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would deal with any other book. It is wonderful how the heart of man responds to the simple Word of God-responds though that word be mainly a matter of faith and of conscience; and nothing can compensate for keeping that word in the background, or making it subordinate.
This is one of the essential elements of Bible preaching; and yet undeniably much of the preaching of the times is lamentably wanting in it. I fear there is a wide-spread and growing deficiency just on this fundamental point. How much of it is attributable to lax views in regard to the inspiration of ull Scripture or to the introduction of German theology and literature into our country-or to a desire to adapt preaching to the peculiar spirit and genius of the age-I am not able to say. What a decided and extensive change has come over the pulpit in this respect during a single generation, must be apparent to all who have had any opportunity for observing. The spirit if not the principles of Rationalism and Naturalism is fast gaining ground among us. What is meant by this remark is simply a tendency to look at man and the system of salvation from other standpoints than the stand-point of divinely inspired and revealed truth. It was among the very last services which Professor Stuart rendered to the church to pen a most emphatic and solemn warning to his brethren on this very point. Never more than now was there wanted a ministry rooted and grounded in their convictions of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, and disposed to honor and insist upon the authority of the Scriptures as absolute and sufficient, and above suspicion.
3. Bible preaching must of course be the preaching of the BIBLE itself. Not only must the Bible be the groundwork of it, and the authority to enforce it, but the stuple of it also, the sum and substance of it. Our simple business is to unfold and vindicate, enforce and apply the meaning or truths of the Bible. We are to set forth the facts, doctrines, principles, and life of the Divine Word, in all their fulness, and seek to give them their practical effect in their varied relations. In doing this we may use our own language or Bible language-adopt the topical or textual mode of preaching-the expository or sermonic form-preach from one text or ten-follow the order of books, or go as judgment and the Spirit of God may guide us. All this relates to the manner and is subordinate. The great thing is to get the meaning, the teaching, and the spirit of God's own Book fairly and forcibly before the minds, and into the hearts, and down upon the consciences of our hearers.
No one it is supposed really doubts this. And yet, brethren, it is no easy thing to preach thus;-it is not the popular way of preaching in these times. The pressure of great and manifold temptations is constantly upon us to preach quite "another gospel"-a gospel of philosophy, and literature, and rhetoric-or a gospel of mere social reforms, and humanitarian notions, and
transcendental affinities-in order to meet the wants, or keep pace with the supposed progress of the age. Is it not an alarming fact that doctrinal, expository, and even textual preaching has well nigh ceased from our pulpits? The good old practice of quoting Scripture freely from the Pulpit has nearly passed away. There are more frequent quotations from the Poets and the Classics in multitudes of modern sermons, than from the Law and the Prophets and the Gospels! Indeed such is the cast, the level, the genius of not a small portion of our present preaching that the plain and simple, the sober and matter-of-fact language and sentiment of the Bible, would be quite out of place in it-would be thought tame and common-place, and would offend fastidious ears. I do believe that the ministry of our day are greatly at fault here. I do fear, brethren, that we yield too much to the demands of this polite, fastidious, esthetic, and would-be-thought highly cultivated and philosophic age. I do think that our sermons have come to partake too much of the popular Lecture, and the Essay form, and that we need to come back to primitive models-to that preaching which is "eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures." THE BIBLE, THE WHOLE BIBLE, AND NOTHING BUT THE BIBLE-oh, if this were the motto of all who exercise the gospel ministry, the Bible would not so often fail to prove the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation. But how many are mere philosophers, or lecturers, or essayists, or poetizers, or declaimers in the pulpit where Christ and his cross are the only fitting theme, and where the words of truth and soberness only become the dying lips which speak to dying souls. The late DR. ERSKINE MASON-himself with all his erudition and his philosophie mind a beautiful exemplification of the sentiment, once made this pregnant and instructive remark: "Brethren, be as much of the philosopher as you please in your study, but in the pulpit never."
4. Finally, Bible preaching must embrace the exhibition of the spirit and divine life of the Scriptures. The letter killeth, while the spirit maketh alive. Not only must our preaching be grounded in the Scriptures, and enforced by their authority, and fairly drawn from them, but it must take its peculiar inspiration and moral character from them. A man must himself drink into the spirit of the Bible-enter its inmost sanctuary-understand it both experimentally and critically and have his intellectual and spiritual being in the Bible-must experience the power of God in his soul, and know the positive experimental side of Christianity-he must love to study and pry into the Bible, and dwell in that world of spiritual light and wonders, before he can truly and effectively preach the Bible. And the more intelligent piety there is in the preacher-the more familiar he is with the inner life of the Scriptures--and the more he comes under the baptism of that same Holy Spirit which indites and dwells in the Word, the more truly and powerfully will he be likely to preach it.
And here again, I am constrained to believe, there is a manifest deficiency extensively and increasingly prevalent in the ministry. While the labors of modern scholars have shed much new and important light on the literature of the Bible, and secured, in some instances, a better rendering and interpretation of the text, still, I think it will be admitted, that there is a sad declension of the evangelical spirit, a loss in the items of real piety and experimental preaching. The Pulpit of our times -times, too, demanding eminent spirituality and holiness in the ministry is far from being as thoroughly evangelical, as decided and deep-toned in its piety, as spiritual and experimental in its ministrations, or as fully imbued with the life-giving spirit of a positive Christianity and of the Holy Ghost, as it should be! This is doubtless our great deficiency and besetting sin. We have not enough of the spirit of Christ and of Paul for such evil times as these.
This is our idea of Bible preaching. The Bible, as God's inspired and supernatural revelation, must underlie it, must give authority to it, must be the theme and matter of it, must give inspiration and power to it. Preaching must be of this kind, and every sermon after this model, or it is not Bible preaching, or a gospel sermon, whatever else it may be.
It were not difficult to name examples of such a stamp of preaching. From the specimens we have of Christ's preaching, it was eminently characterized by the qualities which have been named. He preached strait at the hearts and consciences of his hearers, in language, simple, pointed, and authoritative. He aimed to impress them with the fact of their individual responsibility to God-to convict them of sin, and make them tremble in view of it, and of a coming judgment. So Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. Every word of that famous sermon was like a barbed arrow to pierce and rankle in the conscience. So Paul preached. Profoundly erudite and accomplished as he was, he would know nothing at Jerusalem, or Rome, or Athens, or Corinth, or Antioch, but "Christ, and him crucified." We all know how Baxter preached, and what it was that made his preaching so powerful. It was his plain, honest, fearless, direct, faithful, intense application of God's own authoritative Word to men's consciences. Look, too, at the sermons of the great Edwards. It was not his masterly metaphysics, his profound philosophy, his intellectual demonstrations, or his parade of learning, that made him such a giant in the pulpit; there is a singular absence of these in his sermons. But he got strait down upon the sinner's conscience, and there dealt his earnest blows with almost superhuman effect. In his sermon on the Judgment Day, we are told, that he so impressed upon his hearers the sense of personal guilt and interest in its decisions that when he closed, they actually looked up in terror
to see if the heavens were not actually rending, and the incensed God descending to take vengeance on his enemies. That famous sermon of his which produced such an overwhelming effect at the time of its delivery-" Sinners in the hands of an angry God"-what is there in it but the simple unfolding of Scripture truth on that awful subject, and a direct, solemn, pungent, and intensely energetic application of it to his immediate hearers? O, for the day when such preaching shall again thunder from our pulpits, causing sinners in Zion to be afraid, and waking the slumbering conscience of a guilty world!
Let me, my brother, commend to you such models. Let your ministry be thoroughly pervaded and imbued with the light and spirit of the Bible. Make the Bible, not only your text-book, but the staple and the inspiration of all your sermons. Honor it, and God will honor your ministry. Baptize your soul with the spirit of it, and God will baptize your teaching with the Holy Ghost.
The Bible is a wonderful book. There is nothing like it in the world. It is full of the great thoughts of God. It is crowded with topics of infinite interest and importance to mankind. All here is Truth, certain, revealed, inspired Truth. Here are all the elements of greatness, of moral influence and power. Your business is with this Book alone. God puts this Book into your hands with the solemn charge to preach it, and, so to preach it, that you shall not be guilty of the blood of souls. It is responsible business, a fearful charge, this ministry which you take upon you to-day. Hundreds of souls, guilty and immortal, will hang on your lips from Sabbath to Sabbath. Your ministry will be one of life or death eternal to not a few. Every Sabbath you are to stand forth and proclaim those great and weighty truths which are herein set forth. And quickly you will stand with the people who this day open their hearts and arms to receive you as their minister, at the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ. Resolve, brother, to be a Bible preacher. Take your stand on the high vantage-ground of the Bible, and never come down from it. Thence survey the field of your labor, your work, your account, your reward. Look upon your hearers in the light of its affecting truths. Aim steadily and constantly at the saving of souls; no inferior end is worth the toils and sacrifices of the ministry. Fill your sermons with the facts, the doctrines, the principles, the examples of this blessed book, clearly set forth, and earnestly and prayerfully enforced, and your ministry here will be full of glorious results. Admiring crowds may not gather to it-the land may not ring with the fame of it but, what is infinitely better, the sigh of the awakened, the cry of the anxious, the tear of the penitent, and the song of the convert shall be your reward.
And this is the kind of ministry, my friends, which you ought
to desire and pray for. If it be not so popular with the age and the multitude as some other, it is the only kind of ministry that is worth the having. You need to be instructed, warned, and admonished out of the Scriptures. You need to hear the voice of God your Maker and Sovereign and Redeemer and Judge, sounding out from his Word every Sabbath, clear, emphatic, and authoritative. You do not want to be amused or entertained, but converted, sanctified, and saved-taught how to live and to die. Be satisfied with a Bible ministry and with nothing else. Desire it above riches, above all earthly rewards. Let your minister see that you appreciate a ministry in full sympathy with the Bible, in its aims, spirit, and teachings.
Another of God's instruments of purgation is providential trials. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." These chastisements may come in the shape of persecutions, or bodily sufferings, or mental anguish, or loss of property, or disappointment as to worldly prospects, or sickness and death of dear friends, or the ill-doings of near connections, or in some other way. No matter what is the form or shape of the pruning-hook. It is just as the Good Husbandman has seen fit to make it, and just the shape that is suited to our particular case. "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and therefore will not prune the wrong branch. It often seems to short-sighted mortals, that the Lord sometimes makes mistakes, in using his pruning-hooks. We would hold back his hand, and ask, "Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?" The branch seems so stripped of its foliage that we are ready to say, "It cannot survive such severe pruning." But as we look back upon branches, which were thus pruned in old times, we find that they did survive. They not only survived, but were the more flourishing and fruitful in consequence of their having been thus dealt with. This was the case with the ancient patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job and Moses. This was the case with all the pious prophets and kings. "One of them says, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word." The apostles found it good to suffer affliction. One of them speaks thus, "Now, no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, yet afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them who are exercised thereby." "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." In God's wise arrangement, it is "through much tribulation" that true Christians enter the kingdom of heaven.-N. Y. Evangelist.