great revolution, which we call the advent of Christ and of the Gospel, has not rejected worship and symbol, but has spiritualized it, has approximated it to thought, and thus even to speech. The minister is a man who speaks the word of God; he does not recite it. The priest was a slave, but the minister has free intercourse with God. And as, since the unhappy and forced exclusion of the laity, there are, for example, no more ministers of alms, of science, etc., the minister combines in himself all these offices, because he is the minister par excellence.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double hon or, especially they who labor in word and doctrine."

The minister, in this way the inheritor of all the diverse ministries of the Church, has taken, in the plenitude of his qualifications and of his activity, the name of pastor. It is remarkable that this name, of all others, is the most rarely applied to the minister in the New Testament.

What is a pastor?

His name tells us: he feeds; he nourishes souls with a word which is not his own (as the shepherd nourishes his sheep on grass which he does not make to grow). But he feeds them by means of his own word, which reproduces and appropriates to their various wants the Divine Word, and becomes, in turn, a word of instruction, of direction, of exhortation, of reproof, of encouragement, and of consolation.

The word is, then, his instrument; but it is not every thing; the pastorate should be regarded as a paternity; and, after the example of Jesus Christ, the minister should sympathize in all the interests and all the afflictions of his flock. He ought to be at once almoner, justice of the peace, and schoolmaster.

As

Such, in our Church, is the idea of a pastor. The Catholic Church regards it altogether otherwise. It was impossible, because of our sinfulness, that the Christian Church should not have been tempted to forsake its first steps. We all have a propensity to backslide: nothing is so active in us as a tendency to return to what God has abolished. early as the time of Chrysostom, the essence of the pastor's office was regarded as consisting in the administration of the sacrament. This was his own view.* It was a return to the ancient law, and it was one of the first traces of the exclusive importance that the Catholic Church afterward gave to this part of the duties of a minister.

In the number, and at the head of the Jewish ideas, of which Catholicism is full, we must place, without doubt, the

* A beautifu passage, De Sacerdotio, lib., c. iv. See Appendix, note A

B

« VorigeDoorgaan »