It is odd that many young men emerge from seminary the worse for their education. In three or four years they have acquired knowledge of languages, history, theology and some practical skills. If the end of our instruction is love that issues from a pure heart, one should expect that such an education would produce such a heart. And yet, many young men exit into the ministry more like wrecking balls than graceful agents of godliness.
It seems this trouble is nothing new. John Newton wrote to a young divinity student (letter 2 in his collected works) and discusses this very thing.
The interesting aspect of the letter lies in the cause of arrogance:
Though I am no enemy to the acquisition of useful knowledge, I have seen many instances of young men who have been much hurt by what they expected to reap advantage from. They have gone to the academy humble, peaceable, spiritual, and lively; but have come out self-wise, dogmatical, censorious, and full of a prudence founded upon the false maxims of the world. I have been ready to address them with that line of Milton:
“If thou art he—But ah! how fall’n!”
I do not mention this as the necessary fault of the institution, but as the frequent effect of notions too hastily picked up, when not sanctified by grace, nor balanced by a proportionable depth of spiritual experience. I am therefore glad to hear, that, notwithstanding the advantages you have had in the pursuit of your studies, you feel an inward conviction, that you still need something which you cannot receive from men or books, in order to complete your fitness for the ministry: that you may be “a workman that needs not to be ashamed,” and enabled rightly to divide (to distinguish and distribute) the word of truth.