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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : LECTURE VI. THE PREACHER AS A MAN.

The Preacher And His Models by James Stalker

LECTURE VI. THE PREACHER AS A MAN.

Gentlemen, in the foregoing lectures I have finished, as far as time permitted, what I had to say on the work of our office, as it is illustrated by the example of the prophets; and to-day we turn to the other branch of the subject -- to study the modern work of the ministry in the light cast upon it by the example of the apostles.

* * * * *

When we quit the Old Testament and open the New, we come upon another great line of preachers to whom we must look up as patterns. The voice of prophecy, after centuries of silence, was heard again in John the Baptist, and his ministry of repentance will always have its value as indicating a discipline by which the human spirit is prepared for comprehending and appreciating Christ. I have already given the reason why I am not at present to touch on the preaching of Christ Himself, although the subject draws one's mind like a magnet. After Christ, the first great Christian preacher was St. Peter; and between him and St. Paul there are many subordinate figures, such as Stephen, Philip the Evangelist and Apollos, beside whom it would be both pleasant and profitable to linger. But we have agreed to take St. Paul as the representative of apostolic preaching, and I will do so more exclusively than I took Isaiah as the representative of the prophets.

It is, I must confess, with regret that I pass St. Peter by. There is a peculiar interest attaching to him as the first great Christian preacher; and there is something wonderfully attractive in his rude, but vigorous and lovable personality. Besides, a study of the influences by which he was transmuted from the unstable and untrustworthy precipitancy of his earlier career into the rocklike firmness which made him fit to be a foundation-stone on which the Church was built would have taught us some of the most important truths which we require to learn; because these influences were, first, his long and close intimacy with Christ and, secondly, the outpouring on him, at Pentecost, of the Holy Spirit; and there are no influences more essential than these to the formation of the ministerial character.

But I have no hesitation in devoting to St. Paul the remainder of this course; because, as I indicated in the opening lecture, there is no other figure in any age which so deserves to be set up as the model of Christian ministers. In him all the sides of the ministerial character were developed in almost supernatural maturity and harmony; and, besides, the materials for a full delineation are available. It is my intention to speak of St. Paul, first, as a Man; secondly, as a Christian; thirdly, as an Apostle; and fourthly, as a Thinker.

* * * * *

To-day, then, we begin with St. Paul as a Man. If I had had time to set before you what St. Peter's life has to teach us, its great lesson would have been what Christianity can make of a nature without special gifts and culture, and how the two influences which formed him -- intimacy with Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit -- can supply the place of talents and educational advantages; for it is evident that, but for Christ, Peter would never have been anything more than an unknown fisherman. But St. Paul's case teaches rather the opposite lesson -- how Christianity can consecrate and use the gifts of nature, and how talent and genius find their noblest exercise in the ministry of Christ. Paul would, in all probability, have made a notable figure in history, even if he had never become a Christian; and, although he himself delighted to refer all that he became and did to Christ, it is evident that the big nature of the man entered also as a factor into his Christian history.

Once at least St. Paul recognises this point of view himself, when he says, that God separated him to His service from his mother's womb. In Jeremiah's mind the same idea was awakened still more distinctly at the time of his call, when Jehovah said to him, |Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and, before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.| This implies that, in the original formation of his body and mind, God conferred on him those gifts which made him capable of a great career. Here we touch on one of the deepest mysteries of existence. There is nothing more mysterious than the behaviour of nature, when in her secret laboratories she presides over the shaping of the rudiments of life and distributes those gifts, which, according as they are bestowed with an affluent or a niggardly hand, go so far to determine the station and degree which each shall occupy in the subsequent competitions of the world. It is especially mysterious how into a soul here and there, as it passes forth, she breathes an extra whiff of the breath of life, and so confers on it the power of being and doing what others attempt to be and do in vain.

Undoubtedly St. Paul was one of these favourites of fortune. Nature designed him in her largest and noblest mould, and hid in his composition a spark of celestial fire. This showed itself in a certain tension of purpose and flame of energy which marked his whole career. He was never one of those pulpy, shapeless beings who are always waiting on circumstances to determine their form; he was rather the stamp itself, which impressed its image and superscription on circumstances.

1. He was a supremely ethical nature. This perhaps was his fundamental peculiarity. Life could under no circumstances have seemed to him a trifle. The sense of responsibility was strong in him from the beginning. He was trained in a strict school; for the law of life prescribed to the race of which he was a member was a severe one; but he responded to it, and there never was a time when the deepest passion of his nature was not to receive the approval of God. Touching the righteousness which was in the law, he was blameless. After his conversion he laid bare unreservedly the sins of his past; but there were none of those dalliances with the flesh to confess into which soft and self-indulgent natures easily fall. He could never have allowed himself that which would have robbed him of his self-respect. His sense of honour was keen. When, in his subsequent life, he was accused of base things -- lying, hypocrisy, avarice and darker sins -- he felt intense pain, crying out like one wounded, and he hurled the accusations from him with the energy of a self-respecting nature. It was always his endeavour to keep a conscience void of offence not only towards God, but also towards men; and one of his most frequently reiterated injunctions to those who were in any way witnesses for Christ was to seek to approve themselves as honest men even to those who were without. He was speaking out of his own heart when he said to all, |Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.|

I cannot help pausing here to say, that he will never be a preacher who does not know how to get at the conscience; but how should he know who has not himself a keen sense of honour and an awful reverence for moral purity? We are making a great mistake about this. We are preaching to the fancy, to the imagination, to intellect, to feeling, to will; and, no doubt, all these must be preached to; but it is in the conscience that the battle is to be won or lost. The great difficulty of missionary work is that in the heathen there is, as a rule, hardly any conscience: it has almost to be created before they can be Christianized. In many parts of Christendom it is dying out; and, where it is extinct, the whole work of Christianity has to be done over again.

2. St. Paul's intellectual gifts are so universally recognised that it is hardly worth while to refer to them. They are most conspicuously displayed in his exposition of Christianity, on which I shall speak in the closing lecture. But in the meantime I remark, that his intellectual make was not at all that usually associated in our minds with the system-builder.

It was, indeed, massive, thorough and severe. But it was not in the least degree stiff and pedantic. It was, on the contrary, an intellect of marvelous flexibility. There was no material to which it could not adapt itself and no feat which it could not perform. You may observe this, for example, in the diverse ways in which he addresses different audiences. In one town he has to address a congregation of Jews; in another a gathering of heathen rustics; in a third a crowd of philosophers. To the Jews he invariably speaks, to begin with, about the heroes of their national history; to the ignorant heathen he talks about the weather and the crops; and to the Athenians he quotes their own poets and delivers a high-strung oration; yet in every case he arrives naturally at his own subject and preaches the gospel to each audience in the language of its own familiar ideas. Even outside of his own peculiar sphere altogether, St. Paul was equal to every occasion. During his voyage to Rome, when the skill of the sailors was baffled and the courage of the soldiers worn out by the long-continued stress of weather, he alone remained cheerful and clearheaded; he virtually became captain of the ship, and he saved the lives of his fellow-passengers over and over again.

We think of the intellect of the system-builder as cold. But there is never any coldness about St. Paul's mind. On the contrary, it is always full of life and all on fire. He can, indeed, reason closely and continuously; but, every now and then, his thought bursts up through the argument like a flaming geyser and falls in showers of sparks. Then the argument resumes its even tenor again; but these outbursts are the finest passages in St. Paul. In the same way, Shakespeare, I have observed, while moving habitually on a high level of thought and music, will, every now and then, pause and, spreading his wings, go soaring and singing like a lark sheer up into the blue. When the thought which has lifted him is exhausted, he gracefully descends and resumes on the former level; but these flights are the finest passages in Shakespeare.

3. The intellectual superiority of St. Paul is universally acknowledged; and to those who only know him at a distance this is his outstanding peculiarity. But the close student of his life and character knows, that, great as he was in intellect, he was equally great in heart, perhaps even greater. One of the subtlest students of his life, the late Adolphe Monod, of the French Church, has fixed on this as the key to his character. He calls him the Man of Tears, and shows with great persuasiveness that herein lay the secret of his power.

It is certainly remarkable, when you begin to look into the subject, how often we see St. Paul in the emotional mood, and even in tears. In his famous address to the Ephesian elders he reminded them that he had served the Lord among them with many tears, and again, that he had not ceased to warn everyone night and day with tears. It is not what we should have expected in a man of such intellectual power. But this makes his tears all the more impressive. When a weak, effeminate man weeps, he only makes himself ridiculous; but it is a different spectacle when a man like St. Paul is seen weeping; because we know that the strong nature could not have been bent except by a storm of feeling.

His affection for his converts is something extraordinary. Some have believed that there is evidence to prove that in youth his heart had suffered a terrible bereavement. It is supposed that he had been married, but lost his wife early. He never sought to replace the loss, and he never spoke of it. But the affection of his great heart, long pent up, rushed forth into the channel of his work. His converts were to him in place of wife and children. His passion for them is like a strong natural affection. His epistles to them are, in many places, as like as they can be to love-letters. Listen to the terms in which he addresses them: |Ye are in our heart to die and live with you|; |I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though, the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved|; |Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.|

To his fellow-labourers in the Gospel especially, his heart went out in unbounded affection. The long lists of greetings at the close of his epistles, in which the characters and services of individuals are referred to with such overflowing generosity and yet with such fine discrimination, are unconscious monuments to the largeness of his heart. He could hardly mention a fellow-worker without breaking forth into a glowing panegyric: |Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow-helper concerning you; or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches and the glory of Christ.|

There is no more conclusive proof of the depth and sincerity of St. Paul's heart than the affection which he inspired in others; for it is only the loving who are loved. None perhaps are more discriminating in this respect than young men. A hard or pedantic nature cannot win them. But St. Paul was constantly surrounded with troops of young men, who, attracted by his personality, were willing to follow him through fire and water or to go on his messages wherever he might send them. And that he could win mature minds in the same way is proved by the great scene at Miletus, already referred to, where the elders of Ephesus, at parting with him, |all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the word which he said, that they should see his face no more.|

The nature of St. Paul's work no doubt immensely developed this side of his character, but, before passing from the subject, it is worth remembering how the circumstances of his birth and upbringing were providentially fitted to broaden his sympathies, even before he became a Christian. He was not simply a Jew, but a Hebrew of the Hebrews; and he felt all the pride of a child of that race to which pertained the adoption and the glory and the covenant, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. He could always put himself in touch at once with a Jewish audience by going back on associations which were as dear to himself as to them. Yet, although so thoroughly a Jew, he belonged by birth to a larger world. He was not born within the boundaries of Palestine, where his sympathies would have been cramped and his horizon narrowed, but in a Gentile city, famous for its beauty, its learning and its commerce; and he was, besides, a freeborn citizen of Rome. We know from his own lips that he was proud of both distinctions; and he thus acquired a cosmopolitan spirit and learned to think of himself as a man amongst men.

Nor ought we, perhaps, to omit here to recall the fact, that he learned in his youth the handicraft of tent-making. This brought him into close contact with common men, whose language he learned to speak and whose life he learned to know -- acquirements which were to be of supreme utility in his subsequent career.

* * * * *

Gentlemen, it is generally agreed that a certain modicum of natural gifts is necessary for those who think of entering the ministry. Here is Luther's list of the qualifications of a minister: you will observe that most of them are gifts of nature: 1. He should be able to teach plainly and in order.2. He should have a good head.3. Good power of language.4. A good voice.5. A good memory.6. He should know when to stop.7. He should be sure of what he means to say.8. And be ready to stake body and soul, goods and reputation, on its truth.9. He should study diligently.10. And suffer himself to be vexed and criticized by everyone.

The first consciousness of the possession of unusual powers is not unfrequently accompanied by an access of vanity and self-conceit. The young soul glories in the sense, probably vastly exaggerated, of its own pre-eminence and anticipates, on an unlimited scale, the triumphs of the future. But there is another way in which this discovery may act. The consciousness of unusual powers may be accompanied with a sense of unusual responsibility, the soul inquiring anxiously about the intention of the Giver of all gifts in conferring them. It was in this way that Jeremiah was affected by the information that special gifts had been conferred on him in the scene to which I have already referred in this lecture. He concluded at once that he had been blessed with exceptional talents in order that he might serve his God and his country with them. And surely in a gifted nature there could be no saner ambition than, if God permitted it, to devote its powers to the ministry of His Son.

There is no other profession which is so able to absorb and utilise talents of every description. This is manifest in regard to such talents as those mentioned by Luther -- a good voice, a good memory, etc. But there is hardly a power or an attainment of any kind which a minister cannot use in his work. How philosophical power can serve him may be seen in the preaching of Dr. Chalmers, whose sermons were always cast in a philosophical mould. The philosophy was not very deep; it was not too difficult for the common man; but it gave the preaching a decided air of distinction. How scientific acquirements may be utilised is shown in the sermons of some of our foremost living preachers, who find an inexhaustible supply of illustrations in their scientific studies. Literary style may supply the feather to wing the arrow of truth to its mark. That poetic power may serve the preacher it is not necessary to prove on the spot where Ray Palmer wrote |My faith looks up to Thee.| Business capacity is needed in church courts and in the management of a congregation. In some other professions men have to bury half their talents; but in ours there is no talent which will not find appropriate and useful exercise.

We perhaps lay too much stress, however, on intellectual gifts and attainments. These are the only ones which are tested by our examinations in college; yet there are moral qualities which are just as essential.

The polish given by education tells, no doubt; but the size of the primordial mass of manhood tells still more. In a quaint book of Reminiscences recently published from the pen of a notable minister of the last generation in the Highlands of Scotland, Mr. Sage of Resolis, there is a criticism recorded, which was passed by a parishioner on three successive ministers of a certain parish: |Our first minister,| said he, |was a man, but he was not a minister; our second was a minister, but he was not a man; and the one we have at present is neither a man nor a minister.|

There is no demand which people make more imperatively in our day than that their minister should be a man. It is not long since a minister was certain of being honoured simply because he belonged to the clerical profession and wore the clerical garb. People, as the saying was, respected his cloth. But ours is a democratic age, and that state of public feeling is passing away. There is no lack of respect, indeed, for ministers who are worthy of the name; perhaps there is more of it than ever. But it is not given now to clerical pretensions, but only to proved merit. People do not now respect the cloth, unless they find a man inside it.

Perhaps the educational preparation through which we pass at college is not too favourable to this kind of power. In the process of cutting and polishing the natural size of the diamond runs the risk of being reduced. When we are all passed through the same mill, we are apt to come out too much alike. A man ought to be himself. Your Emerson preached this doctrine with indefatigable eloquence. Perhaps he exaggerated it; but it is a true doctrine; and it is emphatically a doctrine for preachers. What an audience looks for, before everything else, in the texture of a sermon is the bloodstreak of experience; and truth is doubly and trebly true when it comes from a man who speaks as if he had learned it by his own work and suffering.

It will generally be noticed in any man who makes a distinct mark as a preacher that there is in his composition some peculiarity of endowment or attainment on which he has learned to rely. It may be an emotional tenderness as in McCheyne, or a moral intensity as in Robertson of Brighton, or intellectual subtlety as in Candlish, or psychological insight as in Beecher. But something distinctive there must be, and, therefore, one of the wisest of rules is, Cultivate your strong side.

But what tells most of all is the personality as a whole. This is one of the prime elements in preaching. The effect of a sermon depends, first of all, on what is said, and next, on how it is said; but, hardly less, on who says it. There are men, says Emerson, who are heard to the ends of the earth though they speak in a whisper. We are so constituted that what we hear depends very much for its effect on how we are disposed towards him who speaks. The regular hearers of a minister gradually form in their minds, almost unawares, an image of what he is, into which they put everything which they themselves remember about him and everything which they have heard of his record; and, when he rises on Sunday in the pulpit, it is not the man visible there at the moment that they listen to, but this image, which stands behind him and determines the precise weight and effect of every sentence which he utters.

* * * * *

Closely connected with the force of personality is the other power, which St. Paul possessed in so supreme a degree, of taking an interest in others. It is the manhood in ourselves which enables us to understand the human nature of our hearers; and we must have had experience of life, if we are to preach to the life of men.

Some ministers do this extremely little. Not once but many a time, I have heard a minister on the Sabbath morning, when he rose up and began to pray, plunging at once into a theological meditation; and in all the prayers of the forenoon there would scarcely be a single sentence making reference to the life of the people during the week. Had you been a stranger alighted from another planet, you would never have dreamed that the human beings assembled there had been toiling, rejoicing and sorrowing for six days; that they had mercies to give thanks for and sins to be forgiven; or that they had children at home to pray for and sons across the sea.

There is an unearthly style of preaching, if I may use the term, without the blood of human life in it: the people with their burdens in the pews -- the burden of home, the burden of business, the burden of the problems of the day -- whilst, in the pulpit, the minister is elaborating some nice point, which has taken his fancy in the course of his studies, but has no interest whatever for them. Only now and then a stray sentence may pull up their wandering attention. Perhaps he is saying, |Now some of you may reply|; and then follows an objection to what he has been stating which no actual human being would ever think of making. But he proceeds elaborately to demolish it, while the hearer, knowing it to be no objection of his, retires into his own interior.

If what was said in a former lecture about the distinctive difference between the preaching of the Old Testament and that of the new be considered, it will at once be recognised how vital is this aspect of the matter. The prophets of the Old Testament, in common with the thinkers of antiquity in general, thought of men in masses and regarded the individual only as a fragment of a larger whole. But Christ introduced an entirely new way of thinking. To Him the individual was a whole in himself; beneath the habiliments of even the humblest member of the human family there was hidden what was more precious than the entire material world; and on the issues of every life was suspended an immortal destiny. This faith may be said to have made Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world; for He saw in the lost children of men that which made Him live to seek them and die to save them. And it is by this same faith and vision that anyone is qualified to be a fellow-worker with Christ. No one will ever be able to engage with any success in the work of human salvation who does not see men to be infinitely the most interesting objects in the world, and who does not stand in awe before the solemn destiny and the sublime possibilities of the soul. It is by the growth and the glow of this faith that the worth of all ministerial work is measured.

It is far easier, however, to acknowledge this view in the abstract than to cherish it habitually towards the actual men and women of our own sphere and our own vicinity. That man is the most interesting object in the world; that the soul is precious; and that it is better for a human being to lose the whole world than to miss his destiny -- these are now commonplaces, which everyone who bears the Christian name will acknowledge. Yet in reality few live under their power. Many a one who has paid the tribute of love and admiration to the spectacle of Christ's compassion for the outcasts, and melted with aesthetic emotion before a picture of the Woman taken in Adultery or the Woman that was a Sinner, has never once attempted to save an actual woman of the same kind in his own city, and would be utterly at a loss if such a one, in an hour of remorse, were to throw herself on his pity and protection. There is a great difference between a sinner in a book or a picture and a sinner in the flesh. Multitudes in their hearts believe that all the remarkable and interesting people lived long ago or that, at any rate, if any are now alive, they live many miles away from their vicinity. They believe that there were remarkable people in the first or the ninth century, but by no means in the nineteenth; they believe that there are interesting people in Paris or London or New York; but they have never discovered anything wonderful in those living in their own village or in their own street. Many who consider themselves enlightened will tell you that their neighbours are a poor lot. They fancy that, if they were living somewhere else, fifty or a hundred miles away, they would find company worthy of themselves; though it is ten to one that, if they made the change, their new neighbours would be a poor lot also.

If a minister allows himself to harbour sentiments of this sort, he is lost. No one will ever win men who does not believe in them. The true minister must be able to see in the meanest man and woman a revelation of the whole of human nature; and in the peasant in the field, and even the infant in the cradle, connections which reach forth high as heaven and far as eternity. All that is greatest in king or kaiser exists in the poorest of his subjects; and the elements out of which the most delicate and even saintly womanhood is made exist in the commonest woman who walks the streets. The harp of human nature is there with all its strings complete; and it will not refuse its music to him who has the courage to take it up and boldly strike the strings. The great preacher is he who, wherever he is speaking, among high or low, goes straight for those elements which are common to all men, and casts himself with confidence on men's intelligence and experience, believing that the just suggestions of reason and the terrors of conscience, the sense of the nobility of goodness and the pathos of love and pity are common to them all.

Let me close this lecture with a few words on a great subject, to which a whole lecture might have been profitably devoted.

No safer piece of advice could be tendered you than to let the beginning of your ministry be marked by care for the young. This is work which more than any other will encourage yourselves, and it is more likely than any other to establish you in the affections of a congregation.

To work successfully among children you must know their life and have the entree of their little world of interests, excitements, prizes and hopes. It is not difficult to get it, if only we are simple and genuine. Children will approach their minister gladly, and make him their confidant, if only he is accessible to them. By the ministers of an older generation they were kept at an awful distance. When they were out of temper or doing wrong, they were threatened with a visit from the minister in the same way as they might be threatened with the policeman, or the parish beadle, or a still more awful functionary of the universe. This, let us hope, has passed away, and in most parishes a ministerial visit is spoken of as a promise instead of a threat. A minister is proud nowadays if a child flies up to him in the street and ruffles his feathers with boisterous familiarity, or if a group of children pin him into the corner of a room and order him, under pains and penalties, to tell them a story. We are returning to the ideal of Goldsmith, in the Deserted Village: --

|The service past, around the pious man
With steady zeal each loyal rustic ran;
Even children followed with endearing wile,
And plucked his gown to share the good man's smile.|

More important even than accessibility is genuine respect for the children.

We ought to respect their intelligence. When we are preaching to them, we should give them our very best. I venture to say, that a much larger proportion of the sermons preached to children is never written out than of sermons to adults. The preacher, having thought of two or three lines of remark and got hold of two or three stories, enters the pulpit with these materials lying loosely in his mind, and trusts to the moment for the style of the sermon. Of course, if a man has trained himself to preach in this way always, it is all right; but, if not, it is a mistake. Children are greatly affected by felicity of arrangement and the music of language; they do not know to what their pleasure is due, but they feel it; and, if a preacher has the power of original thought or of beautiful diction, there is no occasion when he should be more liberal in the use of it than when he is addressing them. The truth is, it is a complete mistake to make the children's sermon so different from other sermons as to create the impression that it is the only utterance from the pulpit to which they are expected to listen. It is not easy to get children to begin to listen at all to what is said in church; the children's sermon is a device to catch their attention; but it ought also to be a bridge conducting them over to the habit of listening to all that is said there. If they acquire the habit, they are our best hearers. A boy of twelve or thirteen can follow nearly anything; and there is no keener critic of the logic of a discourse or warmer appreciator of any passage which is worthy of admiration.

But, while we respect the intelligence of the young, there is something else which we need to believe in still more. We do not half realise the drama of religious impression going on in the minds of children. We forget our own childhood and the movements excited in our childish breasts under the preaching of the Word -- how real the things unseen were to us; how near God was, His eye flashing on us through the darkness; how our hearts melted at the sufferings of Christ; how they swelled with unselfish aspirations as we listened to the stories of heroic lives; how distinctly the voice of conscience spoke within us; and how we trembled at the prospect of death, judgment and eternity. What we were then, other children are now; and what went on in us is going on in them. It is the man who believes this and reveres it who will reap the harvest in the field of childhood.

There is no surer way to secure for ourselves the interest of the old than to take an interest in the young. Of course a forced interest in children, shown with this in view, would be hypocrisy and deserve contempt. We must love the children for their own sakes. Yet we may quite legitimately nourish our interest in the young by observing that it is one of the strongest instincts of human nature which makes fathers and mothers feel kindnesses shown to their children to be the greatest benefits which can be conferred on themselves. An Edinburgh minister, who has had conspicuous success in preaching to children as well as in every other department of the work of his sacred office, once, in a gathering of divinity students, of whom I was one, told an incident from his own life which is almost too sacred to be repeated by any lips except his own, but which I hope he will excuse me for enriching you with, as it puts in a memorable form one of the truest secrets of ministerial success. On the morning of the day when he was going to be ordained to his first charge, he was leaving his home in the country to travel to the city, and his mother came to the door to bid him good-bye. Holding his hand at parting, she said, |You are going to be ordained to-day, and you will be told your duty by those who know it far better than I do; but I wish you to remember one thing which perhaps they may not tell you -- remember, that, whenever you lay your hand on a child's head, you are laying it on its mother's heart.|

FOOTNOTES:

|The Sybarites of to-day will tolerate a sermon which is delicate enough to flatter their literary sensuality; but it is their taste which is charmed, not their conscience which is awakened: their principle of conduct escapes untouched.... Amusement, instruction, morals, are distinct genres.| -- AMIEL.

The finest description of a speaker known to me is this of Lord Bacon in Ben Jonson's Discoveries; and it is evident that it was the man rather than the manner or even the matter which made the impression: |Yet there happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking. His language, where he could spare or pass by a jest, was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough, or look aside from him, without loss. He commanded where he spoke; and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was, lest he should make an end.|

It has often astonished me to observe how easily ministers' wives in this respect find for themselves the right path. One would think it would be very difficult sometimes for those who have been brought up in cities or in a secluded circle to adapt themselves suddenly to a remote and unselect society; and they have not, like their husbands, had the opportunity of meditating long on the duties of a public position. A hearty and cordial humanity in the members of a minister's family lends an immense assistance to his work. A minister ought to belong to no class of society, but to have the power of moving without constraint in every class.

|Not a heart but has its romance, not a life which does not hide a secret which is either its thorn or its spur. Everywhere grief, hope, comedy, tragedy; even under the petrifaction of old age, as in the twisted forms of fossils, we may discover the agitations and tortures of youth. This thought is the magic wand of poets and preachers.| -- Amiel.

This may be a reason for rather devoting a whole diet of worship to the children once a month or once a quarter than only giving them a few minutes every Sabbath. But many follow the latter practice with excellent results. Perhaps there ought to be something specially for the children at every service. If I may mention my own practice, I have, during my whole ministry, preached to children once a month; and every Sunday I have a children's hymn in the forenoon and a prayer for children in the afternoon.

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