Ministry Compared with Other Professions

This from The Power of the Pulpit by Gardiner Spring.

There is an affecting anecdote related of that memorable Italian reformer, Filippo Neri, and the youthful student. ‘Filippo was living at one of the Italian Universities when a young man, whom he had know as a boy, ran up to him with a face full of delight, and told him that what he had long been wishing above all things in the world, was at length fulfilled, his parents having just given him leave to study the law; and that thereupon he had come to the law-school, and meant to spare no pains or labour in getting through his studies as quickly and as well as possible. in this way he ran on a long time; and when at last he came to stop, the holy man, who had been listening to him with great patience and kindness, said, “Well! and when you have got through your course of studies, what do you mane to do then?”

“Then I shall take my doctor’s degree,” answered the young man

“And then?” asked Filippo Neri again.

“And then, ” continued the youth, “I shall have a number of difficult  and knotty cases to manage, shall catch people’s notice by my eloquence, my zeal, my acuteness, and gain a great reputation.”

“And then?” repeated the holy man.

“And the,” replied the youth, “why then, there can’t be a question, I shall be promoted to some high office or other, besides, I shall make money and grow rich.”

“And then?” repeated Filippo.

“And then,” pursued the young lawyer-“then I shall live comfortably and honourably in health and dignity, and shall be able to look forward quietly to a happy old age.”

“And then?” added the holy man.

“And the,” said the youth–“and then–and then–then I shall die.”

‘Here Filippo lifted up his voice, and again asked, “AND THEN?” Whereupon the young man made no answer, but cast down his head, and went away. This last And then? had pierced like a flash of lightning into his soul, and he could not get quit of it. Soon after he forsook the study of the law, and gave himself up to the ministry of Christ, and spent the remainder of his days in godly words and works.’

What would be your response to this repeated “And Then?” 


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