William Kelly’s Advice to Budding Preachers

February 27, 2005

William Kelly’s Advice to Budding Preachers by Ray Pritchard Recently a publisher in England sent me a brand-new book called The Irish Saint and Scholar: A Biography of William Kelly by Edwin Cross. I know next to nothing about William Kelly except that he was one of the influential early leaders of the Brethren movement in England in the 19th century. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he became a friend and associate of J. N. Darby, the most influential of all the early Brethren leaders. I picked up the book and started reading in the middle of the story. Since I don’t come from a Brethren background, many of the various controversies of the 1800s were new to me. The early Brethren divided over many points of doctrine and church polity, some of which might seem inconsequential today. The book makes clear that Mr. Kelly was a profound student of the Word and a gifted teacher. He also had an amazing literary output. He loved to encourage younger men who felt a call to the ministry of the Word. In 1884 he replied to a young man who sought his advice about a preaching ministry: One who believes the Lord has called him and given him a gift to preach and teach, need not be hasty or anxious. Power makes itself felt, and it is well to begin in a small (proving one’s gift and so be gradually led into a larger) way (p. 106). That strikes me as eminently practical advice for young pastors (a term Mr. Kelly would certainly not have used). I love the way he puts it: “Power makes itself felt.”

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