As the school year rolls back around, here are some timely words from John Wesley on the high office of teaching, framed as questions for teachers to answer about their own intentions and actions.
Ye venerable men, who are more especially called to form the tender minds of youth, to dispel thence the shades of ignorance and error, and train them up to be wise unto salvation, are you “filled with the Holy Ghost?” With all those “fruits of the Spirit,” which your important office so indispensably requires?Wesley posed these questions to the professors of Oxford University in 1744, in his sermon entitled “Scriptural Christianity” (Sermon IV in the Standard Sermons). They did not appreciate the invitation to self-examination, which in context amounted to the accusation that they were no Christians at all. He was never invited to speak in chapel at Oxford again.
Is your heart whole with God? Full of love and zeal to set up his kingdom on earth?
Do you continually remind those under your care, that the one rational end of all our studies, is to know, love and serve “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent?”
Do you inculcate upon them day by day, that love alone never faileth (whereas, whether there be tongues, they shall fail, or philosophical knowledge, it shall vanish away); and that without love, all learning is but splendid ignorance, pompous folly, vexation of spirit?
Has all you teach an actual tendency to the love of God, and of all mankind for his sake?
Have you an eye to this end in whatever you prescribe, touching the kind, the manner, and the measure of their studies; desiring and labouring that, wherever the lot of these young soldiers of Christ is cast, they may be so many burning and shining
lights, adorning the gospel of Christ in all things?
And permit me to ask, Do you put forth all your strength in the vast work you have undertaken? Do you labour herein with all your might? exerting every faculty of your soul, using every talent which God hath lent you, and that to the uttermost of your power?
3 John 8